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Saturday 20 September 2014

How to fix an Irish printer and other tricks of the trade

Published 21/08/2014 | 02:30

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Irish offices have developed many of their own ingenious proprietary technologies and processes
Irish offices have developed many of their own ingenious proprietary technologies and processes

These days, office technology is moving toward the cloud and software-as-a-service. But Irish offices have developed many of their own ingenious proprietary technologies and processes. Here are the ten of them.

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1 Digital signatures

While two-factor authentication is now accepted abroad in online security transactions, Irish companies are among the only incorporated organisations in the world to require three-factor authentication. These are: (i) print out the document in question (ii) physically sign it with a biro (iii) fax or courier it to the second party. The Irish corporate method cleverly avoids costs associated with training staff to understand that faxes and emails are virtually indistinguishable.

2 Tagging technology

Irish offices' response to Facebook's biometrics or Google's location-based investments is the rollout of a rare compound. The formula, known as Tipp-ex was once earmarked for offline word editing but is now primarily deployed in marking prized or disputed office chairs. A secondary use involves the tagging of legacy devices, including 'staplers'.

3 Printers

Amid paper jams, ink shortages and virtually every other sort of printer malfunction, one Irish technique fixes almost all reported printer errors: opening and closing the 'A4' tray repeatedly. 

Where Windows PCs have Control-Alt-Delete, printers have A4 tray triggers. No matter what the error message says ('warning', 'critical template malfunction', 'replace module C701Z'), opening and closing a few drawers seems to provide a magic override technique. Unfortunately, this does not work when attempting to print documents from any 'popular' online software such as Gmail.

This is because Irish printers are programmed to resist virtually all attempts at connecting with modern software.

4 Emailulator

Irish PCs were fixed in 1997 with a permanent software tweak that fixes email templates on corporate machines. The template ensures that legal disclaimers at the end of emails must be a minimum of four font points larger than the default font size of the email's messaging script. The programme's other properties include a rule that there must be at least two conflicting font styles within a single email.

Any attempt to edit this hard-wired digital signage results in a permanent blue colour replacing the message's original black font.

5 Remote system access

When leaving the country on a business trip, a special cookie lodged in your mobile devices and laptop triggers an automatic password expiry execution in your office email programme. This ensures that you cannot check critical work email without first spending a minimum of 15 minutes trying alternatives or calling IT support from abroad to 'sort it out'. It is also designed to vindicate IT system administrators who maintain that 'it was wrong' to have switched away from BlackBerry devices two years ago.

6 Wireless networks

The key to accessing the company wifi network is to repeat entry of the password three times. This is because Irish wifi networks are designed to automatically decline all initial keyed-in entries. (The network will accept a second attempt only if detects that an IT help request email has been dispatched beforehand. Otherwise, a minimum of three attempts is required.)

7 Redux capaciter

One of the most heavily guarded secrets of the guild of IT System Administrators of Ireland is the existence of the Redux Capicter, a proprietary technology that subtly reduces the capacity of any office worker's email inbox to a 'barely alive' storage amount. This is typically in the range of 500MB, or one eighth the capacity of a €5 4GB plastic memory card. The Redux Capaciter also has a secondary function for those who do not reach their 500MB (50c) limit, bombarding with warning emails anyway. The redux capaciter technology terminates only when the right level of humility is achieved in the IT support request email, asking for a manual intervention.

8 Social media accounts

Irish professionals' social media accounts have been statistically proven to be more vulnerable to hacking than any other nationalities' accounts. Typical hacking attacks include the malicious planting of petty remarks about office rivals and inappropriate messages of a sexually suggestive nature placed predominantly in the early hours of Sunday mornings. High profile victims include cabinet ministers, chief financial officers and senior media professionals. Top brains are continuing to probe why Irish professional social media accounts, in particular, are targeted so singularly by rogue hacking groups all over the world.

9 Monitors

Standard office PC monitors feature controls borrowed from the Commodore 64 and other pre-1985 operating systems. Controls ostensibly marked as 'brightness' and 'aspect ratio' actually trigger the screen to skip and blink repeatedly with a permanent loss of colour. Despite this sensitivity, PC monitors continue to enjoy an extended honeymoon as 'flat screens', which, as every Irish office manager knows, is 'advanced technology'.

10 In-house ATM machines

Many large enterprise organisations now feature in-house ATM machines. However, these machines are hardwired to withdraw services when detecting urgency or need on the part of the withdrawer. Typically, a card error message ensues. In especially urgent ATM withdrawal cases, machines are programmed to change screens, indicating that the ATM is out of use. A successful way around this hardware quirk is to ostentatiously affect nonchalance when initiating the transaction. This perceived indifference will ensure that the device's silicon instincts remain unaroused.

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