Posts Tagged ‘xerox’

Friends and longtime readers will probably know that I work for Xerox. With this post, I’m doing them the favor of highlighting something rather awesome that got launched today.
Xerox ColorQube

(Obligatory CYA text: This post is entirely my own and does not represent Xerox – and I wouldn’t ordinarily do a product plug unless I really thought the product was worth it. All graphics here are, however, copyright and used with permission of Xerox Corp.)

When I worked in graphics offices, printers were often the bane of my existence. Paper would get jammed, toner cartridges would need changing (an extremely messy process), and the quantity of garbage generated was depressing to someone who actually cares about the environment. And any time you needed to open the machine up, it was a pain to see what you needed to do and the manual wasn’t much help.

Enter ColorQube.

First of all, there IS no toner cartridge. Just sticks of solid ink, which can be loaded easily even while the printer is running.

ColorQube Solid Ink sticks

Because it is not subject to the texture of the paper surface, a solid ink printer can produce the same perfect image on recycled paper as it can on new – and since there’s no toner cartridge, the amount of waste is very low – indeed, 90% less than with a typical laser printer. Added to the 12% drop in CO2 emissions and the 10% drop in energy requirements, and you have probably the most environmentally friendly printer on the market.

But no printer is perfect, and paper will always get jammed. The way Xerox has dealt with this is to have clear help videos built right into the console, and internal blue LEDs which illuminate the paper path so you can find the jam and clear it very quickly.

And did I mention that the operating costs are actually lower than virtually any other color printer out there?

I know the vast majority of my readers don’t have much say in their workplace’s IT purchasing… but for those who do – take a look at one of these, I think you’ll find it’s worth every penny and more.

colorqube gui

I’m all done plugging now. For those interested, you can follow today’s ColorQube launch on Twitter by following @XeroxEvents.

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1. Tina Fey

With her portrayals of Sarah Palin, Tina Fey almost single-handedly made SNL good again.


2. Joss Whedon

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so, because it is simply so off-the-wall laugh-out-loud funny. And the music rocks, too.

Honorable mentions to Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day for this also.


3. Barack Obama

The exhilaration of Obama’s victory still hasn’t faded in all places. The Blagojevich affair, the continued economic crapness and the violence in Gaza have largely overshadowed it, but Obama allowed a great many people to believe in something better, inspired many people to get out and vote for the first time, and stopped the election from being a quasi-Hobsonian choice between Hillary Clinton and John McCain.


4. Harry Redknapp

As I mentioned in my “2009 won’t suck” post, the new Tottenham manager has been turning the team around and getting some good results under the collective belt. Here’s hoping we see more of the same.


5. Juande Ramos

The previous Tottenham manager. Although things turned sour later on, Ramos steered the team to a Cup win and thereby ensured our continued competitive presence at a continental level as well as national. But enough was enough.


6. Anne Mulcahy

While Xerox’s CEO didn’t have a direct hand in the decision to hire me, her continued support for my department is a big part of what made it possible. 2009 has brought layoffs, it’s true, but 2008 was still made better for me. And while the layoffs have stung all over the company, the aforementioned support was probably also a major factor in keeping the attrition down to the levels we ended up seeing.


7. Aaron Sorkin

I know The West Wing has long since finished its run. That said, it is still one of the greatest shows ever to air, and watching it on DVD for the third or fourth time through was still great. Especially knowing that certain of the West Wing characters were based on actual politicians who figured strongly in the 2008 campaign.


8. Nate Silver

A less well-known name, but one which made a few headlines in 2008 and which I believe will make more and more, Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com made a name for himself using statistical models and a huge amount of polling data to predict the results of the 2008 election, which he did with remarkable accuracy. His efforts inspired me to make my own predictions – using less advanced math, of course – which also went rather well.


9. Arianna Huffington

2008 was the year in which The Huffington Post shed at least some of its liberal bias and made an effort to become a very credible news source. While many of the articles, particularly the op/eds, continue to show a strong liberal slant, the more objective “HuffPo” overtook The Drudge Report as my news site of choice.

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Relief, and sorrow

I am still employed.

Not entirely sure why, at this point; let’s look at the reasons I had to be hopeful.

The 2008 numbers are up The person who crunched the numbers is gone.

My manager wasn’t called upon to axe people My manager is also gone.

But the axe is now done swinging, and it bit deep throughout our department. Between today’s layoffs and the voluntary separation offer that went out at the tail end of last year, we’ve lost 10 people out of 40-45.

I’ve heard that other parts of the company are getting hit harder.

