Technological Risk

Distillation: Technological purchases are risk filled. Sometimes they are successful, other times less so. Two recent purchases have not been successful.

A Laptop

On Wednesday, 2018-05-15, my Asus E402SA laptop will be one year old. As I write this post, I am thankful for a second blissful period, during which the computer has evaded freezing. This normality has lasted now for about two weeks! This happened once before, for about the same duration. Then, just as abruptly as it started, the bliss ended with countless freezes and the machine has to be powered off by holding down the start button for thirty seconds, and restarted, at least once a day. Note: Sadly, just before this post was published, this second period of bliss ended.

This will definitely be the last Windows computer I will buy, in the hopes of converting it to run Linux. I am still tempted to buy a Chromebook, such as an Asus C202S and modify it to a Linux only machine, or buy a machine without operating system, such as a Multicom Talisa or Xishan.

Asus Chromebook C202S, with its big blue bumpers. It can be dropped in its operating position from a height of 1 200 mm and survive, or on edge from a height of 600 mm and survive. It is designed for multiple users in a classroom situation.

In contrast to the E402SA, Trish’s Asus Zenbook UX305C, running Windows 10, was two years old in February 2018. I have not heard a single comment about the machine failing in any way. It seems destined to be of service for a long time.

A Printer

Most printer manufacturers sell their home printers at below cost. The reason is that they hope to earn more money selling ink to consumers. I’ve calculated that it’s actually worth paying more for a printer that uses inexpensive ink.

One instrumental article on printers was written (in Norwegian) 2014-12-04, about 3.5 years ago.

It described the Canon Pixma MG-6550 as the best printer in this class for plain writing. It cost approx. NOK 700.

However, for photo use, it described the Epson Expression-Photo XP-760 as the best. It cost approximately NOK 1200. I decided to buy it because it was much faster than Canon for both scanning and writing. In addition, its photo quality was better.

Unfortunately, the Epson is very aggressive in promoting its inks, and does not appreciate people using generic products, despite them being legally allowed. The result has been a sharp decline in printing activity. Epson has also ensured that I will never again buy an Epson product, no matter how good!

Canon Pixma G3500 with Mega-Tanks. (photo: Canon)
My current thinking is to replace the Epson with a Canon G3500 (or equivalent). Using ”MegaTank” technology, Canon’s G series Pixma printers have ink tanks that are refilled from a bottle when they get low. This ensures that print costs are affordable. The down side is that the printer costs NOK 3 400. Because of this high capital cost, the printer will not be replaced immediately: Next year, or the year thereafter, will be soon enough. In the mean time we will save money by not printing anything but the most essential.
A Discussion
Part of the challenge of buying technological products is knowing what to expect. I don’t want vendor lock-in. I want to decide which operating systems, and printing inks, to acquire – and not have either of them determined for me.

Update 2019-12-30

The issues discussed in this post have been dealt with to my satisfaction.

Our current printer is now a Canon i-Sensys MF643 Cdw laser printer. This works adequately, and serves all of our paper printing needs. The Epson printer has been delivered in for recycling, and will never print anything again.

A Canon i-Sensys MF643 Cdw is meeting our paper printing needs.

An Asus Vivobook 14, with an AMD Ryzen-3 processor, has replaced the Asus E402SA, which has been recycled. The Vivobook 14 is running Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia with Cinnamon 4.4.6 desktop. This is not a particularly powerful machine, but it suits my needs.

For one year (2018-11-18 to 2019-11-19) I used an Acer Chromebook 11, which did not suit my personality. It has found a new owner.