Fixing Windows 10 “printer is in error state” when connected via parallel port

Problem:

You’ve just installed or upgraded to Windows 10, and your printer connected via parallel port refuses to work, giving an error message saying “printer is in error state”.

Solution #1:

Go to the device manager, find the parallel port and double-click it to bring up the properties sheet.  Click the “Port Settings” tab and then select “Use any interrupt assigned to the port” and click OK (see Figure 1 below).  The printer should be detected and work properly.

(Update on 09/27/2017) Solution #2 :

In some cases, solution #1 seems to work but the problem returns when the computer is rebooted.  In that case, changing the setting described above back and forth will cause it to work again, but only until the next reboot. After a significant amount of time troubleshooting this on a few computers, we’ve concluded that Windows 10 just doesn’t print reliably with parallel ports.  In stubborn cases like this, we’ve resorted to getting a StarTech USB-to-parallel cable, which essentially makes the printer look to Windows like a USB printer. In all the cases we’ve ran into, that has always solved the issue permanently. However, the brand of cable could make a difference. We used a TrippLite cable in one situation like this and it did not work, but the StarTech cable has worked every time.

Notes:

Please give us feedback if you have more insight into this issue.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Surface Pro 3 camera test – a disappointment

I recently had my first experience using the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Since I’m into photography and video editing, I figured the first thing I should do is check out the camera.

When I tapped the camera app, a view from the rear facing camera filled up the screen, and nothing else. No button or toolbars were visible to give me a clue how to use the app. So I tapped the screen, thinking that it might take a picture just like it would on my Moto X. Sure enough, it did. Next I tried to slide a finger up and down on the display to see if it would zoom like my Moto X does, but it didn’t. I tried using two fingers and sliding them apart to zoom, but that didn’t work either. After some more poking around, three buttons suddenly showed up along the right side of the screen. One was to take a picture, one to take a video, and one to take panoramic photograph. I’m not sure quite why a button to take a picture was included because tapping anywhere on the display appears to do the same thing. Pressing the video button started a video, so I took some test footage and pressed stop. The interface paused for a few moments, presumably to save the footage, before it allowed me to take another picture or video. After trying a few more video clips, I noticed that sometimes this pause would be non-existent, and other times it would take 30 seconds or more before it would save the video and let me proceed using the camera app. I found this rather baffling, but I assumed it was by design.

Then I looked at the footage. About two out of three clips had distortion or artifacts in the video. Some of the problems were minor, but in some cases the entire video was garbled and choppy. It seemed that the videos that took the longest to save were the ones that had the most issues.

After many attempts, I put together a camera test video, but I had to record some of the segments several times to get a usable video. As you can, even the clips I used had some distorted areas.

Has anybody else encountered these problems with the Surface Pro 3? If so, put your experience in the comments below. In the coming days I’ll be doing some more research to see if I can find more information on the issue or a way to fix it. If I can learn something, I will add it to this post at a later time.

Ubiquiti Unifi Long Range Access Point – Review

About a year ago I decided to replace my aging Linksys access point that was beginning to cause a fair amount of trouble.  One problem is that it would freeze on a weekly basis and had to be power-cycled to fix it.  Range was also an issue.  I wanted the signal to reach another building on our property that was about 200 ft away.  In order to make that happen, I had purchased a pair of range extender antennas for the unit.  This allowed internet access in the other building, but the signal was very weak and not all devices were sensitive enough to be able to connect to it.

After some searching, I decided to get a Unifi Long Range access point from Ubiquity.  Shortly after I purchased it I recorded a video showing the unboxing and setup, as well as my initial thoughts.   Now that I’ve used it for some time, it’s time for a more in-depth review.

Ease of setup and use

Setting up a Unifi access point is different from most other access points in a similar price range. Instead of having a built-in web-based administration interface, it requires that you install the controller software on your computer. The controller software runs on Windows or a MAC, and you can also download a Linux version from the Ubuquity website. Once the controller software is installed, then you use a web-browser to configure the unit much the same way as you would any other access point. For most of the features of the Unifi, the controller software doesn’t have to be running – you only launch it when you need to change the configuration. A few businesses oriented features such as captive portal need the controller software to be running in order to function.

For home use, the controller software doesn’t give you any major benefit, and it takes a little more effort to use than a built-in web-base administration interface. However, where the controller software becomes useful is when you have two or more access points. The controller software allows you to configure common settings such as SSID in one place, and it gives you lots of statistics on who is using wifi and what AP they are connecting to.

Some enterprise access points use a hardware controller. The problem with them is that if the hardware controller fails, you have to get a replacement to get things working again. With a software controller you can move the controller function to another server in minutes and be back up and running.

Range

The range of the Unifi access point is leaps and bounds better than my old Linksys. With the Unifi, any device can connect from any building on my property. In fact, I can manually set the power of the AP one notch back from the highest setting so it’s not using full power, and the coverage is still sufficient.

Value

For a business-class access point, it’s hard to find an access point with all the features of the Unifi without spending a lot more money. For home use, it’s still a good value, but there are other good choices. I’ve been impressed with the models I’ve used by Engenius. Although Engenius isn’t as well-known a brand as many others, I’ve found that they beat the more well-known brands in price, features, and reliability. But if you’re looking for business class features on a budget, go with a Ubuquity Unifi.

The model I purchased can be found on amazon by clicking here.

