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back to article Have you reinstalled Windows yet? No, I just want to PRINT THIS DAMN PAGE

Unable to print. Well, thanks, but I think I could have guessed that by myself based on the simple evidence that the printer is still in Sleep mode and output tray is ominously empty. Oh well, I have a bit of time spare and I’m in need of a laugh so let’s run the Troubleshooter. Check your network connections. Good advice. Who …

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Trollface

Maybe...

You should change "The Photo Black Ink Cartridge"...

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Anonymous Coward

Cats = Fleas = cat turds on the lawn

Cats are not cute they are Satans Mercenaries.

Please El Reg, ban cat pictures.

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Trollface

Cats = Fleas = cat turds on the lawn

Actually,

Fleas = dirty hovel + no flea collar / flea drops

Cat turds on neighbour's lawn 'cos cats aren't dumb or dirty :)

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Thumb Up

Re: Cats = Fleas = cat turds on the lawn

I can't follow how this cat thing came up, but you're absolutely right, Blitterbug. I can't stand cats, I hate them. The more that the neighbours' cats crapped on my lawn. Got a cat on our own (which I adore, btw), problem solved. It's that simple - no more turd on our lawn.

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Re: Cats = Fleas = cat turds on the lawn

remove the cats from the equation and you will only have to put up with the mice and rats.... problem solved.

never complain about the neighbours cat. without them, mice will find a way in. If a cat in living in the neighbourhood, you are pretty guaranteed vermin can smell them and will keep away.

or just buy a Dell and the smell will do the same job

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Mushroom

Re: Cats = Fleas = cat turds on the lawn

Patterdale Terrier.

No more cats anywhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Lot of singletons have cats as companions, appears El Reg has a high proportion of this demographic.

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Anonymous Coward

Flick the turd back across the fence as I do, aim for the patio door.

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Presumably...

... singleton = geek

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Bronze badge

Re: Cats = Fleas = cat turds on the lawn

The trouble is, although a cat might do a good job of scaring away mice and rats, some of them also do a pretty good job of bringing half dead mice back to the house from outside, where they have just enough life left to run and hide behind the fridge before dying and gently decomposing over the next few weeks...

That said, I like cats, something about their petty cruelty to lesser beings appeals to the BOFH in me.

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Boffin

Re: Maybe...

Or maybe join us in the future, buy a tablet and stop printing so much stuff out :)

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Anonymous Coward

What is it this week?

Earlier this week I moved a printer from one USB port on one machine to another on another machine, for reasons to do with installing Google Cloud Print. Machine 1 could see its former printer on machine 2, but refused to print. It then told me that the printer was offline (it wasn't).

After drawing several deep breaths, I deleted the USB printer on machine 1. The machine was now briefly able to print on the shared printer...until the deleted printer suddenly re-appeared (remember it is no longer physically attached to the machine) and printing stopped.

To cut a very long story short, I eventually moved the printer back to machine no. 1. It still would not print. I reinstalled the driver. Still would not print, except that now it thought that the printer was an "unknown device".

Attempts to delete the printer and reinstall failed. Eventually I went through the registry, removed every reference to the printer, reinstalled. It worked, though for some reason it appeared as (copy 1).

Then the deleted printer reappeared again and, you guessed it, printing stopped.

The printer is now networked instead of using USB. I was able to install it as a networked printer on Machine no 1., and get Cloud Print working on Machine no. 2. The zombie, unkillable shared usb printer is still there after another registry cleanup, but is no longer stopping printing.

I'm guessing that Windows retains some data about the printer not accessible from the Registry or very hard to track down, and that while it's there it keeps reappearing as a zombie. Or this just happens on 31st October and it wanted to be bribed to go away with a Twix.

Roll on the day when the accounting system my wife uses can be replaced with something that doesn't need Windows.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What is it this week?

