Using an HP LaserJet 2100TN with Snow Leopard

When Mac OS can’t connect to the printer.

Snow Leopard is the first version of Mac OS that doesn’t support AppleTalk. While that shouldn’t be an issue for most folks, if you’re like me and have an ancient printer that uses Ethernet and AppleTalk to connect to your computer, you might have a problem.

With me, the printer is an HP LaserJet 2100TN manufactured in 1999. Yes, I’m using 10-year-old laser printer. It works fine — or at least it did on all versions of Mac OS through Leopard. But when I upgraded to Snow Leopard the other day, my Mac suddenly couldn’t see the printer.

I’ve been wanting a duplex laser printer for some time now, and I simply haven’t been able to justify the cost. With this sudden incompatibility issue, it looked like I had a good excuse to buy a new printer. But what to do with the old one? My husband is very happy with my previous printer, an HP LaserJet 4MP. And wouldn’t it be better if I could just get it to work?

So I went online. I soon discovered that the good folks at HP have written a support article all about using HP printers with Snow Leopard. I highly recommend reading this article if you’re having any trouble at all connecting an HP laser printer to your Mac under Snow Leopard. It provides steps that I will not duplicate here.

I read the article carefully. It told me two things:

  • My HP LaserJet 2100TN should work with Snow Leopard, even though AppleTalk was no longer an option. It provided complete instructions for connecting.
  • My HP Color LaserJet 2600n would not work with Snow Leopard.

Wow. Was this screwed up. You see, when I couldn’t get the 2100TN to work, I reinstalled the drivers for my 2600n (from the HP Web site) and successfully set it up. So HP was wrong: it would work with Snow Leopard. And no matter how many times I tried to follow the instructions for setting up my LaserJet 2100TN, I was unable to get it to work.

Now the 2100TN is a network printer that uses Enternet connected to a JetDirect device that’s installed on the side of the machine. I recalled having a problem with setup years ago, when I had a static IP address. Back then, I’d had to manually assign an IP address to the printer to get it to work. I really don’t recall why or how I did this, but since it continued to work despite many connection changes, I didn’t change anything.

I pressed the only two buttons on top of the machine simultaneously to get two pages of self-test and configuration information. It told me my IP address was the unlikely 65.101.62.77. I tried repeatedly to use this information with setup, but could not successfully print. Perhaps I had to go back to the default settings?

I found this article on PrinterTechs.com that explained how to do a factory reset of just about any HP LaserJet printer, including mine. I followed the instructions. Then I printed another configuration sheet. Now my IP address was the even more unlikely 0.0.0.0. Of course, this wouldn’t work either.

I powered down the printer, waited a minute or two, and turned it on again. I printed another configuration sheet. Now my IP address was 192.0.0.192. Ah, now we were getting somewhere. But when I used that address, it still wouldn’t work.

I opened the Network preferences pane and saw that Ethernet had a self-assigned IP address. I chose Using DHCP with manual address from the Configure IPv4 pop-up menu and entered 192.0.0.191 (why not?) in the IP address field. I clicked Apply. Then I tried to add the printer again. This time it connected. And when I went back to the Network preferences pane, it showed that Ethernet was connected.

Ethernet Connection

I tried to print and succeeded.

Is this the “right” way to fix this problem? Who knows? All I know is that it works. And you know what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So it looks like I won’t be buying a new duplex printer after all. I just don’t need it.

And, for the record, the configuration page also told me that I’d printed 35,200 pages during the 10 or so years I’ve had the printer. Sadly, that number was reset along with the IP address.

It’s in the Book!

Snow Leopard Book CoverYou can find more information about setting up printers for use with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Visual QuickStart Guide.:

  • Printing & Faxing is covered in Chapter 17, pages 361-388.
  • Networking is covered in Chapter 20, pages 445-486.

Creating a Printer Pool

A good tip for anyone with access to multiple printers…especially when they always seem to be busy.

From “Apple – Pro – Tips – Need the First Available Printer?” on Apple.com:

If you’ve got a print job on your hands and you need it as soon as possible, but all the printers on your network are often busy, you can pool these printers together so your document will automatically print to the first available printer.

The article goes on to explain how to do this; it’s a lot simpler than you might think!

PagePacker

Make pocket-sized books.

Putting together a booklet in PagePackerI stumbled upon PagePacker from the Big Nerd Ranch while trying to catch up on my Web browsing. It’s a nice little Mac OS X (universal binary app) that enables you to create tiny 8-page booklets. You can either add pages from a library of predefined GTD-inspired planning pages or drag in your own PDFs (which you can create using the Print command from any application). The resulting folding book is small enough to fit in a pocket, wallet, or purse, making it possible to take all kinds of information with you.

I tried out the software and like it a lot. My only problem: I’ve got those middle age eyes and have trouble reading the tiny print. But with a little tweaking on the font size of original documents, I think I can resolve that problem sufficiently enough to make PagePacker a good productivity tool for me.

WordPress as a CMS, Part 6

Adding Print and E-Mail Features

If you’re just tuning in, this is the sixth installment of my series of articles about using WordPress as a CMS to build an informational Web site. Throughout this series, I’m talking about a specific site I developed: Flying M Air, a helicopter tour and charter company I operate when I’m not writing and tweaking my Web sites.

Because Flying M Air’s Web site was designed to be a sort of “online brochure” for my company’s services, I wanted the site’s visitors to be able to print information right from the site’s pages. Unfortunately, printing a WordPress blog page doesn’t seem to come out as pretty as it does on the site. Try it for yourself and see.

