Let's... drawer a veil over why this laser printer would decide to stop working randomly

Easiest call-out ever (after a pinch of sleuthing)


On Call Friday is here, and with it a tale of extraordinary sleuthing courtesy of The Register's On Call.

Today's story, from a reader Regomised as "Steve", concerns the world of toner cartridges, paper and laser printers.

Steve filled the engineering role many of us have done at one time or another, and was responsible for first, second and third-line support. Whenever something went wrong at his workplace, there was a good chance that he would be tasked with fixing it.

Back in those days the majority of users were equipped with a diminutive laser printer. Doubtless quicker, more reliable and with a lower cost per page than an inkjet, the devices cheerfully spewed out printed paper when required. Except, of course, for that one user who kept calling on Steve for assistance.

On the first "my printer doesn't print" call, he trotted over to the user's desk. A flick of the dip-type power switch and all was well.

"A couple of days later," he told us, "I had the same call yet again. Again I found the printer was switched off."

A few more days and the user complained yet again. Once more, the printer had mysteriously turned itself off.

Donning his deerstalker, Steve decided a bit more investigation was needed. The user swore that nobody had been near the power switch. There was also no magical bit of software that could flip a physical bit of plastic.

A ghost in the machine, perhaps?

As he surveyed the user's work area, applying Sherlockian deductive reasoning, the answer became clear.

"You've moved some of the furniture around haven't you?" he asked.

Doubtless amazed at Steve's clairvoyance, the user replied that, yes, some furniture had indeed been repositioned. How did he know?

We imagine Steve was faced with a difficult choice at this stage. Keep the IT magic a secret or stop the ongoing flow of support calls. He picked option 2.

"I then sat at the user's desk and opened the desk drawer. It opened and neatly hit the power switch on the printer and turned it off."

And that's magic.

"The user," he said, "had not made the connection of opening the drawer and the 'printer isn't working again'.

"I moved the printer an inch to solve the problem."

Ever found yourself having to tug the curtain of IT magic aside in order to spare yourself from an unending stream of muppetry, or fixed a simple thing with a flourish that preserved your engineering mystique? We may have, and you should share your own experience with an email to On Call.

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