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Scott's Column
More on Digital Printing and a 10 Year Anniversary

August 1, 2002
By Scott Lewis

Digital printing finally made it into production. It was so late that I barely had time to write about it. In fact, I have been so busy this month I don't have time to properly write this or my other articles. So expect this to be very brief. On a personal note, my wife and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary on July 25th.

Digital Printing

We have run into a number of stumbling blocks with our digital printing system. Most of the trouble has been with the controller. The controller is a dedicated computer that generates the image the printer will print. If you are familiar only with typical desktop printers you will never have seen a controller, but it is there. The controller on desktop printers is built in. When printers get larger and more powerful they require more powerful controllers, hence they use there own computer as a controller.

We have been wrestling with the software on the controller for a couple of weeks. If you recall from last month, I told you that our Oracle server crashed and left us two weeks behind schedule. The problems with the controller software have left us another two weeks behind. I took advantage of this time to get a last couple of features coded in my software. Only my boss and I know that we were going to be about three or four days late with all the features promised. Not too bad considering this project was scoped out by the previous programmer that worked on it. He is no longer with the company. Also, we introduced a new vendor's software that was key to getting everything working the way we wanted. That caused some delays on our part.

In the end I was able to get ahead on a couple of features. When this project was originally scoped we told them we would be taking several shortcuts to get one product printing in production in 90 days. As it turned out I was able to make it possible that with minimal work on templates, my code is fully capable of supporting many products... within the same category as the first product. I will still need to do a fair amount of coding to handle other product lines, but we have plenty of time for that.

As it turned out they wanted two other products very quickly. One was a different category. I was able to program the second category in less than a day. But it was an easy category. I don't think I will be as lucky with the next product line. The fact that we can add as many products within the first category is great. That should keep the digital printer busy for many hours a day and justify the cost of buying it.

What's next? As it turns out we will probably be getting 4 to 9 more digital printers by the end of the year. We expect to be up to ten printers fairly quickly. That means we will be on an accelerated development cycle to built the proper infrastructure to handle many printers, as well as move toward printing our entire line of products as soon as possible. We were originally going to have 3 years to make the switch to all digital printing. Now that could be as little as 6 to 12 months away.

Now you know why I am so busy.

10 Year Anniversary

My wife and I have been happily married for 10 years as of July 25, 2002. There is not much I can say about this other than I have never seen anyone so happy as we are. I can't tell you why. I wish I could. If I could I would write a book on how to build a happy marriage and get rich as well. Alas, our marriage just works. We are happier now than ever. It took us 10 years to get into our dream home, but we are here.

My wife has heard through the grapevine that some people think we are putting on an act. That we couldn't possibly be as happy as we seem to be in public. In actuality we are happier when we are not in public, when we can be ourselves with no fear of looking "strange" to others.

I would love to tell you how to do it, but I think a lot of it has to do with finding the perfect mate. My wife and I are perfect for each other, and we continue to grow closer all the time. A lot of it is luck. That's the only way I can describe it. I hear a lot of people say it takes a lot of work to keep a marriage good. I don't think so. Common courtesy to each other is the only hard thing. Just being aware of each others feelings is enough. And of course I am from New York were we don't have feelings, so that makes it a lot easier.

Conclusion

That's all I have this month. I will tell you next month exactly how moving to production panned out. I am writing this with only three work days left in the month (for me, I am taking a little time off to be with my wife and family after a lot of long hours). So it is possible that we still didn't make it into production with the digital printing. At least it won't be my fault.

Until next time...

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