A customer is referred to me via a department store. He needs his new laptop plugged in and setup… and if possible, setup his broadband connection.
This can end up being very simple, or quite complex. So I’ll see what happens when I get there.
Once there, I find (as expected) the laptop barely out of the box. However, the customer tells me that he bought it to replace the old system that got zapped by lightning.
So the good news it that the broadband connection should be quick to setup… since the modem is still working from the prior pc… just swap the the old usb cable with a proper utp network cable from laptop to modem.
I start the laptop & complete configuring win xp. Once complete, I connect the internet & start running updates. While this is happening, I notice Norton IS hasn’t started automatically (as it usually does), so I decide to avoid mucking around with norton & install antivir (http://www.free-av.com/), once the windows updates complete & the system is restarted (twice, since the winxp updates needed two rounds of updates), norton then decides to show up… grrr.
Customer prefers norton, so I disable antivir & let norton complete its VERY lengthy update process (one of the many reasons I don’t like norton).
While norton is busy choking the broadband connection, I also try to setup outlook xpress with minimal user information… A quick (ok then: slow due to norton) browse of the ISP website, and I find the pop & smtp server information that I need.
At this point, I decide to finish by connecting the laser printer & the parallel port zip drive (client uses the zip drive for backups, but doesn’t have any cardridges… Ben has them… Ben is the customers usual IT support guy, but he is away for a while, so it looks like i’m taking his place).
I must be going blind: I just cannot find the parallel port. This laptop has all the ports a computer could ask for, even firewire & a multi-flash card reader… but no LPT port!
This is the first time I have ever seen a pc without a LPT port. I can understand an ultralight ultraportable not having some port, in order to lose some weight, but this beast is a widescreen job, with 3 cooling fans underneath, and overall quite heavy.
It has an expansion port, which might plug into a docking station (with parallel port), so we call the dept store, only to be told by the salesman that there is no LPT port available for this model. I think: salesmen are not technicians, so he could be wrong.
I tell the client that I cannot do anymore at the moment, but I’ll research some options for him.
Overall, I managed to do most things. Its just the printer & zip drive that need some “fixing”.
After a lot of searching, I find that:
1) The zd8000 has no LPT port.
2) The expansion port plugs into a weird-looking docking station (also with no LPT port). Take a look at: http://reviews.cnet.com/HP_xb2000_notebook_expansion_base/4505-3019_7-31228661.html
3) It is possible to get a PCMCIA card with an LPT port attached, but its a lot more expensive than you might expect ($300 !)
4) The other alternative is to get a new printer, but thats even more expensive.
5) Another option would be to return the laptop & demand a different one (one that has an LPT port).
I have given these options to the customer. He will think about them & get back to me in a few days time.