Saturday, December 31, 2016

"I need an Exacto knife, a ruler, and point me to your best copier"


AMC's Better Call Saul was set in an Albuquerque copyshop for scenes in episodes 8 ("Fifi") & 9 ("Nailed") of season 2.  Our 2016 Review used a screen cap from "Nailed" as the background to the graphic.  We were excited to see the copyshop setting used and how the show was using it capture a specific time period of technology. The time period for Better Call Saul is ambiguous and set in the past before Breaking Bad.  Saul is set in a time period before the internet, when information was still handed out on paper, and access to these services around the clock was so important for business that 24-hour service was standard in some bigger Metro-areas and in some smaller towns with a University nearby.  We will break down the copy shop scenes for authenticity, because we are pretty sure no one else is going to that. We won't spoil it it all for you. If you want to check out the whole scene, here's the closing scene from "Nailed".

Episode 8 ("Fifi") was where we heard the line "I need an Exacto knife, a ruler, and point me to your best copier", which led to Jimmy doing some old school cut & paste copy editing late night in Valliant Printing. The "Xerox Color" sign in the upper left puts the earliest date possible at 1992 when Xerox introduced their first successful color machine, the Xerox 5775.  Also, the scene doesn't reference any color postermaking, which became common after 2000.



We see a large work table in the customer area. Self-service customers would use that for organizing their documents. Self-serve copying was popular up until 2002. In the United States, this changed after Christmas 2000 when the sub-$1000 PC was released and PC's became common household items. The PC's at that time were usually offered in a bundle with a printer. This changed the need for self-serve copies as people figured out they could DIY simple jobs at home.


Jimmy wanted to change the unit number in an address in some court documents, so he was cutting out the old number and replacing it with a snip of paper with the new number. Very tedious editing by hand. Then copying the edited doc, and swapping the copied sheet into the court doc as a replacement. This method worked because the lines from the pasted in number would disappear on the copy, and the copy would be accepted as an original when slipped into in the original document.

Episode 9 ("Nailed") we see Jimmy returning after the switcheroo was made, Jimmy's brother and the firm's main partner Chuck is now suspicious, and Jimmy goes back to cover his tracks by bribing the store manager, Lance. We get to see a lot of the copyshop from several different camera angles. Open 24 Hours is something that was common in urban copy centers from in the '90's. That became less of a requirement after 2000 after office copiers got cheaper and connected to office networks.

 
And this awesome master shot. The shop looks and sounds like a mid-90's copy shop during a late night shift. Hardly anyone in it, but the sounds of document handlers circulating with every page printed is normal this era. Today most jobs are printed from a digital file, so you don't hear paper swooshing and popping as each page recirculated. Back then, each page circulated for each copy made. Long runs on fast machines would see the originals get bruised up.


Here Jimmy meets the night shift manager Lance. Lance is preoccupied with running the machine behind him and leaves the conversation to do something on the machine. The lower area on the front counter is wheelchair-accessible counter that came into use after the Americans With Disabilities Act signed in 1990. These became common in shops after 1994.


Jimmy's boss Chuck appears and argues with Lance. Chuck happens to be a person suffering from electronic sensitivity and has ventured into a place bathed in flourescent lights neon signs, and copier lamps from old analog machines. The shop shows a "Preprinted Forms" shelf in the background of the pic with Mike and Lance above that was for distributing tax forms and other official documents, usually, and this was common before internet or PC"s were in most homes and government offices that distributed the forms were online.  During that time, businesses would go to a local IRS office to obtain tax report forms like a 990. Some copy shops would offer forms for free as above.


The argument goes on until a self-service customer interrupts to ask for help. If we had a nickel....


The only thing that is off in the whole scene is the customer asking for 11"x14" paper here, and Lance saying it's in another tray. She was probably asking for Legal size, meaning 8 1'/2' x 14", and he should have corrected her. We also see some quirky stuff on the counter- an hourglass, cat statue. This was kind of hipster shop for it's day.

Overall, the authenticity is good for the scene and representative of a period we would estimate is between 1992-2000, and if we had be more specific, we say it's 1997. And as real hat-tip to the era, we think the opening line would have been more authentic if Jimmy asked for a glue stick instead of a ruler. These places were the glue-stick mecca of their time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 in Review- Print's Comeback Continues



It's still going.  Print's comeback surged into 2016 and kept running. And running.

