The source of Printer Hatred

Lileks has been there, and perhaps so have you:

Bought a new printer tonight, because I needed ink. I’ve been down this road before, and yes, I know, the printers you buy have just sixteen atoms of ink, and you have to buy expensive cartridges right away. But: the old printer — by which I mean something purchased a year ago — became senile and confused, and did not recognize the Genuine Epson Cartridge I put in to replace an old one. (It goes without saying that the machine refused to print a simple letter because it was out of MAGENTA. The only time anyone who’s not in printing ever thinks of magenta is when the magenta is out, and you can’t print a greyscale document. Then you wonder exactly how you used all the magenta in the first place.) I could either assume that the ink was old — meaning, a code in the cartridge said “he bought this a year ago. Dude obviously doesn’t use enough ink. Screw him” and reported that it was defective, or the chip was defective, or the machine’s ability to detect a new cartridge was defective.

As Meat Loaf (inevitably quoting Jim Steinman) would wail: “IT’S DEFECTIVE!”

I had a lot of fun this spring with this cute little color laser at the office. I expected, given that this is largely a work machine, that the black would give out first; I had not expected that the yellow would be right behind. (Cyan and magenta? Meh.) I did discover, though, that ignoring roughly forty percent of the precautions on the Cartridge Replacement Guide, a four-language sheet large enough to wrap all but a handful of Christmas presents, replete with drawings inspired by the caves at Lascaux, was the wisest, or anyway least painful, course of action.

I saw a line of Kodak printers, which I’ve been eyeing for some time. Why? Cheap ink. That’s why. That’s all.

That’s enough. I have one of those. Combo pack, black and color cartridges — $30. Consumption rate seems rather high, but everyone’s consumption rate seems rather high these days, and I tend to run ink supplies down to the Coughing Up Dust level.


  1. McGehee »

    8 June 2011 · 8:22 am

    I recently replaced the yellow cartridge on our laser printer, and now the thing is claiming the other three colors are also about to run out.

    It still prints, it just complains that there is an imbalance in the Force the toner levels. I actually kind of like that it does this though; it’s better about telling me it’s low on toner than my truck is about telling me it’s low on gas.

  2. Will »

    9 June 2011 · 12:51 pm

    There’s a dirty little secret about some color lasers. They print a yellow code that identifies the printer on every page — even black and white ones. It’s allegedly done to deter counterfeiting. The EFF has a list of which printers do and do not use that code.
    I know it sounds like a very tinfoil-hat kind of comment, but I bet you that’s why the yellow was running low.

  3. CGHill »

    9 June 2011 · 1:30 pm

    The EFF list at the moment does not mention this particular printer, which is a Kyocera EP-C170N, but several other Kyocera/Mita machines are listed, so until I can do further research on the matter, I’ll consider this a Reasonable Possibility. (And this shop never runs short of tinfoil.)

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