I was really excited when I saw WordPrint from TwoDollarApps in the “New Apps” category about a week ago. Based on the description, it would give me the ability to print directly from my phone, through a Print Server installed on my PC, to a connected printer. And all for free, except for the cost of the app(s). Sure, I could just sync with my PC and print anything I want, but this had a “cool” factor. And what about printing through a PC that doesn’t have Zune Software. As I was able to do this with my PocketPC back in 2005, I was glad to see that the Windows Phone Marketplace had advanced to the point that print capability was finally here again.
As there was no trial, I put up my 0.99 and was on my way. First stop was to go to the developers site at www.twodollarapps.com and download the free Print Server software, WP7 Print Helper. Although the instructions on the site for setting the Print Server up were pretty slim, after opening a port through my PC and router firewalls I was finally connected. The WP app allows you to browse your SkyDrive for associated files, download the file to your phone and then “theoretically” print through the connected Print Server software. Everything was good till I got to the print part. Each time the WP app searched for a printer I would get the following message. “WP7Print cannot retrieve any printer information. Printing will be disabled.” Well, that’s not good.
So my first thought was to reach out to the developer and see what I might be doing wrong. The developer, Paul Mariotti, retired after a long and distinguished career in IT and consulting (his words, not mine) seemed like a nice enough guy. Checked all over the website but no email address anywhere. Checked the contact form and there are Home and Mobile numbers for Paul in Italy, but no email. Trust that I have been tempted more than once to call. Ah, but he does have a support forum. I could try that. First thing I noticed was that there were 0 posts in every sub-forum, but hey this app was only released last week so that’s not that unusual, right. Tried registering for the forum, as Guests can’t post. But that threw up an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error. So I tried again, and again, and again….for more than a week. No dice. The stats at the bottom of the page say the forum has 122 members. How did they register? But again, not a single post, and most registrants have not visited the forum since registering. Did someone simply copy and paste all this info into the forum. Suspicious if you ask me.
The day after installing WordPrint I took a closer look and found a bunch of apps from TwoDollarApps, all without trials. And all with no or poor ratings.
Most of the apps are related to the Print Server software in some way. While it was admittedly like throwing money into the wind, I decided to purchase PrintSuite to see if that app would perform any better. PrintSuite is basically all the other apps; PDF Print, WordPrint, ImagePrint and ExcelPrint rolled up into one. But as you would expect I got the same result.
As noted, the Print Server information is vey sparse so I may be simply doing something wrong. Correct that, the three or four users who have taken the risk on these apps so far may all be doing something wrong (no one has reported it working yet). My current setup has an HP LaserJet shared across my home network with a fixed IP. Additionally, I have a Canon InkJet Printer connected to a Vista machine and shared across the network. I made sure the Vista machine, and both printers were awake and ready to go before trying to get this to work. After two days of frustration, I even disconnected the Canon from the Vista machine and directly connected it to my XP machine, just in case a printer needed to be plugged in to the same machine that the Print Server software was running on. Nope, that didn’t work either.
So here I sit, $3.48 poorer, and still no printer solution for Windows Phone. My guess is either the Print Server software is bugged or I am missing something obvious, questions that can only be answered by Paul Mariotti, who must be thoroughly enjoying his retirement, as he has not found the time to read the horrible reviews his apps have gotten. Or, maybe this is all a scam to steal information. This requirement was a little troubling:
For release 1.1 and above, you will have to give the name and password of a user that is enabled to use the computer.
Each time I am finished fiddling with these apps, I close the required ports and disable the service for the Print Server software, just in case.
If anyone has a suggestion I am all ears. Just want to be able to print a page from my phone. You know, so I can say that I can.