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High Tech Vending Machines Transform IT Support At Facebook

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the my-mouse-got-stuck-against-the-glass dept.

Facebook 210

Hugh Pickens writes "While getting power cords, replacement keyboards, and other sundry computer accessories to employees who need them sounds easy enough, at many companies the process requires filling out order forms that can take IT departments days to fulfill. That's why Facebook CIO Tim Campos decided to take a more user-friendly approach to this common problem, installing custom-made vending machines around the Facebook campus that dispense computer accessories instead of snacks and sodas. When Facebook engineers spill coffee on their keyboard (a common mishap), they head to a nearby vending machine instead of hitting up their IT guy or just grabbing a replacement from a nearby cabinet. They swipe their badge, key in their selection and voila — a brand new keyboard drops down for them to take. According to Campos, they've reduced the cost of managing replacement accessories by about 35%. While products found in the vending machines are free, items are clearly marked with price tags so employees can see the retail value of each accessory they take. The new vending machines also require all employees to swipe their badge before making a selection. That means each and every power cord, keyboard and screen wipe they take can be traced back to their name, ensuring that the system won't be abused. 'I like the assumption that employees will do the right thing,' writes Alexis Madrigal. 'The swipe means that everyone's requests are tracked and I'm sure some algorithm somewhere is constantly sorting the data to see if anyone has pulled 10 sets of headphones out of the system.'"

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The Truth About Al Gore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156191)

The Truman show was actually a documentary about Al Gore's secret son, who was sequestered in a highly controlled environment in Chernobyl until very recently. Why? The answer is both complicated and chilling.

Google recently fired all their employees suffering from Lyme disease, in a clear breach of the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, given their generous donations to Al Gore, it's no surprise that they were never punished for this.

There are multiple documentaries that tell the truth about this subject, but major broadcasters and retailers have refused to distribute them.

Employees of Google were seen at both the MLK assassination and the birth of Obama-- despite the fact that they had no good reason to be there.

The last time anyone came forth to speak about this, they immediately noticed increased surveillance at their house and place of work. Suspicious, right?

The Chinese character for unemployment looks a lot like the character for Al Gore's name-- and it's not a coincidence.

We've taken a big risk to post this information on the internet-- many others have seen their careers destroyed for doing much less.

Re:The Truth About Al Gore (2)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157233)

I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Same Typical Vending Problems? (4, Funny)

Umuri (897961) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156215)

Do employees have to trek across campus to get the vending machine they like that stocks their particular favored model of headset, mouse or keyboard?(Model M preferably)
Do they sometime get stuck requiring quickly looking around to make sure no one is looking then banging the machine a few times?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Re:Same Typical Vending Problems? (4, Insightful)

Molochi (555357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156379)

Model M keyboards were removed from the machines because they don't need to be replaced that often.

Re:Same Typical Vending Problems? (3, Funny)

spokenoise (2140056) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156557)

Hey Fred? Can I borrow your badge for a sec?

Re:Same Typical Vending Problems? (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156917)

To use the hardware vending machines that everyone in the company knows about? No, you can't.

Re:Same Typical Vending Problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157115)

Model M keyboards were removed from the machines because they don't need to be replaced that often.

Model M keyboards are the only type which have a 100% failure rate for me. Three, from Unicomp, all failed in sequence. Just ceased working in normal use.

Re:Same Typical Vending Problems? (5, Funny)

ygslash (893445) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157613)

Now Logitech can produce a commercial in which a short Facebook employee gets four or five Microsoft mice out of the machine, then stands on them in order to reach the higher-up button to get a Logitech mouse.

I wonder what the savings are? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156227)

Going through IT for every goofy little peripheral isn't terribly sensible(and IT generally doesn't love spending time being the supply cabinet); but I'd be curious to know whether the additional complexity and cost of the vending machines are sufficiently defrayed by the 'surveillance effect' and inventory tracking they provide.

'Just have a supply closet' is not a sexy strategy; but it sure is KISS-compliant.

