Every now and then I get consumed by a Mac problem that takes 30 or 40 hours to sort out. And the only way through is not give in to defeat and find a way to make things work. Try this, try that, do everything you can think of, ring everyone you know, and find a solution. I’ve had to face this time and time again and now see that every problem is just a puzzle to solve.

This week, however, brought an exceptional problem. One of the more difficult one’s I can remember. Here’s a rundown of what happened:

I bought a laser printer - a laser printer with Postscript emulation built-in. That means I would be able to print Postscript files and EPSs straight out of Quark which gives good quality, very good quality, in colour, out a humble laser printer. I’ve done this before, a few years back, using OS9 and ethernet, thank goodness those days are behind me. If one thing throws me it’s networking. I know nothing here. For this area of computing I bring in the experts.

So my laser printer is plugged into my Mac via USB and I’ve loaded the printer driver and the Post Script driver and I try to print. It works fine with just text. I bring in some images and nothing works. I make up EPS files and nothing works. This is disaster. A half-functioning device. I spend hours playing with all the possible output settings - Binary, ASCII, RGB, CMYK - still nothing works. I get garbled half printed pages with data code churning out of the printer in black and white. I do a lot of resets and a lot of hard reboots of both Mac and laser...

Then I remember - in the days of OS 9 a very talented designer I was working with managed to get Quark printing Post Script files to laser by plugging an ethernet crossover cable into laser and Mac, switching on Apple Talk, and that Postscript data would then flow - big files, 6 MB, 8 MB even 20 and 30 MBs. My fear of networking returns but fear needs to be overcome. I buy a crossover cable.

Machines plugged together, I’m now in OS9. What a weird world to return to. After all these years OS9 is still familiar. I know where to go, just what to press. Amazingly quick and responsive. This is 9.2.2 I’m not talking running Classic inside of OSX. This is OS9 native on a twin G4 I never got rid of.

I go to the Apple Menu - I find the Chooser - remember the Chooser? - then I click the AdobePS button and up pops a Postscript printer in the column where I choose the active printer. Success! I can taste it.

Straight into Quark and I manually select the Postscript printer and I’ve got EPS files in beautiful quality coming out of the laser in next to no time.

So I’ve achieved my goal in OS9 but OSX is where I need to be. I change computers, fire up Quark in OSX and plug in the crossover cable, switch on Apple Talk, I can see in Network Settings that the laser is there - my Mac sees it. I print a page and out comes nothing but garble. I try everything I can think of and no-matter-what the Postscript will not work on OSX - even though I have printer and postscript drivers installed. Seems to me the OSX drivers just do not work. Sometimes that happens. A manufacturer promises one thing and what they deliver does not live up to the promise. But I manage to launch an older version of Quark using Classic in OSX and I can print my EPS and Post Script files that way. Sometimes a workaround is the only way through. Not a totally satisfying outcome but I now have a way forward.

So here I am stuck between OS9 and OSX on a twin G5 and the world’s gone Intel. Sometimes you've got to move backwards to move forwards.