Five minutes in the paperless life
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
When I came home from work today, I saw the familiar blue-on-white color scheme of a New Jersey DMV envelope sitting on a pile of the day’s mail.
Last year my wife spent a few moments on the side of the road with a law enforcement officer when I forgot to renew the registration on her car (and she still loves me!).
Needless to say, when I opened the envelope today and found the registration paperwork, I went to work immediately.
I walked over to my computer, shook the mouse a little to bring it to life and flipped open the lid of my sheet-fed scanner, causing it to turn on.
After slipping the renewal form into the scanner, I pressed the big button on front—four seconds later the document was a PDF on my desktop.
I then went to the New Jersey DMV site and began filling out the online registration form—oops, they need my insurance policy number, where’s that?
I launched Spotlight, the Macintosh’s global search utility, and started typing the name of my insurance company; by the time I had typed half of the name I was looking at a PDF of a recent policy renewal document.
Since that document had been OCR’d, I was able to copy the policy number and paste it directly into the web form, making sure the numbers were right since OCR isn’t perfect.
Once I had supplied my credit card info and submitted the registration renewal, they displayed a receipt that I could print.
Instead of printing it on paper, I printed it to PDF.
I then combined the PDF of the scanned renewal form with the PDF of the receipt, gave the file a name that included today’s date and “Vehicle registration” and filed it away for posterity on my hard drive.
It took five minutes, and I now have a digital copy of the whole transaction and I can toss all of the physical evidence.
By keeping everything electronic, I was able to capture a copy of the renewal form, locate my insurance policy number in an instant, and then capture a copy of the receipt, with no new paper generated.