Xerox machines with a mind of their own

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Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:54 pm

http://arstechnica.com/information-tech ... documents/

Pretty nasty stuff. It's one thing for a photocopier to mess up such that the copy is illegible; it is another thing entirely for it to randomly replace bits of text with other perfectly legible bits of text! :o

Here's the page with the original investigation of this bug, with some scans of the before (original) and after (copy) documents: http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/08 ... n_scanning

This would also fit right in with last week's FNT!

Seems to me that Xerox has significant potential liability here.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:05 am

Wow.

And they even knew about the bug, and considered it acceptable.

Forget firing, the people who actually let that get out the door as a known bug should be subject to a firing squad.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:27 pm

This is terrifying. How many plans were silently corrupted by this?
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:32 pm

The compression codec being poorly used, JBIG2, seems like its lossy mode could easily have issues with low resolution scans and or fine detail documents. (JBIG2 also has a lossless mode, akin to macro block comparison of JPEG.) As someone who works with images and text frequently, I wouldn't find it acceptable to use a lossy codec, but also would likely use a more exchangeable format, typically TIFF with LZW compression.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:10 pm

From our Xerox reseller, when I asked this question:

“We have not seen any reported issues. From what the article states, this only occurs when both the lowest resolution settings and the highest compression settings are being used together. The JBIG2 compression is a standard being used throughout the copier industry, particularly with faxing. My personal thought on this is that some of the Xerox products (7845, for example) allow scan resolutions down to 72 dpi, and that at those lower resolutions, the compression algorithm does not have enough pixel data to make the correct conversions each and every time.

We almost always leave the default resolution at 200dpi, so I am not surprised that we have not heard of this issue. If customer’s are concerned, they need only stay away from the 72 dpi setting, and they will not have any problems.”


So blah blah blah, not our problem. Hopefully enough PR damage will be done that Xerox corporate will have a proper response. We run a WorkCentre 7665 here so it may not be an issue with it. Too lazy to try some tests to confirm. I suppose I may have to depending on how many other models get tested and added to the "these don't work right!" list.

Our model is old enough (2006) that I don't see the same options in the web admin page for quality settings though I do see that it uses JBIG2.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:35 pm

Couple of updates to the original blog post:
http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/08 ... x_machines
http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/08 ... with_xerox

Contrary to what the second one says, I don't think this is the "end of the story" yet. Having such a potentially destructive setting labeled as "Normal" in the user interface -- even if "Normal" isn't the default... duh! -- is monumentally brain-dead user interface design. And I still can't imagine *any* situation where a "randomly substitute characters in a document" feature would be desirable, no matter how much disk space it saves.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:24 pm

I've been in contact with Xerox as well and received pretty much the same canned response as Scrotos did. i.e. "You're using it wrong".

Labeling a potentially information-destructive and -altering setting as 'Normal' is unacceptable in my book.

FWIW, I've tested our 7535 (one of the known affected models) on 'Normal' at 300 dpi and was unable to reproduce the error, although it is harder to prove a negative. Perhaps if I'd scanned it at 72 dpi (which sounds like a poor choice anyway).

Also, the MFP did not display any warnings about degradation or character substitutions when I set the Scan quality to 'Normal' (the lowest setting, the order being 'Normal' - 'Higher' - 'Highest').

UPDATE: I ran a second test at 100 dpi (the lowest resolution the scanning app would accept) + Normal, and while the output is sh**y as hell and there were some illegible numbers, there were no transformed numbers. Mixture of 8-11 point font and some handwritten notes.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:38 pm

Well, I found the setting in the control panel. Doesn't look like web admin has it. And I noticed there are some presets for scanning, one of them being "archival" which is "smallest file size" which appears to be exactly what I don't want anyone using. I set it to high quality/photo so we'll see how that jacks people up trying to email 150 MB PDFs.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:40 pm

Voldenuit wrote:FWIW, I've tested our 7535 (one of the known affected models) on 'Normal' at 300 dpi and was unable to reproduce the error, although it is harder to prove a negative. Perhaps if I'd scanned it at 72 dpi (which sounds like a poor choice anyway).


From what I read in that blog, he ran a few identical tests and it didn't show up every time, too. So it wasn't even consistently jacking things up. I think he has some unadulterated test pages you can print out to try and reproduce.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:35 pm

I guess the next time I'm boarding a plane, driving over a suspension bridge, or reading medical test results, I'll have to add "I hope some idiot with a Xerox didn't f**k this up" to my list of ongoing concerns.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:35 pm

PC Load Letter. I dunno, at this point in technology, why even bother with compression? Canon copiers are what, $40K on lease? Why bother? Make the fricken Bugatti of copiers!

