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  PC-Net's PC News - November 2001
Don Watkins

A Long Strange Trip

By Don Watkins



November 2001--This is a shaggy dog story. A long and pointless rambling that doesn't really say anything or go anywhere, but I've got to tell it anyway.

It all started when I decided that my 15 year old copier, my thermal paper fax and 7 year old printer should be retired. I waited anxiously for the HP 950.

I had one reservation; it used a USB interface. Not trusting a connection created after the invention of electricity I was concerned, but I had used my digital camera USB connection without a problem so I plunged ahead.

I actually followed the installation directions on my Windows 2000 based machine; install the HP software first, do some stuff with the printer and then hook it up and let Windows plug and play it. Easy enough.

Sure enough Windows saw the printer and did the automatically installation. I pulled up the HP printer manager window and clicked status and waited...and waited until finally it came back and told me that the printer wasn't there. Trying to print with it returned an error every time.

Strange says I, time to check for loose cables, etc. Nothing funny there. Go online and search the HP database. Lots of possibilities there from a bad USB chipset to an install software glitch. Checked the computer vendors database. Naturally all their stuff pointed to software.

Remove all the software in safe mode and repeat the process. No go.

Try installing it on the laptop. Same experience.

It might be the actual USB cable or the voltage on the USB line and one solution for that is to try a different cable and/or a powered USB hub. The latter includes a cable so to save a trip I picked up the latter.

Tried the new cable. No go. Tried the USB hub, no go. Tried both on the laptop, no go.

Nothing else I could think of except reinstall Windows 2000 but it was a fairly new install, I just couldn't figure anything being broken in there.

I had a copy of Windows XP I'd been holding off on installing. I had planned on waiting until SR-2 was released (why is it that Microsoft software is never any good until service release 2?) but desperate times and all that.

Removed the HP software, unhooked the printer and installed XP.

The XP install went well, a bit over an hour and everything worked afterwards.

Hooked up the printer (the software is built into XP), XP saw the printer worked like a charm.

So there it is, I have a new operating system and a new printer/scanner/copier/fax and it only took two days.

As I warned, a long and rambling story but maybe not as pointless as I thought. Perhaps all the hoopla about how easy computing is getting and the benefits of plug and play are nothing more than market hype. How much "easier" have things gotten since the days when you plugged a printer into a parallel port and routed output to LPT1 or LPT2? Is it two steps forward and one step back or one step forward and two steps back? And to make matters worse I don't even know who to blame.

At least now I can write about the HP 950 and Windows XP.

Until next time best in computing.

Quick look at Windows XP

HP 950 Printer Review

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