Finding stories about Open Educational Resources (OER) on college campuses of any size became common and identified the "Demise of the Textbook Mafia". (The word got out about the textbook racket.) Students and instructors are pushing for more OER options and finding ways to grow OER. Everywhere. OER lowers costs and improves ease of use for students & instructors.

A followup on the 2015 situation with Alain Bourget at Cal- Fullerton, where the professor opted-out of using the expensive textbook required by their department for cheaper, better options. OER is the textbook of the future. OER creator OpenStax talked about how they choose which subjects to focus on.

Also related to Open Source, Creative Commons weighed in on a case between Great Minds and Fedex.  The rights of the end-user to print commercially for their own use are at issue in this case, which has a direct impact on the students' cost, choice of format, and the instructors' overall ease of use for open source documents. The High Court of India ruled in favor of educational use exemptions (Fair Use) in their country, and included with their ruling the statement that "Copyright is not a divine right". The Great Minds v Fedex has yet to be decided. We will be watching how this plays out in the coming year.

We heard more about how Millenials love print, this time from Naomi Baron in a great interview.  YouTube gaming sensation PewDiePie wrote a book this year, and created a video about it. That trend extends to other age groups in a Pew Research study found that 40% of people read physical books exclusively while only 6% only use eBooks exclusively. We saw this interesting TED talk by that explains how our brains map in 3D by relating information to edges, barriers, and borders, which has some intriguing similarities to why there may be learning advantages to using print vs digital formats.

Also related to print and education, we saw more on how handwriting is a desirable difficulty with positive impacts on memory, and some instructors are now banning laptops in class. We have learned before that students who used longhand remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material.

Oh yea, and we saw what happens when someone tries to crush a book with a hydraulic press. It has a good ending, just like we hope everyone has for 2016.

Print is good. See you in 2017!








Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 In Review- Print's Comeback Year



This is what a print comeback looks like.

What we saw in 2015 was a natural rediscovery of what we always liked about print, what we forgot we liked, and what still we miss about it.  We miss holding books, and physically shopping in real time for them, and are tired of passwords, accounts, screens, batteries, and other technical things that interfere with digital reading. We want to be reading sometimes without any distraction.

This rediscovery occurred across many segments reminding us what makes print special, and why we like it.  Young people asserted their preference for print as a medium.

They don't take print for granted. They prize it. 

Science produced more reasons to why we should read from it.  Reading from print helps the brain form mental maps. Plus other intangibles like a lack of distractions, improved focus, slower reading, all that add up to improve comprehension. Paper beats digital, in many ways. The classroom is better off with print.

Overly complicated and overpriced educational materials, usually incorporating some kind of technical feature to restrict resale- led to a popular movement in 2015 for Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources.

Publishers have complicated the simple print textbook and turned it into in a Star Trek Borg-like mutation of log-ins, access codes, and short life spans.

This year, we found that Open products have a great future in the classroom because they are as good or better than traditional materials, and easier to distribute to the students, and easier for them to print if they prefer to consume them that way.

The American College Textbook Act was passed as a result. The White House joined in. Faculty members like Alain Bourget rebelled against the publisher's textbook racket and stood his ground against the department head's decision and chose an Open Textbook for his course that was as good as the one required, and was free.

Other instructors reevaluated their own selections for course materials, and others took to creating their own OERS, some from grants.  The printed coursepack came back too.

Print is still the killer app for education. It gets the job of learning done better than anything.

Despite all of the hype to digitize learning, American College students said they would rather study with real books. And prefer to buy print versions when offered. The laptop in the classroom shows a decrease in student performance, while handwriting produces a positive impact, and preferred result. Print isn't just "old-school," it is school.

2015 saw new bookstores (& new hybrids) pop-up serving both new and used book markets-for the first time in a long time- while Ebook sales slowed or dropped (depending on who you ask) for the first time in that period. The ebook service Oyster closed it's shop. Printed books sales went up.

