Monthly Archives: September 2012

Goin’ Paperless! Enjoying the ScanSnap S1300i.


Now, before you start calling me a tree-hugging hippie, let me preface by saying that I’ve fought the paperless bandwagon for as long as I could!   I constantly got annoyed by the requests by all my companies I do business with to go paperless, and I was extremely frustrated when it came to the point that I either converted to paperless, or faced a $5.00 a month additional charge by them to send me the statements in the mail.  I wanted paper statements!  I wanted something tangible that I could see, touch, and file.  I wasn’t comfortable without a stack of cellphone bills in my filing cabinet (that I would probably never look at again, mind you).  I felt that if it wasn’t there, then it wouldn’t be there in the future when I needed it.  Never mind the fact that in the case of a house fire, all of my paper filing would be gone, and I would be without any sort of documents.

Fast forward a few years down the road, and my office quickly became a massive disaster. Boxes after boxes of papers lay around, waiting for me to properly sort, organize, and file into the filing cabinet.  These papers dated back 3 or more years, doing nothing but cluttering up my office with their presence.  Furthermore, after those boxes filled up with papers, the papers themselves continued to fill up the office, slowly making their way into random piles, strewn about here and there, covering my desk, the floor, the folding table, bookshelf, and other assorted areas.  I tried various methods to stay on top of the massive, endless amount of papers, including purchasing color-coded filing labels, developing a storage system, reorganizing, etc.  However, each various method felt like nothing more than another attempt to fail at the same thing.  I just could not stay on top of the papers, and my office was quickly becoming nothing more than a collection of paper waste.  There wasn’t even a spot for me to sit any longer!

Eventually, it came to the point that “enough was enough”, I needed to do something about the papers.

The Solution – The ScanSnap!

I did some research.  I then did more research.  I then thought about it, and did more research.  All the while, the paperwork continued to pile, and the space continued to dwindle.  Then one day, I hopped on Amazon, and said “that’s it!”  I had had enough, and it was time to finally purchase a scanner, and begin to go completely paperless.  After an extensive amount of research, I finally rested on this – a newly upgrade, ScanSnap S1300i scanner:

Once it arrived (yay, Amazon Prime!), I quickly set it to get it in place and get it going just as fast as I could.  I was sick and tired of the paperwork, and it was time to be done with it.

The Setup

The first thing I noticed when I got the scanner in the mail was that the box was quite small.  I opened it up, and noticed the following in the packaging:

  • The Scanner (duh)
  • A USB cable
  • A power adapter
  • Another USB cable, with a nifty power plug on one end
  • Various assorted instructions / warranty cards / installation CD

After popping in the CD, the software quickly installed, and I was on my way.  It’s interesting to note at this point the secondary USB cable that came with the box.  While the scanner obviously can run of the power adapter, the secondary USB cable can also serve to power the scanner through a secondary USB port on the connected computer.  Nice!  I probably won’t ever use this feature, as I don’t plan on taking the computer with me in a portable situation.  However, it is a nice touch, and a nice additional feature if your environment will lend you that necessity to do so.

First Impressions

Once everything was set up, I was ready to scan!  Every where I looked in my office, I saw paper after paper, pile after pile, and box after box, of various dead tree bits that needed to turn their lives into a digital format.  I quickly grabbed one box, and began the scanning process.

I found a stack of papers that I felt belonged together, each of various sizes.  After arranging them in an order from larger to smaller (full size documents in the front, smaller card-sized documents in the middle, and receipts in the back – to help with the scanning rollers), I stuck it in the scanner and hit the big glowing blue button.  Immediately the scanner sprang to life, sucked all the paper through one page at a time, spit it out the other end, and finished the job before I knew it!

It’s important to point out why this scanner is so friggin’ awesome.  Obviously for the most part, a scanner is a scanner.  What makes it extremely powerful is the corresponding hardware that goes along with the scanner.  In this case, it couldn’t be more true.  Besides the scanner having dual scanning heads (so that it can scan both sides of the page at the same time), the corresponding software does the following, automatically:

  • Automatic duplex detection
  • Automatic color detection
  • Automatic page size detection
  • Automatic page rotation
  • Automatic keyword detection
  • Automatic highlighting tagging
  • Automatic OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

That’s right.  No longer do you need to continuously mark the scanner for a specific size, type, orientation, or format of the paper you’re scanning it with.  Instead, the scanner does everything fully automatic (if you’ve configured it to do so), and you no longer have to do that.  Just grab a stack of papers, put it in the scanner, hit the button, and you’re off!  Obviously, if the process takes too much extra unnecessary effort, I’m more likely to drop the process entirely, and regress back to a state of not doing anything with the papers, and quickly return to where I was before purchasing the scanner.  So, the fact that the scanner can do everything in an extremely quick, efficient manner is important to me.

