15 May 07Why Does Printing Suck?

Since the dawn of time man has asked three eternal questions.

Why am I here?

Is this all there is?


Why does printing suck so badly?

I mean, WTF? It sucks whether I’m using OS X or Windows. It possibly even sucks on Linux. It’s a little hard to say, though, as Linux is only used as a desktop operating system by four trolls living under a bridge in Norway.

And I don’t mean “troll” in the sense of the forum pejorative. These are actual trolls.

But anyway, I am uniquely qualified to address this question as I was there when printing was invented. And it was not at all like you have heard. Or can imagine.

Until I tell you about it. And then you’ll probably be able to imagine it. Or at least get a fairly good idea. Not perfect, of course, but directionally correct.

Yes, I saw the Navajo god Aychpee cast the ASCII characters upon the fire and conjured them to appear on sheets of birch bark left hanging from the roof of the sweat lodge. Sadly, the conjuring of spirits is not easily translated to the world of ones and zeros.

Works a little better with analog, but that’s not really relevant to this story.

Attempting to take printing to the digital world got off to a rocky start. When Wang (stop giggling) forced the first printer driver coders to spend 18 days in the desert in nothing but a loin cloth and do mescaline to try to get in touch with their spirit guides, the result wasn’t exactly user-friendly.

Actually, it was 142 pages of Wingdings. It was only after the second attempt where they had some park rangers stand over their shoulders and put in the occasional semicolon or squiggly bracket that they actually got the printers to respond.

And that was on the Wang (stop giggling), which only used four characters.

Those characters were…


No. It was a, e, t and the ampersand (stop giggling).

But that was over 40 years ago. You’d think they would have gotten it right by now, right?

Sadly, discord between competing furies continues to cause things like Print Center or Printer Setup Utility or whatever it’s called this week. Even Apple’s continued attempts to appease these furies by naming its operating system releases after big cats has yielded them little.

There is hope for the future, however. Apple’s web site currently lists one opening entitled “Shaman”, another “Dark Mystic” and a third “9th Level Warlock”, although the latter is thought to be to deal with the evil goat.

Printing. Alas, we are stuck with it.

Until Apple releases digital paper with tiny bubbles that change color that can be reused as many times as you like.

Which, fortunately, is going to be next week.

No Responses to “Why Does Printing Suck?”

  1. Dreil says:


  2. redeyebase says:


  3. Dreil says:

    Wang? hehe

  4. His Steveness says:




  5. His Steveness says:



  6. redeyebase says:

    Whatever happened to Guttenberg?

  7. Nxxx says:

    You are right Master John but then you always are.

    Answer. Instal a Monotype or Linotype machine in each dwelling.

    Bring back the hot lead.

    Not you NRA, sit down.

  8. ash says:

    im hungry.

  9. Carbonfish says:

    Thor kinda rambles doesn’t he? I don’t like to denigrate people I haven’t personally met… but he sort-a writes like he’s been drinking, or just had his meds adjusted or something.

    I’m just sayin’

  10. Jobo da hobo says:


  11. Ace Deuce says:

    Wow. Thor finally posted something. With an actual prediction.

    Has he ever been wrong?

  12. Bandar the Invinsible says:

    Dirtiest of the Dozen.. How does that go in wingdings again?
    I’m a little short on mescaline…

  13. Sudo Nym says:

    I wouldn’t print at all, but my cursive is just totally illegible, @#$!?*!& it.

  14. 2000guitars says:

    Wang (hehe) of Doom

  15. chouffie says:


    (sorry about that, cat on keyboard)

  16. scared monster, better known as Le Chef De La Cuisine, says:

    My fonts are made of little wood blocks, arranged by dwarves in the basement. I send a mail with the text, and they print it on a thin lamb skin.
    Takes a little time, but I can cook a Lamb, with garlic and cider, at very page. To be eaten with flageolet beans, roasted potatoes (in duck fat !).
    Red wine, a Haut-Médoc, I would suggest. 1996.

  17. Rip Ragged says:

    I’m 18 and I like it.

  18. Doc Wolfram says:

    19 is prime.

    I like it!

  19. nonlinearG says:

    “Whatever happened to Guttenberg?” Its still a little Iowa town on the Mississippi. Always check your Rand McNally for answers to geographically significant questions.

    Are you familiar with the half court press? It was also invented by Guttenberg.

  20. Magnanimous Wang says:

    He stole my name.

    John Moltz is John Gruber!

  21. blank says:

    Glad to see that Thor is back. What a guy!

    I can only hope to be half that cool when I grow up.

  22. Anomynous says:

    I’m printing this for future reference.

  23. OMGHAX says:

    I can only echo the comments of blank.

    When I grow up, I too want to be an expert of all the deadly arts!

    Speaking of trolls, did yall see that whole thing with Bruce Willis on iChat?

  24. kingthedestroyer says:

    Thor posting, what happened to John? I mean it’s OK that Thor finally comes up with something, but I can’t help but wonder, is John locked in a closet somewhere , was he just to hung over to come up with something or is just throwing Thor a bone?

  25. Walking Contradiction says:

    Thor’s article postulated this:

    Since the dawn of time man has asked three eternal questions.
    Why am I here?
    Is this all there is?
    Why does printing suck so badly?

    Damn I’m disconnected from reality. I thought the three eternal questions were:

    How can we eat?
    Why do we eat?
    Where shall we have lunch?

    I always thought printing sucked because of all those 1’s and 0’s. Give the computer the ability to understand the concept of ‘2’ and printing will be just fine. Give the computer the ability to understand the concept of ’42’ and printing will be better than life itself!

  26. Sudo Nym says:

    “Life itself” isn’t all that great for some of us.

    And no, I do NOT live under a bridge in Norway. I live under a bridge in Ohio. One of those nice old covered bridges you don’t see much anymore.

  27. Rip Ragged says:

    What. Am I SPAM now?

  28. Rip Ragged says:

    Printing does not suck. Cursive writing sucks. I hate all those fucking loops.

    Yes. I believe the modifier “fucking” is useful and clarifying in this context.

    Having a pedicure does not obligate one to have a flower painted on one’s big toenail. Honest.

  29. Step says:

    Glad to see that Gor is back. What a guy!

    I can only hope to be half that cool when I throw up.

    (Hey, I changed 3 letters! Whaddaya want?! )

  30. doom pa de dum says:

    If you think printing sucks, you’re probably just printing the wrong thing. I like prining money, and it’s swell.

  31. doom pa de dum says:


  32. Too all-beef patty says:

    Don’t try carbon paper on the monitor screen. Let me tell you, THAT doesn’t work.

  33. Outrider says:

    Listen, it’s about the trolls. The trolls you refer to are from a fable. They don’t exist. They aren’t real. It’s a lie. Real trolls live in the mountains, have grey rubbery skin, are about eight feet tall, have long dexterous fingers with sharp filthy claws, can regenerate body parts. They will also rip your face off and eat it in front of you. But you cannot see this because of course, your face has been ripped off and is being shoved into the gaping yaw of a troll. So scream so more. It won’t help but it will annoy the troll and it will get to the killing more quickly.

    Linux users are not trolls, except for the ones with the food in their beards and the really hairy feet. They live in Finland.