Monday, July 4, 2011

Yet another project: Fiction This Time!

I just started the process of scanning in a story that appeared in Analog in 2000.

My co-author, Earnest Hogan, and I have decided to take the story, titled Obsidian Harvest, and turn it into a separate item for the Kindle store. Unfortunately, I don't have an electronic copy of the story since that was about two computers back. (Note to self: Rewritable DVDs are your friends). So while Ernie does some illustrations in his unique pseudo-glyphic, pseudo-tagger style, I've got to get a copy of the story in machine readable form so we can work with it in preparation for uploading to Kindle.

Fortunately I have worked on this some, although not on this story. Scanning in a magazine story isn't as easy as it should be. One unexpected problem was that the scanner left hard carriage returns at the end of each line. After three or four days of futzing with it, I finally found the secret: A multi-step process that involves the (simple) use of regular expressions. To say it is counter-intuitive as hell is putting it nicely -- a lot nicer than my comments while I was fighting the process.

To add to the fun, the OpenOffice documentation is completely silent on how to do this. LibreOffice, the recent fork of the OpenOffice project, does it exactly the same unobvious way. However LibreOffice's documentation includes an appendix on how to do the trick. Have I mentioned I really like LibreOffice?

Then, of course, I'm expecting the usual hassles in scanning, from paper jams to pages out of order, misread and all kinds of little weirdnesses. But that's okay. It beats retyping the whole thing.

Which reminds me of all the people who will airily tell you that it's no problem to get something in to machine format. All you've got to do is scan it in. Riiiggghhhtt! says I in my best Bill Cosby voice. All I can say is the people who talk like this have either never tried it or they had the devil's own luck.

In my experience scanning is like voice recognition. Which is to say it's a nifty technology and it's getting better and better, but it really isn't here yet for home office use.

Ah, well, I'll keep you up to date on how it works out.


1 comment:

Jkirk3279 said...

Well, if you have a good text editor you set it to "show invisibles".

That lets you see the hard returns at the end of each line.

Copy the symbol for the hard return, and do a search and replace with a blank space, for example.

That strips out all the hard returns so you can reformat the text any way you like.