Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Left Without a Scanner to Stand On

Preciousssss! Mine’s perpetually coated with dust, but the touchscreen-style controls across the top surface don’t care. They visibly appear only when they are able to be used for what you’re doing. Otherwise, there’s only an entirely blacked out disc, the main power button, and the display, which folds back flat. A door swings up like a drawbridge to seal off the front.

There’s always something disappointingly inevitable when updates to the operating system on a computer wind up leaving some gizmo that you use back in the dust. You know, some kind of clever device that works great until suddenly it is no longer compatible with your computer. For example, printer manufacturers eventually abandon the high road for their “obsoleted” models, though the computer’s operating system itself often takes over for basic printing functions. Sure, they all kick out some new drivers, updated software or firmware for a few years, but eventually, the party’s over. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

The party’s over a lot sooner with scanners, especially when a built-in flatbed scanner is built into an “All-in-One” unit. That abandonment happened early in my case, since my 2010 Canon Pixma MG8120 lost its ability to scan 35mm film (using Canon’s software) a long time ago. An update to High Sierra (MacOS 10.13) clinched the deal, with the scanner part being left for dead by Canon. That’s not the best, since I’ve just loaded up on inkjet cartridges for it – it uses 6 of them at a time – and mechanically, it’s been the most problem-free inkjet printer I’ve had since my HP 500 B&W printer back in the 1980s.

The changes within High Sierra are significant enough to throw a wrench into a lot of third-party software, Canon’s included. But the only market that Canon pays attention to are the folks who buy laser printers, as in businesses. An email to Canon provided some helpful tips, none of which worked (there seems to be a pronounced voodoo factor at work here), along with the notification that no updates of any kind would be made to accommodate High Sierra for my printer. George of Technical Support suggested that I call the Sales Department and notify them that I wish to take advantage of the Canon Upgrade Program.

Not the best situation, but what was the situation? A look at Canon’s website shows that of the hundreds of new inkjet-based models offered, not one is noted as being fully functional on High Sierra. Laser printers, yes. Inkjets, no. HP appears to have some percentage of inkjet all-in-ones still functional, and Epson is struggling to update as best it can. MacOS has a basic scanning function built right in that gives fine results, but it’s a kludge that is only for occasional use, out of desperation. If your income hinged on it, you wouldn’t touch it with a stick.

The 2001-2005 Minolta Dimage Multi Scan.

But, back in the dim recesses of what’s left of my mind, I recalled that I once bought inexpensive scanning software for my ancient film scanner, a Minolta Dimage Multi Pro. That was merely as an exploratory alternative to Minolta’s own very good software, in case Minolta decided to stop updating it at some point. Instead, Minolta decided to get out of the film scanner business entirely. Let’s hope the internal light bulbs and mechanicals hold out for awhile. That Plan B scanning software was called VueScan. Default (auto) results weren’t as good as Minolta’s, but it was a lot more versatile and adjustable. That made the interface overwhelming, but every option was either right there or one click away, and highly visible. No menus and submenus and third-level submenus.

I looked down along my row of programs to find VueScan still sitting there. Selecting it did nothing, indicating that it needed updating to deal with High Sierra, too. But being basically a one-man outfit, wouldn’t Hamrick.com (VueScan) be even further back in the dust…if it still exists? Nope. Bad assumption. I downloaded the current version for trial purposes, and the Canon’s scanner fired up immediamente. It offered TIFF-format images and JPEGs, created PDFs and editable OCR documents, acted like a copier, barked like a dog and did everything else I asked of it except get me some iced tea – with Xylitol. Maybe that’s where it stumbled. My previous VueScan cheapo license had expired after a year of “free” updates fourteen years ago. The “Professional” license seems to be the only one available these days, but it still supports my old Minolta film scanner as well. That’s pretty stiff at 120 bucks American, but for that, you get a lifetime ticket to ride the update train for your current scanner or any new scanner you acquire down the road. Since the programmer/seller here looks like a pretty young and reasonably healthy guy – and has a son he’s grooming for this income opportunity – then I’m solid. By this post, I’m simply suggesting that should you use a scanner or all-in-one for what you do and are weary of being orphaned when it still works great, that you give VueScan a trial run. There’s a massive list there of every scanner and combo unit it runs, as well as checkboxes of functionality with each. Would have been cheaper if I’d gotten the pro license back at the start, but I’ve recently changed my SOP from “freezing” a workstation in time and never updating anything significant, to keeping up with the Jones’.  Different purposes, different practices.

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2 thoughts on “Left Without a Scanner to Stand On

  1. $120 for some software… I guess if you need it

    • Yep, and “needing” it is the big question. Especially in today’s consumer/hobbyist market, where $79 programs are considered to be in high-end territory, and buyers collapse and choke on tears when their 99-cent smartphone app doesn’t live up to their expectations. Business software that competently fills a specific niche has always commanded a higher price than consumer software, since those customers depend on it for their income, and so they demand service and functionality, not someday and excuses. For most folks, access to a working scanner just has no part in their realm of needs. Since I no longer earn income from my imagery, I could instead just eBay my once-$3,000 film scanner, keep the Canon all-in-one solely for printing, and dumpster my hundreds of slides and negatives, which only have a sentimental value to me now that I’ve taken them off the market. Then go buy a cheapo new Epson or HP paper scanner for $100, and use whatever manufacturer-supplied software that comes with it, for as long as that combo works. But I’d like to retain the option to return to market, as well as to keep my existing equipment usable for the occasional droll paper scan task. That’s worth money to me, but I don’t need it, no. On the upside, $120 is better than its $499-and-up competitor.

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