Overview of my (target) Paperless System
Yep – talking about a target, not about definitive outcome. I know where I’d like to go but I’ll have to see how things play out. So what are the ingredients to the system I want to implement?
Let’s go systematically. Involved will be: All that paper stuff, also digital stuff, some machinery, programs that make the machinery work, added some logic to make things work my way, a bit of storage, some handy devices to view and use my digital documents – and last not least – a safety net. Right – so that was in non-nerd language. Let’s get nerdy…
- Paper Stuff
Any paper I consider worth keeping. Can be anything such as my water bill, the manual for my new scanner or may be the future drawings of my newborn daughter. Don’t shout – it’ll mean more keeping than throwing away.
- Digital Stuff
Same as above but in digital form. Can be any kind of document attached to eMails, can be web clippings or also software licences.
The robots on which’s back I’ll ride this adventure. My computer (MacBook Pro, 13″, mid 2010), document scanner (Fujitsu S1500M) and laser printer (Brother HL2030).
This list may grow or change over time. For now I’m planning to use mainly: An operating system with lots of simplifying and automation goodness already built in (Mac OS-X), optical character recognition software (Abbey Fine Reader), cloud bucket for non-sensitive & non-application-tied information (Evernote), cloud bucket for casual-security-level information (nested folders on Dropbox), cloud bucket for highly sensitive information (1Password),
Having all the machinery and programs at hand does not really do the trick by itself. It’s like having a lot of drums and trumpets lying before you without (a) robots to play them and – worse – without (b) some sort of orchestration for these crazy robots. I want them to nicely jazz with me. Hence I need good melodies – ah – workflows(!) and ideally some supportive automation tools (Hazel, Text Expander, Automator, IFTTT). I’ve played with some of these already and – yep – it grooves!
A handful of years ago I would have looked at this purely as hardware that I would have had to plug into my setup. Nowadays storage has been upgraded from raw physics to intelligent services that automagically do handy things for you. That’s why they interfere with the Programs section of this list. The examples that I intend to put to work for my project are Evernote, Dropbox and maybe Apples iCloud service. I’ve not figured out the proper demarcation line between Dropbox and iCloud. Both have their specific strengths and shortcomings which I will have to sort out for my purposes. We’ll see. Suggestions more than welcome!
Some of the more sexy benefits of going paperless are fast and easy accessibility of any document I happen to need right now wherever I am. Since I am personally of the generation w/o built-in human body wifi and 3G antennas, I rely on add-on devices / peripherals such as my phone (iPhone 4S) or my tablet (iPad 3rd gen – no comments please…). The choices I made there have implications on the software and logic that I’ll need to apply to make things groove and how easy that will be. Sounds logical and it’s actually fundamental: Try to get a “good old” Windows PC and just 2 Android devices (likely running different Android versions, maybe even different vendor-specific variants…) to sync reliably. Friends of mine have tried. They now happily pay what they used to call “the Apple tax” for something that – well – spares them frustration and helps them actually get things done rather than endlessly tinker with temporary workarounds. As much as I like playing with tech. I much rather play with my child.
- Safety Net
I know I won’t be consequent with my paperless system if I don’t fully trust it. Hence I need a belt and suspenders. As my day-to-day suspenders I’ll use a proven automatic backup & restore system (Apple Time Capsule & OS-X Time Machine). Additionally I want a belt just in case my apartment is flooded (as indeed happened a few months ago). So to avoid data loss in case of local catastrophes I’ll use an additional portable drive that will hold periodic off-site backups (an iomega harddisk & the Super Duper disk cloning software). I have not decided on a 3rd protection layer to avoid continent-wide catastrophes (i.e. hosted in Asia while I live in Europe) – but honestly – maybe that is not as urgent.[One could think my Dropbox storage would be a 3rd layer of protection – but on the other hand Dropbox will hold most of my production files and is in direct sync with my computer and on-the-go devices, so really it is my production layer instead of a safety net.]
I think that’s about it in terms of components. Sounds a lot? Hmm maybe. The good news: Most of this I owned already. So it’s just a question of putting it to use in a more effective way so that I get more sweets for my pennies.