My new rackmount server build for Proxmox VE

CSE-504-203BHere are a few notes on my most recent server build.    I’ll fill in more details as time goes on, so check back here in the future.  If you have questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to address them as best I can.

The server was purpose-built for running Proxmox Virtualization Environment.  Proxmox VE  is a fantastic Linux distribution based on Debian Linux.  To the base OS it adds OpenVZ and KVM, two mature Linux virtualization technologies, and then puts a very easy-to-use web-based GUI on top.  I also have built two other servers for running Proxmox VE.  The videos for those are here and here.

You really only need to make four purchases to build this server, not counting peripherals such as mouse, keyboard, and monitor:

The case I used is a 1U rackmout server case from Supermicro with a model number of CSE-504-203B.  Click the thumbnail to the left to see my video review of this case.  In summary, it’s a sturdy, short-depth rackmount case that is designed for specific Supermicro motherboards.  You won’t get far trying to use this case with other motherboard manufacturers – check out the video for more details.

This case is very similar to another one from SuperMicro, the CSE 505-203B.  The difference is that the CSE 505 has the motherboard ports exposed on the front panel of the case, whereas the CSE 504 that I used has the ports exposed on the rear of the case.  The motherboard compatibility of these two cases are the same.  Here is a quick list of some of the popular Supermicro motherboard models and the cases that match them:

For these motherboard models: MBD-X9SBAA-FMBD-X9SCAA-LMBD-A1SAi-2750FMBD-A1SRi-2758F
Use one of these cases: CSE-504-203BCSE 505-203B

For these motherboard models: MBD-X7SPA-H,  MBD-X7SPA-HF
Use this case: CSE-502L-200B

For a motherboard, I used Supermicro model MBD-X9SBAA-F-O.  This motherboard has an integrated Intel Atom™ Processor model S1260.  The cool thing about this processor is, unlike many other Atom processors, it has hardware virtualization support.   There are a couple of things you need to know about this motherboard.  First, it has no PS/2 ports for mouse or keyboard and supports only USB 3.0.  Therefore, only newer operating systems will work properly.  Supermicro has published an OS compatibility list here.  Secondly, it supports only ECC RAM, and accepts SO-DIMMs.  As a result, your choices on RAM are limited as there are not many SO-DIMM memory modules on the market that support ECC.     The Kingston RAM I choose works fine.

I will be adding to and revising this blog post as my server project progresses.

 

Trouble with port forwarding on the Westell 7500 router/gateway device

I recently switched from Comcast Cable Internet to Centurylink DSL in order to save money on Internet access. With the change came the Westell 7500 DSL modem/router/gateway device. As it turns out, this device has a rather ridiculous problem: the port forwarding doesn’t seem to work. When you click on the Enable button in the web-based configuration to forward a particular type of traffic, all you get is a blank page with no prompts to complete the process. After an hour or two of frustration, I found an easy workaround that allows you to forward ports with the Westell 7500 beast. Click on the video for the process.

Asus E35M1-I Motherboard w/ AMD e350 Processor & Proxmox VE 1.9

Here is a video that gives an overview of the new motherboard I installed in my home server. It uses a fan-less, dual-core processor that is capable of hardware virtualization, making it perfect for the use of a hypervisor like Proxmox VE 1.9. Those looking to purchase the board can click here to go to the product page on Amazon.

DIY Network Attached Storage

Today I spent the afternoon building a NAS (network attached storage) appliance.  I have been looking for a better place to store virtual machine backups, and this seems like a good solution.

I started with a 2U rackmount case, the Norco RPC-230.  I like this particular case for several reasons: First, it has a shallow depth that allows it to be mounted without rails, and it is sturdy enough that it won’t sag.  Secondly, being 2U allows for a standard off-the-shelf power supply unit.  I do not like scrambling to hunt down an odd-ball power supply when my server goes down.

I went with a fan-less mini-itx motherboard from Asus that comes with a dual-core Intel Atom processor already integrated.  This is one of the few Atom boards that met my three qualifications:  four SATA ports, no fans, and a decent price.

For storage I selected two identical Seagate 1 Terabyte drives. The data on these will be mirrored (RAID 1).

I finished it by installing the fabulous and open-source FreeNAS version 8 on a 8 GB USB  thumb drive, freeing the entire RAID pair to be used for storage.

For reference, here is a list of all the hardware for the appliance, cleverly linked to my Amazon affiliate account:

Web server adventures

After years of hosting my blog and other web sites on rented server space, I now have my very own web server.  For the geeks out there who care to know, it is a Ubuntu 7.10 server running in a VMWare virtual machine, which is running on my Ubuntu 7.10 file server.  Why run Ubuntu 7.10 virtualized below Ubuntu 7.10?  The reason is simply because the of the time it takes to configure the web server and the associated software like apache, wordpress, mysql, egroupware, postgres, and others.  By running this on a virtual machine, I can easy make a complete backup of the web server VM.  Then, when server hardware fails, my web sites will be back online quickly, even before the server is repaired.  If needed, I can even place the VM on one of my Windows or Ubuntu workstations temporarily.

I compress the virtual machine backups with 7-zip, an open source product with a much higher compression ratio than .ZIP products.  This allows the virtual machine to be copied to a single CD, ready for quick restoration when trouble strikes.

Originally I planned to move my old blog posts to the new server.  However, because I’m lazy and computer information gets out-of-date quickly anyway, I’ve decided to start over  Therefore, this is post #1.