1. Google Cloud Print is one of the stupidest things Google has ever conceived.

2. When you moved the printer back to the first machine, a simple system restore would have got you operational, and undone all the damage you did while faffing around.

3. Blame Windows all you like, but Windows doesn't do what you describe by itself. A seriously borked printer driver or support software from the printer manufacturer might. As might a messed up registry, which can happen to the types of users who try to fix problems by inadvisedly diving into the registry and deleting stuff.

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Bronze badge

Re: What is it this week?

"... but Windows doesn't do what you describe by itself."

Oh, yes it does, and more!

Moving a device from one USB connector to another, borks everything up royally. Apparently, each USB connector maps to a different port on the internal USB hub, and Windows gets all confused. At least, XP and Win7 do, from my own personal experience.

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Re: What is it this week?

I move printers from one USB port to another on almost a daily basis and I've never had the problem you describe on XP or Win7. Not sure what makes you think it is a windows problem and not a printer driver problem. Once Windows has installed a drivers for a particular USB device, it won't install the driver again no matter how many USB ports you have or which one you plug it in to. So, moving from port to port isn't a problem from a windows perspective. Now, if the crap drivers you have retain port information, then you would need to remove the driver each time you switch ports. That's a driver/manufacturer problem not a Windows problem.

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Mat

Re: What is it this week?

Well explain how my dad, who doesn't install drivers - knocking on a bit! has got a printer/scanner combo and suddenly the scanner refused to talk to the computer - it would still print fine down the same cable but scanning was totally borked.

Re-installing the drivers fixed it!

Windows does this A LOT!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What is it this week?

Oh dear.

Google cloud print being stupid is a matter of opinion, it works well for me. How do you manage internet printing?

Yes, perhaps a system restore might have fixed it, Mr. Superior, but we can't be perfect every day.

When I delete a printer via a Windows utility I kind of expect it to stay deleted. The other Oses with which I'm familiar manage this. The question you should be addressing is why stuff gets scattergunned all over the Registry.

Incidentally, the printer is a Ricoh and is not a cheap inkjet. It's Linux driver gives no trouble.

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Re: What is it this week?

As in the article, the cause for sudden non-working and the necessity to reinstall drivers is "drive by updates" that happen in the middle of the night. "automatically install updates" may seem like a good idea, but it really isn't. On all of our machines, I periodically run update and choose which patches are installed. And if a device is working, I decline to install driver updates. Because at that point the very best you could hope for is that the device continues to do what it's already doing.

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Re: What is it this week?

Presumably the NSA hadn't updated their copy of your registry.

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Mushroom

Re: @Brian - I move printers

"Once Windows has installed a drivers for a particular USB device, it won't install the driver again..." - Oh yes, it does (at least, Win7 does). Regularly. On various machines. For every USB port you plug the device into, until you have used all available USB ports. Only then does it accept that the keyboard or mouse or printer or USB memory stick you plugged in is a known device and not something new.

And each time Windows goes off on its own mission, hunting for drivers; first locally and then (I presume) on available resources on your network and then it wanders off to the Internet, where it spends an awfully long time (browsing PC porn? Ooooh! look at all those beautiful Linux distro's!) before returning to tell you that it is installing drivers.

---> What I'd like to do to Win7. Honestly, it's like a four-year old: self! I want to do it self! Even though it more often than not need copious amounts of assistance to complete what should have been a simple task.

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Go

Re: What is it this week?

If it ain't broke...

Thankyou for your sound advice, I will no longer allow auto-uptdating.

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Anonymous Coward

Poetry on El Reg

"Roll on the day when the accounting system my wife uses can be replaced with something that doesn't need Windows."

That was such a sweet line I had to repeat it.

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Re: What is it this week?

Raymond Chen once outed the real reason behind Windows attempting to reinstall a device every time you move its port: The braindead morons who wrote the firmware for the device's embedded USB controller used one of a handful of demo serial numbers that were given as examples in the USB spec. It's the hardware version of copying MSDN or codeplex code right into your production app. Sometimes, you can have two different devices with identical serial numbers, supposedly illegal by the spec, in different ports, and how is Windows going to know for sure what's what?

