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Printing

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I’m always going on mentioning how great AppleTalk is. While nobody will deny that the tech buffs are usually quick to point out an outdated deficiency or two which AppleTalk used to have and mention that supposedly modern technologies like Rendezvous slash Bonjour can achieve just the same. And do so even better.

I’m not enough of a protocol connoisseur to judge that and for simplicity’s sake I’ll just assume that they are right. There’s just one problem with what they’re saying – it’s merely a theoretical statement. The protocols and whatever else makes the Rendezvous technology may be great, they just aren’t supported by many devices and the software using them can’t match their AppleTalk brothers from a user’s point of view.

Just look at printing. Looking for printers in my office looks like this:

printer list

So we have some AppleTalk goodness here. And those are the printers that have OK looking names by default. We also have Rendezvous capable printers. Their names carry some ugly (and inconsistently added) hexadecimal additions. All that isn’t pretty and may be the fault of the admin types who didn’t bother to rename things. But if it’s ugly out of the box I’d consider it a problem.

However, this isn’t the real problem. In the world of technology we are used to ugly names with many technical details we don’t care about in them. It’s setting up one of those printers that’s bad. In the good old AppleTalk world you select the printer and then a sheet comes up while the computer determines the kinds of paper feeds or duplex units in the printer so it can set it up correctly and present the correct options in the print dialogue. It ‘just works’ as people say.

Sheet during auto-configuration of the printer

In the much more modern Rendezvous world, things aren’t quite as pretty. You get the sheet for the configuration options as well but this time it’s full of menus and checkboxes which you have to fill out yourself.

Sheet in which to configure the Rendezvous printer yourself

So that’s progress?

April 8, 2006, 19:38

Tagged as Mac OS X.

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