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Where’s My Bloody Stone Chisel?

I’m amazed at how our worship of paper persists.

Seriously — it’s ridiculously easy to forge a signature, and facsimile technology is so wretchedly old and inefficient, why haven’t we moved on? Moore’s Law pushes CPUs and RAM efficiency and overall throughput further and further so that Microsoft can make software that entirely fills that space, runs no faster, but gives us control over microscopic font-kerning parameters (have you noticed how MS Word today is no more efficient today than it was 5 years ago?) … but FAX and paper, nah, no reason to speed those up.

HP makes a mint every year on the “cheap razor, expensive blades” market with cheap printers that need expensive ink — in fact, if you factor in the cost of $80 to replace all my inks, and the printer with ink is $100, then that printer is either ridiculously cheap, or HP knows full well that we will keep paying annually.

OK, 3 times per year — it only takes 2-3 months for a brand-new set of inks to go completely dry without printing more than a dozen pages.

Facsimile is a different equation: it costs for the machine, and you’re shelling out for an additional line (or if you use your home phone line, your number will be sold out by any facsimile machine to whom you send anything so that 4 times per day fax machines will call you — ask me why I had to ditch my 212 number). Facsimile was made commercially-viable in 1966 based on a string of innovations that started in 1902 and carried through past Xerox’s 46-pound monstrosity — but we the consumers didn’t care before or after the sacred Facsimile Machine shipped. So you’re shelling out for a fax line, and don’t tell me that the telephone companies aren’t silently happy that a 1966 technology hasn’t quite died yet.

In 1998, it was made possible to relay Facsimile through digital lines, but no, we still use the analog dial-ups. We like our 1966 cutting-edge technology.

I think the Fax is up there with the people who use Excel to write a letter… because there’s nothing a spreadsheet can’t do. Except anything. … but the omnipotence of a spreadsheet is a faith-based argument I haven’t actually tried to debate since the fellow signing my invoices in 1997 used Lotus-1-2-3 to write memos.

… and that’s why Fedex (in their stores nee Kinkos) charges $2 per page: because facsimile is free. Wait, it’s not?

If facsimile was sold today like HD TVs are, the cheap-ass fax-boxes would be dead years ago. 100dpi? 200dpi for “fine”? Can I get that n Full-HD? 1080dpi please? Yeah, Full DPI thanks.

So we’re paying HP and their ilk $240 per year to allow up to print something, sign it, and $2 per page to send it, when it’s free to digitally sign a document and email it back in 100% digital fidelity rather than twice-degraded (see also Shannon Theory, and Aliasing) can-no-longer-read-it document with a forged signature.

Before the strawman argument of “it’s not legal to digitally sign”, it’s been legal since Oct 1, 2000. So you friggin’ Luddites, quit worshipping the God of Papyrus or whatever you’re calling it this week, and BAN THE FAX.

We were better off with friggin chisels and tablets.

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