Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Faxing as a punchline

I was watching a movie on TV the other day, and saw something I thought was pretty amusing. Although it was a recent movie, it was set in the 1980s, which is important to the story. At one point, the main character told his companion he needed to get some important information to a person who was far away. His companion said something to the effect of, “Here, we’ll go into my office. We have this new machine up there that lets you send an entire page over the phone lines. And it only takes 17 minutes per page.”

I have to admit I laughed – just like I did when Drew Barrymore’s boyfriend brought over this amazing new music-playing device called a CD player in The Wedding Singer. It doesn’t take long these days for one era’s hot new technology to become the next era’s punchline.

It’s hard to imagine a world when 17 minutes per page was considered a marvel, but that’s the way it was not so long ago. Of course today it takes longer to a prepare a fax than to send one thanks to advances such as MyFax. With just a few clicks of a mouse you can select your recipient(s), add your attachments, and even choose the style of cover page. Then all you have to do is write the note and hit send.

Probably the biggest difference from the sender’s perspective is you don’t have to stand by a machine somewhere while the fax goes through to make sure it’s successful. MyFax sends you a confirmation e-mail that shows either that it was delivered or that it failed – and why.

One other nice thing about an all-electronic sending method (versus the mechanical task of pages feeding one-by-one into a machine) is you never have to worry that the rollers are going to grab two or three pages at once. That used to happen a lot with lengthy documents (like contracts) being sent over fax machines. In those cases, the person on the other end would be missing pages, requiring a re-send either of those pages or the whole thing. Which at 17 minutes a page isn’t much fun. Today, your whole document arrives intact, where it can be reviewed on-screen – no paper required.

I wish I could remember the name of the movie, but I can’t. If I see it again, though, I’ll update the post. Or, if you happen to know what I’m talking about, let me know! In the meantime, be glad you don’t have to spend 17 minutes per page just to send or receive a fax. Isn’t technology marvelous?

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