Why 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.