Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Feb 2018 00:22 UTC
In the News

Late in “Oslo,” J. T. Rogers’s recent play about the negotiation of the Oslo Accords, diplomats are finalizing the document when one of them reports a snag: “It’s stuck in the copy machine and I can’t get it out!” The employees in Mike Judge’s 1999 film “Office Space” grow so frustrated with their jam-prone printer that they destroy it with a baseball bat in a slow-motion montage set to the Geto Boys’ “Still.” (Office workers around the country routinely reënact this scene, posting the results on YouTube.) According to the Wall Street Journal, printers are among the most in-demand objects in “rage rooms,” where people pay to smash things with sledgehammers; Battle Sports, a rage-room facility in Toronto, goes through fifteen a week. Meanwhile, in the song “Paper Jam” John Flansburgh, of the band They Might Be Giants, sees the jam as a stark moral test. “Paper jam / paper jam,” he sings. “It would be so easy to walk away.”

Unsurprisingly, the engineers who specialize in paper jams see them differently. Engineers tend to work in narrow subspecialties, but solving a jam requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design. “It’s the ultimate challenge,” Ruiz said.

This is such a great read.

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Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Tue 13th Feb 2018 01:19 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

It went out of style in the 90s, but the continuous feed paper that came from IBM's glory days seems to have been a valid solution to this problem decades ago. It was very commonly found in offices. Those old printers could guide/align the paper almost perfectly due to the fact that the perforated paper guide strips had no slippage.

Cash registers/atm machines use continuous paper without the guide strips and can print any length necessary. I think the main issue is that the paper is stored on a roll, which leaves it curled. Maybe the printer could iron it, haha.

Engineering aside, printing costs alot and produces tons of waste, businesses could probably save a great deal of money just by retooling and avoiding paper all together.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Continuous feed paper
by Doc Pain on Tue 13th Feb 2018 04:03 UTC in reply to "Continuous feed paper"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Engineering aside, printing costs alot and produces tons of waste, businesses could probably save a great deal of money just by retooling and avoiding paper all together.


Ah yes, the "paperless office", an utopia since the 1960's... Every year in our "modern" times, more and more stuff is being printed, taken a look at only once, and transferred into the wastebasket - and every year, it's more paper than the year before. Avoiding paper is possible in many settings, not everywhere of course, but still worth the effort. Sad thing of the whole story is: This effort will cost money and require a change of procedures in order to perform an improvement. This is something business will not accept (as any change is bad), so the printing costs will simply be passed all the way down to the final consumer of a product or a service.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Tue 13th Feb 2018 08:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Continuous feed paper"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Doc Pain,

Ah yes, the "paperless office", an utopia since the 1960's... Every year in our "modern" times, more and more stuff is being printed, taken a look at only once, and transferred into the wastebasket - and every year, it's more paper than the year before. Avoiding paper is possible in many settings, not everywhere of course, but still worth the effort. Sad thing of the whole story is: This effort will cost money and require a change of procedures in order to perform an improvement. This is something business will not accept (as any change is bad), so the printing costs will simply be passed all the way down to the final consumer of a product or a service.


Yeah, my wife works for a government office and I cringe at how much paper waste they produce there. Part of this is due to the fact that while they have email, they're only permitted to communicate with the outside world via fax and post office.

I met with a prospective client and it was the same deal: they receive faxes all day long which get printed, transcribed by a poor soul, and then shredded. In fact part of the reason I was there was to see if I could fix this. And you are right, they don't want to pay for a new system despite the fact that labor and material costs are burning through their pockets every day. I'm not sure if they're going to give me the job.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
by kwan_e on Tue 13th Feb 2018 10:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Continuous feed paper"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Every year in our "modern" times, more and more stuff is being printed, taken a look at only once, and transferred into the wastebasket


That paper gets recycled into toilet paper.

Perhaps we can reduce paper use in the office if we recycled the other way.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 13th Feb 2018 16:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Continuous feed paper"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I've never worked in a papered office (started working in 2000) If something needs to be printed, there is a 30 minute pause to figure out how to get the printer to work, and install printer drivers on the right machine. Its almost easier to have the print shop print them online and drive there to pick them up...

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Tue 13th Feb 2018 21:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Continuous feed paper"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Bill Shooter of Bul,

I've never worked in a papered office (started working in 2000) If something needs to be printed, there is a 30 minute pause to figure out how to get the printer to work, and install printer drivers on the right machine. Its almost easier to have the print shop print them online and drive there to pick them up...


Like you, I think the vast majority of offices could do fine without regular printing. I didn't have a printer for a long time, but I caved and got one because I was tired of going to the local print shop to print out my business taxes. It comes down to absolutely stupid government policies that require accountants to use electronic filing but prohibit end users from doing so directly. As usual, corporate profit motives interfered and tax firms lobbied successfully against the public's right to directly file taxes electronically in order to protect their own commercial tax products that do the same thing.