And the PA just called for medical emergency response team to the area where they’re offering the next-step career counseling – so either someone just had a breakdown, or someone went postal. Probably the former, but the latter is not completely without precedent.

This has been a brutal day, during which I have seen far too many hard-working and dedicated people, many of them friends, join the ranks of the unemployed.

Those of us who are left have a meeting in a little over an hour, during which we will presumably discuss how on earth we’re all going to structure our work from here on out. It probably won’t be pretty.

But I will be here for it, and for that I am very grateful.

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The Other Other L Word

The prospect of impending layoffs at Xerox has been weighing heavily on all of us here in the last couple of months; ever since it was announced that the company was seeking to cull roughly three thousand employees from its workforce, most of us have wrestled with the unanswerable question “will I be one of the three thousand?”. While this constitutes about 5 per cent of the total workforce and thus gives people the knowledge that there is about a 95 percent chance of being just fine, that’s still not a comfortable enough margin for anyone to feel secure. However, the questions will soon be answered – L-day is at hand.

Tomorrow, an unspecified number of Xerox employees around the globe will be provided with boxes in which to pack up their desks.

Indicators are good for my team, in the following ways:

  • The 2008 numbers for e-commerce are up compared to 2007.
  • The higher-ups continue to hand us project assignments that stretch well beyond tomorrow.
  • The meetings during which certain managers were informed that they would have to cull people did not include my manager.

However, those are not cast-iron guarantees of anything.

So if you happen to like me, and not be secretly plotting my demise or anything, I would appreciate good wishes tomorrow – perhaps a prayer or two if you are so inclined.

If, on the other hand, you are secretly plotting my demise, but in a manner which involves a nasty copier-related “accident”, you still have cause to hope for my continued employment, so I would ask the same favor of you.

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This is the start of a new temporary (maybe 9 days) feature wherein I make lists of stuff. So yeah. Reasons 2009 won’t suck.

1. New albums from Guster and Carbon Leaf

They’re not the only ones, of course, but two perennial favorites who will be releasing new material for the first time since 2006. Perhaps this will be as good a music year as that was.

2. Radical topiary

By which I of course mean the wholesale removal of the Bushes from the political landscape. I know that Obama has an extraordinarily difficult year ahead of him, and as such I am hesitant to expect a full reversal of the Bush policies I have disagreed with. However, I believe that he is likely to bring a change for the better, and I look forward to seeing it.

3. The return of Jermain Defoe

Tottenham have been woefully short on goals this season, largely due to the previous management’s boneheaded decision to sell off our three most prolific strikers in 2008 without lining up a proven replacement. As such, we were languishing at the foot of the league for a long time. Mercifully, said management has fallen under the proverbial axe, and due to the arrival of the new manager one of those strikers is now returning. Two other existing players are beginning to find their rhythm as well, and we have won more games than we have lost in the last 4-5 weeks. Here’s hoping this continues and we can climb the table again.

4. Going to Florida

On the 23rd, we will be escaping the cold and wet and dreary weather for a week in the sticky-out bit at the bottom right of America. More on that when it happens.

5. Getting our own place

2009 will in all likelihood see us moving into a house of our own, away from the mental depredations inflicted upon us throughout the years by noisy neighbors and flaky landlords. 

6. Baby steps

L is very close to taking his first steps, and will almost certainly do so either this month or next. It’s something that is second nature to any of us, but an extremely important milestone for him, and I can’t wait to be the proud daddy when he manages it.

7. Commemorative coinage

2009 sees the extension of the State Quarters program for one more year, four new Presidential dollar coins and four commemorative pennies. OK, so it’s only 14 coins and thus about 1.2% of my collection, but there are new coins coming out and I’m a coin nerd and that therefore makes me squee like a 7-year-old seeing the newest line of Hannah Montana merchandise.

8. More interesting work

Ever since I started at Xerox, I’ve been working on one big behemoth of a project, now mercifully complete. This means that I get to do a wider variety of things.

9. Steve Jobs is still not dead

Notwithstanding the rumours that keep screwing with Apple’s stock price, one of the computer industry’s titans is still alive and kicking, and thus there will be more pretty shiny toys released this year.

So yeah. Should be a good year.

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Some time back, I was talking with some of my Xerox colleagues about a particular admonition dispensed during orientation:  that Xerox is a noun and must by no means be used as a verb. When I was five, before I had ever heard of Xerox Corporation, I remember my piano teacher telling me to “xerox the score to this piece of music so you have a copy to take home with you”. Since then, I have encountered the verb ‘to xerox’ a remarkable number of times.

At first I wondered what the problem was with verbing the company’s venerable name, but I get it now. Xerox makes a lot more than just photocopiers, and as such using ‘Xerox’ as a verb does very much constitute brand dilution.

