I have still been working on my paperless experiment, but most of my planning has revolved around trying to figure out how to keep from wasting money on something only to discover I have to buy something else.
I’ve also been working on the workflow side of things in trying to keep my documents digital and not simply revert to printing them out whenever I need to fax or sign them. I have had pretty good luck with some online faxing services that I hope to write more about in another post.
Also I’ve had a chance to really challenge the ScanSnap scanner. While it doesn’t compete with a $10,000 sheet fed scanner, I’ve been very impressed. The other day my grandmother had about 450 photos in a box that I offered to scan for her. There were all different sizes, some had sticky tape on the back, etc. The scanner handled them very well. It worked best with 10 to 20 at a time, but I was able to scan the entire box in about 20 minutes of reloading the scanner and then waiting for it to run. She has another 4 boxes for me to scan now. :)
Another part of being paperless that I’ve been working with a lot is the backup process. I’ve been looking at Apple’s Backup program, Mozy, and Jungle Disk. Apple’s Backup program is ok, but you are very limited on the amount of storage space. I haven’t been able to get Mozy to work. I’ve been working with their tech support for over a month now and I’m just about to throw in the towel. So far JungleDisk seems to be working well and I’ve been happy with it–once I got use to a few odd quirks. I plan on doing a more detailed review of each of these a little later–hopefully after I get Mozy working.
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Arjun Muralidharan says
Glad to hear your progress. I wish I could afford a ScanSnap at the moment, the speed of my Canon Flatbed is killing me…
As for Backup software, have you decided to use online solutions only? I personally use Time Machine since Leopard, and I can only recommend it to you.
I bought a 500GB external drive for just around 150 USD the other day.
I am one of the 42Tags developers. I read your post and I thought – “hey – I was exactly on the same spot a year ago”.
I than started developing 42tags a small yet sophisticated sw which does exactly what you are talking about enable the digitization of papers. The main idea behind it is that you will not “folder” your scans like in win-explorer but tag it using one or more tags so you can later find it easly.
But the way the cost is 50$, and if you will answer some survey it is reduces to 25$ (only for few days).
Regarding backup I would like to share my solution, every night I have some scripts which are backing up to external 500MB HD. I also once in a month burn a DVD and encrypt it (gpg 2048bits) and give it to a friend as an offsite backup.
I would be more than happy to have comments and feedback
on my SW.
Shimon ([email protected])
Mark Shead says
@Arjun – My copy of Leopard and my new Mac Book Pro should get here today. I’m interested in trying out Time Machine. I was looking at online backups because I wanted the best protection in case of theft. Also I want a good way to backup while I travel without running the risk of carrying my backup drive with me. I’ll still probably use Time Machine, but I’m looking for an online method to give me a little more safety.
I do keep backups in a safe deposit box, but it isn’t always easy to get to–especially if I’m out of the country. With an online backup I can get my files running again even if I’m on a different computer.
I have a Canon flatbed scanner I was using before. It is a nice scanner, but it is just too slow. I would avoid scanning stuff that should be scanned because it would take to long–so I feel your pain. :)
Mark Shead says
@Shimon – I took a look at the software. Unfortunately it looks like it is PC only so it isn’t something that would fit in my workflow. Also I couldn’t tell if it does OCR. The current setup I’m looking at using will do OCR right after the document is scanned and let you classify things based on the word frequency similarities to other documents that you’ve already classified. So far this seems to work pretty well. Does 42 Tags do something similar?
42Tags doesn’t do OCR. 42Tags do to scanned docuemts exactly what del.icio.us does to web sites. OCR vs Tags is Google vs del.icio.us. (this would be flattering to OCR :-) )
I personally scanned hundreds of papers and attached many files to them, and it takes me less than a second to reach each one of them.
For example : If I would like to search for some medical test we performed to our 1 year old daughter. I will search for “Medical” and “Shany” and have few results immediately!
We have a demonstration video (7 min) –
Ray Fowler says
I am curretnly using Mozy, but it is very slow. I was interested in looking into Jungle Disk, so I look forward to your comparison and review.
You may want to check out Yep! (http://www.ironicsoftware.com/yep/). It is a Mac-only application that, based on a glance of the 42Tags website, appears to do the same thing. It will even search your hard drive for all PDFs and provide preliminary tags for existing PDFs. I have only tested the software (I am a scientist and opted for a more academic-focused solution), but I believe it also handles scans.
Barbara Blackwell says
Shimon – how do I get to your survey & the discount (your application looks very interesting)?
I’m thoroughly sold on the ScanSnap – now have one at work and home. (www.ipaperless.com has a steal on these right now. I really like the second SCANSNAP I bought – the 510. The software is better).
The MOZY is working fine, little hiccup now and then but it tells me status every morning so we’ve been able to eliminate our speedbumps one by one. I’m 50% through scanning one file cabinet of reference material and eyeing the second! Can’t wait to move those puppies on to craigslist and recover some space!
