Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's the little things

I have an old Linksys WPS11 v3.1 parallel port print server. It's been sitting in a box in my closet for years. And when I say years, I mean close to 10 years. I bought it back when we lived in my dad's house and I wanted to have a printer that was centrally located in the house for everyone to print to. Back then, it was more a novelty than a real need, and I even got it to work for a while, but it was a bit buggy with the craptastic (sorry Linksys) software that you had to install on your desktops to get it to work. Eventually, we moved to our first new home on Spring Lilac and the parallel port print server was once again put to work, but again, the craptastic (apologies again, Linksys) software limited its true effectiveness. It was so buggy that I eventually replaced it with a Kodak printer that had built-in wireless. I then retired the WPS11 and stuck it in a box. I figured, you never know when you might be able to put something to work again.

Fast forward to last night. I became the owner of a Laserjet 2100TN printer. It's pretty nice, and even came with a spare toner cartridge for the awesome price of FREE. I decided to go ahead and put it to work for me in my home office, but I didn't want to run a hella-long parallel cable across the room. Since the 2100TN is a networkable printer equipped with a JetDirect card, I could have just wired it with some CAT-5, but again, I didn't want to run a cable across the room. Enter the WPN11.

I sent my son up into the attic to retrieve the WPN11. Coincidentally, I literally just had him move a box from my office's closet into the attic the day before, and having inventoried the box, I knew the WPN11 was in it.

My son brought the WPN11 down and I connected the printer to it. The good news: it immediately recognized the printer. The bad news: there was no software that would run on my 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium desktop computer. Try as I might, there was no way to get the program to install.

Trying to discover the server on the network was fruitless. I searched the Internet for instructions on how to make the WPN11 work with Windows 7, but all I found was statements like, "Won't work without the client software" and "Can't use it with an OS past WinXP." I was about to give up when I figured there'd be no harm in trying to make it work somehow by just trying some custom settings.

I went about trying some different things, and by luck, on my third attempt, I got the printer to work. Wanting to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I set it up on a second, then third, and eventually even a fourth machine here in the house. All of them printed perfectly to the WPN11.

I decided to make a little video for others who may have the WPN11 and Windows 7 and I posted it onto Youtube. I don't expect it to be a smash hit or very highly viewed video, but I'm sure there are just a few folks out there who could use the instructions.

Hopefully, it saves some WPN11's from being sent to landfills.

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