In the middle of the day, the networked Brother printer stopped working. Although I was hundreds of miles from my Ph.D. hood, I remembered the sacred incantation: reboot everything. Nowadays this is almost a cure-all, but not so this time. I rebooted the printer, network, and client. No Joy.
I checked the printer’s configuration. In a sudden fit of dementia, it had completely forgotten the wireless network. So I configured it anew, and… it told me I had the wrong wifi access code.
Now, this is a password that is easy to mistype, so I tried again. Then I questioned my memory and tried a variant a few times. Then I went to my son-in-law and confirmed my original memory of the password. With renewed certainty, I tried again. Several times. Nope. Adding insult to injury, my helpful Brother printed an error page every time the authentication failed, so every password attempt killed a bit of a tree.
And that’s when I happened to notice something squirrelly about the Brother keyboard. Throwing caution to the wind, I will reveal that the access code I was typing contained an “@“ sign.
The Brother printer helpfully provides an @ on the primary keyboard — prioritizing it over even the comma, as if one types email addresses into the printer all that often — and that’s what I had been using -- lower right, above the friendly "OK":
But then, by chance, I noticed something odd: the tertiary keyboard is all symbols, and it ALSO has an @ -- at far right, center:
I tried one more time, now using the @ from the third screen rather than the first. Worked perfectly.
It's an old printer, but you'd have to be older than me for this to be an acceptable design flaw. A novel entry in the User Interface Hall of Shame.