Papercut

Intro

Note: Support for student print services can be found on the FAQ.

Papercut is a service provided by ITServices to track and manage printing, and is an optional add-on to SFU's Managed Print Service.

The service can be used to simply to count the number of pages printed by a user or a device, or can be used to limit the number of pages printed by a user.

For example, researchers may wish to track the number of pages printed for a particular project for accounting reasons while a department may wish to offer their grad students a specific number of pages per year or contract or semester or any other arbitrary interval.

A key to the service is that it is inter-departmental.  If a staff or faculty member need to print on another department's device, they can do so, even there are lots of pages involved.  Papercut will keep track and inform the budgetary authority for the device and that person can do as they feel best. 

This information will be in the form of an email.  The body of the email will contain an executive summary for quick perusal ("anything here I need to worry about?").  An Excel spreadsheet will also be attached giving a detailed breakdown of each and every job.

In the case of a small number of pages printed by someone outside the department, the appropriate action is to ignore it; chasing nickels and dimes is not in anyone's best interest, and it will probably all come out in the wash anyway.  In the case of a large number of pages though,(hundreds of dollars worth?), a chargeback may be in order.

The timing and the nature of the charging is entirely between the two departments; the SFU Papercut system merely supplies accurate information.  Departments regularly sharing devices may choose to reconcile monthly or may choose yearly; whatever makes most sense for them.

The idea is that departments should feel free to share their devices with other departments for the convenience of all without any concern of abuse.

The SFU implementation of Papercut also allows driverless printing of pages to any printer in the system, a feature known as Web Print, simply by uploading a file to a web server, with tracking done as above.  As we all get more and more mobile, this becomes an increasingly interesting possibility.

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Signing Up

Step one is to get signed up with Papercut, by clicking here.  A simple form will be presented, asking for

  1. The department, and the 2/3/4 letter acronym is preferred; ITS, not IT Services.
  2. the ID of a budgetary authority.  This is the person responsiblefor paying the bills should a large number of pages be printed on another department's printer.
  3. the ID of the person to recieve the monthly reports.  This could also be a maillist.
  4. a maillist of the department's "Unrestricted" users; typically a staff and faculty list
  5. the ID of the department's tech support person.  This could also be a maillist
  6. (optionally), the ID of a senior support person for performing certain technical functions inside of the Papercut application.  This person should be both technical in nature and also trusted with some degree of financial authority, as they will be able to manipulate the funny money inside the Papercut system (for example, to offer grad students a refund for a jammed job).

This form will be manually scrutinized by IT Services to ensure that the people and maillists named are appropriate.

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Adding Printers

Step two is to add some printers, or more technically correct, print queues. 

The nature of the Papercut system is that all printing must go through a print queue.

While printing to queues is simply the right answer in a multi-user environment, it's a fundamental requirement of the system.  Papercut has no way of knowing otherwise that a job from a particular user has reached the printer.

The people specified in item 5 above need to fill out the form here for each printer to be added to the Papercut system.

These printers must already be part of the SFU Managed Print Service.

The form will already know which department(s) the person can create print queues for.  If a person is working for several departments, they first select the department that "owns" the printer.  The additional information required is

  1. The OPS number of the printer (from the blue tag in the front)
  2. The location of the printer
  3. If "restricted" users (typically students) are allowed to use the printer
  4. The IP address of the printer
  5. (Optionally) the make and model of the printer
  6. The print driver to use (for Windows users)
  7. A few other bits of info (KM MFD, B&W or Colour, and Duplex capable)
  8. (Optionally) a description; just a free form text field.

Upon submission, a print queue will be created automatically, typically within a few minutes.  However, one of the driver options is "Other", which is to say, the appropriate driver is not in the list.  In this case, someone from ITServices will contact the person filling in the form and queues will be manually created.

Two queues will be created; a standard Windows print queue and an LPR queue.  More information about print queues can be found here.

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Adding Maillists

For Administrative departments, specifying a single maillist when signing up that includes the department's staff is usually adequate.

For Academic departments, there will usually be a need for more than just a single list of "Unrestricted" users; there could be one list of staff and another list of faculty.  Also, many departments will wish to add students to the Papercut system, and allocate some amount of printing on the department's printers.

The page found here can be used to add additional maillists.

Some behind the scenes processing will take place immediately, but in most cases, the lists will not become active until the next day.  (The update process is not real time but is in fact a batch job done at midnight).

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Adding Money

Restricted users in the Papercut system are restricted as to where they can print .. the department's printers only .. and how many pages they can print.

Now, Papercut has no direct way to limit people to a certain number of pages but has an indirect way. 

Internal to Papercut is a defined a cost per page, that cost being 3.85 cents for a black and white page, and 9.1 cents for a colour page. 

These charges exactly mirror the cost to print from KM/DocSol, with an additional penny thrown in as a rough cost for the piece of paper.

By giving Restricted users "money" in the Papercut system, they will be allowed to print and by controlling the amount of "money" given, the number of pages printed is controlled.

For example, a restricted user given one dollar ($1.00) will be able to print 25 black and white pages (at which point their balance has dropped to 3.75 cents .. below the minimum cost per page) or the will be able to print 10 colour pages (leaving them a balance of 9 cents .. not enough for another colour page) or some combination of colour and black and white.

(Allowance is made for duplex printing, with the one cent paper cost only being charged once per duplex sheet.)

The form here, available only to the budgetary authority defined in Signing Up, can be used to give Restricted users Papercut "money". 

Note: The senior IT person described in step 6 of Signing Up can also add money from directly inside the Papercut system.

The form can be used to give money to a single user or a maillist of users.

The form can also be used to add money or set money.

Adding does what it implies; whatever amount is specified is added to whatever amount exists for the user(s) in the Papercut system.

Setting explicitly defines the amount in the system for the user(s); whatever funds may have been there before are ignored and the amount specified becomes the amount. 

This feature may be used on a semesterly basis, where a group of students are given a fixed amount to be used that semester.  Note that setting an amount to zero is one way to immediately deny printing.  (Removing someone from a maillist would still allow printing up to the midnight update).

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