iPad: another tool to use in the quest for the paperless office.

When Steve Jobs called it a magical device, people made fun of it.  When he announced the name, people really made fun of it.  Yet after spending a few days with it, I’m finding the iPad to be a remarkable tool.

I’ve written twice before about my quest for the paperless office and how credit unions might also pursue this sometimes quixotic goal.  A key element to a successful paperless office is to be able to use .pdf files like you would use paper.  You can scan any sort of paper and create a searchable .pdf file.  You can also print to .pdf files.  If nothing else, the iPad is the best .pdf viewer in the world.

The iPad’s app store helps the device to become the craziest Swiss Army Knife computer you’ve ever seen.  Right now, I’m using two .pdf viewers:  PDFReader HD and iAnnotate PDF.  Both of these use a wireless connection to move .pdf files to the iPad.  In fact, without Internet access, the iPad turns into an iBrick.  Well, it’s not that bad because you still can access files saved on the device, but you can’t access the magic without the Internet.  iAnnotate PDF is working very well for me right now.  It lets me make notes in the margins of .pdf files and to highlight text.  I don’t have an app that lets me write in free hand on the iPad yet, but I suspect that’s coming if it isn’t out yet. 

Another App I’m using is the DragonDictate voice recorder.  In fact, I dictated some of this blog post with it. I have used DragonDictate in the past with mixed results. But for some reason this iPod version works pretty well. I wonder what it could do with some real computing horsepower and training.  It’s quite convenient to lie on the couch dictating into the iPad.

Finally, I’m a disciple of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. One thing that this requires, though, is using one box to put all of your things that you do. Translating that into the paperless world is a bit of a challenge. But if I can train myself to use the iPad exclusively and not to create a paper object, I will be ahead of the game. The thing is there’s real value in printing to paper and integrating the resulting paper object into Mr. Allen’s system. By creating an object not only do you have content in the object but the paper itself creates a placeholder so that you will remember to do what you need to do.  This is also cross-referenced in a list.  Right now, I have not worked out a .pdf system that functions the same way so I still (shamefully) print a lot of e-mails.  If the iPad can get me to stop doing this, it will greatly further my progress in moving to a paperless office.


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