Lexmark has a funny way of working

I occasionally find friends who are seduced by a low price or just don’t know anything about the history of equipment. One person bought a Lexmark which I have only had problems with as a tech. This is another example of why Lexmark is a printer brand I avoid. I prefer Canon for home and HP printers for a business.

The Lexmark was a color laser printer and the print quality was average. It had gotten very slow to print and ultimately would fail to print, take a long time to print, or distort whatever was printed. I looked into it and had to call Lexmark for support since it was acting so strangely. It wouldn’t connect to the network and I couldn’t manage it through its physical controls. It turns out that you have to clear the NVRAM and reset the printer to factory defaults several times and let it reboot. So I test on the iPhone, iPad, laptop and everything works great. I go to the manager’s office with the printer and it fails to print from the iPhone and iPad and very slow on the laptop.

At this point after spending 3 hours on the issue, it is time to throw in the towel. It just isn’t worth investing this kind of time in. I discuss getting a new HP color laserjet and I get approval. I test it, install it and it works perfectly. Part of being a professional is knowing when to throw in the towel. In my opinion they should throw away the printer and I told them that. You don’t waste your life dealing with junk.

So why did I say Lexmark has a funny way of working? The Lexmark tech told me that this printer can either work and accept jobs wirelessly, or wired but it can’t do both. It had a Wireless access point at the top. This is completely different from any other printer that I have used. I have had the most experience with Airprint on HP devices and they worked great through a wireless network no matter what manner the signal was sent to them. Choose quality and simplify your life.

Stories from my Past: Troubleshooting with a red herring

I often get surprising problems thrown my way that resist standard troubleshooting techniques. I had a customer once who said that after he bought a new laptop it had problems connecting to WiFi or wireless networks. He said it wouldn’t connect to his home network or the hotel. So when something doesn’t connect in multiple locations, its generally the device at fault not those separate and unique systems.

Hackett helped create the Internet Toaster, pe...So I started off with the basics and we went through checking that the WiFi switch was turned his laptop, and that it was showing it was trying to connect in Network panel. I had him do a ipconfig /all at the command line and asked him for the IPv4 number. When he said it was 169 I realized instantly what the problem was. It is elementary for IT people when we see that number to realize that it means the DHCP server isn’t giving out an address for this computer to pickup. This happens for several reasons, but the most common is that the device needs to be rebooted. I asked him to reboot his home network and Viola it worked.

The reason I am sharing this with you is that just because it appears to the something, in this case the computer at fault, it doesn’t mean that is the truth. While you troubleshoot or diagnose a problem you have to avoid prematurely jumping to a conclusion even if some of the evidence appears to fit the profile. Often people realize what the problem is with their computer, but their belief doesn’t make it true. You have to carefully keep an open mind until all the evidence is in.

In this example, if the device had shown it was getting a proper DHCP address then it would have likely been something with the computer. Perhaps a firewall or Windows update disabled something important. It is even possible that his network may have changed without him knowing. Since he had a home network managed by his Internet provider sometimes ISP’s have changed the DHCP address and the router needed to be rebooted to get the new information. I told him that it would probably be best to reboot the router every month to avoid these kinds of issues. Calling his ISP about this issue would have not yielded results because ISP’s don’t have good records or would likely be able to explain why he ran out of DHCP address. I think his settings were changed by the ISP and that’s why he ran of out DHCP address. It doesn’t matter unless he reports the problem again and then it will be a trend and not a one-off quirk.