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Digital Documentation

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by zendiagrams, Feb 20, 2008.

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  1. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    Anyone know of a good win32 application for digitizing documents? I want to store all my important documents in digital format (pref pdf) in a nice program. The version of Quicken I have does this to some degree, but it’s mostly for home inventory. I would like to document everything. This way I can move much of the non used stuff into a locked firebox into a dark corner of the attic, where I don’t need to get to it, and after the allocated keep time shred them.

    https://www.shoeboxed.com/ is a great site, and I have been toying with it for receipts, but I would personally like to have something off line too, that will also do things like my Mortgage documents, and other things. This way if I need to read them, I can fast, but don’t have to dig up the printed versions in safe storage.

    I could do each into it's own PDF but I am looking for something a little more database driven, and I have too much on my plate to write one myself now with all my work projects.

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  2. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I can't help with the apps as I run Linux - I want something reliable and secure, Microsoft ain't by definition... However I would think your best bet would be to do a multiple application approach - digitize things into PDF's or other portable format, and stick them in a directory.

    Then have a database program that has a description, file name, and possibly the meatspace location of the hard copy. Thus you could use whatever app works best for producing the digital copies, possibly a second app to display them if needed, and these could be changed as technology evolves, while the key task is a database or spreadsheet, or even a searchable text file, that functions as your index.

    No need for specialty apps, probably you already have everything you need at hand.

    Gooserider
  3. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    I mostly run FreeBSD myself, however, I use Windows for Quicken of course and a few other programs here and there. I was hoping for an out of box solution that my wife will be able to use easily on the windows machine. I could write something better, but as I stated I do not have the time @ home right now due to many other obligations.
  4. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    Will the GIMP do what you want? I know there's a windows version. It might do the TWAIN import from your scanner and allow exporting to PDF.

    As far as keeping it all organized, I'm not sure what to suggest for that. I've always opted for creating my own organizational structure within the file system.

    -SF
  5. tkirk22

    tkirk22 New Member

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    Years ago I used a very small page scanner/software package from Visioneer called Paperport. It scanned fast and OCRed the docs automatically. Everything was stored in a proprietary format that looked similar to a standard directory structure.

    I don't know if they are still in business but it may be worth looking into. I stopped using it when I had driver and compatibility problems with win2K.


    This may help also: http://sourceforge.net/projects/docmgr/
    If you find anything let us know.
  6. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Great thread. I'll be following this.

    Can anybody recommend a good home document scanner? I don't really care about scanning photographs - but want to scan full size documents, receipts, pages from magazines, etc.
  7. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I have an HP "all in one" machine, the PSC-500. I have never used it as a scanner, but it does very well as a printer and photocopier, and others have reported that it does well as a scanner. HP is good about mostly doing quality hardware, with reasonable consumable costs. They are also very good about having open interface standards, so the machines are fully functional under CUPS, work any SANE standard capable scanner program, etc. which avoids much of the "technology lock in" issue that some other companies stick you with. (I haven't used it as a scanner because I haven't had the need, not because it won't work...)

    Gooserider
  8. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Have you checked out the new Adobe Acrobat Standard 8.0?
    I can save any file to PDF format & combine etc.
    You can get it for anywhere from $70.00 to $120.00 on Ebay.
    I just got 2 with best offer of $95.00 each, and the guy sold them to me and free shipping.
    Works great for me. Word, Excel, photos, emailes etc. All saved to, converted to, or printed in PDF format.
    And the files are much smaller size when converted.

    Oops missed the data base driven part, nm ;)
  9. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    NEAT Receipts Professional Mobile Receipt and Document Scanner is the one many people are pushing now, but it's a single feed, small unit and costs 200$. You can pick up a nice flatbed scanner with a sheet feeder for 300$ if you get the latest models, less if you get one slightly dated (in many cases it means you wont suffer if you are not doing high end photo scans)
  10. tkirk22

    tkirk22 New Member

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    Here's the link to Paperport. Click the software link:
    http://orders.visioneer.com/generic.jsp?id=STOREHOME

    It looks like they moved away from the proprietary storage system. I did like the software at the time but I'm not entirely happy with the company.

