Monday, April 26, 2010

Scan Like It Is 2010

The ScanSnap is a small portable scanner that does double sided copying in one pass. According to Fujitsu's web site it is the world's smallest duplexing scanner. It can operate off your laptop without a separate power source if necessary. In theory you could scan documents anywhere, at least until the laptop battery ran out.

Sounds good but I wasn't interested, in part because the capacity of the ADF is "up to 10 sheets." I rarely seem to have a document of only ten pages. And it is pricey, particularly when I have a perfectly good scanner.

However, although I had scanned most of my paper I still had two oversized file drawers of double sided pages. I could come up with no efficient way to scan them so I broke down and ordered the ScanSnap S1300. I'm only sorry I waited so long. Within days of its arrival I had totally eliminated the two drawers of scanning and shredded or recycled the paper.

The ScanSnap scans at eight pages a minute color, 16 pages black and white. That would be eight pages, both sides, but it is remarkably fast. And the 10 page limit on the automatic document feeder is simply not true. You can add to the pile as it goes so you can fill the ADF, let it most of them and add more pages which will all end up in the same document. Even if it stops it gives you the option of proceeding from that point.

It takes pages up 8.5 by 14.17 which is more than legal size. Those old wills and other legal documents are no problem. [No, I did not shred those after scanning.]

Mine came bundled with software file manager software which allows you to scan to file, email, fax, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, a picture file, a printer. Or you can scan to my all time favorite program Evernote and have your word searchable documents available to you on any computer, online, on many smart phones and you iPod Touch.

You can scan in business cards and a program reads them. Your documents are read by a version of ABBYY Fine Reader. You can straighten documents. There is a Rack2-Filer program to organize your documents. Depending on which version of the scanner package you buy that may be a trial version.

I own Adobe Acrobat Pro and the full version of ABBYY so I have not tried the bundled software. Their system, at least in the ScanSnap Organizer, is simple and easy to use. I sometimes used it for a temporary holding system before moving the document to my own system. I concentrated on scanning and making sure I had all the pages. I didn't always name the files. I will go back and do that as time permits, might check out their software then.

One thing that is a bit of an issue is paper exit. You put the pages in the automatic document feeder. When they come out they have no bin to go to so they shoot across the table, desk, etc. I found working on a kitchen island to be ideal for that. You could rig up a tray to catch the paper if needed. It's a small price to pay for a portable scanner.

The ScanSnap allows greater flexibility in putting different size documents through without issue. It's just more convenient. I'll let you know how it does on my next big project - pictures.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Genealogy Podcasts

Genealogy podcasts can be useful and educational. I listen to several, some current, some no longer active, while walking. I always learn something, even from those that don't sound all that interesting.

You can listen on your computer or any music player that plays MP3 format. It's very convenient. The problem is if you listen on your MP3 player or in your car or any other place away from your computer or desk, you can't make notes on what is said and you can't possibly recall all the things you wanted to remember later.

Some podcasts have "show notes" online. However, if you are listening to an older podcast [older may mean a year] the show notes are gone or outdated. This is understandable but a problem.

Podcasts come and go. It's a lot of work to come up with something fresh every week. There is no good current list. Not even Cyndi has them all. There is a personality factor. Some of these podcasters may just not appeal to you. Others are fine but after awhile you might get tired of their idea of humor.

You can google "genealogy podcasts" as a starting place for locating podcasts. One that is less obvious but I have found interesting is the Online Programming for All Libraries [OPAL]. It is not strictly genealogy but there may be something for you at their website You can also view the presentations online with slides.