I have an old beast for a printer/scanner. It is nine years old in human years, which is like one hundred in technology years, but it gets the job done.
One problem I’ve run into repeatedly over the years is that of scanning software. At some point in the distant past the software that came with the scanner disappeared. Yes, one can still download the drivers off of the manufacturers site – but I’m talking about the software that makes the scanning process easier and more robust. Usually this software is from a third party company and thus the manufacturer’s site doesn’t include it as a download. So what is one to do?
You’d think there must be tons of free software options out there for such a simple and fundamental application – you’d be surprised (at least I was). Over the years I’ve used numerous different applications to scan – some commercial trials (FileCenter being my preferred one, but way too expensive for an occasional scan) and lots of crappy free programs.
File Format Support – It can create PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and other file types (I find the PDF support especially useful for multi-page documents).
Automatic Document Feeder / Duplex Support – ADF means that it can handle multiple pages without requiring user intervention and duplex means it can handle double-sided documents also without user intervention.
Simple Scan Management – Rotate pages, straighten images, crop, etc.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – Supports identifying the text in scanned documents.
Powerful – Need to automate your scanning using a command-line interface? How about distribute it via Group Policy? No problem.
Their prices are about as low as you can go for a real, true height adjustable desk.
The reviews I found about the company’s desks were favorable.
They offered a hand crank model.
Wait, I went with a hand crank model? Yup. I thought about going electric and while it was tempting I decided that a hand crank would probably last me many times longer.
The hand crank is a simple mechanical mechanism, unlikely to break – whereas electronic components almost always break down eventually. I have hopes that I’ll still be using this desk ten, even twenty years from now.
Because I want to be a hobo (of sorts) someday I went with a Medium top (24″ x 48″) so that it could fit into a travel trailer, etc. without too much trouble.
I splurged and bought a CPU holder ($100). I initially bought a Belkin keyboard and mouse tray through Amazon, but ran into some trouble getting it to adjust correctly (may have been a broken model or may have been my lack of mechanical skill) and returned it. I’ve planned on getting the keyboard/mouse tray from ModTable but just never got around to it.
Even if the Belkin had worked, it would have been a hack job. The metal crossbeam runs under the middle of the desk and most mouse/keyboard trays are made to have their track run vertically and the crossbeam sits firmly astride its desired path.
I did not buy the monitor arms. They were attractive but I opted instead for monitors that were height adjustable in and of themselves – which have worked out quite nicely.
I’m supremely happy with the table. The components all seem to be high quality. My only thoughts for improvement are as follows:
Is the central crossbeam necessary? Could there be a model without it?
The manual crank sticks out a bit and is easy to walk into. You can pull it out so that it isn’t in the way, but then you have to put it back in…which is a very minor annoyance, but if there was a way for the handle to fold under the unit, out of the way, that would be amazing.
Could it go a little lower? I’m on the vertically challenged end of the spectrum and technically the height of the table top is still a little too high for me ergonomically….if I ever get around to getting the keyboard/mouse tray that will drop it to the correct height, but, still, it’d be nice to go down to say 25 in?
As far as any suggestions to those who may be considering buying a ModTable themselves, here are my thoughts:
If you aren’t planning on living/working in tightly constrained quarters, splurge for the larger top size.
Make sure to install the CPU holder far off to the side, otherwise you’ll be kicking it when you are sitting down.
Splurge for the CPU holder and the keyboard/mouse tray off the bat.
Let me conclude by talking about expense. I’m used to owning used desks or pressed board desks – the kind you can pick up fairly inexpensively from Walmart, Target, or Ikea. ModTable is inexpensive compared to other height adjustable desks, but it is still expensive for those of us who frequent thrift stores for our furniture needs.
I heard (I think it was over at Lifehacker) that one should invest one’s money where one spends one time – which makes a lot of sense. Spend money on what you use most in life – a bed, a desk, a car, etc. For me and many like me, a desk is one of those things and the extra expense is worthwhile for our comfort as well as for our health.
In addition, Tom makes many of the summaries from his various books available on his website. I’ll be linking out to a few below.
I love these books because they provide a great way to get an overview of the literature. It isn’t meant to be the end, rather it is a beginning. A place to become familiar with the “big ideas” and determine which ideas one really needs to dive into more deeply.
Here are the volumes I found most interesting in this book. I’ve marked those which I really want to read with an *.
Note: I did not select the most important works out of those listen in Tom’s book, rather I chose those that interested me. There were a number that would probably be considered more fundamental than some of those listed above but with which I either lack interest or else I am already familiar through other sources with.
At the end of the book Tom offers a concise list of fifty more classics, of those I am most interested in: