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So what was Paul’s problem?
When we last left Paul, he was having trouble with an HP printer that he had recently purchased directly from an HP reseller. When Paul got the machine home, he tried to connect his new printer into his existing network via an Ethernet cable, as the printer supported Ethernet connectivity. Unfortunately, he discovered that the last open port on the switch wasn’t functioning correctly, so he couldn’t plug in the printer via its Ethernet port. Paul decided that until he could purchase a replacement switch, he would just plug the printer up to his master computer via parallel port, and share the printer from that machine to the other computers across the network.

After plugging the printer into his master computer via a parallel cable, Paul tested the printer to make sure that it was functioning properly. He opened up Microsoft Word 2000 and printed a specification sheet he had made of his master computer.

Instead of the specifications that he was expecting to see, however, the printer instead printed out odd characters. Thinking that it was the document, Paul printed a different one from his machine, only to have the same results. He then tested the printer from other machines on the network, and each time the same problem recurred.

After checking several settings on his master machine, Paul checked the connection in the back of the computer. He found that the parallel cord was attached firmly to his machine. He had ruled out the printer cord, as it was brand new, purchased with the printer that very day.

Frustrated, he checked the printer manual to see if there was anything that he could have missed. After reading one particular section in the troubleshooting appendix, Paul had an idea of what could be wrong. He looked at the centronic port in the back of the HP printer, and checked the printer cable that was connected to it. He noticed that one side of the parallel cable connected to the centronic port in the back of the printer appeared not to be pushed in all of the way. Paul unplugged the cable, reinserted it into the centronic port, and made sure the snaps on both sides of the port had snapped firmly in place with the cable.

Paul then proceeded to print another test page from his machine. To his delight, the document printed perfectly.
This week, we award TechRepublic T-shirts to…no one! Out of all the solutions posted to the article, not one recommended checking the cable connection in the back of the printer. However, another TechRepublic member noticed another “problem” that should have plagued Paul that no one else picked up on. For having such a keen eye, this member has received a prize from TechRepublic! Congratulations!