We've got two models iR-ADV 6055 and iR-ADV 8085; I'll be all over this tomorrow.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:28 am

You can get 35 to 50 PPM iRA machines (color, too) to purchase in the $5,000 to $12,000 range. Ugh, leases. I've just finished up getting bids for 4 MFPs and two of the vendors submitted Canon models.

That being said, I asked one of the vendors (who used to work at a Xerox reseller) about this:

"I heard of this when I was at [Xerox reseller]… still amazed about it… No you will not have that problem with the Canon’s."
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:01 am

Last edited by Voldenuit on Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:18 am

We shipped it in a way that doesn't mess up, so that's YOUR problem. Also, we used INDUSTRY STANDARDS so don't blame us fer NUTHIN'.


That sound about right?
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:33 pm




New setting on Xerox scanners: 'Scan to RDF'.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:58 pm

OK, so here's what's got me confused about Xerox's response.

In their response, they wrote:

The Xerox design utilizes the recognized industry standard JBIG2 compressor which creates extremely small file sizes with good image quality, but with inherent tradeoffs under low resolution and quality settings.


According to the spec, JBIG2 is a bi-level compression standard. So it's designed for black and white or halftone imaging only.

Yet D.kriesel's error-ridden pdf output is clearly a grayscale image. Is Xerox incorrectly using a bi-level standard to compress and encode grayscale data? Did they perhaps find that it wasn't compressing data enough (surprise surprise if it's being implemented outside its intended use) and tweaked the similarity comparison threshold to compense (note JBIG2 standard doesn't control how people implement compression, only decoding)? Is that the reason why regions that are not similar to the human eye are being marked as 'similar' in the machine and being replaced?

This could mean Xerox is directly responsible (and liable) for the fault.

TLDR (hypothetical):
Engineer uses wrong compression scheme on data
Data doesn't compress
Engineer tweaks options until data compresses
Data is now corrupted
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:04 pm

I absolutely love this from their response:

The Xerox design utilizes the recognized industry standard JBIG2 compressor which creates extremely small file sizes with good image quality, but with inherent tradeoffs under low resolution and quality settings.

For data integrity purposes, we recommend the use of the factory defaults with a quality level set to “higher.” In cases where lower quality/higher compression is desired for smaller file sizes, we provide the following message to our customers next to the quality settings within the device web user interface: “The normal quality option produces small file sizes by using advanced compression techniques. Image quality is generally acceptable, however, text quality degradation and character substitution errors may occur with some originals.”


So basically... if you want your copy to actually be, you know... a copy... you have to use the higher quality setting... common sense, really. Who expects a normal quality copy to look the same as the original?
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:07 pm

Some more blah blah blah from my Xerox reseller:

There is actually no identified “bad compression” setting on its own. If you keep your DPI default at 200dpi or greater with any compression setting, Xerox or other manufacturers aren’t experiencing any issues. Quality of the original scanned document isn’t really referenced in this material but I feel it is a very important factor. If the resolution is set at 72 with compression the quality of the scan is degraded and potentially isn’t able to read the document accurately. I have actually experienced this on other manufacturers devices over the years in both copy or scan mode. If the original has background, grayscale and/or poor quality the multifunction device in either copy or scan mode isn’t always able to read the original accurately. For example, if an organization is scanning documents as pdfs or tiffs and in the future wishes to OCRs these files, the minimum industry standard is 200 dpi. Most organizations use 300 dpi just to be safe. Anything lower than 200 dpi results in characters not being read accurately. This is not unique to Xerox but common in the industry with copy/scan technology.


My main issue with this at this point is that Xerox doesn't have a list of affected models and how to mitigate this. Where in the web admin interface or control panel can I lock out certain known-bad settings? I don't want our users to accidentially select this stuff. And the presets don't really correlate to DPI. What the hell is "archival" quality? It says "smallest file size" whereas when I think of archives, I think of pristine replications of items for long-term storage. That doesn't jive with "smallest file size" in my mind.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:57 pm

Scrotos wrote:My main issue with this at this point is that Xerox doesn't have a list of affected models and how to mitigate this. Where in the web admin interface or control panel can I lock out certain known-bad settings? I don't want our users to accidentially select this stuff. And the presets don't really correlate to DPI. What the hell is "archival" quality? It says "smallest file size" whereas when I think of archives, I think of pristine replications of items for long-term storage. That doesn't jive with "smallest file size" in my mind.


The Xerox hardware and software aren't even consistent with terminology, which is confusing to the end-user. On our 7535 and 5355, the MFD scan Quality Settings are 'Normal - Higher - Highest', with 'Normal' being the setting implicated with character substitution. However, when you configure a scan using the Xerox's scan2desktop setting, the corresponding settings are listed under 'Output Compression', with the available options 'Max - Moderate - None'. The 'Max' (compression) setting in software directly corresponds to the 'Normal' scan quality setting on the MFD, and so on with the others ('Moderate' = 'Higher', 'None' = 'Highest'), which is borne out by the scan2desktop settings directly selecting the corresponding setting on the MFD when you go to the Advanced tab on the MFD.

