bodger: xkcd android girlfriend arc weld cherry stem (Default)
I had a need for a new, different printer. Ink jet printers produce beautiful images, but they're delicate and run and smear when wet. Worse, if I only use the printer occasionally, the nozzles clog and I use a lot of expensive ink getting them working again. If I want to print gold or silver foil, I use my ancient Alps MD-5000, which isn't supported by modern computers.

So I elected to buy a Canon Selphy ES-30 which is a compact dye sublimation photo printer that can also print gold and silver foil. It was listed as having Macintosh support, which is good because I don't do windows. It's a cute little thing, and takes its printing supplies as little cartridges that contain both the paper and the dye sub ink sheets. This makes it easy to switch between different media, and ensures that the ink and paper stay in synch and are compatible. They're specialized enough that they'll only ever be available from Canon, and they're not particularly cheap. But that's fine, it's cost effective for my occasional use.

But then it turns out that the Macintosh support is only partial - you can print color or black and white, but no gold or silver foil. It is my opinion that if you claim to "support" a computer for a product, that you support all the product's capabilities. Otherwise, it's partial support at best, and this should be stated clearly in all sales literature. Otherwise, you are lying to me, and I do not appreciate being lied to.

I waited a while to see if there would be an update that would add foil support, but none was forthcoming. Then I wrote Canon and asked if they would send me the protocol, so I could implement this myself.

They refused, saying the information was proprietary. What? Why? You're not selling printer drivers, you're selling printers, or more to the point, you're selling printer supplies. The more people who can use your printers, the more printers and supplies you will sell. Keeping the protocol a secret is nonsense. I offered to sign an NDA, but no reply at all. I realize that companies avoid giving out technical information because it might lead to more support questions. I explained that I would not ask for further support, nor use the information in a way that would cause this to happen.

Do you know what would have happened, if you had furnished the interface specification? I would have extended the existing Gutenprint Canon Selphy support to include the ES-30, including its metal foil printing capabilities. I would have provided my changes back to the Gutenprint project for inclusion in their core software. This would have given Canon ES-30 support to Linux and BSD users, and since Apple uses Gutenprint to provide their third-party printer drivers, you would have gotten Macintosh support for free. Better yet, customer support for this driver would have come from the Gutenprint project and Apple — saving you support money. I would have written a positive review of the printer, and all my adoring readers would have gone out and bought them. The underserved Macintosh, Linux, and BSD communities would have bought the now-supported printer, and supplies for it. As the cartridges are not easy to replicate (unlike refilling inkjet cartridges), you would have had a solid revenue stream for years to come, that no one could take away from you. You would have enjoyed a positive mindshare in a large, geeky customer base - and their friends, families, and employers.

But no. You decided to take the low road, keep things secret for no reason, and now you're stuck with unpreferred vendor status. I'll buy my cameræ from Nikon, Fuji, and Olympus. I'll buy my printers from Epson and HP. And I'll tell all my friends how you refused to play nice.

Your pointless corporate decision will end up costing you a surprising amount of lost revenue over the years.

bodger: xkcd android girlfriend arc weld cherry stem (Default)
[profile] fizzygeek has been wanting me to scan some photographs for a while, but I haven't had room to set up the scanner for a while. But I finally cleaned off my desk and hauled out the old Umax PowerLook II. It's a SCSI scanner, so I also rounded up my firewire-SCSI adaptor and cabled it all up. I was able to see the firewire peripheral, but no SCSI peripherals. I dinked with it for a bit, then remembered that VueScan often deals with such issues with aplomb. Sure enough, it saw the scanner and did a nice preview of the empty scan bed. So I grabbed something to scan and started it again. But I could hear that the scanner was not happy. The distinctive chug-chug-chug of slippage. Sure enough, the resulting image was severely warped in both shape and colour (as the slippage also apparently made the scanner miss its calibration target).

Maybe it's time to buy a new scanner.

Then I saw a offer on Freecycle for an HP all-in-one. The owner had also gotten it via Freecycle, but neither she nor the previous owner had ever gotten it to work. I figured it was worth a try. So I hauled the beast home and plugged it in. It was jammed, so I cleared the wadded paper out of it. Then it commenced to complaining that the carriage was stuck. This turned out to be due to the ink cartridge lid being wedged up in the way, so I folded that down. Then it was unhappy because it had no ink. Sure enough, HP makes their all-in-ones require ink cartridges for scanning. Ink, you see, is the real profit center. However, I was loathe to buy even shady third-party refilled ink cartridges just to use a scanner.

Then I realized I hadn't tried VueScan. I fired it up, and it cheerfully ignored the printer's protests and scanned anyway! Hamrick, you see, doesn't give a toss about HP's obnoxious money-grubbing. I originally bought this software because I had a scanner that wasn't supported any more by the manufacturer. And I've used it for many years, with a variety of old weird hardware. And it just works. While I can't recommend HP/Compaq (my next laser printer will likely be a Xerox), I can heartily recommend Hamrick.

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