My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Printing from SD or USB on Brother DCP-J957N Printer

Printing directly from some persistent memory device has always seemed to me to be a guaranteed exercise in frustration.

I guess I'm the kind of person who doesn't want to waste paper and ink getting it right, if I can help it.

But my Epson all-in-one just quit on me last year, and we did without a printer for a few months, but my daughter wanted to be able to copy stuff at home, so I went to the Sofmap in Umeda and got this Brother printer at less than half the price I paid for the Epson. The ink is also cheaper.

But we don't use MSWindows or Apple Mac in my house. Friends don't let friends use Microsoft software or something like that. (Things are much more nuanced now, and I should sometime rant about that. But I'm talking about a printer here.)

And there is no lowest-end Mac. (And I'm not in love with the Mac OS or iOS any more. They've changed.)

So we use open source software.

This computer is running debian wheezy. I'm waiting for the dust to settle on systemd's incursion into Linux to upgrade. My netbook is running openBSD. But I plan to give it to my daughter, and I guess it will probably get an Ubuntu makeover then.

My son's netbook is running Ubuntu. (And his PS4 is running Sony's whatever, that appears to contain a lot of open source software that is not being used according to the license. If you don't publish the source, Sony, and you punish people for looking at the object, no one really -- legally -- knows. We have to judge by sense of smell. And it smells. Some of it smells good, some smells nice, some not-so-nice and not-so-good.)

And our tablets run Android.

Brother used to be big on supporting open source software. They did it the right way, supplying source code for their Linux drivers. That meant that converting the source for the *BSDs was somewhere in the realm of possible.

Brother now supports MSWindows (Of course, snubbing Microsoft is tantamount to suicide, right?), Mac OS, and Android.

And there is a semi-supported binary blob of drivers for Linux.

It only runs on Jessie and above in the debian infrastructure. Wheezy is too old, apparently. You can't backport it because there's no source. You can't customize it. You can't convert it for *BSD.

(And the important thing is that you can't look at the source to debug it or to check that it is actually safe to use with your customized kernel, even if one should assume the manufacturer is not taking bribes from the NSA, the SVR, the drug cartels, etc.)

You might think that the Android drivers should be useable on a Linux OS, but Android, while it still uses a Linux kernel, has significantly diverged from Linux in immportant ways. And, without the source, we can't even try anyway.

Actually, I'm sure that, if I had the time to dig into the tarballs Brother makes available, I'd find the pieces I need and could use the printer through CUPS. I'll have to refresh and update my greyware memory on the subject of postscript device descriptors, etc.

Anyway, I haven't been able to print from any of the computers in the house. I can only print from the tablets.

That actually works out somewhat okay. Print to PDF on the computer, ship it to the tablet, and actually print from the tablet. It's a little time-consuming, but we don't print that much any more. This is more of a scanner-copier in practical use.

I'm working for Ohtemon Ohtemae Jr. High & High School this year on a one-year renewable contract. (And, because of the current staffing laws that are supposed to protect me as an independent worker, I can only be hired three years in a row. I suppose I should rant about that, sometime, too.)

So I need to give them a current résumé every year. Japanese résumés require a current photograph. So I need to print a résumé photo, which is something like a passport or ID photo.

Take the picture with a digital camera, crop it with the GIMP. Use libre office to put four copies of it on a snapshot (L) sized document for printing. Print it to PDF and transfer it to the tablet with USB flash.

And Brother's printer app refuses to allow me to print a PDF document onto photograph (L) sized paper. When I try to print it to an A4 page, it helpfully and automagically re-sizes the images for me.

I have a friend who, when playng Uno, loves to say, "Let me help you. LET ME HELP YOU!" when she drops a draw-four card on you. It can be fun when you know in advance that you're not playing to win.

All the software vendors want to help you these days.

They don't want you to do stuff by yourself because then they can't be part of your workflow. They can't wangle you to feed their revenue stream. That's really short-sighted market engineering -- "enhancing" your market by getting your hands around the customers' necks.

Wasted a good day getting around their help yesterday.

After eating dinner and going to a church meeting, I remembered the printer had the direct-from-persistent-store theoretical feature -- Print from USB and SD flash devices.

It doesn't recognize the PDF at all. But, while I was mucking around looking for the PDF in the printer's thumbnail listings, I discovered that the printer does ID photo-style image repeats if it can recognize and render the file as an image.

So I converted the image to JPEG with the GIMP and saved it to the SD. No joy. It actually sees the JPEG extension on the file name and recognizes it, but it shows just a big question mark instead of a thumbnail.

Reduced the resolution to 300 DPI. (It was originally an odd resolution -- 1107 or something like that, the result of the cropping job on the original image.) Still no joy, just the question mark instead of the image.

My son said he had a similar problem when he was printing something. He converted the file on an on-line image services site and got it to go.

So I washed my dishes and thought some more. Back to GIMP. Unset all the optional features in the GIMP's JPEG conversion dialog:
  • EXIF
  • XMP
  • thumbnail
  • progressive display
  • optimization
I don't know, yet, which feature was the culprit.

But, with as plain a JPEG as possible, the printer saw the image. And I was able to print four of the image repeated on a sheet of photo (L) sized photograph stock using the ID print function. At midnight.

Computers are not fun any more.

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Courtesy is courteous.