back to article Google sees printing in the cloud

While demonstrating Chrome OS, Google also slipped out its cloud printing solution, which might be the future, though for the moment you can't print anything other than a test page. google cloud printing Google Cloud Print is the chocolate factory's answer to the lack of printer drivers in Chrome OS, but should provide a …


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  1. deadlockvictim
    Black Helicopters


    I can't imagine many people going to the hassle of web-enabling their printer, especially if it is already networked. The image of Marty mcFly from 'Back to the Future x' receiving pleasant information from his company is enough to keep my printers as local as possible.

    However, if Google were to start selling (i.e. practically give away) already configured, cloud-enabled printers that only worked online, then I think that they may have a chance at eventually having everybody's printed documents on record.

    One final point, I wonder if the cloud-based documents will be reduced by 80% in size to allow for the Google Ads or will they be printed on a separate sheet?

  2. jabuzz

    All you need is imagination

    Well lets face it if you include a PostScript and PCL drivers that covers a large percentage of business class printers, and quite a few others beside.

    For a large chunk of the rest there is workaround. Include PictBridge support. Now while this was designed for printing pictures from cameras, what it means is that the printer is presented with a JPEG which it then prints. Nothing to stop you rendering a document to a JPEG and printing page at a time. I have tried it myself, rendered a page of a PDF to a JPEG using GhostScript loaded it onto my camera, and then promptly printed it on a suitable inkjet printer. In theory it should work with a TIFF as well but I did not bother to try that.

  3. Tom 35

    Like HPs printer with an email address?

    Spam your printer with coupons (maybe that's why they tried to buy Groupon) and other crap?

  4. bmovie

    could be good/could be bad

    I guess you could some day print your pictures/documents to multiple printers at multiple locations—publish a newsletter or book—all by yourself—or create super spam to people you hate, but the elimination of commercial printers is certainly on the horizon. The printing unions should be up in arms about this already.

  5. regviewer

    HP/Palm already has Internet Printers in the works

    This is nothing new. HP acquired Palm for the webOS mobile operating system so that they can utilize the OS to develop devices beyond smartphones (Palm Pre/Pixi) but tablets and Internet printers or Cloud printers.

  6. bmovie

    Why I dumped my fax machine

    I thought it was such a great thing to have a fax machine at home—until I got junk faxes in the middle of the night and during dinner—preceeded with the phone ringing off the hook. Last thing I want is a free copy of War and Peace eating up my paper supply.

  7. muninsfire

    From a security angle, this makes me nervous

    I'm willing to try working with the cloud for things like data processing and the like. Further, I'd -love- to stop with the whole "printer driver" bullshit (we've had printers for -how- long and there's no standard interface?).

    However, there are some issues at hand here that I think need to be addressed.

    A 'cloud aware' printer is one which, presumably, has enough smarts in it to negotiate its place on the network and to transmit and receive instructions from some outside location.

    So already it has the base kit required to set up a nice little bug on an internal network.

    This already exists today: there are printers, usually the big jobs in corporate offices, that have been (at least theoretically; I've never actually run across one in the wild--yet) compromised into, for instance, echoing the contents of print jobs to some other location. Sniffing packets requires only a little more sophistication.

    If you're willing to go so far as to alter the hardware (like that recent story where the 'hack' was detected due to dual power cables [which was about the stupidest implementation of that idea I've seen yet {honestly, it's not like printers are that tough a form factor to cram an extra board into}] which revealed the surreptitious hardware addition of a small computer) then there's a lot more you can do with a printer.

    That the printer is controlled by some agency outside your network only serves to further disguise any traces of suspicious traffic.

    I'm not going to bother with the comment in the article about 'punching through the firewall'--it's too ambiguous to say if that's intended to echo a security concern or indicate a vpn setup--but I think Google has a lot of work to do to ensure that the proper documents get sent to the proper printers.

    I've noticed, while working in IT, that the further the disconnect between the action taken by the user and the result, the harder it is for the bog-standard user to figure out what's going on. Most users can manage a CD tray OK enough; they hit the button, and the tray pops out. Immediate result.

