The Soapbox Archives:
A few weeks ago, I commented on how disappointed I was with all the Hewlett-Packard (HP) inkjet printers I've encountered. My new tenant upstairs (a local dance promoter who probably moved in because he now had a tech support guy downstairs) had a problem with *his* HP All-In-One inkjet printer because the software indicated that one of the cartridges was empty. The *real* problem occurred when the software said that the *new* cartridge was also empty (it was bought last week).
Of course the printer was out of warranty and HP wanted $30 an hour for tech support. Having worked in technical support, I don't believe that tech support should be a profit center. If someone calls for tech support, that tells me that there's a problem with the product and the vendor should stand behind their product. The $30/hour charge is probably intended to discourage customers from calling with minor problems and encourage them to try to solve the problem themselves first.
I suggested a cheaper solution: go to the local office supply store (probably Staples or Microcenter; I love going to the MicroCenter) and buy a new cartridge. In this instance, the cartridge was only $21 and was probably a quicker/cheaper indicator of where the problem realy was. Inkjet cartridges are a pain; they can, will, and have dried up while sitting on the shelf. That's probably why my inkjet cartridges come with an on-board expiration date (I'm still pissed about that). All the features of newer/high-end cartridges with their sensors and software just mean that there's more points of failure and sometimes that means false positives. If the new cartridge works, then you'll know that the previous cartridge had a problem and it wasn't the printer or the computer, a very easy and inexpensive solution.
I'd like everyone to try something: if you have a problem getting a brand new inkjet cartridge to work with your existing printer and the manufacturer wants you to pay by the hour for support for your out-of-warranty printer, tell them that you're not asking for support on the printer; tell them you want support on the brand new inkjet cartridge that you just bought. In technical support, the first question we're suppose to ask is, "What's changed since the last time this product worked?" In this case, the only thing that's different is the ink cartridge and that's where the questions should start. Tell tech support that they should prove to you that the problem is not the brand new ink cartridge before they start charging you for help on the out-of-warranty printer.
As for HP, it appears that their business plan is to make less expensive printers and make their money off all the replacement ink cartridges. I think they should consider making their printers so awesome that no one would ever want to buy another brand of printers and would never need to look elsewhere for their color printing solutions.
When we lifted up the printer, we found a pool of magenta ink dripping from the bottom of the printer. Some mechanism had drained out all the ink and jammed up the sensors so any new cartridge would register as being empty. The case was built such that it wasn't worth the effort to try to open it up and clean up all the ink; the mechanism for dispensing the ink was probably damaged and unfixable by us. My friend was better off buying a new color printer; I think he said that he was going to look at the Canon brand.
On some days I seem to be sensitive to things that don't make a lot of sense.
The other day, I was leaving the restroom at a certain medical facility where I observed some guy leaving the restroom without washing his hands. This place had Purell® dispensers all over the building so they're obviously concerned about germs. I happened to be walking in the same direction as this guy so I observed him hitting the handicap switch for the doors to the cafe so the doors would open automatically. I had to wonder if this guy was concerned about catching germs from the door handles.
I've heard of a few instances of people sneaking into events where they're not suppose to be and/or haven't paid for. Since I know a lot of dance promoters, I hear many stories about these kinds of activities.
I can imagine numerous reasons for doing this:
The truth is, everyone else *doesn't* do it (i.e., sneak in without paying). The dance promoters work hard to provide a quality product and each paying customer gets to decide if it's worth handing over their hard-earned money to participate. It's not a victimless crime. Most of the admission cost is used to pay expenses. That includes the cost of the band, the hall rental, supplies, advertisement, and even insurance to protect the event. That leaves little to break even, much less make a profit. It's true that some people do get into events for free, but those people are usually those who have directly helped the event thrive.
The bottom line is that sneaking into an event without paying is *stealing*, regardless of whatever lame excuse they come up with.
What could happen if you got caught sneaking into an event? At best, you could get yelled at; you could get embarassed, especially in front of your friends. You could be banned from the event forever. At worst? You would be known as a *thief* and that's a label that'll take forever to get rid of. And there's nothing that says that the police won't be involved. So tell me, is it worth the risk?
One of the problems with any political discussions is getting people to agree on their definitions of the topics. Until they agree on the definitions and the scope of their definitions, they can't possibly find any common ground. One of these terms requiring definition, of course, is "gun control".
Gun rights advocates tend to think of gun control as really meaning "(total) gun bans". Gun opponents want all guns off the streets, period. I don't hear many people being reasonable and going for something in between.
Cars are one of the most essential things to having a decent life, yet they are *highly* regulated. You have to take a test and maintain your ability to drive safely as well as getting a picture ID every few years. You can't drive away without the minimum safety equipment, including undamaged windshields. You (legally) have to have emissions devices in place and working mechanics. Yet, driving is not a "right"; you can have your privilege to drive taken away (forever).
I think guns should be equally "regulated". If people are promoting government IDs for voters, then the priority should be to ID all gun owners before worrying about voters. If automobile drivers are required to take a test to prove their proficiency in driving a two-ton vehicle, then it makes sense to make sure that a potential gun owner knows how to use a firearm safely. Large ammo purchases, whether in a retail store or online, should trigger alarms and flags. If legitimate gun owners had licenses to own (and carry), then someone with evil intent might be stopped short or at least slowed down if they had to submit information that could lead law enforcement officials to them. If nothing else, it'd be easier and faster to purchase guns and ammo for licensed gun owners.
It makes sense to ban some equipment. There's no place for hunters who need an semi-automatic assaut rifle with a 15-bullet clip to hunt down Bambi's dad. Machine guns are banned from civilian use for obvious reasons (search Google for "batman", "colorado", "theater", and "death toll"); the only purpose for telfon-coaed ammunition is to pentrate bullet-proof vests (i.e., kill police officers). Hand guns are primarily used for defense; assault rifles really have only one purpose: to kill people. The bullet from an AR-15 (that is, a semi-automatic version of the Army's M-16) is more likely to kill (a human) than a lower-velocity bullet from a hand-gun (well, *most* hand guns).
Guns do have their use in self-defense. Someone with a gun in that Colorado theater might have slowed down the carnage waged by that murderer and allowed the possibility of more people to escape and/or catch or stop the killer. On the other hand, if the killer didn't have access to assault weapons (and all those bullets) then he might have reevaluated his chances of success and looked for something else less violent to do.
I'm not against legitimate and responsible gun ownership; I just think it's ridiculous to make it so easy for bad people to get guns.
PS: President Clinton implemented the ban on assault rifles back in 1994, but "Dubya" let the ban expire in 2004. At that point, a certain Massachusetts governor's signature extended that ban in this state. I wish he had the guts to stand up and call for the continuation of that ban on civililan ownership of assault rifles whose only use is to kill people. (FYI: this was covered in a recent issue of Time® magazine).