Friday, March 30, 2012

A Shredder Challenge

Almost 9,000 teams registered to participate in DARPA's Shredder Challenge. Thirty-three days after the challenge was announced, one small San Francisco-based team correctly reconstructed each of the five challenge documents and solved their associated puzzles. The ‘All Your Shreds Are Belong to U.S.’ team, which won the $50,000 prize, used custom-coded, computer-vision algorithms to suggest fragment pairings to human assemblers for verification. In total, the winning team spent nearly 600 man-hours developing algorithms and piecing together documents that were shredded into more than 10,000 pieces. So let's take our own challenge. How long will it take you to piece together a shredded Morty, the Fellowes Bulldog?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Office Chair Spinning as an Olympic Sport...It Could Happen.

How many times can you spin without your feet touching the floor? True champions will launch themselves with a Fellowes foot support.

Gold Medalist Ned from Accounting achieved 5 spins! "I used the Fellowes Foot Rocker to build momentum for an optimal launch."

Silver Medalist Beth from Administration achieved a dizzying 2.4 spins. "I chose a classic approach with the Fellowes Standard Foot Rest. I may be old school, but it pays off."

Bronze Medalist Gus from Sales accomplished a respectable 1.2. I stand by the belief that the factor of temperature impacts the spin. I always use the Climate Control Footrest. I want to thank everyone who has supported my dream."

Post Your own Office Chair Spin Results at Fellowes Facebook.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Thanksgiving Shredder Story, or how not to be overfed

We were all preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday at the office. Some of us were sitting around the break-room talking about how much we would eat—overeat, in fact.

“Don’t you have the sense to stop yourself before you’re overfed? My shredder does.” This statement posed by Rhonda from HR whose slight figure indicated an expertise in not taking on more than she could chew, raised our curiosity.

We followed her back to her cubicle where she kept her shredder. “Imagine, this is Thanksgiving.” She began feeding paper into her shredder. Sheet after sheet she fed into the shredder.

“Imagine this is the turkey, the cranberry sauce, the mashed potatoes—eat, eat, eat. But it’s okay, because the green light on the shredder says that it’s okay to keep going.

“And then there is that point where you have too much on your plate, but you try to keep eating.”

She shoved a thick stack of papers into the mouth of the shredder. The shredder stopped. The green light turned to red. Rhonda easily removed the papers. The green light came back on.

“The light turns red to say that's too much-you're overfeeding me. It stops the paper jam before it starts,” Rhonda said.

The shredder knows it's about to be overfed and says no more.” Gus pondered, eating a bag of chips. “Can they make Jam Blocker for people?”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wisdom of the Germaphobe

Phil in Purchasing. Yes we made fun of him, washing his hands all the time, making sure to not touch his face. But there was also envy: the awards for perfect attendance, never taking a sick day. We never saw him cough or sneeze.

“It’s like he’s not human,” speculated Tilmon from IT. “Maybe he’s an officebot. Maybe we’re gradually being replaced. Maybe some day we will all be officebots.” He said this smiling dreamily. This was a personal fantasy he often worked into conversations.

I was determined to find out what made Phil germ-proof. I approached his cubicle while he wasn’t there. Yes, the obvious signs of defense were present: the bottle of hand sanitizer. The telephone cleaning wipes to disinfect a common source of germ contact, and the gentle purr of his Fellowes Air Purifier cleansing the air of germs. But was that it?

“Can I help you?” Phil asked quietly behind me.

I was startled. “Phil, I um...” (How could I put it without sounding strange?) “Phil, I want to know how you don’t get sick?” It still sounded strange.

Phil smiled confidently. “Microban.” He said.

I pondered the word. Was this some powerful radiation that he had absorbed from an interstellar meteorite? Was it a top secret experimental government drug that made you immune? I realized I had been talking too much to Tilmon.

“It’s right here,” Phil indicated his keyboard, his mouse, his foot rest. Microban an antimicrobial protection built right into my wrist supports, on my keyboard, and my mouse wrist rest. It’s even on the surface of my footrest. It helps fight germs where germs are mostly found.”

“Did you know an active office worker can touch up to 30 surfaces in a minute—that’s major contamination. Microban prevents a lot of those germs from getting passed on.

Did you know that scientists have found parainfluenza (a germ a little worse than the common cold) on about one-third of office surfaces during the fall? Microban keeps these kinds of germs under control.

“And people like Gus…” we peered over his cubicle wall. On the other side Gus was devouring his Godzilla burger. “…And people like Gus who eat at their desk allow bits of food to drop down into their keyboard, forgotten and left to prosper into a garden of germs and mold—a literal bacteria cafeteria. Did you know keyboards have 400 more times the bacteria than a toilet seat? ” Gus stared at his keyboard with fear.

