Scanning with your iPhone is almost as quick as taking a photo, and way more useful down the line.
Photo: Cult of Mac
Paper is still great for a lot of things. It’s lightweight, it’s fairly water-resistant, and is just about the best tool available for reducing the number of trees in the world. But it doesn’t sync with iCloud, and anything written on it is not searchable.
Luckily, there’s an easy way out of this dark age. You can scan all those clipped recipes, and those receipts, all those sheets and scraps you have laying around, and which annoy you until you ned one, at which point it disappears. Today, we’re going to use Readdle’s excellent Scanner Pro to turn your paper into pixels. You may be surprised at just how easy and useful this can be.
Why bother scanning?
First, why scan instead of just snapping a picture? There are a few good reasons:
- It looks better. If you’re scanning an actual document, then a scanner app will produce a result as good as using a proper document scanner.
- It keeps the pictures out of your camera roll.
- OCR, or Optical Character Recognition. This is the big one. A scanner app will read any words in your picture and turn them into searchable text. If it’s a typed document, then the accuracy is almost perfect, but it can even work on hand-written text.
You can scan a whole lot more than just paper scraps and documents, too. Text recognition works on any picture containing text, in theory. If you see a poster for a concert you want to check out, scan it, and make it searchable. Scan articles from magazines you find in coffee shops, and copy out whole chunks of text later, or highlight passages you like in your PDF reader of choice. Pretty much anything can be scanned.
What about the menu hung outside a restaurant? If you scan it instead of just snapping a photo, you will be able to find it in future, even if all you remember is that they had “carpaccio” of tofu among the appetizers. What about the teacher’s blackboard in your evening class? Why write all that stuff down when you can just snap a picture, and see it all in the original context any time you like?
Scan with Scanner Pro
Of all the scanner apps I’ve tried, Scanner Pro is my favorite. It’s clean, easy, fast, accurate, and never confuses me. It also has a lot of extra power if you need it, but works as a plain-old scan-and-forget app if that’s all you want. So let’s fire it up and scan a document.
Everything is automatic, except adding a caption, and even that is mostly done for you.
Photo: Cult of Mac
First, find a bright spot in the room. Kidding! Scanner Pro uses the iPhone’s flash to illuminate the scan, so you can do it anywhere. This may be the only time you want to use a flash to take photo. What you will need is a background that contrasts with the paper you’re scanning, so the app can automatically find the edges of the paper.
I picked a magazine, in German, to show off some of Scanner Pro’s other neat tricks. To scan, just 3-D Touch the icon and tap New Scan, or launch the app and hit the big plus symbol. Then point your phone at the document and wait. The app detects the paper’s edges, and when it does it flashes the flash and snaps a pic. Here you can tell it what kind of document you’re scanning (a photo or a document, B&W or color). This only affects the final appearance.
If you have multiple pages or sheets, just flip through them, pointing the camera each time. It’s pretty fast. When you’re done, tap the icon at bottom right (the one with a number showing how many pages you’ve scanned). On this screen you can give the document a name. This takes a second and makes a huge difference in future, when trying to find something, so do it. You can also have the names generated automatically (visit the settings). I have it add the date to the name. Now, just hit save. Or you can share the new scan right away. More on that below.
Automatic text recognition
Scanned text is turned into editable text automatically.
Photo: Cult of Mac
This is the best feature of scanning apps, I think, so you’ll want to switch it on. When I first purchased Scanner Pro, OCR was off by default. If that’s still the case, then you should visit the app’s settings (the cog icon, top left on the main screen). Tap Text Recognition (OCR), then tap Automatic Recognition, then pick the languages you want it to scan for. Only switch on the ones you’ll actually use regularly, otherwise you may slow things down as the app tries to figure out which language to use. I have German and English, for fairly obvious reasons.
When OCR is switched on, Scanner Pro will automatically convert any scans to text, if it can. You can always display the image as text to see how well it did (above). In text view, you can also copy snippets, or the whole thing, to the clipboard. For any serious work, you might consider exporting to the PDF app of your choice.
Sharing and saving your scans
Scans can be shared as PDFs or JPGs. PDFs keep the recognized text layer, whereas JPGs don’t. The app’s custom share sheet can send straight to Dropbox, Evernote, and others, as well as print and fax. Yes, fax. In 2017. It’ll cost you money (the price depends on country, and so on, and is shown before you send the fax), but it avoids a trip to… well, it avoids a trip to wherever they still have faxes.
Sharing is easy, and text recognition can manage most languages.
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You can also create customs “workflows.” These are presets to share documents to your choice of service. You can save to a particular Evernote note, for example, or send the scans in a custom mail template. I don’t bother. I just switch on iCloud Drive in the app’s settings, and let it save all my scans there. That way, I can access them from any app, and from my Mac. It also lets me find anything I’ve scanned with a simple Spotlight search, and I never have to manually save anything.
