Can you just fax me the wtf?



  • This was back when I had first "upgraded" from Tech Support to Technical Writing[1] and I was writing a manual for an ISP. This was back in the Win3.11 days where we had to send out floppies for new users, because they didn't have a TCP/IP stack. The web was a new thing. Domains were free. Slackware was the cool new thing, etc.

    I had been using a publisher for the "new user" manual who had been great -- knew what they were doing, gave great proofs, understood Pagemaker, font substitutions, etc. Normal procedure was to put our pagemaker files and a postscript version on a ZIP disk and they'd come get it. They'd provide proofs after a phone call fixing any issues.

    The comptroller wanted to save money (of course) and they had "an associate" (meaning: a friend) who owned "a full service print company" (read: they made photocopies).

    The new and cheaper printers really had no idea how to do document production more involved than printing fliers and 3-part forms. They didn't have a ZIP drive (wtf? Everybody used them at that stage! You couldn't exactly email a 25mb file via dialup!), they didn't have Pagemaker, etc, etc...

    Problem was, they didn't tell us any of this upfront. It was the old "can't do X" cycle...

    First, they asked for the file on a floppy (it was 25mb). Next, they wanted it in Word (I made them get Pagemaker - they had to find a machine with a CD ROM)

    Then, they sent a "proof" -- I use quotes here, because it wasn't a proof. It was just a printout of the manual on regular paper (our format was a smaller pamphleted size) with no registration marks or anything. And they didn't have any of our fonts (and appartently ignored the substitution list we'd included) -- so half the text wasn't readable because it'd become WingDings or other weird crap. Even Courier was screwed up. COURIER.

    I blew a gasket on the phone with their "lead designer" -- she didn't know a damn thing, and the fonts was the last straw.

    She didn't understand the issue (obviously she hadn't even looked at the "proof"), or why I was upset, or even what fonts were.

    "Ok, I understand you are upset. We just don't have any of these odd fonts[2] -- I have your list here, but I don't have the actual font itself. Can you fax it to me?"

    I carefully had her repeat that. She wanted me to FAX the FONT FILE to her? Yes, that'd be easiest.

    I fired them on the spot. I almost got fired for it, too.

    Later, after many beers, the Operations guys offerred to take the font file, uuencode it, print it, and fax it to her for me. I always liked those guys. 🙂

    ...Xoff

    --

    1 Yes, its an upgrade...the number of morons you need to interact with on a daily basis drops significantly. Its just the type and severity of the moron that increases.

    2 Garamond was the one we'd chosen...I use it to this day. Its a
    standard font that comes with Pagemaker, IIRC.



  • Back in college, maybe 1999, on Halloween, I took a picture of a guy friend in a dress. It was funny. So I made a poster of it, rendered as 11"x17" PDF, and brought it to a local print shop/art supply store (not a "full service print company," but still, I had certain expectations.)

    They had a Mac and a PC. The PC had no Zip drive, so they had to use the Mac. The Mac had Acrobat Reader 2.5 IIRC, which wouldn't read my PDF version 3.0 document when the current version of the PDF format was 4.0. I went home, changed my settings, and rendered to an older version of the format. Then, I watched as the guy wasted 25 minutes and maybe 4 sheets of paper, including one where he'd rotated it 90 degrees, cutting off 1/3 of the image. Finally, I was presented with the finished product.

    Now, I thought that story was really bad--shouldn't the operator have had enough practice that he'd know what buttons to push?--but every point of your story, Xoff, tops mine. I am shocked and humbled.



  • CD-ROM? Fonts? What are those? And anyway, they sound expensive. And if you do fax me those fonts, should I fax them back, or will you be fine without them?

    And don't worry - I'll fax you back the electricity you use.



  • We've had a third-party website design faxed to us once.

    Yeah.

    Useful.



  • @R.Flowers said:

    CD-ROM? Fonts? What are those? And anyway, they sound expensive. And if you do fax me those fonts, should I fax them back, or will you be fine without them?

    And don't worry - I'll fax you back the electricity you use.

    I think you have to fax them back, so that they can be faxed to the next customer...



  • Wouldn't the proper thing have been to fax her a test printout of the fonts [You know, one of those printouts that shows every char in the set]?  Let her deal with how to use them.



  • These same guys started their own web development company several years later.



  • I'm pretty sure Garamond is built into all PostScript level 2
    devices.  Just like PostScript level 1 is guaranteed to support
    Courier, Helvetica, Times Roman and Symbol.



    I realize the incident was a while ago, but I think PostScript level 2
    was already widely available, because I had a reference book for it
    back around 1992.



  • @R.Flowers said:

    CD-ROM? Fonts? What are those? And anyway, they sound expensive. And if you do fax me those fonts, should I fax them back, or will you be fine without them?

    And don't worry - I'll fax you back the electricity you use.


    You can't fax the electricity, that'd be silly.

    You send it via... um... "electronic"-mail.

     🙂

         -dZ.


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