Random Post: High Speed Personal Scanner
RSS .92| RSS 2.0| ATOM 0.3
  • Home
  • About Me
  •  

    High Speed Personal Scanner

    October 5th, 2008

    I prefer to store documents digitally, rather than with paper in drawers.  I have long sought a way to quickly convert paper documents into digital form for archival and search/retrieval purposes.  I recently found a great product which sits on my desk, and does exactly that.

    Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner

    Increase productivity in a snap with the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 Sheet-Fed Scanner. The S510 digitizes both sides of a document in a single pass at up to 18 pages per minute in color, making it ideal for a small office or home office environment.

    Changing how documents are managed

    • One button scanning to searchable PDF
    • Scan directly to Microsoft® applications
    • New multifunction Quick Menu feature
    • Easily protect, preserve, & share documents
    • Business card scanning
    • Color Duplex 18 pages per minute
    • Adobe® Acrobat® 8.0 Standard

    The Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 is around the size of a toaster.  I can put a document in its feeder tray (up to 50 pages at a time) and just hit go to start.  Both sides of each page are scanned simulateously.  When its done, a PDF is created and OCR processes begin.  It sits just to the right of my monitor in prime desktop realestate.  I use the ScanSnap regularly to scan bills, paper correspondence, and even drawings created by my kids.

    My only complaint is that the scanner driver is not TWAIN compliant, so applications like PhotoShop, and NeatReceipts don’t recognize it.  The “workaround” is to use the ScanSnap to scan first to PDF for import to other applications.

    Update: I should point out that this product is not cheap.  The average price is around $400.  At the moment, a $50 mail-in-rebate is available though October 2008 at Newegg.com.

    s510_header


    KeePass

    October 1st, 2008

    Once upon a time I frequently reused passwords. So if you knew my dogs name, or what kind of car I drove, you could easily have pretended to be me with just a little extra work. This is obviously a very bad idea, but I’m sure many people struggle with managing passwords for web sites and computer systems you access on a regular basis.

    Passwords are keys to your identity.  If a malicious person were to figure out your email password, what harm could they cause?  Could they quickly gather the names and contact information for your friends and family?  Could they figure out where you bank?  Could they reset your bank password by telling your bank that your password was forgotten?

    A researcher who examined 10,000 Hotmail, MSN and Live.com passwords that were recently exposed online has published an analysis of the list and found that “123456″ was the most commonly used password, appearing 64 times.
    Wired Magazine

    Here are my tips for choosing the best passwords:

    • Use different passwords for every site/application.  Do not reuse them.
    • Change passwords frequently.  The more you use a password, the more you should change it.
    • Keep your passwords secret.  Guard them as if they were keys to your identity — they usually are.
    • Consider using a random password generator.
    • Consider using passphrases (e.g. Myhouseismadeofwoodandhasyellowsiding!)
    • Consider using acronyms (e.g. Mhimowahys!)
    • Do not use words, birthdays, family and pet names, addresses, or any other personal information in your passwords.
    • Do not use repeat characters such as 111 or sequences like abc, qwerty, or 123 in any part of your password.

    I strongly recommend using a password managment tool for three important reasons.

    1. Tools remember many passwords so you don’t have to.
    2. Tools can type passwords for you.  This makes strong passwords easy to use.
    3. Tools can create strong passwords which are complex, unique, and random.

    A while back I wrote a post about PasswordSafe, which I used to manage my usernames and passwords.  I later switched to a different tool named KeePassKeePass is also free and open source, but I think it is also easier to use.  I now also use LastPass which is a different on-line based password manager.

    KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish). For more information, see the features page.

    The ability to auto-type usernames and passwords is infinately flexible with KeePass.  Auto-type is a very important feature, although I can understand why you may not initially think so.  Think about the strongest types of passwords.  They are long, complex, unique, and full of many different character types.  Do you want to type those in manually each time?  Once I switched to KeePass, my normal password length increased to 20 or more randomized characters wherever possible.  Since I don’t have to remember or type them, I prefer the really long/complex ones.

