• Debra (unregistered)

    TRWTF is asking the printer for size of A4 paper, which is (at least supposed to be) the same everywhere

  • ray10k (unregistered) in reply to Debra

    True that. Only thing I can think of is, "Are we working with Imperial or Metric here", but certainly that's the kind of thing that you'd expect to set via the settings panel, no?

  • someone (unregistered) in reply to ray10k

    US A4 sheets aren't something other than 210x297, are they? If so, that's TRWTF.

    (no wait, it's US customary units. Silly me)

  • dsh (unregistered) in reply to someone

    The US must import A4 paper from Europe ;-)

    Probably not, but we (typically) use "Letter" (8.5x11 inches). Agreed that such a definition should be a constant within the code.

  • (nodebb)

    TRWTF is buying inventory software.

  • ray10k (unregistered) in reply to someone

    I figured they were polling the printer to see (somehow) if it was configured to use Metric or Imperial units, and use that to convert some information to the local system before displaying it. As an ugly hack to "automagically" decide which units to use, rather than having a switch for that in a settings panel somewhere.

  • Smithers (unregistered) in reply to someone

    A4 is always 210 x 297. The trick is that the USA doesn't use A4, they use "letter" which is slightly wider and shorter at 8.5 x 11.

  • Little Bobby Tables (unregistered)

    This reminds me of a line in the old DEC user manual for their FORTRAN implementation, which I paraphrase:

    "When implementing static values, use a DATA statement:

          DATA PI /3.14159265359/

    This technique is used in preference to hardcoding the value everywhere it is needed. Then, as and when it needs to be changed, this can be done in just one place."

    Cue the would-be smart-alec comments explaining: "But when you are modelling a non-Euclidean geometry, the value of pi is different."

    Back of the class, dunce, and write 100 times "I will not try and show off my half-remembered and poorly-understood studies of geometry."

  • Huppenzuppen (unregistered) in reply to someone

    Maybe it was trying to determine the printable area

  • (nodebb)

    "When implementing static values, use a DATA statement: DATA PI /3.14159265359/ This technique is used in preference to hardcoding the value everywhere it is needed. Then, as and when it needs to be changed, this can be done in just one place."

    The "value of PI" bit me pretty bad about 40 years ago. Different parts of the codebase used different precisions (as well as rounding or truncating at a given digit position) as a result cyclic operations [ y=f(x); z=g(y); z == x ] would return non-equivalent values. Took months to figure out the cause, and the fix was indeed a single definition such as the above...

  • Lune (unregistered)

    I was expecting a northern / southern hemisphere issue. Was trying to guess why reporting software would care whether its latitude was negative.

  • Little Bobby Tables (unregistered) in reply to TheCPUWizard


    Mind, once I'd got a bit of FORTRAN under my belt all those years ago, my go-to technique for implementing pi like this:

          PARAMETER (PI=3.14159265359)

    ... for all sorts of more-or-less readily-apparent reasons.

  • (nodebb)

    Let's see. You ask a local printer for the size of A4 paper. What happens when the local printer only knows North American sizes (Letter: 8.5"X11", Legal: 8.5"X14", Ledger: 11"X17", etc.) and has no clue about A4 paper or other ISO sizes? This gives an error saying I have no clue about this "A4" thing and hopefully, the application falls back to the hard-coded values it has in the program anyway.

  • Bob (unregistered)

    I'm missing something here. So now rather then BLA asking which ever (presumably physical) printer in Brazil the size of A4 it asks a "PDF printer" on the PC, still physical located in Brazil, and somehow that's much quicker?

    I would also be surprised if the connection between Norway and Brazil is in the order of minutes so just how many times is BLA asking this question to get that kind of behavior?!

  • (nodebb)

    What happened to yesterday's stale PyPI article?

  • Brian Boorman (google) in reply to Bob

    Do you assume that getting the information from the printer involves sending and receiving a single packet? Or that the connection is high-speed?

  • gumpy_gus (unregistered)

    Reminds me of a desktop app I was working on long ago. It worked fine as the servers were downstairs. Did not work so fine from our London office. I did a net trace and the app was accessing the server database 12 times for each product you tried to look up. A traceroute showed the path went from Minneapolis, to Houston, to Chicago, to New York, to Paris, then to London. Never figured out why the longish path.

  • D-Coder (unregistered)


    (Had to wait for a printer in Paraguay.)

  • Delphi-dev (unregistered)

    It's a combination of remarks made already. The software is not asking for the size of A4, it's asking for the size of the paper in the default tray of the default printer. This is so reports can be initialized with sensible values. If I'm not mistaken, this used to be a quirk of some Developer Express components.

  • RLB (unregistered) in reply to Bob

    I'm missing something here. So now rather then BLA asking which ever (presumably physical) printer in Brazil the size of A4 it asks a "PDF printer" on the PC, still physical located in Brazil, and somehow that's much quicker?

    It's Citrix. I wouldn't be surprised if asking a PDF "printer" merely asks the printer driver installed on the Citrix server, which has the values encoded in its (Norwegian) config files, whereas asking a real printer asks the printer driver, which asks the physical machine "what is the physical size of the paper currently in your default tray?" And if that, for some enterprisiac reason, takes several round trips of ENQ-ACK, that soon adds up to a minute or so.

  • RLB (unregistered)

    Bugger... wrong markdown. I can't edit that, can I?

  • (nodebb)

    A WTF, for sure, but not super bad. More of a story of good support troubleshooting.

  • Bob (unregistered)

    What happened to yesterday's article? I'm not seeing it on the home page or the archives.

