Unable to Reset Printing System on MacOS High Sierra

If you are having printing system crashes on MacOS High Sierra, read on! After recently upgrading to MacOS High Sierra, I found that every time the OS loaded up a print dialogue, the application in question would crash.

Google reveals the best first step for this as to Reset the Printing System as documented by Apple. Please be warned, you will lose all your printers if you do this, however, it is likely a bad driver you are encountering so this will at least give you access to add new printers in.

However, I was unlucky enough to find this to be impossible. In my particular case, holding control on the System Preferences panel and clicking on printers, resulted in a crash of System Preferences.

So, if you have exhausted all possibilities MacManager put has a neat little script as defined on the MacOS Hints forum to get around this.

#!/bin/sh

for printer in `lpstat -p | awk '{print $2}'`
do
echo Deleting $printer
lpadmin -x $printer
done

If you save this to a file called deletePrinters.sh, then run on the command line/terminal ‘sh deletePrinters.sh’, you will be able to remove all printers and should get access to the Printers and Scanners menu in System Preferences again. Note, you could adapt this to comment out the lpadmin -x $printer line and instead see the printer names, then try deleting them one by one, to hopefully find the bad one before you delete them all.

Hope this helps, now time for me to get back to installing printers again!

Consider the risk of gift cards for your next birthday or Christmas present

Australia Post Load and Go Prepaid Visa CardAfter the unfortunate demises of retailers including Dick Smith Electronics, Masters, and Pumpkin Patch in Australia (to name a few), and my own shopping for Christmas gifts not a month ago, I began pondering an issue with the humble gift card. While this has been written with an Australian context in mind, the principles apply worldwide (and with a little local sleuthing, you should find local details appropriate for you).

For those of you not keeping up, when a retailer enters administration, a seemingly regular side effect is that already purchased gift cards go into limbo, held at the mercy of the administrators. As the administrator will receive no additional funds for the exchange of goods, they may choose not to honour the gift cards, or place additional terms on their use. Countless examples from the demise of Dick Smith Electronics occurred where people lost entire balances and large sums, as well as customers of Pumpkin Patch being told that gift cards would only be honoured if an equivalent amount of cash was spent in store at the same time.

With there being no legal requirement in Australia for gift card balances to be ‘treated like cash’ (despite most gift cards saying they should be treated as such), a gift card purchaser is at the absolute mercy of the continued solvency of the retailer. You know the old saying cash is king, this certainly holds true and gift cards it would seem, are definitely not king!

However, there is an alternative which, in my opinion, carries a significantly lower level of risk. Many people are unaware, but Visa offers both prepaid and reloadable cards that can be purchased from Australia Post stores (for Aussies) or from other retailers worldwide. Essentially, for a couple of dollars more than your ‘gift card balance’ you would like to buy, you can transfer your risk from the solvency of an individual retailer, to one of the major credit card providers of the world. Sure, Visa themselves could go under one day, but that is infinitely less likely than a single trading retailer going bust, in a single country.

Australia Post Load and Go Reloadable Prepaid Visa CardThe prepaid cards carry the benefit of being usable where any Visa card is purchased, so they are not locked to any one retailer, can be used physically in person, or online also. The reloadable card (available for around $7AUD more) can be used repeatedly and reloaded as many times as desired until the expiration date, which can also be beneficial in itself.

So, before you next purchase a gift card for a loved one, consider the risk you are willing to accept for you investment, and perhaps consider the Visa prepaid card as a preferable alternative. Call me risk averse, but I will put my bets on Visa being around for many many more years, major Australian retailers however, seem to be going bust like it is going out of fashion.

Final thoughts – My sympathies go out to all those affected from retailer demises, in my early years I too worked at Dick Smith, and have a lot of memories from there, in it’s day it was the best store, with the best customer service!

A review of ShopMate – Australia Post’s US shipping service

Screenshot of shopmate.auspost.com.au
We Aussies live on an island in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes that makes getting things from other countries a little tough. Just before Christmas, I wanted to buy myself a Kindle Oasis from Amazon! Normally this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, however Amazon suffered a bug where the site refused to ship Kindles to AU addresses temporarily.

Having recently heard of AusPost’s ShopMate service, which is largely similar to MyUS, Stackry and Reship, I thought I would give them a go, as obviously AusPost is an Australian company.

