Lunch, computers and OCR

I hopped on the train today and went to visit a friend for the day. We had a delicious lunch and great conversation. The time flew by so fast; too fast. Lynne was also kind enough to go through some of her business set-up with me. It’s all quite daunting when it boils down to reality. She has certainly given me plenty to think about!

Earlier in the day I made it to the post office and had a copy of my passport verified for my GDID enrolment. I got that emailed off. I’m committed to it now! I also put a USB modem in the mail for my mum. She’s been on dial-up. We’re hoping that with a broadband connection she’ll get a lot more use and enjoyment from her computer. My sister is organising a new computer for her when she visits after Christmas. Mum’s computer is about six years old and she’s been getting a lot of blue screens and now it won’t even turn on. Between us we’ll get her organised with a new computer and a faster Internet connection.

While I was still on the train on my way home I got a call from a friend who wanted some help getting the text out of a pdf document. He’s a friend who would do anything if we asked and I was more than happy to help.  I had him email it to me so I could see what needed to be done. It turns out that it was a scanned document so the text was really a picture of text, which is why he couldn’t just copy and paste it. My copy of Acrobat is crashing when I open it and I haven’t had a chance to look at why. I opened the document on Stephen’s computer and ran it through the OCR on his Acrobat. That got me most of the text and it didn’t need too much clean-up; it did miss a page in the middle, though. And Acrobat is a bit clunky to use for simple OCR. I then Googled free OCR programs to see what was out there. I ended up downloading FreeOCR from cnet and ran a page of the document through that. It was a very quick and easy process and I really like the way that FreeOCR has a split window so you can see the original document and the extracted text side-by-side. You can easilyedit the text and export it to Word. Of course there are always problems with OCR. The quality of the extracted text depends on the quality of the original image. But if you’re looking for a free OCR program and you’re on a Windows platform, I don’t think you can go past FreeOCR.

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