Down and dirty paperless office

Jul 28

In my office, paper comes in, is reviewed for value, gets scanned, and shredded or filed. I have setup a system that allows me to very efficiently scan documents to my “digital file cabinet”. Here is a quick guide on how I do it!

What you will need:

  1. An unused computer attached to your network

  2. Google Desktop Search with network browsing enabled

  3. A document scanner

  4. A server based automatic OCR product

  5. A file compression product ( optional but recommended )

Now to put it all together. How I have my system setup is an inexpensive desktop computer with Windows XP installed. Once all the applications are installed you don’t even need a monitor attached to this computer. The computer is visible on the network and has one folder shared the “File Cabinet” folder in my case. This computer is my stand alone digital file cabinet. Attached to it is a document scanner with a 30 page feeder. I have the scanner configured to scan to an “input” directory on the machine.

The automatic OCR processing product is configured to pick up images as soon as they arrive in the input folder “hot folder”, OCR them using specific index level OCR settings, and create a PDF with a hidden search-able layer. The resulting PDF is put into another hot folder that the PDF compression tool is watching. As soon as a PDF arrives in this folder it is instantly compressed and the compressed PDF is moved to the “File Cabinet Folder”.

Because Google desktop search is enabled to index all files in the “File Cabinet” folder the PDFs very quickly become a part of the index. Configure your Google desktop search to enable network searches so that any machine on the network can open a browser, go to a URL located on the digital file cabinet machine and be located with a search.

Once it’s setup it’s simply a matter of putting paper in the scanner and pressing the scan button, and you’re done. It’s that easy, and extremely useful!

Chris Riley – About

Find much more about document technologies at

It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s that you can’t

Mar 03

Many of us tech heads are quick to give you an answer to your technical needs and propose a solution even if you did not ask. I’m no different, if you tell me you want your documents digital I will explain OCR to you and then explain the best solution for your document types. To my dismay, if you work for a large company your response will likely be, “but I’m not allowed to install anything.”

It’s very common for large organizations to lock down their employees’ computers to the point it becomes more of an appliance than a computer. This lock down makes perfect sense especially considering the amount of personal and private information these organizations encounter. The lock down however makes it very difficult for a technical operator to increase their efficiency with new technology. While the offer stands to approach an IT department with requests for new technology, the reality as we know is very small, especially with the current situation of shrinking IT departments.

Most recently I was in a conversation with someone working for a bank. She had stacks of business cards that needed to be digitized and of course being the tech head that I am, I got excited and explained about business card reading ( BCR ), and that perhaps it would be easier to get a document scanner that could scan the business cards and everything else. But to no avail, she could not install the software.

The real hurdle with the computer lock downs is not so much hardware installations. This can be overcome with a simple request. It’s the approval of new software that requires many months of review and approvals. Because OCR is a software driven process, this complicates things. Eventually, I hope that document automation becomes a part of the standard build for end-users machines. Until then, the solution is a scanner and an OCR service either web based or on an intranet.

If an organization can deploy centrally an OCR server that users send documents to and receive results from, they will eliminate the risk of installed software. Alternatively, an end-user with an attached scanner can leverage the OCR web based services that exist, either via FTP or E-Mail upload documents and receive results.

I hope soon we all have OCR as a standard so we can start removing the reliance on troublesome paper, but until then, the OCR services exist to get the job done, and may sometimes be the preference.

Chris Riley – About

Find much more about document technologies at