I set up the new Fujitsu Scansnap iX500 desktop scanner today. Is it faster? Take a look:
I’m not going to review it. There are plenty of those online. Here’s a quick run down:
Is it faster? Hells yeah! The s1500 is now officially s l o w.
Is the Wifi anything to write home about? Not for me. Scanning to an iPhone or iPad seems like a gimmick.
Does the USB3 matter? I thought it would make a huge difference, but I tested the iX500 with a ~2008 era mac mini and USB doesn’t seem to be the bottleneck.
Is the built in processor noticeably faster. YES! I ran one test with the “old” s1500m plugged in to the 2008 mac mini and pressing the blue start button at the same time, it took the mini about 5 seconds to start. The video above is with the new iX500 attached to the mac mini and the old s1500 attached to a speedy retina macbook. It looks like the faster chip in the iX500 makes up for slow machine.
A hidden gem is the ability to do background OCR with a new option in the Scansnap Manager software. Here is a video on how to do this:
Caveat: while the iX500 is wireless, it is not a stand alone scanner. It still needs to be “attached” to a computer system either by wifi or the USB3 cable. In practice this means you can have the scanner in your mail room and your computer in another room. However, you cannot use the iX500 without a computer.
For more information about the issues of going paperless, using cloud technology, SaaS, and virtual law offices, take a look at Nicole Black’s “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” from the ABA (Amazon link). Psst: one of my articles is in it, so… SQUEE! However, I’m not getting paid. So you can buy it without worrying that you are enriching me in the process.
My law office is located in Colorado Springs Colorado – the location of the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire. On June 26, 2012, the fire broke over the ridge and started to come down the mountain quickly rushing into Colorado Springs. Foothill neighborhoods burst into flames. And no one knew how far the fire would go. Would the fire rush through all of Colorado Springs?
We quickly packed “go bags” with three days of clothes along with water, food and supplies, in case we had to evacuate.
But what about the office? We are paperless, so everything is digital. A couple of hard drives and we have everything. Smart, right? Well, there’s nothing like a disaster to put your finest plans to the test. The local backups are all on the full-size hard drives. They require their own power supply. This means a separate cable, power-brick, and of course, power. Three full-size drives and cables (one for the server, one for the laptops, and one for the Time Machine). Once you add in padding, you are looking at a carry-on sized bag. You think you have room for everything, until you actually start loading the car. You quickly find yourself running out of space. The trunk sags, and you need to make some hard choices about what you’re going to bring and what you will leave behind. Survival gear takes the priority: food, clothes, water, sleeping bags, medicine. However, with your “digital” office, you still have your laptops, and backups requiring the same space as a gym bag. It’s not big, but what do you leave behind so you can bring this?
In case you are wondering, I do use cloud backups. However, in a disaster, I am not counting on good conductivity. If I have to leave, I have no idea when I will be coming back, or even if I will be back. I need to be able to keep the office running and plan for contingencies, in case something happens during the evacuation. I need my first data location (on the laptop), and a backup.
Fortunately, we did not have to evacuate that night and I won an extra day. The next morning, I went out and bought two 1 terabyte bus powered hard drives, wiped them, reformatted for the Mac, and did a full image.
Two drives. Now I’m down to backing up the office onto something smaller than two paperback books. No long cables. No separate power supplies. Just a short USB cable. I slipped them into the pockets of my go bag.
Now, it is Friday, June 29, 2012. Three days since the fire came down the mountain. The weather has been favorable. The winds are blowing fire back into hills. There has been no growth in the fire and the firefighters are starting to gain containment. However, the fire still isn’t out. So, we stay ready. The car remains packed. I keep backing up: local, off-site, in the cloud, and onto the USB bus drives that come with me.
Remember, good backup strategy is about layers. You may have things backed up. However, if you have to leave in a hurry, give some consideration to how much space and weight those backups take compared to everything else you will need to take for yourself and your family. Add some bus powered drives – your business may depend on it someday.
You probably already know how to create and use an electronic signature in Adobe Acrobat (if not, don’t worry it’s the first tip in Ernie Svenson’s video below). However, you may be wondering “how do I ‘flatten’ the signature image, so someone can’t simply lift my signature off a document.”
I figured that Adobe must have a way of doing this. It is the premier app for managing electronic documents in business after all. However, apparently not. Also, I could not find the answer by googling, either. After several dead ends, I was able to find the information. Everything you need is covered in Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat on the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog. WARNING: this has worked fine for me (Adobe Acrobat Pro 9), but I make no warranty.
I just got a fax from a CPA on one of my Colorado Social Security disability cases. The fax is painfully low resolution. Frankly I am not sure it is not just one long Captcha. Figuring out the numbers requires an inordinate amount of squinting and guessing.