Mix up both systems? (2)

khasim (1285) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156311)

Have a supply closet behind a locked door so you need your badge to open it up and a motion activated camera taking shots of you while you take whatever you want.

If inventory starts to drop then look at the photos to see if anyone is abusing the system.

Re:Mix up both systems? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156337)

I can think of sooo many things going wrong with that idea

Re:Mix up both systems? (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157433)

"Have a supply closet behind a locked door so you need your badge to open it up and a motion activated camera taking shots of you while you take whatever you want."

You'll end up with a lot of sex-tapes and hence, sticky keyboards.
Vending machines can prevent both.

Re:I wonder what the savings are? (4, Informative)

isopropanol (1936936) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156413)

Acklands Grainger actually rents these machines out stocked with whatever you want that's relevant to your business... the display model in our local distributor has boxcutters, pens, high-viz vests, etc...

Sloppy writing by Slashdot (3, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157245)

They are not "High Tech Vending Machines". They are normal vending machines loaded with computer accessories. "Facebook CIO Tim Campos decided to take a more user-friendly approach" should be "a computer support employee recommended using vending machines", according to the story.

Re:I wonder what the savings are? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157595)

as opposed to just having the receptionist have a cabinet with the stuff who can hand it out? yeah. We did this same thing at Comcast 10 years ago, except instead of vending machines we used the receptionist at each office as the vending machine... worked great.

Intel has had these for years (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156257)

Intel has been using these, at least in our campus, for a few years now.

Re:Intel has had these for years (5, Insightful)

frglrock (992261) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156517)

So has Facebook apparently. The first article has the timestamp: "July 6, 2011: 8:55 AM ET"

The point the author of the second article, some two years later, seems to be making is that they actually trust their employees.

Re:Intel has had these for years (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157045)

Mod parent up, please.

Re:Intel has had these for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156667)

Intel has been using these, at least in our campus, for a few years now.

That sounds at least as fun as vigorously scraping with great force one's own penis with a cheesegrater.

Re:Intel has had these for years (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157605)

No, that is working at Microsoft. Intel is a far nicer place to work... more like velvet ropes and furry handcuffs.

Easy resale! (5, Funny)

Artea (2527062) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156275)

The price tag idea is fantastic, I can steal Frank's badge, and grab myself 10 of everything. List it on ebay at the tagged price and make a nice bonus every week.

Re:Easy resale! (1)

Shimdaddy (898354) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156341)

Yeah there's no way that's gunna backfire and get you fired / thrown in jail.

Re:Easy resale! (4, Interesting)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156665)

Amazing, isn't it? All this technology, education, and one hell of a legal system, and people still steal. Weird, right?

And here's the funny thing. Most of the time they get away with it.

What more, there's no sure fire way to prevent theft, even if everyone had a chip in their heads, and a supercomputer was dedicated to thought crime. Even the most dedicate, read-only AI with the best intents would, IMHO, go completely nuts after several generations of exposure to humanity; you either have a drift of values from the time the AI was initialized (what was once a social vice is now not), or you have an accumulating error (good luck with that), or even spontaneous errors (a problem that the designers never imagined the AI would encounter, and CANNOT adapt around). Those are just a few of the possible error conditions.

Finally, we haven't considered, though this is way out here on the fringe branch, that morality is a weapon, used by groups to subjugate individuals to their agendas, whether it benefits them or not. I say this, because the first thing any would-be aggressor does is establish the moral high-ground in any given scenario, nullifies the current set of group beliefs and replaces it with their own, then directs the group against those now outside the group.

On the other hand, I am currently taking some migraine meds which have some fairly horrific side-effects (feels like my skin is on fire right now...like I'm in an oven), so perhaps I am not in the best frame of mind to consider the more philosophical points of civility tonight. Topamax is a crazy drug.

Re:Easy resale! (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157057)

Hmm, I always end up buying parts for the company on my own credit card, because the purchasing process is too slow and cumbersome. So what is that, reverse stealing?

Re:Easy resale! (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157127)

I've had to do that on more than a few occasions too. Some of the things we've needed are so specialised they can't be obtained from the 'approved suppliers' list. A few of them are only readily available through ebay stores.

Re:Easy resale! (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156693)

The price tag idea is fantastic, I can steal Frank's badge, and grab myself 10 of everything. List it on ebay at the tagged price and make a nice bonus every week.

Except Frank borrowed your badge and is selling a 100 per week at a lower price on Ebay. FYI your boss wants to have a word with you.

Re:Easy resale! (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157469)

And the chances of a discreet camera being fitted either in or near the machine are...?

This is so stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156297)

Surely Facebook can afford a big 3D printer? You just walk up to it, say what you want, and the magical machine just positions countless atoms at just the right spot in a matter of minutes, nay, SECONDS. Just be sure to get the extra large Periodic Table of the Elements cartridge.

how do they track jam's and double drops? (2, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156301)

how do they track jam's and double drops?

At least it's free so you have some kicking the shit out of it when it eats your cash.

Re:how do they track jam's and double drops? (3, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156487)

Favorite IT story: So back in 1999, a traveling sales engineer drops his laptop off at my desk in a huff stating "it's broken, damn screen broke". Looking at the screen, it looks like something fell on the LCD screen and cracked it in three places. Oh, something fell on it alright. His fist! The angle and placement of three knuckles lined up perfectly with a right hand punch. My shock and dismay quickly followed by laughter. Ya right, broken my ass! It sure is now tough guy.

Re:how do they track jam's and double drops? (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156543)

You just push the button for a keyboard, hoping that it will fall on top of the mouse you wanted and dislodge it.

Cost savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156319)

I'm guessing that 35% cost reduction figure was pulled out of his ass or relies entirely on the the assumption that these vending machines are stocked all at once and only replenished when empty, saving on shipping. Otherwise it costs just the same as having the IT guy order it, with less of a lead time and a hell of a lot more of an up-front investment. As an added benefit, hey, more metrics! I guess working at Facebook, you tend to obsess over that kind of thing...

Re:Cost savings (3, Funny)

chaim79 (898507) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156347)

"Reduced the cost of managing replacement accessories by about 35%."

They are reducing the overhead of talking to a support person, them getting a part off the shelf, marking down that it has been removed by whom for whom for what reason, and all the rest. Something mentioned in the summary.

Re:Cost savings (1)

shitzu (931108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156805)

Marking down who got what (same amount of info as a vending machine collects) can be accomplished by swiping the said id and product barcode. Takes two seconds.

Re:Cost savings (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157061)

Marking down who got what (same amount of info as a vending machine collects) can be accomplished by swiping the said id and product barcode. Takes two seconds.

The problem here is that a keyboard is perfectly repairable after a coffee spill. The reason it's cheaper to just get a new one is that we do not have to pay the true costs of disposing of plastic waste. As long as you do not have to include the environmental cost of plastic products in their price, disposable is cheap and you get plastic spots in the world's oceans that are the size of nation states. We could solve alot of environmental problems by making manufacturers pay for the post disposal environmental costs of their products. It would motivate them to find improved bio degradable materials.

Re:Cost savings (1)

shitzu (931108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157247)

Leave it to an AC to take a random sentence as a quote and start a rant totally unrelated to said sentence.

Re:Cost savings (2)

hazem (472289) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156391)

If they're smart, they probably do some kind of vendor managed inventory and just like the way soda machines are stocked, some dude from the computer parts supply place comes in and makes sure its full of stuff. The vendor owns the inventory and they have an incentive to keep it stocked so that there's product to be bought. I think office supply companies like Staples and Office Max offer services like this for traditional office supplies.

The dumb way would be to have someone in IT manage the vending machine and spending their time ordering things in ones and twos to keep the machine stocked.

so some outside vender can control hardware (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156475)

so some outside vender can control hardware and change it at will and only have the configs / parts they want to sell.

