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It’s All Right There In Black And White

, , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: ascii4ever | October 12, 2022

[Big Boss] is the chairperson of the university department I work in. Personally, he is generally nice and can be very generous, but he has a cheap streak when it comes to spending on supplies and infrastructure.

One day, I get a call from an admin person.

Admin: “[Big Boss] is upset about how much money we are spending on printing — paper and toner. He thinks there’s a lot of waste and we need to cut back.”

Me: “Okay. How much are we spending?”

Admin: “I don’t know, but [Big Boss] came in early one day, found a stack of pages in the copier out tray, and blew a gasket. So, can you find out how much we are spending?”

It turned out that it was pretty easy. We bought all our paper from a single campus source, so it was easy to dig that up. We had a contract for our big copier/printer, so that was easy to find, and I did all the purchasing for toner for the desktop printers we had scattered around, so I had those records. In a couple of hours, I had a year’s worth of data and gave it to [Admin] and [Big Boss].

From this, he instituted a couple of changes. Everyone had to have a code for the copier so we could track individual usage. This was a great idea; it turned out that we had some students who were sneaking in on weekends and copying entire textbooks when electronic copies weren’t available. [Big Boss] also wanted me to set up print logging by user so we could figure out who the big “printer hogs” were.

I hadn’t done this before, but we used a Linux print server, so I found out what packages I needed and set it up. At the end of the month, I dumped the print log information and had it nicely outputted, ready to be stuck on a webpage of shame if need be.

And to no one’s surprise, the project stopped there. [Big Boss] was far and away the greatest print user in the department; he printed twice as many pages as the next highest person on the list. As the chairperson, some of this was surely proper, but I also knew he liked to print personal stuff. A lot.

So, we ended up NOT putting the information up on our website — at least until he rotated out of being the chairperson.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

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