DoubleSided
April 28, 2011

What You See and Smell Is What You Get

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Advances in Scented Inkjet Printing May Help People With Dementia

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We've previously covered fragrant computer output and how fragrance printing works but I can't help but wonder if scented ink is a solution in search of a problem. Let's face it. If you want to send a scented love letter, you could just spray it with a bit of cologne or perfume.

Or you could inject some cologne into an ink cartridge. I'm kidding -- please don't try this at home! Designing liquid ink to transit from cartridge to paper through a small tube at high speeds without clogging the printer is hard enough. Add an aromatic feature to the liquid and the viscosity changes, which may clog nozzles and blot the liquid onto paper.

I got a whiff of new development from a New Scientist article, With This Printer, What You See Is What You Smell, in which Paul Marks reports that Kenichi Okada of Keio University in Tokyo, took an off-the-shelf Canon inkjet printer and converted it into an olfactory printer that squirted four different scents onto paper.

Okada and his team reported the results at the ACM Multimedia 2010 International Conference in Florence, Italy. The next step, according to Okada, is to synchronize aromatic output with images. For example, when you print out an apple, your output smells like an apple.

Advertising and marketing professionals are no doubt following this technology closely. After all, if you can add smell to the magazine ads you may sell more magazine ads. But the technology has other applications. According to researcher Stephen Brewster, who studies human-computer interaction at the University of Glasgow, UK, aromatic printer output can give people with dementia reminders to take medicine or eat. Now that sounds like a much worthier cause than love letters, which goes to show what I know.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

Article Filed Under: DoubleSided Inkjet Cartridges Printers
November 30, 2010

Going Against the Green: A Dirty Secret That Extends Printer Life and Saves You Money

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Keeping Your Printer On Can Extend Its Life, Reduce Printing Costs, and Save Energy

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Let's face it. Any product that runs on carbon fuel is not going to save the planet and reduce your energy costs. But despite the green rule of thumb advising you to turn your electronics off to spare the air, keeping your printer on can actually extend a printer's life — thus keeping it out of a landfill, reducing printing costs, and saving energy. It's a dirty little secret: Buy an Energy Star printer — and then keep it on.

Turning an inkjet printer off when not in use can reduce the machine's life expectancy. If the print head is built into an inkjet printer, keeping the printer off for long periods of time can cause ink to clog in the head, which will require frequently cleaning to maintain print quality and, in the worst case, deteriorate print quality to the point where you can't use the printer. At that point, if the print head is built into the ink cartridge like some HP inkjet printers, then you can simply replace the cartridge. But that costs time and materials.

You may think "Hey, I've got a laser printer — no ink required." And sure, turning the printer off for long periods of time will not effect a laser printer. But, similar to an inkjet, turning a laser printer on requires energy to start and warm the printer to the point where it can burn toner into paper. Also, inkjet and laser printers spend time on startup checking all of their movable parts prior to reaching a ready-state to print. Endpoint: leaving a printer on can reduce ink and energy use.

An Energy Star printer will go into low-power saving modes when not in use and provide fast startups to attain a ready state to print output. That will reduce your overall power consumption, save you energy costs, and save ink in the case of inkjet printers. It may even result in less wear and tear on movable printer parts.

Leaving an Energy Star printer on will extend its life and save you money in the long run. If you don't have an Energy Star printer, it's probably time to enter the 21st Century and get one.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

November 22, 2010

Is Your Multifunction Printer Spilling Your Secrets?

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Copy and Print Jobs Stored on Your MFP Could Become Public

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Recently the press had a field day with a CBS news report about how digital copiers can become a repository of your deepest and darkest secrets. The story, which is still reverberating in the legal sector, pointed out that digital copiers contain hard drives that store an image of every document copied, scanned, printed or emailed through the machine.

Just the Facts, Please

It's true, many multifunction printers operating in large enterprises do feature hard drives, as do many consumer multifunction printers. But even if your printer does include a hard drive, it's not storing information the same way the hard drive on your computer is storing and capturing data.

When an MFP receives print requests, it stores those requests as print jobs in a queue. If the number and size of the jobs is more than the amount of physical RAM in the printer, the printer will temporarily store the jobs on an internal hard disk before returning them to RAM and printing them. (If the printer does not feature a hard disk, it will store all print jobs in RAM).

If your printer does store print jobs temporarily, it converts them into bitmap images in a job control language that the printer can understand. This language is obscure enough that not just any Joe Schmo can open up the files and print the images easily. What's more, depending on how busy the printer is, it might constantly overwrite jobs stored on the disk with new copy, scan and print jobs in the cue.

If you elect to send secure prints to the printer and pick them up when you enter a code at the console, then your printer might store jobs on the disk until you complete the task. However, you can elect to set up private boxes for users who regularly print, scan, and fax jobs containing secrets you'd rather not make public. Note that if your MFP does not feature a hard disk, it will not offer you this capability.

Tips for Printer Security

First, don't scrimp on the amount of RAM for any printer used by more than one employee. Plan on purchasing the maximum amount of RAM supported by the printer. Doing so ensures your printer will print faster and will not store print jobs on the hard disk to await printing. Next, do not enable the secure print feature. And lastly, do not set up public and private boxes for users to store jobs.

