Insufficiently Random

The lonely musings of a loosely connected software developer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why am I surprised when things work?

I recently purchased a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M. This isn't interesting, its a scanner. You plug it into your computer, and its supposed to make picture files from paper. Yay. We've had scanners for ages. Its not blog worthy.

What shocked me was, the damn thing does exactly what it says on the tin.

Load its sheet feeder up with paper, plug it into the computer's USB port. Push the only "Scan" button on the front. Next thing you know, there is a folder full of sequentially numbered JPEG files. It automatically detects the length of the paper. It scans double-sided at the same speed it scans single-sided. It automatically drops back sides which are completely blank. Pages narrower than 8.5" are correctly detected and scanned with a narrower image width. It goes through 20 pages per minute. That's fast enough that its done before you realize its started.

I realized after scanning several hundred pages in just a few minutes that very few things I purchase these days "just work". Most products still require a lot of tinkering from the user, or are still so complex that you need an advanced degree to operate them. This scanner, well, anyone's cat could use it. Just tap that scan button.

Most products require you to purchase additional stuff, e.g. cables, to get them to work. Fujitsu actually included a USB cable in the box. Just unpack, plug in, and go. Its hard to argue with that. Even my HD TiVo was harder to get setup and going.

To organize that directory of image files, I started using Brad Fitzpatrick's scanningcabinet application. Though I did make a few changes in my own scanningcabinet fork on GitHub. Now if only Google AppEngine supported full text search better...


SETH said...

Which OS are you running it on? Curious if it works out of the box in Linux as well.

Shawn said...

Mac OS X. But Brad Fitzpatrick said in his scanningcabinet application that it also works well on Linux. He's using the SANE toolkit to scan the images from the command line. See

Ask Bjørn Hansen said...

Hah -

I got the older 510m model some years ago and for months I was raving about it to anyone who had the bad fortune of bringing up anything even remotely related to paper, documents or scanning.

When she tried it first (after listening to my irrational excitement for weeks) my wifes comment was something along the lines "ah, I can see why you think this is so neat".

As you said - it's really amazing in its "Just Works, and Well" ability.

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