The 42tags looks like it will be the answer to the various “mindcandy” and future projects category that I’m currently storing in multiple directories as a sad attempt at organization a 1001 “memes”.
I recently started another CRM install of GoldMine with just personal project data with linked documents in an effort to organize all the future project stuff I’ve been trying to wrestle. It will work, but the 42tags methodology has me interested!
I’d love to find a good system for organizing all the audio files I have. Itunes is driving me batty and I need a system that can move files on/off my various devices with ease AND CATALOG. Would love it if it had a tagging system. (Hey Shimon – how about an addon option???)
Barbara – I am glad that you liked it, we are constantly trying to improve it (this is the reason for the survey).
In order to participate in the survey you need to fill in your contact details : http://www.42tags.com/sale.htm , download/install the application and experience it. We will contact you in 5-10 days and ask you some questions and you’ll get a link with 50% discount (limited time only).
In 42Tags you can CATALOG your audio files (like any other files) although it isn’t 42Tags’ main expertise.
I personally use it (aside from scanning documents) for managing excel, word, pdf, license files, htmls.
I’m enjoying reading about your paperless office experiment as I’m on the edge of the diving board, about to take the plunge myself.
Lemme ask you something, with your Fujitsu scanner, I know you’ve said it doesn’t jam all that much but how do you handle items that jam so much they refuse to be scanned?
Mark Shead says
@Paul – When I have problems with things jamming in the ScanSnap it is usually caused by pages that stick together. The ScanSnap comes with instructions on how to bend the pages so they are less likely to stick, but for really sticky pages, I’ll feed them one at a time. Once you get use to the timing of the scanner you can do this fairly quickly Since it is scanning both sides it is still faster than a flatbed scanner.
I don’t have to do this very often, but it seems to work well for the few times I’m scanning pages that have a bunch of friction between them.
“The other day my grandmother had about 450 photos in a box that I offered to scan for her. There were all different sizes, some had sticky tape on the back, etc. The scanner handled them very well. It worked best with 10 to 20 at a time, but I was able to scan the entire box in about 20 minutes of reloading the scanner and then waiting for it to run. She has another 4 boxes for me to scan now. :)”
1. did you use the scansnap to scan the photos?
2. what settings did you use to scan the photos?
3. what sort of quality did you achieve?
4. did you just want to scan and store the photos as a .pdf file?
I ask because I am a happy bunny owner of the scansnap S510. Wonderful machine. I have gone through quite a pile of my documents and now want to dive into scanning my photos that have not been digitised as yet.
Any tips on this specific need with the S510 would be most welcome and even more useful!
Mark Shead says
@RJ – I set it used the scansnap and set it to create JPEG files. I fiddled around with the size and quality until I had something that seemed reasonable. I don’t remember what settings I used for this. The quality was reasonable, but not as high as it would be with a flatbed scanner at 2400 dpi. If you want to just keep them on the computer for viewing it is more than adequate.
The photos I was scanning were very old and many of them weren’t very good quality to start with. The settings I ended up with seemed to be the right balance where if it was any higher you’d notice the problems with the original photo, if it were any lower you’d notice the jpeg artifacts.
Hope that helps!
Thank you for the tips.
I was thrown off by the ‘Quick Menu’ setting, which did not give me the option of ‘Scan to JPEG’. I had to rt-click on the Manager icon and uncheck the QuickMenu. This opened up the ‘Alladin’s Cave’ of the ScanSnap Manager.
I had to jiggle around with the settings of the scanned photos and reached an acceptable level. Good enough for computer viewing and also using the photos to create slideshows/moviemaker.
Thanks again. These tips, in specific and your blog, in general have been very helpful.
I will try to get mind over matter and get that scan/OCR slideshow up soon!! :)
Vernon Blake says
I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Which model Scansnap scanner do you own? Also, have you had continued success scanning old photographs? I am looking for an all purpose, affordable scanner.
Mark Shead says
@Vernon – I have the ScanSnap 500M which has been replaced by the 510M. The M models are for Macs. The PC models have the same model number without the M.
As far as scanning photos, I’ve had good luck, but I’m not going for super high quality. If you are trying to get a digital copy of everything in your shoebox it works well. If you want super high resolution images from 8×10 prints, I’d go with a flatbed scanner with better resolution. Also the sheet feeding is nice, but you can’t load it with 100s of pictures and come back in an hour. I found I can usually do about 10 to 20 photos at a time and you have to keep an eye on things to make sure nothing mis feeds. It sure beats trying to run everything through a flat bed individually.
Be sure to turn off OCR and duplex scanning when using a scansnap for photos.
The newest version of Photoshop is supposed to have a feature where you can put a bunch of photos on a flatbed scanner and it will separate them into a distinct file for each photo automatically. You will probably get better quality scans using something like that, but I doubt it would be much faster.