Thursday, March 18, 2010

Technology: Never use It

Everything is attempting to be paperless around here.

This means that the need for a paperful system (to coin a nasty little word entirely in keeping with the modern IT trend of needing a new word for everything and stating the bleeding obvious at all times) is being simply ignored. The net result is that there's never any printer paper when you need some, and people have started stealing the toner cartridges from each-others' printers at night (leading to the inescapable conclusion that it's the 12 bloody people on night shift doing it).

It came to pass today that I needed a paper copy of a 600 page PDF describing Enterprise Java Beans, which isn't anything to do with coffee but a piece of technology with a "clever" name that bolts to another piece of technology - with a "clever" name. If you think this is cringe-inducing, shed a tear for the days when the "java" brand was new and every sodding vendor that repackaged it exhibited at trade shows with a coffee bar. "How original" I hear you saying. "Not at all hackneyed before the first group of marketers had finished bolting together the exhibition booth".

The irony being, of course, that each of these "clever" marketing ploys was being done on behalf of people who wanted you to think they were innovative.


When I need these mega-prints I send them to the photocopier, which can deal with the bulk involved without melting, and I usually give people the courtesy of waiting until after-hours. Since my nearest laser printer has been Hors De Office these last two weeks due to some midnight toner-thieving I decided my colleagues could suck on it this time and I sent the 600-page manual to be printed mid afternoon. I ordered portrait orientation, double-sided, with holes pre-punched for the three-ring binder I had to buy out of my own pocket since all our spare 3-ring binders were thrown away five years ago when we relocated. I protested at the time, but was shouted down by "wiser heads" who "understood the economies involved" better than I did. Shirtheads.

Where was I? Oh right.

So I sent the print to the copier, then grabbed a pre-arranged pack of paper, since long experience has shown that none of the idiots I work with has the basic decency to fill the copier paper hoppers and I could guarantee it would send a "paper out" alert ten pages in. Which it did.

But the most annoying, stupid, asking-to-get-an-axe-taken-to-it part was when it printed the cover landscape in direct contravention of the requested orientation, burped while it got it's act straight and re-oriented the rest of the print run. This caused every page after the cover to be printed on the wrong side of the paper.

I'll wait why you think about it and say "so what?" in puzzled tones, realizing as you do that it doesn't matter a jot, other than adding a single sheet of paper to the run. One sheet in 600? "Chicken feed" you say, and you're right. I'll give you another minute or so to pat yourself on the back and tell each other what a Nidiot I'm being.

Of course, if the hole punch is on, it is now punching holes in the wrong edge of the paper. Which it was, and it did.

So now I'm the proud possessor of the world's only Manga copy of the Enterprise Java Bean manual for the Weblogic Application Server, which not only must be read from back to front, right page before left page like the daft comic books my daughter is addicted to, but must be put in the binder upside-down or the rings pop open every time I open the cover.

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