AMITIAE - Monday 15 February 2016

Cassandra: Updating the Office Printer - Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Several years ago, someone decided (rightly) that the department I work in needed a multi-option printer. As well as class materials, those working will need to print out conference papers, large bundles of papers for meetings and there was also a need for Xerox facilities. One requirement was that the printer should be networked so that papers could be printed directly from office computers.

The department bought a multi-function Sanyo printer which satisfied the needs of all department members. Except me. At that time, I was the only Mac user and there was no driver available. I have managed quite well in the interim with a Nike-Net system: I create my work on the Mac, export as PDF and save to a flash drive which I give to the office secretary. She has been quite patient as every time I need something done, it interrupts her work.

More department members have switched to Macs, so I am no longer in a minority of one. Each made his (or her) arrangements for printing - some buying their own printers - but none of us was able to access that big printer.

This week, a Canon iR-ADV 4225 printer arrived to replace the Sanyo which had been sagging for a while. Two technicians appeared on Friday and helped set up the new printer. The department technician mentioned the Mac and of course it was the one day I had left the MacBook Pro at home. Instead I had brought the iPad Pro.

A quick search for Canon on the App Store found me the Canon PRINT Business app. I downloaded it and set it up, although had to use a different network from my usual settings. Once the network was joined, I used the Select Printer item and was able to add the printer immediately. As a test, I printed out a photograph and that was successful.

Canon PRINT Business

Although I did not have the MacBook Pro with me, I do have a Mac mini in my office and I tried to set that up. I started with System Preferences > Printers & Scanners and then accessed the Add option. I entered the IP number for the printer. Although it was entered correctly, the printer was not identified and I was offered the Generic PostScript Printer option.

Printers & Scanners

The technician suggested a visit to the Canon pages where I found printer drivers for the device and downloaded the first shown. This was a PostScript driver and I was later advised to download another driver that was not the PS one. Both drivers showed they were suitable for OS X 10.11 (although I should have read the small print).

The downloads were slow, but installed with no problems. When I later added the same driver to the MacBook Pro, I just downloaded the one file. This contains drivers for several printers, not just the model I was trying to use.

Printers & Scanners

When installing in the preferences panel, I used the search feature to show the exact driver I wanted. However, it was unable to add the printer as it was not recognised. A check with the technician (and a reinstall of the driver) failed to resolve this initially, until I was asked about the version.

I am running the latest release of OS X, 10.11.3 and in the small print on the Canon page, the software requires "Mac OS X 10.5 - 10.11.2". I made a sour face to the technician and asked if he would mention this to his office. The Canon software was last updated on 29 January this year, while the 10.11.3 update was released on 19 January 2016. Canon is a little out of step here.

With a Mac that will not connect to the printer, and iOS devices that will, I had to do a little juggling between devices and networks to print a document for teaching. The network that has the printer on it would not connect to the Internet, although the department network (and hence the printer) was fine.

Initially in TextEdit on the Mac, I switched to Pages and saved the document in iCloud, I had to switch networks to ensure the files synchronised via iCloud. The document was updated and became available on the iPhone, where I had added the Canon printer software (and the printer) in the same way as for the iPad Pro. As I had found on the larger device, the iCloud panel did not update in the Canon app, but I was able to add Dropbox access as a backup. This suggests a bottleneck with the university access: I have also faced problems sending email via that network in the past.

iOS Canon Printing iOS Canon Printing

I opened the document in Pages on the iPhone and used the Export icon and "Open in Another app". I was asked to choose a format. In my first attempt I tried the Pages format, but the page-breaks were not right, so later selected PDF. A panel gave me a selection of available apps: the Canon app was one. Tapping on that gave me a preview within the app and a Print button. Success; at least on iOS.

I tried to send email to the Support desk at Canon. Twice. Both times their own web-generated email system reported

The message WAS NOT relayed to:
<> :
554 5.6.0 bounce, id=07448-12 - bad header

I guess that needs fixing too.

I sent email directly to that Admin address. It did not bounce, but cynically, I doubted whether I would ever hear anything more. That cynicism was misplaced. By the time I was home, an email from Canon had arrived telling me that my issue had been escalated to the relevant department who would ask for further information soon. True to their word, within a few minutes the phone rang and I was communicating with a technician.

I had to repeat the problem using part-English, but moving more and more to Thai as the conversation went on. Had I downloaded the driver? What was the problem? I have 10.11.3 and the driver is only good for up to 10.11.2 and so on. In the end I was asked to wait: the driver will be updated. I repeated my original question: When?

And so I wait. But at least I have the iOS connections

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2016