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BLOG: Twine, jump-started by Kickstarter

Mark Gibbs | Jan. 26, 2012
Gibbs follows up on last week's column on the Lantronix xPrintServer and looks at Twine, a wireless sensor device that got funded on Kickstarter.

Last week I discussed the Lantronix xPrintServer, which allows iOS devices supporting Apple's AirPrint to print on any output device that supports the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS).

I loved this device but reader John Rusnak, along with a couple of other folks, wrote to ask, "Why would I spend $149 on a 'print server,' when I can buy an AirPrint supported printer for $99? I just use PrintCentral (an app costing only $7) that lets me print to any Wi-Fi printer, not just AirPrint supported ones!"

Ah, what if you already have a pricey laser printer? Are you going to junk your $600 color laser printer? Or what if you have several printers?

OPINION: We need a better definition of 'paperless'

As for the PrintCentral app published by EuroSmartz, it's an OK piece of software, but if you're trying to print from, say, Apple's Pages word processing application, then PrintCentral won't help you ... you can only print from the PrintCentral app.

Sure, with PrintCentral you can print Web pages, but again, that's only from the browser provided by PrintCentral, not from Safari or from my favorite, the Grazing browser. Plus, PrintCentral is geeky and complicated in a "kitchen sink" kind of way, making it a poor choice for naïve users.

Nope, unless you are a green field site or have no desire to keep your existing printers, then the Lantronix xPrintServer is the best solution for AirPrint enabling printers I've found.

Now on to today's topic ...

Do you have a really good idea that you're trying to get off the ground? Great! But what if you have a small problem such as, oh, say, a lack of startup capital? The answer may well be an online service called Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a brilliant idea. On the Kickstarter site you can pitch an idea for a project and ask for donations. The compensation for those who chip in might, depending on the size of their pledge, be a T-shirt, a poster, or some other acknowledgement of their involvement or, if an actual product is involved, the pledge might be actually preordering the product.

Projects on Kickstarter cover a huge range, from art through agriculture to technology ... the last being the topic that may get readers of this column pretty excited.

Take, for example, this tech project called Twine floated by a startup called SuperMechanical, which prompted me to discuss Kickstarter. Although Twine is now closed, the interest in the project was incredible: The original goal was $35,000. In the end some 3,966 backers pledged a total of $556,541 by the deadline of Jan. 3, 2012!


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