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(This one is a bit silly.)
Today I decided to do battle with a photocopier. Not just any photocopier, mind, but one of the dreaded Materials Science Department photocopiers. (I do not actually know whether they are widely dreaded or not, but it seems likely.)
This was not a random act; it was intended to avenge the defeat I had suffered at the hands (console?) of the same photocopier before Christmas. On that infamous occasion, the photocopier cunningly photocopied every part of the paper I wanted flawlessly, with the single exception of equation 6. It was only after I returned to my office that I came to realise that equation 6 was the only part of that paper I needed to use. Peering closely at the four bits of toner the photocopier had helpfully deposited near the location of equation 6, I was able to reconstruct it.
Unfortunately, I discovered when reading a thesis which quoted this paper that the exact same equation had been copied out of the paper -- and was not the same as the version I had.
So, back to Materials Science it was, to check that detail, and also to copy two other papers.
This time, however, I was prepared. Noting that the photocopier I had used last time had now run out of toner completely, I determined to use another photocopier. But the photocopiers were too cunning for me! Two of the remaining three were marked ``out of order'', and the third had one of those irritating touch-screen consoles which has about enough functions on it to control the entire US space program.
Undaunted, I used my extensive experience of user interfaces to push buttons at random in a threatening manner until the photocopier realised I was not to be messed with, and switched into ``just copy the damned thing'' mode.
But, alas, it was not to be that easy. For, while the photocopier gave the outward appearance of working properly, it had a surprise in store. Lo and behold, as soon as I got to page 135 of the journal I was copying from, the photocopier put its foot (drum?) down, and instead of copying the page, instead produced sheet after sheet of random gibberish. I turned the page around, so that page 135 was on a different part of the photocopier glass, but to no effect. I tried copying onto A3 rather than A4 paper, but again was unsuccessful.
I retired to plan another course of action. In consultation with the librarian, I decided to try to fool the photocopier into working. First, I changed the magnification on the photocopier. Then, quick as lightning, I pulled the journal from the photocopier, turned it around, and copied page 135 onto a new sheet of paper. The photocopier was not quick enough to spot my ruse! It copied the page perfectly! Sulkily, the photocopier copied the rest of the paper without incident. I had won.
Copyright (c) 2002 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.