The Friday Fillip

A very brief fillip today. I’m running out of time… Just as at times your printer runs out of toner. Or says so, at least.

Apparently, some printers lie. Well, at least they exaggerate. Slate has an interesting article that explores this phenomenon: “Take That, Stupid Printer! How To Fight Back Against The Lying, Infuriating, Evil Ink-And-Toner Cabal,” by Farhad Manjoo. Seems that Brother laser printers, the author’s model at the time of writing, have an evil eye that senses when the toner falls below a certain level and causes the machine to down tools. A tiny piece of black tape over that sensor and the presses roll once again — in some cases for a thousand more clearly printed sheets.

Printers are pessimists — the cup is half empty — because, of course, their makers make their money from the overpriced cartridges you must buy, and not from their poor mechanical host. This is known as the razor and blade phenomenon, a kind of bait and switch, if you ask me. In fact, some people are upset enough to have launched class actions against HP and Epson.

More promising, perhaps, is the fact that Kodak, newly ousted from the film business by, well, the disappearance of film, has turned to making printers that use cheap ink cartridges — $10 in some cases.

So next time your printer says it’s run out of toner, see if there isn’t a way to fool it back into service. And failing that, chuck it for a machine that charges less than an arm and a leg for toner.

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