Just thing of dell or some other 3rd part selling a 4GB to 16GB ram upgrade for $175 when you can buy 16GB ram kits for $100 = A $75+ base ram price of the build in ram markup.

and no you don't get to keep the base ram with upgrade.

also the dell ram is not the same as ram kit's at newegg.com.

Re:so some outside vender can control hardware (2)

hazem (472289) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156629)

It sounds like they're vending accessories like mice and keyboards, rather than internal components like memory and such.

I suspect it's pretty easy for the company and the vendor to agree in advance to a list of parts/accessories that will be supplied and what the prices will be.

If Facebook is letting the vendor screw them, then that's their stupidity to allow that.

Google's been doing this for years... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156339)

and in many offices they just stack the stuff on racks with an honor system to take whatever you need...

Recycling/refurbishing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156371)

What are the employees supposed to do with their old keyboards, cables, etc.?

Re:Recycling/refurbishing? (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157487)

You know how there's often a recycling bin near normal vending machines for cans/wrappers etc? There's your clue.

This is *Facebook* people, you're missing it (4, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156383)

Vending Machines, hmm?

How long until the vending system gets a Facebook page? Then when everyone orders Such&Such keyboard and headphones, the machine can post "Joe Smith Likes this!" Then they can sell that data to advertisers!

Do Vending Machines have Friends?

The fun never stops!

Re:This is *Facebook* people, you're missing it (4, Insightful)

supersat (639745) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156527)

You might be joking, but they already implemented this years ago on the office keg: http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/27/facebook-buzz/ [techcrunch.com]

Re:This is *Facebook* people, you're missing it (1)

LordNightwalker (256873) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156983)

Do Vending Machines have Friends?

Yes, they do. [youtube.com]

Will it get stuck? (5, Funny)

WaterDamage (719017) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156387)

Great, I guess the keyboard or whatever shitty peripheral will get stuck and then after beating and shaking the vending machine for 10 fucking minutes you'll end-up calling help-desk to complain that you swiped and you never got your item so they'll send out an vending service guy and spend $400/hr to fix the fucking crappy vending machine rather keep a stack of $2 dollar keyboards in a closet next to the receptionist or secretary. Then again It's Facebook, so I guess their developers/admins must jiz a lot all over their keyboards while they porn surf through user profiles of hot bitches.

Re:Will it get stuck? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156555)

mod parent Troll

Re:Will it get stuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156677)

Fuck you! you loser and coward. I think the parent is hilarious.

Re:Will it get stuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156705)

mod parent Troll

Why would you do that?! It's hilarious!

It deserves the Funny mod I gave to it.

Re:Will it get stuck? (4, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156819)

I can do better than that: the photo supplied shows what appears to be standard SATA hard drives in no more protection than an anti-static bag. On the second row. Near the top.

*clunk*

*smash*

You keep using that word... (3, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156389)

'I like the assumption that employees will do the right thing,' writes Alexis Madrigal. 'The swipe means that everyone's requests are tracked and I'm sure some algorithm somewhere is constantly sorting the data to see if anyone has pulled 10 sets of headphones out of the system.'

I do not think that the word "assumption" means what Alexis thinks it means.

Re:You keep using that word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157039)

Agree, if you "assumed" that they did the 'right thing' there would be no need to track the transactions. You track the transaction because you "assume" that they will do the 'wrong thing' if not surveyed.

A cheaper, old school way (1)

CQDX (2720013) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156395)

Everyone gets the same computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and choice of supported OS so IT has a limited set of hardware/OS combinations to support. You break something, you get your ass to Fry's and buy the replacement on your own dime. You want something new and cool to try? You pay for it out of your own pocket. Need something different for a new project? You get your boss to budget it and work up a PO or buy it from Fry's and expense it on petty cash. You can save buy not having vending machines and paying IT staff to supply trinkets.

Re:A cheaper, old school way (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156511)

You mean the slower, inefficient way? Yeah sure, you can stick with that.

Re:A cheaper, old school way (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156643)

The cost to the company of having an employee dealing with a broken keyboard is probably as high or higher than the cost of a standard issue membrane keyboard, or corded mouse.

