Fingerprint-Scanning Nonsense

(bleep like that one more time, motherfrakker)

My new school library, which is really a place for Sixth Form students to do work in free periods, opened this week, and has been the subject of two blog posts in three days, this is the second, and the first is a general overview of the room here, written in perhaps a more critical tone than I was anticipating.

In that post, I mentioned the fingerprint-scanning printing system, whereby you must scan your finger at the printer after you’ve sent a job there to verify that you’ve sent that job, and so the school can deduct the appropriate amount of printer credits (one per black-and-white page, three per coloured one) from your account.

Although the system is secure in this way, it is also unnecessarily complicated; it is not a matter of scanning your finger, but you use that finger as a kind of passcode, to access the printer’s hard drive, from where you must select the print job you actually want it to do; it’s only been three days, so I’ve not yet fallen down the inevitable trap of mis-tapping the screen and printing my 4,500-word English Coursework eight times. But give it a few weeks.

Furthermore, the finger’s nature as a passcode means that, somewhere, there is a passcode that we can access and punch in instead of using our fingers; and I know this to be true, as a box entitled ‘User ID’ appears, filled with identity-protecting asterisks, whenever I scan my finger in. Inevitably, when the room is opened up to the plebs in Year Seven, the printers will be surrounded by those squeaky-voiced little sheep all demanding their passcodes because their fingers won’t work, in some terrible chorus of passive-aggressively polite anger.

The scanners are also technically flawed, being imperfect in their recognition of fingers; I know, due to an unusually informative assembly on the subject, that each finger is assigned a binary code based on its print shape and every time that finger is scanned, its code is re-determined from scratch and compared to the database of codes; therefore, should there be an error in the system, people’s fingers could be assigned codes for other people, leading to printing chaos as we’ll end up with Steve logged into a computer printing Keith’s work on Bob’s finger, a crisis more depressing than my inability to come up with creative names.

And the lack of clarity on the existence and availability of the backup codes means that there are no tangible solutions either; we will simply have to complain to the powers that be (the school’s administrative department) and hope they fix everything for us, like pagans slaughtering sheep to a somehow bloodthirsty god of agriculture in exchange for bountiful crop yields, in scenes that would make no logical theistic sense, but do provide an excuse for a good ol’ slaughtering.

The system is also kinda difficult to use, with there being an apparent necessity to ‘Log out’ after a print job is done, that is not automated; surely the number of people who want to print multiple documents at once would be so few that the default setting for the printer would be to log a user out after one job, and offer them the chance to override this action if necessary, rather than there being no automated log-out process at all. Inevitably, there will be at least confusion, as we all try to pint on each other’s accounts, or at worst great troll-printing, as we realise someone has left their finger logged into the printer, and will proceed to burn all their credits by printing double-sided pages of unbordered and entirely red paper, in the educational equivalent of those oh-so-funny frapes on Facebook. Not that I’ve thought about doing such things.

On the other hand, it makes a funny beeping noise when you log in, so it’s pretty cool I guess.

Link:

Are Things Really ‘Better’?

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