This just makes me wonder: what are you saying about your business with your faxes?
I know what this ink blot test of a fax tells me. It says:
I don’t care about my client.
I don’t care about the recipient.
I don’t care how my business looks to anyone in the outside of my office.
Regular readers know that every contact with another person or business is a chance to make an impression and to market your office. Do you want to squander that opportunity with poor quality fax? Is the money saved by using the low quality setting so substantial compared to faxing using high quality? Of course not.
Quick Tip: make everyone happier by faxing using the “high quality” setting.
Here’s an even better tip, send the scanned file as an attachment to email and give your recipient the highest quality version. Of course, make sure to scrub the meta-data before sending. Fortunately, Adobe Acrobat makes that very simple. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s my 2009 presentation on taking your law office paperless. I cover the benefits of a paperless practice. The equipment lawyers need, and techniques for setting up an electronic file system. An excellent primer for any attorney thinking of going electronic!
I was recently interviewed for Canada’s Lawyers Weekly magazine about how I took my law office paperless.
“I have been practising on my own since 2002 and slowly filling up a wall of shelving with bankers’ boxes of files,” said Colorado Springs, CO-based attorney Tomasz Stasiuk. “When it came time to start another wall of boxes, that started me thinking of going digital.”
“Now, when I receive medical records on paper, they get scanned in, the paper is destroyed and the digital copy is all I keep. I submit records to Social Security digitally.”
Stasiuk reviews documents with visitors on computer monitors instead of printouts. “They’re impressed by the speed, the efficiency, the ‘wow factor’ of my technical set-up,” he said.
Such habits also communicate environmental responsibility, as paper, toner and electricity usage plummet. Stasiuk reckons he prints one-tenth as much paper as he did before committing to digital files.
“Paperless” does not mean having no paper in your office. It simply means not relying on paper as the sole means of keeping information.
Attorneys who have gone “paperless” either get documents digitally or scan in all documents coming in to the office.
Is your attorney “paperless?” If not, should he be?
Digital storage of all documents allows for instantaneous recall of documents at all workstations. No more trying to figure out where the file is: is it in the partner’s office, with the secretary, in the associate’s car? In a “paperless” office the file is always available.
Digital storage allows for copies in multiple locations. If your attorney uses paper files, what would happen if your attorney’s office had a fire? Or if there was a flood? Or a hurricane? No attorney I know who still uses paper, keeps multiple copies of paper documents in different locations in case of a disaster. But in digital offices it is easy to make duplicate copies of all records and store them out of the office, or even in another state! If disaster strikes, there is always another copy.
Attorneys who have gone digital can use Social Security’s Electronic Records Express (ERE) service to digitally submit records directly into their client’s files at Social Security. This allows nearly instantaneous electronic submission of evidence directly into the Social Security file, eliminating mailing and filing delays. Electronically submitted evidence is instantly associated with a client’s file and immediately available for review by Social Security, potentially resulting in a faster decision. ERE is gives Social Security much higher quality documents than is possible with faxes, and in color.
Going digital with my office has let me leap ahead of other practitioners and provide greater service to my clients. Every medical record we have is just a few keystrokes away.
Scanned records are only black and white. I have documents with graphics, highlighted sections, signatures, and notes in pen. If I scan it, it won’t look the same.
False. Today’s scanners scan color at the same speeds as black and white. You can have all the advantages of digital documents and still have the highlighted sections, signatures in blue ink, and even color pictures or graphics.
I’ve seen scans. They are blurry and low quality.
They can be, but they do not have to be. The scanners in my office are fast enough to scan at a high resolution allowing for crisp, clean digital images.
I prefer to read from paper. I don’t want to have to read everything from a computer screen.
You do not have to! Print off a copy. Jot down notes on it. Highlight it. Your coffee cup left a ring on it? Don’t worry, it is just a copy. The original is safe in the computer. And if you find that you want to preserve the notes you made on the print out, just scan it in!
Computers crash, hard drives fail. What happens to my digital files then?
Yes, hard drives fail. But, paper burns, or stains, or pages can get stuck together. Heck, mice will even eat paper. Physical paper files get misplaced or lost. Do you “back-up” your paper? Or, are your paper files the only originals you have?
With digital files, it is easy to make back-up copies, even multiple back-up copies. On the whole, digital files are more secure then paper files.
When you scan documents, you lose any secret notes someone may have written on the back of a document.
Nope. My scanner does duplex scanning (scanning both the front and back of pages). I get the whole document, including any notes on the back.
Scanning is just a gimmick. It doesn’t do anything for the client.
I will admit there is a “wow” factor when I hand back my client’s original document seconds after receiving it and the digital version comes right up on the monitor facing the client. But, the real valueis that I can pull up any document, any letter, any record, on any case, from my laptop at any time. That is the real wow!