23 October 2010

Memory Lane

This is my new BFF. It is a Canon Pixma MX340...a replacement for my 5 year old HP all-in-one that gave up the ghost months ago.

It has been my quest the past few months to methodically go through my house and pare down my "stuff." I do this every 2 - 3 years and am always surprised at what I find. This round, I have tried to be especially thorough. There is not a single drawer, cabinet, or box anywhere in the house that I haven't completely sorted through (except for the Christmas stuff...but it's time is coming). I have looked at every book, every keepsake, every piece of clothing, dish, linen, and tool. There have been trips to the dump, to Goodwill, and items moved out via Craigslist. Yesterday, I bundled up all of my old electronics: an ancient (i.e. 7-year old) laptop, the HP all-in-one, 5 cell phones, 2 zip drives, 2 cameras, a Palm Lifedrive, and countless chargers and cables. For $10, Office Depot graciously accepted them all and boxed them up for e-cycling. And I came home with my new friend.

I need this friend. You see, it has an automatic document feeder on the top and wireless capabilities. And here at home, I have a few boxes of files that I want to digitize. Lots of paper from my career never had an electronic form. They were copies handed to me at conferences, dittos from early in my career, articles from my own schooling, and so forth. As I've been sorting this summer, I've realized that I'm not ready to put my teaching career in the recycling bin---but it is not so great that all these little treasures are starting to smell like basement. This is where my BFF comes in. Now, I can easily scan anything I want to hold onto---and across the room, no less---and it will magically appear on my computer desktop, ready to keep and share with others. I'll archive, make a backup copy, and then I can recycle the hard copies from my career.

I started with a milk crate of files this morning. I'm about halfway through, although I've already sorted what I want to scan and what I don't need to keep. It's been a fabulous little journey down memory lane: creativity tests for gifted kids...intriguing labs...interviews students did with polio survivors...projects...and so forth. Since I didn't get the fancy-dancy version of the all-in-one, I can't do 2-sided scanning. But, I can merge things with Acrobat Writer and all will be well.

I plan to upload and share some things here. Perhaps some of my old favourites might find new life in your classrooms. Maybe that little Canon can be your BFF, too.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

I've been on a similar quest, but I need a better scanner.

How about a few tips on tagging this stuff? ("Search" works better than hierarchical filing, I think.)

Recommended reading: Getting Organized in the Google Era by Douglas C. Merrill. I'd like to hear what you think of his take on getting one's stuff together.

The Science Goddess said...

If I were to tag stuff, I would do it in Evernote. All text is searchable there---even if embeddeded in a graphic. Would also make files accessible from anywhere.

I don't know that I need that level of access with this stuff. My hunch is that a lot of it can be found online somewhere. I just need to know I have a copy for the questions I get.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Evernote is amazing. Just a bit slow on the iPhone, but I found if I get it up and running first thing in the morning, before I need it during the day, things go much faster. (It takes for-ev-er to load up when it has new stuff from the desktop/cloud.)

Not to wander too far afield, but have you tried reQall? You talk to it and it converts your dictation to text and emails it to you. I find it really useful when I have an idea after lights out. Grab the phone, talk, and get reminded in the morning. Free, too.

I have been so impressed with both services that I now pay for the full deal. Still cheap.

Have you any opinions on DropBox?

The Science Goddess said...

I haven't tried reQall, but I have used some similar services. Voice to text is a very handy option.

Lots of people really seem to like DropBox. I'm not convinced it's the right tool for me. I do want to have a cloud-based backup of my files, but will probably go with Amazon. At $.15/GB/month, the price can't be beat.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Oh, I can beat Amazon. :D

With Amazon, I'd be paying 268.20 a year for 149GB. I'm currently paying Carbonite $55/year for unlimited cloud back up. That's music, photos, you name it.

$55.00 a year for unlimited backup.

And I did have to do a complete file restore when my WinVista system incinerated itself and I got a new hard drive and installed Win7. Carbonite came through like a champ.

Mozy is their biggest competitor. (My school IT guy recommended Carbonite over Mozy, but not by much. And Carbonite gives you unlimited storage for that flat price.)

Gmail is handy for storing stuff you may need to search for, too. Just email the attachment to yourself and tag it. Amazing storage.

What I'm really looking for is an option that puts my hard disk in the cloud and can be accessed just as easily from any computer in the universe. Those options are out there, but I have yet to hear from anyone who's had personal, up-close experience.