Filling out paper forms with your tablet

forms - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Granted I live more of a digital life than most, but in this apartment you’re going to need more than just luck to find a pen and an envelope. That’s why I sigh heavily and roll my eyes whenever I get paper forms in the mail. They might as well send me a floppy disk or a VHS tape, and it’s driving me nuts when these are forms I need to fill out and return. With a tablet though, there are alternative ways…

This time it wasn’t a paper form, but rather one they wanted me to print. They gave me a PDF file with a form that needed to be filled out by hand and returned via mail. The reason why I couldn’t just email it was that it requires a signature, for whatever dumb-ass reasons these bureaucrats have. It wasn’t a form I absolutely needed to return as it was a registration form for a charity, so I didn’t care to spend much time on it. I opened the PDF file in Notify (more on this app in a few days), filled it in with a stylus and exported the thing back into PDF and sent it to their email address.

I have no idea if they can accept a signature that way or if they even know what to do with the form in this form, but that’ll be their problem (update: it worked!). I’m frankly tired of all this bureaucracy everywhere so I’m not going to put up with it when I don’t have to. Just a couple of weeks ago I had to get some school documents from my mom’s house in order to apply for a new course this fall, even though it was the exact same papers I sent them last year and the exact same school. When I called them to ask if they couldn’t just move the papers from A to B and say I sent them in again I was told they destroyed them.

The great irony of the story is that I have all those papers on my computer/iPad/iPhone/anywhere but they don’t except scanned documents. Instead you have to make “verified copies” which are basically copies taken at an official building that gets stamped. Apparently their logic seems to be that scanned documents can be photoshopped, but there’s no way I can photoshop the scanned document, then duplicate the stamp in photoshop and print the whole thing and send it to them.

Either way, we’ll see how it goes with this document, and if I get it in return I’m just going to tell them I won’t bother. A “competing” charity to the one in question lets you support them every month by sending a text message once, so there’s a limit to how much time I’m willing to spend to give people money. The same goes for other forms I frequently get, so I will be doing this more often. Getting actual paper documents isn’t a problem either using an app like Scanner Pro; scan the document, annotate the PDF file, export as PDF, email. Much simpler than finding a pen, filling out the form and trying to make it readable to other humans, finding an envelope, writing the address, going to the post office, standing in line, and then paying the fuckers to take a couple of days to get the form where it needs to be. Death to paper!

Btw; for anyone who’s counting, that’s yet another use for a tablet ;)

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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