Confusing? You betcha.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:00 pm

And to think that Xerox PARC gave us the modern mouse-based GUI.

Bloody bean-counters.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:48 pm

It seems that Xerox has "lost it", in much the same way as HP or Alcatel-Lucent (nee Bell Labs). It is quite sad to see companies who were once titans of US tech innovation fall by the wayside like this.

Producing an illegibly blurry scan at low settings is acceptable -- you will look at the scan, and increase the settings. Producing a silently altered (but still legible looking) scan is unacceptable, at ANY settings.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:10 am

just brew it! wrote:Producing an illegibly blurry scan at low settings is acceptable -- you will look at the scan, and increase the settings. Producing a silently altered (but still legible looking) scan is unacceptable, at ANY settings.


I agree wholeheartedly. If you get a blurry scan from a supplier, contractor or other source, you can tell that the information is degraded, and you can request the data be re-transmitted.

Silently changing the information is insidious - not even the source knows that their information has been altered.

The possible ramifications of this are very serious. Construction blueprints, technical analysis, medical results, financial records. Xerox is being irresponsible with human lives by not immediately recalling the affected scanners (of which there's not even reliable information on how widespread the problem is) or issuing an emergency patch to disable the errant quality setting. Even then, the damage may already have been done for information that was scanned prior to this discovery. Will corporations have to re-scan all their documents just to be safe? Do they even have access to suspect old documents? (The answer is probably 'No' in many cases for the latter question).
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:34 pm

Information is starting to trickle out from Xerox corporate.

I received the following information today and will provide you with additional information as it is released by Xerox.

The following is a list of available information that I just received:

• Real Business blog site with the latest public updates (http://realbusinessatxerox.blogs.xerox.com/)
• A Q&A document which includes the solutions Xerox is providing and the impacted products
• A how to guide for checking and setting device defaults for scan settings

Please let me know if you have additional questions and/or would like to work with a Lewan/Xerox system engineer.


The impacted products listed are:

ColorQube® 87XX/89XX
ColorQube® 92XX/93XX
WorkCentre® 5030/5050
WorkCentre® 51XX
WorkCentre® 56XX
WorkCentre® 57XX
WorkCentre® 58XX
WorkCentre® 6400
WorkCentre® 7220/7225
WorkCentre® 75XX
WorkCentre® 77XX
WorkCentre® 78XX
WorkCentre® 76XX
WorkCentre® Pro 2XX/BookMark 40/55
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:47 pm

Heh, the next bits apply to certain models for workarounds. You can get the PDF from your Xerox vendor. It's entitled:

"Appendix B: Setting Default “Quality/File Size” via Xerox® CentreWare® Internet Services"
7 August 2013
702P01817

Here are the mitigation sections and what they seem to cover, so far:

"Workflow Scanning"

ColorQube® 8700/8900
ColorQube® 9201/9202/9203
ColorQube® 9301/9302/9303
WorkCentre® 5735/5740/5745/5755/5765/5775/5790
WorkCentre® 5840/5845/5855/5865/5875/5890
WorkCentre® 6400
WorkCentre® 7220/7225
WorkCentre® 7525/7530/7535/7545/7556
WorkCentre® 7755/7765/7775
WorkCentre® 7830/7835/7845/7855

"Network Scanning"

WorkCentre® 5030/5050
WorkCentre® 5135/5150
WorkCentre® 5632/5638/5645/5655/5665/5675/5687
WorkCentre® 7655/7665/7675

"Network Scanning"

Xerox® WorkCentre® Pro 232/238/245/255/265/275
WorkCentre BookMark 40/55

"Scan to E-Mail"

ColorQube® 8700/8900
ColorQube® 9301/9302/9303
WorkCentre 5735/5740/5745/5755/5765/5775/5790
WorkCentre 5840/5845/5855/5865/5875/5890
WorkCentre 7220/7225
WorkCentre 7525/7530/7535/7545/7556
WorkCentre 7830/7835/7845/7855

"Scan to E-Mail"

WorkCentre 6400
ColorQube 9201/9202/9203
WorkCentre 5632/5638/5645/5655/5665/5675/5687
WorkCentre 5030/5050
WorkCentre 5135/5150
WorkCentre 7755/7765/7775
WorkCentre 7655/7665/7675

"Internet Fax"