I placed my order, got the item shipped to the ‘Virtual’ US address provided by ShopMate, and thought I was on the way. After the item had been marked as delivered by Amazon, I went 24 hours, then 48 hours and heading on 72 hours when I started to worry. The item had been signed for, however I couldn’t see any details on my ShopMate account. I started hunting around on the internet and found a large number of scathing reviews about issues people have had with the service already, and began to get worried.

Before I go on, let me say that in the end, I got my package and I got it on the time that was promised, however, I was largely exposed to some of the rather fatal flaws in the system. I was one of the lucky ones, and there are some things that I learned which I will certainly be keeping in mind in my ‘risk assessment’ of whether I choose to use ShopMate again. I thought it would be good to do this review of ShopMate to ensure others could keep this in mind should they wish to use the service themselves.

Some of the issues I encountered include:

  • There are no direct contact details for ShopMate in the US, all you get is an email address.
  • The email address creates an enquiry with Australia Post here in AU, they have to manually intervene and liaise as a go-between for the customer to ShopMate US.
  • My enquiry was escalated to ShopMate US and I got a phone call from them, alas I just missed the phone call, they said they would email me, to which the email never arrived. It appears that the email was definitely sent and never arrived. (For those wondering, I run my own webservers and checked all the logs, no connection attempt was ever received from an Australia Post server at or around the time and date which matched the parameters of the email they sent… hence, it definitely didn’t end up in my Spam folder. I provided this detail and offered my expertise to troubleshoot, the offer I extended was never followed up).
  • This whole process resulted in me having to call back, wait on hold, and have the email then read out to me. I was informed I could not have a direct line of contact with ShopMate in the US, the information I received really gave me no new information other than ‘we have to wait, it should be here, but we have a backlog’.
  • The Australia Post team skirted around the question repeatedly as to whether the person that signed for my package actually worked for ShopMate in the US. It was a simple question requesting validation of the name of the person that signed for the package, to this date they never answered in the positive or negative and seemingly avoided the question which I asked numerous times.
  • During the time waiting, I found some rather unusual statements on the ShopMate website FAQ page including: ‘Delivery issues have been identified across the US delivery providers with parcels being delivered to incorrect addresses (not the ShopMate USA warehouse).’ which was rather concerning. Also the page states that goods that can’t be delivered include ‘dangerous or prohibited items as determined by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. These commonly include perfume, items containing lithium-ion batteries, ink cartridges and aerosols.’ Generally I would say that is fair, however, from what I could find, this list does not completely match the official details as described on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service site. This seems like a dangerous catch-all that could be used as a fallback when in fact, it is not true in all cases. It may simply be inaccurate if instead it should refer to any limitations imposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (which doesn’t appear to restrict Australia Post directly) or Australia Post’s own, seemingly self-imposed restrictions.
  • Finally the tracking (or lack thereof), when my parcel was finally found, and forwarded on by ShopMate, it spent a week in limbo with no other scans or tracking available. Australia Post were unable to tell me anything about the package because ‘the package is sent via another carrier and we have no visibility of that until it reaches Australia Post here in Australia’. Hold the phone… ShopMate is an AusPost service, and they consider it to essentially be ‘external’ to them for which they have no visibility. This really summed up how the whole experience had been and does not leave me feeling that my package was in good hands.

I give kudos to the team here in Australia, they did everything that they could with very little (read as no) information available. To be honest, given the distinct externalisation of the service from Australia Post, I feel this carries a higher level of risk than using one of the other dedicated international carriers that would use something like UPS or FedEx to get the package to you.

Would I use the service again? In it’s current state I would say no, the website, the service, the support are all far too segmented to provide any real benefit (if you are reading this Australia Post, how about bringing up my Parcel Collect addresses as addresses in the ShopMate site). While my package arrived on-time, it was a snafu of it being missing with no information and waiting in the hope that it would appear. I can certainly see how many people have been stung with things being lost, unable to get support and being sent round and round in circles with ‘Please contact the merchant you purchased it from to make sure it was delivered correctly’.

Perhaps given time, Australia Post will work out some of these teething issues, improve the integration and improve access to customer service so that you can get rapid access to the US team that actually know what is happening with your package. Until then, buyer beware, have a read of some of the reviews, there are a couple of happy campers but many many unhappy people. You must always remember that people will complain when things go wrong and rarely praise, however there are already a LOT of unhappy customers.

Just my 2C, hope these things can be fixed up with time!

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