If the device has a unique serial number, as it's supposed to, it'll be re-detected with no reinstall no matter how or where you move it. In that case, it almost certainly sounds like a combination driver and hardware problem.

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Pint

Treat the printer as you would a faulty mouse. Just throw the printer away and get a new one. That should last you 2-3 years before print quality starts to degrade and it refuses to print followed by incessant notifications to replace ink cartridges that you know have plenty of ink left in them.

Inkjet printers are made to be disposable and non-serviceable regardless of the manufacturer.

Beer icon because I just saved you hours of pointless troubleshooting that would prevent you from nipping off early to the pub on a Friday.

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Silver badge

Yup Inkjet printers are disposable, that is why they are so cheap.

If you want a decent printer that will last buy a laser.

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It's a £500 A4 colour proofer. Not sure I want to throw it away just yet.

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Happy

"If you want a decent printer that will last buy a laser"

I've been using the same B&W laser printer for 12 years: £200 to buy, about £60 every 3 years for a toner cartridge. I spend less than £10 a year having photos printed somewhere else --- and no inkjet frustration!

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disposable inkjets

last inkjet printer i had anything to do with cost less than a replacement set of inks.

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Silver badge

Agreed, buy a laser

Colour laser printers can be had for a very reasonable rate these days. They nominally cost more to run in pence per page than a colour inkjet, but that is under 'ideal conditions' where the printer hasn't wasted half an expensive ink cartridge cleaning its nozzles beofre deciding to print a series of yellow and magenta stripes where it should be solid red.

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Curiously enough, a recent BOFH (well, recent in BOFH terms, anyway - episode 5) dealt with this exact issue.

"Is it an inkjet printer?"

"Yes."

"Then pop it in the bin."

"I've only printed about 30 pages!"

"Oh, right! Count your blessings - and then pop it in the bin."

...

"In the OLD days, printers were made of STEEL! If one FELL on you they just amputated the limb at the joint because anything under the printer was PASTE! And if an engineer's tie got caught in a drum printer they had about 10 seconds to scratch out a message to their next of kin before they choked to death. AND THE PRINTER WOULD KEEP ON RUNNING! You could print three-layer fan-fold forms WITH carbon sheets in between and the only warning you EVER got was a PAPER OUT light when the box was empty. There was NO jam. EVER. There were no printer monitors running in the taskbar to tell you that magenta was getting low or that it was performing a routine clean and that your ink level was going to drop by 10 per cent - you just changed the ribbon when you thought it needed it. And feed problems! The only way the printer would misfeed is if you put the box in the wrong position, so you just marked the box location out on the floor for the benefit of the idiots on night shift - otherwise the printer'd keep on running week in, week out... They could take your printer to bits, put it back together, give you about 10 parts that they couldn't remember where they came from - AND THE PRINTER WOULD STILL WORK! They were! We've still got a hammer action drum printer in the basement that's done over a million pages. A *MILLION*! At 600 lines a minute! You'd consider yourself blessed these days if an inkjet did 100! We ran out of paper and ribbon for the machine years ago so we just taped over the paper-out and ribbon-out micro switches and feed stuff in it to be destroyed."

That's the sort of rant I've been trying to compose for about 15 years.

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Didn't you just load like 75 quids worth of ink into it? Any reason you didn't get a colour laser for 500 quid instead?

Only inkjet I ever saw the use of where plotters. Everyone else needs a laser.

Unless you're in publishing. In which case, you should be intimately aware of what your printer needs in order to get you stuff to come out how you want.

