Sunday, March 11, 2012

Change paper size is code for "Shape up...OR ELSE."

I've never hidden my love for my Silhouettes, and now my Cameo.  But as with all true love, there occasionally exists some strife, dare I say turmoil.  Oh heck let's call it what it was: sheer, outright, hair-pulling frustration.

A week ago Thursday I was working on a project in which I was cutting a word out multiple times so that they could be stacked one upon the next to create quite a bit of height.  Only problem was it wasn't coming out right.  It seemed that the cut wasn't going all the way through the cardstock.  The word was quite small - about 2 inches long and a half inch high - I wondered if it was just too small? But no, I've done this before with great success.  I slowed down the machine's speed to 1 and turned my blade from 5 to 7. I tried again with the new settings and the paper was shredded. Hmm.  Well, maybe seven was too deep, so I changed the blade to 6.  Same results.  It was towards the end of the day and I had been using it heavily, so I decided to shut everything down and let it rest.  I seem to remember that this kind of end-of-a-hard-work-day the machine gets funky but after some time off it works fine.  I liken it to all the times the computer is being weird and rebooting it solves the problems.

And so I let it rest until Tuesday.  But I have a deadline, so it kind of NEEDS to work.  Sadly, my Cameo really didn't care about my deadline. The same kinds of problems persisted.  The good news is, I had just gotten a back up blade and mat.  Not because I thought I needed them just yet, but because when you need a new one, you NEED a new one and I wanted to have one ready.  It didn't seem that the blade or the mat was the issue, but a brand new blade and mat would take out some variables - maybe, with luck, that's all it would take.  Only, no luck.  I spent literally six hours methodically changing the blade depth, the speed (I don't think that running the machine at 1 will actually cause the paper to shred or not cut through, but I tried it just in case), double cut on and off, I changed the size of my word, I tried white cardstock instead of the black, I uninstalled and re-installed the software three times...to no avail.  I wrote to the customer service email and outlined my problem and they  suggested that perhaps my new blade was defective and I could send it back and they'd send me a new one. The problem with that was, I was swapped the old blade back in and they were both doing the same thing.  And worse yet,  the machine had begun making "errant cuts" - with every "send cut" I did, there would be some random cut, either inside the word or outside, that wasn't part of the design. At the end of six hours I had less hair and less cardstock, but I didn't have a Cameo that was working properly.

I'll be honest: I was exhausted and irritated, frustrated, mad, and because it was a gift, I was also sad.  I reached out to some folks and it was suggested that I call Silhouette America's customer support number.  I couldn't imagine what they'd be able to do over the phone, but it was worth a try.  I wasn't home again during the hours that the customer service people were in until Friday so the call would have to wait a bit.

One thing that I can say about myself is that I can be a little bit of a pit bull if there's a problem I want to solve.  I will bite ahold and not let go until I'm satisfied that I've tried everything.  That said, I decided to sit down with the machine again on Thursday night.  Once again I uninstalled and re-installed the software. I unplugged the Cameo entirely and let it sit while I rebooted my computer. Once everything was up and running again I reset my preferences to what I had previously called "normal" and tried making a cut.  Hmm.  Modified success.  The cut was clean (for the most part - I was back to using the original bade, which now definitely needs to be replaced) and there were no errant cuts, but the entire thing was shifted to the right by one inch.  I suppose I should be happy with that and just accept it.  But truly, that's NOT right.  That's not what my software sent to the machine - or at least, that shouldn't be what the software sent. But I cut what I needed for the project and would call customer service in the morning.

On Friday I made the call. I explained my issue and the rep began the infuriating process of asking inane questions.  I know why they do this, in fact, I have to do it too when someone presents me with a broken camera.  I'm certain I've offended many a camera user by testing their batteries, but it needs to be done. And yet, my patience had long since left the building and I am embarrassed to admit that I wasn't especially pleasant with the woman.  She asked how I was lining up the mat when inserting it into the machine.  I told her it was a solid inch off and that I wasn't loading the mat an inch wrong.  AND, I had been using the machine pretty heavily since I got it for Christmas and I hadn't had this issue before. (snotty!) She asked if I was using 12x12 inch cardstock. I told her sometimes, but not now.  She asked if  I had told the software what size paper I was using.  I told her that I didn't even know how to do that. And -again- snottily pointed out that I had been putting small pieces of paper through with no issues prior to this. I then heard my tone of voice and I was pretty much mortified. This woman was trying to help me.  And it certainly wasn't her fault that the machine was acting up.  And of course she had to start at the beginning - she doesn't know what I've tried.  I apologized for being so defensive (because really, I wasn't blaming her for the issue, I was feeling like I was being called a moron for not knowing how to work the machine) and I asked her to walk me through the process.

Just in case you're interested, this is what she's talking about.  I've circled the icon on top that gets you into the page setting and the big oval is the paper setting size (even though it's not really marked as such). The oval has the presets, but just under that is where you can tell it what odd-ball size you're using.  And as long as my mat is new, I'll sent even inch by inch size scraps in there.  I'm cheap, and I'm not cutting into full size sheets unless I really need to.

Having walked me through that I told her I'd give it a try and call back if it didn't work.  From her response, I think that she was thinking she'd wait with me while I tried it, but honestly, I *knew* this wasn't the issue and I recognized that even thought I'd apologized I was still carrying my snotty attitude and I needed to calm down.

So I got off the phone, set the paper size to 5x7 and sent a design to cut.

And that gosh darn cut was perfectly crisp and EXACTLY where it was supposed to be with no errant cuts or other issues.  And THAT, my friends, is how Silhouette America keeps its machines in check "change paper size" is code for "You'd better shape up  OR ELSE."

I spent the rest of the day trying to stump the machine, to no avail.  Unless *I* did something wrong (like send patterned paper through with the blade set to 5) everything came out perfectly.

(I should note that one of the things that I did to try to stump it was set the paper size back to 12x12 and sent a smaller sheet through.  It worked without a hitch.)

I realize that this is a hideously long post, but believe me I tried to keep it short.  Heck, I didn't even tell you about how I tried to hook up my Silhouette SD (which was in fine working order when I set it aside in favor of the Cameo) and the display was showing what looked like Hebrew characters.  But I will say this: I learned a lesson.  Don't write. Call.  Don't wait. Call.  There's someone there whose entire job is to iron out our frustrations.  But it's my job to not let those frustrations grow into an unmanageable emotional mess.

Oh.  You know what else I didn't mention? That I caved in and bought a sewing machine.  Damn that Karen Grunberg.  ;)

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