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Why paper jams persist
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-13 00:22:50

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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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-23
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RE[3]: Continuous feed paper
By Alfman on 2018-02-13 21:17:11
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
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE[4]: Continuous feed paper
By Bill Shooter of Bul on 2018-02-13 23:21:43
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.
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE[5]: Continuous feed paper
By Alfman on 2018-02-14 01:33:46
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....

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
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bad English
By dark2 on 2018-02-14 12:38:31
"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.
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RE: Continuous feed paper
By dark2 on 2018-02-14 12:41:08
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
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RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
By Alfman on 2018-02-14 13:13:08
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 :)
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RE[6]: Continuous feed paper
By Bill Shooter of Bul on 2018-02-14 19:03:28
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.
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RE[3]: Continuous feed paper
By ssokolow on 2018-02-15 08:50:30
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.
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RE[4]: Continuous feed paper
By Alfman on 2018-02-15 14:19:41
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.
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RE[5]: Continuous feed paper
By ssokolow on 2018-02-15 17:52:46
> 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
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