Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cool OCR software


I'm trying out new tools all the time. Many times this action is triggered by the need of doing something new, better and faster.

Some days ago I needed to get the text of some book pages typed in at the computer. Old fashion was is likely faster but not very exciting (it was not much more than a thousand words). However I do like challenges. First stop was to use my old Acer S2W 3300U Scanner. It is working nicely with Ubuntu (well, it was last time I used with Feisty, but now with Gutsy it was not working). The trouble with this in Linux scanner is that, although it works nicely, it uses proprietary firmware that cannot be included in Linux distributions. That means every time you update your Linux distribution you need to copy the new firmware (and to add the proper line to /etc/sane.d/snapscan.conf file).

Once the first problem was fixed I tried to OCR the scanned page: It did not work. I needed to install gocr (that unfortunately was not installed by default). Not a big problem. A few minutes later I could easily get my page OCRed. The result was not pretty though.

Not sure if gocr is a great OCR but I've reckoned there was an OCR software that came with the scanner already installed in Windows. So I boot up Windows XP just to discover the software complained about a missing Fine Reader 4.0. Just googling for that led me to Abby.com newer version of the software Fine Reader 9.0.

Many people seemed happy with this program and a trial version was available so I decided to give it a go. Although I was asked for my email and other data my inbox was not showing any new email with a link to download the software. I thought it might be because I was using a Mailinator address.

After using a Yahoo! Mail account the result was the same: I could not download the software from the manufacturer. Should I need to do something evil to try it out? I stopped for lunch and when I was back the download link was on my Inbox.

I've downloaded Fine Reader 9.0, installed it and I was amazed how well it worked. There were some gagging due to the fact that it was trial version (only first page of a set was exported to Word and a time and page limit was applicable too).

Although I later remove the software from my computer as I do not do OCR very often. If you do I think this program is well worth the price.

Having finished my scanning work I discovered the full text was actually available online (it was a 200 year old text).

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