by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : September 2006
40 | PANPA BULLETIN September 2006 PRESSING MATTERS Every time I start to demon- strate to an audience how useful the little Hewlett Pack- ard CapShare handheld scan- ner can be for newspaper work, I know it isn't fair and it isn't nice. They are going to want one. And they can't have it. However, the CapShare is a perfect illustration of what Ifra's annual NewsGear® Advanced Journalist Technology Research Project is all about, even if it is also an example of a great technology that got away. I first discovered the CapShare when it was a brand new prod- uct in 1998 during my annual NewsGear search and evaluation foray. The idea behind NewsGear is to put together a kit of the lat- est equipment for use by leading- edge journalists who are working in mobile, digital and multiple media. We often present it as a complete self-contained news- room in a suitcase. We look at hundreds of products each year, pick the most innovative and practical, test everything to make sure it all works together and then test it again to make sure it works in the real world with real jour- nalists. We also make a point to keep the total cost to under USD $10,000. The first NewsGear suit- case was put together at the end of 1997 and I've done a new kit almost every year since. NewsGear's real goal is to get news organisations thinking about how their work is chang- ing and how they have to adapt to those changes, in part with new equipment, but even more so with new approaches and new skills. The scanner is about the size and weight of a paperback book, has no moving parts to break or wear out other than its few but- tons, is so simple to use it doesn't even come with a manual and runs a long time on just two AA batteries. A person grasps the de- vice easily in one hand, just natu- rally pressing the big scan button on its back and sweeps it back and forth across a document. The CapShare's optics and electronics automatically stitch together a perfectly aligned black-and-white 300-dpi PDF copy of the docu- ment. The CapShare can hold up to 50 scanned pages at a time and can transfer them to a computer, smart phone or printer via high- speed infrared. The resolution is more than adequate for optical character recognition. But more significantly, the PDF that was so quickly, easily and portably cap- tured is now immediately ready for sharing on a website. That last point is what makes the CapShare an absolutely ideal tool for modern journalists on the go who need to collect mate- rial to post online in support of their stories. Our readers want to participate in the story now. They want to be able to see the proof for themselves. They want a web- site backing up what they read in print. And on that website they want copies. They want files. They want downloads. Editors and reporters immedi- ately recognise the ease and value of a CapShare in satisfying these wants, as do researchers, librar- ians, IT managers, new media types, photographers, infographic specialists, publishers and adver- tising execs. Hewlett Packard dropped the entire product line after only 10 months on the market. Plans for colour CapShares, smaller CapShares and CapShares with other wireless connection op- tions, besides infrared, never made it to mass production. Mark Smith, an American engi- neer who was HP's lead hardware architect on the CapShare and who now teaches product devel- opment at the KTH-Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, told me he thinks HP's marketing group just didn't know how to sell the CapShare. "I don't think they really under- stood that they were looking at a new device with a whole new solution space and new custom- ers," Smith said. "CapShare had a very different user base than traditional flatbed scanners and mobility was an area that HP didn't understand well. So the conclusion arrived at was that there was no market." As part of the NewsGear initia- tive, Ifra tries to connect with the manufacturers of equipment we select to help them see the poten- tial market that newspaper com- panies represent. Some manufac- turers respond with special sales or support offerings targeted spe- cifically at the media industry. But for others, publishing -- even on the international scale where Ifra operates -- is just too niche a mar- ket to merit much attention. The original HP CapShare 910 Information Appliance was included in the 1999 edition of NewsGear. An updated and re- named CapShare 920 Portable e-Copier was made part of NewsGear 2000. Ifra and its members learn a lot from our NewsGear efforts even when one of our gear selections does not work out. In this case, we validated the need for mobile multimedia journalists to be able to digitally collect documents and files at a news scene, in high qual- ity and standard formats, without having to borrow them or bring them back to the newsroom for processing. We found that report- ers will accept this as part of their newsgathering responsibilities as long as they have convenient and reliable tools to do it. We gained experience with editorial work- flows and organisation to manage the materials this process deliv- ers, to make the most of them both online and in house. And we certainly learned a lot about all the technologies involved. The NewsGear suite is currently missing CapShare-like function- ality but we keep working to replace it. We have tried other portable scanners over the years with limited success. Now it seems possible that camera- equipped mobile phones will evolve to fill this purpose. The latest models with multi-meg- apixel resolution and macro focus options can already capture a small document in sufficient detail. Some manufacturers are also building scanners and even optical character recognition into their handsets. In the meantime, I take good care of the two CapShares that Ifra owns, one of which I continue to use personally for work and demonstrations. It still connects just fine via standard IR with my NewsGear 2006 ThinkPad X41T running the very latest Windows XP Pro Tablet PC Edition oper- ating system, and even with an as-yet-to-be-announced multi- media smart phone that will be part of NewsGear 2007. That is a testament to a well-executed technology. Kerry J. Northrup is director of Ifra Publications including Ifra s newspaper techniques international magazine of Innovation isn t always enough Even good ideas sometimes don t make it to market writes Ifra s Kerry Northrup "As part of the NewsGear initiative, Ifra tries to connect with the manufacturers of equipment we select to help them see the potential market that newspaper companies represent. "
November December 2006