Hardware

The Best (?) Portable Document Scanner

Genealogists tend to collect a lot of paper, including photocopies of all sorts as well as hand-written notes, print-outs of email messages, and much more. Of course, this creates problems: how to organize and maintain that pile of paper?

I recommend going paperless. That is, digitizing and then securely saving the digital images of that paper. Using today’s computer tools, organizing images of paper documents is much easier than organizing the original papers. Saving everything as digital images offers more security, saves space, is better for the environment, and reduces costs when compared to storing paper.

 

I went paperless several years ago and hope to never go back to filing cabinets, 3-ring binders, and constantly-lost documents. For a list of my past articles about going paperless, start at: https://bit.ly/2Gnn6Q4.

How to Convert a Windows Laptop into a Chromebook

This article is “off topic.” That is, it has nothing to do with the normal topics of this newsletter: genealogy, family history, DNA, and related articles. However, I believe it will interest many people, genealogists included, who use more than one computer.

I have written numerous times about the advantages and drawbacks of using a Chromebook. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebook&atb=v132-2_j&ia=web for my earlier articles about Chromebooks.

If you have an older, possibly obsolete, Windows computer that is in working condition but is no longer being used, an article by Chris Wedel in the Android Central website tells how to easily convert an older (or modern) Windows system into a modern Chromebook.

5 Reasons to Make a Chromebook Your Next Laptop

NOTE: This article is off-topic. That is, the article is not about the usual topics published in this newsletter concerning genealogy. DNA, family heritage, and genealogy-related news. If you are looking for true genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this article.

I have written often about Chromebook laptop computers and even once or twice about Chromebox computers, the desktop computers that are essentially the same as Chromebooks except that Chromebox systems are built as desktop computers. Chromeboxes look about the same as many Windows desktop computers except they run the Chrome operating system, not Windows or Macintosh software.

I normally use a Chromebook as my primary computer when traveling. It does most everything I ever do with any other computer; it is simpler to use than Windows or even a Macintosh system, boots up faster, and never gets viruses. In short, “it just works.” No hassle. This week I am very glad that I always travel with a Chromebook.

Two weeks ago, I moved from Florida to Massachusetts where I plan to spend the summer. I lead a so-called “snowbird” life, spending winters in the sunbelt and summers up north where the summertime weather is more agreeable.

I packed my automobile for the trip with all sorts of things I might need during my stay up north. I undoubtedly overpacked with computer devices. After all, one can never have too many computers! Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Cubbit – a Personal Cloud Storage System Without Monthly Fees

This article is “off topic.” That is, it has nothing to do with the normal topics of this newsletter: genealogy, family history, DNA, and related articles. However, I do find that many readers of this newsletter also have an interest in new hardware as it becomes available so I decided to publish this article. It you are looking for articles about true genealogy, family history, or DNA, you might want to skip this one.

My belief is that everyone has need for more and more storage space. Even if your own computer(s) are not yet full, you always need space for backup copies of your important information, space that is located “off site” for security purposes. I use several such services as I believe no one can have too many backups. Also, the prices keep dropping which entices me to switch to newer, more cost-effective services frequently. While there are dozens of such cloud-based services to choose from, a recent announcement from one new vendor caught my eye and I am probably going to sign up for this as soon as it becomes available.

Cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Box and others all require a monthly subscription to use if you want to store anything of significant size. Cubbit is a new piece of hardware that allows you to create your very own personal cloud storage system without any monthly fees. According to the Cubbit web site at https://www.cubbit.io/, features of the Cubbit Cloud Storage system include:

Apple Unveils new iPad Pro – Is This the Ultimate Computer for Genealogy Uses?

According to today’s press release from Apple:

“Apple today announced its most advanced iPad Pro. Now with the A12Z Bionic central processor chip, the iPad Pro is faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops. The new iPad Pro adds an Ultra Wide camera, studio-quality microphones, and a breakthrough 3D LiDAR Scanner that delivers cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities, opening up more pro workflows and supporting pro photo and video apps.

“The LiDAR Scanner, along with pro cameras, motion sensors, pro performance, pro audio, the stunning Liquid Retina display and powerful apps, extends the lead of iPad Pro as the world’s best device for augmented reality (AR).”

Also, later in the same press release:

“The new iPad Pro is available to order starting today on apple.com and in the Apple Store app in 30 countries and regions, including the US. iPad Pro will be available in stores starting next week.