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Silver badge

Re: "If you want a decent printer that will last buy a laser"

Dunno if you shouldn't leave them or if it was a fault with this particular printer; but I had an OKI colour laser that I used sporadically. Anwyay; I didn't print for a couple of months and it was fucked when I wanted it again. Didn't even finish the (half-full) toner cartridges it came with. Unfortunately, it was after I scored a job and had bought 2 sets of replacement cartridges in anticipation.

OKI 'support' said that I could just go and fuck myself, essentially.

So laser printers aren't the cure-all that you might hope for. Not all of them, anyway. Personally, I decided that printing was going to be Someone Else's Problem from that point onwards and have saved money and many years of lifespan since by farming out printing work.

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Bronze badge

>> There was NO jam. EVER.

Suspension of disbelief ended right there. Printer jams happen, and I remember them being much worse and more frequent 20 years ago.

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>> Any reason you didn't get a colour laser for 500 quid instead?

Apologies, I mistyped. It's an A3 proofer, not an A4. If I could buy an A3 colour laser capable of producing prepress-class proofs but only cost £500, I would have bought it.

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Lasers are just as disposable.

Lexmark CS310N colour laser printer... C$170. Built-in cartridges get about 750 pages.

Lexmark 700H1 black cartridge... C$157

Lexmark 700 H2 Cyan/H3 Magenta/H4 Yellow cartridge... C$189 each.

Cartridges are 3000 pages each.

The cost of replacing the cartridges ($724) is greater than buying 4 printers ($680)

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Anonymous Coward

AND THE PRINTER WOULD STILL WORK!

yup,you could throw them at an invading tank, and the tank stopped.

And they cost £800-£1200, produced output that looked like bus tickets;

a printer cable cost £50 and you had to set the dip switches on the motherboard to set the memory locations used for printer data, and write a programme to convert the computer output into something the printer could understand.

Did you want everything double spaced or double-double spaced cos you sure as hell ain't gettin it single spaced

It wasn't so great back then

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Silver badge

Tom7,

You forgot to mention that in those days printer didn't refuse to print because, allegedly, they were fucking refilling the toner cartridge themselves! Not that it works, not that it actually does anything in this time or, heaven forbid, that I believed it does. But it stops printing for 15 minutes and then it's still running out of toner.

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The beer icon has been drunk

but not by you. If you get a printer of the same or similar type that may possibly at a stretch of the imagination use the same driver then it will and you will just get the same problems you had before.

Inkjets are disposable - windows is like an elephant when you dont want it to be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "If you want a decent printer that will last buy a laser"

Laser toner does have a shelf life. If someone uses a cartridge every 3 years, I suspect the printer of being in a cool place, because eventually toner clumps. The only marker I know with truly indefinite shelf life is Xerox wax, though Ricoh gel is pretty good.

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JQW

Re: AND THE PRINTER WOULD STILL WORK!

DIP switches were only part of the problem. Getting pound signs to print from DOS applications was the real challenge.

The majority of printers used language selection DIP switch to replace the hash sign with a pound sign, i.e. a character value of 35 decimal, but the DOS applications themselves, if using codepage 437, used 156 decimal for the pound sign. So you needed to set up a character translation table, assuming the application had one.

I had one application whose supplied drivers were strange - a UK one for my printer produced the pound sign, but it didn't allow me to print charts. The driver that did print charts didn't print the pound sign. As documents contained both text and charts, it made it impractical to switch drivers partway through a printout. I ended up reverse engineering the printer driver files (which were effectively just a table of escape codes with an optional translation table), and combining the two together to produce one that worked properly.

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Bronze badge

Re: Lasers are just as disposable.

"Lexmark...

Lexmark...

Lexmark..."

There's your problem. You should never buy any Lexmark printer - they're all disposable.

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Re: AND THE PRINTER WOULD STILL WORK!

