Dorm printer glitches resolved

By David M. Smith

Glitches in a new computer system caused printing problems in undergraduate dorms early in autumn quarter.

The problems with the dorm printers have largely been fixed, said Barry Johnson, manager of Information Services for Residence Halls and Commons (RH & C), and Richard Mason, director of Operations and Communications for Housing and Dining Services.

The problem affected the print server, the midpoint between the print command and the printing of the document, said second-year Bob Knox, the residential computing assistant in Hitchcock Hall.

When the malfunctions occurred, there was no way for facilities staff to reset the system by themselves. As a result, the manufacturer, Ricoh USA, had to be called in to assist with repairs.

To solve the problem, RH & C switched to a different programming language, called PCL, which has been stable so far. In the three weeks since its implementation, the number of complaints has fallen from a high of 10 percent of jobs to less than two percent, Mason said.

Moreover, the new complaints are less basic and more manageable, such as the stapler function in the printer not working.

The problems arose after a complete system overhaul during the summer, Johnson said. The new printers are large, copier-style machines, which can handle a higher print volume than the old desktop printers.

“Many of the desktop printers were old, and maintenance was becoming a difficulty,” especially when it came to printing large Word documents and PDF files, Mason said. “The memory in the old printers was not sufficient to handle some of the memory needs of the bigger documents.”

Students can now access the printing system through their own computers, not just through the desktop computer next to the printer.

“We wanted to support students in whatever they bring to campus,” Johnson said.

Student reaction to the problems was mixed. Johnson said students became frustrated when the printers failed right before paper deadlines.

Others took the trouble in stride. “It wasn’t that big a deal,” said second-year Diana Lurio, who lives in Hitchcock. “I just started using other people’s printers instead.”