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3:24pm on Friday, 24th October, 2008:



I've just printed off five copies of a business plan that I use in one of my lectures. The plan is a little too long (38 pages instead of 20), but it has all the content I need and it doesn't break any confidences to show it. So, that's 190 pages of A4 paper that my printer has had to churn out.

Now the sane thing to do would be to use the university's printers. However, there's some kind of resource system set up for them, and I don't have the necessary privileges. Yes, that's right: I can't print a single sheet of paper at the university, I have to do it all at home. When I first looked into getting the requisite privileges, no-one seemed to know how I should go about it. It had to be done face-to-face, but the person I had to see was away on some kind of compassionate leave. The person taking over his responsibilities worked in the department's workshop, and had no idea what was involved. Subsequent attempts have involved similarly strange failures of bureaucracy (I get the printer privilege if I get the photocopier card, and I get the photocopier card if I have the printer privilege). I think at one stage I had the right to print 100 sheets that term on a particular printer, but that printer was connected to a sub-net to which I had no access.

So, I gave up and print things at home now.

Besides, I'd have to do this anyway if I wanted anything in colour. The department's printers are all black and white (because that's SO much cheaper than colour) except for one. You need some kind of god privilege to use that, which means only a handful of very high-status academics can do so (or any member of the administrative staff).

Today, we spoke to our final-year project students about their preliminary reports, but hit a problem. One of them had not submitted a Gantt chart, but I'd seen it in Excel so I knew he'd done one — it just wasn't in the snazzy new cardboard folder where it was supposed to be. We asked the General Office what to do, and a quick check showed that the student had indeed submitted the chart, it just hadn't been printed. However, it was in full colour. Perhaps it had been printed, but had come out a mess so hadn't made it to the folder? The decision was therefore made to Print It In Colour.

It broke the colour printer.

Well, that would explain why it never made it to the folder, then. I'm not going to print a copy of it at home, though...

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).