Why are computer printers so temperamental?

I have just calmed down after dealing with a paper jam. I was printing several forms that have to be filled in and sent off to our dear friends at HMRC. For some reason these forms couldn’t be done online.

Halfway through a 16-page print run a piece of paper got stuck.

I hardly ever need to print anything these days, but the moment I did the technology let me down. There’s a law for this that I won’t repeat in a family newspaper!

It made me think how much we all rely on technology these days and how much we’re required to do ourselves.

I was in a phone queue for help with the aforementioned HMRC forms and was politely told by the automated voice that I could find all the help I needed online instead of waiting for a real person to answer the phone.

I am perfectly capable of doing that, and had already tried to find the answer online. But my specific question wasn’t covered.

Companies and Government agencies love to send us online. It saves them money because they think they can employ fewer people to answer the phones. But it means that when we do need to call it takes longer to get through.

Don’t get me wrong; I love technology. I can remember having one of the early electronic Space Invader games more than 40 years ago. I was addicted to it.

I was told off by “elderly” relatives who thought I would damage my eyesight.

At the time I vowed I would never moan about technology when I grew up; I would remain young and open-minded about it.

I am now probably the same age as those relatives I considered “elderly” when I was a child and here I am moaning about technology.

I shouldn’t moan though. In lots of ways it has changed our lives for the better. I don’t know where I would be without my phone now.

I didn’t want to be one of these people who have their entire lives contained inside a phone, but it’s rarely out of my sight now.

No matter how hard you resist, the smart phone gets you in the end.

I was driving through Saltash recently and it happened to coincide with the end of the school day.

I was amazed by the number of pupils who were walking along the street just staring at their phones, seemingly unaware of the real world around them or the friend right next to them.

They all had a glazed look in their eyes as their thumbs tapped frantically on the screen. It was like the march of the zombies.

I see it in our own home. Our teenager is locked onto her phone screen from the minute she gets up.


She comes down the stairs without taking her eyes off the video she is watching.

The phone then gets propped up on a shelf, conveniently at eye level, while she makes a cup of coffee without once taking her eyes off the screen to look at what she is doing. It’s quite a skill in many ways.

But I am also deeply troubled by it. These devices should be working for us, but the balance of power has tipped the other way and we are increasingly slaves to our phones, tablets and computers.

I can no longer watch a film or TV programme without checking my phone. Has my latest tweet been liked by anyone?

A quick check on Google to see what else this actor has been in, or a glance at the headlines even though I only looked at them a minute ago.

The other day, as I watched a programme, I started thinking about all the unripe tomatoes in the greenhouse. Forty-five minutes went by as I searched for recipes for chutney and I missed most of the programme.

Thankfully, technology allows me to rewind or watch the programme again on catch-up, but what a waste of time.

That’s the dilemma we now face. Most of these gadgets should allow us to save time. We can order things from home, do our banking and a million other things instantly. But then we use the time we saved thanks to our phone, by spending even more time staring at our phone!

The tech companies have created a drug and they know we can’t break the habit.

They have also designed gadgets that will only work for so long before they need upgrading.

I had to replace my phone recently. There was nothing physically wrong with it, but it was getting very slow, it wouldn’t update the apps I was using and kept telling me it didn’t have enough memory. I know how it feels.

In the end it forced me to upgrade because I rely on it so much. I couldn’t spare the time to wait for an app to open, or have to delete one app to make enough room for another to work. As much as it pained me, I had to get a new phone. I’d made the old one last five years though.

It’s a vicious circle. The more we rely on our phones, the more control the phones have on our lives.

I have never been a smoker and could not quite understand why many of them found it so hard to give up. Some of the smokers I have known would twitch and become anxious if they went too long without a cigarette. Now I know how they feel when I haven’t checked my phone for a while.

I like to think I still have some resolve though.

I often go for a long walk with the dog and don’t take my phone, much to my wife’s annoyance. And I love going to parts of Cornwall and discovering there’s no phone signal. Bliss! But striking that balance is getting harder.

Anyway, enough of this, I have to check Twitter to see if anyone else liked my picture of a Cornish sunrise.

Bye for now.