Turning your existening photos into scans
If you’ve been taking regular photos of your paper scraps until now, then you can still turn them into scans. To do this in Scanner Pro, you just need to hit the little radar icon at the top of the main screen. This scans your photos and picks out any it thinks may be papers, or other eligible subjects. Go ahead and tap any you want to import. It works just like with freshly-scanned images. One thing to note it that it will combine all selected images into one multi-page document, which means multiple visits to import lots of documents. Still, it’s a pretty great feature.
Scanner Pro can find and process images you already have in your camera roll.
Photo: Cult of Mac
That’s it. Now you can keep scans out of your camera roll, all in one place, and you can easily find them again, even if you can only remember one or two words from the scanned document itself. Give it a try. It might not seem that useful as you’re doing it, but in the future, when you’re trying to find something important, you will be super-duper pleased that you made this (trivial) effort.
In the latest episode of “Behind the Numbers,” eMarketer analyst Victoria Petrock highlights developments in connected technology for the home. What’s getting “smarter” and what does it mean for consumers? Listen to Podcast
Why You Brag About Being Busy 1:23
Being busy isn’t an excuse or a lament anymore. It’s a sign of status — maybe even a humblebrag.
At some point, the standard answer to “how are you” changed from “fine, thanks” to “busy!” Researchers at Columbia and Harvard set out to understand why.
In a series of studies recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, they analyzed thousands of Tweets from celebrities for “humblebrags,” and found about 12 percent of those were about being busy — “having no life” or needing a vacation, for example.
Then they created a fictional Facebook user and asked volunteers to look at her posts. When she posted about working nonstop, people thought she had higher status and more money than if she posted about her leisure time.
The researchers, led by Silvia Bellezza, a professor of marketing at the Columbia Business School, found that people were even impressed by the use of products aimed at busy people — like the grocery delivery service Peapod, or a Bluetooth headset.
Previous research at the University of Chicago found that people actually prefer being busy, even if it hurts their productivity.
“People dread idleness, and their professed reasons for activity may be mere justifications for keeping busy,” University of Chicago professor of behavioral science and marketing Christopher Hsee observed. For example, they might respond to non-urgent email instead of finishing a big project.
And while we may legitimately feel busy, Americans’ working hours have steadily decreased over the last seven decades. In 1948, when the government started keeping track, Americans worked an average of 42.8 hours a week. Today we average 38.7, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey.
The finding that busyness has become a status symbol turns Thorstein Veblen’s idea of conspicuous consumption among the “leisure class” on its head. Veblen theorized that the absence of work, or conspicuous leisure, was the ultimate status symbol.
But at some point, our popular conception of wealth changed from something like Thurston Howell III with a yacht and plenty of downtime, to a mega-mogul working around the clock.
Bellezza and her colleagues write that traditional status symbols like luxury cars or handbags also make people seem less likeable, so busyness may be “a potentially more socially acceptable and efficient way for people to signal their social status.”
They theorized that Americans might be more impressed by being busy than would Europeans because of our belief in social mobility — that if we just work hard enough, we can achieve the American Dream.
Sure enough, when they tried similar research with Italians, the results flipped. Italians considered people with more leisure time to have higher status than those who were working all the time.
So next time you’re feeling crazy busy, think about whether what you’re busy doing is really accomplishing your goals. And if all else fails, consider Italy.
Why You Brag About Being Busy 1:23
Two advertising legends talk creativity and how it happens. (One of them swears a lot.)
BY ANNE CASSIDY
One is the creative leader behind Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. The other has been dubbed the original Mad Man.
Lee Clow, the chairman of TBWA Worldwide, made the iconic “1984” commercial that launched the Apple brand. He also helped create the Taco Bell Chihuahua and the Energizer Bunny and received a lifetime achievement award, the Lion of St. Mark, in Cannes this year.
George Lois, 81, hates Mad Men. But he loves the big idea, which was very much in evidence in the campaigns he created for Xerox, MTV, and Robert F. Kennedy, as well as the series of iconic covers he designed for Esquire magazine. Both have dedicated their lives to great advertising. Here, at times at odds with conventional wisdom, is their advice on how to make it.
Lee Clow and George Lois
Lois is fed up with everyone chattering about tech. “Everybody talks about technology, technology, technology, and I talk creativity, creat-fucking-tivity, creat-fucking-tivity,” he says. “Jesus Christ, figure out how to do great ideas, that’s what it’s all about.. . . . You’re not going to be great by figuring out the technology. Someone else will figure out the fucking technology.”
Clow, though not driven to as much swearing, is equally wary of the current attitude toward technology. He notes that the proliferation of “new media touch points” has created a lot of confusion that can steer brands off track. “The beginning is the idea and the media falls out of that,” he says. He believes technology should to be part of the next creative revolution and sees social media as an “amazing new frontier.” But, he warns, creatively, we’re not there yet. “The creativity is still kind of missing, even though the opportunity of new media is huge,” Clow says.
