The innate hostility of inanimate things

Friday 13 May. It was not a good day. In fact, it went downhill about mid-morning, and stayed that way for the rest of the day. By the end of the afternoon I was climbing up the wall in frustration.

Having posted a comment on Facebook this morning about yesterday’s events, one of my old friends, Malcolm, from Southampton days replied: Sometimes when computers display what someone once called the innate hostility of inanimate things, I truly doubt whether I really am a rational being!

Yes, yesterday’s angst was caused by a Brother printer that, all of a sudden, decided that it no longer wished to cooperate with me. I bought this particular all-in-one printer (the DCP-J315W model, now discontinued by the manufacturer I believe) in October 2011. It prints, scans, and copies (or did).


It has given me good service, and I don’t have much to say against it. That is, until yesterday. But I guess it’s not just this particular printer, but Brother in general. I should add that I fitted a continuous ink supply system that has also provided excellent service, and my printing costs have been a fraction of what I would have had to pay using disposable cartridges (the cost of printer ink is a scandal; but that’s for another day).


Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was busy printing a couple of documents in preparation for a short visit to Montpellier in the south of France next Wednesday. This has to do with the program evaluation I’m leading of the genebanks managed by 11 of the CGIAR centers. There was a paper jam, and everything came to a halt. I have to admit that getting into the back of the printer is not easy as I have to rotate it on the shelf and hope I don’t disturb any of the ink supply connections.

The jammed paper was removed intact, and I set the printer on its way again. But then I noticed that many lines were failing to print. Time to use the cleaning maintenance procedure that is programmed in the printer. After a first pass, I was not satisfied with the resulting test pattern, so decided to complete a second clean.

And that’s when the printer seized up and I saw this error message on the LCD screen.


Unable to Print4F? Not very helpful! Whatever did that mean? And it was no good looking in the User’s Guide, nor in any Brother manual online.

However, there were many sources of information online, some helpful, others entirely misleading, with ‘solutions’ to the problem. It seems that during the cleaning process extra ink is pumped through the printer heads, and this accumulates in a sort of waste tray or sponge. By using a maintenance menu that involves pressing a selection of buttons on the printer in a specific order and number of times as the printer powers up (instructions that are nowhere to be found in any Brother literature) it’s possible to purge the system and reset it to zero, ‘fooling’ the printer that there’s no excess ink problem. That should have worked, and in more than 95% of instances apparently it’s sufficient to get the printer operating again. Alas, not for me. It seems that there is either a real problem with the printer head or the waste sponge needs replacing, by a professional, neither of which will come cheap. Probably almost as much as the cost of a new printer.

So this morning, I bit the bullet and have ordered a new printer that comes with refillable ink tanks: the Epson ET-2500.

Epson Expression ET-2500 Eco Tank Printer

Not cheap, but in the long run I hope it will meet all my needs. The reviews I saw were promising. Having splashed out on a new notebook computer earlier in the week (my old Acer Aspire ONE has the Windows XP operating system and I decided that I needed an up-to-date Windows 10 machine to be able to work more effectively during this program evaluation) I hadn’t anticipated yet another computer-related expense so soon. This printer won’t be delivered until after I’ve left for Montpellier. So setting it up is a ‘pleasure’ deferred until next Saturday.

You are welcome to comment on this post . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.