If you want to use the features associated with an internal hard drive, look into your printer's security measures. Some manufacturers, like Canon and Ricoh, include add-on security features in their printers that can encrypt the hard drive, automatically overwrite data on it, and wipe it clean when the printer reaches its end of life in your organization. Other manufacturers, like Konica Minolta, include those features along with others, like a hard drive lock password and automatic deletion of jobs stored in user boxes.

For real security-minded (read: paranoid) professionals, don't waste time overwriting the data on a printer that has reached its end of life. Simply remove the drive and destroy the disk platter. Doing so will not diminish the resale value of the printer.

And finally, if you are worried that your printer's hard drive may contain information that you might need to produce in the event of future litigation, rest easy. To date, no court has targeted multifunction printers with hard drives in its data retention policy. Sorry CBS.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

November 15, 2010

Weaponized Printers?

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Bombs Found in Printer Cartridges en Route to the U.S.

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You may have been horrified when we reported on the Australian couple that discovered a snake in their printer. Recently, the news revealed yet a new danger lurking in printers: bombs.

In October, authorities in England and in the United Arab Emirates intercepted printers (en route to Chicago from Yemen) that included bombs wired to cell phones hidden in the toner cartridges. The cell phones were rigged to trigger the alarm or timer functions to detonate the bombs, which each contained 300 and 400 grams of PETN, an industrial explosive.

The bombs were hidden so well that at first bomb experts failed to locate the danger, even when sniffer dogs assisted the investigation. Fortunately, forensic experts took a second look.

If you are at all worried about discovering a bomb in your next printer cartridge, rest assured that officials have put new security rules in place banning all cargo from Yemen and Somalia and prohibiting toner and ink cartridges weighing more than one pound from passenger flights. European Union ministers are in discussion to ban cargo security from airports with inadequate security measures.

Here's hoping your printer goes vroom when you send it a print job — and not boom.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

October 29, 2010

Will the Open-Source Hardware Movement Bring You a Free Printer?

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Open-Source Hardware Is Too Late to the Party to Bring Down Consumer Printer Costs

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If you use the Web for work or pleasure, you may be familiar with open-source software, the free redistribution of source code that aims to speed the modification and evolution of software. Similarly, a new open-source hardware movement aims to bring commodity electrical and other components to free and open designs of hardware devices (like printers) to drive down costs and accelerate innovation.

Open-source hardware includes machines, devices and other physical objects with a publicly available design that enables you to make, modify, distribute and use an object without infringing on a previous patent or licensing agreement. A true open-source hardware product can range from a schematic design in the public domain to an open-source application programming interface that gives the completed object, or product, a practical user interface.

Timing Is Everything

Open-source fans might dream of the day when they can create a multifunctional printer (like, let's say, a Lego printer), for just the price of parts. Well, don't hold your breath waiting for the kit.

The printer industry is already highly commoditized. In fact, for $100, you can buy a printer like the Epson Stylus NX420 that scans and copies, as well as prints. Without a doubt, you can search the internet and buy component parts to printers for less cost than a finished product. But the time, energy and labor necessary to put it all together and make it work would greatly exceed a simple investment in an off-the-shelf printer.

The open-source hardware movement will impact the printer industry, but only in non highly-commoditized areas with a low barrier of entry such as do-it-yourself 3-D printers like the MakerBot.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

Article Filed Under: DoubleSided Epson Printers
October 26, 2010

Is What You Saw What You Printed?

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Relying on Printouts in Life and in Court

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Most modern printers feature sufficient resources and software to accurately print any image or document you might require in the course of a given day — from photographs and greeting cards to calendars and driving directions. Printers are generally so good at what they do that courts of law will accept printed output as reliable physical evidence of a fact in a proceeding.

However, before the court does so, it will make further inquiries as to the content itself — what it purports to be, when it was created, and just who created it. And occasionally this process, called "authentication," runs into a brick wall. For example, lawyers in New Jersey recently stumbled over new terrain in photographic evidence: Google Earth.

In the case State in the Interest of J.B., a minor (Sussex County, N.J., A-2228-08), a prosecutor attempted to show that an accused was close to the scene of a crime using cell phone location information and photos printed on Google Earth. The defense, however, objected to the content of the photos, saying that Google Earth's accuracy had not been established under the N.J. Rules of Evidence as reliably sufficient to prove distance. The trial court judge agreed, and the photographs were deemed inadmissible.

Later, the prosecutor asked a detective to testify that a cell tower was close to the scene of the crime using his police car odometer. To prove the detective's testimony was accurate, the prosecutor first showed atlas maps with markings of the tower location. Then the prosecutor showed the detective Google Earth photos that included the location of the crime scene and the cell tower. The defense counsel objected again, but this time the judge overruled him, saying that the photos were simply an updated manner of using an atlas.

