Arkkeo Blog

Month: July 2013

Think you’ve got a lot of paper piling up in your home or office?

The typical stack of paper

Well, here are some mind blowing facts & figures to put all that paper into perspective.

North Americans consume more paper per capita than anyone else on the planet, upwards of 500 lbs (227 kg) per person annually. That’s equivalent to the weight of your average refrigerator, washing machine and clothes dryer combined. A 12-ft wall could be built from Los Angeles to New York City with paper thrown away annually by Americans alone.

Though paper recovery rates in the US have increased in recent years, paper still represents one of the biggest components of solid waste in landfills – 26 million tons (or 16% of landfill solid waste) in 2009. When paper decomposes in a landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Since Arkkeo’s HQ is in Helsinki, we looked at Finland’s paper consumption and found that Finland also ranks among the top countries. Every Finn consumes approximately 463 lbs (210 kg) of paper annually. Note that Western Europe as a whole averages 394 lbs (179kg) per capita.

If the paper consumption by Finns is converted to standard A4 paper (weight: 0,005 kg, length: 0,297 m), 5 million Finns’ yearly paper consumption would be approximately 6.237.000 km of A4 copy paper. If those papers would be put into a line, it would travel 156 times around the world.

Makes you think doesn’t it. In today’s digital age shouldn’t we all be receiving and consuming far less paper – reducing both the pile up in our homes and the impact on the environment?

Why document organization with categories and tags is simply better

For years, we’ve been organizing all of our stuff by putting it into folders – alphabetically, topically, or chronologically-sorted folders.  It’s been our method for organizing all of our paperwork and then by default it became the method for organizing all of our digital data.

But is the traditional system of folders organized in a hierarchical structure really the best way to manage and ultimately to find information in today’s digital age?

When we were creating Arkkeo we evaluated all the practices out there for organizing, managing and searching massive amounts of information and what we found is that the traditional folder system is far from optimal.

Folders clearly have their limitations. For example, we all have documents that belong to several areas of life but when we file documents into traditional folders we are forced to place each document into a folder that represents only one area of life… or we have to start making duplicate copies to place in other folders. Automobile insurance is a good example. Logic might say that the auto insurance papers would be filed under ‘insurance’ but perhaps you also want to keep them in a file where all your other car documents are kept, then you have to make duplicates. And what if you have multiple cars under the same policy? Well you can see the hassle. As soon you start duplicating items you create extra work, along with the possible confusion of trying to keep multiple copies of the same document, and you use unnecessary disk space by having these extra copies.   Furthermore, finding a document can be quite a time consuming task if you don’t remember the precise folder where you placed the document originally and what the name of the document is. Most of us have felt the pain more than once when thinking a document was placed in one location only to search and search and never find it.

This is where categories and tags come in.

Categories are used to describe your documents in broad terms whereas tags are the little extra labels that describe your document content in a bit more detail. Probably the most widely-known examples of the use of categories and tags are from the blogs we read every day. Or from Facebook’s photo tags — where bits of information accompany a photo and describe what, or who, is in the photo.

By applying categories and tags to documents, you can have a single document (or groups of documents) existing in multiple places simultaneously without making any duplicate copies. So you auto insurance policy could exist under ‘Insurance’ and ‘Auto’ and also could be tagged with VW and Ford if the policy were for these two different vehicles. One document. Multiple locations. No duplication required.

Additionally, when it comes time to finding your documents later you no longer need to remember in which folder you might have put something (which is usually a nightmare) but instead you only need to think of some aspect of the document that you would have used in a tag. When you search on a tag, all the matching documents associated with that tag will be displayed. Documents can be found through multiple thought threads as they do not belong to one single “physical” location, but rather they live in a multi-dimensional database where they can be located in many places simultaneously.

So even if you have a document entitled FINReport_080713.pdf (not very descriptive), you can always find it later based on the tags you have used.

Let’s have a look at how categories and tags work in Arkkeo.

To help get you started, Arkkeo has twelve pre-set categories for you to choose from: Car, Family, Finances, Health, Hobbies, Home, Identity, Insurance, Memories, Purchases, Travel and Work. The pre-set categories represent areas of your life where important documents are frequently accumulated and need to be saved and also used later. Of course you can create your own categories but the pre-set categories give you a good base.

When you put documents into Arkkeo you should think first about the appropriate category (or categories) that a document could live in. For example, a hotel receipt for a holiday to New York City could be placed in Travel (since it’s related to Travel), Purchases (since it’s a purchase receipt) and perhaps you might also categorize it as Memories (if it was a special trip for which you’d like to remember the hotel details). You can categorize a document with as many categories as you see as relevant.

Because tags represent information about information, they are sometimes called “metadata” (data about data). They’re used to give clues to anyone searching for a specific piece of information inside a file, photo, map or whatever.

