Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Xerox WorkCenter Scanners Randomly Alter Numbers

There are certain things in life you take for granted. The sky is blue, water is wet, and photocopiers and scanners copy whatever we place on them. Unfortunately, that isn't the case should you happen to have a Xerox WorkCenter photocopier.

You see... these Xerox models have the tendency to randomly alter block of numbers, which might result in either some funny mistakes to, more likely, a lot of wasted time trying to figure out why numbers don't add up - or, worse of all, potentially causing a mishap that might even endanger people.

The problem seems to have been narrowed down to image compression system Xerox uses (JBIG2) which tries to save memory by looking for identical blocks on the image, and when it finds blocks that are sufficiently similar, it just replaces the actual image block by something saying "this block is just like the one located there". The issue ist that sometimes, a different block is considered to be identical to other... and the resulting image ends up with a repeated block of number that isn't what is actually there.

We'll have to wait and see Xerox's answer to this eye opening bug, that show us how technology can sometimes mess up even the most basic assumptions we would never think of questioning. Would you really doubt your scanner or photocopier wouldn't be copying the original as it is? I for sure would not.

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