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Squandering

hexagon with three rectangles

A collaborator tries to send me a sketch of three rectangles in a hexagon. The file, however, is too large for our mail server which is configured to only accept attachments smaller than 100 MB. I inform him that such a drawing saved as a vector graphic should be just one or two kB in size, and send him this example:

He replies:

"The new Figure was drawn in AutoCAD, which does not surport (sic) EPS well. So we saved it as TIFF."

Uncompressed (and with a ridiculously high resolution), of course. m(

At the first glance, this incidence may appear to be a classical example for Maslow's law: if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But it's rather the combination of good intentions and essentially complete ignorance which is responsible for the sad result.

(i) "Dr. B always told me to use vector graphics when making a sketch. Instead of this open source crap he always advocates, let's use professional software!"
(ii) "Hm, the EPS export doesn't work! [1] What I'm going to do?"
(iii) "Let's save it in one of these other formats. Ah, JPEG...oh no, Dr. B doesn't like that for some reason. Something about compression."
(iv) "TIFF, I know that too! And here, it states 'uncompressed', that's just perfect!"
(v) "Better to chose a really high resolution, so Dr. B will never see the difference. Gnihihihihi!"

[1] PEBKAC: the eps export of AutoCAD works flawlessly, of course.

The guy has a PhD in physics, and yet the five orders of magnitude in file size somehow didn't register with him.

Why do I care? Well, for one, I like things to be done efficiently and professionally, particularly at work where I do not intend to waste my valuable time. Second, people trying to send 100 MB+ files by e-mail are the same who complain about disk space all the time. Their 1 TB hard drive is "WAY TOO SMALL !!" Their 1 GB mail quota is "RIDICULOUS !!!!" Their 5 GB owncloud space is ... well, you get the drift.

These people, which mostly belong to the 'Generation Smartphone', also seem to have an overwhelming need to access all of their data anytime and everywhere, no matter how old and irrelevant these data may be. As a result, the amount of data we have to backup quadrupled over the past four years, and threatens to double again in two years. We are currently evaluating a possible solution for this problem, but whatever we do, it will be significantly more cost-intensive than imagined by the "why-don't-you-just-buy-a-3TB-drive-for-me" faction.

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