Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.
In April 2007, I offered a presentation with the same title as above our the Lake-Sumter Computer Society’s Genealogy Special Interest Group. For a handout click here
In my presentation -- which was based on an excellent article with a similar title by Dick Eastman in his outstanding Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter Plus Edition -- I extensively described the Xerox DocuMate 152 scanner that costs about $500 with bundled software. This, of course, was the one Mr. Eastman had obtained and on which he based his fine article.
Well, for me at least and for many the roughly $500 for the DocuMate 152 was a little bit on the pricey side and also it is more of a work group scanner with office document scanning as its primary design criteria.
One of the alternative scanners I found in my research for the presentation and also mentioned in my presentation was the Xerox DocuMate 510, flatbed scanner with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) rated at 10 pages per minute.
About a month ago I decided to obtain the DocuMate 510!
PC World has a very nice review of the Xerox 510 at the following web site; http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,114941-page,1/article.html -- two paragraphs were extracted in the text below.
“If you need to turn a stack of paper documents into editable electronic text, using a scanner with optical character recognition software and an automatic document feeder attachment--like Xerox's new $350 DocuMate 510--is a speedy alternative to typing.”
“While the DocuMate 510 is a flatbed model--and therefore takes up more desk space than slimmer sheet-fed scanners--its removable lid allows you to scan pages from books or other bound volumes, including oversize originals. For any business or workgroup that needs an affordable document scanner, the DocuMate 510 is a solid choice.” End Quote
I was able to find the 510 on the internet from a low of $298 to a high of $359. I paid $312 from Buy.com; however, I found that the local Office Depot (Mount Dora, FL) has the DocuMate 510 for $299, complete with bundled software.
And of special note, through June 30, 2007, Xerox is offering a $50 mail in rebate.
So far I am totally pleased with my DocuMate 510!
Scanner assembly went effortlessly with the aid of a very well illustrated assembly schematic manual. Installation requires that the software be installed before connecting the 510 to your computer via the USB port.
The 510 came with ScanSoft PaperPort 9.0 which controls the scanner, TextBridge Pro 9.0 for Optical Character Recognition, and ArcSoft Photo Impressions editing software all on one CD-ROM. It also came with a 58-page installation and scanning manual done quite nicely in slick paper, and a12-month warranty.
After the software was installed, the scanner components were connected to power and then I connected it to the computer with the USB cable. When I attempted to scan a document, however, I received an error message. By entering the error code into Google I was quickly able to determine that I had failed to adequately unlock the shipping lock slider switch.
After sliding the switch, the scanner worked perfectly. The sheet feeder works very well and even handles quite thin papers although hearing those go through the feeder may give one cause to worry a bit.
The ADF handles variable length paper from about 6 inches to up to 14-inch legal length papers -- all in the same stack in the ADF. And the fact that the scanner’s cover may be easily removed to copy from books is also a plus for genealogists and for general home applications.
Mr. Eastman, and others, speaks at length on what these scanners and their software, collectively known as a Document Management System, will mean -- reducing the number of filing cabinets, safer storage and more rapid and complete retrieval.
All of these are, of course, quite true, but you should be aware that to convert all of your existing file cabinet’s contents to digital information is not something you will be able to achieve quickly! Scanning all of your existing documents, whether your genealogy documentation or your credit card, banking or utility records, will take an appreciable amount of time and effort regardless of the scanner you employ.
At present I am scanning my bank statements, utility bills, medical Medicare and supplemental insurance statements, medical reports and lab analyses, credit cards and the like.
I have not yet begun to scan my Genealogy documents, but intend to -- this will be a daunting task; not the scanning but the organizing and assembling of the documents that I have to get them ready for scanning.
When you convert records to a document management system as I am doing with the 510, you need to decide what conversion scenario you will follow: scan all the documents that exist in your files or scan from the day you begin scanning forward.
I have decided to convert most of my documents starting from today forward (except of course for genealogy records). This is simply because it is easier to do this than to “empty the file cabinet first.”
Unlike the DocuMate 152, which is a duplex scanner meaning that both the front and rear of a page are scanned simultaneously with the same pass of the paper through the scanner, the 510 is a simplex meaning that only one side is scanned at a time.
However, the PaperPort Deluxe 9 scanning software packaged with the scanner handles this situation very well. Simply load the stack of papers and scan the front side of all pages. PaperPort will then ask “scan the other side?” and if you wish to you simply turn the stack over and scan the reverse side. The software handles the pagination automatically.
The 510 is very simple to use; one of the more difficult aspects of using it is to remember to load the paper with the face up!
The PaperPort 9.0 software, originally offered by ScanSoft and now by Nuance, works very effectively. One item I would like improved is the default file name, which is “Day of week, Month, Day and Year.pdf.” Other options are available but it appears that all use the current date in one form or another.
So far I have not extensively used the OCR capability as that is a slower scanning process.
Another very useful feature of the PaperPort software is that it is a printer and may be used to print any document directly to a pdf, including documents from the web.
Managing the scanned documents effectively can also be challenging. I created a file folder structure similar to my physical filing cabinet and that seems to work very well so far.
I scan a document or set of documents and then merely drag these and drop them in the appropriate folder. I then rename the file to usually “YYMMDD Plus a Few Descriptive Words” in front of the default file name.pdf. A medical record, for example, would contain the year, month and day of the medical service, the physician’s name and procedure, followed by the default scan date. I find that using YYMMDD format for my records allows me to sort or otherwise keep a logical file and folder order sequence by date; to use the standard MMDDYY format will not sort logically.
If you are going to scan older records then you should spend some time in document preparation before beginning scanning. Ensuring that documents are in proper order, staples removed, corners straightened, etc., will speed up the scanning process.
And you must verify your copy before discarding the paper document! I am discarding most of the documents I have scanned so far.
All of my scanning to date has been black and white and at 300 dots per inch resolution, which in most cases has been adequate. This will result in a pdf file of perhaps 35KB per page.
If you decide to convert your paper files to 100% digital records, then you simply must practice excellent and very frequent backup procedures. Otherwise you will lose everything! I make a copy on an external drive after every session.
The choice is yours of course, but my advise is: “Go 100% Digital, and do it now!”
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
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