- 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.
I’m at YYZ, and despite the Canadian passport, I’m still Mr Designated Searched Guy. Thought that the passport might’ve changed things, but no. Sigh…
It does mean I no longer have to do those dumb visa waiver things, yay!
And it didn’t help that part of one of the lighting panels started to fall off inside the cabin before takeoff, so we had to taxi back, get it fixed, and head back out an hour later. Gotta love Air Canada.
01 Jun 2001: Sent forms with all fees
13 Jun 2001: Receipt acknowledged
26 Jun 2001: Medical forms and interview waiver received
07 Aug 2001: Took medicals
01 Sep 2001: Visas received
02 Apr 2002: Arrived in Canada
18 Mar 2006: Took citizenship
It’s been hard work, but worth it. Canada’s a decent place to live.
Some observations on how immigration worked for us:
- We did the application ourselves; all you need is on cic.gc.ca.
- Research ways of getting your money into Canada without incurring swingeing foreign exchange charges. This was perhaps our single biggest cost, and I’m sure we could have avoided some of it.
- Canadian banks are rather stuffy and inefficient. Expect to pay bank charges, and also expect the “free banking” banks to turn you down until you have a credit history.
- It takes several years to become credit worthy in Canada. It took about a year before we had a credit card at all.
- Get to know and love your public transit system. Most Canadian cities have decent transit, and living near a busy transit hub gets you around quickly.
- Join the library. Books, internet access, and information of what’s happening â€” and free, too.
- Owning a car is quite expensive. It’s not the purchase price or the fuel cost; insurance for new immigrants with no insurance record is unbelievable. If your employer can put you on their policy to drive one of their vehicles, you’ll find that it’ll cut your insurance premiums drastically.
- I ended up changing jobs more than I thought I might.
- Volunteering helped me get into the industry I really wanted to be in.
- Professional qualifications don’t import well. Ontario is getting a bit better at accepting foreign qualifications (my UK CEng counted for nothing) but there’s still a long way to go.
Not long after we arrived, I remember being slightly irritated when a fellow UK immigrant said, “The first three years are difficult, then it gets easy.” Looking back, I now agree with him.