The agony of getting there

| Having just completed the migration of my web development server to a reconstituted "real" Linux system, I discovered that not being able to print things was a considerable handicap. I'm a paper person, not a screen person, and I just find it so much easier to deal with code when I can print it out. But — there's always a "but" — my Canon printer doesn't support Linux. However, I found out that the HP Photosmart c6280 printer that I have does support Linux.

I was not home free, however. The reason I had stopped using the HP printer about a year ago (at least!) is that it one day made a horrible grinding noise and then displayed an arcane and ominous error message: "Ink system failure, error 0xc18a0106. See printer documentation." Not being of a mind to deal with that at the time, I simply stopped using the printer in favor of the Canon.

Fast forward to this week. I bought all new ink cartridges and put them in. "Ink system failure, error 0xc18a0106...." OK, I would see the printer documentation, where it referred me to a specific web page at HP Support. I went there. It said I had to clean the print head, so I printed off the pages — all 11 of them — and girded my loins for battle.

By the second page it was obvious that the illustrations in the instructions did not match my actual printer in the least! Obviously for some other printer!

When in doubt, Google. Near the top of the search results was a link to, annotated with a comment: "I am SO HAPPY to have found this site & the instructions to fix...0xc18a0106."

The instructions came from "joebloe" who said he got them from HP Chat support and "was able to follow them like anyone who has ever microwaved popcorn and not become his own grandpa." The instructions sounded dubious, consisting of several steps involving holding certain buttons simultaneously and then pushing certain other buttons sequentially, turning off, turning on, etc. On the other hand, there were countless laudatory comments testifying that joebloe's procedure worked for them. What have I got to lose? The printer was worthless in its failed state, so I couldn't make matters any worse.

To make a long story short, damned if it didn't work, exactly as advertised. The printer cleared the error message and then went through many minutes of initializing steps. Voila!

I have never like the Photosmart C6280, from day 1. At the time I was still using Windows Vista, and HP had not produced drivers for Vista. After I eventually got it working, it kept telling me that the duplex attachment (for printing on both sides of the paper) was not installed, but it clearly was! If I just clicked OK, it would go ahead and print on both sides of the paper. But how many times will you go through this nonsense before becoming completely fed up? Me, not so many. A call to HP support connected me with "Marjorie" (or whatever) in India who insisted that the solution to my problem was to install the drivers for a different printer, which I did — it trashed my whole system, and I had to reinstall almost everything.

The Photosmart C6280 did a wonderful job at printing pictures — if I could get the photo paper tray to close properly. Big woo! I almost never print pictures any more. And as for other printing tasks, see above. In short, it is a turkey. (I'd call it a lemon, but that would be rude to citrus.)

Although I worked for Hewlett Packard 15 years and retired from there with lovely parting gifts, I have to say that the consumer products I have had from HP have all been failures. Several HP desktops and laptops all died at inopportune times. The HP printers that I've had were also royal pains. And I've never had an encounter with HP Support that didn't leave me fuming and frustrated. I can't imagine buying any more HP products.

Oh, I forgot to mention that uninstalling the printer software so I could update it went through a series of 12 steps. Then a series of 4 steps.Then a series of 6 steps. Another series of 6 steps. Another series of 4 steps, and then required a reboot! And the installation file for the new drivers was 333Mb! It went through four stages: checking the system, preparing the system, installing software (9 steps), configuring the software (8 steps), followed by a reboot and then more configuring upon rebooting. And I had to go through this three times because it kept losing track of the networked printer and couldn't find it after it was installed.

And why does every software vendor think I want yet another toolbar added to my browser? And can we stop with the icons on the desktop? Vista and Windows 7 were supposed to give you a nice clean desktop — but everybody wants to clutter it up with icons. Bah!

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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