Sunday, December 02, 2007

stupidity enough for us all, in bite-sized servings

To make up for how I've been talking more about myself (which is understandable in the holiday season) and last post was not very structured, this time it'll all be things I consider stupid, daft, senseless, or anticlimactic about my new printer. Leading the pack is how while I am writing this I've got a print job spooled to my new printer which is taking about 10 minutes to even arrive there. You'd think computers could do everything all at the same time without massive pauses during typing... which apparently isn't the case here. I'm just happy that everything's working.

   So speaking of this new printer, an HP Deskjet D4260 that was on sale at Office Depot, I've had plenty of issues. Not with the printer's function on its own -- the machine itself is working nicely -- but with the software. Let's start from the beginning. I followed the instructions on how to get it physically hooked up and the disk that came with it installed, and printed something using my favorite image editor, IrfanView, just fine but I have to do a bunch of twaddling of options to get it to print 4"x6" photo size in high quality. remember pulltabs? There's this button on the front of the printer with an icon of a stick figure holding a frame (it is an HP afterall) and I wondered what it was for. The instruction sheet alluded to PhotoSmart software and reading the manual. Hmm, pushing the button does nothing. There is no PhotoSmart software listed in the Programs group (or any other HP software). And I can't find the manual, as either a book in the box or a file on the computer. Further research, I can't find the manual or the software on the installation CD either. Surely this can't be right. I go to HP's website and download the manual as PDF. Good reading, and it too alludes to the function of that button as being to invoke the PhotoSmart software. For kicks I uninstall the driver software, which is the only thing listed, and remove the registry entries and any driver files I can find in the Windows folder so that when I plug the cable in again it's going to demand the disk (rather than use what it finds on the hard drive), just like the instructions say it will. Run through that, and once again on the road of life there are drivers and there are... uh, nothing else. Read manual again. The troubleshooting section says that if the PhotoSmart software isn't there, stick the disk in again and click on Add Software. I insert the disk, and there is no Add Software option. Hmm. How can it not be on the disk?
   Search on HP's site for the software, it's not making itself apparent. Use Google, it points to the correct download page on HP's site (yeesh!), so I download it. Computer crash 75% of the way through, reboot, Windows says the file is corrupt at boot, so delete that and start over. Okay, I have it now. The button still doesn't do anything, which is not how it's supposed to be but that's fine. This software is capable of many things, and with a little tweaking (a little less than with IrfanView) I can get photos sent to the printer... uh, but it keeps wasting my photo paper. For instance, the first photo will come out okay, and everything after that is acting like I'm trying to print something twice the size of a piece of photo paper. I printed a picture of both of my eyes, and only one appeared, with a really wide left and bottom border. So I thought "okay, how about I use a regular piece of paper instead to test this?" I put one in, and not only did the printer eat the paper, but it was still trying to print that one-eyed half-the-image with rediculous-border across the full sheet! I'm thinking the manufacturer's software isn't going to do it for me... there's just something inherently wrong with the maker's software being worse than third-party software.
   My ace in the hole for awhile has been PhotoELF, so I figure it's worth a try to see if that produces better results. Download the newest version, confirm I've removed the older version so it doesn't mess with the 30 day trial period. And it did print well, with no tweaking of the printer options like the other two programs required; I was so impressed I even shelled out the thirty bucks and bought it tonight. It even represents the paper boundaries correctly, rather than showing the full image in the print preview but cropping 1/8th of an inch off all sides. And now the only really stupid thing I'm seeing is that the print preview keeps coming up blank, as does the paper if I click on the Print button in it. I think that just means the computer needs to reboot, I broke them drivers with all my printing earlier, but still that shouldn't happen. [rebooted] The print manager is saying "cartridge empty"... wait, I've only printed 30 4"x6" photos, how the flying Fig Newtons can it be empty?! Stuuupid! (But it's printing fine anyway... again with a 10 minute delay where the computer gathers its wits.)

I know I had a couple other stupid things to report, but it's 1 a.m. and I've misplaced them. If printer stupidities is not your thing, I apologise, maybe next time I'll remember what else I was going to kvetch about. It wasn't work and it wasn't politics, though both are rich in dumbness some days. Hope you're working your way into ready for whatever holiday you celebrate!

If you had this much trouble, then my chances of success with any printer problems will be nill.
Luckily, my hubby and kids are tech saavy.
Now, you know why that printer was ON SALE.
I bet the customer reviews on it are hitonious!!
I'm glad the photoelf thing helped you solve some of the trouble.
VERY frustrating to have to wait 10 minutes!!
Muy, MUY frustrado!!
Let me clarify: Installing the drivers so the printer would work was very easy. I have no complaint about that part. It's the fact that the much-touted software (optional if you have a preferred photo editor like Photoshop or Irfanview, more or less required if one is not versed in digital editing/printing) wasn't installed -- hell, as far as I can tell, isn't on the disk. That would frustrate the hell out of you (or anyone who read the directions and said "Photosmart? Where?"), I can imagine.

The one 'trusted' review isn't bad, CNet just thought it could have been better:
review: 7.1/10

I remembered one of my rant points; see next entry. :)
Hey Mush - your new round of photos was great. Loved the Denny's trailer. Just wanted to thank you, four months late, for the story to photo 408. I've finally read and commented all of those, and posted my own story. Actually ahead of things for the moment. I'll come back here later and read this and the current post - it's getting late here.
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