Since I was asked by several peers in a computer course why the printer said Insert Quarter today, so I deemed this post necessary. It is amazing how unaware some people can be. This little perl script allows you to change the “Ready Message” on most HP printers to whatever you’d like. For the *nix intolerant: here is a link to a Windows binary I’ve used in the past. Keep in mind the limitations of the display when composing your clever verbiage. I wrote it after coming across the command in an HPPJL (HP Printer Job Language) reference manual I was reading for some reason that I now forget. Thanks to the flexibility and power of perl, it was a no-brainer to play with the new information.
Well, of course I couldn’t ignore such an opportunity, and it turns out to be a lot of fun. You can think up your own funny, confusing or scary messages. I generally like “INSERT QUARTER” or “FEED ME” on the larger displays (e.g, 4200, 4250). My personal favorite is “INSERT COIN” which fits perfectly on the small LCDs. You can even sit in sight of the printer and change the message while watching the reaction of your victim. Don’t be surprised, though, if a large fraction don’t even notice. I was quite surprised myself but, it appears, some people don’t look at what is in front of them.
UPDATE: I wrote a more elaborate version that takes advantage of the HP 4200′s larger, four-line display. It sends the current weather conditions which I grab from NOAA using the perl Geo::METAR module. It updates every 10 minutes. Amazingly, while many people noticed the report on the printer display, no one questioned it!
People are endlessly surprising. Isn’t it great?
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