Although I could create PDF brochures for every tour and charter, it would be a royal pain in the you-know-what to recreate these documents every time I had a price change. To make matters worse, there was no way to force visitors to download the nicely formatted brochures instead of simply using their browser’s Print command to print what they saw in the browser window.

Clearly, I needed a better solution.

As usual, a plugin already existed to do the job: WP-Print by GaMerZ (AKA, Lester Chan). This plugin enables you to include a Print link or icon within The Loop for each post. When a user clicks the link or icon, the plugin generates a printer friendly page.

WP-Print is pretty easy to use. Just drop the plugin’s print folder into your plugins folder, go into the Plugins Management Administration Panel, and activate the WP-Print plugin.

Print OptionsNext, configure the plugin in the Print Options administration panel (Options > Print). You use the drop-down lists to indicate whether you want the user to be able to print comments, links, and/or images. I turned off images because they looked ugly with the yellow border around them. Click Update Options. You’re almost done.

Open the template file that includes The Loop and insert the following code where you want the Print link to appear:

< ?php if(function_exists('wp_print')) { print_link(); } ?>

If you prefer a print icon like I have, no problem. Use this code instead:

< ?php if(function_exists('wp_print')) { print_link_image(); } ?>

A word here about the Print icon that comes with WP-Print. It assumes you have a white background. I don’t. So I had to create my own little print icon. (I did the same for the e-mail icon, which I discuss later.) If you have to go this route, make it roughly the same size and give it the same name as the Print icon that comes with WP-Print and stick it in plugins/print/images/ to replace the existing icon.

If your theme uses The Loop in more than one place, you need to insert this code wherever you want the Print link or button to appear. For example, in my theme (Andreas), I had to insert it in index.php, archive.php, and single.php. I could have stuck it in page.php, too, but I didn’t need to, for reasons I’ll discuss in another installment of this series. In my aneclecticmind.com site, which uses the Exquisite theme, I just had to stick it in the post.php file, which is called by all other files that need to display posts. A much nicer solution, if you ask me.

While I was adding plugins and code, I figured I may as well add an e-mail feature. GaMerZ has one of those, too: WP-Email. This plugin enables you to put an E-mail link or button in The Loop for each post. Clicking the link or button displays a form the visitor can use to e-mail the post’s contents to someone else — or himself.

As you might expect, the plugin installs the same way. Put the email folder in the plugins folder and activate the plugin in the Plugin Management administration panel.

Configure the plugin in the E-Mail Options window (E-mail > E-Mail Options). I won’t show them here because they’re too big to display on this page, but they’re pretty self-explanitory. You can get more information in the documentation. Just make sure you select PHP for the Method Used To Send E-Mail if you’re not using an SMTP server.

Of course, when I installed it, I skipped the configuration step, which caused me to do a whole bunch of other work…more on that in a moment.

Now open the template file that includes The Loop and insert the following code where you want the E-mail link to appear:

< ?php if(function_exists('wp-email')) { e-mail_link(); } ?>

If you prefer a e-mail icon like I have, no problem. Use this code instead:

< ?php if(function_exists('wp-email')) { email_link_image(); } ?>

Remember, I modified the e-mail icon so it would have that silly yellow background that appears on my site.

E-Mail FormNow here’s where I screwed up — and only because I didn’t follow the instructions. I went onto the site and clicked the E-mail button for a post. A form like the one shown here appeared. The only problem was, there was no image in the Image Verification area. Why? Because the version of PHP I was using didn’t support captcha.

If I’d followed the instructions, I would have seen that that feature could be disabled. But I didn’t see the configuration options at all. So I did things the hard way. I upgraded PHP. And let me tell you, it was a scary thing to do. I actually lost all my blogs for about 10 minutes. Then I figured out how to get them back and everything is working fine. As an added bonus, I can now use the captcha feature in Spam Karma, which has cut my comment moderation work down to zilch.

Of course, I soon realized that I could only send one message every few minutes, which made testing tough. I found the configuration options and after slapping myself on the side of the head, adjusted the settings to give the new feature a good testing.

The moral of this story is RTFM — read the FABULOUS manual. (Gotta keep this site PG rated.)

While I’m discussing The Loop (kind of), I want to mention that I disabled the display of comments (and even comments links) in the Loop. I did this by commenting out the php comments_popup_link tag. I could have deleted it, but I was worried that I might need it someday and not be able to enter it back correctly. I already disabled comments and trackbacks in all posts and pages by setting defaults (as we discuss in our WordPress book).

Why did I do this? Remember, this blog is being used as a CMS. Although I could have left posts open for comments, I didn’t want to deal with Comment spam or have site visitors ask questions using the Comments feature. Visitors on the site are able to contact me using a contact form — that’s something we cover in our book so I won’t be discussing it in detail in this series.

In the next installment of this series, I’ll tell you about the site’s static Home page and the trick I used to get it to appear without a heading. Tune in next week!

WP-Print

I add a post printing function to the site.

One of the things that bugs me about WordPress is that when you print a page, the resulting printout does not have the same formatting as the page in your Web browser. Instead, styles are pretty much stripped out and sidebar components are added to the end (at least in my case) to the printout. This makes the printout longer than it needs to be.

Enter Lester Chan‘s WP-Print plugin. It enables you to add a Print link to your posts. When a user clicks the link, the plugin creates a simply formatted page with the page contents and URLs. You can then click a link on that page to print the formatted page.

It’s a much nicer solution than just printing from WordPress.