    Wahoo: If you feel like spending the money look into the link above. The portable Strobe scanners were pretty slick for the time. You pushed a photo or page into the scanner, it loaded the software and scanned it. Then you stuff the next page in. It was very fast and you didn't have to touch a mouse or the keyboard unless you wanted to organize them better. They aren't the best scanners for photos though.
  11. tkirk22

    tkirk22 New Member

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  12. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I'm not seeing single sheet scanners for less than $150 (that's with a good rebate). Right now that's probably more than I need to spend just to avoid keeping track of some paper receipts.
  13. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16828115078
    I use a C4180 for work and it works great. That one is under $100.00

    Heres one with a document feeder: http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/HP-O...32340/catOid/-12970/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do

    Open box for $66.99 + shipping. Man I might have to grab this one! http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16828104393R
  14. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    Turns out I had PaperPort 11 at work, came with another program we bought. So far, I have done a few things related to taxes. So far it's. In the basic set up it's no different' then using a PDF creator, except for it's file browser is easy to use and is dedicated to your documents. I do find that adding to an existing file, or stacking serveral files is easy. All your documents can have a default password also.

    Since I use TrueCrypt partitions to store all my personal data, I fell that they are secure enough. I haven not worked yet with the more advance searching yet but will report back. I do like the fact that I can tag the files after creation and categorize them. Even though they are done on a basic level by folder, I can then serach for key words within that folder or all the documents. I have the Pro version and its ok, but it was free, so the price was right. Not sure how it is if I had to pay the 199$ price tag.
  15. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Glad you like the Paper Port, but I hope you realize that you are also stuck with it as far as a technology now, and are at that companies mercy any time you want to change hardware or software, as they store the information in a proprietary, non-documented format, so you can't use the data on a machine, or with an operating system that the PaperPort people don't support... With an open solution, you would, at least in theory, be able to read that data on any machine using any operating system you desired.

    I would not even consider Paper Port for that reason.

    Gooserider
  16. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    In this version Everything is stored as a standard PDF. And they open fine else where via acrobat et el. The only thing lost with out using paperport would be the indexing. The documents would be and are fine.
  17. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Glad to hear that, I know the versions that I've encountered in the past were quite proprietary - had folks trying to advocate using their software to share forms on web-pages, had a hard time convincing them that a proprietary format that at best required a "free" non-portable viewing software package to see the form, and which was not available on all platforms was not a good idea...

    I'd still prefer an open indexing method, but... I know MY requirement is that a package should store it's data in a format that can (at a minimum) be exported into an openly available format so that it can be imported into a different application without loss if one decides to switch for any reason. However others may have different standards.

    Gooserider
  18. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    I am for open standards on some things myself. I have also done OSS development in my past when I had time to do it. Maybe when I have the time this could be a project to move forward on and implement, at least features I think would be nice. Till then Work + Grad School + Home Remolding + 3 hour drive everyday to work prevents such things :|
  19. pgmr

    pgmr Feeling the Heat

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    The OP mentioned putting digitized data in a firebox. To really protect data from fire, one needs a data rated cooler - essentially a box inside a box. Data media (cds, tapes, hard drives, etc.) is much more sensitive to extremes of temperature, humidity, smoke and water contamination than is paper.

    Another good practice is to keep a copy off site to protect against total loss of the structure. I've been to numerous customer sites and they proudly told me of their extensive backup procedures. When asked where said backups were located, they usually point to a cabinet in the same room as the machine(s) being backed up.

    Backups also need to be tested to ensure that data can be restored. The backup program should be allowed to verify the contents and a manual test should be done occasionally to make sure. Not many feelings worse than an unusable backup when you really need it to work.

    Have multiple sets of media. You can probably rebuild a week's worth of work if the latest media is unusable. If you put multiple backups on one media set and it craps out, you are out of luck.
  20. zendiagrams

    zendiagrams New Member

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    Actually the Safe Box is for the paper documents not the digital version. My digital data, which is just One File since I use TrueCrypt to store my data is synchronized over my MPLS line to my office and stored there also. So there is an off site copy off all my data personal and work that is done from my home office.

    However, that is done only because the work data is already being done, the digital version of my data is just so I can have less crap in my office, and it's nice to have a copy. The paper is all that's stored in the safe in the attic. Fortunately having a MPLS line allows me to sync my data pretty fast, and right to my servers at the office, where we have many levels of redundancy for data.

    I am an Engineer that works for a chemical company, not only is security important, but backups too. However, with the digital documentation that I am doing, a backup really only services the purpose of not having to do it again, not so much the need to make sure I always have the data.

    I am also a beliver in the fact that one type of backup is not good either, even my home data, say my music collcection is backed up over the MPLS, my workstation has a Raid, I have an external HD I replicate the data once a month, and weekly I have a image done of the machine that is copied to another computer, the external HD and is copied over the MPLS line.
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