Flutterby™! : Fax Machines

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Fax Machines

2002-07-10 16:03:01+00 by Dan Lyke 12 comments

I think the use of fax machines by marketing people is their way of lording the failures of technology over geeks.

[ related topics: Dan's Life Consumerism and advertising Marketing ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-07-10 16:43:14+00 by: ziffle

I had a real estate closing recently - everyone used fax machines!

If I asked for email they kind of gave me a blank stare or pause --

How archaic!

#Comment made: 2002-07-10 17:13:50+00 by: Dan Lyke

I spent quite a while this morning feeding pages into a fax machine. Nobody's willing to spend enough to build a device that doesn't jam pages, and the purpose of this faxing was to transmit a signature so it's not like a fax-modem printer driver would've worked, so faxing is always this stupid silly process with a bad interface on a finicky machine.

Yet they demand it, even though there were much better ways to manage the signature issue. Oh well.

#Comment made: 2002-07-10 17:23:24+00 by: TC

yeah as engineers we greatly overestimate the public's willingness to learn new interfaces or well anything that requires effort. FAX is K.I.S.S. so it stays around. People (in general) are starting to catch on to email but thats a pretty huge leap for some.

#Comment made: 2002-07-10 17:51:18+00 by: other_todd

Devil's advocate: Email doesn't have layout capability, can't easily send your happy corporate logo or your letterhead or (as has already been mentioned) an image of your signature. This, by the by, is also why when you get one of those huge HTML-format emails with about seventy thousand attached or linked images, it's probably from something in marketing. Remember, in that universe, content isn't king, presentation is. As engineers, stereotypically, we are more interested in getting to the meat of the message and don't particularly care what it looks like. We also traditionally tend to notice the copy in advertisements more than the pictures.

#Comment made: 2002-07-10 19:31:25+00 by: petronius

I am still amazed how bad fax interfaces are. All error messages and progress prompts are built into the lowest rez dot matrix possible. You are never quite sure if the thing is working or not, particularly with the kind that memorize your input before sending. There is never a prompt that says "we have the data, we'll send it in a second." On the other hand, at home I use Just The Fax, a little shareware thing for simple messages that has the clearest control panel, with buttons marked things like "New message" "Cancel Message" and "Send Fax". I used to use one that also claimed to be a telephone answering machine. If it got a busy signal it would keep trying forever--there was no ABORT switch. Most frustrating.

#Comment made: 2002-07-10 22:39:47+00 by: Dori

the purpose of this faxing was to transmit a signature so it's not like a fax-modem printer driver would've worked

Several years ago I scanned a copy of my signature onto my hard drive. I now get faxes digitally, load them into Photoshop, paste my signature into them, and fax them back out via our fax server.

Faxing dead trees is just so twentieth century.

#Comment made: 2002-07-11 00:52:12+00 by: meuon

And simulating faxing dead trees is so 21st century. I agree with Dan, but explaining a digital signature to people is mind boggling. They end up with the farce of: /s John Hancock and similiar ridiculous BS. I need to resetup a PGP key and start using it again. I just got tired of people complaining about the garbage signature lines.. not understanding what they were.

#Comment made: 2002-07-11 03:13:47+00 by: other_todd

I think a digital signature is not really going to catch on in email until mail programs start building in handlers for it. That is, having one place to keep a list of public keys for people you know (perhaps as an adjunct to the other information in your mailer's address book?) and adding a "Decode PGP Signature ..." option to a menu somewhere handy. Or doing it automatically.

I mean, frankly, I'm not THAT lazy but that's the main reason they're worthless to me. Good for you to be conscientous and send the signature block, but I effectively have no way to read it short of exporting my mail message out to an external viewer, and that just ain't going to happen.

And if someone now tells me about fifty email programs under *nix that have this feature built in, I will reply that this, too, is an inadequate solution. Like most of the rest of the world, I read the bulk of my personal mail either on a PC, a Mac, or in my web browser. (That said, I wonder if there's a PGP add-in for Pine, and why MIT hasn't put it in their pine distribution yet ...?)

#Comment made: 2002-07-11 06:19:52+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

PMMail2000 is a Windoze program that automatically verifies incoming PGP signatures on your keyring and has a menu option for adding the public key from a message to the same. All other keyring functionality is pretty easy to manage with the PGP gui.

PGP also comes with an Outlook plugin that provides menu options and toolbar buttons from within outlook. I don't think it's quite as integrated and seamless as PMMail though. I've been using PMMail since they started as an OS/2 shareware app (which they still maintain, by the way). Far superior to the sludge that the rest of the world insists on using [because it comes free with their PC].

So quit yer whinin' ;-) what you want already exists.

P.S. I believe there is a PGP plugin for Pine. But I'm too lazy to go look it up right now.

p.p.s. I stopped using PGP signatures because I didn't know anybody else who had them or wanted my key. Yeah, owning a tennis racket is cool. But it gets boring real fast if you don't know anybody else with one.

#Comment made: 2002-07-12 16:57:13+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

This is one reason I'm working on becoming a Debian Developer. They use PGP. I've had other developers sign my keys and I'm about to apply for developer status.

A few people have accounts on my home servers. If they request me to change their password, I use PGP to tell them the new one.

Also, my brother is working on some projects in Yemen and other contries in the area where the state doesn't like the work that he is doing. He uses PGP to communicate with the other workers. We've signed each other's keys. (He uses an Outlook plugin.)

I still haven't gotten around to putting signature blocks on my outgoing email, though.

#Comment made: 2002-07-13 17:22:09+00 by: Shawn

They're not using GPG??

#Comment made: 2002-07-18 20:17:38+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

You're right. GPG. I was just thinking the OpenPGP standard.