“The new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be available in silver and space gray finishes. A starting configuration of 128GB offers pro customers more room for their apps and content, along with 256 gigabyte, 512 gigabyte, and 1 terabyte configurations.

“The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $949 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $1,149 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model from apple.com.”

Further details may be found in the full press release at https://apple.co/2xPbTU9.

For many people, this new iPad Pro with its gorgeous 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display screen, a full hardware keyboard, a processor that is claimed to be “faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops,” and a built-in 3D LiDAR Scanner may be a replacement for traditional Windows laptops and desktop computers. With storage space (similar to an old-fashioned hard drive) of up to 1 terabyte, that should be enough for most genealogists! However, if you need even more storage space, it can easily be added via cloud-based storage or by plug-in external hard drives. In addition, the new built-in camera will produce better-looking images and videos than will most cell phone cameras. Finally, the five studio-quality microphones will also produce better audio than will most other computers for recording music, videos, and even podcasts.

Will the new iPad Pro be your choice for your next computer?

Of course, as with any computer, there are drawbacks. First of all, Apple has a well-deserved reputation for high prices of the company’s hardware devices. The new iPad Pro certainly is no exception with prices starting at $799 (US) for the 11-inch model and at $999 (US) for the 12.9-inch version. However, those prices include a Liquid Retina display screen that is sharper and easier to read than most other companies’ desktop and laptop computers.

In addition, most desktop and laptop computers typically do not include an internal 3D LiDAR Scanner at any price. The press release even mentions that the new scanner is so accurate that it can be used to measure a person’s height in the pictures as well as to calculate all sorts of other sizes and distances.

Purchasing a normal, powerful Windows laptop or desktop system and then adding the equivalent of a Liquid Retina display screen and a 3D LIDAR scanner (if you can find one), a 12-megapixel camera (with 4K video), along with pencil support, probably would end up with a similar or even higher price tag than that of the latest iPad. In addition, this is a battery-powered, lightweight computer that easily slips into a medium-sized purse, briefcase, or backpack.

I own the previous version of the new iPad Pro, and I can believe the new features described in today’s press release result in a computer that is well worth the price.

Note: Apple is also offering up to $240 for anyone who trades in an older iPad for the new model. While today’s newly-added features are highly desirable, I don’t think I will pay the price to replace my present iPad Pro with a new one.

If you are not familiar with iPads, I will point out that there are thousands of programs, usually called “apps,” available for the iPad. In addition, you can download all sorts of movies, ebooks, music, and more. Many of the apps are available free of charge. The selection even includes dozens of genealogy-related apps.

In addition, there are iPad apps for MyHeritage.com, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and numerous other online genealogy sites. Just as if you were using a desktop computer, you can use these apps to access your online genealogy data. With many of them, you can retrieve and even update your genealogy data from the iPad, including pictures, videos, and more. This is a great tool to take to a family reunion and then take pictures or even record videos with audio of living people describing the events of their lives and what life used to be like in “the good old days.” You can add the images and videos to your online genealogy database and even share them with other relatives as you wish.

Like all other modern computers, once connected to the Internet via a wi-fi connection, the tiny iPad can surf the web, use Facebook, read and write email messages, read the news, and much more. When using my (older) iPad Pro with the add-on keyboard, I find that I can perform almost all the tasks on the iPad that I have traditionally performed on desktop and laptop Windows and Macintosh systems. I can write new articles for this newsletter, create and edit spreadsheets, and deliver in-person “PowerPoint” presentations (I did that a few weeks ago at the recent RootsTech conference by giving a presentation from my iPad Pro.) I have even built web pages on the iPad and then copied them to the eogn.com and eognplus.com web sites. In addition, there are hundreds of games and other apps available.

Of course, “disk space” is essentially infinite these days, including on iPads and other battery-powered mobile computers. By using a safe and secure cloud-based file storage service, you can have as much storage space as you want. Most file storage services offer a limited amount of storage space free of charge. Additional space is always available, usually at modest prices. Purchasing additional storage space in the cloud may be cheaper than purchasing an external hard drive, and it’s certainly more convenient.

Data stored in the cloud is also available to all your computers, including iPad, Android, desktop, laptop, and even smartphones alike. Security is always under your control; you may share your files with others or not, as you please. For details, see Cloud Storage Security: How Secure is Your Data in The Cloud? at https://phoenixnap.com/blog/cloud-storage-security.

I have been using iPads since the first one appeared ten years ago. As the power and capabilities of iPads have increased over the years, I find I am using my big desktop system less and less and am using the iPad (and sometimes a somewhat similar Android tablet computer) more and more.