Xerox me this, Google me that

Now it seems that Google has become concerned about the same thing, and I am again a little confused.

Xerox’s copiers are not its primary source of revenue. The profit margins on them are not as high as on other products.

Google, on the other hand, is about search, first and foremost. So surely they should be thrilled to hear that people frequently google for a given subject. Before they became the behemoth in the field, people didn’t “yahoo” things, they didn’t “lycos” anything, they didn’t “altavista” or “hotbot” or “webcrawler” or “inktomi”. They just searched. And when Google rose up to dominate the industry, it was only natural that their name would become synonymous with search.

In their case, I truly cannot see how it is a bad thing.

I do, however, see a great deal of potential in further verbing of company names, or (as the subject of this post would suggest) “brandverbing”.

Leaving yourself enough time to Burger King before you United is usually a good idea.

Budweisering before you Toyota, perhaps not so much.

And now I need to go and Starbucks before my brain completely LehmanBrotherses.

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Portland, Day Three

No wake-up call this time. Not even the one I had actually requested. Fortunately I am still insufficiently adjusted to the time zone change and thus I was awake in good time anyway.

Back to the conference center, wherein we discover we have gained two new faces. Well, not literally, nobody grew a second head or anything. But there were a couple of consultants there from a company named On Your Feet – this was to be a workshop on interpersonal communication, using the medium of Whose Line-style improvisational comedy.

The visual of one minorly befuddled human wandering around a room in search of a mysterious task while 40 others sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” at varying volumes will stay with me for many days, I’m sure.

After lunch, we reconvened at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for a planetarium movie and a sneak preview of their Mindbender Mansion exhibit, which was all about puzzle solving.

Between improv comedy and puzzles, it was almost as though someone had tailored the activities to me specifically – this made for a great day out.

Unfortunately, I have another ludicrous o’clock flight in the morning and thus was disinclined to stay out for very long thereafter, but did join a small subset of the team for dinner at the Kennedy School. Their ‘Ruby’ beer may be among the greatest things I have ever had in my mouth, and I have probably had a little more of it in there than was strictly necessary.

Talked to D for a while using manager’s calling card (with permission) – L having an extremely hard time going to sleep. Not fun.

Assuming an uneventful flight back, I will probably not bother posting about the final piece of the trip, since I believe that at this point the fun has been had. Having said that, I’ll be glad to get home to D & L, and to sleep in my own bed.

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Portland, Day Two

I got punked. The person who had stayed in the hotel room before me had apparently requested a 5:45 am wake-up call, and this hadn’t been cleared from the system. I had been needing to be up at about 6:30 in order to be ready to head out by 8:00 for a day-long offsite meeting. But in a Lymanesque semi-slumber, I thanked the automated wake-up doohickey profusely and began to go about my day.

I’d like to state for the record here that the Hilton Garden Inn in Lake Oswego has an absolutely marvelous breakfast buffet, of which I partook quite liberally, to the amazement of one of my co-voyagers.

And so to Canby, OR, for a day-long meeting in which participants were exhorted to think outside the box, change the conversation, ideate on Agile approaches and above all drive revenue. Maybe it’s a function of my having an actual “real job” now, but some of these phrases have begun to make a creepy kind of sense to me.

We also got little monster-shaped finger puppets. And candy!

I couldn’t shake the business phraseology when lunch came around, and as such I made a fool of myself suggesting that we “leverage the cheesecake”. I’m positive that should be a euphemism for something, but I can’t quite imagine what.

Nevertheless, the meeting seemed productive, in that for the whole 8 hours nobody blamed anybody else for anything and everybody seemed to come away from it with a clearer idea of where we were going from here.

That being to dinner at the boss’ house. This is an absolutely gorgeous house up in the West Hills (not that this is very specific, we’re talking Portland). Knowing no people well and few people at all, I opted to be reserved and quiet while getting used to my surroundings.

And if you know me, you’ll know that’s total crap. I was my usual wise-cracking self, and flitted from conversation to conversation trying to get to know everybody at once, which is rough with 40 people in attendance. I had managed to add many of them to my Facebook/LinkedIn/etc. lists, though, so that I could also look like a creepy stalker. Yay me!

The beer was rather good also. Portland seems to be quite the city for beer, and this warrants further investigation.

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It’s official.

Just got a very welcome email, which began as follows:

Oliver, Congratulations and welcome to the Xerox family. I am pleased to confirm your start date of Tuesday, September 02, 2008.

So yeah, w00t, I can has job, and any other overused meme-age you care to put here. 🙂

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