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By author: David Parks

Printing Quota

In a previous article, we talked about why Williams decided on a printing quota. In this one, we’ll focus on how it will be implemented.

Student allotment

Free printing per semester:

Underclassmen: $50
Seniors: $75

This is equivalent to 500 (750 for seniors) black-and-white double-sided pages worth of free printing, which according to the data we collected last semester, should meet the needs of 90% of all students with no change in printing habits.

At the end of each period (semester, winter study, and summer), any unused portion of the free allotment will be removed, and a new allotment will be credited at the beginning of the next period. Any remaining purchased printing credits will be carried forward each semester during your time at Williams.

Uncollected printouts from Saywer library

Collaboration station in Jesup 316

You can log in to your PaperCut account (http://papercut.williams.edu) at any time from on-campus to check how much printing you have left.

Running low

If you are getting close to using up your allotment, you will be notified three times by email that you are approaching the end of your print allotment: once when your account credit drops below $10.00 (about 100 double-sided pages remaining), again at $5.00, and finally at $2.50.

If you do not have enough pages in your current allotment for a print job, a pop-up notification will alert you and you will not be able to print it on a networked printer until you add credits to your account.

Buying more printing credits

Online:

  1. Log in to your PaperCut account with your username and password.
  2. Click on “Add Credit Online” on the left hand side.
  3. Select an amount from the drop down and click the “Add Value” button.
  4. Fill in the credit information.

Via the Bursar’s Office:

  1. Purchase a $5, $10, $20, $50, or $100 PaperCut redemption card from the Bursar’s Office in Hopkins Hall.
  2. After purchasing the card, login to your PaperCut account.
  3. Choose Redeem Card from the left-hand side menu.
  4. Enter the number on the front of the card and your account will be credited for the value on the card.
Printing for departments & organizations

Student groups and organizations can obtain a shared printing account, or pre-pay for printing credits. Alternatively, a student organization may opt to assign someone to print on their behalf. It is then up to the student to be reimbursed by the organization.

If you have student workers that print on behalf of your department, you should request a departmental account. After it is created, your student workers will be able to select the departmental account when they print. You will receive a weekly report showing the printing activity associated with the account.

To set up an account for your department or organization, email printadmin@williams.edu. You will be asked to provide a list of students that are allowed to print using the account.

For more information, visit the Printing @ Williams FAQ.

Load Balancing

When an organization reaches the breaking point of having too much web traffic for one web server to handle, the solution is to have multiple back end web servers dole out the requests. The problem then becomes how to make these multiple servers look and act like one server to the end user (that would be you). The answer is…wait for it…Load Balancing.

“David, what does a load balancer do?”, you ask. Well, assume you, as the end user, are browsing http://www.williams.edu. You aren’t actually talking directly to the back end web server. You’re talking to the load balancer, which, in turn, talks to the back end web servers.

Here are the gory details on how it works. Topologically speaking, the load balancer sits between the end user (you) and the back end web servers. It performs three main functions:

  1. Monitoring the back end servers.
  2. Accepting website requests from the end user (still you).
  3. Routing the end user traffic (yup, from you) to an available server.

On a periodic basis (usually every ten seconds), the load balancer sends a request to each back end server. If the back end server responds quickly, the load balancer decides it is healthy and can accept traffic. If the back end server doesn’t respond at all (not unlike my two children), the load balancer will not route any end user traffic to it. If the back end server is slow to respond, the load balancer may or may not route end user traffic to it, depending on how it’s set up.

There are many methods that can be used to tell the load balancers how to route traffic to the back end servers. It can send the same number of requests to each healthy server; it can send the request to the server with the least number of open connections; or it can send it to the sever that responds the fastest.

Most of the load balancers in the marketplace now do far more than just load balancing. For instance, they can perform the encryption and decryption required for SSL (Secure Socket Layer) requests, which removes that work from the web servers themselves. Some load balancers can even route requests to different servers based upon what’s being requested.

Dave Parks

Dave Parks doing a load balancer impression.