By: Walter Metcalf
Note: Subsequent to publication, an alert reader pointed out that Solution Technology
manufactures an OS/2 OCR product called Textflow Batch OCR for OS/2 that is available from
Indelible Blue for US $230. I apologize for this omission.
One of my responsibilities apart from being the OS/2 Guide is maintaining the web site of our church. Most of
the content of the web site consists of sermons, which I receive in printed form from my Pastor.
My equipment consists of a HP6350 scanner, connected by a SCSI cable to my desktop computer running OS/2 Warp 4
with 256MB RAM. I also have a 390E Thinkpad running Windows 98 with 160 MB RAM. (Image processing does
eat up memory!) The main software I use in converting the printed sermons are:
- Embellish 2.0 - operates automatic document feeder, since PMView does not have that feature.
- PMView 2.1x - prepares images for OCR program.
- OmniPage Pro 10 - converts image to text (WordPro format).
- WordPro for OS/2 1.5.1 - misc. functions, incl. spell-checking and OCR error corrections.
- HomePage Publisher 2.1 - I use this tool to build and maintain my virtual (hard disk) copy of the web site.
- EmTec Ftp Client - uploads new/updated pages to the web.
As you can see, the process involves a number of steps. However with the HP6350C scanner which includes an
automatic document feeder (ADF), the process doesn't take very long at long--provided everything goes right.
So where does the cross-platform processing come in? When my initial cheapie scanner finally bit the dust, and
I upgraded to my HP6350C, the free software provided with the scanner no longer worked with the new one, and I
had to look for a new package. After I looked for awhile, I came to the conclusion that decent OCR software
for OS/2 was hard to find. In fact I found that high-quality OS/2 OCR software was non-existent. This
forced me to do the unthinkable--purchase the Windows upgrade from the free OCR software and do the OCR task on
my Thinkpad, which for reasons I won't go into here, always has a Windows 98 partition on it. Thus my first
real world application of the peer network which I had set up and written about was born.
It sounded easy enough to set up, and in fact it was! Before continuing further, if you are not at home with
the main concepts and issues involving OS/2 peer networking, I strongly suggest you peruse my series on
Peer Networking. Pay special
attention to the article, "Connecting a Windows Workstation to the LAN". If your peer setup uses a router, then you should read
my series entitled, "Installing a Hardware Router into Your LAN", again paying special attention to the section on Windows.
Of course, I'll describe the settings important to this application, but everything will mean a lot more if you
have read the articles I mentioned.
Most scanners these days are moving to the Universal Serial Bus (USB), and SCSI scanners are becoming
somewhat more scarce. Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer the SCSI interface. I've used it for
years on different computers, and it has served me well. It gives you a combination of
tried-and-true technology, high-speed, minimal cpu load, and additional slots. I call that
pretty hard to beat. The main drawback is cost. SCSI devices (especially adapters) tend to be
expensive. In any case I didn't have a choice: my Desktop computer had no free IRQ's;
since the USB port requires a minimum of two, that settled that!
However, I digress. For the purposes of this application it makes no difference (except for speed)
how you connect the scanner. Just make sure there is no resource (e.g. IRQ) conflict, and that
you can scan single documents into whatever image program you wish to use. Regardless of the
interface you choose, however, you must be sure that the correct OS/2 support (i.e. drivers) can be
obtained. Another advantage of the SCSI interface for scanners is that OS/2 SCSI drivers are available
for a wide variety of scanners.2 Finally be sure you
have enough RAM, or you will spend a lot of time swapping. I recommend at least 128 MB or more.
Tune in next week when I'll continue the hardware connection and detail some of the software setup.