The Quest for Help

Copyright Dr Alan Solomon, 1986-1995

Ring Ring, Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Hello?".  "This is the Consummate
Ease Helpline.  All our technicians are busy right now, but if you
leave your number, we'll call you right back.  Please speak after the
tone.  Beeeeeeep."

"Hello.  This is Mary Hoskins.  It's ten o'clock on the sixth of
November, 1986.  My number is 02403 4946.  I'm having a problem making
Consummate Ease work with my printer."

Ring Ring.  Grab.  "Good afternoon, Mary Hoskins here." "Hello, can I
talk to Mary Hoskins." "Yes, speaking, can I help you?" "Hello.  I'm
from Consummate Ease - I understand you have a problem." "Yes - I
can't make it do bold printing on my printer." "What printer do you
have?" "It's a Blue Dragon;  Epson compatible." Pause.  "Sorry, I do
not have your printer on my list.  Do you know the escape sequences
for doing bold?" "What's an escape sequence?" "Could you get you
manual?" "What manual?" "The printer manual" "I haven't got one."
"You'll need to contact the printer manufacturer to find out the
escape sequence for bold." "Can't you do that for me?" "Sorry, this is
a printer problem, not a software problem."

Ring Ring, Ring Ring.  Answer.  " "This is the Blue Dragon Helpline.
All our technicians are busy right now, but if you leave your number,
we'll call you right back.  Please speak after the tone.  Beeeeeeep."

"Hello.  This is Mary Hoskins.  It's ten thirty on the seventh of
November, 1986.  My number is 02403 4946.  I'm having a problem making
your printer work with my software."

Ring Ring.  Grab.  "Good afternoon, Mary Hoskins here." "Hello, can I
talk to Mary Hoskins." "Yes, speaking, can I help you?" "Hello.  I'm
from Blue Dragon - I understand you have a problem."

"Yes - I can't make my software do bold printing." "What software are
you using?" "Consummate Ease".  Pause.  "Never heard of it." "It's a
clone of Symphony.  How do I install my Blue Dragon on it?" "The Blue
Dragon is completely Epson compatible;  just choose the Epson option."
"Epson FX, LQ, MX or RX?" "I'll get back to you."

Ring Ring.  Grab.  "Good afternoon, Mary Hoskins here." "With
Symphony, you'll get the best results by installing the FX printer.
We can't guarantee results with Consummate Ease." "Thank you".

Ring Ring, Ring Ring.  Ring Ring, Ring Ring.  Ring Ring, Ring Ring.
Answer.  "Would you hold please." Silence.  More silence.  Hang up.
Ring Ring, Ring Ring.  "Would you hold please".  Hold.  Hold.  Hold.
Hold.  Hold.  "Hello, are you still holding?" "Er, yes".  Hold.  Hold.
"Hello, technical." "Hello, is that Consummate Ease?" "Technical" "I
spoke to you before about a problem with a Blue Dragon." "Sorry, that
was someone else - could you explain again." Explain, explain,
explain.  "And I installed it as an Epson FX, and it still won't do
bold." "What rev of CE you on?" "Rev?  CE?" "What revision number of
Consummate Ease are you currently using?" "I don't know, how can I
find out?" "Look at the diskette." "I can't.  The DP manager keeps all
original diskettes in a cupboard." "You're probably on rev 2.02 - you
need to upgrade to 2.03." "How do I do that?" "Send us your original
diskette and a cheque for 15 to cover the cost of admin."

Ring Ring.  Ring Ring.  Answer.  "CE tech support." "Hello, I'm having
trouble installing version 2.03" "What computer do you have?" "An IBM
clone." "Which one?" "The Golden Luck computer - it's an IBM XT
clone."

Pause.  "Just install it like you did version 2.02;  it should work."
"I didn't install 2.02;  the dealer did it for me." "Then get him to
install this one." "I asked him and he says it isn't his problem, I
should call you." Pause.  "The installation instructions are on page
12 of the manual.  Bye"

Install.  Copy copy, choose choose.  Struggle struggle.  No bold.
"Hello, it's me again.  It still won't do bold." "Must be a printer
problem."