Xerox® ColorQube® 8700/8900
ColorQube 9301/9302/9303
WorkCentre 5735/5740/5745/5755/5765/5775/5790
WorkCentre 5840/5845/5855/5865/5875/5890
WorkCentre 7220/7225
WorkCentre 7525/7530/7535/7545/7556
WorkCentre 7830/7835/7845/7855

"Internet Fax"

ColorQube 9201/9202/9203
WorkCentre® 5030/5050
WorkCentre® 5135/5150
WorkCentre® 5632/5638/5645/5655/5665/5675/5687
WorkCentre® 6400
WorkCentre® 7755/7765/7775
WorkCentre® 7655/7665/7675

"Scan To"

ColorQube® 8700/8900
ColorQube® 9301/9302/9303
WorkCentre 5840/5845/5855/5865/5875/5890
WorkCentre 7220/7225
WorkCentre 7830/7835/7845/7855

"Scan To Home"

ColorQube® 8700/8900
ColorQube® 9301/9302/9303
WorkCentre 5840/5845/5855/5865/5875/5890
WorkCentre 7220/7225
WorkCentre 7525/7530/7535/7545/7556
WorkCentre 7755/7765/7775
WorkCentre 7830/7835/7845/7855

"Scan to USB"

ColorQube® 8700/8900
ColorQube® 9301/9302/9303
WorkCentre 5840/5845/5855/5865/5875/5890
WorkCentre 7220/7225
WorkCentre 7525/7530/7535/7545/7556
WorkCentre 7830/7835/7845/7855

"Scan to Mailbox"

ColorQube® 8700/8900
ColorQube® 9201/9202/9203
ColorQube® 9301/9302/9303
WorkCentre® 5135/5150
WorkCentre® 5632/5638/5645/5655/5665/5675/5687
WorkCentre® 5735/5740/5745/5755/5765/5775/5790
WorkCentre® 5840/5845/5855/5865/5875/5890
WorkCentre® 6400
WorkCentre® 7220/7225
WorkCentre® 7525/7530/7535/7545/7556
WorkCentre® 7755/7765/7775
WorkCentre® 7830/7835/7845/7855
WorkCentre® 7655/7665/7675
WorkCentre Pro 232/238/245/255/265/275
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:53 pm

The other PDF I got ("Xerox Scanning Issue: What You Need To Know") has this:

Here are the two solutions:

• Reset Scanning Defaults: Xerox is providing a guide demonstrating how to check the current device scan settings and how to return them to factory default.

• Apply a Software Patch: Xerox is developing a software patch that can be remotely downloaded to each device. The software patch will disable the highest compression mode thus completely eliminating the possibility for character substitution. Xerox will begin rolling out the patch within a few weeks.

It is important to know that Xerox® devices shipped from the factory are set with the compression level and resolution settings that produce scanned files appropriate for viewing or printing—while maintaining a reasonable file size. You will not see a character substitution issue when scanning with the factory default settings.

We apologize for any confusion and inconvenience this may have caused our customers. We are working closely with our partners and customer service teams across the globe to proactively inform customers as well as help them resolve the issue.


I'm glad they pulled their head out and finally addressed this. And I'm even happier that I can get a firmware update so I don't have to jack around with settings.

The rest of the Q&A is blah blah blah and they mention many times that they ship the copiers with defaults to not use JBIG2 and that other people use it as an industry standard too.

Looks like it's technically 3 documents. A Q&A, Appendix A, and Appendix B. Get it from your vendor ASAP and keep on it. I'd post it somewhere but I don't have anywhere to post it and I'd probably get sued or DCMAed or something bad.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:53 pm

Does anyone make a true xerostatic process copier anymore, i.e. a direct image transfer to the toner drum?
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:11 pm

I doubt it. From what I understand, it takes too much memory for that and you can't collate anything. It would take a few GB of RAM for only 5 or 6 pages from what someone wrote who claimed to work at Xerox many years ago.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:17 pm

Scrotos wrote:I doubt it. From what I understand, it takes too much memory for that and you can't collate anything. It would take a few GB of RAM for only 5 or 6 pages from what someone wrote who claimed to work at Xerox many years ago.

No, what he meant was does anyone still make one that doesn't use memory to store the page image? Back in the day, the image transfer was done entirely optically, with no digital storage in between. Collation was done with mechanical sorters/stackers.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:35 pm

Scrotos wrote:I doubt it. From what I understand, it takes too much memory for that and you can't collate anything. It would take a few GB of RAM for only 5 or 6 pages from what someone wrote who claimed to work at Xerox many years ago.

But the real xerostatic process used no RAM.
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Re: Xerox machines with a mind of their own

Postposted on Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:36 pm

just brew it! wrote:Collation was done with mechanical sorters/stackers.

Yep, and if you wanted 40 copies of a document, the original went through 40 times. Ask Brother Dominic.
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