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Ugh, the pain

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So this morning one of my indirect managers comes up to me with his laptop in hand. This has been a bad thing to see coming in the past. Following on from that experience, there was one application that had been copied across that he wanted to be able to work with. Now the program was running fine, bar one little problem. It couldn't print.

The problem is that we are talking about a pretty up to date laptop, and a not-too-shabby home printer. The biggest problem was going to be the program, a word processor from 1988. This beauty comes with its own print engine, that if you want to set up a printer in, you have to supply the drivers yourself. Confident that this may not recognise drivers designed to work on Windows XP, I decided that I was probably going to have to place an emulated layer between the app and the printer.

After some time Googling, I found an suite that sounded like just the job. It would emulate an LPT port, print the sent information to a file, and then redirect that data to the printer. Wonderful. Or at least it would be, if it had installed properly, and not taken down Windows spooler service either when you went to configure the process, or five minutes had elapsed since you had restarted the spooler. Two uninstalls and one reinstall later (the first one botched and didn't remove the emulator drivers), I hit Google again.

Experts Exchange came to the rescue this time. with a little functionality straight out of the annals of "Coo, I didn't know Windows could do that", I discovered that by sharing the printer, and using net use I could map the port to the shared printer.[1] Nice.

But does that work? No. For some reason, even though typing the UNC path into Windows Explorer will show the printer to be very much alive and kicking on the workgroup, net use refuses point blank that its there. I have restarted, I have disabled firewalls, I have done everything I can think of that might be the cause and searched for hours on end for anything else.

Anybody have any ideas?
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Is it possible the laptop is on a different workgroup/domain than the printer?

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The printer is locally installed through a USB port. It'll be directly connected whenever its being used.

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Issue resolved. It turns out that if the computer isn't connected to a live network, then irregardless of whether the share is local or not, net use will probably fail.

However, I did find this quite excellent article that suggested that installing and configuring Microsoft Loopback Adapter would do the trick, and it did. There's life in the auld mutt again.

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