I will say there are times printing is handy, I've printed labels for servers and components, which can be poorly marked and hard to identify. Unlike paper forms, I don't consider labeling physical inventory a wasteful use of paper.

Edited 2018-02-13 21:21 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

You file your own business taxes? If you are running a non trivial business in the United States, that is usually not a great idea.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Wed 14th Feb 2018 01:33 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Continuous feed paper"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Bill shooter of Bul,

You file your own business taxes? If you are running a non trivial business in the United States, that is usually not a great idea.


But that's just it, small businesses like mine don't have complex taxes and they're filled out the exact same way every single year.

Of course tax accounting firms are happy to file business taxes, but it can be several hundred dollars just to file them using information you have to provide them. If you want them to do your business accounting for you too, that can be a few hundred dollars per hour.

http://smallbusiness.costhelper.com/accountants.html

The point I'm making here is that unless your making lots of income, this is not cheap and not all of us can easily afford to pay a professional. My recommendation is to have them done professionally once, take notes, and then do them the same way the following year yourself using the provided PDF tax forms or small business tax accounting software. Next year could be an exception due to the numerous changes in the US tax code.

Edited 2018-02-14 01:37 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I would second you're recommendation to have a professional look over your taxes at least once. Our tax laws suck, and were not designed to be simple to figure out. Oh, and they just changed again.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Continuous feed paper
by darknexus on Tue 13th Feb 2018 12:56 UTC in reply to "Continuous feed paper"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

They jammed up less, but when they did jam... well, let's just say, that is a test of moral character indeed. Ever seen one jam up where the paper actually falls down under the feeder and tears itself to shreds? Not fun at all! I still, to this day, have no idea how that one actually happened, but happen it did and on my watch too.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Tue 13th Feb 2018 14:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Continuous feed paper"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

darknexus,

They jammed up less, but when they did jam... well, let's just say, that is a test of moral character indeed. Ever seen one jam up where the paper actually falls down under the feeder and tears itself to shreds? Not fun at all! I still, to this day, have no idea how that one actually happened, but happen it did and on my watch too.


Interesting. I can see how a jam condition in a continuous feed printer could happen if the paper were torn or two sheets were stuck together before entering the printer. Otherwise the printer gears physically force the paper to enter and exit at the exact same rate, keeping it tight, so there aren't many opportunities for the paper to fold in on itself unless it's defective or incorrectly installed.

With the printer we had, it was possible to load up the paper misaligned, which could rip up a page, but I don't remember ever having a paper feed problem once correctly loaded. (There were different problems with the dot matrix print heads and ink ribbons though.) Our modern inkjet and laser printers have been more problematic with jamming.

If I had to guess the cause of jamming in my printer today, the papers rubbing on each other probably cause static cling and erroneously pulls in more than one sheet. Continuous feed paper didn't rub against itself like this.

Edited 2018-02-13 14:44 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Continuous feed paper
by dark2 on Wed 14th Feb 2018 12:41 UTC in reply to "Continuous feed paper"
dark2 Member since:
2014-12-30

ATMs, receipt s, etc. Use a roll of thermal paper that turns black when exposed to heat. Offices need the same size paper, and something that won't be ruined by leaving it in a hot car or exposed to prolonged sunlight

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Wed 14th Feb 2018 13:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Continuous feed paper"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

dark2,

ATMs, receipt s, etc. Use a roll of thermal paper that turns black when exposed to heat. Offices need the same size paper, and something that won't be ruined by leaving it in a hot car or exposed to prolonged sunlight


I learned something new here! But I've never seen any of my old receipts turn dark so I don't think it's ordinarily a problem. I do know that regular ink does fade in the sun.

Experiments are fun, so maybe I'll try explicitly leaving ink/laser/thermal printed papers out in the sun to see what happens ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Continuous feed paper
by ssokolow on Thu 15th Feb 2018 08:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Continuous feed paper"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Try sticking some of that frosted "Invisible Tape" onto one. You'll see the text below fade to nothing very quickly.

Something about the adhesive attacks the chemicals in the paper which darken when exposed to heat.

Also, while I've never had a page go black on me, I have had text fade to near-invisibility.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Thu 15th Feb 2018 14:19 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Continuous feed paper"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ssokolow,

Try sticking some of that frosted "Invisible Tape" onto one. You'll see the text below fade to nothing very quickly.


I'm not seeing any change on two receipts after a few minutes of testing just now. How long should this take?

Also, while I've never had a page go black on me, I have had text fade to near-invisibility.


