A now-defunct, grad-student-written help page for printing in my department began with the sentence, “Printing doesn’t really work at [this department].” It went on to describe some options that might, if one were lucky, produce pieces of paper with ink, and where those pieces of paper might be found in the building.
When I first arrived, I was assigned a “new” desktop computer. This computer, like those of my fellow students, refused to speak to any of the printers in the building. After a good deal of pestering, I convinced one of our IT guys to provide me with a program that would allow computer-printer communication (I have no idea why this program was not given to everyone by default). This program had to be re-run every time my machine was restarted, and it would only allow printing directly from the command line, never from within an application.
Several years later, I installed a new operating system on my computer (because it was faster and less hair-pullingly frustrating that waiting for the IT guys to fix what was wrong with the old one). This included setting up printing myself. For a brief and glorious period, I was able to print from any application.
Then my officemates and I were booted out to a portable trailer. For exactly three days, I was still able to send documents to the fancy printers in the main building as well as to an old black-and-white printer that had been set up for us in the trailer.
When I returned from maternity leave, the trailer printer was not broken, but it was no longer talking to my computer. The other printers’ network had been subtly changed, for reasons the IT guys chose not to share. After some fiddling with settings, I could still print from any program, but I had to hike outside to pick it up. This set-up probably encouraged me to save paper.
Recently, the most-used printer was “helpfully” upgraded to a newer model. Not only can I no longer print to that machine, but I apparently can no longer print to ANY printer on the network. If I can’t figure this out or find another student who can help me, I might have to break my current rule of IT avoidance.
“Printing doesn’t really work,” indeed.