Nothing frustrates me more than technology being wasted. My latest pet-peeve is the inability to scan documents – either by using a photocopying machine with scanning capability or microfilm scanner.
Many of those large Xerox machines that we use in libraries or photocopying places have the ability to scan as easily as it photocopy. Actually, the photocopying is nothing but a scan image that is printed onto paper. So, it would read the book page and instead of sending it to a blank page, it could send it to a computer attached to the machine. It would save me a lot of hassle – and space – if I could scan articles instead of photocopying them. But no, we have to own your own personal scanner even though you are making photocopies on machines quite capable of providing that service.
The same thing is possible with a microfilm scanner. As historians, many of the sources my friends and I use are in microfilm format. That means spending hours looking at a microfim reader’s screen and since it is so hard to stare at those screens for too long (trust me, I did it for a year and my eyes paid a heavy price), our solution is to print the pages we have to use frequently. That in itself might not be that inconvenient. Unfortunately, when you have to work with medieval manuscript sources, the quality of the photocopies are very iffy and often requires several wasted prints before you can figure out which ones work best. At U of T it often costs me almost a dollar for every page I need to print, because I need to waste 3-4 prints before I get one that is legible.
The frustrating thing is that my life would be way easier if I could scan the image as opposed to print it. That way I could play with contrast and view better the images that don’t look so good on screen. It is, after all, a microfilm scanner. So I asked the man working at the media department at the library where I view my microfilms why the scanner wasn’t attached to a computer so we could scan instead of print. He mumbled something about copyright, which is really a silly answer. I mean, if I can print, why can’t I scan? It really is the same thing! Besides, most content on microfilm predates copyright laws anyway.
My other pet-peeve is not being able to watch TV, all the regular channels available, on the internet, live. But that’s a topic for another rant.