I read a lot of academic papers, most of which are distributed in Postscript or PDF format. Because they are usually typeset for publication in journals, reading them on the computer is fatiguing. The type is too small, and I must zoom and scroll to compensate.
For this reason, I almost always dispatch the papers to the laser printer, staple the resulting stack of pages, and then read the printed version. Not only is this easier on the eyes, but also I can read while reclining in a comfortable chair, preferably with an espresso on the side table. I can also scribble notes in the margins. It’s a good deal.
But there’s a catch: the system only works for short papers. If more than fifteen pages come out of the laser printer, the weak link is readily exposed: the everyday desk stapler. Try to bind a non-trivial stack of pages, and you’ll soon have bent staples, mangled pages, and a stapler that is flat-out jammed.
Nevertheless, I can go further than most. For I have learned the dark arts by which desk staplers can be made to bind beyond their mortal limits. Through cunning manipulation and fell incantation (swearing, mostly) I can coerce an ordinary desk stapler into binding perhaps twenty pages. But that is the utmost limit; beyond, there is only suffering.
That is, until today. For today I walked into my local Staples and saw the One-Touch high capacity stapler. Half stapler, half hammer tacker, this bad boy had my name written all over it. The price tag was a suspiciously high $29.98, but I didn’t care.
How does it work?
The central idea is that by compressing the “one touch” lever, you store energy in a spring, building up a sizable potential. At the end of the stroke, this potential is released as a sudden impulse. The impulse in turn breaches the fabric of space and time, opening an extra-dimensional gateway through which demon elves enter our plane of existence and lovingly drive the foremost staple through the stack. In an instant, the deed is done, the gateway closes, and you are left with a perfectly stapled stack of pages (and the lingering scent of brimstone).
That’s the theory. But does it work in practice?
Putting it to the test
Test number one: A 27-page paper on survival analysis. I aligned the pages and placed the corner (at a perfect 45-degree angle, naturally) into the maw of the stapler. I depressed the lever. Slowly, energy built until - Thwack!
A perfect staple.
But that was a paper on statistics. Easy. How would the stapler fare on computer science papers, which are notoriously difficult to staple?
Test number two: “An Embedded Domain-Specific Language for Type-Safe Server-Side Web Scripting.” This paper was especially tricky. First, it was printed on 24# premium-grade, hard-calendared stock. (When I read comp-sci papers, I read in style.) Second, a long time ago I had tried to staple this very same paper with a typical desk stapler, which had failed. In order to get the original staple to take, in fact, I had to bend its points into the paper by hand, using a penny. How humiliating!
Now I tested the “One Touch” on this formidable comp-sci paper. First, I removed the old, pathetic staple. Then I re-aligned the pages and placed them into the One Touch. I pressed down on the lever and - Thwack!
Another perfect staple.
Conclusion: This stapler is the real deal.
If you read mighty documents, you deserve a mighty stapler. And the One Touch is a mighty stapler. Keep that in mind the next time you are roaming the aisles of your local Staples store.