Archive for the ‘tech tips’ Category

I own three scanners, and use my camera extensively to save documents. But it wasn’t until I acquired a Scansnap scanner that I truly “went digital.”

Binders by family name

I actually might have said, earlier, that I didn’t have that many paper files.  I had a bin of 8 hanging binders that I have not added to in 6 or 7 years.  I had a file drawer of files.  And I had a growing pile about 8 inches high of paper that had been waiting for the Scansnap purchase for the last couple years.  The problem is that I had some valuable materials amidst those files but wasn’t using them, and didn’t know where they were.

For the last 5-6 years I have exclusively used digital files, and I store new documents in the file structure promptly when I return from a repository visit with photos, or access something I need online. I have these files backed up in a couple of ways.

File cabinet my husband made. The lower is for files, the top is a desk drawer/pencil drawer. The big scanner is on top of it.

Thinking about fires/floods/damage recently, and about the need to lessen the clutter, I decided to make the Scansnap purchase.  It wasn’t cheap, which is why I had debated a long time.

But the Fujitsu Scansnap ix500  has changed everything.  Imagine going anywhere, on every computer, and still having ready access to ALL your documents, pictures, books and notes.  Even on my cell phone!

The ScanSnap doesn’t take up much room when its not in use. It fits nicely on my old portable microfilm side table. View the video below to see it opened up and running.

I started digitizing everything I could find, including household papers. After I went through every notebook and piece of paper in my study, I started eying some bound materials and realized they would be more useful to me if they were searchable pdfs. Plus, I could free up some shelves. I took a box of journals to a copy shop and had the bindings chopped off.

This is a video as one volume is scanned:

Click here for video:  vimeo.com/236313111     When the video comes up, click the triangle in the lower corner to play.

I digitized the journal, and tried searching it.  It worked beautifully!  I can’t wait to digitize more.  And when I do, opening Acrobat Reader and using “Advanced Search” under the edit menu will let me search a whole folder of pdf’s at once.

Of course I still love my book scanning stand (custom made by my husband) for delicate materials – I usually use my cell phone camera for this.

The book scanning stand, made by hubs.

I’ve found Scansnap very easy to use. You open the cover, place the papers and press the button.  The software opens up automatically and the scanning starts, scanning both sides (duplexing) at once (and it immediately deletes images that it decides are blank, meaning you only get images of the BACKS of your sheets if you have content on them).  Then you save the pdf.  If you’ve set the scanner to scan to jpg, then each document shows separately in the SnapScan organizer, and you file it.  Even that is made easier with group naming.  If the papers are different sizes, as long as the tops are aligned, Scansnap seems to have no problem with that.

One feature I love is that each page is scanned to its actual size. So there would never be a need to crop or trim.  And the pages seem to scan much more straight (not skewed) than I’ve seen with any other method.  And fast?  It’s about 25 pages (back and front at once) per minute.

I’m looking forward to using the newly digitized materials more fully, now that they are with my other files.  I was actually surprised at the useful things I had buried in those paper files.

The post you are reading is located at: http://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/10/01/scansnap-for-genealogy/

Hubs’ newest bookcase, on the porch, in “Tsumani” gray. This may be the last one he ever has to make.

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It’s easy to record a practice run of your Powerpoint presentation, complete with audio, and watch it on your computer.  It’s a great way to prepare for a speaking engagement.  I used Powerpoint for years before I discovered this easy utility; nothing in Powerpoint makes it obvious.

The only thing you’ll need is your prepared Powerpoint presentation and a headset. I am using a PC and Office 2016.

Microsoft Lifechat headphones plug into a USB port on your computer

Microsoft Lifechat headphones plug into a USB port on your computer

Step 1  Create a copy of your presentation

This process will add an audio file to each of your slides.  That will greatly increase the size of the file, by 500-600%.  So start by making an extra “practice recording” copy of your presentation, and working with that.  You can discard it later. That way you don’t increase the size of your final document.


Step 2  Fix your settings

Open the new copy of your finished presentation.  Go to the Slide Show tab.  “Play Narrations” and “Use Timings” should be checkmarked.  Put on your headphones and plug them into the computer.



Step 3  Start recording

Use “Record Slide Show” —  sub-choice: “Record from beginning.”  This brings up the recording screen.  There is a large RED BUTTON in the upper corner – clicking that starts the recording session.  Then, speaking into your headset microphone, make your presentation while clicking through the slides.  Both the sound and the timing will all be recorded.  My presentation takes about an hour; the timing showed during recording so I could pace myself.

TIP: Sound is only recorded slide-by slide.  So don’t speak during the slide transitions.

I noticed while doing it that I wasn’t allowed to click backwards at all, only progress forward through the slides.  During the taping, the red button turned into a button that could be used to stop or pause.


When you click past the final slide, a message will appear saying to click to end the presentation.  Clicking anything at that point ends it.  The screen goes back to normal.

Step 4  Review your presentation

Now, back in the normal editing view of your powerpoint slides, you will notice that each slide has a gray audio icon in the lower corner.


At this point, seeing the audio icons reassures you that the sound was recorded.

If for any reason you ever want to remove the audio from that slide, just click the icon, delete it, and the sound is deleted.  Or, your voice (“narrations”) could be deleted under the Slide Show tab, using “Record Slide Show” — “Clear” — “Clear narrations …”

If you stopped completely mid-way through, it’s also possible to re-launch your recording by going to the slide where you want to keep going, and selecting Record Slide Show and “Record from Current Slide.”  In my experience, the most recent taping of the slideshow is saved.

Step 5  Play your recorded presentation

To play your recorded presentation, go to the Slide Show tab again.  Click “From Beginning.”

This brings up the presentation and begins to play it.  You can either listen on your headphones, or unplug them and the sound should come directly from the computer.

Step 6  If you want to save or share your video

If all you want to do is review your own presentation, you’re done.  If you want to share your recorded video, and don’t want to share it as a Powerpoint file, then you can save it as an WMV or MP4 file.  I’m still testing that out.

Good luck with recording your video!

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