Re: Printers Revisited

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 13:17:55 CDT

On May 24, 2004, at 1:26 PM, Alan Dechert wrote:
> Postscript Level 2 emulation.

I think what this "emulation" phrase means is just that HP (or someone)
wrote their own postscript microcode rather than licensing from Adobe.
This makes no difference to us, just to the monies exchanged between
Adobe and HP (I assume both sets of code are about equally good).

> Okay, I have to grant you some points on that one. The 8 second
> figure was
> based on printing out the Word mock up I did of the 44 race ballot
> Steve
> Chessin pointed out.

Oh... printing a Word document like that is a bit unlike sending a
ballot file. Most likely that is sent as PCL, actually. And without
any graphics, and probably built-in printer fonts. In any case, it's a
"best case" time.

> it comes to about 17 seconds. This is on an Athlon 800 PC with the HP
> 1300.
> D:\>copy lpt1:

For this, the speed of the computer is irrelevant. A *really* old
computer might lack EPP for LPT1:, but that's probably 8 years by now.
Beyond that, any computer copies the data equally fast. But again, all
of this is assuming Postscript printers (w/ or w/o the (tm)), which may
not be what we do.

> I just tried the same thing with my 10-yr-old HP LJ 4, which has a
> postscript module and 26 meg of ram. 52 seconds...

Wow... very slow. My PIII certainly does the rasterization a lot
faster than that old printer. Which isn't surprising, of course.

> It takes 3 times as long on that old printer (very hard to see any
> difference in print quality, btw, even with a magnifying glass--Wright
> Bros
> photo a little darker on the LJ 4).

Oh yeah... by now, I think printer quality is a non-issue. Every
printer sold in the last 5 years has plenty of resolution for OVC
(except some odd special-purpose ones like maybe ATM receipt printers)

> I'd like someone to show some time trials printing on an
> inkjet.
> I don't buy Karl's strawman about how it gets started quicker--the
> total
> time to print is what matters.

On my not-particularly-new Epson Stylus Photo 820, hooked up to my
Powerbook laptop (via USB; my prior LJ-6L numbers were over a parallel
cable), I print out a demo ballot (as PDF) in about 45-50 seconds.
There are about 5 seconds before the printer starts making some very
obvious noises of the print head moving back and forth.

I can imagine leaving a voting booth while not realizing a silent laser
printer is working (especially if its light isn't even flashing yet, or
is not visible in the physical arrangement). I cannot similarly
imagine not noticing the inkjet is effectively telling me to wait for a

The time-to-start issue is mostly certainly *NOT* a strawman! It may
well not be the most important concern, but calling it a strawman is
insulting to Karl, and moreover false (or maybe it means Alan should
look up the term, since misuse of terms from rhetoric and logic seem in
terrible misuse... I think Arthur misused the same term recently). Of
course time-to-finish is also worth thinking about.

> All of this may mean we need to simplify the graphics. I really like
> the watermark we have, though. I still think that in production the
> HP 1300 could produce a ballot in 8 seconds with simpler
> graphics--maybe using PCL instead of PS.

I really doubt you can get to 8 seconds with any graphics. And that
optimistic number already assumes requiring a postscript printer.
Well, or generating the template as PCL or something else... but that
seems terribly error-prone. Jan's templated-PS approach really is
quite excellent from a security and debugging perspective.
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Received on Mon May 31 23:18:01 2004

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