Evil computers sense you’re in a hurry and mess with your head

And printers play silly buggers for fun

119 Reg comments Got Tips?

Something for the Weekend, Sir?

Error 51: Consult service manual.

Error 51? Is that supposed to be a joke? I mean, it sounds like a bad pun on “Area 51”. Oh, those wacky error-message coders on the firmware development team, they kill me, they really do. Let’s try again.


Error 51: Consult service manual.

Come on, come on, don’t give me that. There’s nothing wrong with my laser printer, least of all an “Error 51” that, by definition, even the service manual admits is less likely than 50 much more credible potential errors. Besides, I used the printer earlier and it worked fine. It’s just playing silly buggers now.

Print, you dick.

Error 51: Consult service manual.

Have I tried switching it off and back on again? Well, let’s see, have you tried shoving your smartphone up your arse? Yes, of course I’ve played the restart game, even with a two-minute power-down with all cables removed.

The thing is, I can barely spare the two minutes. I’m in a desperate hurry and I have to get this stuff printed so I can run for a train. And you know what? This bastard printer knows I’m in a hurry. That’s why it’s doing this. It wants me to be late. Bastard. Bastard. Bastard.

Why I choose to put my livelihood at the mercy of electronic machines is anyone’s guess. I must be a fool.

Years ago, I interviewed a nice man who specialised in coloured glass and spent his days travelling the country, restoring stained-glass windows in churches. He left me aghast by saying that he was ditching that lifestyle now that he had bought a computer and from this moment on he planned to develop a career in designing atria for poncey city centre office blocks.

Can you imagine what it must be like to earn a decent living being paid to conserve art, by the honest toil of your own hands, using your unique craft and completed at your own pace, for clients who will always, without exception, be overjoyed with the results every time? Now compare this to giving it all up to fiddle about on an unreliable Chinese notebook and dealing with flaky, squealing, knobhead clients in the city who will pretend to be disappointed with your work so they can delay payment for 18 months.

Sure, slaving over stained glass in a damp Gothic stone hut in a provincial village lacks the thrill of designing an atrium over the swollen heads of rich bankers. But you can probably restore a church window without your hammer freezing up, your chisel crashing, your china-marker requiring an inconvenient scheduled update or your glass-cutting tools producing incomprehensible error messages.

Or, indeed, you ought to be be able to complete the job handsomely without having a team of deadheads dancing forever around behind you, barking orders, changing their minds every two fucking seconds and insisting that you must shave five days from your deadline because “God needs the window finished by Friday”.


Error 51: Consult service manual.

Error 51, Area 51, District 9, Level 42... no matter, they’re all ganging up on me. The old adage of the lightbulbs in your house popping at the same time may no longer apply thanks to the decline of incandescent models, but it damn well applies to everything else in my household at the moment.

Level 42- Live on the Tube Oct 1st 1985

One by one, various machines, gadgets and installations throughout the house have been relentlessly breaking down. In the space of 10 days, I progressed from a state of relative normality to one in which I could no longer cook in my own kitchen, piss in my own toilet or, now, print from my own printer.

Particularly galling is that I’m pretty sure the gas engineer broke my cooker hob by clumsily trying to fix it with a huge wrench that I suspect he borrowed off that bloke from Go West – to which I just (heh) closed my eyes. As for the plumber, he tried to correct a slow drip by dismantling the toilet entirely – scaring me in the process by apparently holding conversations with the various parts scattered about the floor – before giving up and shouting “I’ll let you know if I get the right washer!” as he buggered off out the door.

Given how many days I have already wasted awaiting a series of jokingly titled “workmen” to turn up in order to fail to do any appreciable work whatsoever – unless by “work” you mean “harm” – there’s no way that I am calling in a hardware engineer to cock up my printer as well. I’d rather buy a new one and, while my toilet remains out of order, use the old printer to shit in.

Print, scan, copy, fax, shit. Now that’s multifunctional.


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