Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Scanner's Tale

Once upon a time there was a scanner in a happy working relationship with a Millennium-chic tangerine iMac. They hooked up from time to time and the scanner would happily chug away, shining a light on random pieces of paper that needed turning into pixels.

Artwork, college research, old photos, applications forms, pretty things in magazines - all this and more fell upon the scanner's gaze and passed into the bosom of the iMac's hard drive.

Together they worked, USB in USB, until the iMac grew too slow and weak to keep up with the world online and was usurped by a cocky, flashy, whizzy laptop.

But the scanner found it too hard to get on with the laptop and stayed loyal to its old friend, giving it a reason to live until the day the poor, ancient 9 year old iMac went "fzzzzzt" and smelt of burning.

To this day... oh you know how my story goes by now. Two years later and I still can't afford to get my iMac mended.

That still left the problem with the scanner. The company who made it have decided, in their wisdom, not to write a Mac OS 10 driver for it because, obviously, us Mac owners are rolling in cash and can't resist buying all the latest gadgets the second they hit the shops. Or something like that.

I've used the scanner at the library but you can only guarantee getting it if you book in advance, which means knowing virtually down to the minute what time you're going to arrive. Not always convenient. Neither is the one hour a day time limit, lack of elbow room and inconvenience of lugging all the paperwork around (assuming, of course, you haven't forgotten something).

So scanning has been a neglected job over the past couple of years but, in order to get my portfolio up to date for potential clients, I've had to catch up.

Thankfully I had a brainwave and realised the answer had been staring me in the face all along.

Mac OS 10 (at least on the older versions, not sure about nowadays) also has Mac OS 9 lurking in the background. One click and the flashy new desktop reverts into the clunky old one that was once so futuristic and Millennium-chic. Perfect to avoid chucking out all the old software that you can't or don't want to upgrade. Not entirely glitch-free but hopefully good enough to make the scanner talk to the laptop.

So I hunted out the CD, set up the scanner and clicked Install. Not easy to do with crossed fingers. The computer went a bit weird and tried to load certain things twice but - joy of joys - it worked and I can now do scanning on my laptop!

It's not a perfect set up. I can't access the scanner through Photoshop, which means I'm lumbered with everything saving as a memory-hungry TIFF (remember them? I can't recall the last time I used a TIFF. PNGs have long since stolen that part of my heart devoted to file formats.)

I've enjoyed a good trip down memory lane over the past couple of weeks, looking through my archives. It's occasionally a bit cringeworthy as a lot of the stuff I made a decent living from just hasn't passed the test of time. I've almost finished tidying up the scans and am currently uploading them to my Coroflot portfolio. Some of the best ones will also be added to my Facebook albums too. When time allows I'll be back on here telling you the stories behind the work. You'll get to see techniques I've used which aren't reflected in the digital art I've shown you already so come back soon and expect a few surprises!

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