TWAIN in vain

Lileks has seen one too many of these scanner interfaces:

It was designed, as usual, by engineers with no taste who presume Great-gramma is trying to scan something so she can send it by the inter-mails to someone, and needs to be shown in the most obvious way possible that she is old and stupid and should not use computers. Hence it has two icons: one says DOCUMENTS, with a little badge that says “300,” and another says IMAGES, with a badge reading “200.” I assume that means dpi, but who knows? You can make custom profiles, but it never remembers them. There’s no button that actually says SCAN, which would be helpful. It’s as if the GUI team is a bunch of malicious bastiches who came up with the most non-intuitive interface ever, then said “Okay, now let’s add one more step between deciding to scan and actually achieving a scan. Johnson, you’re good at this. What would you recommend?”

“Well, just off the top of my head, I’d say have the default setting for saving put it into some proprietary image-collection program buried deep in the User’s library, so it can’t be found no matter how hard they look.”

“Excellent! Make it so.”

Of course, if you do as much scanning as Lileks — but no. No one does as much scanning as Lileks. He’s the original Scanny McScannerton. He could probably justify an industrial-strength scanner that would make Great-gramma throw up her dentures in despair, but they’d make him pay industry-level prices for it, and I suspect he’d like to feed the family once in a while.

My old Umax scanner was legal-sized, and any graphics program that spoke TWAIN could invoke it. Unfortunately, its speed was decidedly limited — it connected through the parallel port, fercrissake — and it was so old, Umax didn’t even bother to come up with an XP driver for it, so it’s been mothballed for the time being.


  1. Baby M »

    7 July 2010 · 9:56 am

    My oldest bought himself a new Jim-dandy college machine with only USB ports. His flatbed scanner uses a DB25 parallel port, but fortunately there is such a thing as a DB25-USB adapter cable. I’m pretty sure there’s a scanner driver available that works with Linux, so he’s good to go.

  2. canadienne »

    7 July 2010 · 9:57 am

    I am abysmally ignorant of how things work on the Windows side, but we’ve had good luck with third-party scanning software like Viewscan and Silverfast on the Macs, and they are both great.

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