Allow me to start with a brief review. I’ve finished my life plan, and got my major goals in nine life areas down in black and white. I’ve reviewed it with my wife who will be my principle accountability partner for most of the goals. I still have to prioritize the goals and set some more time frames, especially for the short term ones. Now, let me switch gears to the technical side to discuss my move to digital documents. By the way, I’m liking my Mac book air laptop more and more, after the initial unpleasant surprises I mentioned last week.
I’m in the process of running some tests with scanners to come up with my work flow and methodology as I move to a (more) paperless and electronic household. The most exciting scanner, and the one I’m working with first, is called the XCANEX, a professional book and document scanner. This is exciting because it is completely portable, and could therefore be used in a library. Believe me when I say the fees I’ve spent on xeroxing journal and magazine articles in libraries would have paid for the scanner several times over.
Basically the scanner is like a camera that can quickly take pictures of all the pages in a book and then combine them into one pdf file, with automatic removal of the fingers holding the pages down, and automatic adjustments for page curvature and the brightness and contrast of the images. It even has optical character recognition (OCR) software built in so that the text in the pdf files is searchable. This feature is one of the reasons I even considered this solution, rather than buy electronic reader versions of the books. Another reason to make my own electronic books is that many of the books I want digitized don’t come in electronic versions, some are out of print, and some are only available in libraries. The Digital Rights Management (DRM) features of many electronic books not only prevent you from searching on the text, but prohibit you copying and pasting parts of the text when you want to quote the source, with credit, in something you are writing. But since I own the books I will be scanning, and will not be loaning or selling either the hard copy or the electronic copy, I should not be violating anyones rights.
I will be able to highlight portions of the text of the pdf documents, and even attach notes and comments, which can also be searched. With quick digital searches of my comments, I am hoping I will soon embrace reading, highlighting, and noting in digital form rather than write my comments in the margins of the hard copy books. The key to the ethics is to not give or loan out copies of the digital books. When I loan a hard copy book, I expect to get it back and there is only one copy still of the book that only one person can look at at a time. With the digital, it is just too easy to share widely and not get an only original returned to me.
A long time ago I scanned (on a flatbed scanner) a chapter of a book I have in German on the daisy oracle (he loves me, he loves me not), ran it through omnipage OCR and then ran the result through Google translate to try to get a good idea in English what was said. In a nutshell, it didn’t work due to cumulative errors at every step in the process. And it took a LONG time. Real soon I will have a report on the actual performance and user experience with the XCANEX. Anyone who has ever tried to scan a book with a flatbed scanner will REALLY appreciate this scanner. It is fast and you don’t have to bend the book flat to the point of damaging the binding. The XCANEX web page is here (source of photo above) if you want more information, and there is a link to videos of it in action at the top of that page.