Do Not Throw Away That Laserwriter, Ramsay Wood!

Yesterday I was having dinner with Ramsay Wood at the Priory Tavern. We hadn’t seen each other for a little while, and were having a nice catch up. Then he said something which offended my every sensibility.

‘I have to throw away my Laserwriter,’ he said. ‘My guy came around to install a new printer, and he couldn’t figure out how to make it work. He said something about the drivers.’

‘That doesn’t make any sense,’ I said. ‘Drive me over to your house, and home after I fix it. I’ll have it done in 15 minutes.’

As a bit of history, I used to work with Ramsay, then for Ramsay, and part of that was to help him out with his Mac and small network. I told him to buy the aforementioned Laserwriter more than a decade ago (second-hand — those things were expensive). It is a Laserwriter 16/600 PS, one of the last couple of models made, definitely more than 15 years old, and a total workhorse. I also knew that Ramsay couldn’t have printed more than a couple thousand pages — nothing for this printer — in the last 10 years.

A bit of an aside, here. I expect that even if Ramsay was printing 10,000 pages per year, this printer would likely still be working. But my lovely Lexmark X544 colour laser multifunction printer lasted only two years, and not very many pages, at that. And why, Lexmark, does the scanner stop working if the printer fuser needs to be replaced? But I digress.

What followed was a series of simple troubleshooting. The printer was on the wrong IP subnet (confirmed via the config page that prints at power up). Corrected that via telnet (there aren’t any Macs old enough to run the Laserwriter utility at Ramsay’s), and configured the computers with the new IP using the generic postscript driver (really, new guy, no driver for a postscript printer?). I also took a minute with Ramsay’s new Sky router to make sure that there would be no IP conflicts by setting DHCP static assignments — Sky’s brilliant netadmins specify all IPs from .2 to .254 for DHCP, as well as using a default admin password of ‘sky’. After that, the Laserwriter was back online. I also set the new IOS-friendly printer to a static IP, so it would, you know, continue to work, even if someone else asked for the same IP. Total time elapsed, about an hour.

What lessons were hammered home by all this?

  1. I miss sometimes having simple problems that I can fix myself. Although I’m not sure that I miss doing desktop support for a living.
  2. My current printer is a POS compared to this one which is definitely more than 15 years old. Increasing revenue with consumables and repairs is definitely part of the busieness model.
  3. Ramsay’s new guy definitely didn’t go looking too far into the IP side of things. Or he didn’t understand how things work.
  4. Sky definitely do not care about making their router setup sensible or secure. Even O2 was better.
  5. Time to get the Powerbook G3 Pismo from the office and figure out what’s wrong with it. Who has a copy of MacOS 9 kicking around?
  6. I am not as good as I think I am, but it still was fun!

Excelsior!

PS — Anyone have A/UX floppies and a clean ROM for an SE/30? It has ethernet….

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