The astounding science and engineering of printer jams

Anil Dash's third law holds that "Three things never work: Voice chat, printers and projectors." But Joshua Rothman's long, fascinating, even poetic profile of the Xerox engineers who work on paper-path process improvements is such a bit of hard-science whimsy that it almost makes me forgive every hour I've spent swearing over jammed paper. Read the rest

HP once again caught sneaking code into printers to reject third-party ink

In March 2016, HP sent millions of Inkjet and Inkject Pro owners a fake "security update" that was really a timebomb: six months later, in September 2016 (one year ago!), the "security update" code started rejecting third party ink, prompting nearly 15,000 complaints from HP owners. Read the rest

Reality Winner was outed by invisible dot patterns added by printers (among other things)

There's been much speculation on exactly how NSA leaker Reality Winner was exposed after giving The Intercept documents that showed the extent to which the security agency suspects Russian meddling (previously) in last year's general election. On one hand, the filing against her talks of the "creases" seen in the scans The Intercept posted, tipping them off to it being a workplace printout from an insider--an insinuation of casual sloppiness on the reporters' part. On the other hand, it seemed clear Winner did everything at a work computer anyway and was surely doomed once the story came out and internal investigations began.

The truth is all of the above, but with a cherry on top: the printouts contained invisible dot patterns added by the printer to identify the worker who sent the print job. All surviving photocopying, scanning and PDF compression to be published, plain as day, on the world-wide web. Errata Security explains how, in detail.

The document leaked by the Intercept was from a printer with model number 54, serial number 29535218. The document was printed on May 9, 2017 at 6:20. The NSA almost certainly has a record of who used the printer at that time.

The situation is similar to how Vice outed the location of John McAfee, by publishing JPEG photographs of him with the EXIF GPS coordinates still hidden in the file. Or it's how PDFs are often redacted by adding a black bar on top of image, leaving the underlying contents still in the file for people to read, such as in this NYTime accident with a Snowden document.

Read the rest

New ultra-high resolution printer makes colors from nanostructures

Researchers from the Technical University of Denmark demonstrated a new nanotechnology-based printing technique that produces long-lasting color images on plastic at resolutions up to 127,000 dots per inch, many times more detailed than traditional laser printers. The system uses a laser to alter the structure of nanoscale structures on the plastic material. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a human hair is around 60,000 nanometers in diameter.) The nanoprinting technique could also lead to new kinds of 3D displays or invisible watermarks. From New Scientist:

The surface of the plastic is shaped so that it has lots of tiny pillars, one roughly every 200 nanometers. A thin film of the element germanium is then spread over the plastic. Heat from a laser melts the germanium on each pillar, morphing its shape and thickness. As a result, it reflects a specific color. The coating protects the shapes of the newly carved nanostructures.

Resonant laser printing of structural colors on high-index dielectric metasurfaces (ScienceAdvances) Read the rest

HP detonates its timebomb: printers stop accepting third party ink en masse

On September 13, owners of HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X began contacting third-party ink vendors by the thousand, reporting that their HP printers no longer accepted third-party ink. Read the rest

A Happy Mutant’s Home Office

Boing Boing is proudly sponsored by HP’s newest Color LaserJet Pro, the MFP M477!

Boing Boing is a truly distributed company. Each member of the team maintains a separate office, or lair, from which they work. Our Publisher, Jason, shares his home office with his two dogs, a cat, a lot of books, guitars, and a bunch of toys. In typical Happy Mutant style, Jason combines functional efficiency with his own offbeat aesthetic to create a space from which to publish Boing Boing.

Here are a few things that help make his office great:

Jason likes to have a lot of desk space, but physically can’t sit down for extended periods. He needed a very large standup desk. They don’t make them. As an aficionado of classic mid-century furnishings, he thought a mechanical Hamilton drafting table would do the trick. It did! By depressing a pedal with his foot, Jason adjusts the height of his work surface from sitting to standing and between. Swinging a lever lets him adjust the angle of the desktop from horizontal to vertical, transforming the surface into a whiteboard as needed.

Space is another huge consideration for Jason. His office is packed with musical instruments, props for various magic tricks, and a lot of books. The devices he needs to conduct business, like a printer, must be very carefully chosen. Through this course of this program, HP sent Jason an amazing new Color LaserJet, the MFP M477, to replace a seriously outdated C series inkjet. Read the rest

Fancy printer review: Epson SureColor P600

My Canon 9000 died last year after many years of infrequent but dutiful service. The Epson SureColor P600 isn't just an upgrade on cheaper wide-format photo printers; the prints are significantly better than the aging model that it replaced.

At $720 on Amazon, it's significantly more expensive than even well-reviewed photo inkjets, but the upgrade rationale is clear: large 13"-wide (e.g. 13x19" or A3) fine art and photo prints of "exhibition" quality. It's for artists and photographers who want to sell copies of their work without trusting it to third-party services and without compromising on print quality—but who aren't churning prints out at a pace where dropping four-figures on a large-tank commercial model makes sense.

It uses nine 25.9ml ink cartridges (each are about $35 to replace), though not all will be used on every paper type (switching between photo and matte blacks is automatic, but triggers a cleaning of the black feed that apparently costs about a dollar's worth of ink.)

It's 22 x 30 x 17 inches and about forty pounds, so you'll need space for it. It also has a touch-sensitive screen, which seems superfluous, but does ease the UI nightmare that printer setup usually is.

A wide variety of art and other specialty finish papers are offered by Epson. A note of caution: the Mac instructions tell you to set it up with Bonjour, but if you do, the print dialog doesn't have any of the Epson-specific options. When setting it up, wait until it autodetects the "IP" connection and pick that one instead. Read the rest