George Lois is not known for his modesty. And he’s not much for our modern views on collaboration. “I look in the mirror and I work with the brightest person I know,” he says. He advises that you need to trust and believe in yourself and do your own work in order to be great. If you think that surrounding yourself with bright people will allow you to make good work, then “you’re in trouble,” he says. Great advertising happens when the copy and visuals work together, so if you can be your own art director and copywriter, all the better, Lois believes. “It’s a lot easier if you can do it all by yourself,” he says. But most important, don’t let anyone force you to do bad work. In Lois’s words: “If you’re working and you’re not trying to be great, give up.”
Despite all the criticism of the industry awards circuit, public acknowledgment of great work is instrumental in fueling creativity in Clow’s view. Awards have driven “the art and product of creativity” and worked as “a tool to celebrate and push the work forward,” he says. But we still need to figure out the right way to award great thinking in the digital sphere. “Awards are going to have a big role in allowing new media to become more artful,” he says.
“Think Different” campaign.
It’s a tough time to start a career in advertising, Clow believes. This, he puts down to an explosion of new media forms that make it difficult to know which “door to go into.” He predicts a shakeup, led from the front by creativity. “There is always going to be creative energy coming out of the next generation,” he says. People need to figure out the best entry point, be it a design company or ad agency, to become what Clow calls, a “media artist.” “Creative people, by virtue of them being creative people, will find a creative way to sort out the business,” he concludes, with the caveat: “It might be after George and I are done working.”
Clow puts his ability to think creatively down to his genes. “I think some of us are lucky enough to be born with more right brain than left brain. Our intuition and admiration for thinking out of the box creatively starts very young,” he says. “I think it’s more genetic than anything else.”
Lois calls his talent for communication a “weird gift.” But it’s not a gift that every creative person has, not even the greats. In his own inimitable, expletive-ridden way, Lois muses: “Picasso, one of the greatest of all, could not do fucking advertising. . . . Assholes like us do great advertising.”
Francesca Gino/Mar 6, 2017
Think back to your first day on the job. If you’re like most people, you felt excited and were eager to get down to work. But, based on the results of field research I recently conducted, I am willing to guess that just a few months later that excitement dissipated and you began to feel dissatisfaction, even boredom, with some aspects of your job. You’ve probably witnessed a similar trend among the employees you’ve hired and managed as well.
Hundreds of studies in management and psychology have examined how organizations can increase worker motivation. Most theories, grounded in the job design literature, argue for redesigning or recrafting jobs — for example, by adding variety or increasing autonomy to people’s work. As I discussed in another post, Brad Staats of the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill and I demonstrated the success of these approaches by analyzing 2 ½ years of transaction data from a unit at a Japanese bank that processes applications for home loans. Mortgage processing involved 17 distinct tasks, including scanning applications, inputting application data, and doing a credit check. We found that adding variety to the tasks workers completed from day to day (by having them working on different distinct tasks rather than focusing on the same one) improved their motivation and productivity. These workers helped the bank process loan applications more quickly, managers told us, and improved the bank’s ability to secure new customers.
More recent research points to another key factor in increasing worker motivation: leveraging the social aspect of work. In particular, interactions with the beneficiaries of one’s work can be highly motivating because they heighten workers’ perceptions of the impact of their work.
In one field study, Adam Grant of the Wharton School found that fundraisers who were attempting to secure scholarship donations felt more motivated when they had contact with scholarship recipients. In another study, Grant found that lifeguards were more vigilant after reading stories about people whose lives have been saved by lifeguards. In fact, the words of beneficiaries of one’s assistance can be more motivating than those of inspirational leaders, Grant showed in another series of studies with his colleague Dave Hofmann of the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill. Similarly, when cooks see those who will be eating their food, they feel more motivated and work harder, Harvard Business School’s Ryan Buell and colleagues found.
Across these studies, the key factor that improved worker motivation was a direct connection to those who benefit from one’s work, including customers and clients. But this type of direct relationship can be hard to achieve in some jobs. Consider an assembly-line worker installing screws in a car’s electrical system. Clearly, the screws are vital, but the worker’s distinct impact on the future driver of the car is distant and abstract — and just one aspect the driver’s overall experience with the car.
How can managers motivate such workers? By leveraging relationships that are internal to the organization. In one field study, Paul Green of Harvard Business School, Brad Staats, and I asked employees harvesting tomatoes at a tomato-processing company in California to watch a short video from a colleague within the firm telling them about the positive impact they had in the factory. Others did not watch such videos (our control condition). In the weeks after the intervention, the employees who watched a video from a colleague achieved a 7% improvement in productivity, on average, as measured by tons of tomatoes harvested per hour, relative to those in our control condition. In a follow-up laboratory study, a similar intervention increased employees’ performance, because people felt a greater sense of belonging.
Both at work and away from work, all of us seek to fulfill a fundamental human need to belong. In our studies, positive words from internal beneficiaries of employees’ work — their colleagues — served as an important source of motivation by strengthening the workers’ sense of belongingness.
The existing research on motivation tells a clear story: There are both psychological and performance benefits to connecting employees to the beneficiaries of their work. As a manager, you just need to ask a simple question: What opportunities are there in your organization to create such connections? The answer may not be difficult to find and implement.