Tags can generally be arbitrary bits of text, making it possible to provide a virtually limitless number of groups, and you can tag a document with as many different keywords as you desire. We recommend that you get started by adding tags such as:

  • subject = the person and/or subject that the document is about  (eg, vacation)
  • when = the year, the month (ex.  2013, July)
  • where = the place where the document is from (ex. retailer name, healthcare provider name, town name, etc)
  • what = the document type (ex. receipt, contract, report, invoice, warranty, floor plans, drawing, photo,  etc)

So going back to the hotel receipt example, you might tag the receipt document with the following descriptors = Holiday, May, 2013, Receipt, Hotel.

If at some point in time you want to look back at all of your holidays, then you can search by category = Memories. And by tag = holiday. The result would be that Arkkeo would find all the documents that have been labeled in this way – including the receipt for your New York City hotel stay.

Let’s take a different scenario. Let’s say you want to assess all of your spending for May 2013. Again it’s really easy. You can search by the broad category = Purchases and also the more specific tags = receipts, invoices, May, 2013. Arkkeo would then pull up all the relevant information for you. And again the hotel receipt for your New York City holiday would be found.

Attempting to extract the same information from a traditional and hierarchical folder system would be impossible.

Using categories and tags (versus folders) means that it’s easy to search and find documents as they are not locked to a physical location but rather they exist in a multi-dimensional database. It’s possible to quickly sort and organize large or small amounts of information based on what the documents are about. No longer do you have to worry about duplication of files and the hassle and confusion that can bring. The result = easier, faster, better document management.

Bon voyage – tips for hassle free travel

It’s hard to believe that it is already July and if you are like us you’re ready to kick back on a sunny beach somewhere with a tall, cool drink in hand. But before hitting the road (or the air) here are a few pre-travel tips that can help save hassle and headache should unfortunate circumstances hit while you are away from home.

1. Digitally store copies of your important travel documents

Travel itinerary, hotel, car and fight details plus receipts

  • Most of us receive these documents by email and then print them out and bring them with us. However, paper copies can easily get lost or damaged so it’s also advised to keep an extra digital copy in a safe spot such as your Arkkeo account where they can be easily accessed by you in the case of an emergency.
  • Additionally, if you book with Travelocity, Priceline, any of the Hilton family of brands, and/or Klaus K Hotel and VR in Finland, you can get your travel documents automatically to your Arkkeo account, saving the extra step of storing them yourself.  Simply go to the Company section in your Arkkeo account; find the companies you will use for your travels; SafeConnect; and then the documents will be deposited into your account.

Passport

  • If you are lucky enough to be traveling out of the country this summer then be sure to have a good clean, legible copy your passport saved in Arkkeo. And if you’ve got any family members traveling with you then be sure to save theirs as well.
  • If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance where your passport is lost or stolen then both the process of filing a report with the police, and getting a replacement at your country’s consulate, will be easier and faster if you have record of your original document. Another piece of advice is to have a copy of your husband’s/wife’s passport and other personal information on file in Arkkeo such as their social security card + birthplace and year – even if they are not traveling with you. If you need to get a new passport for a child under 16 then you will need to supply information for both yourself and the child’s other parent.

Record of your travel insurance

  • Travel insurance is one of those ‘must haves’ when heading off on holiday, especially when going abroad. So you should make sure to have of your travel insurance card (or copy of it) with you and take a minute to get a back up copy (front and back) into Arkkeo in the case of emergency. Your insurance company, policy number, and emergency contact information can all be found on this card.

Driver’s license and other identification

  • It’s also good to have additional forms of identification archived such as a clean photo or scan of your driver’s license, your birth certificate and your social security card so that you have access to the information in these documents should it be needed.

2.  Store a copy of your credit cards and any loyalty cards you might use while traveling (front and back)

Have a look at the contents of your wallet. Remove any unnecessary cards. Take a photo of the front and back of the credit cards and loyalty cards that will be coming with you and upload them to your Arkkeo account. If your wallet gets lost or stolen, you will need all the information on the cards including the customer service phone numbers that are typically in small print on the back.

3.  Make sure your devices have been backed up and you’ve got a list of your most used contacts in a safe place

It’s always a good practice back up your mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc) regularly in order to protect all your data but this is especially important before you travel. Nothing can derail the perfect holiday faster than a lost or damaged device but if you’ve got your data backed up and a digital copy of your phone contact list is accessible to you then you’ve saved yourself huge hassle. If your devices auto sync and backup, it’s good to double check that this is turned on. If you are not sure then check with your device manufacturer well in advance of your travels.

4.  Share with your spouse and one person that is not traveling

You definitely want to make sure that you’ve got important information related to your travels shared with at least one person who is not traveling with you.  This includes your itinerary plus your important personal information as listed in 1-3 above.  Arkkeo makes it easy to safely and privately share this information with a friend or family member.  Just make sure you’ve placed all the documentation into your Arkkeo account; click on the items you want to share; and then click ‘share’ in the menu bar and enter the email address of the person you’d like to share with.  A SafeConnection will be created with this person and you can share documents with maximum security from your account.

Well, we hope that you’ve found the tips useful and we wish you happy travels this summer. Bon voyage from the Arkkeo Team.

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