James W. Meng

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Apparently I Am Supposed To Think That My Printer Has Been Stolen By A Rogue Penguin

here, see if you can guess which one

One thing that's nice to do occasionally, if you're into it, and good at it, is to get totally drunk and spew out onto a page everything you know about some totally idiotic, random, and esoteric subject that might happen to have enough popular appeal to eventually become interesting to someone.

This happens surprisingly often in Britain. There is a man, now happily publicly regarded as the “dullest man in Britain” who has produced a long run of calendars featuring totally mundane landscaping and traffic control devices – from roundabouts (the key to his fame) to park benches. I would love to say that this man had inspired me to write this article about HP printers, because he seems a man very much of my own heart, with passion inspired by the realities of his life, but in fact this article on my website has had a placeholder for several months predating The Guardian's article on Kevin Beresford and indeed I had no knowledge of Kevin before reading their article. Even more strangely, my own placeholder was inspired by an open-source programmer I'm not yet able to identify, but probably someone at HP, who disabled scanning on my new HP Deskjet 3700 series across basically all distributions of Linux shortly after I bought an aftermarket recycled black cartridge for it from the Belgian retailer HEMA.

Now, I can still use my scanner from my phone through official HP apps, so it's not such a big deal, but the moment inspired several other funny things in my own life – in particular, remembering other HP devices of a now-bygone age that lasted roughly from 2005 to perhaps 2019 – when their printers often failed as a result of remote surveillance intervention that was intended to send a message to the owners of those printers.

It became an obsession of sorts for me. In May 2015 I bought a certified-refurbished HP OfficeJet 8610 on Amazon and had it sent to my ex-wife's house in Seattle, where I was planning to move in just a few weeks' time. That printer worked well until after we divorced, and actually until the morning of one day when out of the blue the recruiting and interim employment agency Randstad had scheduled an appointment to meet me about – in theory – an IT recruitment role. Randstad is mostly, to be frank, a total criminal organization that I've written about elsewhere online already, but there seemed to be no consequence involved with meeting with them at the time as I already was planning to start another new job in two months' time after an European vacation to see a college friend get married and then blow my time and money on a beach in Odessa. But, the printer did a totally normal job of printing an unrelated document and then totally refused to print a copy of my CV and then disabled itself entirely. So I went without my CV.

Over the course of the rest of the day it became clear that the job was non-existent; that the interviewers – an Italian who had previously sold garbage mortgage debt securities at USBank from about 2007-onward and a fat stupid housewife from Seattle who was probably cluelessly in on just as much criminality – were not inclined to invest in anyone worthwhile at all; and that the connivance of disabling my printer was just an intimidation tactic that they were probably not even aware of. It was an old, cheap printer that I'd barely spent any money on, and I knew well the notorious unreliability of inkjet printers. When I was in university, majoring in Russian, I owned a Chinese laser printer by Brother for this exact reason.

Could I recruit good IT specialists successfully if one was able to disable my printer remotely before the interview? Of course. I'm descended (among other things) from probably one of the nastiest, most brutal Polish noble families in history, nearly run out of Poland just before the first World War. Our coat of arms is a set of crossed spears, much like that of the Rothschilds, but with one additional spear. So for me – well, give a nerd from an historically-agripeasant population some insignificant power and, oh, look what they do. Big deal. Nothing anything the past seven or so generations of my family haven't seen before. It's easy to deal with those people. They're just lazy, stupid criminals. Lots of fun ways to remind them of what happens to criminals.

But the Italian field niggers and the Anglo peasant house-pigs never, ever understand that. They always go into every situation expecting that they can use the same tactics that illiterate peasants have used for the past half-millenium to win totally irrelevant disputes. Put somebody's head on a pike for pocket change? No thanks. Not worth anyone's time, and not worth the blow-back. So, OK, you won my dead refurbished HP. Bought it for 80 dollars, turned the old cartridges in at Staples for 40 dollars in store credit, recycled it, bought some random stuff I needed anyway with the store credit and just used my office printer until I fled the country a year later. Did you win? I'm pretty sure you didn't win. Randstad still hasn't ever won anything with me. They now just leave me alone.

But HP, well, HP apparently wouldn't leave me alone. Carly Fiorina, another Italian peasant, ran through that place as CEO while I was still a kid and fired everyone who wasn't a useless field nigger and effectively shut down every worthwhile research project they had. And I hadn't bought nearly enough ink cartridges, I guess, over the ensuing decade of my life, what with my collegiate fondness for Chinese laser printers and what-not.

So, years later I'm in Belgium, with an HP Deskjet 3700 I bought from someone in the depths of provincial Wallonia on a second-hand website for 30 euro (because I refuse to buy any HP product new, and I always like to help people get rid of HP products.) It wouldn't print. Empty black cartridge. OK, this is one of the rare models that will print normally with just a color cartridge, or just a black cartridge, but you have to remove the empty cartridge for it to work again, and most people don't know that. So I threw away the empty black cartridge, used up the remaining color cartridge, and then it was decision time. Well, I still didn't want to give the Italian Field [TRABLUMPKIN]-approved peasants at HP any money for a cartridge, so after a brief online search to be sure I was getting the best possible deal, I walked into a HEMA store and walked out with a recycled 19ml black cartridge for 25 euro. And this quickly made HP's entire open-source division lose their fucking minds.

To wit, the image above is from their website. A lineup of penguins, all HP-branded, with a modestly obese one with a particularly large frontal lobe clutching a Deskjet 3700. All of a sudden xSane (the main Linux scanning software package that underlies most others) wouldn't work any longer with my printer. I could still print, as long as I didn't use any variant of IBM's shithole acquisition Red Hat (e.g., RHEL, CentOS, Fedora, etc.) any longer, but no distribution of Linux except Russia's government Astra Linux would let me scan at all.

I went back to the second-hand website and began researching HP printers from the same period as my remotely-disabled OfficeJet 8610, buying them up for nominal amounts or just collecting for free every single one nearby. All but one were dead. All appeared to have been remotely disabled. All went into proper e-waste recycling after I examined them.

This company – HP – was and is a joke. Now they have left Belarus and Russia entirely. I understand the necessity of kicking them out. If I could look back at the research I did and say, wow, bro, look at what you were doing on X date when your HP printer died and you'll learn something profound about your life I guess that would be interesting, but sadly, it all just seems to have been a lot of meaningless psychological experimentation and behavioral economics for the benefit of the Italian-American field [TRABLUMPKIN] criminals that Carly Fiorina put on massive amounts of US dollar welfare when I was still in elementary school.

So, like I said before, go backwards. Pull the Coke bottle out of your ass. You'll be glad you did.

UPDATE: The Verge have written an amusing article about the latest variant of the Chinese laser printer I had in college. It's still what I recommend, if you need a real printer.