Re:A cheaper, old school way (4, Informative)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156669)

Everyone gets the same computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and choice of supported OS so IT has a limited set of hardware/OS combinations to support. You break something, you get your ass to Fry's and buy the replacement on your own dime. You want something new and cool to try? You pay for it out of your own pocket. Need something different for a new project? You get your boss to budget it and work up a PO or buy it from Fry's and expense it on petty cash. You can save buy not having vending machines and paying IT staff to supply trinkets.

How is that cheaper?

If my keyboard on my work supplied computer breaks then it needs to be replaced. If I have to argue with someone about who's fault it is that it got broken, and therefore who's 'dime' needs to pay for my time to go down to Fry's and buy a replacement then a whole lot of time and money is getting wasted. And thats without factoring in the cost of the thing that broke, which most likely doesn't change the equation in any significant way.

I bet Facebook already did the math and your way isn't cheaper. You'd have to be a large enough company to make this idea scale, but Facebook is that.

Re:A cheaper, old school way (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157411)

Having to deal with budgets and POs is what drove the switch to these vending machines in the first place. In some companies is it what drives employees to such desperation that they actually prefer to pay for small items out of their own pocket rather than follow the process to have the company pay for it. Budgets are notoriously inflexible, and dealing with POs is costly in terms of man-hours; these are costs that might not appear on your balance sheets as specific items, but they sure affect your bottom line.

I find it more effective (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156409)

when people spill coffee on their keyboard to dock their pay for destruction

people stop spilling coffee, course I come from a time when computers and time cost money, and drinking coffee at your desk is prohibited if your a dumbass spilling your drink on a production machine.

Re:I find it more effective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156545)

And this is a time when keyboards and mice don't (for practical purposes) cost money, but management dickswinging like that most assuredly would, as people would go to all sorts of productivity destroying lengths to avoid being punished for destroying essentially worthless things.

Re:I find it more effective (2)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156567)

I just don't understand spilling coffee on a keyboard to the point it ruins it.
I drink a great deal of coffee at my computer. It's the first thing I do in the morning, if I'm to do anything for the first 3 hours after I wake up..
I think I can count on one hand how many times I've dribbled coffee onto my keyboard. It's usually into my lap, if anywhere, or a small splash from overly-groggy pouring of the water into my french press.. yeah that happens.

Keyboard? Just fine.

Now, BEER? I've spilled me some beer into this keyboard. Tasty dopplebock, gone.. Had I been in an office the keyboard may have died, but I launched quickly into shutting the comp down and (drunkenly) shuffling my keyboard into the bathtub.
And whiskey. Well. When shots are being shot and you're trying to pour the next shot with one eye so there's only one shot glass.. your keyboard drinks, too.

And it's full of ash, because I'm a filthy human being.

I just don't understand how people can break keyboards so easily. I've got a groove worn halfway through the ALT key on this thing thanks to my thumbnail and the nubs on my F and J key are worn to pointlessness, and it still works fine.

Best I can figure is people think spill = broken, and to hell with trying to recover what may be a perfectly functional piece of equipment (disposable economy kids..)

Either that, or milk and sugar are really really ungodly bad for keyboards, worse than beer, and so my plethora of black coffee droppings are an M80 to the mochaccino's Tsar Bomba

Re:I find it more effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156617)

And it's full of ash, because I'm a filthy human being.

My keyboard is full of ash because my I am one of damned, condemned to have a job in Hell.

Re:I find it more effective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157027)

I just don't understand spilling coffee on a keyboard to the point it ruins it. I drink a great deal of coffee at my computer. It's the first thing I do in the morning, if I'm to do anything for the first 3 hours after I wake up.. I think I can count on one hand how many times I've dribbled coffee onto my keyboard. It's usually into my lap, if anywhere, or a small splash from overly-groggy pouring of the water into my french press.. yeah that happens.

Keyboard? Just fine.

