Anyone working in an architecture firms tends to wear many hats. Smaller firms might take this to an even greater extreme. From day to day, hour to hour one may be working through designs on trace, reviewing project time logs and invoicing, managing and unexpected staff or project issues, or troubleshooting a gremlin in the computer network. With so many variables in daily operations it’s always nice to have trusted, reliable support in the back end of things.

One of the key members of this back end is the venerable HP DesignJet 500/800. Despite being 15+ years old, these plotters are built like a tank, can be easily serviced, and parts are readily available via dedicated resellers. New plotters are significantly faster, but like many modern “professional” products, they are not built to the standards of the past, often with materials not designed for longevity, relying on increasingly complex circuitry and programming, and servicing is limited to replacing entire sections instead of the worn part.

Many of these issues can also be found in the practice of architecture and the construction of buildings. While building codes, fashions, and programming needs continue to develop, architects, builders, and manufacturers may rush to produce the latest compatible processes and products to meet contemporary demands. Often this unavoidably yields short term performance results at the expense of long term sustainability.

Custom residential construction may be one of the last sectors where we can tangibly allow for greater consideration of these long terms values. While potentially a slower and initially more expensive process, taking the time to deliberately select natural products, high quality systems, and proven processes will result in something that is increasingly rare in our times: a truly sustainable home.

A sustainable home will require care, regular maintenance, perhaps even a renovation at some point, but it will exist on a much longer timeline, like an heirloom piece of furniture. It will wear with the undulations of life rather than the whims of trends. In the best circumstances it’s heritage will be experienced over many generations.

The DesignJet 500/800 has been gliding on thin ice since HP ceased driver development at Windows 8.1. Finally, this past week, the ice has broken through. Windows pushed an update that disables the ability to print using the HPGL/2 8.1 driver used by the 500 and 800 series DesignJets. HP has no plans to update the driver (and has since removed many from the official support/download site). The two immediate options are to purchase a new plotter, sending this one to the landfill, or roll back update KB4560960. We can confirm that the roll back allows for printing to resume with the 8.1 driver. In the meantime an older computer will be dedicated to sharing the printer on the network.

We are hopeful that this isn’t the end of days for our reliable friend.

Edit/Update: Microsoft released a hotfix. It will not be pushed via Windows Update so you will need to download it and run the standalone installer. The fix seems to work fine on 1903 and 1909.

Edit/Update: Issue rears its head with the Windows 10 2004 feature update. Uninstalled KB4557957 to resume printing. Windows released another hotfix for this update to fix this known issue. Again it’s not getting pushed so download and install manually. It seems the new process is: Delay updates, then when inevitable update comes review update history and research each KB# to see if a standalone hotfix was released. Good luck out there. We will be keeping a mini PC, known to work, offline, to be booted in emergency plotting situations.

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