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Going Green 1 - Paperless

This is a first entry in my ongoing efforts to green-up my office and company. I’d love to hear from others on what they do, especially in Canada where, for example, I would be eligible for gov’t grants :-)

I’ve already committed to several things on The Good Life, and encourage everyone to do the same.

I work from a home office that is a separate building on our property. It’s well insulated and on it’s own electric, natural gas, and septic system. While I don’t get the benefit of being attached to another building (saving a radiating surface or two), I do get to keep the temperature lower than most people would be comfortable with. I can manage my water usage pretty well.

I try to manage electricity usage by turning computers off when not in use and disconnecting wall-warts from main power via power bars. I make use of motion sensor lighting as well. Still, I think that I could use more control devices to manage things electrical. I need to buy a programmable thermostat ASAP as my old mercury switch one is kind of wonky/unreliable. I have 3 sets of overhead halogen lights that I’d like to replace with LEDs soon.

Obviously, I travel only for meetings and such, except when a contract requires me to be on site. Then I try to wrangle as much work from my office as is feasible, then carpool, and as a last resort, drive by myself.

I’m trying to de-clutter my work environment, which is basically the top of a 25’x35’ 1.5 story garage. That’s a lot of space, but with all the books, CDs, LPs, computers, desks, and electronics work benches and stuff, it’s not as wide-open as you’d expect. I’ve recycled a lot of old electronics, though I keep some stuff because it can be useful for some projects. Most of my test equipment is used, some from eBay, some from other sources.

I’ve been scanning old docs and making PDFs; that’s kind of obvious, but it gets rid of several filing cabinet drawers of stuff. I’ve set up DevonThink with several variants of the Paperless Office template (under construction snap below).

I use Acrobat Pro to create PDFs of scanned docs, though SmileOnMyMac’s PDFPen looks like it might do as well. I do like their DiscLabel app, so may give PDFPen a whirl sometime, at least on the Mac side of things (read on...).

I’d love to get a SnapScan sometime to speed up this process, but for now am using an old OfficeJet T45 hooked to a box that can, when really nicely asked, run XP. It’s a pain to scan with this combo for a couple of reasons. The T45 is hit and miss for colour scanning. Some docs deserve colour scanning, but sometimes the colours are faded horizontally across the resulting scan. When I really care, I just use a flatbed scanner, which you’d think is much slower than the T45 with its sheet feeder... That brings up gripe 2, the need to click 2 or 3 times in the combined HP and Acrobat Pro apps per page! Gripe 3 is that the HP driver wants only to remember certain settings. It always defaults to grayscale, so I have to open a dialog each time I scan a colour page. Still, I can’t justify the cost of the SnapScan, at least not yet.

Some other interesting reading can be found on Gordon Meyer’s pages and, of course, on 43folders.

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