Now, BEER? I've spilled me some beer into this keyboard. Tasty dopplebock, gone.. Had I been in an office the keyboard may have died, but I launched quickly into shutting the comp down and (drunkenly) shuffling my keyboard into the bathtub. And whiskey. Well. When shots are being shot and you're trying to pour the next shot with one eye so there's only one shot glass.. your keyboard drinks, too.

And it's full of ash, because I'm a filthy human being.

I just don't understand how people can break keyboards so easily. I've got a groove worn halfway through the ALT key on this thing thanks to my thumbnail and the nubs on my F and J key are worn to pointlessness, and it still works fine.

Best I can figure is people think spill = broken, and to hell with trying to recover what may be a perfectly functional piece of equipment (disposable economy kids..)

Either that, or milk and sugar are really really ungodly bad for keyboards, worse than beer, and so my plethora of black coffee droppings are an M80 to the mochaccino's Tsar Bomba

Keyboards are very resiliant, I've seen people wash them out, a guy I know even puts his in a dish washer and they still work after you place them on an oven to dry them out. I'm not saying you should be that radical but making people clean the thing out might re-educate them on the fact that these things cost money.

Re:I find it more effective (2)

aussie_a (778472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157053)

How grubby are facebook employees? I've had maybe five broken keyboards in the past 3 years. One of them was from a spilled drink onto the keyboard. That's 0.3 people a year due to a spilled drink. Now sure, we only have 250 staff. So let's assume facebook has 30,0000 staff. That's 40 keyboards a year. I can't believe these vending machines are cheaper then ordering 40 keyboards a year.

Just how messy are facebook employees to need enough keyboards due to coffee spills? Is it an American thing?

Other recommendations (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156425)

Mountain Dew, Hot pockets and Xena DVDs. For the geek reference on the last two refer to the movie "The Core.

Re:Other recommendations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156723)

Mountain Dew, Hot pockets and Xena DVDs. For the geek reference on the last two refer to the movie "The Core.

No one cares.

Re:Other recommendations (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157059)

For the geek reference on the last two refer to the movie "The Core.

Please dont.

borrow someone's badge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156435)

Does the vending machine take a photo or some other biometric identification? If not, just borrow someone's badge to steal extra keyboards...

phones and PCs seem like some that the older way w (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156439)

phones and PCs seem like some that the older way works better and a keypad / touch screen is not the best to fill out a report on why you need or to get a sign off that you need it for project X.

Also stocking PC's when it's easier to keep them the older way so you can add ram bigger HDD's without having a vending system with different 4-10+ configs and if your needs are not part of the system then you going the older way is not at X2-4 of the time it used to take.

Overheard at Facebook (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156451)

"Want to see something hilarious? Get Tim the intern to check out a Monster HDMI cable; he's only $400 away from tripping the employee-theft algorithm."
Seriously though, interns will have much larger "bills" on these machines.

Ya, right. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156481)

'I like the assumption that employees will do the right thing,'

If only that assumption could be applied to the company itself.

The swipe means that everyone's requests are tracked and I'm sure some algorithm somewhere is constantly sorting the data to see if anyone has pulled 10 sets of headphones out of the system.'"

Ya, like Facebook can track user data... :-)

Common mishap? (5, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156503)

When Facebook engineers spill coffee on their keyboard (a common mishap),

I've been a system programmer/administrator for over 25 years and routinely eat and drink at my desk and have *never* spilled anything on my equipment - computer or otherwise. What kind of monkeys do they hire at Facebook?

Re:Common mishap? (4, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156525)

Fresh grads from the top Universities. Duh!

Re:Common mishap? (1)

dcollins (135727) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156535)

Jittery ones. Really jittery, privacy-hating monkeys.

Re:Common mishap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156541)

Only the best... monkeys that is.

Re:Common mishap? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156609)

I'm guessing my example of killing a keyboard or mouse every 5-10 years is more representative. Assuming a 10,000 person campus, that would be 1-2000 peripherals zapped a year. About 2000 hours in a standard business year, so every hour or two somebody is looking for a new peripheral.

