Sunday, July 20, 2008

Steal this idea: Scratch paper printer

Somewhat counterintuitively, the Computer Science department at Brown produces a ton of paper (literally a ton if you choose the Right time scale...). A good portion of our printouts only use one side of the paper (though people are generally good about printing things duplex, 2-up, etc.). Much of this scratch paper is recycled immediately while some is put in a scratch paper pile. After trying to reduce our printouts, what we can do to lower our paper usage? Last year, I made a "notebook" out of scratch paper. a folder, and some clips which worked out very nicely for a course. While I like this method and would like to see it done on a large scale, it seems unlikely to reuse much of our scratch paper supply.

One idea that I'd like to investigate is a "scratch paper printer." This would be a printer stocked entirely with scratch paper. There are couple potential issues. The main issue is that I've been told that printers jam more frequently on scratch paper[1]. I want to find out if this is true for all or just some printers. Ideally, we can find a (potentially slower) printer which doesn't jam as much on scratch paper. A lesser issue is keeping the printer stocked since scratch paper doesn't come as easily as store-brought reams, but since this can be done on demand by users, I'm less concerned. Please contact me if you have any comments on this proposal, since I'll put pitching it to the department in the coming future.

[1] It might be interesting to try to design a printer which is more robust to paper jams (steal this idea, please) but beyond what I'm looking for at this point.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

These version numbers have version numbers!

This product that was on TV was available for four easy payments of $19.95. I would like a product that was available for three easy payments and one complicated payment. We can't tell you which payment it is, but one of these payments is going to be hard.
-- Mitch Hedburg

Version numbers in Ubuntu Linux can get pretty intense. Here is a list of 13 version numbers from Ubuntu packages in increasingly ridiculous order (that is, order of increasing ridiculous-ness (ridiculousity?)).
  1. 15 (just a number, possibly too simple)
  2. 1.2-2 (three numbers, reasonably simple)
  3. (standard Linux kernel version number, very simple)
  4. 2007-12ubuntu3.1 (year, month, and Ubuntu version)
  5. 1:8.04+20080630 (version with a full date in it)
  6. 3.0.28a-1ubuntu4.3 (version and Ubuntu version)
  7. 4.0.1ubuntu5.8.04.1 (package with version and a more complicated Ubuntu version)
  8. 4.4.0-1ubuntu4~hardy1 (version with Ubuntu version and Ubuntu distribution subversion)
  9. 3:0.cvs20060823-3.1ubuntu4 (version, CVS date, and Ubuntu version)
  10. 8.61.dfsg.1~svn8187-0ubuntu3.3 (version, SVN version, and Ubuntu version)
  11. 20080508+git20080601-0ubuntu0.8.04 (version and two dates in it -- okay, one is a GIT version number too)
  12. 3.0.1+build1+nobinonly-0ubuntu0.8.04.1 (version plus some tags then a complicated Ubuntu version)
  13. (no comment)
(document version: 1.2.62.cvs20080713~svn2942~17ubuntu2.43.1.3-5~binonly~rc7:1)