Also, I love your username in the context of this subthread.
Also, it's much better for our Front desk staff, as they don't have to constantly check the email. There is only 1 fax number, and anyone can send out the fax and whoever is working at the front desk gets a printed copy without doing anything.
I really wish there is a modern alternative to FAX.
Edit: What I mean by a modern alternative to Fax is that the sender can send high-resolution color documents without going through multiple steps. Scan documents to a computer, convert to PDF, Send an email with an attachment, Check email periodically, Print Email.
I have converted most of our documents to digital forms, and sync to all computers. Yet all my employees rather copy documents as they think its much faster and convenient. They will make 100s of copies of the document.
We accept all documents through email or fax. Last week we received an email with a one-page contract that was broken into 4 images. We asked to send it again and they rescanned and send it again the same way. I used a word to print 4 images into one page and call it a day.
What's missing from email + a couple lines of script code? (Or if you prefer, a lightweight piece of software that does the same thing). It seems like that covers all the cases you describe: automatically prints, don't have to check it, you can have only one email, etc. I mean the fact that some other parties are stuck on a legacy system is of course always a good reason, but that's not really a lack of a modern alternative.
Medical use: I call someone to tell them to expect a fax. I send the fax. I call the person and ask if they got the fax.
When sending the fax I hit the button and hear a dial tone. I know my machine is connected to the exchange. I dial the number and hear the ring tone. I know the recipient's machine is connected to the exchange. I hear their machine pickup and negotiate with mine. I know our machines are connected. My fax goes through. If it doesn't go through I get an error. If it doesn't go through on the recipient's machine I get an error.
You don't need this for a hotel booking.
You do need this if your patient is suicidal and plans to end their life and you're making a referral to a crisis team.
Unfortunately, many places do not use real fax machines plugged into POTS. They use virtual fax machines which do goodness-knows-what over the Internet. So, we get the drawbacks of fax combined with the unknown status of Internet.
It's a real mess. There's a huge amount of money (in the UK NHS) to be made with a better replacement.
That little green tick when someone reads your message is a surprisingly critical part of the workflow.
- Spam: We get tons of spam FAXes too. But compare to emails, way less spam.
- Also, most of the people who send out fax have a hard time scanning and emailing documents.
Yea, dont worry, I wasn't going for the "lol why doesn't everyone just learn Python and spin up a Docker container on ECS" trope. That's why I specified a lightweight piece of software, which is how everything used to work before the rise of the Web and mobile devices changed software distribution.
> Also, most of the people who send out fax have a hard time scanning and emailing documents.
Yes, this is the legacy third parties thing I was talking about. But this constraint doesn't have anything to do with the lack of a modern replacement for fax. On top of that, there are plenty of services (including free ones) that fake a fax number if necessary, with the standard caveat that inserting a service layer into your business workflow introduces risk.
Note that I'm not suggesting that you switch: when the road meets the rubber, it's often the rational choice for businesses to stick with old technologies for a variety of reasons. I was just puzzled by your more-general wish for a modern equivalent of fax, when there have existed "modern equivalents of fax" for decades that are superior on pretty much every axis.
The fax machine was thrown out last year, after sitting unused for years. I assume we reserve and pay for hotels over the WWW. Emails sent to (and from) 'email@example.com' are seen in a single mailbox by the people who organize travel and their manager. Outlook goes "Ping!" when an email is received.
If it's necessary, the secretary can access those emails from home or holiday.
> Scan documents to a computer, convert to PDF, Send an email with an attachment, Check email periodically, Print Email.
Any scanner / printer-scanner / photocopier-printer-scanner made in the last 15 years will do the first half of this in one step (i.e. insert document, press "email", enter address or choose from the address book, press "Scan & Send").
What exactly are you hoping to modernize (other than "technology A has been around longer than technology B"). If it's hardware e.g. a physical fax machine with a physical line and you want to get rid of that line there are existing options to do that with or without getting rid of the fax machine and with or without changing the workflow to some other technology stack like email.
If it's "fax is insecure" I agree but until that actually becomes a problem for the businesses on the other end nobody is going to care enough to deal with the change.
Fax is not secure.
Something like "Sender goes to the machine, and he punches my number or identification and it prints the document at my hotel"
This is fairly common at hospitals (when they don't have a fax server setup) and manifests as "oh the fax didn't come through" (even though it definitely sent successfully).
Maybe we can attach a typewriter to them as well so you can get all your private communication needs in one package. I know hipsters will be all over this.
Heck we could even use shortwave radio to transmit these: http://hamfax.sourceforge.net/
Big companies use travel agencies. They fax a virtual credit card. Depending upon the company, the credit card in the reservation won't authorize. We can only charge the credit card in the fax.
However, the major brands would rather have all of their hotel guests be inconvenienced and have people's personal information and ID scans flying around insecure systems operated by minimum wage hotel personnel with high turnover.
This is so that they (Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Choice, Wyndham, etc) can offload the chargeback risks and payment processing costs onto the franchisees.