The law of large numbers turns rare occurrences in the life of any single person into an every day hassle.

Re:Common mishap? (4, Funny)

the_B0fh (208483) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156735)

Again, how many times do I have to tell you about using common sense on the Internet...?

How many keyboards do these guys go through? (4, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156539)

Ok. So I'm assuming this is for people that aren't supporting datacenter based equipment. Y'know the guys that have to plug in thousands of powercords...

So if you're outfitting your cube/desk area, how many keyboards and power cords do you go through? Also, do most FB employees standardize on the 'vending machine' keyboard, or do they have their own personal preference?

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (3, Funny)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156721)

Ok. So I'm assuming this is for people that aren't supporting datacenter based equipment. Y'know the guys that have to plug in thousands of powercords...

So if you're outfitting your cube/desk area, how many keyboards and power cords do you go through? Also, do most FB employees standardize on the 'vending machine' keyboard, or do they have their own personal preference?

I can tell you I wear out a keyboard in about three months and before I switched to "cheapie" Logitech mice, $10 a pop, I was burning through expensive mice every other month. It all depends on how much work you do. After two months the "A" on my keyboard is badly worn and at three months a dozen keys are showing wear. I would say keyboard wear is a good sign of how much work you do. If you can last two or three years on a keyboard you are probably over paid.

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156757)

What the fuck do you do to keyboards? I type like I learned on a model M, because I did. I mostly write shit (whitepapers is the polite term) and proposals now. Neighbors in the cube farm mention the noise. I don't "wear out" mice or keyboards.

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156759)

Ok. So I'm assuming this is for people that aren't supporting datacenter based equipment. Y'know the guys that have to plug in thousands of powercords...

So if you're outfitting your cube/desk area, how many keyboards and power cords do you go through? Also, do most FB employees standardize on the 'vending machine' keyboard, or do they have their own personal preference?

I can tell you I wear out a keyboard in about three months and before I switched to "cheapie" Logitech mice, $10 a pop, I was burning through expensive mice every other month. It all depends on how much work you do. After two months the "A" on my keyboard is badly worn and at three months a dozen keys are showing wear. I would say keyboard wear is a good sign of how much work you do. If you can last two or three years on a keyboard you are probably over paid.

I hear you, I absolutely obliterate keyboard, something about the way I type. It's the main reason I switched to Model Ms (and one F) at home: Not being retro, not coolness, but the fact that they actually survive me.

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156869)

I suspect keyboard obliteration is more common among older devs, who learned to touch type on a manual typewriter. For you young'uns, that's somehting that looks like an integrated keyboard/printer without a cord, CPU or monitor.

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156999)

I have seen plenty of younger devs mash keyboards pretty good while wearing earphones. A combination of fast typing and poor feedback can obliterate any keyboard pretty quick.

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156807)

I would say keyboard wear is a good sign of how much work you do.

That's probably true if you're using the keyboard to pound in masonry nails, but the rest of us use keyboards for typing. In all seriousness, in software development the amount of typing you do is totally unrelated to your productivity. Using a bad framework, language or library can increase the amount of typing required, while reducing your productivity. Using proper code factorization, the right language or the right library can increase efficiency and expressiveness, leading to less cruft and less typing. If this isn't already obvious to you, you are probably overpaid and trying to keep your head above water by increasing the rate at which you churn out more LOCs.

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156883)

If you actually believe what you are typing, you're a fucking idiot.

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157481)

what the fuck are you doing to your mice?
I've had the same mouse for 3 years used for 8 hours a day 5 days a week.
I do 3d work and my mouse is in constant use.

have you ever held a kitten, did you squeeze it till it bled?

As the internet says, "You're doing it wrong".

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157181)

As most Facebook engineers are die-hard nerds that use vim and emacs, most people buy their own keyboards according to their personal preference to make them super-productive. I have friends that use the HHK, the Das Keyboard and some other weird and less known brands. The vending machines only have the usual Mac and PC (Logitech) keyboards.

