Sunday, February 05, 2012

Paperless

I've been slowly going paperless over the past decade. The first step on my journey started in 2000 when I signed up to use a payment service, PayTrust, to receive my incoming bills, scan them, and put them online for me to pay. The next major step was probably when I got a digital camera to replace my traditional film cameras. It might not be considered a "paperless" use case, but it has lead to very little hardcopies over the years as monitors and HDTV with screensavers and AppleTVs have become so beautiful.  Back to the paperless office, my next big step was eFileing my taxes but that didn't come until about 5 years later. Then suddenly about two years ago, I hit a real shift in my desire to go completely paperless when I got my iPad and installed Evernote.

digital notes...


If you aren't familiar with Evernote its an excellent app, available on all the major desktop and mobile OSes, that makes note-taking and organizing really simple. The killer feature is it keeps the notes in-sync across all instances, from my iPhone to my iPad to my multiple PCs.

So when I got my iPad and discovered Evernote around the same time, I realized how going paperless was finally a reality. The only problem is that I have a file cabinet full of paper! I tried to just keep up with the incoming paper in our lives using our all-in-one scanner, but sitting in my office just isn't my idea of a fun time, and so that project has stagnated and the paper continues to go into the file cabinet.

Then last week a friend on Facebook posted how he was going paperless and so I asked him his secret. He was nice enough to share that he was use a Doxie scanner. It was the first I had heard of it, but when I looked it up I knew it was exactly what I needed.  After convincing my wife that it was perfectly valid use of my unspent Christmas gift money, I ordered a Doxie Go.

portable scanning to the cloud...


My Doxie Go came four days later, yesterday. Unboxing it, I knew it was what I have been waiting for. It is small, light and battery powered. I already had an Eye-Fi X2 Connect card so in about 5 minutes I had them set up to upload all scans directly to a new Evernote notebook I created and called Import.

The reason I created a new notebook was two-fold. First, the Eye-Fi doesn't let you set which notebook it should add new scans to, and just uses the Evernote concept of a "default" notebook. So instead of having  to sort through an existing notebook for scans that need organizing, it will all go to a staging area for me to sort through.  This decision also affects the "forward an email to Evernote" feature I often use, so having both sources go to the same place for me to sift through isn't a bad thing.

a family affair...


The second reason for a new notebook, is I can share it with my wife and we both have access to new scans. Seeing the size of the Doxie Go, we'll definitely be leaving it in the kitchen so my wife can scan all incoming mail. A shared Evernote notebook means she also gets instant access to the scans without a PC and without me in the way.

Speaking of keeping it in the kitchen, I'm really excited that we have our U-Socket installed there since the Doxie Go doesn't come with a wall charger. I'm sure an iPhone charger would work too, but having the USB socket right in the wall for the Doxie is pretty cool too.

lickable...


I can't speak highly enough of the user experience of the Doxie Go, from the first impression of the site, to ordering, to unboxing and installation; the experience is buttery and wonderful. They have definitely taken a page from Apple and made everything "lickable". About the only thing I could nit-pick about to this point was the order confirmation screen was the dull grey from some third-party payment service.

...the ugly...


So nothing is perfect right? And the Doxie Go is no exception. Where it falls down is trying to bulk import a lot of paper. I have that file cabinet right? So I had planned to sit for 3 hours a night while I'm watch TV or something, bulk scanning everything we had for the next few months. Sadly the Doxie battery gave up about 40 scans after its full charge. So I said, fine I'll just keep it plugged in and stand at my kitchen counter. No go. The Doxie Go only pulls juice from the internal battery and won't stay powered off just the USB power. So I was able to scan for about 10-15 minutes, and will have to wait 2 hours for it to charge again.  This is clearly not the use case it was built for.

Another nit-pick, the marketing implies the Doxie Go has OCR built-in but its actually a software feature. So when you scan directly to Evernote you lose those additional features like auto-contrast and OCR. But its pretty moot for me, Evernote already has OCR that's pretty great.

final thoughts...


In the end, if all my incoming paper can be scanned and thrown away immediately, that's a huge improvement on what we have now.  For the file cabinet, I'll have to break it up into batches of 25 pages or so and slowly scan them over the coming years.

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