It’s Still The ‘Computer’ Industry

Permit me a rant.

Our old reliable printer finally bit the dust last week. No wonder. Years of abuse from school projects and printing on “fabric” paper to print dresses for Barbie took their toll. This relic owed us nothing.

Getting a new toy is always fun. Our new printer is a reputable brand and purchased from a prominent online reseller. Ordering was easy and shipping took fewer days than expected — always good to start a relationship by under-promising and over-delivering. I enthusiastically poured my coffee Saturday morning and began opening the box.

Everything was going fine with the set up. A poster was included that detailed all of the steps. The on-screen directions for installing the driver software were straightforward. The software installation was in progress. I found the AC and phone cords — this is, after all, a multifunction device that includes a fax machine. But when I began searching the Styrofoam and cardboard packing materials, I simply couldn’t find the USB cable that would connect the printer to the PC.

“It must be here,” I muttered. Everything had been so easy, so well thought out, so painless, surely I overlooked it. The revelation hit me during a fifth time around scrounging through the packing materials: “USB cable not included.”

A check of the label on the outside of the box confirmed my intuition. The cable required to make this device useable was not included. I was not a happy camper. Ask anyone who was within earshot.

While driving to a local Radio Shack, I recalled a Caller ID entry from the retailer with whom I’d placed the order for my printer. Had they called to warn me that I’d need to buy a USB cable for my new printer? That would have endeared them to me forever. Unfortunately, I’ll never know why they called. There was no message on the answering machine.

For the twenty-odd years I’ve been involved with the computer industry, people have been saying that we need to make computers easier to buy and use … make them more like consumer electronic devices. Can you imagine Sony or Panasonic selling a CD player without headphones? Or a stereo set that came without everything you needed to begin using it? I bought a digital camera recently and the people at Canon saw to it that the USB cable to download pictures to my hard drive was included.

The computer industry is still the computer industry.

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