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Counterpoint:

My office has a printer, yes, it's available over the wireless network. However, it cost... somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. I'm not entirely sure, we have a five year lease on the thing, and it costs something like $500/month to run. It's an okay printer, as long as you run Windows.

There is a postscript module for the printer, but it costs around $1000, so Mac/Linux machines are out of luck, and our vendor hasn't actually said when we can get such a postscript module installed. (And I get people in my office at least once a week asking how they can print from their MacBook.)

From a hardware perspective, we've come a long way. From a software perspective, it's a wonder that we're still using proprietary nonsense protocols for printing and scanning. And my organization is stuck with a 5 year lease. But even if we weren't stuck with a 5-year lease, it's a $10,000 printer that is incompatible with OS X.

That said, I think this article is over the top and mostly wrong. But it is a great jumping-off point to talk about the limitations of the jumble of incompatible technologies we find ourselves working with, and how we can make them better.




I wasn't sure where to chime in on these comments but this one resonated with me because I used postscript for a year at hp and it's a remarkable language. I think it's a shame that it's mostly unknown today and the opaque pdf standard has taken over.

The world has largely established that http is the way to query devices and control them. Device drivers are the spawn of the devil to me and completely unnecessary (thank you Microsoft). They may very well be the pinnacle of what I'm complaining about.

Printers could have a free wireless web interface where you upload any file type from tiff to doc and it "just works." I realize it's more complicated than that because of colorspaces and half toning and blah blah blah. But it shouldn't be.

And I shouldn't need any special software to save images from my scanner or take a snapshot with my webcam. I actually wrote a command line tool on the Mac to tell Quicktime to save a snapshot from the webcam as a file. That is pathetic and makes me want to hit myself over the head with a sledgehammer.

I don't think I've said anything earth shattering here but wake me up when any of this happens.

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"Device drivers are the spawn of the devil to me and completely unnecessary (thank you Microsoft)."

We sort of had this before Windows. When you bought a printer you had to make sure it had an Epson FX mode to support Wordstar, Diablo 630 to print you invoices and IBM Proprinter to print your mainframe reports. It was a bloody mess.

The Windows printer driver model isn't great and MS appear to recognise this, but things were a lot harder when every application did it's own thing.

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No other industry has the features you seem to want. You can't just put any tires on your car and have it just work. You can't just throw any gas in it.

As for printers, PS was proposed as a standard so that printers "just worked". It cost money to license, not every jumped on board, and so it didn't establish itself as the dominant brand. PDF is based on PS and people could certainly standardize around it. The problems are the same as with PS, however.

Your screenshot example. I assure you that you are not the first person to think of this feature. Apple does distribute Photo Booth with OS X after all. Is your complain then that they didn't cater to an the incredible minority with a command line tool to do this? I don't see this as a reasonable complaint. It's certainly not something to hit yourself over the head with.

None of this has anything to do with computers nor state-of-the art. Your complaints seem to be that society is not catering to your specific needs quite enough. Or that people are not working together quite enough. While I agree with you on the later point, it's not worth getting so worked up over. It's always been this way and likely always will.

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It cost money to license

Also the only decent-performance chips doing it were from Adobe, and they weren't cheap. At the time, this would have pretty much cut the low-end printer market to the ground. The high-end printer market, of course, pretty much all did PostScript if you asked them to.

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I don't think he's complaining that there is no CLI utility by default, but rather that he can't write one other than by going through Quicktime, because instead of a widely accessible (e.g. HTTP) server, it has some proprietary driver.

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Try using PCL. My wife's office had a printer that didn't have a postcript module option. Every technician said it was impossible to print from the Mac to it. I tried a couple of CUPS PCL drivers and it worked fine.

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