  • Leo (unregistered)

    TRWTF is... Citrix.... i was admin for a large company using Citrix across continents between South Africa and the UK
    Printing and Citrix are 2 things that does not gel.... no matter what!

    The solution was a local instance of a port replictor like Thin print.... if you allow Citrix to do the replication of a local printer to a remote environment...you will never get anything done....

    alt solution: print to file ; store in the cloud ;and acces it localy and then print

  • Kleyguerth (github) in reply to Bob

    My guess is that it wasn't anonymous enough. Following the link in the article would send you to a thread that had a link to a bug report posted by someone with the same name as the article, detailing the same issue as the article.

    Although I have no idea why is that a problem as that bug report is public information anyway, and the article did not have any information that the bug report doesn't.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Bob

    It was "A little stale" so they deleted it.

  • Alchemist (unregistered)

    My guess is that it wasn't asking for the size of A4, but rather it was asking the printer for the size of whatever paper it was set to use as default so the report would be generated on the correct paper size. That makes more sense than asking a printer for the correct paper size, as that could be done by querying the local driver. The report engine was probably doing some "clever" jiggery poker and using the printer's engine to render the report for "acceleration".

    The lag was likely caused by the way Windows handles remote printing. I deal with 9 remote offices, all of which have decent high-speed links. I can access the remote machines and servers in almost real-time, as if I were sitting at the machine, but when I install, print to, or otherwise communicate with remote printers through the Windows print drivers, the lag is extremely noticeable. If I instead use a linux server running CUPS as an intermediary, the lag is all but gone.

  • (nodebb)

    TRWTF is that Windows still does this. If the "default" printer is unavailable, Word is crippled, and there are a few other programs that don't do well, either.

  • Ross Presser (google)

    At least they didn't issue an HTTP request to https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=A4_paper and try to parse the table ...

  • Jeremy P (unregistered) in reply to Bob

    The issue is that network Ops to a printer are not optimized at all and are very slow. on a local 100Mbit link with no routing hops this isn't an issue but noting those show requests across a wan link can be VERY slow. Theres not a lot of data transmitted, its just not designed for efficiency.

  • Canadian Academic (unregistered)

    We get this bug all the time in Canuckistan when dealing with academics from Europe. Europeans partners use A4 whereas our standard is US Letter sized. As any person who has seen both sizes knows, the two sizes different enough to screw up printing but so close that it isn't immediately noticeable in preview mode. The amount of time wasted printing because we forgot to switch printer drivers from the standard mode settings to "Fit to Page" size mode is incredible. American software is notorious for not realizing there are different 'standard' paper sizes in this world.

    I had a buddy, not the smartest of his mother's children, who bought boxes of A4 paper to print out documents because his printer refused to print. He never figured out that "Fit to Page" would save him the cost of shipping in boxes of European sized paper.

  • mihi (unregistered) in reply to dsh

    Reminds me of an occasion where I (located in Germany) had to test software printing on US Legal paper. (For some reason, printing to a PDF printer was not an option, also scaling was unacceptable.) The easiest way for us to obtain US Legal paper was calling the local newspaper printing house and asked them to cut a few dozen pages from their big paper reels, based on the converted millimeter size of US Legal paper.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Canadian Academic

    Then again, Kubuntu 18.04 Okular (and Qt printing in general) defaults to A4 every single time I start printing. Even though I live in the USA and set CUPS to default to letter paper. (Apparently this bug may be fixed in later Qt versions which may never trickle down to Kubuntu 18.04) Thanks, European software that doesn't realize there are different 'standard' paper sizes in this world...

  • Cat (unregistered)

    I've actually seen similar issues - although mainly issues when a computer's default printer was unavailable and it took a while to timeout.

    And it isn't just paper size, it can also be things like minimum margins required by a particular model of printer.

  • Olivier (unregistered)

    Like Alchemist said, asking the printer what size is A4 does not hold. Trying to find what paper size if currently in the printer tray makes more sense.

    When I started working here (some university in Asia), we used to use both A4 and letter (and all the weird US sizes like legal, etc.), it was a real PITA each time you had to print something, I think we even had paper head in both sizes. Luckily, we have since standardized.

  • ConcernedCitizen (unregistered) in reply to Smithers

    You monster, posting the sizes in different units.

  • (nodebb)

    This is not a WTF. The size of A4 paper may be slightly different in Norway an Brazil, due to general relativity and variations in the local gravitational field. So it's important to find out the paper size at the place where it will be printed.

  • Tommy (unregistered)

    I once worked on a project for a report tool that should be able to print the same on both A4 and Letter. There was a lot of printing on both before it looked ok... Anyone used Legal? 3 inches longer is quite a bit.. Had a coworker once that had had a "programmable" perforator, wonder if it worked for that size..

  • BSA (unregistered)

    I know exactly the name of this not very mysterious enterprise software responsible for ordering. It indeed has 3 letters and has an A in middle. It's also a major pain in a rear about printers as Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung, decided in all their wisdom to re-invent the wheel and create their own printer management system.

  • (nodebb)

    I've been bitten by the reverse of this bug.

    I was using a report generator which allows you to specify a custom page size. It then tiles physical printer pages to fit the logical page. Obviously you normally just choose A4 rather than custom.

    One of our customers had a complaint that their printer was printing blank pages. It turns out that this printer decided that A4 was 1mm less than reality, and so it told the report generator that its "custom" page size didn't fit.

    We had to go through and change all of our reports from A4 to custom size for this printer.

  • Nobody (unregistered) in reply to Bob

    It'll be asking it in a loop somewhere for many parts of the report over many pages over and over again. They all add up.

Leave a comment on “Paper (Size), Please”

Log In or post as a guest

Replying to comment #:

« Return to Article