Recent Feature Articles

Jun 2019

Classic WTF: Emergency Faxes

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One of my first teenage jobs was to work as an office assistant. As this was the 90s, that meant I had to use and understand a fax machine. I… did not. The fax machine forever was a dark mystery to me, something that required strange incantations to work. As our summer break continues, at least I never caused this much trouble with the damn thing. Original --Remy

As far as technologies go, faxing is ancient. It predates the telephone by over a decade and, despite vast advances in scanning and email technology, the fax still remains a standard form of communication.

When a transmission goes out, the occasional telecommunication ‘hiccup’ or line noise can corrupt the fax. Most modern fax machines have some rudimentary error handling that will alerts the user that the fax should be resent.

Greek To Me

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Many decades ago—before laser printers, graphical operating systems, and device-independent imaging models—Gus worked in the IT department of a local college. As a personal project during slow moments at work, he took it upon himself to figure out how to print Greek text. About a week later, he'd hacked together a solution that resulted in a printout of classical Greek writing.

Drink from the Font of Wisdom

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A long time ago, George G started at Initech’s downtown office. They had just rented a few floors in an old office building that had recently transitioned from “urban blight” to “twee coffee shops on the first floor and the scent of shoe polish and fresh leather on every floor.”

It was a big space, and George was in the part of his career where he merited a private office with a view of the alley.

Robot Anarchy

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Chaz had a pretty sweet gig as a software architect at a tech-based toy company. Being able to play around with computers AND toys all day wasn't terrible, but the pot got even sweeter when his company licensed a cool robotic product from a certain Danish toy company that specializes in small, colorful bricks. Chaz was happy to become the lead platform architect for this exciting new initiative.

The intended outcome was to make the robots consumer-programmable via an interface with a smartphone app. Chaz had grand ideas for how he wanted to build the app and backend from the ground up with stability, performance, and security as the main pillars. That dream was dashed by Stellan, the CFO-turned-CTO, who insisted they develop against the same in-house platform they'd been using for over a decade. Chaz argued with Stellan until he was blue in the face, but Stellan scoffed at him, "I don't care if smartphones didn't even exist when our platform was designed. The cost of building a whole new one would be astronomical. We want a quick turnaround and high profit margin on these robots!" Stellan clearly showed he was far more qualified to be a CFO than CTO.