All things considered, I think I’m a pretty decent traveller.

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I have a trip looming… and of course there was a blizzard last night and the blizzard warning is still in effect.  We’ll see what tomorrow at 6 a.m. brings.

I’ve learned a few things from being a lazy perfectionist and flying a few times a year.  One of my new favourite ways to make a trip a little less stressful is to fly to a connection city (aim for mid-day or so landing), explore, overnight it, and then fly out at a reasonable time the next day for the remainder of the flights.  Depending where you’re from, this may not be so desirable for you… but for me, flying Regina to Toronto and getting to Cancun by 2 p.m. or so the next day without having to wake up at some unspeakable hour could be considered a trip saver.

I avoid checking luggage whenever possible.  Some people may enjoy being able to check and then proceed without having to worry about an extra piece of luggage.  I prefer to not gamble having my stuff damaged, delayed, or lost if I can manage it.  Invest in a rolling carry-on size bag.  If you don’t yet have one – I promise it will be worth it.  When a good sale comes up, I’ll be getting one with the 360 degree wheels – and maybe hard-sided.  Mine presently is soft-sided and only has the two wheels.  It’s workable and has been a solid companion… but I admit that my eye wanders.

Then there’s my trusty Eddie Bauer field messenger bag.  Good luck if you go looking… it’s from 2012.  And you can’t have mine.  The description says it’s made from a fabric called CORDURA but I suspect it’s actually be made out of mithril.  If you travel with a bag like this, I recommend stacking it top-to-bottom and left-to-right but not front-to-back so that it starts to gain bulk away from your body.  Air Canada, for example wants your personal item to be less than 16 cm/6″ for that dimension – but you can pack 33 cm high and 43 cm wide.  Let them add those “approved carry on” tags when they feel so inclined and then don’t remove them.

Get a small document folder.  The one I have is from jetpens.com (which is one of my favourite places on the internet).  If you print your boarding passes, or if you do have checked bags and need somewhere to put the stickers, or even if you might need a flat writing surface at some point, this folio is game changing.

FOR LAWD SAKES, WATCH YOUR LAYOVER TIMES WHEN BOOKING!  I find that sites like Expedia can be particularly treacherous when it comes to booking multiple flights (partly because of the multiple airlines available). I won’t even consider anything involving a layover under an hour at Calgary airport.  If it’s an airport I know I can maneuver well, then game on.  But I have run – literally, run – from one end of IAH to the other because of flight delays.  Reasonable buffers are your friend, particularly if you aren’t in shape.

If you don’t check in 24 hours, or whatever your airline allows, ahead of time, I have zero respect for you.

I don’t get in line to board with my zone.  Such a rebel, I know.  I hate waiting in line.

I’m happy to Sky-Check.  It seems to make the flight attendants happy and I’ve only had one issue (the IAH incident) where they sort of dilly-dallied getting the Sky-Check luggage to the gate.  Not their fault that I was running late by this time, though.  I’ll continue to Sky-Check if only for the karma.

What else can I say?  If you need transit, research options ahead of time.  Personally, I’m not a fan of cabs.  I’ve used Best Day Travel for booking shuttles (and excursions) with favourable results, and you can do this far ahead of time.

Oh, I hoard liquids bags every time I fly.  It makes packing easier.

I unabashedly take all the shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotels that I can.  They come in handy for transporting my own creams and potions later.

Hmmm… I bought the “pillow and blanket plus” set from Air Canada on one trip and I take it whenever I travel now.  The pillow leaves a bit to be desired but can’t argue with a $7 price tag for the set.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.  I’ll see if there’s a part deux post in it with some other quick wins/best practices.

Streamlining my (somewhat) antiquated scanner

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Shortly after starting in my current position, I became to feel inconvenienced at having to walk down the hallway to the common “copier room” in order to scan documents.  The room was approximately 25 feet away.  Aside from breaking up whatever administrative roll I was on by having to exert myself physically, the copier room often meant HIDEOUSLY PAINFUL SMALL TALK (not *always* perpetuated by my own need to avoid silence), stale coffee smell, uncomfortably avoiding cleaning up others’ messes, and trying to not be offended by a range of passive aggressive notes and “tips” roguishly posted around the room.

Side note, I no longer work on that floor – but am in the same position.  Relatively recently a notice was put out that the walls were being torn out and replaced to deal with “The Mould Issue.”  A particular vendor was mentioned so, of course, I web-searched the company.  They were coincidentally hiring for a couple temporary asbestos removers.  True story.

Meandering to the point… common copier = annoying.  My workflow = sacred.

Since I already had a desktop printer, I figured the smartest thing to do was to purchase an all-in-one device, replacing the printer and acquiring a scanner/copier in the process.  That was proven impossible.  My organization apparently permits networked *printers* but not networked *scanners* within offices (damn you, copier rooms!!! Your existence is perpetuated by the very bureaucracy you often undermine!).  My options were to move to an all-in-one that was non-networked or to keep a networked printer and obtain an off-the-network scanner.  Sharing the printer with my boss in the next room, the off-the-network printer option wasn’t ideal.

Thus, the HP Scanjet 5590 was obtained.

In 2004, PCMag gave it a 4/5 stars!

Regardless of having purchased it in 2014, much past its likely stale-date, I’ve actually become quite enamored with the rowdy [it’s loud] l’il [it’s really not little] beast.  Sometimes it’s a tease and I like that.  Mostly, I just wanted OCR capability.  Which it does handily.  [Hmm, Chrome suggested I change “handidly” to “handily.”  I seem to have been pronouncing that word incorrectly for quite some time.]  PCWorld thought the 559-er was pretty good, too.

Here’s where we get to some preemptive laziness.

The scanner scans as jpegs, rich text, searchable pdfs, etc. and can send any of these via email, to a drive (a shared network drive, even!  Haha… sigh), and you can save your scan settings as a shortcut.  “What does that mean for workflow?” you may ask.   Well, I repeatedly scan hard-copies of a few specific types of documents.  And I use a specific naming scheme.

E.g. I scan “RFA” forms that are tied to an individual.  I have the shortcut set-up for “RFA” and, once I put the document in the feeder (or on the glass if it’s one page and I’m in a hurry), I click “RFA Scan.” The choice to scan as a “searchable” OCR document is already chosen, the scan-to location is already pointed to, and I’m then prompted to name the file (which I already have “RFA_” entered as the filename in the shortcut setting) so then just add lastname_firstname_date.  It’s even set up to launch the file explorer of the folder where it’s been scanned to once I’ve reviewed the file and hit finish.

Rinse and repeat for other types of forms I use regularly.

What would normally be choosing scan options, scanning to a C: drive, renaming, and moving a file has been relegated to one click and typing the remainder of the name.

I didn’t set this up because I’m a hard worker.  I set this up because I’m so lazy that automation is next to godliness in certain instances.  Personally, I see great beauty in this particular shortened sequence.