Print-Rite chips work after firmware upgrade

July 27, 2016

The company has announced that its chips still work after Kyocera’s recent laser printer firmware update.

Kyocera's FS-2100DN

Kyocera’s FS-2100DN

Print-Rite stated that “recently, Kyocera’s TK-5 laser printer upgraded [its] firmware again”, but that it tested its compatible chip on the FS-2100 printer, and found that the chip was “found to work successfully without any hassle”. The company added that it has had “years of leading advantage on compatible products for Kyocera”, with its chips made using ASIC technology to “resist [the] OEM’s firmware upgrades”.

Print-Rite continued by noting that “with this kind of stability and reliability, it is certainly the best choice in [the] aftermarket”, with orders being taken for the product now. It also shared images of the FS-2100DN’s status page, showing what line of text changes after the firmware is upgraded, marked ‘Firmware Version’, in addition to a toner gauge at the base of the status page.

It also shared a list of its chips’ product codes and yields, for the range of different machines. These includes: the FS-2100; 4100; 4200; 4300; and M3040. The chips comes in a range of yields from 12,500 pages through to 14,500 pages, and up to 15,500 pages, 21,000 pages and 25,000 pages, and are all designed for use with the monochrome cartridges.

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3D printing pen recycles plastic

July 27, 2016

The Renegade pen converts waste plastic into filament for its 3D prints.

The Renegade 3D printing pen

The Renegade 3D printing pen

PSFK reported on the Renegade 3D pen, currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter, which “lets you create art by converting garbage into building materials”, and which the site likened to using “plastic bottles and bags as ink cartridges”. It added that “anyone who has ever purchased a printer knows that the true cost is revealed when the included ink cartridge runs out and it’s time to head back to the store to pick up a refill”.

In turn, when prices are “sometimes approaching the cost of a new unit, the honeymoon of owning a new printer is over”, with the Renegade looking to “significantly lower the cost of owning a 3D printing pen” as well as “improve the environment by employing used plastic bottles and bags as printing material”. The pen was designed by London-based Daniel Edwards, who began a Kickstarter campaign that has so far got 225 backers, with $3,000 (€2,727) to be raised in the next month for funding.

The ChupaCut tool, which forms part of the pen, is described as a “key element” as it is used to “shred plastic bottles of various sizes” into three, six, nine or 12 milimetre strips, which are then “used as printing material”. The tool is also available in “multiple colours and is anthropomorphised with a broad smile and large eyes”, while a paper shredder can be used to turn plastic bags and file folders into similar strips.

On the Kickstarter page, reference is made to the fact that “two large bottles or 12 plastic bags can replace about 25 store-bought filaments”, while the pen features a “heater and screw-feed mechanism” that softens the strips, allowing users to “control the release of the reclaimed plastic material” as it cools “back into a hardened form”.

The pen’s page adds that “the molten plastic then cools down rapidly into a solid and stable spatial structure. There are practically no material limitations, and the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Become the ultimate creator; simply plug in your Renegade and start creating in minutes”. Backers can get a pen set with the shredder included for $100 (€90), while a “major environmental agency” is supporting the product with free shipping to customers. You can watch a video of it in action below.


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British workers have fewer digital skills

July 27, 2016

broken-computerA survey by Barclays found that UK businesses are “failing to train their staff up to the level of digital skills they require to do their jobs”.

The bank’s global survey, reported on by Net Imperative, found that only 16 percent of British workers “think they could build a website”, compared to 39 percent of Brazilians, with the questions focusing on “digital skills in the workplace”. This “lag” between British workers and those abroad is said to be costing the UK around £63 billion ($82 billion/€74 billion) a year in “lost economic activity”, with 10,000 people surveyed globally.

In terms of vocational skills, the UK placed seventh of 10 countries, with 38 percent of UK workers stating that their employers “offered training”, compared to 48 percent in the USA and 67 percent in India. “Greater confidence” was found in the younger workforce, while a separate report linked this to the fact that an estimated 5.8 million British people “have never used the internet”. Another statistic from the survey highlighted that the UK was fourth out of 10 “for its support of digital knowledge”.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays, is “self-taught in coding”, and added of the results that “clearly the government has done a lot to put the basic building blocks in place”, but more could be done, especially because “as the UK considers its future outside the European Union, we have to remember that the race to become the most digitally savvy economy is global and not confined to Europe”.

The bank is aiming to “provide more digital services through offering help to customers struggling” with technologies, launching 12 pilot labs in 2016 to “allow businesses access to 3D printers and other technologies”.

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Canon discusses digitisation

July 26, 2016

canondigitisationThe OEM has looked at “document capture and distribution”, asking what challenges companies face “when converting paper documents into digital formats”.

