fax graphic 88.
(photo credit: )
E-mail, ICQ, VOIP, SMS - these are all terms we know and love. Need to collaborate with someone on the other side of the world on a project? No problem - just set up a videoconference with Windows Live Messenger or Netmeeting (built into Windows 2k/XP/Vista). Need to send someone a contract? Use the scan function on your printer, turn that sucker into a PDF, and send it as an attachment in an e-mail. Care to chat? Download and install a "soft phone" like Gizmo (http://www.gizmoproject.com), and talk to folks around the world for (practically) nothing.
But there are still some corners of the world - some primitive tribes, if you will - where these concepts are unknown. E-mail? They still have trouble dealing with "snail mail." They're still using dial phones, the push-button era having bypassed them entirely. And the only "conferences" they know are the live ones where burekas are served.
We call these tribes "government agencies." And the only way to get them to do stuff, short of standing on line all day, is to send a fax.
"Fax? What's that?" You may be forgiven for asking such a question if you are under, say, 30. Once upon a time, they were the kings of paper communication; now, they often sit collecting dust. Most sophisticated printers have fax functions built in, but most of us have less and less occasion to use them nowadays, given all the communication options available.
But bureaucracies - governmental ones, mostly, from my experience - are still living in the fax age. Maybe it's because they can't afford the IP infrastructure. According to one article (http://tinyurl.com/23muvz - in Hebrew), there are even political reasons for government workers to prefer faxes!
So there are times you are going to find yourself needing to send, or receive, a fax. Fortunately, though, there is a plethora of on-line services, some free, that will provide you with the facts on fax.
In the case of faxes, receiving is easier than giving (i.e. sending). One service, http://k7.net, offers you a free phone number for your faxes. The signup process is simple, and you get a US-based phone number to which faxes can be sent from a regular fax machine. The fax ends up as a graphic (Tiff) file in your e-mail inbox, which you can download. Ditto for E-fax (http://www.efax.com), where you can receive faxes for free at a phone number in nearly any country (including Israel). Efax lets you send pages for US 10 cents per page anywhere (first month is free). A similar local service is at http://www.interfax.net.
If you need to send faxes to the US or Canada, though, check out http://faxzero.com, which lets you do so for free. Just upload your PDF or Word document, type in a phone number, and Faxzero does the rest.