Dreaming of the Paperless Office

There’s this scene in the movie documentary Office Space where the crew shows just how much they love printers.

Those of us who are blessed with working in offices have all been there. Only the top half of the document prints, the scanner is blurry, or the fax machine shreds our original. As a software developer forced to support printing on a variety of systems this can provide hours of endless headache.

I spend a lot of my time building and supporting an internal web app. For simplicity we only support IE and we do most of our printing through a print specific css. Most of the time this works great, but not today.

Despite my best efforts some people, and by “some people” I mean the accounting department, still feel the need to print things every day. So a user calls to tell me that a report which printed just fine yesterday isn’t printing correctly. Specifically the first digit in the column is being put in the previous column. What?? User error? I’ve gotta see this.

I open the report in question: Works
Print Preview: Check.
Look at it on the user’s computer: Fine here too.
Print preview: Again no problem.
Print it out:

What the heck is going on here??! As you can see, the first digit in column B has wandered over to column A. Perhaps they were serving better drinks. I might need one!

Printing the same report from a different users computer: same problem. The same report to a different brand of printer: FIXED.

The solution: don’t print that report to the HP LaserJet 4350dtn printer today. Yesterday wasn’t an issue. Tomorrow probably will be fine too. But today just go ahead and use the other printer.

I need a baseball bat.

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