Print as a sustainable & renewable industry was focused on- it's not a depleting resource, but the opposite. Print depends on paper, an industry as green as they come. Use it, enjoy it.

Marketers noticing this brought back print into luxury marketing. Print evokes an emotional impact on the reader that enhances the subject matter. The catalog and the magazine returned with a freshness that was appealing. Plus the 'Zine returned. People want print.

We also saw the 25th anniversary of the device that simplified printing, and connected the printer to the computer. The Xerox Docutech. This device started a movement that simplified the process for printing not seen since Gutenberg, the benefits of which have now extended to nearly every printshop and every piece of printed material.

So that brings us to "The Martian." Assuming that the value of every item launched is weighed against it's weight, we found it fascinating to see a simple 3 ring binder get screen time as a solution to one of the highest priority problems on the Red Planet. Print is Portable. No batteries required.

What 2015 tells us is that print as a format isn't going away anytime soon, and in our opinion, shows how print can continue to grow as its features are rediscovered.

None of this is a coincidence. Print is Good.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Post your printMe1 Unboxing and Save!


There's nothing like a good old-fashioned unboxing! You know, capturing the moment when you open your order. We love them because it lets others know how we meticulously print, wrap and seal your order.  So here's what we are doing:

Take pics or a video of opening your order, show opening the box & wax seal, and only the back cover,  then post them to your favorite social media platform (facebook, twitter, google+, vine, youtube, instagram, etc) or forum (rpg.net, etc). In the post, please include our web address printMe1.com and tag #printisgood.

Then send us the link & the order number here: Contact Us. If we like the post, we will email you a 10% off promo code good through April 30, 2016 for you, and anyone you want to share it with. Post it with your link if you want. You earned it!

If your post follows what we described above, we will like it!  Extra credit for a description of the simplicity of the whole process, and a bonus surprise for ones that go above and beyond.

This is a limited offer and can end at any time. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Now Everyone Wants to Lower the Cost of Educational Materials. So let's do it.

Professors are dumping expensive textbooks written by their department heads. The White House is continuing the battle against high textbook costs by including them in the 2016-2017 Open Government National Action Plan. The US Senate has the Affordable College Textbook Act.

Newsweek picked up the story of the PIRG's "Billion Dollar Solution" calling for Open Educational Resources (OER's), when it ran an article titled "Can We Put an End to the Textbook Racket?"
College textbook prices have risen over 1,000% since 1971. Students are driven to tough choices from the high textbook costs.

The focus on textbook costs started about 10 years ago by CALPIRG with the release of "Ripoff 101: 2nd Edition- How The Publishing Industry's Practices Needlessly Drive Up Textbook Costs." Back then, the ripoff was from publishers creating expensively customized print editions, and also bundling useless things like CD's or access codes with the print textbooks, both with the intent to destroy resale in the used market. Today it's constantly creating expensive new editions with no value. Other PIRG's have since gotten involved across the country, and some using unique ways to call attention to the textbook cost issue. Students calling attention to costs is the best course of action.

The attention is working. More professors are creating free and open textbooks, but more awareness need to be created to to help faculty understand what options are out there from OER Libraries like OpenStax (Rice U), New Prairie Press (Kansas State U), Open Textbook Library (U of Minnesota), and many others. As David Ernst from the Open Textbook Library said in a recent interview, "There's really no downside to this whole thing." An award was given to a librarian for designing a system that indicates which college courses that do not use a publishers textbook. Add in the White House and Senate initiatives for creating OER's.  People are hearing the message and times are changing.

Costs are coming down with these initiatives, and we are able to help get them in print, cheaply and simply. Students learn best from print formats. A 300 page pdf printed, bound, and shipped to a student in the USA costs just $16.86 from our service. For professors choosing to lower costs by using OER's or their own materials, we are low cost option keeping the print costs down.

We have worked with many professors who abandoned expensive old fashioned textbooks in favor of their own creations. We hear from them that they are in touch with what their students pay, and are active in creating their own materials in their fields of study for their own courses. OpenStax has a cool pdf toolkit for students to use begin a discussion about open options with their professors.