“Microban and some healthy practices can keep your cube germ free. “

“Phil,” I said, “I’ve been enlightened, thank you” I reached out to shake his hand, then realized my mistake. We bumped fists instead and parted ways.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Something in the Air...

Frank from Office Supply was a bit of a survivalist. He kept extra pens in case there ever was a shortage. He made triplicates of all his paperwork. He kept things that had no place in his cubicle: rubber gloves, an old broomstick, plastic flowers?

“You never know,” he would say mysteriously.

Then one day something happened to the air in the office. Everybody noticed it. Nobody could put their finger on it. A smell? An irritation to the eyes? Constant sneezing.

We complained to each other, media coordinator Jan, Ned from telemarketing. We searched our department for an explanation. Strangely, we would discover one person, one cubicle unaffected. Frank: he calmly typed away as we jammed our heads into his cubicle. It was filled with pure, fresh air. We crowded into it, desperate for a clean breath, jostling Frank to the point he had to stand up and address the three of us fumbling around in his cube. “It’s the Fellowes Air Purifier.” He explained the freshness of his personal air space.

“But what are we going to do about our cubes—they’re foul!” Ned was always dramatic. “Where is it coming from?”

Frank was cool, peering above the top line of his cube. “Odors, eye irritation, sneezing--it appears to be coming from many places.” He began putting on his rubber gloves as if preparing for surgery.

We watched over the top of the cubicle as he ventured out into the air pollution, sniffing as if to track down the culprit. He found himself at Otis’s desk. Apparently Otis had gone on vacation and left a double bacon barbecue Godzilla burger funkifying in his top drawer. Frank removed it with his gloved hands and urgently carried it out of the building at arm's length like radioactive waste.

I couldn’t smell it here,” said Jan astonished. Frank would explain later like a guru of office products that the Fellowes Air Purifier had a carbon filter that quietly and quickly removes odors from the air.

“But what about Jan?” Ned said hysterically. She still suffered with reddened eyes from some unseen affliction.

“It’s like I wandered through a desert,” she moaned.

“Hmm.” Frank pondered the dilemma and grabbed his broomstick. He headed for Jan’s cube. He discovered that a neighboring lot was under construction and dust kicked up was entering the air duct system, spewing unseen dust particles into Jan’s workspace. Frank poked the ceiling vent with the broomstick and closed it.

“But the air is so clear in here.” Jan sighed.

“It was the True HEPA filter,” Frank explained. “It captures 99.97% of particles and impurities as small as 0.3 microns. There is nothing too small that gets past the Fellowes Air Purifier.”

“Finally,” Ned sighed, “everything is back to normal!” He marched triumphantly out of Frank’s cubicle, only to be instantly overcome with a sneezing fit. He quickly hurried back in, hovering over the protective power of the Fellowes Air Purifier, which, as Frank would explain, had PlasmaTrue Technology, which safely removes airborne pollutants at the molecular level. (That’s viruses, bacteria and allergens)

Frank sniffed the air and ventured out into the cubicle farm, only to finally find the forgotten display of flowers near Ned’s cube from Mary in customer service. Frank swapped out her pollen rich flowers with his bouquet of fake daisies. (She would never know).

Slowly, each one of us ventured out, sniffing. The office had clean air once again, thanks to Frank who was prepared. But for how long?

How long before the office was again attacked by odors of strange cooked lunches and forgotten desk drawer sandwiches? How long before it was choked with dust and chemical odors from office remodeling? How long before it was stifled with allergens and infectious airborne germs from sick but dedicated employees?

Frank vowed that everyone would get a Fellowes Air Purifier. He would put the orders in himself.

Everyone, he declared, deserves clean personal air space at work!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beware the Loss of Digital Information

Tilmon from I.T. held the flashlight under his chin as he said the words mysteriously: ….”beware the loss of all digital information.” We sat in the dark at his cube, as a power outage had left the office completely dark with dead computers. Everyone who needed a digital fix turned urgently to their smart phones.

“Even those lie in jeopardy,” prophesied Tilmon. “Imagine a massive solar flare wiping out all digital information, Imagine in the future, all our investment and reliance in digital media becomes so supreme that all our libraries, all our government records are digital….a complete abandonment of paper…and with one catastrophe all our digital information is erased, forgotten, only to find ourselves flung back into the dark ages.