When my aging desktop computer finally slows down or perhaps malfunctions some day, I will need to think long and hard about replacing it. I will be strongly tempted to save my money and not replace the desktop computer at all. Instead, I will use an iPad or a similar Android tablet computer as my primary computer. I already do that when traveling, so I see no need to use a different computer when at home.

Could you do the same? Yes. Doing so undoubtedly will require a change in your thinking and in your habits. However, using an iPad as your primary computer is a realistic option today, unlike a few years ago. Besides the increased power and space, replacing a desktop computer with an iPad could save you a lot of money when you realize you really don’t need two computers: one on the desk plus a highly portable tablet computer.

COMMENT: This article was written on my (older) iPad Pro, sent by email to this newsletter’s editor, updated by her on her desktop computer, sent back to me via email, converted by me to a new HTML web page article on my (older) iPad, and then uploaded to the eogn.com web site here it sits on a Linux web server. No desktop or laptop system was used by me, although the newsletter’s editor used a Macintosh desktop system for editing.

Could a Chromebook Replace Your Now-Outdated Laptop?

This is a follow-up to my earlier off-topic article, How to Switch from Windows 7 to Chrome OS CloudReady. That article is available at http://bit.ly/30ssvLz. However, the newer article was written by Ben Schoon and published in the 9to5Google web site at: http://bit.ly/2Rhl05S.

“It’s official. This week, support ends for Windows 7 as Microsoft pushes users to upgrade to Windows 10. While a Windows 7 laptop isn’t just going to die, a lack of future updates leaves it open to attacks. So, is a Chromebook a viable replacement for your Windows 7 machine? Let’s discuss.

“Why should I stop using Windows 7?

Technology Certainly has Changed in Our Lifetimes!

In the 1940s, the world’s first general-purpose digital computer, the ENIAC, was tasked with calculations for creating the hydrogen bomb. Awe-inspiring stuff in its day…but at 27 tons, the ENIAC needed its own room, preferably its own building, to fulfill its mission.

Buy a Chromebook Laptop for $129

The following article has little to do with genealogy, family history, DNA, or the other topics normally covered in this newsletter. However, it does reflect my interests in low-cost computing and I think it may be of interest to many readers of this newsletter.

I have written often about the advantages of low-cost Chromebook computers. (See http://bit.ly/2K5izCv for my past articles about Chromebooks.) These low-cost and highly secure laptop computers have all of the essentials most computer users need. They are famous for how they “get things done efficiently and easily.” Best of all, Chromebooks are very secure and never get viruses. They also never lose data because all systems are automatically backed up online all the time. If a Chromebook gets lost, stolen, or crushed by a truck, the owner can obtain a new Chromebook and then restore all data within a matter of minutes.

Now you can purchase a new (not refurbished) Samsung 11.6-inch Chromebook 3 (originally $219) Chromebook for $129 US from Wal-Mart and that price even includes free shipping or else you can pick it up at your local Wal-Mart store. However, you will have to pay state and local sales taxes, if any.

Using a Chromebox as My Primary Day-to-day Computer

The following article has little to do with genealogy, family history, DNA, or the other topics normally covered in this newsletter. However, it does discuss my recent experiences with low-cost computing and I think it may be of interest to many readers of this newsletter.

Here is a conversation I had recently with a friend:

“A couple of weeks ago I installed a Chromebox computer and it soon became my primary computer.”

“A what?

“A Chromebox.”

“What is a Chromebox?”

“It is essentially the same as a Chromebook computer except that it is not a laptop computer. Instead, it is a small desktop computer that requires an external, plug-in keyboard, a mouse, and an external monitor. It is powered by plugging it into a wall outlet, not by batteries. It runs the Chrome operating system, the same as the operating system used in Chromebooks.”

In fact, the Chromebox has become a better addition to my collection of computers than I expected. Of course, I haven’t disposed of my other computers. I still have the Macintosh, Windows, Linux, and Android systems.

I also have a Chromebook laptop which has become my primary computer when traveling. I have always been able to use the Chromebook for almost all computer tasks that I need to do. However, when returning home, I used to switch to the iMac desktop system for my day-to-day tasks. The iMac is the most powerful and flexible of all the computers that I own so I simply assumed it should be the one that I used most of the time. However, I have changed my mind in the past few weeks.

Death of the Keyboard? Let’s Ask Alexa.

