Timothy C. Hain, MD
Professor of Neurology, Otolaryngology, and Physical Therapy/Human Movement
Science, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago IL, USA.
EMAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
This space holds helpful information about software and hardware and vendors
that Dr. Hain has discovered by trial and error. There are also a number of rants about various things that Dr. Hain has found upsetting. Perhaps if enough of us do this,
searches on these devices or companies will bring up more relevant information.
Brother MFC- multifunction printers
The Brother MFC printers are impressive technological feat, and the older ones are built like a battleship. I have many different models in my office.
- 9970 -- Color (a big problem). We suggest don't even think about buying this printer. I am tossing mine out at the office (thats about $600 down the drain). It is nothing but trouble.
These printers all share the same general good points and bad points.
Good points -- mostly hardware.
- Decent sheet feeder. This is a very big deal in a business environment. The sheet feeder doesn't stop scanning after the first 100 sheets.
- Fairly cheap for a business environment.
- Capable of amazing things. In particular, you can scan to FTP or to a network address (given you can figure it out).
- Newer models have wireless ports -- it is always good to have a backup.
- Reasonable support site that has drivers.
Bad Points -- mostly software
- Brother didn't quite
get it all together with the scanning software. The bundled Paperport software is awful.
- Brother has many strange printer utilities that load up automatically. Most of them are useless.
- Each device has a home page (good).
- There is a "br_admin" professional program. Just takes up space
- Another br_admin lite -- takes up more space.
- Installation takes hours. You load this, you load that, you tweak this, you tweak that. You try this out -- very painful.
- Newer models are made out of more plastic
- There is an amazing array of different models (see above), without much to differentiate them.
- The printer is not easy to maintain by yourself -- millions of tiny plastic sprokets.
- Toner for the color printer (9970) is extremely expensive.
Brother MFC-8890DW printer setup for scan to FTP or Network
The Brother MFC device is an awesome tool, but getting it to work is so challenging that it makes one wonder if the intent is to require an IT consultant. Here is how you set it up for scan to FTP. I have no idea how to get this guy working for scan to email or scan to a directory. It looks very formidable -- perhaps requiring 2 or more days of experimentation. Scanning to FTP is at least possible. With this document to help - -you might get it working in 4 hours.
First, realize that this is very tough, and if you make lots of mistakes, you may need 8 hours to get this working. You have to configure 3 separate devices: 1). Printer 2). Router 3). FTP server or network profile. Brother did not feel that users needed printed documentation for this highly complex task, and suggest users download the documentation from the web. The documentation is both very long and incomplete. It is beautifully formatted however. The documentation on the CD that comes with the device is harder to use than the PDF that you can download on the web,because it is in HTML format, making it unsearchable.
- Find the local address of your printer device (198.168.0.*) and browse to it using IE or Firefox. The easiest way to do this is to install one of the BR admin (lite is OK) utilities, right-click on your device, and then choose "go to device page". If this takes 30 seconds or so -- just sit tight. That is the way things work with this administration tool. You can also find it by going to the menu on your printer (under internet options), or by using a utility (I use angryIPscanner).
- Click on the administration tab, and enter in the login name and password (the default is admin/access). By the way, we see no reason at all anyone would want to set up security on a printer. We suggest just leaving everything open. What could someone possibly do ? This printer is so hard to configure it would take a computer genius to hack it. And who would want to hack a printer anyway ?
- Click on the FTP/Network Scan Settings tab, and change one of them to FTP. By the way, after many hours of trying, I finally figured out (by trial and error) how to do the network scanning (see below).
- Create a "user defined name" that is short and pithy. Unfortunately, Brother does not give you names that are dated.
- Now you are back on the Admin settings page. Chose FTP/Network Scan Profile and click.
- Pick a profile name and click on it (first one would be fine)
- Enter in some memorable name that reflects the quality you want (BW 200x100 is a fast one). Maybe "Black-White"
- Put in the host address (i.e. 192.168.0.*) of your FTP server. Note that you may have to set up your router so it always gives the FTP server the same dedicated address.
- For the Username/Password, you can eithe use anonymous, or an actual login. We suggest anonymous for local networks. Again, make sure your FTP server accepts anonymous logins for this option.
- See if this works. If it doesn't, you probably have a problem with either your router or FTP server.
Scan to directory.
- This is much much harder than it should be. It takes 20 minutes to do something that should take 2.
