Wednesday, May 11, 2011

oddly reminded of something funny...

Somebody tweeted something about a fax, and it reminded me of something that happened a long time ago...

A young man was hired by a company I worked for as an intern. He was in college, he was from a wealthy family in another country (somewhere in Central or South America).

He was handsome and had that kind of "I'm destined to be your boss" sort of air, and he may well have been. I recall some general guidance that was dispensed by someone in the know, to the effect of him being easily insulted or slighted, and to work with him patiently. He would only be working there for a short while.

At some point I found myself helping him in a task that involved driving him to a bank. He had some questions about some of the equipment at the office, in particular the fax machine.

"How does it work?" he asked.

Having taken some courses in digital technology, I was semi-confident in my explanation, which went something like this, "Well, I'm not an expert, but in general it scans the image it is going to send, detects where the dark and light areas are, and then a scan-line at a time, makes 1s or 0s to indicate light or dark. Then it sends that string of encoded information through the phone line to a receiving machine, that reproduces the scanned lines using that same infomation to drive something that marks the paper accordingly."

I thought that was a pretty fair explanation, and explaining it also kind of clarified my own understanding of some things about encoding and decoding.

"Ah, ok... But how does it send the paper?"


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