Printers optimize

Expect the unexpected

When you think you've seen it all from the help desk, life has a way of letting you know different.

There was a ripple of consternation around my team this week. I was dispatched to look at a printer that was apparently freezing up after just a few pages. The type of printer was one that doesn’t normally give us much trouble, apart from wearing out after a very long life, so I am not terribly expert in fixing its problems. The added problem was that the customer was on the Isle of Wight, which to those who don’t know is the small diamond-shaped island that can be seen on a map of Britain just offshore, roughly halfway along the southern coast of this Sceptered Isle.

Although I can see the island from where I live, getting there involved an 80-mile drive to Portsmouth to board a ferry, then an anxious 30-minute drive along impossibly narrow roads once on the island. I got there and could not make the printer talk to a PC at all, neither the customer’s nor my own laptop. It is a fairly old design, having a choice of parallel or serial interfaces. I tried a new parallel cable with no improvement, so I resigned myself to pulling off the covers to see what I could see.

Imagine my surprise on removing the cover to the main board to see the image of our dear old queen staring up at me from the bottom of the machine. There was a £1 coin there. I loosened the circuit board and heard a clatter as more coins rolled down to the bottom of the case, in all, seven coins with a total value of £1.28p, that’s nearly $3US. Having reduced the monetary value of the printer and put it back together I tried again and it worked. It seemed that the coins had shorted some of the connector pins for the parallel interface on the board. This printer has a slot that can be used to add cards to the system, should you wish to add system fonts. It would appear that the owner’s two-year-old toddler, who often accompanies her to work and seems to have a good habit when it come to being thrift, had seen the slot and decided that the printer was a large and complicated money box.

It took an entire day and two sea voyages to get there and back, an hour or so to strip and rebuild the printer, all because the original designer failed to notice the similarity between a high-speed ink jet printer and a piggy bank.

Just when you think you have seen all there is to see in User World, something new comes up to prove that there is still a lot to learn.

13 comments
JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...the depreciated value of the printer? Serial & Parallel interface and font cart slots? My guess is that Margaret Thatcher was still in office when this thing was in its prime.

The Ref
The Ref

It wasn't coins it was a PEN. And here is the proof: http://www.circlecity.co.uk/picture_jokes/pen_stuck.php

seanferd
seanferd

We've had a laugh at that particular word combination before.

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

because one day we will have to unstick some body part from the fuser of a laser printer and the person attached to it won't be taking it quietly.

seanferd
seanferd

who are inclined to photocopy their cheeks.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

And yes, even burned badly in some places, I would be rolling on the floor laughing. In fact, I just may pull out the video recorder just to post it everywhere I can :D

seanferd
seanferd

I don't want to be around for that one. Include me out.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

It could have been worse---it could have been a slaughter house.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

counterfeiting coins in an inkjet printer :^0 Where DO you get your material BALTHOR??? Inquiring minds do wanna know

DanLM
DanLM

The point about the slaughter house kind of gross's me out though... ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww Dan

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

Have you had any strange faults to fix?

bdskp
bdskp

I worked for a Credit Union a few years back. We had a exec call the help desk and say his computer screen just went black and nothing worked. So I went to investigate. I got there..and sure enough, nothing worked. It wouldn't turn on, no lights, nothing. I checked the power, cables, etc. Nothing. Switched power outlets..nothing. Very weird. So i tell him, let me take it back to the work bench, open it up, and have a look. He agreed. I go around to the back of the pc, unplug cables, etc and i moved the PC a little to get to one of the cables when I noticed a bit of liquid on his desk under the computer. At this point I was like..huh. Weird. So i slid the PC out further and there was more and more liquid there. So i look at him as he is watching me do this and he has the most guilty look on his face. I ask him if he spilt something on his computer? He said "Well, i did spill a bit of tea on my keyboard but i didn't think any of it go onto the computer." At this point I though, well, it was under the computer, not touching the computer..maybe it was just a random event that really had nothing to do with the computer just dying. So, i'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt so I pick the PC up and I start to move with the PC in my hands. Tea comes POURING out the back of his PC. I mean half a cup worth..all over my pants and shoes! I look at him and his eyes get big and he swears up and down that he didn't think it was that much! At this point, I'm laughing so hard I have to leave his office. And of course, I take it back to the work bench and tell the whole story to my dept. We have a wonderful laugh about it. We open the PC up and it has tea everywhere inside. The computer was wasted. If I remember correctly we may have saved the data on his drive..as I think just the motherboard was ruined. The most puzzling part of this issue was how he got so much tea inside his computer. Short of turning the PC up on it's side and dumping the cup of tea in it, I just don't see how he did it! I will NEVER forget that one. :)

seanferd
seanferd

Make sure future spills end up in his lap rather than traveling the underside of the desk! :D