But who's stuck with having the scanner accessible only from their one PC? And how are they going to get any work done when people are constantly interrupting them to make a scan that'll "just take a minute"?
A Client/Server System for TWAIN Scanners
The solution to this problem is easy with RemoteScan Server, a $49.99 piece of software that makes almost any scanner available to any PC user on your network — even to an authorized user across the Internet. The pieces of the puzzle are:
• RemoteScan Server. The server software, developed by RemoteScan Corp., installs on whatever PC a scanner may be directly cabled to. The PC can be running any version of Windows, all the way back to Windows 95, and the scanner can be anything that supports the ubiquitous standard known as TWAIN.
• RemoteScan Client. Any PC that might be used to control the scanner gets a copy of the client software. The purchase of RemoteScan Server includes a license to install the client on an unlimited number of PCs.
• Internet Access. If the server that's attached to a scanner has a static IP address (one that isn't dynamically assigned), the scanner can be operated from any Windows PC that's connected to the World Wide Web. This would allow, for example, a secretary to place a document in a scanner at headquarters so a traveling executive could download a perfect copy of it into his or her laptop in a hotel room or Internet café.
A Capability With High-End and Low-End Uses
Those who are accustomed to nudging some poor worker off his or her PC in order to use their scanner may find it hard to imagine what the ability to run the thing from any nearby PC would feel like. Let's consider, then, some examples:
• Corporate Production Scanners. For those with truly high-end scanners — which are used for professional graphics production and are located in dust-free rooms — having a remote scanning ability can save huge amounts of time and money. An operator inside the "clean" room need only position the item to be scanned onto the device; he or she can then return to whatever other tasks might be at hand. The end user of the scanner output (presumably a lower-paid individual) can then fiddle with the preview settings ad infinitum and make as many scans as necessary until the image looks its best.
• Service departments. Companies with centralized copying and reproduction centers can benefit from a similar division of labor. The person behind the counter merely places the desired document into the scanner, while the customer does most of the work of completing the scan.
• Wireless networks. If your company owns laptops that have Wi-Fi capability — and these days, who doesn't — it's inconvenient to have to hook up and unhook cables to allow a laptop to control a scanner, hardly of which natively support wireless. Using RemoteScan, however, images can be downloaded from a scanner on the LAN into a laptop via any wireless access point.
• Home networks. Some executives like to work at home and scan the resulting documents in preparation for the next day's intranet update. They can use their home PC or laptop to access a personal scanner without disturbing the teenager whose PC the scanner is probably hard-wired to.
Although RemoteScan is primarily designed for standard TWAIN scanners, Steve Sarnoff of the company's marketing division says, "We're continually adding software features to support the many different varieties of available scanners and network configurations."
Some of the scanner features that the software already takes advantage of are page feeders for multi-page documents, duplexers that can image both sides of printed pages, and communications via Microsoft's Windows Terminal Services. If you can think of any other features you might want, the developer of the program seems eager to hear from you.
RemoteScan Corp. is currently offering the server software and unlimited client licenses on the company's Web site for a discount from the list price. For even less risk, you can download a trialware version of the application from such download libraries as ProgramURL.com.
Once you've got this thing installed and working, whatever administrative assistant was formerly being nudged aside so others could get at the scanner controls should take you out for lunch.