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Save money. Teach your printer to be a laser jet.

While a laser printer is an excellent piece of equipment, it is beyond the price range of many computer enthusiasts. The temptation may be there, but not everyone is able to buy one. LaserTwin is a TSR program that intercepts the printer output and converts it into LaserJet graphics format and tricks your existing printer into thinking it's a laser. It consumes only 28k of RAM and works with a wide variety of printers.

Loading LaserTwin into your system is simple and straightforward. There is, however, one of the best copy protection systems I have ever seen. The program reads the identification information from your computer, produces a serial number and asks for an access code. I just pressed enter and it appeared ready to go, but when I printed the test page, it printed in Laserjet line print font (which is not available on the DeskJet; so, I knew it was doing something right), but had a message "LaserTwin From Metro Software" spaced across the page. You have to call, write or fax Tucson and they give you a code number. Enter this and the message disappears and it never asks for a code number again ... what never? ... well hardly ever. When I added the All Chargecard (see Jan'91, p.6) to my computer, the system changed the serial number and I had to start over again. This means you can safely let someone try it knowing that they can't pirate it as they must have a registered copy to get the serial number.

I tried LaserTwin with my DeskJet. There appeared to be a few more seconds thinking time at the beginning, but the overall time was not much longer. With the 300 dpi resolution, it was almost impossible to distinguish which printer it was at the time. Why would I do something like this? By now my poor DeskJet has an identity crisis. I started last year by teaching it to be a Hewlett-Packard 7475A plotter with Insight's Print-a-Plot (see Jan'90, p. 7). Now I've taught it to be a Laserjet series II. Can't it just be a plain old DeskJet.

I sell programs. When I started, the concern was Epson compatibility. Today, they must also be Laserjet compatible. With LaserTwin, 1 could test them out and see what they would look like on a Laserjet. This was particularly important with one program that varies the line spacing. The DeskJet can print any number of lines per inch and the Laserjet has a number of fixed choices. Lotus with Allways can only print in portrait mode with the DeskJet. 1 tried the Lighthouse menu (see May'90, p.4) in landscape mode and it did an excellent job. The original was limited to the paper width, now I could make it wider, but it printed the white on black headings as black on black ... exactly what a Laserjet would have done.

For the real test, I tried WordPerfect 5.1. A DeskJet is unable to print proportional fonts in landscape mode. I made two new sets of Bitstream fonts (see Jan'90, p.8), one each for a Laserjet in portrait and landscape modes and stored them in my LaserTwin subdirectory. I really wasn't sure what to do about selecting fonts to download or how to initialize the printer; so, I did nothing. I just told it that my printer was a Laserjet series II, that my page was 11 x 8.5 inches rather than the other way and selected my base font. After a few seconds of hard-disk activity, it printed the page in landscape mode. There were some slight differences in character size and spacing; the Laserjet was also better able to handle kerning with italic characters. Under a 5x magnifier, I could not distinguish the quality of the print between my DeskJet and my'new Laserjet'. It took no time at all to get used to the system. The next day, Roy Parry, MCIC, came over and we printed the flyer for the courses and seminars to be sponsored by the Toronto CSChE Section at the Southex Process Equipment and Instrumentation Show.

I did have one minor problem with the system locking up after printing a page. I broke down and flipped through the manual to the troubleshooting section. It needed some instructions on memory allocation due to a conflict. By starting with LT/M90, the problem appeared to be cleared. I should have closed the book, but it was interesting and I started reading about the print spooler. It comes set to off. Wouldn't it be nice to use the spooler and get right back to work while it's printing? I set it at 2 meg and printed the page again. It took forever this time; so, I set it back at off. (Editor's Note: Over a month or so, it still had a habit of locking up every now and then, not often enough to get you very upset. Always save before you print!)

As a final test, I tried it on an Epson nine-pin printer. As expected, the quality was not up to that of the DeskJet. The printing time was also much longer. This is likely to a need for some form of translation.

LaserTwin is a must program for anyone who works in two locations and has access to a laser printer at one of them, but not the other, eg. you can take work home from the office and use your nine-pin to see what it will look like printed on the laser at work ... or if you must, format the job at home and bring it to the office for printing without wasting too much time. For DeskJet owners, it enables you to do those few things such as landscape that are beyond the capability of the printer. I still recommend the DeskJet (see Nov/Dec'88, p.5-6) as a best buy for anyone buying a printer.

Note: Just in case you aren't sure what the terms portrait and landscape mean when they are applied to printing (not painting), the terms refer to the direction in which the type runs on the paper. In portrait, it runs 8.5 x 11" vertical and in landscape, 11 x 8.5" horizontal.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Chemical Institute of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Laser Twin
Author:Silbert, Marvin
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:evaluation
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Previous Article:William H. Gauvin, HFCIC: researcher, teacher and manager.
Next Article:Air cleaned.

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