Monday, June 27, 2011

What is a Magnetic Stripe?

A magnetic stripe (aka mag stripe or magnetic strip) is a small strip of magnetic tape that is adhered to the back of a plastic card (drivers license, credit card, gift card, membership card, etc.) which contains information; typically about the card holder.

A magnetic stripe typically contains three lines or tracks of information such as cardholder name, ID number, address, account number, etc.  The third track is usually reserved for the financial industry.
The information contained on the tracks is read by a magnetic stripe reader and transmitted to a computer system for processing. 

Different types of cards have different data layouts, depending on the usage.  For an example of the data layout on a U.S. drivers license, see the following article:


There are two types of magnetic stripes:  high-coercivity (HiCo) and low-coercivity (LoCo).  Most commonly you will find that LoCo stripes are light brown, and HiCo stripes are very dark brown (almost black).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Records Management Planning and Disaster Recovery Links

Over the years SoftFile has collected some excellent online resources regarding records management planning and disaster recovery:

This site from the National Archives and Records Administration provides links to publications on vital records and disaster recovery:

This site from the Texas State Library and Archives provides links to publications on disaster preparedness and records recovery:

This site from the State of Wisconsin provides general information on developing a county records management program:

This site from Northeastern University provides a practical step-by-step guide to records management planning:

This site from the National Archives and Records Administration provides links for records management policy and guidance:

This site from Lancaster County, Nebraska provides a copy of the County Records Manual:

I think there’s some excellent info here that should be extremely helpful.  Of course, it might take you a year to read all of it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Benefits of Document Imaging

We often have clients ask us to list the benefits of document imaging.  Here is a list of the most compelling benefits of scanning your business documents:

  • Fast, effective search and retrieval of stored information
  • Reduces or eliminates paper storage and management
  • Eliminates lost or misplaced documents
  • Allows for digital workflow of your business processes
  • Allows sharing of digital documents among groups or teams
  • Having duplicate digital copies ensures business continuity in case of disaster
  • Creates a secure digital archive of all information needed for regulatory compliance
If you are considering a document imaging project and are not sure if you can justify the costs, please contact one of our consultants for some free advice: 

Contact a SoftFile document imaging consultant

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Using Raster (Scanned) Images Within a CAD Drawing Environment

Q - How Can a Raster (Scanned Black & White) Image be used Within a CAD Drawing Environment?

A - One of the basic ways in which a raster image (e.g. image of an actual drawing) can be introduced into a CAD package is by importing it in its original graphical format and utilising it as if it were a photo. By doing this the user can plot/print the image with other CAD information on the drawing or actually add other CAD information on top of it. (Check that your CAD software will accept the - importing of a raster/graphic image)

  • Use a graphic package to delete selected areas and then import the image into the CAD package for quick manipulation of a raster image on a drawing. Additional items can be added to the deleted areas (e.g. modifications/extensions to a building).

  • Raster images can be brought back into their correct scale when imported into the CAD package using the software 'scaling' command normally found in the modify menu of commands.

Q - Is There a Quick Way to Convert a Raster Drawing Image Into a Workable CAD File - (Vectorisation)?

A - Yes, to help convert the raster drawing image into a CAD file there are a number of raster to vector conversion packages on the market.

  • A Vector relates to each single drawing entity that makes up a drawing such as a line, arc, circle, etc.
  • The raster to vector programs work by trying to identify where complete entities start and finish. By tracking the thousands of dots that may represent an entity (e.g. a line) on the raster drawing image and placing a single vector over the area tracked.
  • The Vector image is usually converted to a .DXF/.DWG file format that can be read into most CAD software packages.
  • The Vector file produced from the Raster image is then a proper CAD file that can be worked with normally.

Q - What is the Accuracy of the Raster to Vector Conversion?

A - The quality and accuracy first depends on the quality of the original paper image, and the resolution dpi (Dots Per Inch - normally 300 dpi for drawing work).

  • All of the image will be converted. However, the percentage that will be useable can vary dramatically and it is most often the case that some manual CAD work will be required.

  • Most Raster to Vector conversion programs also allow you to manually tidy up the Raster or Vector image with drawing tools for tracing over the image, or adding to it.

Q - Is There a Quick Way to Convert a Raster Text Image into a Workable Text File?

A - Yes, on the market there are a number of OCR (Optical Character Recognition)software packages that will help convert a Raster text image into text by automatically identifying letters/words.

  • Like raster drawing vectorisation the accuracy of conversion depends upon the quality of the original paper image, and usually requires some modification by the user.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Document Conversion Project

By now, we all know that electronically scanned documents are easier to access than paper. We also know that information is often safer when secured electronically. Considering that some document types need to be retained for a very long period of time, document imaging is a good idea. Yet, these facts alone do not drive an organization towards a document conversion project.

Why do organizations finally decide to scan their documents? SoftFile finds that the following reasons are the most common:

  • The organization realizes that there is a solid ROI (Return-On-Investment) in favor of digital versus paper access (mostly in terms of employee labor time searching for documents).

  • They need to free up valuable headquarter floor-space but offsite document storage is not an option.

  • There is some sort of new legal requirement to scan the documents.

  • The organization now has satellite offices making electronic documents hosted securely over the internet more attractive than paper only.

  • There is a public safety issue related to the documents; the information needs to be processed and available to the end-user faster.

  • To increase customer service.

  • Finally and most interestingly, SoftFile finds that sometimes a manager within the organization is just exploring several potential projects to find that document imaging makes the most sense.