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December, 2006

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Scanning: technology that brings the past into the future
The Byte Files
by Paula Moser
Last year my father put together a book of all the publications of his older brother Leo Moser, a world-renowned mathematician who died in 1970. This was a long and arduous task.
It involved taking each paper he had stored for 40 years in a binder, centering each page on a blank white page, and taping it down with transparent tape. Since my father has only one useable arm he would beg unsuspecting visitors to do a few pages for him while they were visiting. I’m sure we were all willing to help, but this technique did seem a bit archaic in this technological age. Furthermore, I was sure there was a way to set up my father so that he did not have to resort to begging.
So I went to Best Buy and looked at the scanners. I found one that could be managed with one hand. All the scanners come with some software that lets you center, rotate, crop and edit your pictures in many other ways. This did the trick. Now my father could scan, center and print the papers himself (independence is what we all strive for), and as a bonus he had all the articles on his computer for easy reference when he got the itch to read one.
Scanners are simple machines and have come down in price over the last few years so they are accessible to everyone.  A cheap scanner can be had now for $69! The more pixels in the picture created, the higher the cost, so if you want crystal-clear pictures, pay a bit more. With a scanner you can scan those ancient pictures you have been saving and send them to your grandchildren across the ocean, or use them in your memoirs. You can scan a page in a book to be used in your grandchild’s history report. You can make copies of your children’s math worksheets to use for yourself (oops, that’s what I use my scanner for, but it might not be high on your list of priorities). To tell you the truth, I don’t know how I lived without my scanner. Even my neighbour uses it now!
New technologies are improving our lives in immeasurable ways. The hard part is to know what’s out there. That’s where talking to people helps. My father would not have known that a scanner could help him, but by making it clear to everyone who entered his place what he was trying to do, someone (that would be me) found a solution that gave him his independence and a better product in the end as well!  The second difficulty to overcome, and this is the really hard part, is to keep an open mind. This is no small task as we all find the unknown difficult; however, the rewards can be enormous. Ask my father!
Happy Holidays!
Website of the Month
Still haven’t bought those holiday gifts? Buying on the web couldn’t be easier. You can shop at 2 am, send to multiple addresses and have the gift wrapped for you. Here are a couple of places to start:
www.rockinghorsebooks.net : This is a new Montreal-based company that will put together just the right assortment of books, package them in a nice basket and deliver them right to the recipient’s door.
www.visaperks.ca : Here’s a site most people don’t know about. If you shop at one of the stores listed on this site (and enter the store’s website through the visa site), you get discounts.

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