The Software

I’ve touched on the software a bit already, but there’s so much more to it than just the automatic scanning part of it itself.  Depending on the package purchased, the ScanSnap might come with a slightly different list of software with it.  The version I purchased, however, comes with the following:

  • ScanSnap Organizer
  • ScanSnap CardMinder
  • Abbey FineReader for ScanSnap
  • Others(?)

I haven’t payed too much attention to the software that came with mine, outside of those listed below.  The most critical of all the software, in my opinion, is the ScanSnap Organizer, and the corresponding FineReader.  The FineReader is the piece of software that will automatically perform the OCR on the files that are scanned with the ScanSnap.  Note that it WILL NOT allow you to perform OCR on any PDFs that were not created with ScanSnap.  While the normal FineReader software can do, the version that came with the scanner will not.  I assume this has to do with a license restriction put in place in the software bundled with the scanner.

In my workflow, the coup de grâce, in my opinion, is the ScanSnap Organizer.  There are a number of alternative software packages that do similar functionality as the Organizer.  However, in my case I wasn’t looking to spend any additional money than what I spent after purchasing the scanner.  So, ScanSnap Organizer it is!

At its core, ScanSnap Organizer is nothing more than a simple document managing system, that simply puts all the files in a folder, gives them preview icons that show what the document consists of, and calls it good.  And that is exactly what I wanted!  I didn’t trust various other software, such as the one coupled with the NeatDesk system, which kept all PDFs in a proprietary database, which required the user to access through the software.  The great thing about ScanSnap Organizer, is that it simply references with Windows (or Mac) folder structure, and overlays it with a bit more detail, using a hidden “.organizer” folder.  Don’t feel like going through the Organizer software?  Simply navigate to the ScanSnap folder that you have configured, which contains all of your PDFs within it, and you’re good to go!  Not being locked into a proprietary software design is huge to me.  I don’t want to be locked out of all of my files a few years down the road.

In addition to being a document organizer for all the PDFs, ScanSnap Organizer also contains some various additional advanced PDF editing tools.  These include deleting and reorganizing pages within a PDF, rotating / deskewing pages, cropping, etc.  It can also organize by keyword, find highlighted keywords, and distribute by keyword.

Lastly, the Organizer / scanner allows scanning to numerous third-party programs, including, but not limited to:

  • Outlook
  • Microsoft Office (Powerpoint, Word, Excel)
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Google Docs
  • Salesforce
  • Mobile
  • Any other program you can configure!

The ScanSnap scanner, and the associated software, allow you to do pretty much anything you want to with your digital documents.  In my case, I primarily wanted the ability to convert all my physical documents into digital, and organize them into a folder structure similar to how they would have been in my filing cabinet.  But the options and possibilities to do more advanced things with the documents expand far beyond my simple requirements.

The Results

After spending an hour or two a night for the past few weeks, I have managed to scan, file, and organize over 2,000 pages worth of documents.  They are all now contained within a single master folder (or cabinet), with various associated folders underneath of it.  I’m far from complete in scanning all of the remaining documents that still reside inside of my file cabinet.  However, all of the boxed and loose paperwork lying around my office is now gone, and in its place is nothing but space, and room for me to actually enjoy my office once again.  With barely 100MB or so of converted files on my PC, I have plenty of room to scan, and destroy thousands, if not millions more documents, with little concern about space any longer.  In my case, one Banker’s Box worth of documents used close to 100MB worth of storage space.  Assuming the minute size of a 32GB micro-SD card, I could effectively take 320 Banker’s Boxes, and consolidate it down into a size smaller than a penny.  How awesome is that!


As far as I’ve come in the past few weeks, I still have an incredibly long way to go, before I can fully consider myself paperless.  I still must fully develop, and stick to, a workflow plan that will effectively take any paper documents I receive, and convert them into an organized digital counterpart, and still be able to access the documents as quickly and efficiently as I need, without allowing the papers to once again pile up and overrun the office space.  Furthermore, I also need to go through many of my physical mailing statements that I receive, and see about converting them to digital, and going with a paperless distribution with them instead.  Unfortunately, many times the paperless format isn’t actually distributed, but rather put online for access, and only for a limited time.  So, rather than being able to be lazy for a year and let documents accumulate, I need to be proactive in making sure to regularly download and archive all my digital statements.  Otherwise, if I don’t stay on top of it, I could easily lose those digital documents into the abyss of dev/null, never to be seen or archived.

