Archive for December, 2007

Getting Windows XP under Parallels printing to a Mac network printer

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Windows printer iconSo here’s today’s little teaser. My wife runs Windows XP under Parallels on her iMac, and she wants to print to the printer that’s connected to my iMac. How’s it done? The obvious thing would be to share the printer on my iMac (System Prefs > Sharing > Services > Printer Sharing, followed by System Prefs > Print & Fax > Sharing > Share these printers with other computers > [check the box next to the printer]), but of course that would be too easy, so it doesn’t work. In Windows XP I tried Start > Printers and Faxes > File > Add Printer > Next > Network printer > Next > Browse for a printer > Next (phew!) but, although the iMac’s name appears in the list, it shows no printers attached. Sodding thing.

After much mucking about trying to get the ever-stubborn Windows XP to recognize the printer, I came up with a nice bit of lateral thinking. What about Bonjour for Windows? Bonjour (previously known as Rendezvous) is the Mac’s zero-config system allowing auto-discovery of stuff on a network, such as computers, printers and routers – and, handily, they make a Windows version, too. It’ll never work, surely…!

Seriously, it was as simple as:

  • Download the EXE
  • Double-click said EXE to open it in Windows XP (in Parallels)
  • Run the setup (no reboot required!)
  • Double-click Bonjour Printer Wizard on the desktop
  • Click Next
  • There’s my printer! Click it, then click Next twice followed by Finish
  • Boom!, as Steve Jobs would say – the printer is installed, and usable under Windows XP.

Why can’t Windows always be as straightforward as that? 😉

Mystery of the disappearing disk space

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Disappearing hard diskA few days ago, my wife’s iMac started running out of disk space. As in, ‘Zero bytes available’ in the Finder, with a warning dialog. This was quite odd, as it had a good 20GB free last week. I cleared out a few old video podcasts from iTunes to free up a couple of GB and thought nothing more of it.

The next day, I noticed that the free space had suddenly jumped up to 20GB again.

Then, yesterday morning, it ran out of space again. I cleared a few more big files from the drive, then did a ‘df -h’. 780MB free. I did another ‘df -h’. 779MB free. Then 778MB free. It was dropping at a rate of 1-2MB/second.

I knew that iTunes was subscribed to quite a few podcasts and, indeed, it had been downloading a couple of episodes recently. So I shut down iTunes and did another ‘df -h’. 772MB free… 771MB…

Must be the backup, I thought. I do a nightly rsync backup from my iMac to hers, and sometimes it’s still going during the day. But a ‘ps -aux | grep rsync’ on both machines brought up nothing. The backup wasn’t running.

Very strange. Maybe it was some sort of virus, worm, or rootkit that was downloading from the net? I shut down the AirPort network on the iMac to stop all network activity.

745MB free… 744MB… 743MB…