In an infographic, the company outlines these challenges as including “incorrect data entry”, such as “financial values, dates [and] names”; time “wasted by different employees duplicating data entry”; and “integrity of the image and image quality can degrade over time”. It compares scanning and digitisation, noting scanning “is like taking a picture of a paper document for distribution”, while digitisation “captures the information […] on the page and allows it to be integrated into digital workflows”.

Digitising, the OEM added “can help expedite information flow between employees and departments, with common forms of paper information converted including “expenses and receipts”, “human resources information”, “signed contracts”, “invoices” and “shipments”. Typically, information “flows into one department in paper form and out to the other departments in digital form”, and the OEM gave a series of examples of these sorts of processes.

These include a customer signing a paper contract, before it’s “sent to legal for approval, then to finance for execution/billing”, as well as sales collecting “expenses in paper form”, making a copy and sending it “to accounting for proper posting and approval”. Finally, in product registration customers “are required to sign off and accept terms and conditions”, which are scanned, digitised and sent to a server “where those that have been given access can retrieve information as needed”.

The OEM’s Document Capture and Distribution Solutions offering, it points out, can “help streamline workflows by digitising data and distributing to a variety of destinations or back-end systems”, and can “be scaled to fit within each customer environment depending on what’s needed”. It concludes that with digitisation, the solution “can help solve common problems and pain points in your document workflow, helping to increase productivity with streamlined, automated processes”.

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Tips on web copywriting

July 25, 2016

@ cropped1An article listed 20 “killer web copywriting tips to “learn how to attract visitors” to your website.

The article on Writtent adds that “being able to put yourself into your customers’ shoes” also means being “eye-catching and unique in your content”, as companies don’t want “customers to switch to your competitor’s website just because your headlines or paragraphs are too generic and scarce”, with these tips said to help a company’s site “always stay in the forefront”.

Its first tip is to use the “active voice”, so the “subject does the action instead of being acted upon”, making the text “powerful”, as well as “easier to understand”, “convey movement” and be “more interesting”. An example it gives is “we wrote our new ebook to help you work smarter, not harder”, while these sentences can begin with a verb “as in a command”, such as “learn how to market your business smarter, not harder, with our new ebook”.

Shorter sentences are “exponentially better than long, convoluted sentences that bury the subject and verb”, and the next tip was to “remember the important details”, which are “critical for all good copywriting”, because they make copy “real, concrete and trustworthy”. Third was learning to “write powerful headlines”, as copy is “worthless” if visitors don’t get “entice[d]” to click through, while fourth is to “make it skimmable”, as readers “don’t read word-for-word”.

Scanning an article “to find what they’re looking for faster” means that writers need to make copy “easy to skim”, as it “keeps [readers’] attention longer”, and the piece recommends formatting that can “break up the text and draw the reader’s eye”. These include headings and subheadings; bullet and number lists; bold, italic, underlined or coloured text; images or videos; single-line paragraphs; and different sentence and paragraph length.

Fifth was to be concise, because “people have shorter attention spans than ever”, and sixth was to “use short words”, because they “communicate better than big words and pompous language”. Seventh was not to worry “so much about keywords” and search engine optimisation”, while eight was “avoid jargon” and “hype and corporate speak”, because “they’re difficult to understand, and nobody wants to read them”.

Ninth was “incorporate scarcity”, as by making something scarce, prospects “have to act quickly or it will be gone”, while tenth was “create a sense of urgency” to again make customers “act quickly”. 11th was “use positive language”, because readers will “usually” remember negative words, while 12th was “balance text with images”, because it “can make a big difference”. Number 13 was “put important information in image captions”, while 14th was “make it feel like a conversation”, as “people don’t want to be sold to […] your audience can tell the difference”.

The 15th tip was to “craft a compelling call-to-action”, while 16th was “tell a story”, as content “is useless if it doesn’t help visitors become leads and customers”, while “honesty and transparency” can build “credibility and authority”. Number 17 was “align buyer persona and buying cycle” to ensure prospects are “more likely to consume the content and perform the action”, while 18 was “include emotion”, as you can “draw” customers in through emotive storytelling.

The penultimate tip was to “back up your claims”, because “logic influences the decisions you want your visitors to make”, while the last tip was to “link to reputable sources”, helping make your site “more credible by association”.


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ECS launches Canon drums

July 25, 2016

The remanufacturer has released three replacement drum units for use in a range of Canon applications.

Canon's imageRUNNER C5030

Canon’s imageRUNNER C5030

The first of the three launches is a black drum unit replacing the CEXV28 and 29 originals, with the drum used in the OEM’s imageRUNNER C5030, C5045 and C5051 machines. The second drum launched is a colour drum for the same machines and replacing the same originals, though the C5051 is not listed as a device this drum can be used with.

