The Scanner Blues

A few months ago I took the plunge and upgraded our desktop computer at home to Leopard. After all, I’d been running it both at work and on both of our laptops, and it seemed fine. Okay, I’d had to update some freeware and shareware, but that’s to be expected. I should probably update them more than once every 3 years anyway. 🙂

Well, it went smoothly, except for one problem: I can’t get my scanner to work under Leopard. Which is a bummer, since I use the scanner to scan book and comic covers for this journal, album art for my iTunes library, and also to scan items I put up for sale on eBay.

I have a Canon CanoScan LiDE 80, which was reasonably inexpensive and (more importantly) small and flat, but with a decent-sized platen for scanning. It’s worked well for several years, on both Panther and Tiger. But on Leopard it doesn’t work at all.

My first problem is that I use the version of Adobe Photoshop Elements that came with the scanner, which means that it’s now quite old, and won’t even launch on Leopard. If this were the worst problem, it would be surmountable; I could try to figure out Image Capture, which comes with Mac OS X, or I could try to use GraphicConverter or buy a copy of VueScan. Or heck, I could just buy the newest version of Photoshop Elements.

The larger problem is that the LiDE 80 doesn’t seem to be supported on Leopard, and in fact Canon seems to do a poor job of updating their drivers – the most recent drivers for this scanner were posted on 10/4/2007, which was shortly before Leopard was released. So I infer that they haven’t really been updated to work with Leopard. And n matter what I try, I haven’t been able to get them to work, even using the TWAIN driver, as other applications don’t seem to recognize Canon’s TWAIN driver. (The drivers also appear to be available only for PowerPC machines, which is fine for my desktop machine, since it is such a machine, but I’d like to buy an Intel-based Mac sometime soon, and that will pretty much hose it.) Someone recommended I check out SANE to see if they have a driver for it, but they don’t; apparently the scanner uses a “backend” which SANE doesn’t yet support. Alas.

It appears that other people have had the same problem, but I haven’t found a concrete solution. This thread has a lot of discussion about the issue, and some people seem to have gotten it to work, but others have not. I’m one of the “have not” people. On the other hand, one person was able to get it to work with VueScan, which I haven’t tried. (Although since VueScan seems to have a free trial, perhaps I should.)

So anyway, my solution to all this was to realize yesterday: Hey, I bought a second internal hard drive for the desktop machine a while back! So I partitioned that drive and installed Tiger on one partition, brought it up to date, and then installed the Canon software along with Photoshop Elements. Sure enough, the scanner works great in that environment. So at least that gives me a solution for the short term.

The longer term will involve buying a new computer, and then probably a new scanner. It seems that Epson has been releasing new drivers for Leopard, so I might give them a try, perhaps the V200 Photo. I’m certainly more inclined to buy a scanner from someone who appears to be actively supporting the platform.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions on what to get, I’d appreciate it.

Of course, I’ve needed to buy a new stereo receiver for months, and haven’t gotten around to that, so who knows when I’ll get to doing all this? (Then again, I installed Tiger on a new partition on a whim last night, so it could happen at any time…)

Debbi’s Birthday Weekend

Busy weekend!

Friday Subrata and I got together to play Friday Night Magic. Meanwhile our partners Debbi and Susan got together to do Friday night scrapbooking at a store they discovered. We each had a good time, and although Subrata and I went to Game Kastle, which started its game about an hour later than where we’ve been going to play before, we didn’t finish a lot later than they did, so it all worked out well.

Friday was the release day for the new Magic expansion, Shadowmoor, which is the complementary set to the previous block, Lorwyn. Rather than having interactions among creatures in a tribe (elves, goblins, etc.), this block involves colors which work closely together. That gives it a different dynamic in draft, since the “hybrid” color mana costs mean you can play more cards that come your way than in other blocks.

