Saturday, January 02, 2016

Home Printer Anti-Pattern: After Running Out of Paper

Even though nobody seems to talk about it, I have to believe my household is not the only one this happens to...remote wireless printer runs out of paper or goes offline for some other reason. Various family members discover this only by accident, after sending the same print job like 4 times in a row. But it's 2015, paper is always optional (e.g., it would be convenient to have a printed recipe, but you can also just work off your smartphone), so nobody does anything about it for hours or even for days.

Finally, paper is restored, usually by whoever is really motivated and possibly in hurry for hard copy. What is their reward?--pages and pages of spooled print jobs spitting out.

It feels like there should be a better way. I propose this guardedly, since it is easy to dream up "smart" solutions, only to find they add too much user complexity and sometimes behavior the user finds unpredictable.

Okay, that disclaimer done with, here is what I think might work....If a printer is offline for more than an hour (and remember, nowadays the OS knows when that happens), I would like to see a pop-up that asks the user:
Printer back online. Print jobs were spooled while printer was offline. Would you like to: 1) Print all pending print jobs? 2) Cancel all pending print jobs? 3) Select which jobs to print?

Then, just one more touch to allow sophisticated users with specialized uses case to avoid OS-nag: a checkbox on the dialog that says "Do not ask me this in the future".


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