80s nostalgia is all the rage these days in fashion, music, and pop culture. How many of us, when we saw kids starting to wear neon sunglasses and ripped jeans, rolled our eyes and groaned, “Oh no, that’s coming back? I wore that the first time around!”
But how many of those leg-warmer-wearing young people are toting around Sony Walkmans or watching their favorite flicks on VHS? Not many. Technology is usually exempt from the nostalgia cycle once it is replaced by something newer and more efficient. But one relic from the 1980s—the fax machine—didn’t get the memo, “maybe because,” says Dan Tynan on the NBC Tech and Gadgets blog, “someone wrote it on a typewriter and faxed it.” Ouch.
I realize that it can be hard to give up a technology that you are comfortable using, and to be fair, the fax machine was a great technology for its time. But it has been replaced by technologies that are faster, higher quality, and just plain easier.
Here are a few options.
Scan to email
Most of the new Ricoh multi-function devices have a feature that scans a document, creates a PDF, then emails it to you. This is a great feature if you need to sign a paper document and send it to someone; unlike a fax, the document isn't distorted, cut off, or faded. Think you need to fax important paperwork such as refinance documents? Think again—most mortgage lenders now accept (and prefer!) PDFs.
Save as PDF
Many programs, including MS Word, give you the option to save a document as a PDF. This is an entirely paperless workflow, perfect for documents that don’t need a signature.
If you require people to print, fill out, and fax paper forms to you, consider switching to web forms. Both SharePoint and Google have web forms that you can add to your website or send via email as a survey. And because the form data is collected automatically in a spreadsheet, you spend less time hand-entering data. If you're interested in creating web forms, consider attending a SharePoint or Google Open Lab (check Avatar for upcoming dates).
With better, more reliable alternatives available, I’m confident that we’ll start moving away from faxing.
Have you moved away from faxing? What worked best for you? Please chime in with your comments below.