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Scanning Update

Scanning Update

This morning I was up early but not to shop. Before 9 a.m. I scanned another 487 photos. I have learned to scan all mindlessly. I can decide what to keep, whether it is a duplicate, etc., later. My ScanSnap saves both sides so if there is something on the back to help me identify the photo later that is saved. Step two of this process will be naming the photos.

While scanning the photos I have found those I had no idea I had and plenty that I can’t identify as well as innumerable pictures of that little girl everyone apparently loved to photograph. What is really bad is today I found a picture from 1957 where I could only identify one person [my oldest brother] and possibly another [neighbor]. My sister, who was not born in 1957 as I am sure she wishes me to point out, used her later time memory to suggest a logical possibility for two of the people. The other two remain a total mystery. As shown before here, sometimes an outside person can shed light on a picture. Never hesitate to ask anyone you can.

I am now down to one file drawer, about half full of documents not related to genealogy, and one box of photos. Unfortunately it is a large box and probably contains 12-1500 photos. The good news is half of them are travel, scenery, etc., which may not survive the pruning. Prior to digital we took some bad pictures and were stuck with them.

I’m not giving up my beautiful remaining bookcase even when it is empty but I do have three shelves of books relating to the later 15th Century in England I’m ready to donate. No genealogy unless you a Plantagenet.

Scanning Update

Scanning Update

Ok, Ms. Smarty Pants, are your files perfect someone asked? Nope. And my system is not perfect to begin with, rather it is one that works for me and may work for you.

In my defense I have computer files dating back to 1987. Most have had had their file form changed a couple times. I used WordPerfect then – and still do – but I didn’t have Windows. I don’t remember if they had Windows yet at that time. Yes, hard to believe. These days when I have time I convert non photo files to pdf and try to rename them at that time.

I also have multiple lines with the same name. I have maternal and paternal Wood lines, unrelated. Ditto Harding and others. There are the Downings who were unrelated until about 1855 when they began intermarrying. Then there are common ancestors where I have multiple lines of descent. Abraham Lucas and David Clark [the mystery man who never got out of New Jersey] are two examples.

You need to make a basic plan, using logic that makes sense to you and that you can remember, and adapt it to your situation as these things arise. Consistency is the most important element.

How are the pictures coming? I have maybe – maybe – half of the boxed photos scanned. We are talking literally thousands of pictures. Only a small portion are named. I have an idea for the that when the scanning is done. I have found duplicates and pictures that there is no reason to save – I had a fine time when I first got a digital camera. Not all of the pictures are genealogically related of course.

I have found some amazing old photos I didn’t even know I had. There are people I don’t know who are probably related. There are people I don’t know but I am certain they are not related. And there are so many photos of one cute little girl that even I am getting tired of her. At this point I feel like just scanning and naming all the pictures will keep me busy until at least 2025. And with the SnapScan the scanning is now easy.

Why name in the same order, ie, surname, first name, type, date, location? One reason is to make sure you put everything in the name. Another useful reason is to sort them. Example, if named properly the following files will sort as follows:

Downing John census 1790 Westmoreland Pennsylvania.pdf
Downing John census 1810 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1820 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1830 Logan Illinois.pdf
Downing John land 1803 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John land 1821 Logan Illinois.pdf

and so on. It makes it handy to see what you have.

ScanSnap 3 – Photos

ScanSnap 3 – Photos

I put nearly 200 photos through the ScanSnap in less than an hour while I was talking on the phone the other morning. It pretty much does everything for you. I feed them through individually after sorting a bit by size. It seems to work best if the guides are adjusted to the size of the picture but after the first couple that is pretty mindless. It scanned both sides if there was anything on the back at all. Some of the photos I put through are least 80 years old.

In some cases it assigned a number to the scanned pictures which would indicate the front and back are together and in some cases it didn’t. I didn’t feel it necessary to spend time trying to figure that out.

I have no idea how many pictures I have. There are more in that box and I have two additional larger boxes. I easily have 2,000 more. It won’t happen overnight but I am now confident I will get them done. It’s much easier and faster with the ScanSnap than the flatbed scanner I was trying to use [which is perfect for stacks of single sided pages and does legal size] and does not require as much of my attention.

After the pictures are scanned I spend time renaming them with names to indicate who is in the picture. Those that I have no idea or not enough information keep their scanner assigned number which makes them stand out as unidentified. It is easy to work with them in the ScanSnap Organizer although you don’t have to use it.

All my pictures are saved to a 1 TB NAS drive, that is a large drive attached to my router and available from any computer [or iPod or SmartPhone] on my network. There Picasa automatically begins working on the face recognition. Read about that here. It does some amazing things, sometimes telling me who is in the unknown pictures.

ScanSnap 2

ScanSnap 2

I have worked with the ScanSnap with pictures this week. Unfortunately I haven’t had enough time in the last week to put it through all its paces but I am impressed so far. I put some snapshots of scenery through it first just in case. This also gave me a chance to play with the settings, see how everything worked. They did well. I progressed, eventually getting to a 1920s photo in good shape. I was quite pleased. I don’t believe I would put the original 1862 wedding picture of my great great grandparents through it but since I have “new” copy of that I have no problem. I should point out that most of my old photos are in pretty good shape. If a photo was fragile or delicate in any way I would not put it through a sheet feed scanner.

This week I also took the binding off a paper bound genealogy book and fed it through. The hardest part was cutting off the binding, both mentally and physically. I had a hard time tearing up a book. It wasn’t that easy to remove the pages either. You need to remove all the glue bits, jagged edges, etc. I called someone who has done before and he recommended a high tech device — use my band saw. I also note that heavier paper, such as the cover of many paper bound books, does not feed well or in some cases not at all.

Where did I get the ScanSnap? It’s available in a lot of places. Amazon.com is a good place to start for many things. I suggest you search for it online and see what the going price is when you are thinking of buying. These things vary from week to week. For example, when I first began considering the ScanSnap there was only the 300 in the color duplexing portable department. Now there is the 1300 which is a bit better and a bit cheaper. And there are other models.

Scan Like It Is 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.