Another paper music fail, courtesy of FedEx Office

Posted: October 5, 2012 in apps, cloud storage, iPad, sheet music, smartphone

(Warning: this is more of a rant than a practical post!)

I had another reminder yesterday of why I am sick of paper music.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t own a printer because the paper jams, ink/toner replacement, and general upkeep were more hassle than it was worth, given the modest amount of printing I did even before owning an iPad.

However, I still need to print out music from time to time for my pianists.  In that case, I use my smartphone to access my library of PDF music scores on Dropbox, locate the score in question, and use the HP ePrint mobile app to transmit the PDF file to my neighborhood FedEx Office.  Then, at my convenience, I can stop by the FedEx Office and enter a retrieval code into one of their self-service copy machines, which then prints my PDF file.  (This is all part of FedEx Office’s Print and Go service.  On a side note, the service supports cloud printing, so in theory you don’t even need a mobile device to use Print and Go – a Dropbox or similar account would be sufficient.)

Ok, so this sounds all high-tech and super-convenient, right?

Not.  The last three times I tried to print scores this way at FedEx Office, the Print and Go software screwed up the print job, and I had to wait in line for a cashier so they could 1) process my refund for the cost of the screwed-up print job, and 2) print it correctly on their own printer.  What was touted as a fast, convenient printing system ended being a time suck and a big pain in the backside.  In fact, when I tried this yesterday, I got the result pictured above, with the print size doubled and rotated into landscape mode.  Um, well, maybe that’s cool in a Digital solutions for low-vision musicians sense…but it’s not what I needed for my repertoire binder.  To add insult to injury, I was running late for a coaching and didn’t have time to stand in line for a refund, so the copy machine just ate my money.  Grrr.

The PDF score files that got messed up in printing came from various sources.  A couple were from IMSLP; one was from the Notion music notation app for iPad.  Now, I get that not all software generates clean, compatible PDF files that play nice with printers and US letter-sized paper.  But how hard would it be for FedEx’s Print and Go kiosk to give customers an option to auto-scale and rotate the PDF pages to fit on standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper?  Surely such an option makes more sense than the silly printout pictured above.  It was just this sort of paper printing stupidity that earlier this year drove me out of the FedEx Office store and into the Apple Store to buy an iPad and go paperless (or as paperless as possible).

***end of rant!***

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