Konica Bizhub MFCs and Leopard

A note for Konica Bizhub users considering an upgrade to Leopard: Don’t.

A client recently needed to push forward to Leopard due to a workstation purchase (problems running Tiger), so I upgraded him ahead of schedule. I so doing, I went to reset his printers, including his connection to a Konica-Minolta Bizhub 600 PS. The drivers reinstalled normally, and I enabled his group authentication, then ran a test print.

Which promptly vanished. The error log on the Bizhub said it was a faulty job. An hour’s worth of troubleshooting and phone calls later, we reach the conclusion that the Bizhub drivers don’t work correctly with Leopard, but that it is possible to enable basic printing by using the Generic Postscript Printer driver.

Except that the client’s office has group authentication enabled. At this time, they’re in the process of disabling that security, which was really incidental. They weren’t using it to track printing, and the 600 can use separate settings to protect copying vs. printing. So by this time tomorrow, the client will have basic, no-frills printing back.

So, in sum:

  1. Konica-Minolta needs to get off the dime and release Leopard-compatible Bizhub drivers, because although their current drivers will install on Leopard, they won’t actually work.
  2. Leopard users who need to print to a Bizhub can use Generic Postscript Printer to get basic functionality, but will lose most formatting and essentially all finishing options.
  3. If you elect to go the route in #2, make sure you have security disabled on your printer, since, due to #1, your Leopard users won’t be able to pass security credentials.

Entourage, Outlook, and multiple computers

A brief entry by way of illustrating a hazard I hadn’t heretofore considered.

My client uses Microsoft Outlook 2004 11.4.1 on OS X 10.4.11, connected to a corporate Exchange server. She subscribes to several mailing lists. Recently, she began seeing repeat deliveries of mailing list messages she removed from her inbox.

We tried forcing a server sync, rebuilding the database, recreating the Entourage account, and eventually an entirely new identity in Entourage. More annoyingly, it wasn’t happening with non-list messages. Frustrated, I passed the cases to the system admins, who had previously handed it to me with a single casenote: “Does not appear to be a server problem.”

Thank you for your attention to detail.

I passed it back with an explanation of what I’d done to troubleshoot, and a request that they examine several messages more closely. I also asked that in the event they came to the same conclusion again, they document their reasoning and troubleshooting steps.

The next day, I repossessed the case, and documented the solution.

In an offhand conversation unrelated to the case, the client has asked if I would look at her personal computer, which had been running progressively more slowly. After some questions designed to draw out preliminary solutions, she mentioned that she never restarts the computer, or even logs out. I asked her if she left her home installation of Entourage running all day long as well.

Nailed it in one.

She was deleting the messages at work, emptying the Deleted Items, and allowing the client to synchronize to the server. A few minutes later, the server would hear from the home machine, which would report the messages not deleted, and return them from the dead — so to speak. Then the office machine would contact the server again, see the messages in the database, and redisplay them. Et, as they say, voila! Instant reappearing mail.

Why only mail list messages? I don’t know, but I don’t think it was just mail list messages. I think that because she removed so many of them, and because the reappearances were so very obvious, that they just stuck out more.

Moral of the story: Allowing two copies of Entourage to modify the mail database simultaneously is bad juju. That much seems obvious on the face of it, but having never seen the symptoms, I stumbled on the cause by sheer luck.

FTP and Mac OS X: Why you shouldn’t use the Finder

I spent some time today tracking down an answer for a client, and figured it might do to write up what I found. The client was clicking an FTP link in Safari, and getting access denied errors. Here’s what I found.

  1. Safari, unlike IE for Windows (which is what the client is accustomed to) does not contain a built-in FTP client.
  2. The Finder does handle FTP connections, so Safari attempts to to pass off the request to the Finder. Usually. In my testing, this handoff is not reliable. I tried three times in five minutes, and it failed twice, simply dying without further notification.
  3. When the Finder does grab the request successfully, it will attempt an anonymous connection. If the target server is so configured, it may reject this attempt out of hand, or it may kick back a credentials request. YMMV. You may elect to pass your credentials in the URL, viz: ftp://username:password@myftpserver.example.com. I do not recommend doing this unless you really don’t care who knows your username and password.
  4. If, after all this rigamarole, the Finder does manage to mount the target server, it’s a read-only connection. Forget file uploads, secure FTP, resumable downloads, etc.

For all these reasons, I highly recommend using something other than the Finder or Safari.

CLI jockeys, or those who aspire to be, will appreciate the built-in, Terminal-accessible ftp and sftp clients. Unless you’re a bona fide CLI expert, a spin through those linked man pages is highly recommended. For mere mortals, there’s a array of graphical FTP clients out there. A quick search of VersionTracker, for instance, turns up 39 results.

Personally, I use and recommend Cyberduck. In spite of the funny name, it has a strong feature set, a relatively uncomplicated interface, and it’s free. Additionally, the most recent versions will modify Leopard’s LaunchServices plist to take control of all FTP and sFTP links, shortcuts, files, and so on. This means, for instance, that a user clicking an FTP link in Entourage will be routed to Cyberduck, rather than Safari (or Camino, or whatever).

Also on the “free” list is Fetch, another good option in terms of features. On the “pay” list, top of the heap in my book is Panic’s Transmit.

Other options that get good reviews in assorted comments I’ve seen — but for which I can’t personally vouch — include OneButton FTP, ForkLift, and Interarchy.