Students question effectiveness of new printing app

New app Uniflow designed to address last year’s printing problems

The+new+printers+in+the+library+feature+QR+codes+that+can+be+scanned+to+print+faster+and+easier+%7C+Pearlman
The new printers in the library feature QR codes that can be scanned to print faster and easier | Pearlman

The new printers in the library feature QR codes that can be scanned to print faster and easier | Pearlman

The new printers in the library feature QR codes that can be scanned to print faster and easier | Pearlman

Jasmine Gonzalez

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After years of failures in the printing systems that resulted in stacks of wasted papers and frustrated students, the IT department has implemented a new AirPrint system.

With QR codes hanging all over the library and an undeletable app on the iPad, it’s difficult not to notice the changes.

While AirPrint is practical in that, theoretically, students can wirelessly print from any of the many printers located throughout the entire school, it is not very helpful if it is constantly crashing.

Last year, multiple faults in the AirPrint system resulted in piles of uncollected papers in the library printers at the end of the day.

Although the old system was straightforward and easy to use, it simply did not work very often.

Daniel Schaibly, hardware and software engineer for the school, explained “The main reason for [the implementation of the new printing system] was our old system was not actually a system developed by an established company, but rather a homemade fix created by the New Trier Technology Department to fill a school-wide need.”

The old system was inconsistent and unreliable because all of the printers relied on a single Mac Mini that served as a makeshift AirPrint server when connected to the student wireless network. The tech department programmed the computers to advertise all of the school printers as AirPrint printers, something that Macs are not designed to do.

“As you can imagine, this was pretty clunky and there was a lot of room for error,” said Schaibly.

Uniflow, on the other hand, has proven to be much more reliable. It works in conjunction with the servers that are already being used to deploy printers to the school computers. In other words, Uniflow is system specifically made for printing to the library.

As of now, the students that have learned how to use the printers have reported only a few minor bugs. The IT department is actively working to fix these bugs, and encourages students to contact the help desk if they continue to experience problems.

Librarians have also taken on the responsibility of teaching confused students how to use the new system.

As librarian Susan Peterson explained, for the students who are actually aware that there even is a new way of printing, it is not necessarily more difficult, but is “just a new kind of learning.” After all, most sophomores already have to learn when transferring to the Winnetka campus. Librarians have incorporated lessons on Uniflow into the sophomore library orientation.

For upperclassmen, adjusting to change can be difficult and slow. For seniors and juniors who had already adapted to the old way of doing things, adapting to a whole new system can not only be difficult but an inconvenience.

“It’s one of the big challenges every IT department faces. By nature, people are resistant to change, and technology changes faster than anything else,” said Schaibly.

Despite this, students are learning to adapt. Once they get past the initial struggles, “they’re pretty independent and you see a lot of students helping each other out once they learn for themselves, which is really nice,” said Peterson.

Although there seems to be a general aversion to learning to do things the new way, students do seem willing to adapt. “I like how fast it prints because you don’t have to wait for a connection,” said Senior Lisa Gong.

Junior Abbi Baran added that, although the new system is much faster, that is only when using an iPad.

For students using a laptop, “it’s really challenging and you’re better off just logging on to a desktop which can be pretty inconvenient,” she said.

Regardless of the learning curve, it is undeniable that Uniflow is better for the environment. As Peterson explained, “paper waste has gone down a lot since you no longer have students going printer to printer leaving behind stacks of paper because by the time the printers would actually work, they were long gone.”

While it may not have been a very welcome change at first, students and librarians seem to agree that Uniflow has made printing much more convenient.

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