I had a pretty good draft putting together a green-red deck which had a few good tricks but basically came down to putting big creatures in play before my opponents could deal with them. I won my first match handily, lost my second match by a very thin margin, and got crushed in my third. So not too bad a showing. My third opponent isn’t impressed with the set, feeling that it’s a set which plays slowly at first, but then a single card can win the game for either player if they get lucky. To some extent this is always true in Magic, but it does seem like the power curve leaps rather suddenly at a certain point. On the other hand, I enjoy creature-based decks, so the slow progress early in a game suits me okay. I’ll have to play more to see what I think about it. It does feel like the set is very light on creature removal, though, which might make red-black the color combo of choice.

Saturday was a day of running around doing errands, followed by going to an engagement party for our friends Josh and Lisa. Some friends of theirs put together a very nice party at their house, and many friends of each showed up. Josh has been one of the more avid boardgamers at Subrata’s weekly session since he started coming a couple of years ago, so there were several people Debbi and I knew there. It was a fun time, at least until my cold meds started wearing off around 8 and I started wearing down.

(I can’t wait to shake this cold. I’m slowly getting better, and not really wiped out by it by the end of every day, but it’s sill a drag, sniffling and coughing.)

And last but by no means least, today it’s Debbi’s birthday!

I’d been teasing her all week about the presents I’d bought for her, all the while hoping that I’d actually get them in time, since I’m becoming the world’s worst procrastinator when it comes to buying presents. However, I’d come up with a couple of neat gift ideas, and hoped to pull it off.

Fortunately, I was able to make time to go by Lisa’s Tea Treasures on Thursday morning and picked up a nice English-style tea pot for her, since she’d talked about getting one so she could make larger pots of tea. (Lisa’s Tea came at Susan’s recommendation, for which I thank her since otherwise I had little idea of where to go!) And my order for Corner Gas seasons one and two on DVD arrived from Amazon Canada on Friday afternoon, somewhat to my surprise since they’d just shipped earlier in the week. Corner Gas is Debbi’s favorite show these days, and we watch it most nights on TV. A lot of its humor is based on wordplay, which means I enjoy it a lot more than most sitcoms.

Anyway, somehow I’d managed to not give her any hints about it all about them and she was completely surprised! And loved them all! Yay!

In the afternoon we had a small group of people over for grillables and cake to celebrate, keeping it small to not drive ourselves nuts with preparation. (I still drove myself nuts by insisting on mopping the tile floors this morning, but that’s my problem.) We had a fun time, and our friends Lisa and Michel brought their infant daughter over, which especially amused the cats, since Newton had no idea what to make of this not-a-lot-larger-than-he-is human sitting in the carrier on the floor. Isabella also was fascinated when I brought out the radio-controlled helicopter later on.

It all went smoothly, and after people left we had a quiet dinner, and of course some cake and tea and watched tonight’s Corner Gas.

Happy birthday, Deb! I’m glad you had a good one.

This Week’s Haul

  • DC Universe 0, by Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, George Pérez, Doug Mahnke, Tony Daniel, Ivan Reis, Aaron Lopresti, Philip Tan, Ed Benes, Carlos Pacheco, J.G. Jones, Scott Koblish, Christian Alamy, Oclair Albert, Matt Ryan, Jeff de los Santos & Jesus Merino (DC)
  • Action Comics #864, by Geoff Johns, Joe Prado & Jon Sibal (DC)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #41, by Jim Shooter, Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (DC)
  • Ex Machina #36, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris & Jim Clark (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Glamourpuss #1, by Dave Sim (Aardvark-Vanaheim)
DC Universe 0 DC Universe 0 is the prologue to the upcoming Final Crisis, and is – sorta – the bridge from Countdown to that series. But I think Valerie D’Orazio is right when she says it’s really an ad: It’s a 50-cent advertisement for upcoming storylines in the DC universe, such as Final Crisis, “Batman R.I.P.”, and stuff I care about even less (and honestly my level of caring about those two stories isn’t very high).

This comic is basically a series of vignettes each illustrated by a different art team, with a disembodied narrator sorta tying it all together (but not really). So there’s not really a story here, just the hints of several different stories. The art is generally strong, but of course it changes every few pages. The overarching portent is that evil is somehow on the verge of winning the day over good, a notion which hearkens back to Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, but which is too abstract to have any meaning to me as a reader.