    To manage my password database across several computers, I use FolderShare to synchronize it between systems.  This keeps my database of (as of writing 317) passwords the same across all my systems.  Occasionally I also copy the password database file to a USB flash drive so I can access accounts when I’m not using one of my own computers.

    KeePass has many other great features.  The listing of features below links to their website.

  • Strong Security
  • Multiple User Keys
  • Portable and No Installation Required
  • Export To TXT, HTML, XML and CSV Files
  • Import From Many File Formats
  • Easy Database Transfer
  • Support of Password Groups
  • Time Fields and Entry Attachments
  • Auto-Type, Global Auto-Type Hot Key and Drag&Drop
  • Intuitive and Secure Windows Clipboard Handling
  • Searching and Sorting
  • Multi-Language Support
  • Strong Random Password Generator
  • Plugin Architecture
  • Open Source!
  • Some websites with more complicated authentication schemes will require customization of the auto-type string.  The software “help” references provides details on how to do this.

    keypass


    Microsoft OneNote

    August 8th, 2007

    I like to avoid paper whenever I can. Why? Because it is heavy to carry around, it is time consuming to make backups, and most importantly I am always misplacing it. Certainly paper has its place (bills, financial records, mileage logs, etc) but Microsoft OneNote lets me put notes into electronic form.

    Microsoft OneNote is a very simple and straightforward application. It will remind you of a WordProcessor, except it doesn’t have all of the formatting features a WordProcessor provides. The function of OneNote is to capture and organize information — not to make it look its best.

    Typing is how I get most of my notes into OneNote. I type faster than I write so this works best for me. OneNote has easy to use outlining features and allows you to annotate basic shapes easily. You can also easily cut/paste from other applications. The only significant missing feature is the lack of a “Paste Unformatted Text” command. If you want to remove formatting from text, you have to paste first into something like notepad.exe and then cut/paste into OneNote.

    Other than organizing your notes, the most powerful feature is search. When you type text into the search box, OneNote instantly searches an index of all of your notes and highlights the pages and result instances. This is great for typing in little nuggets of information like names to recall their context.

    Perhaps one of the fanciest features is OneNote’s compatibility with Tablet PCs. I used HP’s TC4400 for about a year with OneNote. OneNote can recognize and convert handwritten notes into text, or simply do the text conversion in the background for search purposes. Frankly I didn’t use the handwriting features much since I write so slowly, but it was very useful to use the Tablet stylus to draw shapes and diagrams.

    During in-person meetings, paper is king for notes. Using a laptop/tablet for note taking tends to be distracting to other participants. I have discovered that taking notes on a legal pad, and then scanning them into OneNote works for me. The OCR features don’t work on scanned notes, but at least they stay in your virtual “notebook.”

    One other handy feature of OneNote is its built in screen clipping capability. A hotkey will activate the clipping feature where you can then draw a square on any portion of your screen. The image is then either added to a new “note” or simply put into your Windows clipboard for later pasting into an application.

    Microsoft OneNote is a part of the MS Office suite. It is also available seperately.

    OneNote


    Dual-Monitor Display

    August 1st, 2007

    Many computers support a dual-monitor display, and I would bet that many people don’t even realize it. For instance, most laptops allow you to use the internal display and a monitor plugged into the VGA port at the same time. Many PC video cards support both VGA and DVI ports, both of which can typically be used at the same time. Newer PCs even allow you to insert more than one video card at a time.

    Why? Because you spend most of your computer time using one application — but that is not all you use. Your primary application may be a web browser, your e-mail client, a word processor, or perhaps even custom business software. Having two displays allows you to dedicate one monitor to your primary application, and use the other monitor when the occasional need to multi-task arises.

    You will also find dual displays useful if you need to reference one file while accessing another. For instance, when typing a report in Word, you need to reference a spreadsheet in Excel. Or perhaps you want to reference a web site when authoring an e-mail. Just think about times when you most often switch between open applications. Dual monitor displays may offer you an easy way to boost productivity.

    Windows XP and Windows Vista support multiple displays out-of-the box. The first time you boot your PC with both displays active, you may see the same image on both. Once Windows is running, open your display properties/settings to confirm that two monitors are visible to Windows. Then select the second monitor and enable the option “Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor.”

    Dual Display Option