Oh, and there’s the obvious statement of “backup, backup, backup!”.  In the case of physical documents, one only really needs to be aware of fire and theft – both of which are fairly uncommon.  But in the digital world, one needs to be must more aware of harddrive and other equipment failure, and protect against such failures with duplication, redundancy, and versioning, to make sure that the documents don’t get accidentally lost or deleted.  But that’s a completely different topic for another time!

ScanSnap S1300i Scanner
The scanner is as simple as it can get. Fairly easy install, plus extremely easy usage makes it a great printer.
The hardware on the printer is great! Very little jamming, collapses into a very small footprint, and expands to easily hold a stack of legal-sized documents.
The included software is impressive. Can easily do almost everything you want it to. I have to knock off a star though for the OCR not working on non-ScanSnap documents.
Solid little device. Includes ability to replace consumables (pick roller, pad) for minimal cost.
A bit pricey. You get a ton for your money. But it is a bit harder to drop almost $300.00 on a scanner.
Overall, this is a great scanner. Numerous features, combined with incredibly easy to use interface, makes it a very versatile, powerful device.

– admin

Citrix and the Battle of Print Sharing!

Have you ever had one of those problems that, once you find the solution, makes you want to want to facepalm whoever caused the problem so very, very hard?  I ran into something like that the other day, which drove me absolutely crazy!  And the worst part about it, is that the final solution that was discovered made absolutely no sense…

The Problem

The problem began when I had a user approach me one day, telling me that she was having a hard time printing.  Her computer had been connected to a third party company’s Windows Server, using Citrix for remote connectivity.  Her printers were shared through Citrix, which allowed her to print to any of her local printers from the Windows Server.  When we set up her printers, we renamed one of her printers, prepending her name to the beginning of the printer name, so that we could easily find it when attempting to print, and having to select the right printer to print to.

What was happening was that when the user opened Adobe Reader through the remote OS, and attempted to print a document, Adobe Reader completely locked up, preventing any further action.  I eventually had to open up the Task Manager and kill Adobe Reader.

After some extensive testing, I landed in the Event Viewer.  I noticed that every time a document successfully printed, there was an Event #10 posted in the Event Viewer, stating that the document successfully printed.  I also noticed the document appear in the print queue on both the Citrix remote Windows Server, and on her local computer.  However, whenever Adobe Reader failed to print and locked up, and Event #13 appeared in the event log, which stated that the document was deleted.  Also, nothing ever appeared in either of the two print queues.  Odd…

Now, I suppose it’s worth pointing out at this point that I am not very familiar with Citrix.  I can make it work, and it works fine, but I have much more experience with Remote Desktop, and TeamViewer.  So, troubleshooting was a bit of work, especially because the Citrix setup was done by a third party company, and they were going down the wrong path in trying to solve the problem.  Consequently, it was completely up to me to try to determine what the heck was wrong, and what to do to fix it.

The Process

I wasn’t sure where to start with figuring out the problem, so I just decided to jump in head first, and test everything I could find.

I started back in Citrix, seeing what was wrong.  I noticed that I could open up notepad, type up something, hit Print, and it would print just fine to the printer.  I also noticed that if I opened up Adobe Reader and hit print, it would print fine as well!  BUT, if I changed a single setting in Adobe Reader (“Choose paper source by PDF size”), and hit print, the entire thing locked up!

To make things even more complicated, we had another user who was sharing the same network printer, also logging into Citrix, and also printing using that flag, and it worked just fine.  So, something was fishy.  Why would attempting to print on one computer, using that flag, lock up, where as on another computer, or not even using that flag at all, printed just fine?  Frustrating!

I then brought a third computer into the mix.  I logged into this computer, logged into Citrix, printed with the flag to the printer, and it worked.  Thinking that it maybe had something to do with the fact that this other user was not an administrative user, I decided to log into her computer myself and try it.  I logged in, set up connectivity to the same network printer, logged into Citrix, tried to print, and it worked…  I then logged back in as the other user, tried it again, and everything still locked up again.

At this point, the last thing I could think of was that her profile was corrupt on the computer she was on, and so somewhere along the line it was corrupting network traffic, and causing things to lock up.  So, I completely blew away her profile, and let it recreate when she logged in again.  And again, after logging in and trying to print – the damn thing locked up.


