Entry: post equinox IV: parsing duplex hesitation 1/21/2005



This year there was a new rule for all hardcopies of graduation papers and theses to be submitted to the faculty library: everyone was required to submit their copies two-sided. Back to back. Odd pages up, even pages down. Needless to say I had to begin experimenting with duplex printing.

Normally duplex printing involves printing using expensive business-class two-sided laser printers, but there's an option in Word's print dialog where you can choose 'manual duplex.' What it does is basically print all even pages, pauses to ask us to reinsert the paper, and then continue to print the rest. I've done manual duplex printing before, but this is the first time I ever attempted two sided printing on a document as large as my graduation paper. My paper's one of the shortest submitted, only 61 pages long, 75 pages when including cover pages, dedication section and the TOC, barely surpassing the minimal 40 pages, but that's still a lot of paper. I typed my graduation paper in a single Word document, separating each chapter with section breaks. Used a pirated copy of Word, of course; no sense experimenting with OpenOffice.org when you're under pressure; some other time, perhaps. OpenOffice.org does support manual duplex printing also.

An obvious alternative would be to print all 75 pages individually page by page. Not a pretty thought.

When I began printing it was alredy more or less six o'clock in the morning. The deadline was to be four o'clock later this afternoon. I wanted to be careful so I printed section by section using the section specifier in the 'page range' input box in the print dialog ('s1' for 'section 1', so that if you wanna print sections 1 to 3 for example you'd type 's1 - s3'). I wanted to avoid as many mess-ups as possible by printing a little at a time, but I don't want to print by each individual page since it would obviously take forever.

As I printed some sections came out fine, some had a messed-up frontpage-backpage matching (eg. page 3 was in front of page 2), and other times the printer ate two pages at a time. I had to reprint chapters three and four twice. Along the way I discovered that the printouts become more predictable if I specified pages ('p16s7 - p34s7'), but it didn't change the fact I had already printed as many ruined pages as I've printed good ones.

a visual comparison of the stack of wasted paper and a stack of good output; a ballpoint-pen is there for scale

In the picture, the ruined stack is on the left and the good output on the right. The pen is a bit thicker than most pens, but it should give an idea of the two stacks' size.

With all the hiccups it was already eight, and it takes two hours to drive from home to campus. I still had to bind it hard cover and get the signatures of my departement head and secretary. I decided to risk it by printing several chapters at a time, dividing the whole thing into three print jobs. There were still some errors, especially in the ending pages, but I had wasted less paper. It was already nine. And so, with what little time I've got I decided to risk the final copy by printing the whole thing all at once while taking a bath at the same time.

And as I checked the first run after my bath it turns out that there was no error at all. I turned the pages around, put them back in the tray, clicked 'ok', and put on some clothes. I came out of my room finding a pristine stack of 75 pages, no problem whatsoever.

Once again after all my caution it turns out that it was better to never hesitate. Har-har. Heh.

Coincidence? Perhaps. Yeah maybe there's much-much better examples of how hesitation is bad for action. Like war stories :) But hesitation has been an issue with me often enough. Even the length it takes for me to graduate is mostly because of hesitation. Or laziness depending on how you look at it. But laziness doesn't come from procrastination only. It also often comes from fear. Fear of outcome. Fear of failure. Fear of trial. Thus, at least in my case, often times to avoid potential trouble I choose to walk away from things that I have to do eventually. Two years, now that's a long time to hesitate.

(Or five; depending on how you time it.)

I'll put up the latest copy of my graduation paper later; after I'm done 1) translating it into English (if I'd spare the time), 2) putting in a CC license appendix in it (planning on by-noderivs; if you modify it you can't claim that I'm solely responsible for the modifications) and 3) turning it into a PDF. Maybe I'll use Ghostscript... but maybe not (I've already got pirated-Distiller installed with the whole Adobe Creative Suite).

Man, its so hard isn't it to come clean...

graduation ceremony invitation

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