June 2001 Reader Challenge

Congratulations to our June Reader Challenge winners! Our first place winner, John Hancock, of Australia, wins a copy of Admin911:Group Policy by Windows expert Roger Jennings. Our second place winner is Max Balleza, from Illinois; he gets a copy of my own book, Admin911:Windows 2000 Registry.

The Problem
All the printers at your work are laser printers, and your home printer is an inkjet printer. Last week, you received a Microsoft Word document at work that you wanted to read at your leisure at home. You chose File, Print, Print to File. You copied the resulting file, named mydoc.prn, to a 3.5" disk and took it home, where you used the following command to print the file:

copy /b mydoc.prn ltp1: 

You know that you must use the /b switch because the system sends the file to the printer in binary mode. Your printer spewed out pages containing some text and a lot of junk characters. The next day, you printed the 60-page article at work and took it home. Today, you found another interesting document you'd like to read at home. How can you save the article as a file that will print to your home printer? Multiple techniques exist; see how many you can come up with.

The Solutions
Install your home printer driver on your work computer, and select the home printer when you print the document to a file. After all, Windows doesn't peek through the monitor and say, "Hey, I don’t see an inkjet printer, so I'm not going to install this driver". It's OK to install two printers to LPT1: (if you already have a real local printer), and it's also OK to lie to Windows. At home, copy the .prn file to LPT1 with the /b parameter.

Install the Windows Generic Text printer on your work computer and select that printer when you print the document to a file. You loose formatting and graphics, but you get the information you need. (See previous solution about the fun of lying to Windows). At home, you can copy the printer file to LPT1 without any special parameters because the file is plain text.

We received several solutions that are slightly "off the question" because they don't involve .prn files. However, as many readers noted in their answers, they solve the problem of moving formatted documents between work and home when they don't have the same software in both places by saving the document file (not a .prn file) and either copying the file to a 3.5" disk or emailing it to your home mailbox.

Here are the viable solutions, presented in the order "easy to not-so-easy."

Save the file as Rich Text Format (.rtf). Load the file into WordPad or any word processor on your home computer and print it.

Save the file as an HTML document, load it to your browser at home, and print it.

Download the free software you need to create .pdf files, load the file into Acrobat Reader (another free download) at home, and print it.

At home, download the Word viewer from Microsoft ( http://office.microsoft.com/downloads/9798/wd97vwr32.aspx ). This software lets Microsoft Word users share documents with people who don't have Word. The viewer works with Word 2000 and Word 97, and lets you view and print Word documents.

On your Win2K home computer, install the Personal Web Server and configure the computer for Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). Keep an open connection to your ISP (note the IP address before you leave for work if you don't have an always-on connection). Use IPP to install your home printer on your work computer (using the browser on your work computer). Print to that Internet printer to have the document waiting for you when you get home. (If you haven't investigated IPP on Win2K, you should--it's a nifty feature).

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