I have seen that too, especially with receipts that come out extremely light to begin with. I had assumed it was because they were out of toner, but if they don't use toner then I guess something else was wrong with the printer.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Continuous feed paper
by ssokolow on Thu 15th Feb 2018 17:52 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Continuous feed paper"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

I'm not seeing any change on two receipts after a few minutes of testing just now. How long should this take?


Unless you grabbed a receipt from a store using the more expensive (and, in my experience, more failure prone) plain-paper+ink receipt printers, it should've happened by then.

If it is thermal paper, I wonder whether it's your tape or your receipt paper which uses a different formulation. (It's happened with every thermal paper receipt I tested with and my tape is just the cheap Chinese dollar-store stuff that you'd think would be sold worldwide under a million different brand names.)

The easiest way to tell the difference in paper types, in my experience, is that thermal paper has a distinctive feel to it while plain-paper receipt tape feels more like photocopier paper. (Thin and with a distinctively less-pleasant-than-usual glossy texture.)


I have seen that too, especially with receipts that come out extremely light to begin with. I had assumed it was because they were out of toner, but if they don't use toner then I guess something else was wrong with the printer.


Thermal printers are used because they're very simple and reliable, being nothing more than a motor to feed paper and a row of heated pixels (sort of the reverse of a flatbed scanner head) between the paper roll and the exit slot.

If it's starting out faint, then either the thermal printer isn't heating the paper enough to get a good image or the paper is chemically defective.

Edited 2018-02-15 17:53 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Continuous feed paper
by Alfman on Fri 16th Feb 2018 22:51 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Continuous feed paper"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ssokolow,

Unless you grabbed a receipt from a store using the more expensive (and, in my experience, more failure prone) plain-paper+ink receipt printers, it should've happened by then.

If it is thermal paper, I wonder whether it's your tape or your receipt paper which uses a different formulation. (It's happened with every thermal paper receipt I tested with and my tape is just the cheap Chinese dollar-store stuff that you'd think would be sold worldwide under a million different brand names.)


I don't know, but I've tried again with a third receipt and I still can't get it to react with tape, oh well, haha. I verified that the thermal paper works by running a current through a spring and touching it against the paper, it activated the thermal paper, instantly leaving an awesome imprint to boot! I also tried to activate it using a focused laser pointer, but it wasn't strong enough ;)

I agree with you that the quality of receipt paper is generally poor, but I wonder if that is an intrinsic property of thermal paper or simply due to stores saving on costs? I think toner comes out a bit darker, but assuming high quality thermal paper is available, it seems to me like thermal paper could be viable for general office printing. I wonder how the economics work out between toner and laser printing versus thermal paper.

Reply Score: 2

Missing first letter in quotation
by dungsaga on Tue 13th Feb 2018 07:12 UTC
dungsaga
Member since:
2005-07-12

It's "Late", not "ate".

Reply Score: 2

confused
by danzan on Tue 13th Feb 2018 08:54 UTC
danzan
Member since:
2015-01-21

Asian dog-ear, stripper fingers, flower arrangement...

What is this article really about?
Did the engineers go to a nightclub?

Reply Score: 2

this is a great read
by damp on Tue 13th Feb 2018 15:01 UTC
damp
Member since:
2006-03-19

This is a very well written story and i must say i enjoyed the read.

However it seems a little out of place here on osnews to me.

Reply Score: 1

RE: this is a great read
by Crampo on Tue 13th Feb 2018 15:23 UTC in reply to "this is a great read"
Crampo Member since:
2018-01-25

However it seems a little out of place here on osnews to me.

Many things are... OSnews is just a historical name. Today, this blog is just another tech. news blog.

Reply Score: 0

bad English
by dark2 on Wed 14th Feb 2018 12:38 UTC
dark2
Member since:
2014-12-30

"the paper, normally lissome, had become listless."

I don't normally read these articles due to the amount of journalistic fluff, but this is notably bad. These to words cannot be used to describe paper, or non living things.

Reply Score: 0

dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

Paper fluffing, air drying. Not rocket science.

Is Just The Traditional, Let's play Fut-ball with the Engineers, game.

One of the many delicatessen sports of the executive ranks.

So, they can make an enchilada on 50 cents. Give then 20.

Hey! Shareholders, got you 30cents per unit, richer, today.

Smart Executives. End Of Irony.

Reply Score: 1

Hard Problem
by cipri on Sat 17th Feb 2018 22:22 UTC
cipri
Member since:
2007-02-15

Sounds like a very hard and important problem.
Perhaps elon musk will give it a try to solve it, after he manages to colonize mars.

Now, seriously, the real problem is, that a lot of ¨technology¨ is simply shit, and people are payed to improve it a little, and not to come up with something great. There is so much technology about there, that is basically still at about the level it has been in the 90s!
If one really wants, paper can become a very marginal, irrelevant subject, saving the world a lot of pollution (especially in poor countries), destroyed forests, etc...

cipri

Reply Score: 1