June 2007 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our June 2007 Reader Challenge. First prize, a copy of "Windows Vista: The Definitive Guide," goes to Rachel Gomez, of California. Second prize, a copy of "Windows Vista Pocket Reference," goes to Robert Longwood, of Australia. Both books are from O'Reilly Media. Answers to the June challenge are at http://www.windowsitpro.com/Articles/ArticleID/96250/96250.html?Ad=1.

July 2007 Reader Challenge

Solve this month's Vista Update challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to challenge@windowsitpro.com by July 15, 2007. You MUST include your full name, and street mailing address (no P.O. Boxes). Without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it’s correct. I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I’m a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for an email receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=96486 on July 16, 2007.

The Challenge

One of the most frustrating requests for help from a user is a stuck print job that won't print and refuses to let itself be deleted. The first thing you do is check permissions, but my experience has been that print jobs go into "stubborn" mode even for administrators with full permissions to manipulate the print job, the printer, and the print server. The print job sits in the queue smugly, displaying some error message or other (the message is frequently unhelpful), refusing to print, blocking the completion of any other jobs that are in the queue. Most of the time, if you move the next job up, it, too, displays an error and also stubbornly refuses to let you delete it. Rebooting doesn't always help, because sometimes the job survives the restart, and so does the problem. How do you get rid of a print job that won't respond to the Delete command or any other cures?

The Answer

To clear existing print jobs that don't respond to manual deletion efforts, you usually have to restart the print spooler twice, because Windows tracks the number of interruptions for each print job. A single interruption doesn't remove the print job, because when the Windows "Counter" is at 1, the print job remains (so you don't lose the print job if you accidentally restart the computer when print jobs are waiting). When the "Counter" moves to 2, Windows assumes corruption and removes the print job. If Windows notices that the print job has been interrupted (because of a printer problem or some other problem you often can't identify), it will set the counter to 1. Then, stopping the print spooler brings the count to 2, and the print job is removed. If Windows doesn't automatically increment the counter when the print job runs into trouble, stopping the print spooler sets the count to 1, and restarting the print spooler and stopping it again sets the count to 2. Rebooting, of course, stops and starts the print spooler, but it's easier and faster to do this directly. You can stop and start the print spooler from the Services Console, or by using the command line (net stop spooler, followed by net start spooler). In Windows Vista, remember to open the command window by right-clicking the Command Prompt icon and choosing Run As Administrator, or the command will fail