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Technology FAIL!

Complete Handbook of Personal Computer Communications

Fax Handbook

Micros and Modems

These three gems are on public library shelves all over the country.  People who know nothing about technology might actually think they are useful.  The first one even uses the term “online” in the subtitle, although “online” in 1983 meant something altogether different than it does in 2010!


0 Responses to Technology FAIL!

  • Ha! I just had to annoy the nice ILL lady again because I forgot how to use the fax machine. Somehow I don’t think that book up there would have helped.

  • Ha! I just came across a book while shelving last night from the same year as these about computer repair and troubleshooting. It was very quaint.

  • So many people ask if I have a fax when they want to send me paperwork. I tell them to just scan and email it to me. I didn’t know faxes were still in use, but since they are, a book might be useful, but not from 1988. I am not sure, but think “online” must have meant something different in 1983. My oldest son was born in 1981, and when he older (probably 8th or 9th grade) he did a research poster about the Internet. Then it was available to the public, but cost about $200.00 a month for unlimited use.

  • I’m curious, what did ‘online’ mean in ’83?

    • having a computer and turning it on, more or less…..

    • Without knowing the book’s contents, it likely meant getting “online” with the proprietary pay services of the day, be it CompuServe, The Source, Dow Jones, etc. These were self-contained text-based services that often charged by the minute, and you were lucky to find a local number to call into. They featured news, message rooms, games, primitive forms of e-mail, etc. Modem speeds started below 300BPS and eventually standardized on that and moved up to 1200BPS and eventually above, reaching 56K (though actual speeds are typically less) today, for those still unfortunate enough to be on dial-up. Anyway, “online” could have also meant getting online with BBS’s, which were self-contained online systems often run out of a person’s home (tying up their phone line), and allowed one person per phone line connected to access it. For more, look up “BBS” and “CompuServe”, among some of the other terms I mentioned. From the very late 70’s up until about 1995, that was pretty much the world the average “online” user lived in.

      • I get images of Matthew Broderick with his computer calling all the numbers in an area code to see which ones were computers 🙂

      • Ooh, yes, I remember. That screechy sound the modem made when it connected always gave me the shivers.

  • our children gonna laugh about us!!

  • ‘online’ just meant the system was up and running properly…

    FAIL….’fail’ indeed. how could LIBRARIANS who should know much better, use this dopey new meme/trope? it’s Failure not FAIL.

    arhgh…it just sound so stupid; fail this and fail that.

  • I’m dying to know how there could be an entire book about faxing something. Presumably page one looks like this:

    1. Stick bit of paper in fax machine.
    2. Type in fax number.
    3. Press send.

    And the rest of the book is blank.

  • Faxing is still alive and well. I work in a school library, and the book distribution companies I work with have yet to hear about e-mail. I’m getting used to using the fax machine.

  • It’s true, MANY people do not know how to use a scanner, save the image, and attach it to an email. I usually demonstrate the library scanner to someone at least once a day.

    Faxing is still simpler for people without strong computer skills, and I think a lot of companies are getting virtual fax numbers that allow a fax to be delivered electronically, without a fax machine.

    • You have to have a scanner in the first place to do that. Our library only just got a public scanner this year, and our circ staff is always busy sending faxes for people.

  • The older faxes were a lot more complicated. They had to be set up to receive or send, and a whole series of information had to be input before you could actually send the fax. And even when you thought you did it all right, they never worked. Hence the book.

  • Faxing is secure, e-mail is not. Our CEO uses the fax exclusively to send messages to board members, his assistant, etc.

    • Faxing is not exactly secure. Most offices have a fax in a central location, so anyone in the office can see the information on the fax (something to consider if you’re asked to fax something with personal identification information on it).

      Also there is a type of fax machine that uses an ink film (similar to a carbon paper) to print the incoming faxes. You have to be careful when disposing of these films because they very clearly show every single thing that fax machine has printed over the life of the film roll or cartridge. These machines are slowly phasing out in favor of inkjet or laser machines, but they’re still common as they are the cheapest available usually.

      Interesting, my time as a retail associate at Staples is still paying off 🙂

  • The first fax machine I ever used had a roll of shiny, heat-sensitive paper to produce documents. After each page was received, a blade would slide across to cut the paper. The pages would curl up into a big mess. And they smelled how I imagine the Gulf Coast oil spill must smell.

    But, then again, it was a step up from the hand-cranked ditto machine with the waxy purple originals that we had before faxes!

  • At our work all our faxes are on our copier… you just have to make sure that you don’t send 100 copies to some unsuspecting soul

  • Surprised that there haven’t been more responses like, “The Internet has actually been around since 1968, blah, blah, blah….” Yeah, the first book is probably more about accessing BBSes. However, FAX technology hasn’t changed much, with the exception of computerized virtual fax.

  • I was kinda shocked when the folks at the Regional Library System wanted to fax me paperwork and have me fax it back… Librarians! When I gently asked if I could email a scan to them, they had to think about that for a minute. Sigh.

  • I first saw a primitive version of the Internet at Library School around 1989. It was only text, but you could get translations of international newspapers. I was doing some research on the now-forgotten 10 year long Iran-Iraq War (sometimes then called ‘The Gulf War’, ha, ha) and this instantly gave access to details of Anglo-American arms sales to both sides (not available in British and American sources for some peculiar reason). Remember thinking ‘You can know everything with something like this. Investigative journalists need never leave the office again.’

    Now there’s Al-Jazeera if you really want to know what’s happening in the MiddleEast.

  • I am born in 1989, and my family had a FAX in the late 1990 s / early 2000 s, but, unfortunatly, those were vulnerable to strikes from lightenings.

    And the last time it happend, we had e-mail, so we chose not to repair it, and just threw it away, or stashed it somewhere.

  • …ooopppsss…

    I was going to write, that I have just sent a few faxes in my life, and never had so good acess to a FAX, so that i could send faxes just for fun.