Ed recently bought a mildly used laser printer and wanted to set it up on his home network.
In a better world, this would be a trivial exercise — just connect the printer to the network and let the computers discover it. As he said, in the actual world, it was a forty-five minute project that only a reasonably handy network jockey could have hoped to complete.
If you care about what exactly he had to do, see below.
John Hartman says, “Printing is the hardest problem in computer science.” It often seems that way. But why?
Plug-and-play printing seems pretty simple, compared to many of the things that computers do routinely without trouble. Granted, it’s not trivial to get the full variety of printers to work with the full variety of computers, but our collective failure to do so is — or should be — surprising.
There must be some lesson here about engineering, or human nature, or something. Lately I’ve gone around asking people why printing is so hard. I’ve gotten some interesting answers, but I don’t think I really understand the issue yet.
What do you think? Why is printing so hard?
For the record, here’s what he had to do to get his newly acquired printer working on his home network:
I plugged the printer in to our network, but the Windows PCs couldn’t auto-discover the printer. I Googled the printer’s user manual, which said the printer had a built-in webserver. But I didn’t know the printer’s IP address, so I had to log in to our router and look at its DHCP tables. Knowing the IP address, I could connect to the printer’s webserver, which had a page telling me what URL to use for IPP printing. (I had to know what IPP was.) After that, I assigned the printer a static IP address, so the IPP URL (containing an IP address) would keep working across reboots. Now that I had a stable IPP URL, I could set up the PCs for printing. Finally, I had to guess which of driver to use on Windows — two drivers were offered, with no advice about which one to use, but only one of the offered drivers supports duplex printing. Total elapsed time: about 45 minutes.
*the above printer fairy-tale was taken from here.
What do you think at all ?
Is the right season to tell printer to make a cup of instant coffee?