Christmas morning was magical. My 10-year-old son woke me up just before 7 a.m. with a bright smile and the pronouncement that it was time to open presents. We tore into our mountain of gifts and ooh’ed and aaah’ed over the goodies with delight. Skylanders Imaginators! A Harry Potter Wand! Cozy electric massaging slippers! A 3D printer!!!
Stockings were emptied of Pez dispensers and green and red M&M’s, and I dove into layers upon layers of packaging to free the gifts from their protective armor. Ninja Crey ran off to his room with Super Mario All Stars while I settled in to catch up on that last hour of sleep. Mmmm….perfect. And then…
Ninja Crey promptly beat Super Mario Brother All Stars and couldn’t get Skylanders Imaginators for Wii U to work. It was stuck at the “Press A to load” screen. So I pressed A. Nothing. I got another Wii U controller. Nothing. I put in another game to ensure the A button worked on it. Like a charm. I cleaned the Imaginators disk and reinserted it. But no matter how proficiently or skillfully I performed my A mashing, the game was unloadable. Oh, well, it’s not like we didn’t have a 3D printer to distract us, right? Riiiight?
Thirty minutes later I had the XYZ Da Vinci Mini Maker 3d printer unpacked and the parts sorted. An oblong cardboard box lodged through the interior of the printer took three cardboard cuts (which, by the way, hurt way worse that paper cuts) and watching a video to remove. Said video made the rest of the assembly process a breeze. Don’t even bother with the instructions and their grainy black and gray photos – the manual looked like something stapled together by a fourth-grader. The company has excellent videos on its website.
As I loaded the filament, I couldn’t help but compare this age of mass produced 3D printing to 1990’s dial up on AOL or clunky car phones. One day, setting up a 3D printer will be as simple as getting a new computer or cell phone. But that day is not today. Three videos later, I had successfully set up and calibrated the printer. I downloaded plans for a yellow snowman from the XYZ website and we pressed print. (The mini maker comes with yellow filament, and Ninja Crey felt a snowman would be appropriate – there’s a joke in there somewhere.)
About 30 seconds into the print, the filament started sticking to the nozzle instead of the print bed. I ended up with a tiny ball of yellow’ish plastic. I followed instructions to clean the nozzle (twice), and tried again. It took about 2 minutes for the filament to stick to the nozzle this time, but the result was just as disastrous.
By this point, my son was thoroughly bored with the whole process and I wanted to re-enact the printer scene from “Office Space.”
I gave up and made bacon, because that’s what you do in times of deep disappointment. Bacon in hand, I sat on the couch and slipped on my heated slippers and dove into “Black Mirror” on Netflix. (Note to self: “Black Mirror” is maybe not the best choice for Christmas Day.) In true 2016 fashion, the heating element to the slippers didn’t work. So now I just have really expensive slippers.
In the end, however, my Christmas tech wasn’t a total bust. Ninja Crey loves his new Logitech webcam and it works like a charm. We downloaded XSplit and set up a Twitch channel. All very user friendly and hassle-free. Ninja Crey promptly demanded that I leave the room and uploaded a video playing Undertale.
Despite the limited setbacks, Christmas ended on a happy note. We decided to donate the 3D printer to Ninja Crey’s classroom at school, where he and others can benefit from it. And we went to Waffle House for more bacon. Turns out a little love and a lot of bacon is all you really need for Christmas magic. Oh, and a Harry Potter wand.