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Macworld: The real paperless office

Cover2411 The November issue of Macworld has an excellent article on operating a paperless office. From choosing the right hardware/software to tips on the best work-flow strategy to implement, the author of the article, Joe Kissell, takes us on a compelling journey through his own impressive paperless setup and, I can tell you it makes for interesting reading.

Joe's main scanning 'weapon' of choice, the Fujitsu ScanSnap, is a small yet speedy scanner with duplex functionality. I like this scanner. It's not a traditional flat-bed so it doesn't have a large 'footprint' which makes it ideal for the small office or student dorm. Additionally its fast scanning speed (15 pages per minute) must surely help the paperless operative to whizz through his/her document scan pile with ease. However the ScanSnap's design would of course make it a wholly impractical solution for those (i.e. students) who may have significant book scanning requirements (unless they're happy to dissect their books into loose individual pages - NOT recommended for library books then :o))

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Hymini - The wind powered gadget charger

Hymini Well I may have got pretty excited when I told you about the solar powered charging unit - the Freeloader, but my excitement is set to reach new heights thanks to the Hymini - a 'soon to be launched' mobile charger that primarily harnesses wind power as its main charging input.

Looking very much like a slick portable mini-fan, the Hymini is being marketed as a mobile charger for all 5v gadgets (which means iPods, digital cameras, mobile phones etc.) However the real 'seller' for me is the promoted idea that the Hymini can be attached to the handlebars of your bike allowing the unit to be charged as you cycle, which I think is really nice!! However when the wind is just not happening Miniwiz, the company behind the Hymini, also provide the option of charging the unit via mains adapter, USB and optional solar battery attachments.

Due to the lack of summer sun I've only had relative success with the Freeloader as far as solar charging goes (charging via USB works perfectly) but the fact that the Hymini utilises much more readily available wind power may make it a more viable eco-charging solution for my mobile gadgets.

Prices, releases dates and availability are not provided at the time of writing but I'm hoping it's not going to be long before I get to test out the marketing claims to see whether the Hymini is a step-up solution to the FreeLoader or not. Meantime I invite you to get yourself along to the website to gen up on all of the details or charge times etc.to see if the Hymini is the eco-charger for you.  ::via TreeHugger    

19th century books meet 21st century scanners

Logo100 Because  of my love for e-books I always get a little over-excited when I hear of a new 'digitising books' project and it probably doesn't get a lot more exciting than this one (mainly because it has an historical element to it as well :o)). The British Library have announced that it's currently in the process of digitising more than 100,000, mainly 19th century books, which were previously unavailable to the public.

While I can't (yet) find any details on the scanning process or scanning equipment itself, you can be sure this is one seriously labourious undertaking (the first 25 million pages are expected to take 2 years to complete). However the British Library are no strangers to this kind of project having already completed the Early English Books Online project (EEBO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online project (ECCO).

The resultant e-books of this new collection will be initially available online via Microsoft's Live Search Books before also becoming available through the British Library's own website.

Anyway the BBC have a comprehensive rundown of all of the mind-boggling facts and figures relating to this project i.e. it's expected that 50,000 pages will be scanned each working day at full production, so I invite you to head over there.

Brainstorming Walls - I want one!

Craig Childs over at lifehack.org recently linked to an older article by Kevin Kelly  on 'brainstorming walls' and the whole concept that the discipline of brainstorming is something that is best performed on walls (He calls brainstorming an epigraphic activity - I love it :o)).

I've got to say this is a notion that, to a large extent I completely agree with. Although I usually perform my brainstorming tasks electronically, in a mind-mapping application such as MindManager, I've found that some of my most productive results have come from taking my brainstorming sessions away from the computer and on to my whiteboards. It's kind of liberating to be able to spread out a bit more and to see the bigger picture a lot easier (while the whiteboards of course maintain a completely paperless operation).

What's inspirational about Kevin's article though is his philosophy that "when it comes to whiteboards, you can't be too big" and  he goes on to explain how he's constructed an entire brainstorming wall in his office/studio (as shown in the picture accompanying this post) using a ceramic coated steel from Polyvision named P3 ceramicsteel (the magnet friendly coated steel is also ideal for mounting charts, pictures, maps, notes etc.).

You know I absolutely love this idea of creating a full size brainstorming wall. It's liberating enough hosting brainstorming sessions on a 5x3 whiteboard so I can imagine just how much more the creative freeflow could be amplified when an entire wall is brought in to play. Polyvision's P3 ceramicsteel may be out of my league (and probably unavailable to me living in the UK?) but a cheaper solution of using large melamine sheets (a budget solution also suggested by Kevin) or a quality gloss paint on a good plasterboard  may well provide a viable 'whiteboarding' solution.

Oh and there's some good news for those who are able to go for the Polyvision solution and have a tendency for being green. Since Kevin wrote his article, Polyvision have introduced a more ecologically friendly version of P3 ceramicsteel  called e3 environmental ceramicsteel which utilises materials that are both more ecological to produce  and safer to dispose of when it comes to the end of its natural life. Good on ya PolyVision!

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