Friday, January 22, 2010

As easy as 1, 2, 9!

I travel on business quite often and, therefore, have to submit expense reports.

My company has transitioned from a process of filling in an expense report system and mailing in your receipts in pre-paid-postage envelopes with your receipts neatly taped (not stapled, no!) onto sheets of paper to a process of filling in an expense report system and then scanning in your receipts - neatly laid out on the scanner as if they were taped (not stapled, damnit!) onto sheets of paper and then attaching the resulting scanned images (well, PDFs, actually, as scammed images are too large to submit) electronically to the expense report system.

This new process saves the company postage and is, I'm sure, is easier to copmy with whatever receipt tracking regulations our collective governments can come up with for audits.*  It has also been a boon to the home-office-multi-function-printer-fax (remember faxes?)-scanner-coffee-maker-guitar-tuner-world-band-radio-ceramic-heater-thickness-planer-all-in-one marketplace.  Being the hip and trendy people the Toadrollers are, we already had a scanner or two laying around the house.  Come to think of it, we have had three... but I think we got rid of one of them as it was a useless color all-in-one ink-jet device.  Eww, ink.  I hold my nose at you, ink.

I bought Mrs. Toadroller a new computer with Windows 7 for her birthday.  Zoom-fast-zing-works!  Except, sure enough, the new, hip HP laser all-in-one, well, it and its software don't work with Windows 7... yet.  There went a weekend afternoon.

Today I face-palmed myself and realized that my work laptop, which has my receipt and expense software on it, is XP and heck, I'll just plug the HP Laser all-in-one into it.  Easy as 1,2,3; it's plug and play.  One problem: as different as Apple tries to be in the name of hip and trendy and fun to use**, HP seems to have this desire to be different too, in the name of "we have  a better, albeit more complex, way of doing things."

Here's what I went through:
  1. Plug it into the USB port, XP recognizes the device and goes through whatever machinations XP does to configure it. Result?  XP says, in a dialog box that's awfully familiar, "We can't figure this thing out.  We know it's an HP CM1015 printer and coffee grinder and all that other stuff, but we'll be damned if you can plug and play with it here.  You might want to look all over your house for any installation CDs that came with the thing when you bought it a year ago.  Sorry.***  Would you like to avoid going through this five minute fruitless search for installation information the next time you, in a fit of optimism, plug this thing into your computer?"
  2. Okay, I'll find the install disc for it. I know I have it somewhere... but where?  Oh yes, that's right, I probably left it in Mrs. Toadroller's cd-drive on the Windows 7 (which, when it crashes, (and it does, trust me) does so in a familiar, comforting way.  Just like Vista!) machine when I tried to install it there and Windows 7 rejected it like so much... bad ink. 
  3. Okay, popped it in.  Autorun.exe eventually catches a clue and fires up and... crashes, something about it can't find a .dll it needs in the Windows directory and, like the magic 8-ball, asks me to try again later.
  4. Screw later, I open the file browser on the CD and skip autorun.exe and find setup.exe.  At least they adhere to some standards.  Double click, some whirring and an install wizard comes up.  I agree, next, next, default, next, no, I don't want to install Yahoo toolbar, no, I don't want to register, please don't ask me again, next, next, next, wait, what did I just agree to do, back, oh, nothing, next again, go.  A few more whirs, clicks, nexts and...
  5. Plug in the device to the usb now.  Oh, it's been plugged in.  Unplug and replug, okay, gotcha, next, no, yes, no,'ll need to reboot, wanna do it now?  Of course I do.  Log off VPN, save all my open files, kill the processes that XP can't, reboot, login.
  6. Wait a while for it to recognize that it left off installation and then finish the job.  No, I don't want Yahoo Toolbar**** or to register (didn't we just agree that you'd never ask me again?).  Finish.
  7. Oh, I have to start the program for scanning?  I thought you'd do that for me since we've just been through this setup.  Fair enough, you put an icon on my desktop which I don't really recall agreeing to in the midst of all the next buttons I pressed.
  8. Scan option, configure scan types and directories, don't ask me agains and, finally, ready to scan and... "Can't talk to scanning device, try again."
  9. Shut down HP solution software, restart, re-hit scan button, reconfigure and re-don't ask me again, and hey, I'm scanning!  The preview is blank.  Oh- I forgot to put the receipt I was scanning in there. Pilot error.
Okay, hooray, plug and play.  I got my expense report done in an hour and twenty minutes.

* Did you know that in Ronnie Reagan's first year in office, one of his administration was forced to resign over a scandal of receiving an improper gift as a government employee?  The media smelled blood and attacked for months until the guy was forced to resign.  What was the situation?  Early in his term, the Japanese press had arrange for an interview with Mrs. Reagan, (you know, the home & lifestyles type of interview- what it's like to decorate the Whitehouse, etc.) and as customary for Japan, had given a gift of $1,000.00 to the Whitehouse administrator for arranging the interview.  Not knowing what to do with it, he put it in a safe somewhere and forgot about it.  Imagine such a terrible (sarcasm alert) thing happening today, where the head of the IRS i nthe Obama administration has cheated on his taxes.

** I've recently dipped my toe into the world of Apple with an iPod touch.  I'll admit it, it's the coolest friggin electronic device I've ever had.  It rocks.

***They didn't actually apologize.  I made that part up, but the rest of the message in the dialog is verbatim.  Really.

**** legislation and regulation I would vote for is a no-Yahoo Toolbar installation questions list.  Kinda like the no-call list for telemarketers, you know?

1 comment:

  1. remind me to tell you about installing a virtual xp machine on windows 7 AND having it print to a networked printer using a 64bit driver with xp's 32 bit driver. yeah that didn't a better part of an afternoon.