    However, there is already a problem with the existing disconnect between the action between hitting the "print" button and receiving a printout. How often, those of you who (like me) work in IT, have you witnessed a user filling up a print queue with dozens of print requests to a printer that, say, requires a toner change?

    Introducing a further disconnect (and I predict approximately ten minutes' use before the first "it must have got lost in the cloud" comment shows up from a clueless user) will only serve to make matters worse.

    1. RegisterThis

      @muninsfire - Good points ...

      Cloud has reached a stage of hype where every article desperately needs 'segmentation' by user and use-case to make sense of the 'general references'.

      The problem is that the business case for cloud is driven largely by the corporate market i.e. 30% of corporates own data centre resources standing idle etc., economies of scale from sharing infrastructure etc. Typically these 'clouds' are not 'open', but 'closed' ... albeit globally to a multinationals offices (and their home workers/road warriors?). These promise a good ROI for investing in cloud for data storage, SAAS etc., so they pay good money and get good SLA's and guarantees against data loss etc.

      Contrast this with the 'consumer cloud bandwagon' now, which is dominated by 'the internet is (almost) free' mindset (Dropbox, mozzie etc.), or subsidised by advertising (Google) or protecting revenue steams (Apple) etc. Cloud is a 'means to an end' for these guys and as a result we, as consumers get no SLA or guarantees of data security. It is entertainment, file sharing and syncing driven ... the ROI is relatively small for consumers paying for this service (largely unquantifiable as it is 'convenient') ... and despite the marketing, the lack of guarantees says any cloud service for consumers is essentially auxillary use cases ... which is very different from the corporate model which is the primary use case for computing in the future.

      The funny thing, is that the corporate model is (largely) nothing more than outsourcing what many already have in-house under a new name ... so my guess would be that a 'cloud printer' operating in a 'private' corporate cloud is actually not really different (other than protocols?) than the current networked devices. For us punters ... beware ... it is like having a discoverable FAX machine waiting to be spammed!

  8. Atonnis

    Oh My God!!

    I *hate* Google, with a passion, for logical reasons that have built up over time.

    So, as such, I am actually immensely pleased to see them showing everyone the potential of cloud printing intermediaries. Maybe it's the sedative I took talking but this seems like it could be exceptionally useful.

    Provided absolutely NOTHING is scanned or retained the moment the job has gotten to the printer and no copies of any data are kept...this would be a wonderful service that I would consider actually using....from GOOGLE....of all companies....and to me, Google is a scummy data-grubbing sneaky set of weasels!

  9. jake Silver badge

    What is the point?

    I can already print to all the printers on my network, from any computer on my network. Why would I want to (for example) send a print job thru' google to the color laser in my Wife's office? Or the the Daisy Wheel attached to my AT&T 3B1, for that matter?

    Makes absolutely no sense ... Unless you look at it from google's marketard perspective, of course ... and then the answer is obvious.


  10. buff_butler

    I already have a slap chop

    I'm really confused about the value that this brings to the consumer or where any efficiency is really gained. The "now you don't have to fool arround with 'troublesome drivers'" sounds like something you'd hear on late night infomercials and I already have a slap chop.

    1. muninsfire

      ...but do you have the nuts?

      From an IT perspective, printer drivers are a huge pain in the ass. Every model from every company requires new and different drivers which have a separate upgrade and update path from every other piece of software out there.

      It's needless complexity, especially since they all do about the same thing--take the document and put it on paper. Granted, some of them do fancy things like automatic stapling, but in the end 90% of the work is to spit out documents just like they are on the screen.

      Putting the interface software to make the printer go whoom-whoom-gazoop and fart out a powerpoint presentation on the computer is stupid. For shared printers, that means there's 20 different points of failure that need to be updated for each printer.

      As I pointed out above, printers these days have enough oomph to do all manner of interesting and nefarious things on their own; harnessing this such that a standard interface exists for -all- printers, to remove this needless complexity of diddling with the drivers, only makes sense.

      I know it'd save me a few hours a month...

