Archive for archaic technology

Fax machines must die

A client recently offered to ‘fax’ something to me. Yikes. In his defence, he’s old school and wanted to send me the latest batch of changes to a visual product we are producing. We settled on the scan-and-email solution, which I prefer and has been the only proper way to do it since the year 2000.

The first fax machine, as we know it today, was made by Xerox in 1966 and could send a letter-sized document in blistering six minutes! Wikipedia has the whole sordid tale if you’re bored. Anyway, to the particularly beaurocratically obsessed office workers of that time, it must have seemed like a tech-filled wonderland future-world would soon blossom, where you still had to write your friggin letter out with a pen in handwriting no one can read especially after the mojo-wire mangles it and sends it to the recipient by sometime next month.

Or it could just have been the harbinger of a dystopian nightmare future played out in office scenarios around the globe featuring normally level-headed corporate drones who suddenly lose their cool and become violent animals when the damned thing malfunctions. We all saw that scene in Office Space so don’t tell me its not true.

Did you know a certain precursor to the fax machine was a German invention aptly named ein “Hellschreiber“? Serious, here it is:

The dreaded “Hellschreiber”

Fast forward to a few nights ago. I’m sleeping. For those who know me, I’m a light sleeper and really resent anything (or anyone) who disturbs my precious slumbers. So you can probably guess about how I feel about my cellphone going off at 3:19am. Of course I ignore it, and check the voicemail next day amid mumbled promises to break the legs of whomever called me. Great. I hear the tell-tale “beep….beep” of some douche trying to fax me.

That’s the worst. If some poor person calls me at three in the morning and merely has the wrong number, he’s going to feel bad about it. Especially after the hot dish of burning fuck I’m going to inject in his ear for doing so.

With a fax machine, there’s no human to beat up. Especially one coming from a blocked number. WTF. Isn’t that illegal or something? Why is someone trying to send a mysterious fax to my cellphone? If they had the caller ID programmed, I could call them back on their voice line and deliver the aforementioned burning dish.

The hell does not stop there. Pop quiz: what does a fax machine do if it cannot connect to another fax machine on the number its trying to dial? It calls back. THREE FUCKING TIMES.

So lets take this in stages for the unbelievably dim-witted. Here’s ten good reasons not to use fax machines. I’m not one to limit myself, so if you know of any I have forgotten, please feel free to add in the comments.

  1. They waste paper, a shit-ton. Especially in printing out those useless tx/rx reports that no one ever reads.
  2. They make annoying noises — beeps squaks and squeals, both when you are standing beside one, within earshot and trying to concentrate on something, and shouting at one through the phone to stop calling and hoping the douche who’s sending it can hear you through the crappy little speaker.
  3. The fax machine has no way of knowing its a voice line or a cell phone, and yes you are bloody well disturbing someone.
  4. No one ever cared about fax marketing. It moved to email once the Nigerian princes of the word caught up to 1995. People used to care about it back in the day though, for the exact amount of time it takes to curse it for wasting paper.
  5. It eats more documents than it sends or receives. Serious, why do they have the crappiest sheet feeders?
  6. Its always out of paper anyway (pilfered for the actually-useful laser printer doubtless) and probably has something like 12kb of memory — which doesn’t hold dick.
  7. It ties up an expensive phone line, sometimes helpfully answering it for you. When it does, the potentially large client on the other other end is greeted with “beep” instead of hello. He then hangs up the phone and NEVER calls you back
  8. A cheap piece of crap scanner you can buy from anywhere can scan your document at much higher resolution, in full colour, and in a tenth the time
  9. There is not a single place on this earth you cannot get to the internet somehow (there are satellites) unless you are at the Earth’s core or something, then you have other problems
  10. Scanner + email = something that not only completely replaces the fax machine, but is superior to it in every way imaginable (and is constantly improving, which the fax machine has not done in decades)

So you can see, any argument you could possibly have is completely invalid. You may try and post them in the comments below if you dare. I will use them (and you) for my amusement.

Don’t you dare give me that crap that starts “I’m a lawyer…” or realtor or government worker. The only reason you use the damn things is because there are a thousand other neanderthals out there who use insist on using it. It’s like crack or Microsoft Word — all pain and peer pressure. If everyone insisted on using scan-and-emailed document, no one would have any reservation about consigning the fax to whatever hell it came from.

World, stop using fax machines and let me have an uninterrupted nights sleep. Now, some catharsis: