kena

The holy printing altar

In hack on November 5, 2012 at 12:00

We have in our office this awesome networked multi-function laser color printer able to churn out hundreds of pages in a few minutes. It’s also our coffee corner at work. Which means I spend time quite often next to it. And therefore that I see stuff coming out of it.

What does come out, is a bunch of scientific articles, travel tickets, documentation, e-mails. And the odd student exam or course.

I like the scientific articles the most. With our large institute, there are quite a few coming out of the printer each day. I like to check out the abstracts between the moment they get out of the printer and the moment the owner of the printout comes to fetch it. Again, with our large institute the topics are very diverse and I get to learn a lot across quite a variety of fields.

And then sometimes the printout is left at the printer for somewhat longer: its owner has forgotten about it.

For this, we have a blue bin next to the printer, to recycle the paper. There is an unwritten rule that any “old” prints should make it to the blue bin if they are recognized to be stale or orphan.

But sometimes, instead, I “steal” the forgotten printout. Since it came from the printer, I always assume the owner could produce a new printout if so wished, so there is no hurt.

This way, I have accumulated quite a few unpublished articles (pending review) on really nifty stuff. I am careful to note when I read it and not talk about it before the publication date, but I still enjoy the learning experience and the feeling of exclusivity. Sometimes, I also discover software via documentation or presentations that I had never heard of.

Last week, I saved from the blue bin an absolutely gorgeous 200-page course on datacenter energy management. It was designed by someone from the largest company with a 3-letter acronym. After spending a copious number of hours studying the material, I feel both enlightened, a bit guilty of indulging from a source which was not intended for me, and quite frustrated that this knowledge is not more widely distributed. There seem to be an insane amount of exciting problems to be solved in this area, and I don’t remember seeing any of them before.

At any rate, this is my own and first take at dumpster diving. And I am really proud to recycle this way. I guess this is one of the perks of working in a university.

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