The judge gave the defense counsel the opportunity to challenge the validity of the photos through cross examination or by bringing in another atlas to show that the images were inaccurate. But once printed output like a photograph or document is proven sufficiently reliable, i.e., authenticated, it will remain as persuasive evidence to a judge or jury until rebutted by an opponent, or perhaps a higher court.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

Article Filed Under: DoubleSided Printers
October 15, 2010

Please Scratch and Sniff the Printer

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Fragrant Computer Output Makes For a Scent-sational Online Ad Campaign

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I haven't yet sniffed the latest multi-sensory marketing gimmick: "Fragrance Printing" using scented printer ink. But a company in Brazil just upped the odorous ante with an ad campaign utilizing a new type of inkjet printer: the fragrance-jet.

To market one of Brazil's best-selling men's fragrances, Kaiak, the advertising agency BlackMamba installed ads on top of the browser service homepages of 15 internet cafes across the country. The ads read: "The best selling men's fragrance in the country just changed. Want to try it? Click this banner. IT'S SCENTED."

When users clicked, specially designed hardware installed in the sides of the computer monitors actually printed and ejected a peel-off fragrance strip. According to BlackMamba, the campaign yielded a 17.2 percent click rate — 43 times the global average — with 10,000 banners distributed in one weekend alone.

With statistics that impressive, it's safe to expect more smelly advertising stunts coming soon to a nose near you.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

Article Filed Under: DoubleSided Inkjet Cartridges Printers
October 08, 2010

"Show Me the Money" With Inkjet Technology

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Inkjet Printers and Copiers Encourage Forgeries (But Make Fakes Easy to Spot)

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Investigators say inkjet technology has increased the incidences of counterfeiting in the U.S. Although inkjet forgeries are lower quality and thus easier to spot than forgeries created with offset printing using engraved metal plates, the wide availability of inkjet printers and copiers is apparently tempting unseasoned professionals to give forgery a try.

While currency forged on an inkjet printer might go undetected in a fast transaction, such as a pizza delivery, it would likely not pass a bank teller for a deposit or a store merchant for goods. Inkjet printers and copiers produce output that bleeds when exposed to moisture and blurs around the edges of the bill. Checks, on the other hand, are easier to fabricate.

Double-check Your Checks

Today you can purchase blank checks and check printing software such as ezCheckPersonal and Instant Check. This self-service banking aims to save consumers money, but gives forgers a ready supply of personal and cashier's checks to fake.

Recently two South Dakota residents who forged checks with a computer and home printer were sentenced to prison time for first-degree forgery and criminal possession of a forgery device. Police officers recovered packages of blank checks and several printed checks at the scene of the crime.

Given the capability of modern inkjet and laser printer technology, forging cash and checks is just the tip of the iceberg. Police have interrupted attempts to forge identification cards using computers, laminators, scanners and printers, as well as imported dyes, papers and a specialist stamps used to replicate watermarks on drivers licenses.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

Article Filed Under: DoubleSided Inkjet Cartridges Printers
October 07, 2010

Lego Printers Say "Hello World"

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: A Children's Toy Puts the Play Back In Printing

A printer made of Lego blocks caused quite a stir in printer industry circles last month. The buzz began with a way cool YouTube video entitled "Lego Hello World." Although the "Lego felt tip 110" printer may seem better suited to a science fair than an office, we couldn't help but marvel at the genius of a printer constructed out of Legos and a felt-tip pen.

Adam, a 29-year old programmer and lifelong Lego fan from Manchester, England, assembled the dotmatrix-esque printer from a variety of Lego pieces — including motors, Lego people, bricks, beams, horses and a palm tree — and non-Lego parts like paper rollers, mounting boards and wires.

The felt-tip pen printer boasts an approximate 75 dots-per-inch resolution and a Helvetica type face. Adam did not provide details on the Lego printer's speed, but nonetheless, we applaud him.

Lego Dotmatrix Printer

Lego NXT Printer

Lego Plotter

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

Article Filed Under: DoubleSided Inkjet Cartridges Printers
October 06, 2010

Do-It-Yourself 3D Printers Come Home

By Sean Doherty

DoubleSided: Open Source Design Brings 3D Printers Near You

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From your local movie theater to the CNN war room on election night, Americans are gaga for 3D. This craze has not bypassed the printer industry. But unlike 3D films, 3D printers, called "fabbers," print real, physical objects to use in real life.

Fabbers read an electronic blueprint and instruct a nozzle, filled with appropriate materials, to build a replica to the desired scale. Fabbers print out everything from dinner plates, eyeglass frames and Tupperware lids to hard-to-get home accessories and car parts.

Historically, 3D printers have retailed in the tens of thousands of dollars. When we initially covered fabbers back in 2007, Fab@Home, the first widely-available open source design software, cost around $2,300 -- an extravagant purchase, even for an engineer or lifelong do-it-yourselfer. But today, you can assemble a fabber at home for as little as $1,500, choosing between two open-source models.

With consumer demand for one-of-a-kind, customized products increasing, a fabber may pay for itself in short order, bringing new life and capacity to your DIY projects.

About DoubleSided
We all have our idiosyncrasies. So do printers as it turns out. In our DoubleSided feature, we explore the lighter side of printers as well as the esoteric and bizarre. We also peer into the future of printing. From fabbers to printing on toast, you'll find it all here.

Article Filed Under: DoubleSided Printers

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