Monday, July 10, 2006

Finding the right printer

I tried to upgrade my home printer this weekend from inkjet to laserjet — found a great deal on the HP 1020 at OfficeMax, so I went and bought it and brought it home.  Once I plugged the 1020 into the Airport Extreme and the Extreme correctly identified it, I thought I was in business until I realized that the printer CD had no Mac drivers.  Not to be deterred, I searched Google and found what I thought was the solution on MacOSXHints, but could not get the solution to work on my machine — it is important to point out that this “solution” involves using an old version of the Laserjet 1022 driver that, at the time of the postings in the MacOSXHints forums, was compatible with the 1020.  After beating my head against the wall for an hour, I finally returned the 1020 and simply bought new cartridges for my inkjet.

Once I got the inkjet reinstalled on my Macs, I found that I couldn’t get the printer to work from the Windows laptop.  Instead of installing the printer the hard way, I simply installed the Windows version of Bonjour, which is zero-configuration software that Apple produces and is included natively in OSX.  As soon as Bonjour was installed, I double-clicked the Printer Finder and was up and printing in seconds.

The whole experience taught me the following:

  • If you are sharing a printer with an Airport Extreme in a mixed OSX and Windows environment, you should use Bonjour to easily set up the printer on the Windows machines.
  • If you are a printer manufacturer, you should be developing your software with Bonjour integrated and should install Bonjour with all the rest of your software because the user experience is so amazing.

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