- First, locate the FTP/Network scan settings as above, and click on network instead of FTP.
- Next, click on the Profile tab for that particular row and set up as above.
- The trial/error tricky part here is selecting the host address and store directory.
- For host address, either figure out your local numeric IP address (perhaps using angryIP scanner), or Ipconfig from command.com, or copy/paste your compute name.
- Put either one into the Host address. Your printer will convert whatever you put in to a numeric IP address. Bad if it keeps changing of course.
- Next, make sure whatever directory you want your scans to go into is "shared" -- i.e. navigate to it with explorer, right-click, and share.
- Now, put in the name of the directory you shared (not the whole thing, just the name you "shared") into the "Store directory". Don't put in a slash, and don't use the fully qualified name. It won't work.
- Finally, set up the authentication with a working username and password.
FTP server configuration.
- I have a Synology 106e FTP server (a marvelous device), which sits on my internal network at a known internal IP address (a 198.168.0.*) type address.
- Many people may use a software FTP server however (see below).
- Go into the configuration menu for your server, and make sure that it accepts anonymous FTP. If you are using a software server, you will need to figure out what it is named on your LAN. This could be difficult, as if it is named rather than at a dedicated IP, then your printer will somehow have to access DNS, which could be challenging. It may well be that Brother printers don't do DNS- if they do, we haven't figured it out.
- Since originally writing this, as my Synology box started showing signs of age, I switched to using a local computer as a server (Ubuntu). Again, note that Brother printers don't do DNS and thus you have to provide the printer configuration menu with the IP address (probably 192.168.#.*).
- Another problem that I "worked through" is that Ubuntu wants to be secure, and this makes it difficult to get normal work done. When you create a "ftp" directory in your home directory, by default, it is created with useless permissions (i.e. ones that make your files inaccessible). Once you create the directory, you must change it's permissions to something more friendly, like 777 if your machine is a local one behind your router.
- Make sure your printer and FTP server is assigned a dedicated local IP address by your router.
- The dedicated printer IP addresss is not that important, but it makes configuration easier.
- The FTP server address is important because with this you bypass DNS problems.
Brother MFC-8890DW printer set up for a 2wire WAP.
It took me 2 solid hours to get this printer to talk to my standard wireless router. There are many reasons:
- Brother has at least 4 different programs that need to be installed, one by one, taking about an hour in total.
- Brother did not feel it necessary to print documentation on how to install the wireless interface, on this wireless printer (?)
- The documentation has to be downloaded, and then looked at on a 2nd monitor while one attempts to figure it out. The wireless manual is about 256 pages long. This is not easy.
- Brother suggests that one go through the control panel (i.e. on the printer itself). I managed to get this working through considerable trial and error. Oddly, one cannot set it up through USB. Of course, if you can't set up the wireless, you can't set it up through wireless either. This means that things are tough.
This is how I did it:
- I have an ATT 2wire WAP.
- I looked up the IP address online (it isn't the usual one, it is 192.168.1.254). The security key is the WAP password.
- I looked up the security key through Windows 7, looking at the wireless access point configuration properties, and copied it into a text file. The security key is also on the WAP body itself.
- I printed out the 2wire's DNS and Gateway settings (that came from ATT)
- I plugged these into the Brother's control panel. I also arbitrarily set the IP address to 18.104.22.168. Figured that this was safely far away from the lower #'s that are automatically assigned by the router.
- Next, I used the wireless wizard, and it found the SSID of my 2wire modem. It also found several other SSID's, which I ignored.
- Next, I selected "unsecured", which then sent me to WEP (don't get this, but thats what it did). I thought WEP was security.
- Next after about 5 trial and errors, I managed to enter the 9 digit security code. Note that when you press the # keys on the Brother, it doesn't initially give you numbers, and you have to press the keys many times until the # comes up.
- Then, I had it attempt to connect -- SUCCESS !
Brother P-500 Label printer
This little label printer and variants is fairly handy, but supplies cost a fortune. The DK-1201 labels cost about $11/roll. see here. It turns out that the label carrier is pretty hard to open, and thus it is very hard to substitute a "generic" label roll for a "brand" roll. There are two work-arounds. You can buy a reusable label carrier for $8 (from Amazon). With quite a bit of force you can also open up the label carrier. It turns out that there is a plastic tab that holds it in, basically because it is jammed in. You can see it by looking down the "barrell", and get it off by pulling hard enough.