Ring Ring, Ring Ring.  Eventual answer.  "Blue Dragon?" "Hello, it's
me again.  I installed it as an Epson FX, but it still doesn't do
bold." "Must be the software.  When did you last change your ribbon?"
"What ribbon?" "In the printer." "Ribbon?" "You probably need a new
ribbon.  How long have you been using that one?" "About six months."
"Yes, definitely a new ribbon." "How do I get one?" "From your
dealer."

Ring Ring.  "Hello" "I want to order a new ribbon." "What printer?"
"Blue Dragon." "A what?" "A Blue Dragon." "Sorry, we don't do those."
"But I bought it from you just a few months ago" "We used to do it but
we decided they caused too many problems." "So where can I get a new
ribbon ?" "Dunno.  Try Blue Dragon."

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Can I speak to Sales?" "Sales" "I want to buy a
ribbon for a Blue Dragon." "Sorry, you'll have to go to your dealer."
"My dealer doesn't do the Blue Dragon any more." "Hang on ..  ..  ..
..  Your nearest Blue Dragon dealer is Dan Dan the Printer Man."

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Do you do the Blue Dragon printer?" "Yes" "And
do you do ribbons for them?" "No, but any Epson ribbon will fit".

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Can I buy an Epson ribbon from you?" "What
kind?" "Black" "No, what kind of printer?" "Blue Dragon" "What?" "I'll
get back to you".

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Sorry, it's me again about the ribbons.  What
kind of Epson ribbon do I ask for?" "An MX"

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Can I order an MX ribbon please".

Small brown parcel - unwrap unwrap.  See the nice ribbon, all long and
black.  I wonder how you put it in the printer?

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Blue Dragon printers." "Oh, hello.  How do you
put the ribbon into the printer?" "Manual, page 14." "Sorry, it didn't
come with a manual." "I'll send you a photocopy"

Dismantle, struggle, wrench, old ribbon.  Dispose.  New ribbon,
delicate fiddly persuasion.  Wash.  Wash wash.  Wash wash.  Indelible.

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Consummate Ease, can I help you?" "Can I have
technical support please ...  Hello, it's me again.  I put a new
ribbon into the printer and it still wont do bold." "If it didn't do
bold before, a new ribbon can't possibly help." "But you told me to
put a new ribbon in.  Oh no, that was the printer tech support.  Look,
I'm all confused - how do I make it do bold?" "It's a printer problem
- ask Blue Dragon." "I did, they're no help at all" "If the printer
isn't capable of doing bold, there's no way that CE can make it."
"True.  But they said it could do bold." "Then ask them how to make it
do bold." "OK, I will."

Ring Ring.  Answer "Blue Dragon" "Look, I put in a new ribbon like you
said, and it still won't do bold.  How do you actually make it do
bold?" "Hang on ...  You send it escape 1a 16" "What?" "Escape 1a 16"
"How do I do that?" "Your software should do it for you, talk to
them."

Ring Ring.  "You can do it with Consummate Ease - can I help you?"
"Tech support ...  Hello, Rob?  I spoke to Blue Dragon, and they said
escape 1a 16.  I don't know what it means, but they said to tell it to
you." "Hang on ..  OK, that's exactly what CE is sending.  If the
printer isn't understanding it, it must be a printer fault."

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "Hello, Ellis?  The software people said that
they're sending escape 1a 16, and it must be a printer fault if the
printer isn't going into bold." "No, the printer will understand that.
Maybe you've got a duff printer.  Get your dealer to check it out."

Ring Ring.  "I've got this Blue Dragon...  " "Sorry, we don't do those
any more." "But it's still under guarantee." "What's wrong with it?"
"It doesn't do bold, and I've been round and round between the
software people and Blue Dragon, and Blue Dragon think there may be a
fault in the printer." "We don't do the Dragon any more, but if you
send it round, I'll have a look at it for you, just as a favour." "OK"

Ring Ring.  Grab.  "We've looked at your printer, there's nothing
wrong with it at all.  It does bold just fine." "Not here, it
doesn't." "Must be the cable - most printer problems turn out to be
the cable." "How can I check?" "A new cable - only #35" "OK, lets do
that.  And can I have my printer back?  You've had it over a week
now."

