Forced Labor

Douglas Edric Stanley


Ok, this is one of those things that only an engineer could think of — also known as how to shave off a minute here, a minute there, when you have perfectly better things to do…


Take a look at this photo. It is my Epson R300 printer just after replacing the ink cartridge. It has just made all sorts of spugeeech, zhmurrrr, shpukwaaaaam, shazzaaaam noises. All this takes about a minute. There is a nice little screen on the right that first told me how to do things, and when I was ready it asked me to press OK. In French we say, « jusqu’ici, tout va bien » (up to this point, everthing’s going fine). And that’s when all the smuuuuunch sounds whirr and buzz and I go back upstairs to print out my document, figuring that the printer can take care of things from here.

Ah, but no. Of course it can’t be that simple…

Once I’ve shlepped my way upstairs, my computer still won’t print. Hmm. Wifi troubles? Trying pinging the damn thing. Nope. Not Wifi. So I trek back down to my printer to see what I’ve done wrong, and there I find this glorious, « user-friendly », i.e. over-zealous-engineer-message-of-love :

« Ink Cartridge Replacement. Ink cartridge replacement is complete. Press OK to finish. »

Sheesh. Couldn’t it just have pushed the damn OK button itself? Do the Epson engineers really think that I want to spend 1 minute watching my printer go whrrrr, pliiing, shmeeeeerunk? What, do they want a pat on the back? Hey printer, that was a beautiful spectacle of engineering! Good job!

And can someone tell me why on earth I have all those buttons to begin with? I remember the good-old-days of our Apple printer at school that had one button. Yep. One button. And in most instances you never had to push it, since it’s plugged into a computer. And the computer already knows how to push buttons by itself.