I spent the weekend making reservations at nine hotels for a two-week trip. Of the nine, three could be paid online. Two could be reserved online, but will have to be paid with plastic at check-in. Two had web sites, but I had to call to make a reservation. Three didn't have web sites at all.
The vast majority of lodging options in the United States are not chains, or hooked up to an app.
and this Mar 2015 infographic on HotelNewsNow.com shows over the 10 biggest brands having over 4 million rooms, worldwide.
Some of those brands have hit 1 million rooms each, so I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of rooms in the US are able to be reserved online, and even the boutique hotels not affiliated with bigger brands have an online presence in my experience.
The only hotels I've seen not online are the low budget motels or smaller lifestyle businesses in a few niche locales here and there. Even then, I've seen them on booking.com where you enter your details, and booking.com emails or faxes the motel operator the details of your reservation.
You and I apparently travel different places, so my experience is different than yours.
But you're right about booking.com having the best chances of booking online in very small places.
Seems like the answer here is to just have a "fax machine" but replace "phone number" with "email address" and automatically print any documents sent to it ("documents" being defined as the emails themselves and/or - if present - attachments in specific formats like PDF, DOC(X), ODF, etc.). Shouldn't be terribly difficult even for a DIY project, let alone as a full-blown commercial product.
A spam filter would of course be a given.
The worst that can happen with a FAX is that the "attacker" can make you consume some paper and printer ink.
Faxing for CC authorizations certainly is not the best. Or I’m way confused and don’t understand your conditions of “best”
I routinely stay in places that don't have internet service, either deliberately (ranches and luxury off-grid getaway places), or because there is no infrastructure.
Internet isn't the solution to everything. In fact, some very high-end restaurants are now only taking reservations by telephone. And there was an article (NYT?) a few months ago about exclusive restaurants now only taking reservations by letter.
If internet was the answer to all of this, then Google wouldn't have spent billions of dollars on a system to call businesses to place orders and make reservations for you.
Also totally unclear how a reservation to eat compares to my credit card details going over plain phone line?
Google just wants market share in every market that exists.
The one at my work can scan both sides of a sheaf of papers at about 2 sheets per second, and attach it as a single PDF or set of JPEGs etc.
So now whenever I need to get in contact with a Doctor‘s office in Germany or public authorities, I don’t even try to call, but send a Fax immediately.
It's more a matter of ergonomics. I've also used fancier systems that scan to pdf and email or drop location internally, then you have to email the document out. Frankly, faxing direct is usually far easier.
God forbid that data not be vacuumed up never to be seen again except by the advertisers. /s
A file cabinet in the back office probably handles most people's use cases for documents they receive by fax 90% as well as any digital solution with a heck of a lot less effort.
Yes I send one fax per year for most stupid reasons.
Like: hey I have to send more documents to my state for taxes which I originally sent digitally through there secured service page: yes no problem here is our fax number...
I cannot imagine why people prefer an established, well-documented, open exchange format over some closed, proprietary, and probably obfuscated one.
The reason in this case is because the purchasing admin isn't the user and most certainly doesn't have a clue when it comes to tech, they liked the lunch the Epic rep provided and went with their gut (pun intended).
I'm not surprised to hear that it is growing in popularity. I think that we'll find an increasing number of other "antique" technologies that will find a resurgence for the same reasons.
It's not actually any better, just a lot of people learned how to use it 20 years ago and don't want to learn anything new because they're wastes of space.
Legally, this is interesting because it doesn't exist in email. You had the machines agree that the complete document was sent and was received. You will certainly find that it other transfer protocols, but not email, where the machines don't talk to each other directly.
Also, even when you have both an internet connection and a camera, there remain numerous possible reasons why you may not want to use the internet to send certain things.
I'm certainly not saying that everyone should start faxing, but I totally understand why there may be a substantial minority for whom it makes sense at least from time to time.
This may be the first time those words were used together in a sentence.
I can't say how well it works because nobody's faxed me (nor should anyone), but since every employee gets HIPAA training, I don't think there's much cause for worry about misdirected faxes.
Until we can get over the threshold of assuming nobody has a fax machine anymore, faxing is here to stay. Once we push that threshold, the remaining users can be forced out (by not having fax as an option, and faxing will fizzle away over time).
Think of it like supporting IE6. A lot of the holdouts for IE6 were large health care organizations and VA/gov centers... the same exact places still holding onto fax.
I just head to the local copy center when I'm forced to send (or receive) a fax, so for me "fax this to us" means "pay an extra $2 for no good reason".
Just because they prefer fax doesn't (usually) mean that it's the only way it can work. It doesn't mean you have to do it their preferred way.
"Where are you?"
"2019. I'm in the year 2019"
When was it the last time a land-line had an interruption of service. I can't even recall it happening to me.
Anybody has thought of sending faxes with QR codes?
Receiving systems that have the ability can get the fax's information quickly via QR code, instead of having to OCR the fax.
If the system doesn't support the capability, it's just ignored (by the fax machine and humans).
