Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Legacy Issues

For Christmas, I got a new computer (a given since my old one died). This new computer, while I know it will never love me, is nice. But it is presenting some issues with some of our legacy hardware that I'd rather not be dealing with at the moment.

First of all, no parallel port. I know it's old technology, but you know what? We've got a 15-year-old HP LaserJet 4L that still works like a top. Since we were married twelve years ago, we've had to buy only one toner cartridge, while our dumb little inkjet printer eats up the ink cartridges like nobody's business. So it's frustrating that as I sit here with the HP printer over my shoulder, I can't print to it.

I thought we had a solution -- a cable given to us from a friend meant to connect this parallel-connected printer through a USB port. But it's a Centronics cable, and we've got that ancient 25-pin connection going for us. We also thought we had a solution -- convoluted as it was -- through a local computer parts dealer, but no go. It involved a USB adapter coupled with a RS-232 serial port coupled with the parallel port. Did not work. Now I'm trying to order a USB to parallel cable through Wal-Mart, but that's having issues as well.

Part of it is Windows 7, I think. Now, before anyone dumps on Windows, let me say I like it. It's slick. I really enjoyed XP, but I've now had experience with Vista and 7, and I've not had trouble with either one of them. WIndows 7 is new enough, however, that the hardware issues are still playing catch-up.

Why, first of all, sell a computer without a parallel port? Sure, it's extra money. But why make me shell out extra money for a USB-compatible printer just because you're too cheap to put in a PCI card? I don't understand that. And as we don't buy in to the throwaway mentality we have these days, I can't justify dumping this HP printer just because I can't physically connect it to a computer. We'll use the Wal-Mart cable on my wife's XP machine and make do with that. We won't be buying a new printer until we can get a laser printer that doesn't use these ridiculous ink cartridges. And I won't fall into the mentality of buying a new printer every time an ink cartridge runs out. No way is that going to happen, because soon we'd be hip-deep in discarded printers and the planet would suffer untold agony from the extra hardware waste. Won't do it.

I applaud that technology marches on. I just don't think it ought to leave serviceable technology behind.

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