A ghost in the fax machine

Not the best place for things to get weird.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

Pilot fish is a consultant doing IT support for local businesses, and one afternoon he gets a call from the undertaker, whose fax machine isn’t faxing.

A couple of days earlier, someone had tried to send him a fax, and despite trying four times, the fax machine didn’t print anything. Undertaker tried to send a fax as well, with no more success. Today, though, those four faxes were sitting in the output tray of the printer.

Fish gives it a try, dialing his mobile phone from the fax. The machine scans the originals, and fish can hear it dialing his number, and then a ringing tone. But his phone doesn’t ring.

Fish then dials the fax number from his mobile and gets a fax receiving tone back. But he can see that the fax machine is not answering the line.

Fish troubleshoots. He disconnects the phone line from the machine; when he calls it, he can still hear the fax receiving tone. So he disconnects the power line from the fax machine — and his mobile still whistles the fax tone.

Fish is thinking that he’d rather not have things get eerie in a mortuary.

But he keeps his head and calls the telecom operator’s support line and is told that the undertaker’s son had installed a new virtual fax, which means that the faxes are now received by the telecom operator, which sends them as email to the recipient. Undertaker opens his email and finds all the missing faxes.

But how did the faxes show up days later in the output tray? The son had stopped by the office that morning, opened the email, saw some faxes that hadn’t been read, and helpfully printed them out.

Sharky also prefers email to faxes. Send me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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