Working life

Stupid machine

Stupid damn printer/fax machine/copier. I put a document in to fax, and punched in the fax number. 7010 2168 (or something like that).

But I hadn’t set it to Fax mode. It decided it was in Copier mode, but will only allow three digits for the number of copies, so it started printing 168 copies of my 4 page document. Thankfully I was able to cancel the job before it used up a whole tree.

A little commonsense in the design should dictate that if someone punches in 7 or more digits, they probably want to fax, not copy.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

4 replies on “Stupid machine”

You’re a brave man Daniel to leave yourself open like this. A little commonsense from the operator, a little less haste and you would have been ok.
Like emails amd sms’s, one last look and think before the button is pressed can save all sorts of problems.
If I can just remember that myself.

While my partner likes to blame everyone and anything for his mistakes, I quickly go to operator error, and I am usually right. That is not to say machines or programs ought not be designed better.

So fax is still used in the office workplace? I suppose it is preferable to a pdf file.

Fax machines…hate them, hate them, HATE THEM! I’m a fairly tech-savvy sort of fellow, handy with the machines and all that, but my failure rate with faxes is astonishingly high. “Do I dial 9 for an outside line? Will it skip a page? Will it fail to connect to the equally recalcitrant junkbox on the other end of the line? Will someone pick up the call and say ‘hello?’, leaving me to randomly stab buttons hoping to cut the call off?” All these fun things and more have happened to me. Hate the bloody things.

But Daniel’s absolutely right on this – a sanity check is not that hard to program in. He and I are both programmers, so we know that. Sadly, it costs time and money to test all the execution paths these kinds of things add to a product, so I suspect its just easier for these companies to put out an unhelpful “you’re on your own, mate” machine. Don’t forget, John, that the fax machine might be one of dozens of machines you’re forced to use in a day – do you really want to have to remember the idiosyncracies of each one? Wouldn’t life be smoother if they idiot-checked your input before leaping into misguided action?

PS Hi Daniel :)

Probably the same brand as my microwave (Life’s Good!). Has a 4 beep “I’ve finished cooking” and a 2 beep reminder. Nice in theory, but I rarely get more than 2 steps from my chair after the first 4 beeps start before the POS beeps twice to remind me. Not unusual for it to beep 6 times in a row after cooking ends.

Not to mention the stand-timer refusing to start unless the door’s closed. Grrr…

Machines are supposed to be getting smarter… rather it seems the designers are getting dumber :-)

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