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Friday, September 2, 2016

Tweaking technology

When we started the township web site some nine or ten years ago, one goal was to publish all the township minutes. All the minutes on 14" paper, held flat for a hundred years, I could scan and upload myself. But many machinations were involved. 

I used some forgotten Microsoft picture program to splice several pages of minutes of one meeting into a contiguous whole. I think I used the same program to strip extra pixels from the file, then used a free program to make a PDF file. All the years and years of minutes I first uploaded have PDF file created by free version of PDF Factory stamped across the bottom. Actually, meeting minutes I typed have the same information stamped; it was not until Windows 7 that Word could be saved as a PDF file.

At some point all minutes we had, from 1811 to present, were uploaded. The original 25 inch ledgers were outsourced to a scanning company, but I stood at the scanner and scanned, collated, resized and uploaded 1936 to present. It took a long, long time, and I simply labeled it my gift to the township. 

There were three gaps in our minutes. When some noble citizen took one missing book from his shelf and turned it in, I needed to think hard how to get these into usable format. Several computer upgrades later, I could not run several sheets through my photography program to make one set of the pages. Every solution I looked at cost more money than I cared to spend. The book of minutes sat on my credenza, awaiting inspiration.

One day and eureka. I realized that in scanning a document to an email (magic that is beyond me) I got one file with continuous pages if there were more than one page. A bit more experimenting and I realized the scan was a lovely PDF file that I could drag to desktop, then save and rename. Or rename and save. Such control. So, that found chunk of our history was scanned and sent to the servers. Two more books to find.

Not too long ago our township legal counsel decided to clean out a storage unit (and save the firm $400 a month!) He has been counsel for thirty odd years; he has a lot of files.He came into a meeting recently, dropped several battered expanding folders in front of me, and said perhaps I was looking for these. Several more missing years. Now we are down to only three years missing.

But the folders our attorney gave me look rode hard and put away wet. They have been stored on their 14" edge, the opposite edge unprotected from sleeves rubbing across them, other files dropped on top, and other indignities that happen to paper. The scanner at work is not a 14" flat bed; it is a workhorse 8 1/2 x 11 inch copier that handles 14 inch copies through a separate unit that sends the paper around a bend as it takes the picture. Adequate for paper nicely stored in a heavy binder all these years, but sure destruction to sheets with torn and ragged edges.

I consulted again with the trustee/historian/curator. We decided I needed archival tape. In the end we decided what the heck; good Scotch tape cannot be any worse than what the pages have suffered for the last thirty years. Forge on.

The very first page and I realized I could not get tape on the mangled tears until....

With a nothing to lose mindset, I went to work:

Edges too battered to go through the scanner:

A cotton towel for padding, a percale pillow case for protection, 

 My iron. I straightened those pages right out.
(Aside--this is the best iron I've ever owned. It's the same on both ends and doesn't make wrinkles ironing the back stroke.)

Scotch brand's finest "archival" tape.

Another important tool--the oblong hole punch, so those repaired pages still fit oblong posts in official Record of Proceedings binders.

Low tech scanning of 14" pages.

The ultimate discovery--that PDF file in an email that will never be sent can become a PDF file to send to the server in the clouds.

Drag it to the desk top,

and back to the working folder.

 I have two years scanned and uploaded.
A year a morning (or afternoon) is all my back will put up with.


  1. You know what your super power is? You are a problem solver. Other people would not have taken the time to figure all of this out and come up with common sense solutions. I hope your employer realizes how good he or she has it with you! -Jenn

  2. Necessity, Mother, Invention. Not to mention perseverance, determination, never say never. I am deeply impressed.

  3. Wow, not sure I would have geen diligent in the work involved.


  4. Add me to the long list of those who are super impressed. At your persistence and your ingenuity.
    I am glad you are looking after your back too.

  5. Hari OM
    Having done that kinda work over the years... all's I can say is it killed me at thirty years younger. You are beyond super, woman. YAM xx

  6. Saving those minutes via this method is nothing short of amazing in my opinion.
    Well done. Hope your back recovers quickly. Mine has limits too.

  7. Glad you are doing it not me I hate paperwork

  8. You do know about word reading software, I suppose? If not, you install the program (Readiris is one) and put the paper into the scanner and it coverts it straight into the written word on the computer. This means that it is not a simple photographic scan, but a fresh transcript. I used it a long time ago, and it did have to be read to check for errors, but I imagine that it has improved greatly over the last few years.

  9. Interesting to read about pdf and irons in the same post. You like a challenge and think outside the file! Great job!

  10. Where there's a will, there's a way.... and you certainly prove that with your solutions to your problems! Way to go!

  11. I've ironed paper before. and good for you for finding the work around. I have an iMac and the print function has a selection where you can save the document or photo or whatever as a PDF file. very easy.

  12. That iron is amazing Joanne. I have never seen one like that over here.

  13. Creative problem solving at its best. They are lucky to have you in that job.

  14. You are ingenious, love your solution to flatten the pages. I've been known to iron a few odd things too. What kind of iron is that? I've never seen one that was pointy at both ends.

    1. A Panasonic. Perfect for sleeve and shoulder seams. I used to iron left handed on the right hand side of a garment just to have the point available. When I saw this, it had to be mine.

  15. Once again you have shown yourself to be not only a hard worker but also ingenious with your problem solving. I don't know where you get all that energy. I am in awe.

  16. You have the old-fashioned values and problem-solving thinking that make an excellent employee (among other things). Be nice if that came with a raise, eh? Ah well, the satisfaction of a job well done ... Very neat iron, by the way!

  17. That iron, Joanne, looks great (and convincing) - I've never seen that type here in Germany, but will be on the look-out now, maybe the Internet is the answer.

  18. I haven't seen that type of iron either. But I don't iron much anymore! You are a valuable employee to go to all this trouble to figure out how to do what needs done.

  19. Scanning appears easy until you try to do yourself. All this technology and an the old tech iron saves the day. I do wish more government employees were as eager to work out problems as you are.

  20. Wow! I've never seen an iron like that before. I'll have to keep my eyes open for it. Congratulations on your scanning. That was a ton of work!

  21. Holy Cow. Not only do you have an impressive ability to speak tech, you are innovative, as well. And have a nice iron. Rock on with your geeky self!