Now OER's and Open Textbooks provide the same low cost option for any instructors who are not able to write their own materials, especially for intro topics. Everyone wants to lower the cost of educational materials, so let's do it!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Open Textbooks, OER's and the New Old Coursepack

The debate on Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources has picked up momentum with a Senate Bill called The Affordable College Textbook Act.

Open Textbooks bring back the awesomeness of the old coursepack.  Back in the '70's, '80's and early '90's, coursepacks were the pre-internet era's version of the Course Management System.  Instructors would create a packet that included everything a student needed for the semester, without using a textbook. Syllabii, Lecture Outlines, Assignments, and Readings. The readings often included copyrighted materials reprinted under Fair Use as an educational, classroom use until Kinko's lost their lawsuit in 1991. (Wiley, et al vs Kinko's).

Coursepacks were very popular in the '80, and publishers didn't have a market-based answer for the cheap and convenient coursepack. As a result of the decision in the Kinko's lawsuit, copyright permissions handling and fees drove prices up.  The $100+ coursepack appeared in the early '90's. Instructors dropped pricey articles (Note to publishers: this does not mean they bought the textbook instead. Many just stopped using the material altogether.)

Then later Course Management systems like Blackboard and Angel came along and allowed more time sensitive materials to collect there, and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act granted some safe harbors that favor online posting of copyrighted materials for courses vs printing them.  Articles can be linked to campus libraries housing digital collections accessible online, basically replicating the old coursepack model, but without the convenience of having the material pre-printed (Which makes us sad because students learn more when reading from print.) By the end of the '00's, we guess that the number coursepack titles created each semester dropped by 66% over 20 years, yet textbook prices are up 1,000% since 1977.

Today's consistent users of coursepacks are usually instructor-created materials designed for a single course and are hugely popular in large courses for exactly the same reasons Open Textbooks & OER's are getting attention- cheaper, easier to use, and customizable- and some of these instructor's creating their own materials may choose to develop their materials into OER's.

The advantage of Open Textbooks and OER's is that instructors, teachers, and professors anywhere can use the those open materials to build into their own coursepack, merge with their own creations, and customize their teaching materials as needed without any hassles, including having them available in print. No copyright checking, no royalties, just assemble into a PDF, and go. They can be distributed as a pdf online, or printed and sold at the bookstore on campus. (We can do both. Want to have us ship to your bookstore? Ask us about options.)

Print is very important in education.  Now that we know the scientific benefits of reading from print, Open Textbooks & OER's will make it easier to get print back in the classroom, more affordably & conveniently for the student.

Getting more of these copyright free options into courses starts with the instructor reviewing options. (We posted some here.)

Open Textbook's and OER's are bringing back the old coursepack, that's awesome for teachers and students!


Friday, September 25, 2015

eBook Sales Drop and Print Resurgence on Campus

We've been focused on the recent article by the American Association of Publishers that states that eBook sales declined for the first time.  That doesn't mean eBooks are going away by any means. We use tablets here, primarily for searching and reading news articles.

What's interesting to us, and for the industry is that this decline in eBooks is coming at a time with a fresh discussion about how the brain absorbs data from print vs screens. Fresh data on the Neuroscience of print was compiled by Forbes in this article. What we are now seeing is a quantification of all the subjective terms #printgeeks have been using to describe why they prefer print: "feels real" "tactile" etc.   The science behind a print advantage is growing.

These two data points are converging.  A decline in eBooks and a recognition that print has distinct features beneficial to memory. What does this mean for Campus? The assumption that swapping digital formats for print may not be a '"like for like" exchange to save a trip to the bookstore.

We've observed that there has been a reckless adoption of digital formats in academia without any consideration of the impact on the final product: learning.  We are now well beyond having taught an entire college class using iPads and other digital media. Are they any smarter? Did they learn more? The science behind how the brain absorbs info from different formats is indicating benefits from reading from print.

The tech geeks will tell the educators that they can save money for students by putting docs online, knee-jerk environmentalists will nod in agreement saying it will save the planet (False: paper is renewable and North America is a net grower of trees.) But what value is a switch away from print & paper if students don't learn as much from those formats?

What we should be seeing now is a resurgence of print on campus for the exact reasons students are there. To learn. The Open Textbook movement is gaining momentum, which will place the choice of format in the hands of the user: the Student.