      So the whole notion of removing the need for drivers is a good thing, for both the consumer (because, honestly, most consumers can barely put paper in the damn things) and for the poor bastard supporting corp users. If it weren't for the whole externally-controlled-device-on-my-network aspect, I'd be cheering for this in the streets, waving my hands in a mattter indicative of lack of caring.

  11. thecakeis(not)alie


    Wait...people still use those?

  12. David Griffin
    Thumb Up

    This is attractive for many reasons

    Imagine this was the norm

    - I could print at my local print shop then go round and collect. Maybe a library ? Maybe a shop with a nice photoprinter. Maybe google would take a cut for connecting me with the nearest good printer using google maps search.

    Handy in an airport. Print from your gate seat then go and buy the prints from a nearby kiosk.

    great for a hotel business centre.

    - I would imagine the printer could alert the right people if it had an error too.

    - Printers would work on any computer platform - forget drivers etc. Printing from phones or whatever.

    - Conventional "home networks" frequently don't do what they are supposed to with Windows networking and when they don't, NOONE seems to have any good suggestions how to fix.

    - There are no security concerns as far as I can see. Your printer makes an outgoing connection to the central server and connects to your account. There is no route for incoming connections and your firewall remains in place. To send you junk someone would have to hack your google print queue account.

    - I'd love to be able to web browse all printer queues and know what had printed. Windows print queues are so opaque - can I cancel it ? Who sent that job ? Once it's not Windows defining what a print queue should look like I expect to see a lot more innovation and useful features.

    - Intelligent queues - imagine if an "urgent" job could jump the queue in a small office ?

    - Internet fax receiving for small business - just make it come out of the printer and save me a phone line - I love it !

    1. muninsfire

      @David Griffin -- I find your confidence disturbing

      You may want to take a look at the security concerns aspect.

      "Hacking the print queue" is a simplistic way to look at it, but it can be accomplished in a number of different ways.

      #1 is, of course, good ol' social engineering. Bob's left his password written on a sticky note under his keyboard; Eve takes a look and, because she has a better memory than Bob, logs into his CatBlog account with "k1ttyc@" as the password. She can then make configuration changes to the print queue, look at recently printed documents, etc.

      #2, same, but phishing. Phishing still works. 'nuff said.

      #3, man-in-the-middle attacks. Your fancy cloud printer is wifi enabled, but sits on an open access point. Whoopsie! Packet-sniffing, sidejacking, and other tomfoolery ensues. (Though this one's not exclusive to 'cloud' devices, I admit.)

      #4, A 0-day vulnerability is found in the firmware for the printer; the malware is encoded into, say, a PDF containing that poem about the girl who died from a drink-driver smashing into her on her 16th birthday. Hundreds of office ladies who read that kind of glurge print it out; hundreds of printers now phone home to Moscow or Minsk or wherever the Russian Mafia hangs out these days, echoing its print queue with lovely bank statements or credit card bills or whatnot.

      Those are off the top of my head; I'm sure there's any number of other ways to compromise 'em. The point is, if there's a device on my network, I don't want it to be controlled from outside the network without my explicit say-so. There's too many opportunities for failure that I cannot myself mitigate.

  13. cmaurand

    Now I'm going to trust my print jobs

    To a data mining company? My companie's data? My customer's data? We're going back to the days of dumb terminals (nicer interface)?

    I'm not, at least not if I can help it.

  14. Peter Mc Aulay
    Thumb Down

    Sure, great

    Cool, so now when your net connection goes down you lose your web apps *and* your printer. Which for the vast majority of users is in your building already and so has absolutely no reason to be cloud-enabled - and do you really want your print traffic doing a round trip over the internet anyway? Just because you're too cheap to buy a print server? Or if you're a home user, a USB cable?

    OK, there are good applications for this tech (print shops are indeed a good example) but as a general solution, no way.

  15. Jack Lampka
    Thumb Down

    How about a little more research ...

    “for years printers, particularly consumer printers, have become very stupid things with little interest in networking or the internet.”? Really? How about those wired and wireless network inkjet printers that have been available from basically every printer vendor for years? And how about the new ePrint printers from HP with their own email address where you can simply print from any device by sending an email? A little more research for this article wouldn't have hurt.

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