Finally, the third launch is an OPC drum for the imageRUNNER C5030 and C5045 devices, replacing the imageRUNNER C5030 original OPC, and ECS stated that “all our OEM alternative products are developed and produced right here in our UK manufacturing facility, giving traceable authenticity to their source and certainty in health and safety compliance of all materials used”.

The company added that its products are said to guarantee “forward and reverse compatibility with OEM toner”; “no legal grey areas or patent infringements”; cartridges “free from defects in materials and workmanship”; “access to the most reliable toner cartridges around”; performance that “matches the OEM in copy quality, colour density, page yield and waste generation”; and “long-term testing to make sure there’s no unusual wear and tear on the imaging system”.

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ThinPrint updates MPS software

July 22, 2016

The provider’s Management Services tool can “automate the management of large Windows print environments”.thinprint

In a press release, the company stated that the “new powerful and nimble software” features a “quick and easy set-up and management of thousands of printers”, with the tool based on Windows PowerShell and automatically integrating “thousands of printers and drivers, including generating all settings”.

This in turn allows for the “set-up and migration of print servers”, and helps ensure “print servers and workstations are kept up-to-date”. ThinPrint added that “the larger the print environment, the greater the challenge it poses for IT departments”, because dozens to thousands of printers “must be painstakingly created manually” in an environment, and printer servers are “continuously being kept up-to-date”.

The new product allows for “accomplishing this time-consuming procedure” from set-up to management “in a fully automatic and script controlled manner”, and even companies that “don’t know the print infrastructure of their branch offices or customers can automatically build a high-performance print environment”, with any Windows-based print environment able to use the technology, “with or without print servers”.

The printers and drivers and their settings can be created “within just a few minutes”, and these automated processes “not only result in significant time savings, but also circumvent manual entry errors and the resulting problems when printing”. Many simultaneous scripts “can be run” on different servers, and can “lead to “unprecedented speeds when setting up or migrating print servers and creating printers”.

Multiple administrators can also “work simultaneously on various tasks and therefore optimise their work processes”, while pre-existing ThinPrint Engine Premium customers can use the new tool “at no additional costs”. Its integration with Windows Powershell means it “fit[s] perfectly” into the technology’s framework, and an online help tool is available for those who are “still not fully familiar with Powershell”.

Thorsten Hesse, Chief Procurement Officer at ThinPrint, commented: “Whether for server migration, disaster recovery or when updating and changing settings, the script-based ThinPrint Management Services cover all previously time-consuming tasks. Administrators no longer need to know which printers are in their branch offices.

“This is a great message for our numerous service provider customers, but also for many other IT departments, where a clear picture of the print infrastructure in use is not always available.”

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Younger workers influenced by technology

July 20, 2016

A study found that “nearly half” of millennials would quit a job “if their office isn’t ‘smart’ enough”.Office

The survey, undertaken by Dell and Intel through research firm PSB, was reported on by International Business Times, and also found that 82 percent of millennials believed “an office’s technologies would influence [their] job choice”, having “grown up with rapid advancements in technology” and being “well versed in using, adapting to and manipulating new, innovative technologies to suit their daily needs”.

As part of their dependence on technology, this generation’s entry into the workforce means they have “higher expectations” in terms of technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), virtual reality and AI-powered tools. 42 percent admitted they would be “willing to quit their jobs if they think their office’s technologies aren’t smart enough”, and of the 4,000 staff questioned from SMBs and large corporations, over half believe they will be “working in a smart office within the next five years”.

Three in five millennials also believe that adoption of “improved, collaborative communication technology and remote teams” could soon make “face-to-face meetings obsolete”. These younger professionals also “have higher expectations moving forward”, with 69 percent “looking to work in a smarter office within the next five years”. 44 percent also felt their current offices weren’t “technologically up to scratch”, and would prefer one that “uses data to make ‘smarter decisions’”.

These decisions concerned “employee habits like temperature and lighting”, while 63 percent of millennials and 55 percent of over-35s would rather have “high-tech perks” such as AI, augmented or virtual reality and advanced software than “low-tech perks” such as “free food or a ping pong table”. While millennials were “the most eager group” to have new technologies in their jobs, the global population “in general does seem keen on seeing them being implemented […] as well”.

Another two-thirds of respondents were interested in using such products at work, while 46 percent said using newer technology “would actually help boost their workplace productivity and make their job easier by automating and speeding up otherwise boring and repetitive tasks”. The study concluded that although many said technology “would help with work flexibility”, more advanced security was “listed as a top priority needed”.

Allison Dew, Vice President of Global Client Solutions Marketing for Dell, commented: “The workplace is reaching a tipping point. Today’s workers have a growing expectation that their employers integrate the latest technologies seamlessly and securely into their working lives. Employees have seen first-hand the ways new technologies can help them do their jobs better, and are hungry to use the latest advancements to be more productive.