Radio Shack TRS-80

I have written often about my vision of the future of computer hardware and software. One thing I am certain of is that today’s computer state-of-the-art will not be the same the state-of-the-art in a few years. Just ask anyone who owns a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer with data storage on audio cassette tapes or anyone who has a collection of floppy disks or even CD-ROM disks. In that vein, I was interested in a recent survey which predicts that computer keyboards are already being replaced in many cases by voice input.

A survey conducted by Pindrop Solutions queried 4057 consumers in the UK, USA, France, and Germany. According to the survey, nearly half (48 percent) of the general public think keyboards will barely be used by 2023 as voice technology takes over. That’s just four years away.

Buy a Dell Chromebook for $129.99

UPDATE: This sale has now ended as the available inventory was exhausted.

I have written about the advantages of Chromebooks many times.These low-cost laptops can meet the computing needs of most computer users, although these laptops are not suitable for anyone running high-end (and expensive) engineering, graphics, video editing, and similar software. However, Chromebooks are excellent systems for surfing the web, reading and writing email messages, using genealogy web sites, playing online games, and even for publishing an online genealogy newsletter. Yes, I love my latest Chromebook. It has become my primary computer when traveling.

See https://blog.eogn.com/?s=Chromebook for my past articles about Chromebooks. If you have questions about Chromebooks, I would suggest you read my article, The Myths About Chromebooks, at https://blog.eogn.com/?s=The+Myths+About+Chromebooks.

Now Dell is selling the Inspiron Chromebook 11 for $129.99.

The KIC Self-Serve Book Scanning Stations

I’d love to have one of these book scanners in my spare bedroom that serves as an office for my genealogy research! At a price of $5,000 to $25,000 (US dollars) each, I’m afraid these professional grade scanners are far too costly for me or for most other genealogists. However, that price is not out reach for many public libraries, some local genealogy society libraries, and perhaps even the office supply store in your neighborhood that already offers scanning and photocopying services. If you are interested in getting your hands on one of these professional book scanners, you might drop a hint or two at your local library or society!

In fact, I wouldn’t limit the potential audience to genealogy societies. You may have historical societies, museums, or other organizations in the area that would be interested in these high-speed book scanners. Perhaps they could even start a partnership with another local organization to purchase one. Another possibility is that you might encourage your local genealogy society to make a donation to a nearby library as “seed money” for a campaign to collect funds from local businesses, organizations, and individuals to purchase such a scanner.

At these prices, the scanner needs to be used frequently to justify the purchase price. A group purchase by several organizations and individuals probably is the most cost-effective method of obtaining access to one of these scanning powerhouses.

QromaScan v3.1 is Now Available

I have written about the QromaScan device several times. Start at https://tinyurl.com/yc8oma9c to see my earlier articles about QromaScan. Now a major new software upgrade is available for this product that converts your iPhone into a scanner.

QromaScan Version 3.1 has the following new features and improvements:

Get a Refurbished Google Pixelbook for $600

UPDATE: This sale is now shown as “Sold Out.” No surprise. I expected these to sell out quickly.

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: computer hardware. If you are looking for true genealogy articles, you might want to skip this article.

Chromebooks are supposed to be cheap, right? Not always. There is one notable exception: the Google Pixelbook that normally sells for $999 to $1,649, depending upon the options selected. However, even this Pixelbook is now available at a lower price than ever before.

I purchased an identical Google Pixelbook while it was on sale a few weeks ago and I love it. However, I now wish I had waited a bit longer. A refurbished Pixelbook is now available for an even lower price than what I paid: only $599.99.

I have written often about Chromebooks. To see my past articles, start at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebook&t=h_&ia=web.

The Simple Method of Adding a Huge Monitor to Your Computer

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, if you would like to learn of a cheap and easy way to add a television set’s display to your computer, this article may be of interest to you.

Are you using a rather small monitor on your computer, perhaps even using a laptop computer and its small screen? Do you also have a huge high-definition (HD) television set in your living room or family room? (Almost all television sets built within in the past few years are high-definition models.) Would you like to connect the TV to the computer and use its large screen as a computer display? The process is ridiculously simple, yet many people are not aware of this.

Here is a picture of the 49-inch high definition television in my living room, being used to check comments posted to this newsletter overnight.

