largo

I just installed IBM® Lotus® Symphony™. I don’t have the pokiest PC on the block, but in order to make it run at any speed at all, you’d need to have a bit of grunt in your PC. My VIA SP13000 box takes a couple of minutes just to bring up the main window.

To be fair, OpenOffice isn’t the fastest starter either; none of them have large bits of themselves running in the Windows system code, unlike MS OfficeThey both work, and are free – and Symphony looks a deal prettier than OpenOffice. As there’s no Mac version of Symphony yet, I’m unlikely to switch just yet.

All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

esr@microsoft.com?

You’ve maybe heard about this ‘open source’ thing? You get one guess who wrote most of the theory and propaganda for it and talked IBM and Wall Street and the Fortune 500 into buying in.

 — the enormous ego of Eric Raymond, responding to a job offer at Microsoft.

brr brr bddr brr weew brr brr

Apologies to our neighbours for my testing the Wheelwriter this morning. This is what I found out about it (after having to compile in parallel printer support to the kernel, grr):

Do we need CRs? : yes
Does it talk ASCII? : yes, subset
Bidirectional? : yes

I chickened out and installed the Courier 10 printwheel just so I could use spaces to line things up. I don’t like Courier at all, but at least it’s easy to manage.

It’s strange that, in this age that we are creating information at an unparalleled rate, we’re also losing it just as fast. While IBM Wheelwriter codes from the late 1980s do not represent the lost wisdom of the ancients, it is something of our knowledge, and once lost, diminishes us all.

Therefore, send not for whom the (carriage return) bell tolls; it tolls for thee …

A helpful error message

IBM
DB2
just gave me this far from helpful error
message:

DB21034E  The command was processed as an SQL statement because it was not a
valid Command Line Processor command.  During SQL processing it returned:
SQL0010N  The string constant beginning with "'" does not have an ending
string delimiter.  SQLSTATE=42603

As a human, or a close facsimile of one, I don’t need to
know the internal server codes DB21034E and
SQL0010N. I don’t need to know that the command was
processed as an SQL statement, because that’s what I was
hoping it would be all along. And I definitely don’t want
to know that SQLSTATE is 42603, for I’m not sure if it
would be very much better or worse if it were 42604. Or 2.
Or, for that matter, 999999999996.

And all this for mismatched quotes around a string.