Sunday, December 09, 2007

We Don't Have All The Money Yet

A couple of years ago, after suffering from using bad computer printers for years, I forked over the money for a truly good laser printer. I did some research, and really had required two features-- an adequate job printing envelopes and the ability to duplex (print both sides of a piece of paper). I didn't need color, and I didn't need a lot of paper sizes, and I didn't need automatic feed, or scanning and faxing. I came up with the HP 1320. It's small, reliable, fast, quiet, high resolution, and it duplexes. Of course, it ended up being about the most expensive printer in its class, but I didn't mind. I had also been using laser printers for long enough to know the sticker shock that comes the first time you buy a toner cartridge.

Laser toner is expensive. And for this printer, there are two different cartridges available. There's the 49A, which costs about 70 bucks, and the 49X, which costs about 130 bucks. Yikes! They both do the same thing-- supply toner for print jobs. The difference is the 49A cartridge prints about 2500 pages, the 49X prints about 6000 pages. Even though it's about 80% more expensive at the store, it's 50% more economical. My experience validates the pages per cartridge claims, though I don't keep detailed records about that kind of thing.

My question is why does HP sell the 49A cartridges? Is it the under $100 price point that makes them think they'll sell them that way? Or are they just selling to the rubes? I have to assume most home users are completely intimidated by their printer and its complexity-- they just get the number that shows on the last one, and hope they can remember how to install it. I have no idea why they sell the smaller one! It's a bad idea, that's all I know. The difference is 49A = 3 cents per page, 49X = 2 cents a page. The 49A costs 50% more per page than the 49X. Google and read. It's the only defense.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A damned waste and a shame

Last week, on Friday I believe, a man walked into the Hilary Clinton campaign headquarters in Rochester, NH with some highway flares and wires strapped to his chest and demanded to speak with Hilary Clinton herself. Here's the CNN version of the story.

The guy is stupid, and obviously capable of making spectacularly bad decisions. He wanted to get mental health treatment, but had been rebuffed because he couldn't afford it. When Mrs. Clinton boasted about having intervened to get health treatment for some poor but deserving child whose parents couldn't afford it, the guy thought, "this is the person to talk to." Now it's patently obvious to anyone with half a mind a boast like that from a presidential candidate is hollow and worthless, and anyone who hears it and thinks otherwise has got to be a danger to society and likely to himself.

The waste and the shame of the situation, though, is that the town's law enforcement establishment was able to call in all the specialist, para-military, SWAT teams, and reinforcements and equipment from all the towns around, who put together a huge operation to subdue this malefactor and restore the peace. Mrs. Clinton was flown by private jet to and from NH in the same day, to allow her to address the families of the (already freed) hostages, and to wring her hands and laud all of the heroism going on all around on the parts of everyone, involved or not in the ordeal.

The neo-military response, and the ad hoc satellite links, hastily dispatched media teams, and flying dignitaries around and about, most likely cost 100 times what the poor schmuck needed for his "treatment" (probably 60 days of hospitalization and a couple of prescriptions, along with some follow-up one-on-one with a therapist-- or about $100,000 of uninsured coverage). And now he's in jail, under observation, and will be charged today in local court, and then, likely, in federal court later on. He's using (most likely, I have no idea, actually) a court-appointed attorney, tying up a bunk at the county jail, and will likely be fed for free for years once he's finally convicted and sentenced.

This is a waste and a shame. Our society has become incredibly cold and callous in the face of the human waste, degradation, and distress that exists out there. And the media has become stunningly misleading in reporting this stuff. This is a small-town personal crisis that's been inflated to the level of an attack on our national electoral process. I just hope now the guy can get a fair trial. And maybe a prescription for some Lithium or Xanax. Shame.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I still hate Sundays

I still hate Sundays. I've been blogging and ranting and complaining about them since even before there were blogs on the internet, back when the tubes were too small.

Sunday means I have to go back to work tomorrow. Grrr... I hate it. I guess my weekend was pretty good, but not good enough to make up for the fact that last week was atrociously bad, and I still have some quite difficult work to do before I go on vacation for the rest of the year.

I expect I'll keep everyone posted on work and other activities. Hannukah starts this Tuesday evening. On Wednesday night, I'm going to light the candles with Helen. That should be very nice.

Oh, and I'm posting this from a desktop application in Linux. Yesss...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

This is not news

Yesterday in Rochester, NH (about 25 miles from here) some poor sick schmoe with persistent mental health problems decided to ratchet his life crises up a notch, and so taped some wires and crap to his chest and walked into a Hilary Clinton campaign office to announce he was taking hostages and wanted to negotiate some concessions. He was pissed off about, among other things, the state of mental health care in this country, a topic about which I am sure he had some expertise. He insisted on speaking with Larry King (sure to help in a situation like this!), and the network news (another sure source of help). Emergency police squads from around the area were called in. All the unused Homeland Security equipment, which had, until now been stored away in footlockers was now hauled out, unwrapped, dusted off, primed, loaded, and made ready. I am sure instruction books and training manuals were cracked open and skimmed. The local cops got a chance to change out of their blue uniforms and don camouflage, and probably got to work some overtime. Night vision scopes were mounted on helmets. Ms. Clinton was kept in constant apprisal with the situation through satellite uplinks. She happened to be in Virginia at the time, and the online coverage of the crisis, even from the normally level-headed New York Times, indicated that the candidate may not have been in any immediate danger. She thanked her campaign volunteers and the law enforcement people for their courage. The malefactor was eventually subdued (he walked out of the office with his hands up-- he was wearing a white shirt and a tie). Candidates and security pundits from around the country are using the opportunity to comment on readiness and safety. Apparently our electoral apparatus, as well as our society in general is expected to survive this grave threat. I assume much of the security equipment functioned as planned, and was not too badly decomposed from its extended storage. The tear gas and stun grenades and night-vision goggles and sniper scopes are all now packed back into their bubble wrap. Crisis resolved. This isn't news.