Paper Problems

I have been dealing with a lot of paperwork lately. It’s amazing how paper centric things still are. Almost all dealings with the public agencies like the school and school district are on paper. There is some email but no formal communication – forms and stuff – is online. Teachers, by and large, avoid email so they won’t be pestered by parents (I can’t see any other reason).

Doctors and other service providers who bill on time, never use email. Understandably, since that breaks the $/hr model which personal visits and phone calls support. All forms, bills, health insurance claims – it is all paper, if the doctor doesn’t bill the insurance company directly.

Bill presentment is moving online, but most companies, including companies like Comcast, PG&E and local utilities do it poorly. Which leads to frustration online or you revert back to paper bills.

Anyway, there’s a lot of paper. I’m not very good with filing and such like. And the fax machine at home is temperamental. So I decided to up my Evernote subscription to paid and started scanning paper docs into it. That way I can tag it multiple ways, instead of filing it (single tag). Evernote also makes the pdf searchable so finding it when I need it will be easier.

Pretty soon I was doing a lot of scanning. I have a flat bed scanner. And with a flat bed scanner, scanning multi page docs is a huge pain. First, you have to go back and forth between the scanner and the computer for each page. After all that, I was getting as many pdf docs and there were pages.

To get a combined pdf, the easy solution was to install the HP software that came with the printer-scanner. But then that is a mammoth 300 MB installed and just on principle I wasn’t going to do that. I have not understood why HP thinks that just because they have sold me a printer they have the right to install all kinds of junk on my computer that I don’t need or want. And they make it so difficult to install just the piece that you want, including threats like “We would strongly advise you to install the entire software”. After installing, the software will force itself into the Mac quick launch tray and the menu up top, without so much as a by your leave.

So as you can see, I don’t like HP very much and I wasn’t going to install their monstrosity just for combining pdfs. Happily, there is this Mac automator script which achieves that very readily.

That leaves the problem of the scanner itself. Why are sheet feed scanners so expensive? I can’t believe that the cost of production is higher. It has to be that manufacturers believe that a sheet feed scanner is generally required by a business not by consumers and so it can take a higher price. Or because a specialized scanner has no annuity printer ink revenue. I can’t see any other reason.


  1. hemant says:

    One option is to get a eFax and fax all the documents that you want to scan to that fax number. It will then email those to your email as pdf which could be saved for later use. You can add fax line for as little as $5.month.


    1. @hemant – no color scans. Also, I thought eFax is a good bit more expensive. And what about quality of the scan itself? I can't imagine pushing a 700KB per page doc through the phone lines – it has to be smaller and therefore lower quality.


  2. Janet B says:

    Hi there. It looks like some of your organizational and filing needs could be solved with the use of some clever software! There are a lot of options for filing software. We do document management and filing for a living with clever twist. The Paper Tiger Filing System is a proven tool and we are ready to help you in any way we can to meet your filing needs!


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