Wednesday, September 4, 2013
From Dr. Magnus: Sentient Copier Machines
The first sign of trouble was one day last year when it jammed very badly. I removed the offending sheet, and I swear that sheet of paper looked just like a giant version of Cookie Monster had "tasted" it. I was unnerved, and reluctant to put my hand in there to unjam it next time. I talked the departmental secretary into helping me. She is now retired. :)
Next, I suspected it was able to identify faculty members by their copier access codes. For months is refused to let me send it copy jobs from my office computer. Finally I had to send them to the secretary (the replacement for the one who retired). She would use my copier code and it would jam or swear that the copies were not the right size for the available paper (it lies). She retired, too. :) I think it nipped at her. Left on my own, I tried printing out a master copy in my office and getting the copy machine to scan and print it. It ate my master copy, then claimed that the scanner was jammed.
If I sent my grad student to try making copies, he would be gone for an inordinate amount of time but would return with very good, stapled copies. I remain suspicious as to how he made those copies. He is gone, too ... as are all the bandages in the workroom first aid kit.
Things got interesting when it figured out how to connect my copier id to my course schedule. Once it knew my course schedules, it would print and copy just fine ... until five minutes before my next class was due to start. It then began to randomize how many pages it copied before it put a staple in. If I entered the faculty workroom during this time and made a disparaging comment about its performance, it began to randomly add blank sheets to my copies. The closer it got to class time, the more randomized its behavior became. Five pages, staple; four pages, blank page, blank page, staple; three pages, blank page, repeat two pages, staple ... and so forth.
Soon our copy machine learned how to activate the jam sensor without an actual jam being present, presenting an unsolvable problem: how do you unjam a copier that isn't jammed?
Fellow academics, how do I make peace with a sentient, deceitful, mean-spirited copy machine that has evolved teeth?