The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, June 21, 2004

Dangerous Words 

Since I've gotten my laptop, and have thoroughly enjoyed sitting at Starbucks typing blog posts, or surfing the Net from the living room, my desktop computer gets less and less use. Basically the only thing its good for now is for printing. I have a rather nice HP Photosmart 1315 printer, which is connected to my desktop computer via USB. So anytime I want to print something from the living room, I have to turn on the desktop in the other room... just to print. Very annoying.

I was at CompUselessA a few days ago wandering around, looking at stuff. Then, on display, and on sale, was a Linksys PSUS4... a tiny little Printer Server for USB Printers. I hadn't researched this model, but I have owned, and really liked Linksys Home Networking products before. So I looked at the box, and saw the following: Supports most USB printers. Good enough for me. I have an HP Printer (very popular), and a very nice HP printer at that. How could it not be supported? To be honest, I don't think I really even gave it that much thought at the time.

Then I tried to use it. Everything connected up great. The web administration tool was slick and easy. The driver installed like a dream on my laptop. Everything was going great... until I tried to print. It didn't work. I double checked my connections, verified all the settings... and it still didn't work. I logged into the web administration page, and clicked on the Print Test Page button, thinking the problem might be with the driver on my laptop. A page popped up immediately saying "Success", however nothing came out of the printer. This is success?

I struggled for a couple days with this. I would spend some time with it, get frustrated, walk away from it, then go back the next day. I visited the Linksys site, seeing if I could find some tech. support information that would be of use. The only thing I saw was an updated version of firmware, packaged in a zip file. So I downloaded it and looked in the zip. All it contained was a bin. That's it? No readme? No list of changes since the last version? Just blow the firmware (without instructions on how to do that mind you), and pray? I don't think so. That's when I broke down. I called their Tech. Support number.

Almost immediately I was greeted by a distinctly Indian voice. "Thank you for calling Linksys Technical Support. This is Michele. How can I help you?". I wondered immediately if Michele was a stage name... after all, I was mostly likely on an international call to India here. Oh well. Its an 800 number. So we go back and forth for a while, as she goes through her technical support script, making sure I'm not a stupid computer user. Finally we get to the key question... "What model printer are you using?" I tell her. "Please hold on one moment...." I hear typing in the background and then... "I'm sorry sir, but we've tried that model twice here according to our computer and it does not seem to work." Hold on a second. You have a list of printer models that are not supported and you don't post this on your website? You mean I bought a useless product, and spent a couple days trying to get it to work for nothing, when you knew it wouldn't work? "I'm sorry sir, but it seems so. Our computer does show that the PPSU1W does work with your printer." That's much more expensive though isn't it? "Yes Sir, it is." Well isn't that convenient for you. So now its back to CompUSA with my receipt... and the need for a product that will actually work. That is the last Linksys product I will buy.

Most... one of the most dangerous words in the English language... right up there with probably.

Update: I went back to CompUSA and exchanged the Linksys Printer Server with a Netgear PS121 USB Mini Printer Server. Installed easily, and worked immediately. It even prints. As I was checking out, I walked by a stack of bottled water... with CompUSA's logo on it. Did you know CompUSA has a bottled water brand? When I got up to the counter, I started a quick conversation with the cashier:

Nick: You guys sell your own brand of bottled water?
Cashier: Yes we do.
Nick: Do you know how stupid that sounds?
Cashier: Yes I do.

Enough said.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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