Monday, November 7, 2011

I Feel Like a Kid at Christmas

Sarah demonstrating how to use the Flip Pal upside down
I have to admit that after I opened the new Flip Pal scanner I felt like a kid again at Christmas time.  I love technology but I don't usually get too excited about it.

I took the scanner for its first test drive at 8am Saturday while on the sideline of a soccer field.  Yup, just me sitting there in a car getting ready to scan.  Now that alone should tell you how amazing this is that you can be sitting in a car and use a flatbed scanner.  I admit I really loved that total accessibility.

I am one of those really impatient people when it comes to technology.  I don't want to sit and read all the instructions and start step by step.  No, not me, I just pulled it open, scanned the first thing I could lay my hands on (my business card) and then pressed the green button to go!  Voila - it worked and I had scanned!  That simple.

Now, I don't recommend my approach.  After I got over my rash impulse I stopped to read the brief but helpful instructions.  They mentioned that before anything I should have set the time as soon as the scanner came on the first time.  Since I totally skipped that part I am now at a loss for knowing how to change the time.  It doesn't seem like you can change it later.  I suppose my easiest solution will be to take out the batteries and simulate a fresh start.

Another thing I discovered was the USB - memory card converter.  The Flip Pal comes with a little device that let's you plug into a USB slot and then insert your memory card into that to access the scans.  This is particularly helpful as my new latptop did not come, regrettably, with a built in memory card slot.

Another small, really silly feature that I love is the slot on the back of the Flip Pal for a business card.  While it may not prevent someone from stealing the scanner, it certainly goes a long way in helping honest folks get it back to you.

Help From Friends

I was able to explore on my own a bit and did a few scans at the two different resolutions but the fun really began later in the day at the NEAPG meeting.

Several other people at the meeting already had Flip Pals or just got them.  Flip Pal guru Sarah Nesnow got us all on the right track with using the scanner.

First off, Sarah told us that the software for stitching photos together was located on the memory card.  She gave us the very helpful heads up that if we switch to a larger memory card that we need to make sure to copy over the stitch software.  So that's one question answered.  I was really wondering where that software was hiding.  I thought maybe I needed to download it or something.

Second, Sarah showed us the most amazing thing - how to scan microfilm.  She actually held the Flip Pal right up to the computer screen and scanned it.  Amazing.  She showed us many microfilms scans she had done to prove the quality of how it comes out.  I was astounded.  That will be hugely helpful.

Lastly, she shared some examples of scans that were stitched together.  I was very impressed because I couldn't see any lines. The only way I could tell was from the "overhanging cliffs" created at the edge of some photos were the scans didn't line up perfectly.

Coming Up with a Gift

The point of this "Simple Gift Blog Hop" is to demonstrate how the Flip Pal can be used to make family history gifts.  I've got two thoughts in mind.  The first is to scan a bunch of old family photos so that I can get a deck of cards made up.  I saw that done somewhere on the internet.  My second idea is to create a Christmas present for my Dad.  Not sure yet what to do but I'm thinking maybe about focusing in on his grandparents.  Let me know if you have any ideas.


  1. Taking the batteries out will let you set the time. In fact you need to re-set the time each time you replace the batteries.

    I never would have thought to use the Flip Pal to scan microfilm!! That is incredibly awesome!

  2. When you register the scanner, you can upgrade the software for stitching. You should copy the software onto your laptop or desktop for easier use. Walgreens has 2GB SD cards on sale for $6.99 this week.

  3. I wonder how it would work if you put the new eye-fi card in the flip-pal instead of the card that they send you. Would it upload all of your scans the same way that it uploads the pictures?

  4. Great tip re microfilm scanning. I'll be trying that

  5. What an awesome idea to scan microfilm! I have the flip-pal high on my list of gifts to gift myself with, and now it is even higher!

    Thanks for that great tip!

  6. Thanks for sharing your experiences here. The flip pal is now on my Christmas list.

  7. Great information on using the Flip-pal. I hope to get one for Christmas. I'll try to remember to set the time before I jump right into to scanning, that sounds like something I would do.

  8. Sitting in the car sounds similar to me on the sofa in front of the telly being productive scanning my grandmother's photo collection.

    Microfilm - consider that idea stolen.

  9. Wow - this definitely sounds like something that I need to purchase before I do research in Cincinnati around NGS next year! I had no idea that it was so versatile. I thought a small scanner would be good for photos, but I never imagined scanning something like microfilm. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow, scans microfilm? Guess it might scan negatives also. Will try these.

  11. After my husband read some of the cool things the flip pal will be, I think I may be getting one!!!
    You said the software was on the memory card, which made me check on my camera which hasn't been working.All the cool features didn't work. I remembered that I changed the memory card - guess what when I put the other memory card back in, IT WORKS!! Thanks
    It was a new camera less that 6 months old, hadn't thought about the memory card.

  12. I bought my Flip-Pal at Rootstech, so I'm one of the lucky few UK owners - it's not available there yet. I've used it to scan a photograph that is set in glass (not behind glass, IN glass) which can't be photographed without getting reflections, and is too big to put on a flat-bed scanner. The result was excellent. I also scan a lot of illustrations from old books, and if they are not too close to the binding it's easier to use the Flip-Pal than a flat-bed, and kinder to the spine of the book, too.

    A mains connector would be nice, but I use re-chargeable batteries so I don't have to spend a fortune on replacements. Definitely one of my favourite tech toys.

  13. I remember reading this blog post a while ago, and read it a second time this past weekend to refresh my memory about your thoughts on it. I wanted to buy a Flip Pal a while back, and finally bought one a few weeks ago because I was meeting some distant relatives who were bringing photos. I am so happy I bought it! I have done a lot of research on two of my maternal great-great grandparents, and always wished I could find photos of them. My distant relatives brought a number of photos for me to look at, including numerous photos of these particular ancestors, which I was able to quickly scan on my Flip-Pal. Best purchase I've made in a long time!