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Murphy’s Law

April 13, 2008

I sent the following email to DOF yesterday:

So the used [duplexer base for my ancient Laserjet 4+ printer] arrived in what I think might be the biggest box I’ve ever received.  It barely fit through the door.  In order to find a place to put it, I had to rearrange my network hardware, and move my DVD player around.  Hooked everything back up, and it all worked perfectly.  Check.  Then I put the printer on the bottom shelf of the TV table, and configured it to work on the network.  The hardest part of this process was remembering the admin password on the router.  After I got that working, I followed the instructions in the service manual: took the back door off the printer, set the printer on top of the duplexer, and everything just snapped into place.  Then I tried duplex printing, and *everything worked perfectly the first time.*  Past this point, the only difficulty was getting Milly’s laptop to work with it.  The internet eventually told me how to configure a printer which just has an IP address instead of being a shared printer (something which is so counterintuitive, I can’t imagine how anyone figured it out in the first place).  The only remaining issue is to figure out how to make Milly’s computer *not* duplex when she wants it to.

Ok, here’s the thing:  I ripped up all the infrastructure in my apartment, moved it around, installed a 15-year old piece of equipment bought on eBay, and it all worked fine.  On the first try.  With no complications.  I’m scared.  There must be some karmic balance in my near future, presumably involving something bursting into flames…

Less than an hour later, my internet connection wasn’t working.  It was a bizarre intermittent problem, where suddenly the connection would stop working for one computer but not the other one.  To make matters weirder, the computer whose internet connection didn’t work could still access the router just fine.  Resetting the router seemed to fix it, but only for a few hours, and whenever I tried to configure the security settings, it would stop working altogether.  I think I’ve finally solved the problem, which was caused (as are so many obnoxious intermittent problems) by the router overheating.  You see, I put the RCA-to-coax converter box on top of the router, which caused it to become extremely hot.  The router has been working properly for about 7 hours now, so hopefully my karmic balance has been restored.

If you have an old Laserjet, I highly recommend getting a duplexer base for it (they may only be available for some models).  They’re fairly cheap on eBay, and double-sided printing is pretty awesome.

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  1. Ted
    April 13, 2008 at 21:09 | #1

    The Brother HL-5250DN goes for under $100 routinely on sale. It has built in Ethernet and USB, duplexing, special media loading, 30ppm and high resolution printing (1200 dpi). It also has an autoconfigure feature, and a driver deployment wizard. And it’s small and light.

    Although, I can respect your desire to want to recycle old technology rather than filling up dumps with toxic trash. All, I’m saying is that I’ve used Brother for about 8 years, and have nothing but praise.

  2. April 13, 2008 at 23:20 | #2

    Like Ted I really enjoy my Brother Laser as well. Got it cheap from Best Buy on sale and it can scan, copy, and laser print. And it has Linux drivers :)

    Lucas, if you have a Linksys router, they are notorious for such problems. I have experienced the same thing with the one my parents had and it was not in any such conditions to present more than normal levels of heat. Older Linksys routers had such a problem people actually modded them out with a fan and cut holes in the case.

  3. Lucas
    April 14, 2008 at 10:17 | #3

    Ted: Aside from some dot-matrix printers I had when I was a child, my LJ4+ is the only printer I’ve ever owned.  I think I got it in 1998 for $150.  It may not be as fast as all your new-fangled machines, but it makes up for it in pluck.  That thing just keeps on trucking.  It may sound silly, but I’m sentimentally attached to it.  I plan to have it until it breaks and it’s cheaper to buy a new printer than to repair it.

    Webs: Yes, it’s a Linksys router.  It had the same problem this morning, so maybe I need to move it off the cable modem.  Hopefully the heat hasn’t permanently damaged it.

  4. April 14, 2008 at 10:33 | #4

    It had the same problem this morning, so maybe I need to move it off the cable modem.

    I recommend a new router. If you need on on the cheap check out these:
    Newegg: Netgear
    Newegg: D-link
    ZipZoomFly: D-Link
    ZipZoomFly: D-Link

    I think both the ZipZoom ones have free shipping.

  5. Lucas
    April 26, 2008 at 22:14 | #5

    The problems have been persisting with my linksys router, and today I installed a new one.  I got an Apple airport express, since the incidence of “just didn’t work” and “stopped working like a piece of junk” reviews were much lower than for other routers, and also because it has the neat feature of letting me stream iTunes directly to a stereo or powered speakers.  Like most Apple products, it has an obnoxiously minimal design strategy, but still works better than most other things. 

    It has one ethernet port (which plugs into the cable modem), an audio-out port, and a USB cable for my printer.  It recognized my ancient printer right out of the box, and was fairly easy to configure.  If I want to, I can install an external hard drive or any USB printer in the future, which is pretty nice.  It did <it>require</it> me to install its own software on my Mac, which was fairly annoying, but that software also didn’t frak with my computer and was easier to use than the configuration on my (now old) linksys.  All in all, I like it, though it could stand to have at least 2 ethernet ports.

  6. April 27, 2008 at 02:17 | #6

    U might want to buy a cheapo $10 Ethernet switch to give you more ports. I simple Netgear will do.

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