Overall this issue feels completely unnecessary. In years gone by, other writers might have managed to cover this ground in 2 or 3 pages, but DC seems bent on drawing things out as long as possible these days. So we end up with stuff like this, which seems destined for the recycle bin.

Action Comics #864 Despite its problems, I enjoyed “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” enough to keep buying Action Comics for a little while, although promos for upcoming issues make me worry that it’s going to be one big event after another, which will probably drive me away.

Anyway, this issue is also a sort of introduction to Final Crisis, specifically a lead-in to the Legion of Three Worlds mini-series, which intrigues me since I’m a longtime Legion fan, having read all three of the Legions which will be involved in that series. This issue opens with Batman visiting Superman’s Fortress, where Superman is talking with Lightning Man from the Legion, reminiscing about old times. Batman and Lightning Lad get on like oil and water, especially once the bodies of two Legionnaires – who were killed in Countdown – turn up. We also briefly visit with the JSA’s Starman, who’s also a former Legionnaire.

The more I read of Geoff Johns’ writing, the more it seems like its hallmark is putting in as many nifty ideas as he can come up with – especially of the “mining DC’s past” variety – but not really plumbing any of them in depth. Mark Waid went further with the “Batman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” idea in one issue of The Brave and the Bold than Johns does here. Really, one could probably do a good 6-issue story with such an idea. So this issue ends up feeling like no less an advertisement for an upcoming series than did DC Universe 0, which is too bad, because even as a bridge between two Superman arcs, this could have been a much more insightful story than it was.

It was better than DC Universe 0, though, if for no other reason than the scene in which Lightning Man wonders aloud how Batman would have turned out had the Legion contacted him in addition to Superman back when they were teenagers.

Glamourpuss #1 For those who don’t know, Dave Sim is the creator/writer/artist of Cerebus, the longest-running self-published comic book in history. Originally a parody of Conan the Barbarian, Cerebus evolved to parody many aspects of popular culture, and later became a platform from which Sim proclaimed his social and political opinions at great length. The pros and cons of Cerebus are outside the scope of this review, but in short I’ll say that it produced what I think is one of the ten best graphic novels I’ve ever read (Jaka’s Story), and a whole lot of near-unreadable claptrap.

Glamourpuss is Sim’s first comic since Cerebus ended its 300-issue run in 2004.

And it is, frankly, a really bad one.

Sim is still an excellent artist: He reproduces a variety of glamour magazine photos in linework, and also reproduces many panels from the comic strip Rip Kirby. Even if the work isn’t original, it’s still impressive in its attention to detail. Sim can really draw.

Unfortunately, this is a comic book without a story. Rather than assembling a story to which he can apply his prodigious artistic skills, Sim strings together a series of unrelated panels and adds text which is nothing more than a monologue in which he discusses his intention to do a book of “cute teenaged girls in his best Al Williamson photo-realism style”, and goes on to talk at some length about his love for Alex Raymond’s and John Prentice’s art on Rip Kirby.

And boy, I couldn’t care less.

I have some interest in the analysis of comic art, to be sure, but this is little more than navel-gazing; a couple of cheap gags, but otherwise nothing really entertaining. I’d much rather read a prose piece about the strip with some key illustrations, with more historical context about Raymond, Prentice, and the strip itself. But Sim’s thoughts about his admirations for the artists and his striving to emulate them are not worth three dollars, or even the time it took to read this issue.

I keep wondering who exactly Sim’s target audience for this series is, or how long he expects it to keep going. I even wonder if he’s chuckling to himself as having ‘put one over’ on his readership. Probably not. I think this is a perfectly earnest effort to express his admiration for this art style, to have some fun flexing his artistic muscles, and figuring that there are a few thousand people out there who will find it all as interesting as he does.

And he might be right, but I’m not one of those people, and I won’t be back for a second issue (though Jog apparently will be).