Monday, May 25, 2009

Printing Rip-Off

We have a modest printer in the Hughes household, which sits in a bedroom, complete with a PC which was rescued from a rich Floridian-based Brit some 7 years back. I shall digress for a moment. The PC was about 15 months old, and out of warranty. His business depended on it, and after much drawing of sharp breath through clenched teeth, I told him that it was about as limp as a parson's handshake. We went to Circuit City (sadly gone under, but thankfully now under new ownership), and bought a new PC. After several hours, I got the new PC to work just like the old one, including downloading his saved files etc. I'd had the forsight to suggest to him to invest in a daily back-up.
As he had no use for the old PC, he suggested that I take it away.
As it happens, Rik was around a short time later, and duly reloaded the OS and everything else I wanted. When I moved back to Blighty. I brought the beast with me (UPS told me it was only cost $67 to ship it - this turned out to be only the tax!), and it now sits here complete with my wife's old printer. I suspect that after so many years' service, it might be time to start saving the pennies for a new one for when it packs up again.
Now, after that digression, where is this leading to I here you say. Well, I discovered that the printer uses print cartridges faster than an MP gets through public-funded expenses. I also use this printer for this laptop, but have to either use a memory stick, or email a file to myself. We went out to buy new ink cartridges on Saturday, and we were appalled to discover that these were almost £50 (about $80 US) for the black and white and the color versions. A delightful young lady sales assistant pointed out a brand new Kodak printer was less than £20 more, including cartidges. This printer's ink cartidges cost about £20 per pair. Kerchung. I was sold. Of course, by the time I'd paid for the attachment cable (the old one would have done, of course), a 3 year warranty and a partridge in a pear tree, I'd parted with over £100. I was assured by the delightful young sales lady that ceteris paribus, I was 'quids in'. I wish I'd been two weeks younger....
It took several hours to install the darned thing, as being a typical male, I decided to look at the destruction manual after three attempts.
However, we now have a new 3-in-1 printer - much the same as the old one, but this one doesn't swallow all the paper at an angle when it is printing, not is the black print a weird shade of pink. My wife called it lilac or puce. (That's a subject for another day perhaps. Men have a few basic colors in addition to the major rainbow ones - red, blue, green, yellow, but women can have at least 1,000 variations on beige, for example.)
What I want to know is how Lexmark, Canon, Espon, HP and the other printer manufacturers can charge so much for ink cartridges when Kodak can do it for less than half? One manufacturer even gives a printer away free if you buy two of each cartridges.
I recall about two decades back, I used to sell large Hitachi printers to IBM Mainframe customers. These printers produced bank statements and their ilk in their millions. The cost of the beasts was usually under $100,000, but the running costs in cartridges was many times this cost over a year.
Perhaps I'm in the wrong business. I've even tried these offers whereby one injects ink into a dead cartridge, and apart from getting cartridge ink into places that I'd rather not mention (which are guaranteed to take until new skin grows before looking clean - alternatively use a Brillo Pad, which has the same desired effect), their efficacy was dubious.
I read once about the 'Paperless Office'. Tell that to the printer manufacturers!
Here endeth today's lesson.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Travelling Man

The last two weeks have seen me travel an awful lot of miles. The first leg was from Birmingham to Toronto, courtesy of a Thomas Cook 8 hour flight. I never knew that they owned aircraft. Interestingly, the distance from the seat in front (pitch for those in the know) was about 2 inches more than normal, but the seats themselves were very narrow - especially for some like me who are wide of girth.
After two days, we left for Florida - a mere 3 hours. Picked up the rental car which was a small Nissan - about the size of the Honda Fit/Jazz but with a smaller trunk. The Avis lady told us it was small and uncomfortable, so would we like an upgrade to a Sebring Convertible. At an extra $50 this seemed a bargain, until I was told this charge was per day - that was more than I was paying for the Nissan per day! Anyway, a convertible in Florida in the May sunshine is a perfect recipe for a burnt head. We visited my daughter's house and spent a while there before driving to Rotonda about 80 miles South to the rented house we had booked. This house is owned by some ex-colleagues of my wife's, and is superb. Check out their website, and let me know if you fancy staying there:
It has a nice pool and hot tub outside, plus a lot of space which is all screened in to avoid the mossies and noseeums. There's even a jaccuzzi in the main bathroom. Say no more. Susan, Doug and Carys came down Friday until Monday, and a good time was had by all. Doug and I sang a few songs, but we were not appreciated. We spent an hour on the beach, this was long enough as every person in Florida seemed to descend complete with their ghetto blasters. Why come to the beach and inflict noise on others, I shall never understand. It was a decent beach, and a smoke-free zone! I'd never seen that in Florida before. Mind you, several people ignored this. I managed to collect a few sharks teeth.
On the Tuesday, back to Canada. I love Canada, but still cannot comprehend why the whole country has to put up with French/English signs when only the East (Keybeck) speaks French. Everything in the national Parliament has to be translated. Such a waste of money in my view. A visit with Ricardipus on Mars was most enjoyable, and we discussed this and other important matters of the day. We spent a day in Niagara where I won some money, until my wife heard about it, and decided to buy some new handbags! The Falls never disappoint me. They are truly awesome.
Then an overnight flight back to Birmingham, arriving at 7 a.m. Saturday. This was most uncomfortable due to a group of Russian louts deciding to have 'fun'. Sleep was not possible. But at least no babies!
At 7 a.m. Monday, I had to fly to Germany for a meeting. I left home at 5:15 and got back about 9:30 p.m. I now need to sleep for a month! I'm getting way too old for this!
We returned to learn more about our glorious parliamentarians' shenanigans with their expenses. The Speaker of the House was finally forced to quit yesterday, and a good job too. He has been guilty of expenses misuse as well. He's the first Speaker to go in such a fashion since 1695, when Sir John Trevor - a Welshman - took a bribe of 1,000 guineas. Sir John had terribly crossed eyes, and started the habit of naming the MP who wanted to speak as he often saw three people in front of him. This habit continues today. It's sad when MPs abuse the system, and the whole country is up in arms about it. So many of the MPs have taken liberties, including Ministers. Our Dear Leader Mr Brown has promised that any Labour MP found guilty of fiddling their expenses will not be allowed to stand for Parlaiment next time. Unfortunately, that includes himself as he's been claiming all kinds of expenses for his 'second home' when he doesn't need one as he lives in No. 10 for free. Even the Queen has expressed her concern at the level of fiddling that's been going on. But MPs do work hard, don't they? They will close the shop tomorrow for three months - the Summer Recess. Maybe I should become an MP. I suspect that some of my friends would be aghast at such a thought as I have somewhat right-wing views in their opinion. I think I'm pure middle of the road. Mind you, as Maxine said, 'I'd like all our politicians to be middle of the road, that would make it easier to run them down.' She's priceless!
On that note, I must try to do some work to earn a crust.
Here endeth today's lesson.