Thursday, August 16, 2012

iPad Printing

Gene Roddenberry always talked about how amazing humans were, because we could do amazing things when we worked together. He was right. - Wil Wheaton
My experiment to replace my home laptop with my iPad is not going all that well. I find myself constantly reaching for my real computer for all sorts of needs. Even writing this, what I really wanted to was super-impose the two images to create a single image. How? What photo editing software on my iPad should I use? I tried doing it in iPhoto, but that's not really the point of iPhoto. So in the end I shrugged my shoulders, cropped it and just left it as two separate photos.
Earlier this week I was using the iPad around the house and made a purchase (or some such) online and got back a confirmation and though, "I would really like to save that." I took a screen capture (power+home) and so I have an image of it. Not that great a solution, is it? Still I know that there is this AirPrint thing and that I can print to specific HP printers. So I started wondering if it was possible to AirPrint to a PDF printer on my home server.
The answer is that there is a trivial way for $19.95 using an app called Printopia. It runs as a service on a computer and will share all printers as AirPrinters and includes a "Print to PDF" feature. Still, $19.95 sure does seem like a lot of money. A little more research and I cobbled together a pretty simple solution that I am quite happy with.
  1. Install "PDF Writer for Mac" which gives you a virtual Printer that prints PDFs
  2. Share your printer by restrict the sharing to whatever account is your primary one
  3. Install "AirPrint Activator" and all of your shared printers magically become AirPrint destinations
  4. The sweet spot! Make you the folder you print to automatically sync via dropbox: ln -s /private/var/spool/pdfwriter/jordan "~/Dropbox/iOS Printer"
So now what do I have? When I'm on my home WiFi I can print from my iPad to either my actual printer or to a PDF printer that ends up putting a PDF in dropbox which is then available on my iPad. BAM! Now the question becomes can I setup a VPN at home so I can do this while not here?