CZUR Aura: the Inexpensive Book (and Other Things) Scanner that Does Not Require Cutting the Bindings from the Books

Genealogists love scanners. We digitize old photographs, documents, maps, old handwritten notes, and dozens of other things that we wish to preserve in digital formats. Perhaps the most desirable scanners are book scanners, designed to quickly digitize the 100 pages or more pages found in a typical genealogy book. There are but two problems with most of the book scanners:

  1. They are expensive at $400 to $40,000 US, depending upon the features included and the speed of the scanning.
  2. Many book scanners require cutting the bindings off the books and then inserting the stacks of unbound pages into a sheet feeder that looks similar to what is found on high-speed office photocopiers.

Cutting the binding off a book is often traumatic for genealogists! Yes, I have cut bindings from modern reprints of old books without hesitation but I doubt if many genealogists will cut the binding from a book printed 100 years ago or even earlier.

A new scanner that is going into production now will solve most of these issues. Even better, it scans books, loose pages, photographs, and even small objects (coins, toys, jewelry, silverware, and more) without damaging any of the objects being digitized.

What is the Most Popular Operating System in the World?

Hint: it is not Windows. No, it isn’t Macintosh either.

According to an article by Dieter Bohn in The Verge web site, the Android operating system is installed on more computers, laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones than any other operating system in the world. In fact, it isn’t just slightly more popular than some other operating system; it is by far the dominant operating system of today.

The soaring popularity of Android is due in large part to its main platform: the smartphone. The number of smartphones sold today outnumbers sales of computers running Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. In fact, many young consumers and also people in third world countries never purchase a desktop or laptop computer; they simply use a smartphone or tablet for all their needs. And Android is installed on about 85% of all the smartphones in the world.

Here is the Android Tablet that Also Can Be Used as a Desktop Computer

In the June 1, 2018 newsletter, I published a Plus Edition article entitled, (+) Will Your Next Primary Computer be a Tablet or a Smartphone? In that article, I predicted that smartphone and tablets had become so powerful in the past year or two that they could soon be used as a desktop computer by simply adding an external screen, keyboard, and mouse. That prediction wasn’t too far off. Today, exactly two months after I published that prediction, a new Android tablet was introduced that offers a docking station that converts it into a desktop computer that will perform most of the functions that most desktop users want. It provides the productivity of a PC with the mobility of a tablet.

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 Android tablet is fully multi-tasking, with multi-window capability, and includes familiar gestures like drag & drop. It also displays a task bar along the edge of the display screen, similar to that of Windows and Macintosh. It also works with a special “pencil” to function as a touch pad, digitizer, or touch keyboard.

You can Purchase a refurbished HP 14 Chromebook for $110

I have written often about the many advantages of Chromebooks. See http://bit.ly/2pm21Iu for a list of my earlier articles about these inexpensive laptop computers. Also see Turn a Chromebook into a Powerhouse With the Best Chromebook Apps written by Tyler Lacoma at: http://bit.ly/2JlY3si.

I have a Chromebook and it has become my primary traveling computer. I also use it often when at the house. (“Who was the director of that 1993 movie I am now watching on TV?”) Now the Cheapskate Blog, written by Rick Broida, describes a bargain: a Chromebook you can purchase for $110 US. If you are thinking about picking up a laptop for yourself or for a family member, this might be a tempting offer for you.

The Hewlett-Packard 14-AK040NR is refurbished, not brand-new. However, it includes a 6-month guarantee, longer than most other refurbished items.

The World’s Most Powerful Windows 10 Pocket-Sized PC

NOTE: This article is off-topic. That is, it has nothing to do with genealogy or history. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, I’d love to have one of these tiny computers on my next research trip to a library or archive. In fact, I ordered one today.

The Mi Mini PC, launched last week on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, has to be the smallest Windows 10 computer that is soon to be available. It literally slips into a pocket. Yet it has most everything built in that you will need except for a keyboard. Even that “problem” is easily solved by using a foldable Bluetooth keyboard that is included in the purchase price of the computer.

The Mi Mini PC is being offered on Indiegogo at an introductory price of $149 US although that price is expected to increase soon after it goes into mass production. The price includes a 2.56GHz Intel Atom x7-Z8750 processor, a 128-gigabyte solid state “disk drive,” 8 gigabytes of RAM memory, wi-fi networking, Bluetooth, a variety of USB ports, and a built-in 5-inch display screen of 1,280 x 720 pixels. The manufacturer claims the 6,000mAh battery will deliver six hours of power before needing to be recharged. The solid state “disk drive” also can be upgraded by the manufacturer to 256GB for an additional $30 or upgraded to 500GB for $50.