Our collectively building knowledge base about better maintenance practices and repair capabilities is inspiring actually. So much so in fact that recently I have been pushing in new directions, from repairing our problems to avoiding them all together. ...at least in theory : )
Ken Doo and Ernst Dinkla aimed me at QuadToneRIP as a possible route toward developing a routine ink-purging system that might keep our X900s out of clog trouble, for what Mark D Segal calculated would be a minimal yearly expense. Especially in contrast to the threatening repair costs of total print head replacement, a holiday mode would be fantastically cheap. So I contacted the creator of this QTR program, asking if he had any interest in creating a "Holiday Mode" for us all. I thought he would jump right in but I was wrong. Strike one.
I didn't stop there though, next I got my genius buddy Steve to take a look at the QTR software. Our hope being if the software source code was available for download/development, Steve himself could create our "Holiday Mode" using QTR as a platform to work from. But no dice. Although the QTR software is indeed under the GNU Public License, it doesn't appear that the source code has been made available. Strike two..
So today, and here is where this gets potentially dangerous, I called Epson themselves. I must admit I have a dreaded fear of stifling our momentum here on this Luminous Landscape forum, so I neglected to identify myself, nor did I mention this thread. My question was basic, but curious,
Epson: "Epson Technical Support, can I have your model name and number?"
me: Epson Stylus Pro 7900
Epson: OK. (long pause) how can I help you?
me: I don't have a problem, I have a question. How would a person... Ummmm... What would the protocol be for an entire community of Epson users to influence Epson themselves to develop a specific firmwear update that could vastly improve Epson user experiences, and even possibly greatly reduce Epson's own warranty parts replacement costs?
The gentleman I spoke with, a nice enough guy named Jimmy, then asked me what I had in mind. I explained our Holiday Mode to him.
jimmy: No, sorry, there is nothing in our firmwear which does that. But I do agree, that could be very helpful..
eric: No Jimmy you misunderstand me, I know this doesn't exist. It's just an idea. My question to you is how do ideas turn into firmwear updates? How do users influence Epson to activate change? What are the steps we need to take? Who are the people we need to contact?
jimmy. Ummm... well you can email me, then I can forward the email to my supervisor, then he can forward the idea to Japan. Really Japan is who you need to talk to, but you can't. At least not directly.
...and then I stuck my (our) neck out. I mentioned the fact that there is a thread, on a forum, that is global, which has over 70,000 views and nearly 900 entries - all of which are specifically focused on print head clogs on Epson's Stylus Pro 4900/7900/9900 printers, specifically using Epson's Ultrachrome HDR ink.
This is when things got interesting. Suddenly I got a sense that at least Jimmy himself had absolutely no idea such a thread as ours here even existed. Also suddenly, he wanted access to it. Maybe five times before we hung up he asked me to include the link to this thread in my email to him, which he would then go over with his supervisor. Then I got the feeling all things considering this potential firmwear update lobbying would be left to them, which didn't make me feel confident.
eric: What if we got a whole community of Epson users to email your supervisor? Or even Japan directly? I mean would such a thing produce different results? Because if it would, I bet we could make it happen. Even professional Epson Print shops could benefit from such a program, it's not just infrequent private users that experience unclear-able clogs.
jimmy: If a whole community made contact with us about the same problem this would have a greater influence than just one user. So send me an email with the link to that forum, so I can show it to my supervisor..
hmmm. What to do now