The vending machines are more useful for small things like phone chargers, display adapters, etc.

~ Anonymous Coward who doesn't have a Slashdot account but reads it often

Re:How many keyboards do these guys go through? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157191)

imagine if they had to supply these ones:
http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/advantage.htm

Not so custom. (1)

floodo1 (246910) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156565)

Fastenal uses the exact same vending machine (minus all the photos of course!).

Re:Not so custom. (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156795)

Fastenal uses the exact same vending machine (minus all the photos of course!).

Right. It's an Edge 5000 Industrial Vending Machine [apexindustrial.com] from Apex Supply Chain Technologies. Fastenall has about 30,000 installed. Facebook, not so many.

These industrial vending machines look like candy machines, but they're more versatile. They can be configured for a wide range of item sizes, they have an IR beam system to make sure the item actually is dispensed, and there are options available for soft handling of fragile items. The machines have an Internet connection, report who got what, and tell the supplier what needs refilling.

Fastenall has offered this for years. (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156671)

Facebook isn't being original here. Fastenall, which sells cutting tools, bolts, and other useful things used by people who make Real Stuff, has special vending machines for industrial plants. [fastenal.com] Employees use their employee badge or a PIN to get tools and supplies. The machines report back to Fastenall, and they restock the machines. The customer only pays for items when they're vended.

Here's the Youtube video. [youtube.com] Fastenall vends electric drills and WD-40, rather than keyboards and cables. They have little machines for things like drill bits, and locker-sized bins for big items. So they're already doing what Facebook is only talking about.

Re:Fastenall has offered this for years. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43156889)

Interesting side note: I've worked at a Kentucky Amazon warehouse for 3 straight Christmas seasons now and the last time around I noticed they've turned to Fastenal vending machines to provide employees with free bottled water.
Dehydration is a real issue at all times of the years as some sections of the warehouses are permanently 'too hot'. The vending machines are a big improvement over 100-300 people crowding around a few coolers full of water after breaks/lunch. As I recall that particular warehouse went though about 10,000 bottles of water per week during the peak Christmas season.

What? There is no "trust' here (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156821)

'I like the assumption that employees will do the right thing,'

Does this guy actually believe that bullshit? All they've done is increase the monitoring (insert obligatory facebook derogatory tracking comment) - there is less assumption of doing the right thing in this system than there is a with a human IT department.

With a human from the IT department in the loop that human has discretion in accounting for the costs of the hardware. If he knows a group has a tight budget but really needs a replacement doohickey, he can fudge the reporting - push it to the next quarter or put on another group that's got a budget surplus. This system removes all slack.

Maybe right now while facebook is flush with cash it ain't economical to bother looking at the reports from these vending machines beyond crazy outliers that would indicate fraud. But when budgets get tight, this system has the potential to be be far more rigid than one with that extra layer of humans in it.

This way may be a good thing, but lying about its strengths is not a good sign. Don't roofie me and call it romance...

The algorithm is written on the window (1)

SlashDev (627697) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156861)

".. algorithm ... if anyone has pulled 10 sets of headphones out of the system" If you they really need an algorithm to make that determination then they must have a shitload of engineers twirling their thumbs.

Re:The algorithm is written on the window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157049)

A+B=C is an algorithm...

I suspect (3, Funny)

codeButcher (223668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156913)

The swipe means that everyone's requests are tracked and I'm sure some algorithm somewhere is constantly sorting the data ...

So there's a screen on the front of the vending machine that displays targeted advertising then?

And if the vending machine breaks? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43156961)

There will, of course, be a vending machine vending machine, in case any of the vending machines break.

G4 Led,G9 Led,car led light,canbus led,led indoor (-1)

lei xiao (2862101) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157029)

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feel sorry for the people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157151)

facebook plastered pictures of all over the damn thing.

Another definition of swipe? (4, Funny)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43157153)

One could just "swipe" the desired accessory from someone else's desk. That would be much more difficult to track.

I wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43157361)

they had this at the data center.

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