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When printers go bad

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Just so that you are prepared in the event that something like this should ever happen to you, know that if you are having strange problems with your printer, problems that mean your printer still prints but believes its cartridges need to be aligned, and you think it may be right because both the uber-cool postcard design you've been working on to say 'hello' and 'thanks' (as the case may be) to stauch supporters of your creative show (and of your creative side) and the very 'powerful' invitation to the 'turning 6' birthday party both printed out in colors that were just not "quite" right... if you are having those problems but every time you say, "okay, go ahead and align the cartridges," it spit the paper back out at you saying, "paper too narrow. Please load wider paper," and you finally decide to log on to the manufacturers site and take advantage of online chat help... and they pop a web page up in your browser that tells you to perform a bunch of steps while they wait... and one of those steps involves checking the little plastic cover that hides and protects the media sensor...

don't do it!

I say this because, I did just that. While my nice customer service person waited, I started going through the steps. And as I got to the one about the media sensor cover, I moved to my printer, saying, "well, this must be it" (while M says, from the other side of the office, "no, not that, surely"). And, as I say it, I struggle to remove the cover, and it finally goes "pop" and flies off...

never to be seen again.

We search and search. I stick my fingers into the hidden right side of the printer only to pull them out covered in squishy black ink (which, ummm, I don't think should be there).

My customer service person is still waiting, and for the next half hour... maybe closer to an hour... I sit with the printer (which must weigh 30 pounds) and turn it this way and that and shake it and pound on it. I use q-tips to try and get the puddles of goopy ink from the side in case the little cover somehow flipped into there and stuck. We can't find a flash light, but we find a small lanternlike flashlight to try and shine more light into the inside. We search on the floor and try to enlist the boys' help in searching. I take the printer and shake and pound on it some more. I finally give up and plug it all back in only to repeatedly have it tell me it's jammed, stalled, or there is a carriage problem. I'm sure my shaking, pounding, and whacking haven't helped matters.

Every so often, I see the help box on my screen flicker as the help person retypes... "I'm still waiting. Have you completed those steps yet?"

If they ask you to check the media sensor cover, be very careful. Mine vanished. Completely. It's gone.

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