Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kill the Fax Machine Already

Hopefully now that Bruce Schneier is making a stink about it people will listen. I have no idea why the fax machine still exists in the age of email, but I still get people telling me that I can't scan in a signed document and email it to them, I have to fax it. Makes less than zero sense.

Let's look at the myriad ways in which fax machines suck:

  • Totally and completely insecure, particularly if it's a real fax machine on the receiving end as opposed to an electronic fax queue (and if it's an electronic fax queue why the hell use the fax machine?). If it's a real fax machine anyone with physical access to the machine--which are usually placed in unsecured common areas--can grab anything they want off the fax machine. And on the sending side, if you go to a UPS Store or something along those lines to fax something, whatever you faxed is most likely in that fax machine's memory for any employee to re-print.

  • Slow and annoying. I won't bore you with the details, but in dealing with my 2006 taxes I had to fax the IRS a 30-page document THREE TIMES before they got it successfully. I first tried a real fax at the UPS Store, then scanned it in and did it electronically using eFax, which goes back to my earlier point. If I'm scanning it in and electronically faxing it, WHY CAN'T I JUST EMAIL IT TO YOU?

  • Antiquated and unnecessary. Fax machines should have died a miserable death 10 years ago, but for some completely nonsensical reason, people still see a fax as "more official" than email. Stop it. Seriously, stop it. There's no logical justification for that position.

I wish I could start a petition or something to kill the fax machine, but from this day forth, don't expect me to fax anyone anything ever again. The fax will likely only die if we all refuse to keep using it. And a loud "good riddance" from me once it does.



I simply refuse to fax documents to people and make them give me an email address to which I can send documents.

I tell them to email scanned docs to me too.

Frankly, I wish everyone would use Adobe PDF Forms with digital signatures. So much more convenient and so easy to read.

It's so funny that you should mention this. I was at Chipotle (http://www.chipotle.com) yesterday and noticed you can fax your order in. I thought to myself, what common person would have a fax machine to fax their order these days. If anything, I would think I would be able to email it like some of the restaurants are doing like Pick-Up-Stix and Dominos etc.

Sean - even with scanning you still have to print and then scan. I'll be happy when both the fax, and physical paper, is out.


Why would anyone ever wish to fax something? Also who has a landline? I have one connection in my rig, Cable internet. I couldn't use a fax if I wanted to. Why would you want to anyway?

To play devil's advocate.

I rather enjoy the tangibility of pens, paper and books. I see your point that its an inconvenience but since when did life have to be conveniently laid out for you? Is it so bad to have to get up off your butt and walk over to a fax machine? No wonder IT people are such fat asses, me included. We detest any physically inconvenient challenge.

I miss the days of satchel sized car phones, $0.25 pay phones and kids playing in their front yards, not xbox.

The point is its a trade off. You sacrifice reward for convenience. Yes yes its just a fax, but where does this end?

Faxes were the bane of my existence at least until my company got an e-fax server, now they're only slightly annoying.

But oh how I wish people would adopt digital signatures. I got tired of waiting, started using them at my company, got some other people asking about it, and next week we're rolling out our CA. Finally!

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