“While this may seem daunting, it’s a business-critical opportunity for companies to be at the forefront of the future workplace and enable the future workforce.”

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3D printing “key” for EU growth

July 20, 2016

Rastislav Chovanec, state secretary of Slovakia

Rastislav Chovanec, state secretary of Slovakia

At an EU meeting, 3D printing was “recognised as a key technology in the digital economy”.

3D Printing Industry reported on the comments made at the Informal Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Competitiveness in Bratislava, Slovakia, with ministers for economic affairs in the European Union meeting to discuss “future steps”, and aiming to “strengthen the investment ecosystem in the technology sector and to develop [a] qualified workforce in order to accelerate the development and application of new technologies in Europe”.

3D printing, the article notes, was “recognised as a key technology in the digital economy”, and for “economic growth”, with the meeting stating that the technology “illustrat[es] the magnitude and the speed of the current industrial revolution as well as highlighting the opportunities and challenges stemming from it”.

Austrian 3D printing start-up XIONEER Systems was invited by the Slovak economic ministry to present its technology at the event, with the article pointing out that this was aimed at “challenging existing solutions on the market in terms of price and performance by re-inventing and perfecting extrusion-based 3D printing”. Ministers were said to be “impressed by the output quality and by the potential of this technology”, as it could pave “the way for rapid multi-material prints”.

This would in turn speed up “development and manufacturing of new products”, and XIONEER CEO Andrei Neboian “suggested measures” at the meeting to “encourage the spreading of this technology as well as to ensure fair competition in the 3D printing market, by providing dedicated academic education programmes, more financial support for research and development, binding quality standards” and “clear rules for dealing with intellectual property”.

He also noted that training and incentives for “applying 3D printing” in SMBs would be a good idea, but the article concluded by noting that “it remains to be seen whether and when these measures will be turned into actual policies”.

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Planned obsolescence in technology analysed

July 19, 2016

The “truth” about products’ “deliberately short lifespans” was analysed in a BBC article.ewaste web

The Life: Connected area of the television network’s news website studied the idea of planned obsolescence in technology, stating that “it’s widely held that certain gadgets, cars and other tech have deliberately short lifespans, to make you shell out to replace them”, but asked “what’s the reality”, referring to a lightbulb in the US – the Centennial Light – which has been working for 115 years, and noting that its “longevity must seem like a slap in the face” compared to other bulbs.

The article’s focus was that if this can last 115 years, “why not new-fangled, 20th and even 21st century bulbs”, with the “supposedly sinister business strategy” of planned obsolescence believed to be “more profitable” by many as “companies get repeat sales”. The conspiracy behind it, the article points out, is true, “but with caveats”, as the practice “does have silver linings”.

It is “an inevitable consequence of sustainable businesses giving people goods they desire”, with firms only “reacting to the tastes of the consumers”, and the lightbulb market was one such example cited, as because the customer base grew “more mass-market”, companies saw the financial opportunities in supplying replacement bulbs for quickly-expiring purchases.

Other industries have also entered into the idea, with new car models being released, and the piece adds that “in various forms, from subtle to unsubtle, planned obsolescence still very much exists nowadays”. Repairs can cost more than rpelacements, while “contrived durability” sees “brittle parts give out”, while better-looking upgrades “frame older products as less stylish”, and the article cites smartphones as a modern example, with new yearly-released handsets promoted as “the best ever”.

Printer cartridges are a “seemingly blatant” example, with chips, light sensors and batteries able to “disable a cartridge well before all its ink is actually used up”, and the piece cites Cartridge World’s statistic that 350 million cartridges a year end up in landfill. The article does also offer a “nuanced” opposition to this idea, adding that “it’s overly simplistic to condemn the practice as wrong”, because “the rapid turnover of goods powers growth and creates reams of jobs”.

In turn, newer and newer products “tend to promote innovation and improve the quality of products”, with goods available “to nearly anyone in wealthy western countries, the Far East, and increasingly so in the developed world”. It also contends that such obsolescence “isn’t nakedly exploitative” because it “benefits both the consumer and the manufacturer”, even in consumer electronics, where “relentless innovation and competition for market share” sees progress grow.

For the future, the article points out that “it’s a bit over the top to assume many companies sit around plotting how to precisely engineer a product to self-destruct”, but there are “forces that could encourage manufacturers to lengthen lifespans”, and internet reviewing and online shopping mean “it’s easier than ever to find out if your intended purchase has a short lifespan”. Growing environmental consciousness may also mean products “become less disposable”.

The piece concludes that “a business-minded approach to smarter recycling, reuse and repurposing has arguably made a big dent and will do so in future”.

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