Tales from the Mortgage Monster: how not to do headed paper


  • sockdevs

    So, last time in tales from WTF Mortgages, I outlined that there were ways in the heart of the system to track which team would deal with a case, except the front end never used them.

    That would be the end of the story if it weren't for the saga of the headed paper.

    Some of the paperwork that went out was printed on headed paper. They had a whole fancy setup with printers specifically for this purpose. HP things where 'tray 1' was never used (the manual feed-in-the-top job), tray 2 was plain and trays 3-4 were headed. And some voodoo in the documents to indicate which tray to use. I have no idea how that worked but to the 20 year old me, that was pretty neat tech, especially as most people were not retarded and actually put the right type of paper in the right trays.

    I say right type of paper because it wasn't always right. Four teams, each with their own headed paper on to indicate the right phone and fax numbers for the team. Ordinarily this isn't a huge problem - until you have cases crossing between teams or people helping each other out, meaning that an awful lot of the time, the wrong numbers were going out on the headed paper.

    So I suggested... couldn't we do something to embed the phone/fax numbers into the document templates? I already vaguely understood that the different teams were already in the system somewhere so this should have been simple, right?

    Fuck no. What they ended up doing was bastardising this VBA macro into damn near every document template to let the user select which team the document was supposed to come from. And the first iteration of this travesty turned up without even remembering the last one you picked. So you couldn't even just use the current one which would be right in like 90% of cases.

    But of course, given a sane default most people won't change it... so you still had letters and faxes going out with the wrong numbers on them even with this internal development, all because no-one applied any actual thinking to it (and I was 'just a lowly grunt, what would you know' at this point)

    At least I tried, and that's what counts, right?



  • @Arantor, This story is reminded me of Mr Richard Stallman who wanted to get source code for Xerox printer driver as it was not working correctly. I am not sure if there are any common elements, but that source code requirement drove Stallman to create what is called the FSF today.

    The new printer was jammed, again. Richard M. Stallman, a staff software programmer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AI Lab), discovered the malfunction the hard way. An hour after sending off a 50-page file to the office laser printer, Stallman, 27, broke off a productive work session to retrieve his documents. Upon arrival, he found only four pages in the printer's tray. To make matters even more frustrating, the four pages belonged to another user, meaning that Stallman's print job and the unfinished portion of somebody else's print job were still trapped somewhere within the electrical plumbing of the lab's computer network.

    Waiting for machines is an occupational hazard when you're a software programmer, so Stallman took his frustration with a grain of salt. Still, the difference between waiting for a machine and waiting on a machine is a sizable one. It wasn't the first time he'd been forced to stand over the printer, watching pages print out one by one. As a person who spent the bulk of his days and nights improving the efficiency of machines and the software programs that controlled them, Stallman felt a natural urge to open up the machine, look at the guts, and seek out the root of the problem.
    Unfortunately, Stallman's skills as a computer programmer did not extend to the mechanical-engineering realm. As freshly printed documents poured out of the machine, Stallman had a chance to reflect on other ways to circumvent the printing jam problem.

    You can also enhance your reading here -->



  • We call that 'letterhead' in the non-sovereign British Empire start-ups.


  • sockdevs

    I'm not that posh.



  • @Arantor said:

    I'm not that posh.

    not me also.



  • @Arantor said:

    HP things

    That reminds me -- I have a Laserjet 6P which I got recently for four bottles of beer. Anybody knows if there's some magic trick to not having it double-feed paper every few pages?

    Especially when printing on the other side of the stack.

    Especially when printing in booklet form.

    Especially if I'm printing 300 pages of material which end up close to useless because I have to skip three pages back and forth while reading.



  • I think the magic you are looking for is not using a printer purchased with beer



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    That reminds me -- I have a Laserjet 6P which I got recently for four bottles of beer. Anybody knows if there's some magic trick to not having it double-feed paper every few pages?

    There was a problem with some of the Laserjets around that era, where the pad of higher-friction material that separated pages as they were pushed from the tray (preventing double-feeding) wore away enough that it no longer provided enough friction. HP produced free replacement separator pad that you could stick to the correct spot, but good luck finding one now. The LJ5 wikipedia article mentions that 6L was affected, I don't know about 6P though.

    I'm hoping they were good beers? I'd be annoyed if someone paid me four Bud Lights to take a LaserJet 6 off their hands.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    double-feed paper every few pages

    There is unfortunate no magic trick. It is something that printer is doing since invention of printing technology by eastern countries.

    Thank about the 13th century - Goryeo Dynasty. They had no idea this new fingled evil technology would be used to write pr0n. Even before that I think follower of Gautama had printed the Diamond Sutra. This was a very notable book. If Valmiki had to print, then Ramayan would have never got completed.

    Filed Under: Printing history of the world.



  • @Paddles said:

    HP produced free replacement separator pad that you could stick to the correct spot, but good luck finding one now.

    So basically "you're fucked". Ah well, I guess I can live with that - it's still a laser printer.

    @Paddles said:

    I'm hoping they were good beers?

    Decent-ish. Luckily my friend is not as much of a beer snob as me.



  • @algorythmics said:

    I think the magic you are looking for is not using a printer purchased with beer

    If you are aware of some other method for purchasing a LaserJet, I'd like to hear about it.



  • @DCRoss said:

    If you are aware of some other method for purchasing a LaserJet, I'd like to hear about it.


  • sockdevs

    Money is only a systematised version of global bartering tokens. I'd argue that what @DCRoss is talking about came first.



  • @Arantor said:

    Money is only a systematised version of global bartering tokens. I'd argue that what @DCRoss is talking about came first.

    Any other way - is the context I am having for that reply.


  • sockdevs

    Money isn't 'another way', that's the point. You're still exchanging one thing for another, only instead of exchanging beer for a printer, you're exchanging tokens for a printer.



  • @DCRoss said:

    If you are aware of some other method for purchasing a LaserJet, I'd like to hear about it.

    Hmm lets see if I can find something that dodges the pedantic argument about trading tokens for thingy. You could get a weapon of some type and wave it in the face of person with printer saying that you wish to purchase the printer for the cost of not using said weapon on them. That way it's a transaction but you aren't giving them something.


  • sockdevs

    Sure that's giving them something - you're giving them their continued existence.

    Filed under: fuck yes I studied economics and fully quality for pedantic dickweed badges.



  • Hmmm.

    PC Load Letter


  • You can wave around all the weapons you want, we're still talking about an actual LaserJet. Not one of those "My First Printer" toys that you see in stores nowadays with replicas of the old HP logo stamped on their sad plastic shells but the real thing, produced by the Star League before the fall of civilization (Around 1999, when the Lucent clans invaded the inner sphere). Those things weren't built like a tank, they were built like a Mk XXXIII Bolo planetary siege unit with deuterium powered fusers, flintsteel transfer rollers and paper trays wrapped in durachrome.

    These indestructible behemoths of printing still dominate the battlefields of office printing but are being slowly replaced by more peaceful, disposable plastic boxes that may look like printers, and may print a few pages here and there, but they're Not LaserJets. If you want the real thing then you will need to either assemble it yourself from unbreakable scraps or barter for one with a veteran Office-er who is willing to part with theirs, usually in exchange for enough beer to forget what has happened to printers since The Fall.


  • Banned

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    That's just claptrapโ€ฆ


  • sockdevs

    The CL4P-TP General Purpose Robot... also a terrible poker player.



  • Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    I saw a squirrel!

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