From atoms to bits: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500

11 06 2010

A few years ago, I moved from Davisville and Yonge to my current place, and was shocked by the amount of stuff I had accumulated in the 6 years living there. This is a pic from that day, and it only shows a small fraction of our moving bins:


Lots of atoms

Prior to that, my diggings consisted of a very small bachelor unit. Back then I had to often choose between useless things or having some walking space at home. Most of the time, walking space won 😛

My current place is considerably bigger than the previous one, so the accumulation process continued, and – with a pre-schooler around – it just went into overdrive mode. I started dreading the day when I would have to move again.

About a month ago, when a new batch of comic books arrived via mail, it became crystal clear that something had to change. I am basically paying rent for keeping atoms around. Lots of atoms. The next day, I went to TigerDirect and bought the last Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 unit they had. It was very expensive for a scanner – about CAD$ 500, the Adobe Acrobat license accounting for most of it – but it was worth every cent paid. This is the beauty:


Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500

The product page at the Fujitsu website summarizes the S1500 features as follows:

Simply put the pages into the automatic feeder and ScanSnap will:

  • Scan both sides of the page
  • Detect the size of the page
  • Detect colour, grayscale or black & white
  • Detect blank pages
  • Detect page orientation
  • Straighten skewed images
  • Create a PDF or JPEG file

All at the speed of 40 images per minute (20 double sided pages).

My first ScanSnap “project” was to digitize all the school material from my MBA days. I did it while watching the NBA playoffs – it actually helped going through those endless time-outs and commercial breaks. The result ended up being better than the original documents, as the content is now searchable (after running Acrobat’s OCR), and I created a Table of Content to facilitate browsing through the materials.

So, in a few scanning sessions, 3 shelves full of binders and books:

Were transformed into a Stanza folder in my iPad, totaling about 1 GB of storage:

In other words, 27 sets of MBA course materials can now easily fit a data DVD or small USB memory key! By my calculations, a 2 TB external drive can store all my VCR tapes, music, photos, books and comics. Maybe it’s time to start looking for a smaller place to live, after all.

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World Cup Fever and Social Media

9 06 2010

As previously seen at Biznology:

Fans celebrating the upcoming 2010 FIFA World ...

Image via Wikipedia

The upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa is being touted by FIFA and Twitter representatives as the event to slash all previous records in social media traffic. That’s a tall order, considering the US elections, the Beijing Olympics, the Oscars and even the Lost series finale were nothing to sneeze at in terms of frantic online real-time activity. Regardless of whether or not that bold prediction will be realized, the next 30 days of soccer madness will certainly bring a new way of experiencing the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world.

On June 11, the ball starts rolling at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, marking the first time the World Cup is held on the African continent. It’s also the first time the popular tournament will be testing the open waters of Facebook and Twitter. Zuckerberg’s social networking service opened to the general public only in September 2006, and most people had never heard about Twitter when France’s Zinadine Zidane infamously headbutted Italy’s Materazzi in the finals four years ago. Social media was already pervasive back then, but mainly in the form of blogs, wikis, podcasts and video sharing.

Thus, most of the online impressions around that play developed not instantly, but minutes, hours, and days after it happened, and they were particularly prominent in YouTube, the big social media star at the time. My favorites–but perhaps NSFW–are the Coup de Boule song and this compilation of 114 parodies of the unusual, err, interaction.

Furthermore, most of us were still passive small screen spectators of the games, with mainstream media being the intermediaries between the athletes and the public. Now, several players have their own Twitter accounts, and are already commenting on what’s going on in the last days before the kick-off. I compiled a Twitter list of players—including some of the stars left out–in case you want to take a peek at their thoughts before and during the competition. Some teams, such as England and Spain, already banned the use of Twitter and Facebook, but others like Brazil and The Netherlands are ok with it.

Perhaps the most interesting bits won’t come from the players themselves, but from the people close to them. Shortly after the game where Real Madrid was eliminated from the UEFA Champions League on March 10, Kaká’s wife retweeted a post by one of his advisers calling Madrid’s coach a “coward”. Social media guidelines are not easy to enforce outside team boundaries.

If you are into social media, but not into soccer, you must be asking by now: why do I care about all this World Cup nonsense? You should care for at least two reasons. First, it will provide all of us a better opportunity to understand the reach and importance of Facebook and Twitter outside North America. Some reports indicate that nearly 50% of Twitter accounts and one quarter of Facebook users hail from outside the US. All the previous events driving high traffic in Twitter and Facebook were wildly popular with Americans and Canadians. As both the US and Canada have traditionally not been major soccer markets, we can for the first time observe the extent to what the rest of the world embraces the two services. Furthermore, the instantaneous nature of the play-by-play reactions and the unprecedented volumes will allow a much closer reading of regional differences in the use of social media, something that the Oscars or Lost can only give us a glimpse of. The “world game” has never been this worldly.





The bamboo raft is a submarine

7 06 2010

It’s been two months since my last post – here at The Bamboo Raft anyway: I have written three posts as a guest blogger at Biznology and another one internal at RBC in the meantime. Life’s been busy. It’s ironic to think that the times I don’t blog are exactly when I have most to blog about. One of my favourite cartoons from a long time ago had this couple in the top of a mountain, looking at a fantastic sunset. The husband (boyfriend maybe?), while trying to take a picture of it, was saying to his significant other: “I can’t wait to be back home, get the pictures and see how beautiful this sunset was”. I suspect that even to this day, the vast majority of the key personal milestones, achievements and failures go mostly unblogged and untweeted. Perhaps we were too occupied to bother writing about it, or things were too personal to share. In my case, I confess, it was mainly a case of just being lazy.

It’s not that that the Bamboo Raft was totally inactive. It was just submerged. The little time I spent writing in the last few weeks actually went all to this ancient form of communication called email 😛 . Some of my Brazilian friends and I have this tradition before every World Cup of writing our guts out about this passion that’s football (soccer). I love doing it, but our conversations are likely too hard core for anybody else to put up with in our picky attention to details and endless debates on anything remotely related to the beautiful game. Things like:

  • How a mathematician calculates the odds for a team to win the World Cup?
  • Are lefties bad in penalty shoot-outs?
  • Does the coach really matter in a 7-game tournament?
  • What are the oddest names / nicknames in the history of World Cups?
  • Are Zinadine Zidane and Mr. Spock identical twins?
Mr. Spock and Zinadine Zidane

Mr. Spock and Zinadine Zidane

As you can see, sometimes NOT using social media may be a good thing.