"It wasn't so great back then" - while my little Panasonic KXP1180 is not cutting edge, it survived boarding school, it survived being dropped, it only jammed when the idiot user loaded paper incorrectly, it NEVER jammed on fanfold, and it was able to magically print when the ribbon had HOLES in it. Plus there was this nifty push-tab on the ribbon cartridge so that if the ink was running low, you poke this tab and it would press the ribbon against the ink roller a little bit harder. Shock horror - it is probably the only dot matrix I've ever used with a Beeb that didn't get # and £ mixed up. It is just a shame it is slow, noisy, and really low resolution. Inkjets are good for convenience and a trade off of cheap vs quality (tending more towards "cheap"), but I am sick of pointless cleaning cycles and "replace cyan" (WTF? There's half a tank of ink there!). I feed my printer exclusively clone inks because it wastes too much on cleaning and misprints and banding and other weirdness to justify blowing twice on ink what the printer itself cost. I did originally using branded ink, and it wasted a lot on cleaning and misprints and banding, so it isn't the ink at fault, it is probably the technology, trying to fake a >600dpi quality with budget parts. Mmm...

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Bronze badge

Re: "If you want a decent printer that will last buy a laser"

I've been using the same B&W laser printer for 12 years

I'm still using an HP LaserJet 4m from 1992. I don't do a lot of printing, so I'm only on my third toner cartridge (a self-test page I printed out a couple years ago reports 124853 pages printed). I did open the printer up about 12 years ago and stick in a Postscript card I scavenged from a non-functional LaserJet 4mp, giving this one Postscript support (which works quite nicely, if not very quickly).

The only real issue with it is that it's still connected by Centronics parallel port. When the 9-year-old machine that's driving it dies, I'll either have to switch to network connectivity (which might be interesting to set up) or get one of those USB-to-parallel converters.

But I figure 21 years isn't a bad service life for a printer.

I've never bought an inkjet, and never will. On the extremely rare occasions when I want something printed in color, I go to a print & copy outfit like FedEx Office, or use the color printers available at the university library.

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Re: Lasers are just as disposable.

You should never buy any Lexmark printer - they're all disposable.

That's certainly what consumer reviews have suggested over the past several years (I'd been considering one of those printer/scanner/copier/fax jobs to supplement the unkillable HP 4m). It's a pity; Lexmark lasers were pretty good in the first couple years after IBM spun them off, in the early '90s. I had one that lasted about 10 years. (Then it became erratic - sometimes working fine, sometimes printing garbage - probably failing capacitors or other intermittent fault causing memory errors.)

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Happy

"It's a £500 A4 colour proofer. Not sure I want to throw it away just yet."

What's your day-rate and how much time have you spent?

Besides, flog it on Ebay as "slightly used" to get some dosh back.

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Pint

Just been battling a print spooler/spooler subsystem app (no I hadn't realised it existed either) issue. Cue having to delete stuff from spool folder and copy spoolsv.exe from another version of XP (saved faffing about with install cds) then having to delete and reinstall printer before it would work.

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printui /s /t2 from an elevated command prompt is your friend on Windows 7 - lets you actually delete corrupted print drivers before reinstalling.

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Nice cat

Does it have Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat in its ancestry?

Printers are annoying devices. Printers with their own proper control panel are slightly less annoying and USB only printers are rarely worth considering.

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Re: Nice cat

Holy crap, printers with their own control panels are one of my most hated things.

Not that Windows' default printer control panels are all that spectacular, but printer-specific software make adobe's software look stable in comparison!

Not to mention that most of these control panels nowadays are bloated adware to get you to order ink from the manufacturer's web site...

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Re: Nice cat

I agree, they're often more than infuriating to use - but they're there and will continue to "work" long after the manufacturer loses interest in the device, and will work no matter what OS is running on your computers. Even on Windows I will usually install the most minimal drivers available to avoid the awful bloatware which comes with most printers and at best simply duplicates the functions available on the machine itself.

Edit : re-reading your post it looks like you've misread mine; I'm talking about a physical control panel on the printer itself, not 300MB of badly written malware which only runs on one version of Windows and a handicapped version which almost runs on some Macs.

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