There’s a brand new laser printer/fax/copier/scanner sitting just next to my work space. Carefully chosen from the specifications of different manufacturers’ machines, the Brother MFC-9440CN
was a standout in its performance, capabilities, price, and Mac compatibility.
Office Depot delivered the box free of charge (I don’t do 85 lb lifting) and all that remained after setting up the machine itself was to make the computers talk to it. Faxing and copying are independent of the computer, and there’s a nifty walk-up USB printing port (mounted upside down for some bizarre reason). We have a Wi-Fi network but it is never going to be activated for anything but Internet access; even with security I still don’t trust the ruggedness. I had already been directed to a clever 2:1 USB switch from Belkin
which would allow me to drive the main two Macs into the one printer but, unlike the USB 2.0 specification itself (5 m maximum), Brother recommend their machine only be used with 6 ft (1.8 m) of cord.
I went to one office supply company but they were out of 1.8 m USB A to USB B cables, except for some store brand gold-plated versions. I drove in the opposite direction to a small outlet of The Source By Circuit City
and chose a cord. Only one, because the shortest cord they had was only 3 ft and that would have made the run from each computer to printer 9 ft, with an unknown switch degradation included. They did have some 2 ft cords but they were cute little roll up things, like a tape measure, and I wouldn’t trust the long term life of a cable treated that way.
At check-out the franchise owner very seriously declared that the cable would not work properly with a multi-purpose printer, etc. “We’ve had people come in and try them and they are able to load the drivers, but then they don’t print properly.”
I actually used the word crap
in response and, of course, the printer and the bog standard cable work just fine together.
The search was on for a short USB A to USB B cable. It took a while of looking and none of the big guys carry them, but I finally found one at a distributor quite close to me, with one of their offices
just across on the mainland. A mail order of a 1 ft cable at CAD 1.99 and another 6 ft cable at CAD 2.99, both made by StarTech
, means that even with postage I will be paying less than the price of a single 6 ft cable from one of the box stores.
Dr Monster (Noel Lee), though, has a lot to answer for twisting the consumer brain to somehow believe that gold plated connectors and some fancy cable data make any difference versus listening to audio through bell wire. Now the use of gold is spreading across the whole world of connectors. How do I explain skin effect to my thirteen-year-old once she finds that Monster
is now offering a gold-plated connector on a cable for iPods?