Guy's Blog

Guy frequently keeps this blog updated with thoughts, challenges, interviews and more!

Tag: how to go paperless

I loathe bureaucracy in all its forms. And I really don't understand why so many companies, organisations, and people feel the need to clutter up other people's houses with pieces of paper that aren't either proper letters (I'm a big fan) or nice cards (also a fan). As you may know I did a major blitz on paper before we left Finland; I bought a decent scanner and digitised everything that needed to be kept (or was just interesting), and binned about 15 years worth of processed dead trees. The only things I kept were either official papers (birth certificates and so on), or things that had sentimental or other value as artefacts (a concert program signed by Louis Armstrong, some of the fathers day cards my kids have made me, things like that).

The pile had grown to critical proportions over the last month, as you can see from this little vlog I did:

So, step one is to make a big pile of all the paper, and put it next to a paper-recycle bin, like so:

One pile, one bin.

Then go through the pile, and sort it into two: keep/scan, or straight to bin. Be ruthless. At my advanced level, I get to split the keep/scan pile already into keep no need to scan; scan; and check with wife, and I also do some sorting into source or type on the fly, because I've done this enough that that actually saves me time because the decisions are very fast. Here's the martial-arty-bit: the difference in reaction time between a single response (on signal, go!) and one with two options (on signal, go left OR go right!) is about a 60% increase. And it just gets worse the more options there are. So at first it's best to make every response binary: scan/keep or straight to bin. The pile is now a lot smaller; and there are actually only three on this table:

the piles.



Then it's out with the scanner. I'm using the NeatDesk, and it is amazing. The stuff just zips through.

Every time something is scanned, it goes directly into the “keep” pile, or it's ripped (to prevent remorse) and goes directly into the bin. And everthing is scanned straight to pdf, the file named, and filed in my documents folder (I use Neat's own archive system, which works well).

Then (and this is a critical step) all the ‘keep' stuff gets put away properly. Because everything is still a bit ad-hoc in the new home, this entailed quite a bit of sorting and rearranging, and in the process I set up the big computer. This meant that a couple of dvds of fencing books got loaded onto it, and the flurry of uploading fencing treatises for free can recommence.

Let's start that with something really gorgeous. Camillo Agrippa, 1553, Scientia d'Arme.


In other news, my course Recreate Historical Swordsmanship from Historical Sources went live over the weekend. It's got about a quarter of its content up so far, and I'll be adding more regularly. The idea behind letting students enrol before the course is finished is to allow me to take their needs and feedback into account as the course is developed. This should produce a much better end product than anything I could just create from scratch. If you're on the mailing list, you should have a 50% discount code; if you didn't get it, then let me know and I'll send it again.

And to recap:

  1. All paper into one pile.
  2. Quickly go through the pile and throw out as much as possible.
  3. Scan and bin what's left, keep only the essentials.
  4. Name and file pdfs as you go
  5. Put away all the kept items.


Just one of McBane's splendid tricks

I am currently digitising a metric fuck-ton of paper, prior to moving to the UK. If you're interested in the actual process of going more-or-less paperless, then I'll be happy to post it here in detail; let me know in the comments below (here. I don't necessarily see every comment on Twitter or Facebook). This procedure is, as you may imagine, somewhat tedious but there are moments of pleasure that more than make up for it.

Finding this banknote was one such.

I found it in a chest of drawers I was restoring maybe 18 years ago, and it's been following me about ever since. I have no use for it, so I asked if anyone on Facebook wanted it. That generated more than one response, so I was faced with choosing fairly who to give it to. In the end, the most elegant solution I could come up with was to ask for mailing addresses from the people who wanted it, and then randomised who would get it. Three people sent me their addresses, so I wrote out three notes, and put them into three envelopes, one with the banknote too. I then shuffled the envelopes, before writing the addresses on them; I had no idea who would get it. One envelope went to Helsinki, one to Salt Lake City, and one to Vancouver. I'm looking forward to finding out who got it!

[Update: the note went to Jordan Hinckley in Salt Lake City. Congrats!]

I have also come across an essay I wrote in 1995 for Dr Jonquil Bevan's class on the portrayal of character in 17th century literature. I had been working on historical swordsmanship research for a couple of years by that point, and had found a copy of Donald McBane's Expert Sword-man's Companion in the National Library of Scotland. I persuaded Dr. Bevan that it would make an excellent subject for my class essay. For those unfamiliar with the term, “pander” is an old term for “pimp”.

The Gallant Pander

This copy actually has Dr. Bevan's notes on it, which brings up a very worthwhile point. Some of my readers have been kind enough to say I'm a good writer. If that's true, then it is at least in part because I've had legions of good teachers who have read and critiqued my work in the past. You'll notice from this essay that my writing style has changed somewhat, but you'll also notice that there are several places where I make unsubstantiated claims, and Dr. Bevan points them out, as well as correcting some points of grammar.

I'm finding lots of similar things, like articles I wrote back in the nineties, old newspaper clippings from the early days of the DDS, in fact just enough cool stuff to keep me at it.

Alright, it's back to the scanner for me. I hope you enjoy the essay; let me know what you think of it!


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