21 November 2008
There's life in the old fax yet
Fax machines lie gathering dust in most offices, little-used reminders of a past before the delivery of the outside world direct to your desktop by email. Among the piles of junk faxes, there are occasional missives from subcontractors or small sites that are unequipped with internet connections. And there are still occasions when delivery of a sketch, letter or response to a query to the same subcontractor or site office is invaluable. Can the fax live on without the fax machine?
There are a wide range of printer/scanners on the market which incorporate fax-sending. These vary from large office network devices to small, single-user consumer level devices. If the device has an appropriate user interface, convenience for sending is as good as a standalone fax machine. Some larger office network devices may be able to forward received faxes to file servers or to email, all of which helps avoid printing out large quantities of junk faxes.
Sending software from and receiving it directly to each user’s work station may be your goal, and for faxes generated from text or for other computer-generated documents, it can be convenient. However, if you need to send a quick hand-drawn sketch, you will also need access to a scanner from your computer. Canon makes compact, low-cost A4 scanners that can be powered and connected to your computer with a single USB port if you don’t have access to a networked scanner (www.canon.co.uk).
To provide fax-sending and fax-receiving to everybody’s work station, you will need to set up some software. At the most basic level, this can be done with the software built into the operating system of every computer.
Apple’s operating system allows users to set up a single computer to act as a shared fax sender for an entire network; it can be configured either to file received faxes on your file server, auto-print them or forward them to a specific email address. (Most Apple computers no longer come with modems, so you will need to buy one.)
In Windows XP or Vista, sending from networked computers is similar, but the receipt of faxes is limited to them being filed on the local receiving machine. Auto-printing and onward email delivery are not available straight out of the box, but a range of low-cost fax-sending software is available for Windows, which should be able to overcome these limitations.
At the other end of the spectrum are the built-in fax server option and third-party plug-in for Microsoft’s small business servers. Alternatively, dedicated fax server software is available both for Windows and Apple computers. However, the cost, set-up and administration time on such systems is probably too large an overhead to be justified by the low volume of faxes in most architects’ offices.
Another strategy is to outsource and use an internet-based fax service. Unlike most of the solutions proposed above, these use your internet connection rather than plugging into a standard analogue phone. Such is their independence of a phone line that you can even use these services from a 3G-equipped laptop, or from any mobile phone with an email client built in!
To use these services, you need to sign up for a contract, at which point you will be given a fax number. All incoming faxes will be sent to a designated email address, and you can use any email client to send a fax to any fax number. Two such solutions are Efax (www.efax.co.uk) and Myfax (www.myfax). Contracts, including a bundle of faxes, start from about £5 a month.
While all computer-based faxing systems lose out on convenience when it comes to having to use a scanner to get a hand-drawn sketch into the system, the internet-based solution provides the greatest flexibility to send and receive faxes from any email- enabled device, whether in or out of office.
Just be vigilant so that junk faxes don’t consume all the faxes included in your contract.
- Spotlight Archive
- Rendering can help build a better picture
- Ojeu tenders website gets a makeover
- Could Newforma Project Centre clean up your desktop?
- Is wireless networking the best choice for your architecture firm?
- The software generation game
- Shine a searchlight on your site
- New year forecast looks cloudy
- What can ebooks do for your firm?
- How to kit out your home office
- A new bite of the Apple
- Making the best of software upgrades
- Conference points to design's virtual future
- How to navigate the cad file pile-up
- Getting it together
- Get the best from the 3D explosion
- Free yourself from computer slavery
- Making a virtual out of necessity
- Taking the first bite of Apple Autocad
- Bim adds an extra dimension
- Apple Autocad software looks fruitful
- Where did all the time go?
- Make sure you're not storing up trouble
- iPad has the right touch for Architects
- Know your building's carbon footprint
- Working Prototypes: 2010 Smart Geometry conference in Barcelona
- Time to explore the world of browsers
- Taxman will pay you to innovate
- Is Google Apps the solution startups are searching for ?
- Beware the pitfalls of new broadband
- What are the odds of defeating spam?
- Make the most of your resources
- Who says backing up is hard to do?
- Breaking away from the slideshow presentation
- Are architects ready to tweet?
- The paper chase is over - what now?
- Vector programs give 2D drawings the edge
- Smart Geometry 2009
- How to budget IT as recession bytes
- Let’s get physical, physical... rapid prototyping helps bring your projects to life
- Searching for the best tender search
- PDFs ready to enter the third dimension
- There's life in the old fax yet
- Don't let your computer catch a malware malady
- Don't forget your backups
- Where has my broadband speed gone?
- 2D or not 2D? Architectural modelling packages that offer you more
- How smart devices can make the office more efficient
- How green is my PC?
- Lomas Davies Twitter