Might be helpful.
(Seriously: I like how it talked about fax being more secure than email while also talking about computer-based fax services.)
Yeah, that's a common failure, which impedes progress. Anti-competitive NIH and lock-in. And indeed, bad players usually fall in line only when they have no choice.
For legal documents that have to be sent in a timely manner and give you a verifiable receipt of delivery, you need to go with a fax rather than email.
Your fax isn't going to disappear without a trace due your email server not being reputable enough or looking like spam, or exceeding your delivery rate.
And fax machines are easy to use.
Securing document exchange by email is a PITA for 99.9% users. Explain to your mother how to use PGP/GPG to encrypt the email she have to send to financial institutions, government, ... And imagine the government employee receiving the encrypted email. He will probably just delete it. :)
Fax-to-fax is completely vulnerable to all kinds of attacks (even before considering situations where what seems to be fax-to-fax involves one end or the other actually being a gateway to some insecure system that pretends to be a fax machine), because:
(1) phone number hijacking is a thing,
(2) phone lines can be eavesdropped on,
(3) fax lacks authentication between endpoints,
(4) fax lacks encryption.
OTOH, in HIPAA environments it's often preferred because fax is not considered “electronic media”, so it is not covered by either the transaction standards or security standards that apply to transactions conducted via electronic media.
Great in theory, until you realize that most people don't have fax machines, so they use some online fax service that's probably less secure than sending email.
Turns out the reason is rather simple: the law explicitly requires phone lines to be confidential in terms of eavesdropping. (You need a warrant, else it‘s illegal). While all other means of transport are not covered by this. So everyone who wants to legally cover his ass, would rather use the legally privileged, but technically wide open phone line over technically sound solutions missing such a legal framework.
However, POTS these days commonly uses VoIP as an intermediary. I don't know if the law covers the same phone call during its passage through a VoIP segment.
What about VOIP? Cell phones? WIFI calling?
If it's not on a phone line, then it's not afforded those legal protections. None of those communication media you just mentioned are using a phone line as a transport mechanism. (They're also not similar to fax from a UX standpoint.)
I was asking whether those protections applied to only landlines, or all telephone conversations (eg. cellphones).
>If it's not on a phone line, then it's not afforded those legal protections.
This sounds problematic considering that for PSTN, "phone lines" only cover the last few miles of transport. Does that mean you can't tap outside someone's house (where it's a phone line), but you could tap outside the CO, where it's fiber or even public internet?
(And it was illegal, although now, in the USA, I don't think it would be anymore.) Largely depends on what TLA you are, and whether or which secret court you derive your authority from / are required to report to for renewal of your secret warrant.
Of course the GP was about doctors in Germany, and this 641a business was about an NSA facility operated on an AT&T switching office in San Francisco, USA (so this does not also preclude that.)
I think based on what I know about Germany and privacy laws, the court would use a favorable liberal interpretation of "phone line" to mean, say, any connection that begins and ends with a phone line, and terminates with a dial-tone. I don't know much about German courts though, so take that only for what it's worth.
HOWEVER doing that is a hardcore crime. You can be sent to federal prison for years for doing that. So the USPS is not secure in any sort of mathematical sense, but in practice most people trust it most of the time, because security isn't just about technical implementation details like encryption.
Similarly wiretapping telephone lines may be straight forward, but you'd have to be exceptionally daring or stupid to actually do it.
But if your data is such that it would be a “hardcore crime” to seek access to it fraudulently, or the main reason people would do so is to commit a “hardcore crime”, using an information channel that is only considered secure because of the social safeguard that breaching it's trivial protection is itself a “hardcore crime” is probably foolhardy, since engaging in such a crime is cost already accepted by the attackers you are concerned about.
So, for example, doctors using faxes makes a lot of sense. Maybe not for doctors with high profile celebrity or politician clients who value their privacy, but for the most part.
(1) Don't assume you know all potential criminals’ utility functions (especially, don't assume all of their utility is financial), and, more important
(2) Don't presume crime is usually rational, in the first place.
You can only pull off something like this in the analog world a couple of times max, before you are caught and sentenced. And the average expected outcome (expressed in some financial unit) is probably quite small. Alternatively, the (financial) costs in the analog world are higher than the expected gains, so no sane persons would bother trying.
It is probably equally small for doing similar things digital (like over the internet) BUT you can expect to be able to perform it multi times over AND if you choose your country of residence sensibly, you will not go to jail - ever.
We can probably model this something like this:
(1 - propabilityOfGettingCaught)^timesExecuted * timesExecuted * money
The more often executed, the more likely to be caught
(1 - .1)^10 + 10 * 10,000 ~= 35k
(1 - .00001)^100,000 + 100,000 * 10 ~= 370k
Digital, save location:
(1-0)^100,000 + 100,00 * 10 ~= 1m
Not even close.
I can think of a lot of advantages to using old-school faxes, but security is not one of them. In fact, the complete lack of security is a big disadvantage to using old-school faxes.
There's a lot of money in fax.