“Are you gonna eat these?’ I didn’t wait for an answer and tore open the bag off chips that was on his desk “So then, what technology can we turn to?”

“Paper! The greatest medium of communication. Come follow me. “

We descended the back stairwell. Tilmon led the way with flashlight guiding us down the dark stairs until we reached the basement. We wandered past storage cages, suddenly caught in Tilmon’s beam of light and then vanquished to the darkness as we proceeded further. A dim oasis of light appeared ahead. We came upon a large man resting comfortably in a desk chair at the entrance of one of the storage cages. A battery powered light shone down on him where he had hung it from the cage. He sat with his arms crossed.

“This is the record keeper.” Tilmon announced.

“Quit the nonsense Tilmon, what are you looking for?” He said. I could see on the nametag that he was Gus.

“I what to reveal the power of paper. The longevity and endurance of the almighty parchment.”

“What?” Gus said,

“I think he wants you to show us how we keep records in the event of a digital apocalypse,” I said eating my chips.

“Oh why didn’t you say so?” He opened the gate behind him and Tilmon shined his light as Gus led the way.

“Most of our records go into the Bankers Box Drawer system, StaxOnSteel. The higher you stack them the more space you save. The drawers are reinforced so you can always open them easily and slide them back in. He demonstrated. “It literally creates a wall of records.”

Tilmon shined his light elsewhere. “What about that?”

“Well for some records we use your classic Bankers Box, an individual box with strong handles and a secure lid. But then sometimes there are unique record-keeping situations and we need certain types of storage.”

For example, here we have the Hang N Stor specially designed storage for hanging files. It lets you transfer the files from active to inactive storage. Over here we have the Divider Box, this one has built-in dividers so when the box is partially full, the other files don’t fall down and become disorganized. And over her- this is my favorite-the Binder Box. A lot of files and information are kept in binders, which don’t fit easily into most record storage containers. This one is specially sized to hold binders.

“You’ve shown us the light, Records Keeper” Tilmon shined his flashlight in Gus’s face until he squinted. There was a sudden whir of power and the room became illuminated. The lights were back on.

“Well I guess we avoided a digital apocalypse,” Gus said.

Tilmon saw his flashlight start to flicker. He tapped it, but it went out. “For now, “he warned, “for now.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trials of the Laminated List Part III

Eddie Chaz in his usual indifference to everything around him disregarded the wet floor sign and the fact that Fred from Maintenance was polishing the floors. Eddie slipped and fell. The List flew from his hand. As I ducked around the corner, I saw it slide like a hockey puck across the freshly polished floor and under the rumbling grind of the floor polishing machine. Before Fred had a chance to turn it off, the List spun around three times under the circular polisher and shot out like a ninja throwing star, striking Eddie just above the bridge of his nose as he lay sprawling by copy machine. I tiptoed across the shiny floor and picked up the laminated List while Eddie wept over what he decided was a permanent disfigurement, when it was really just a red mark between the eyes.

The List was unscathed, In fact, it was much shiner. Thanks to the Fellowes Saturn 95, the List had endured yet another trial. I tiptoed back across the floor whispering to myself like a mantra: “a laminated document is a safe document.”

The break room was in sight. I looked left and right for more hazards. But the coast was clear. The break room was empty, so with a sigh of relief I set down the List on the break room table and began unlocking the display case.

That’s when I heard a noise behind me similar to the sound of a handful of mud being thrown at the wall. I turned to see Gus from Finance slopping down his greasy, dripping triple bacon avocado ranch Godzilla burger with extra salsa and barbecue-- right on the List.

But I breathed easy. I was confident now that not even the greasy drippings of a Godzilla burger could defeat the laminating power of the Saturn 95.

“Gus,” I said, “watch where you put your lunch.”

“Oh sorry.” He had to scoop the dripping mess up with both hands.

“It’s okay,” I said and easily wiped the List clean with a napkin. “You see” I held it up proudly.

Gus stood there with his Godzilla burger dripping grease on the floor between his fingers. “Well of course,” he shrugged. “A laminated document is a safe document.”

After I had locked the List safely away in the display case, I returned to my cubicle, now a haven of rest, a sanctuary from my long journey. The phone rang. I answered. It was Jo-Beth. She said: “say, could you stop back by my office. I gave you the wrong document. That was our office supply inventory that I gave you. I still have the List right here on my desk….”

“But, but, it’s safe now…a laminated document is a safe--.”

“Oh that reminds me, when you bring back that inventory sheet I have to add laminating pouches to it—we’re all out. But that’s okay, you can take the List back without it, no problem right?”

Follow Cube Confessions for a completely new office adventure next month.