An ADF is an Auto Document Feeder. It’s the thing on top of most copy machines where you can put a stack of paper. I’ve wanted to go paperless for a long time, and I’m finally getting pretty close. The thing that closed the gap for me is the ADF.
After Katrina, I wasn’t sure whether my printer was salvageable (it was), and anyway I didn’t have one with me. I had to scan or fax and send a bunch of stuff, so I bought an HP OfficeJet. Modern OfficeJets can scan in one of two ways. They have a classic flat-bed scanner for complicated things, books, photos, etc. However, they also have an ADF on top of the flat-bed scanner. When you use it, the scan head moves over to the far end of the printer and remains stationary as the feeder pulls documents past it. This makes it possible to scan stacks of notes or whatever with the press of a single button. Having such a feeder makes a big difference — I would never scan that many pages manually.
Combined with some sort of optical character recognition (OCR), and the temporary use of paper for taking notes (which are then scanned and recycled), I’m now able to keep just about everything digital. A major advantage of this is that I can just keep all of my documents archived on a remote storage service, and access them from anywhere.
I’ve thought about buying a used Tablet PC on eBay, but I really don’t want to have to maintain a Windows XP machine.