At this point, I’m completely confused.  Nothing makes sense, and it should all be working.  I give up, throw in the towel, and decide to go for broke, and completely wipe the Windows OS, and completely reformat and reinstall Windows.  After doing so, I reconnect the computer to the domain, have the user log in again, connect to the network printer, rename it so we can find it, connect to Citrix, try to print, and…… locks up again!

At this point I’m pissed.  What could be more clean that a freshly reformatted computer? Everything should have worked fine!  So, I begin to wonder if it’s an issue with the Citrix server, wondering if it tracks MAC addresses that communicates with, throwing some configuration parameter somewhere now that it recognized her computer / username, etc.  Or, I’m wondering if our Active Directory is messing something up in the process, keeping it from working, intercepting network traffic, etc.  I’m absolutely confused, and am ready to just purchase a brand new computer for her and get rid of this one and call it a day!

The Solution(!!!)

It is at this point that I decide to give it one last hurrah, and have the user log into the other user’s computer who has not been having this problem at all.  I have her log into the computer, verify that the network printer is configured, log into Citrix, try to print, and select the printer, and BAM!  It works!

Now I’m completely, and utterly confused.  Why would it not work on her own computer, even after a complete reformat / reinstall, whereas it would work when I logged into her computer, and yet it would work for her on someone else’s computer?  Then suddenly, it all became clear to me…

It was the name of the printer!!!

Yes, that’s right, the blasted name of the printer…

Here’s what happened:  every time I attempted to print from her user account on her computer, I was using the printer that I had renamed in order to find it easily on the Citrix server.  What I simply did was to append her first name (let’s call her Peggy) to the start of the printer name.  In this way, when she went to print through Citrix, she merely had to look for “Peggy LaserJet 1234” printer, and select it.  This differed from when I did it by logging into my own account, because I didn’t rename the printer.  I had merely left it as-is when doing my troubleshooting.

This problem of the renamed printer also carried over into her profile.  When I blew away her profile and recreated it, it somehow pulled in “Peggie LaserJet 1234” from the previous profile, or somehow that printer got configured in the default profile, so that it was pulled in every time a new profile was created.  Note that this didn’t affect my profile when I logged in, since I had previously logged in before that printer had been configured in the default profile.

This problem also didn’t affect the other user, because the third party company incorrectly told her that she needed to have that printer set as her default printer, if she wanted to be able to print to it through Citrix.  In the case of my problematic user, however, she would be printing to that printer very infrequently, and would be printing to a different printer much more often.  In that case, I thought it was asinine and unnecessary for her to set this specific printer as her default printer, just for those occasional uses where she needed to print to the printer through Citrix.  So, the better solution was to simply rename the printer to add her name to the front of it, so that she could easily find it at a later time when she wanted to print!


To recap – there’s apparently a bug in place somewhere, either through Citrix, or  Windows Server 2003, or Adobe Reader 7 (yes, the Citrix remote computer is still using Adobe Reader 7), that is causing this issue to be apparent.  Furthermore, the issue only affects users if they are trying to print by using the “Choose paper source by PDF page size” flag, and their printer name is over a certain length.

What is that length, you ask me?  Well, I could spend hours figuring out the exact details of this issue, and give specific answers, but I’ve spent enough of my time dealing with this problem!  All I can give you is that the following name worked:

HP LaserJet 1234 PCL6

Furthermore, attempting to prepend the name of the printer with her initial also worked:

P HP LaserJet 1234 PCL6

But by attempting to put her entire name at the beginning of the printer name did not work:

Peggie HP LaserJet 1234 PCL6

So, it appears that somewhere between 23 and 28 characters is what caused the printer to lock up.  However, note that I believe Citrix expands onto the name of the printer, with something like:

Peggie HP LaserJet 1234 PCL6 Auto Created on wl_abcdefgabcdefg

Where it “Auto creates” any printers through the Citrix interface, and adds a session ID onto the end of it as well.  So, the overall string that works or doesn’t work in someone else’s situation may be dependent on what name the Citrix client eventually gives to the printer itself.

As I mentioned when I started this post, the solution to the problem we experienced makes absolutely no sense.  While I would understand if the printer didn’t work AT ALL, because it was too long of a name for the Citrix client / Windows Server / Adobe Reader, what doesn’t make sense is the fact that it only doesn’t work if the name is too long, AND if that one print configuration flag is checked when printing.  Everything else outside of that situation works just fine.

My apologies for the long-winded post today.  However, I felt it was worth adding all that information, so that anyone searching the Googles for a similar problem will be better able to determine if this problem is the same as theirs or not.  If the time spent typing up this blog post can save someone else at least an hour’s worth of time who’s running into the same problem, then it’s completely worth it!

Until next time!

– Admin