Sticking to the fax

Iím pretty much known as a technophile around the office, evidenced by my near-euphoria over Appleís announcement of its latest gadget, the iPad. (I must have one. Now.) My staffers come to me with tech issues before calling the IT department, because 9 times out of 10, I can fix whatever ails their computers (and 9.5 times out of 10, the answer is ďrestart it.Ē).

Surprising, then, that Iíd never used our office fax machine until this week. Granted, it was brand new to us over the summer, and I used the previous one often enough to know my way around, but I hadnít had occasion to use this new and improved model in the last six months.

Why would such a self-proclaimed geek not know how to use a fax machine, you ask? BECAUSE ITíS TWO THOUSAND TEN!

Thatís right, folks, much like scarcely anyone remembers how to change the ribbon on a typewriter, itís because the technology is hopelessly outdated. In the world of e-mail, scanners and PDFs, thereís really no reason to make paper copies and transmit them over phone lines in the year 2010.

Unless, of course, youíre the State of New York. Late last week, I received an e-mail from the New York State Assembly Minority Conference, asking for permission to link from their website to ours, for a column Melissa Stagnaro had written back in December. Pretty much anytime anyone wants to link to our website, itís a no-brainer for me to say yes. Provided they ask, which is always nice. But we usually donít stand on formality too much here at The Evening Sun. Most times, a simple ďgo for itĒ is a good enough agreement for me.

Not so, and not surprisingly, for the State of New York. It wasnít enough for me to say OK about this link. Instead, they required that I download a release form, fill it out, sign it, and FAX it back. Thatís a few too many steps for me given all that I have to do in a day, but I agreed (plus it made Melissa pretty happy to have her work referenced on a state website) and got it done.

The next day, I get a voicemail from their office rep. They didnít get the fax. I did it right, I swear, but whatever. Since Iím so fastidious about deleting e-mail and throwing away paper Iíll never need again, I had to e-mail the guy back to get him to send the form again, which I then had to download, print, fill out, sign and fax all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. All for a simple website link! Grrr.

I told the poor guy this was so comical that Iíd be sure to make fun of it all in my column, so that at least made me happy. The Assembly Minority Conference, probably not so much.

Aside from sating my passive-aggressive tendencies, the point of this little anecdote is ... seriously people, get with the times! I rarely even give out our fax number anymore, because thereís rarely a point to receiving a document that way, especially if itís something someone wants us to print. If it was generated by computer, send it digitally! Faxing only means that someone has to re-type it on this end, which means increased chance for error, and increased chance for carpal tunnel syndrome. Next time you think about faxing us something, save a tree and e-mail it to I get Ďem all personally, and respond personally.

I remember a time when it took me a good half-hour to go through The Evening Sunís newsroom mail every day. Now it takes approximately 30 seconds. That tells me weíve done a good job in ďconvertingĒ most of our regular sources into electronic delivery of press releases and news items. My goal over the past year was to wean everyone off the fax machine, which weíve nearly done. Over the summer, I had Jessica Lewis call everyone who sent us faxes, including the ďjunkĒ ones, to encourage them to e-mail us instead. I was surprised at how much opposition she encountered, but these are probably the same people who resisted getting rid of carbon paper as well. Again, itís 2010. The revolution will be digitized.

Jeff Genung recognizes the irony of kvetching about people accepting the digital age while at the same time printing a daily newspaper. But thatís another column.

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