Ring Ring.  Answer.  "That cable you sold me, it doesn't make the
slightest difference." "Must be your software then, the printer's OK."

Thinks.  Thinks thinks.  *THINKS* thinks thinks *THINKS*.  This isn't
getting me anywhere.  I could get a new printer, but if the problem's
with Consummate Ease, I still won't get bold.  Or I could change my
software, but Symphony's so expensive.  IDEA!  Elimination!

Trot trot, borrow borrow.  "John, could I borrow your Epson for an
hour?" "Sure".  "And could I borrow your Symphony." "OK".  Unplug.
Uncable.  Carry.  Recable.  Replug.  Print, print.  No bold.  AHA, the
Epson won't do bold with Consummate Ease, it must be the software
that's the problem!  Swap back to Blue Dragon.  Install install.
Symphony.  Print print.  No bold.  Oh no!  That means it must be ...
what does it mean? Swap back to Epson. Print print. No bold. Oh.

Trundle trundle.  "John, can I borrow your IBM for a little while?"
"Sure, go ahead." Plug plug, Blue Dragon to IBM, run Symphony.  Bold!!
Must be the software that's the problem.  Install Consummate Ease on
IBM and Blue Dragon.  Print.  Bold!  Must be cable.  Put in old cable.
Bold.  DAMMIT!!! Stymied. Nothing wrong with the printer, nothing
wrong with the software, nothing wrong with the cable.

AHA!!!  Must be the Golden Luck!  "Thanks, John." Uncable, unplug,
trundle trundle, replug, recable.  Ring Ring.  Answer.

"Hello?".  "This is the Golden Luck Helpline.  All our technicians are
busy right now, but if you leave your number, we'll call you right
back.  Please speak after the tone.  Beeeeeeep."

"Hello.  This is Mary Hoskins.  It's ten o'clock on the fourth of
December, 1986.  My number is 02403 4946.  I'm having a problem making
Consummate Ease work with my Blue Dragon printer."

Ring Ring.  Grab.  "What is your problem?" "I'm running Consummate
Ease on a Golden Luck, using a Blue Dragon printer, and I can't make
them do bold." "You need to contact your software supplier - this is a
software problem." "I've tried that.  Eventually, I ran Consummate
Ease on an IBM, with the same printer, and it did bold.  So the
problem must be with the computer." "No, the Golden Luck is fully IBM
compatible.  It's probably a printer problem.  Are you sure you have
the switches set correctly?" "What switches?" "The ones on the
printer.  Unless the switches are set correctly, the printer won't
respond correctly." "It worked all right on the IBM." "The software
runs all right?" "Yes" "And the printer prints all right" "Yes, except
it won't do bold" "Sorry, it's a printer problem. Probably your
switch settings."

Sigh.

Sigh.

Despair.

Last chance.  Ring Ring.  "User group here, how can we help." Explain
explain.  "Are you a member?" "Yes, number 14274." "Hang on, I'll see
if anyone can help ..  no, no-one here knows anything.  I'll put a
little notice in the newsletter, see if anyone has any ideas."
"Thanks.  Have a nice Christmas." "And you."

Snow snow.  Freeze.  Thaw.  Snowdrops.  Crocuses.  Daffodils.

Ring Ring.  Grab.  "Mary Hoskins" "Hello, are you the lady having
trouble doing bold?" "?" "I read about your problem in the user group
newsletter.  I know what the problem is." "Oh, that.  I've learned to
live with it." "The problem is almost certainly with Golden Luck DOS.
It's intercepting character 1a, thinking it's an end-of-file mark, and
it isn't sending it on to the printer." "Oh.  Is there anything I can
do about it?" "Yes.  If you send it 9a instead of 1a, DOS will pass it
through, and the printer will strip off the high bit and treat it as a
1a."

There are so many computers around, with so many printers and so much
software, problems like this happen all the time. The support
departments of Consummate Ease, Blue Dragon and Golden Luck are
entirely fictitious, of course. The companies are real, although I've
changed their names to avoid litigation, but they simply don't have
technical support departments. And user groups can only help
sometimes. Aren't you glad you've got an Amstrad?