DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

November 14, 2017

Convert a Picture to Text

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 5:40 am

There have been times in my computer career when I have had a real need.  I do not know about you but I bet you may have had this need too.  That is, you have a screenshot or a photo of something with a lot of text printed on it and you would like to retype that information.

It could be a contract you want to edit, a copy of a letter or anything else with text that you would like to edit and/or reproduce.  It happens often in offices. Occasionally someone will send you a PDF file (Portable Document Format) that you cannot make corrections or changes to, then what?

Well, I have a couple of ways you may be able to fix this situation.  There is a term called “OCR,” meaning “Optical Character Recognition.”  OCR is a widely used method of converting printed documentation into text.  Once OCR’d, documents may be stored as a text file, edited, searched or displayed online.

There are many ways to use OCR to convert a printed file to a text file.  I will mention three which I have heard a lot about (in alphabetical order).  Be warned: once converted to a text file there will be errors.  You must proofread them in detail to make sure you have the correct wording.

First up is Google Docs.  You can save a graphic file with text on it to your Google Drive, right click it and choose to “Open with Google Docs.”  It will convert it to a Doc file that you can type in and edit away.

Next, the one I use most often for all of its features is Microsoft’s OneNote application.  With OneNote you use “Insert” then “Pictures” to insert the graphic file.  Next, right click the graphic and choose “Copy text from picture.”  Somewhere near the picture you will have a text box open up ready for editing.

Finally, one of the many online/cloud versions available is “Online OCR” onlineocr.net.  Click the Select file button, find your photo on your computer, upload it, check the language that it is in, choose the format you want (either .docx, .xlsx or .txt) then Convert.  In a few seconds you can download the finished product.

Now my opinion of the three/four.  The one I had the most problems with was unfortunately Google Docs since I am a Google fan boy.  As I did with all four, I ran several different files and got varying times to finish from seconds to minutes.  All of them gave what I would call poor accuracy.  Many errors in the “translation” from graphic to text. Keep was extremely slow in comparison.

OneNote was good on the time and accuracy; however, it is not available in the online version.  It only works on the paid or free desktop versions of OneNote.  Still I liked the results.

Online OCR did as good  a job as OneNote.  It was quick and just as accurate (remember none are perfect).  However, I would not upload sensitive information to be converted by an unknown online service.

Pledge of Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance converted by Online OCR

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of
Ameri  and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

There are more options but these three were the ones I decided to test from all I had heard and experienced.  Have you tried any?

March 3, 2015

Google Tricks, Part 3

Google Logo

For the last couple of weeks I have told you about some interesting Google tricks you can do, some helpful, others fun.  Your interest in emails has shown me that you would like a couple more of their tricks, so here we go.  Remember always start on the main Google.com page for these to work.  Most will anyway but they will definitely work from the main page.

Pretend that you are researching some item on Google, say bananas.  You search using Google.com as usual with, "banana farms" and find many links with information.  Many of the sites reference, "Chiquita" but you do not want any more information on that company.  To weed out that company type, "banana farms -Chiquita".  The results will have removed, "Chiquita" from most all of the searches.  The use of a minus sign filters your searches by removing the following word.

You may want to get information is a particular format, say a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show which contains the phrase you are looking for.  Search Google this way.  Type, " ‘space the final frontier’ filetype:ppt" in the search box.  Two things to remember.  First thing is that you need to put regular quotes around the phrase you are searching and no space between the colon and the file type after it.  You could also search for graphics using, "jpg" extension; however, it is better to use the Google image search for that.  Other extensions you may search for are Word files (doc and docx), Excel (xls and xlsx), Portable Document Format (pdf), PowerPoint as stated previously (ppt), Text (txt), Open Document Format (odf) and many more from various programs.  

What can you do if you remember reading an article on a site in the past and need to "refind" that article?  Google allows you to search a site for keywords.  For instance you remember an app I wrote about called "Ninite" and want to find it.  You could go directly to my site and search for it or you could go to Google.  In Google type, "ninite site: www.doubleclicks.info" search and you will find several times I have mentioned it online.  Capitalization does not matter; however, spacing is very important.  You must have a space between the term you are searching for and after the colon or you search may fail. 

Two last items are more of a set up and not a trick.  First, if you like the "I’m Feeling Lucky" link in Google and now it is gone most likely you have somehow turned on "Instant predictions."  To go back to the "old" way go to Google.com page, look in the lower right corner and click, "Settings," "Search settings." Finally under "Google Instant predictions" click the "Never show instant results" button.  While there you can also try, "Advanced search."

Try searching with your voice if you have not before.  From Google.com click the gray microphone to the right of the search box.  You will see when it is ready, then just talk away.  This will only work if you have a mic on your computer and it is on/working.

February 16, 2015

2015-02-16 Show Notes

Here are the Monday morning links and podcast if you missed it live.

Have a great day and see you next time.

Tech News
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for all 7 and 8.1 users
Engadget.com

Wondering how much Windows 10 will set you back? In most cases, nothing. Microsoft has announced that the new operating system will be a free upgrade in the first year for everyone using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1. The company sees Windows as a service rather than a product, Terry Myerson explains. Yes, Microsoft is partly following in Apple’s footsteps (OS X upgrades have been free since Maverick), but it’s hard to complain about getting a big update for free.


This sounds too good to be true and I’ve read where this is only for OEM (short for original equipment manufacturer, which is a misleading term for a company that has a special relationship with computer producers. OEMs are manufacturers who resell another company’s product under their own name and branding.) or for everyone.  Only time will tell for sure.
 
Worst passwords of 2014… …are just as awful as you can imagine

Please sit down. We need to have a talk. It seems some important points about computer safety and security have completely gone over the heads of a certain portion of the population. If you’re one of those people whose passwords look like "9$RxkU#55zx!%winning1," you can go ahead and leave. If your password looks like "1234567890" or "qwerty," it’s time to repent and change your ways.

    Here are the top 10 worst:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. qwerty
  6. 1234567890
  7. 1234
  8. baseball
  9. dragon
  10. football

 
Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
WPS Office
VIEW ANY FILE TYPE
WPS Office can open almost any document including PDF, TXT and Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This means when you use WPS Office to open a document from email or your favorite cloud service, you can be sure it will look exactly the way it would on your PC.

CREATE AMAZING DOCUMENTS
WPS Office comes loaded with features similar to what you’d find on a PC office solution. This includes advanced text and paragraph formatting options as well as the ability to add and edit images, shapes, tables and charts directly into your presentation or document.

EASY FILE SHARING
With WPS Office you can share your files through email, Evernote and more. You can also share presentations with others over WIFI or directly to other DLNA compatible devices.

CONNECT TO YOUR CLOUD
Using WPS Office you can access and edit documents from your favorite cloud drive. When you are done editing, WPS Office will automatically save them back online.


Quad Core Android PC in a Keyboard Computer in a Keyboard
An entire Android computer in a keyboard?!

Hook up your monitor and a mouse, if needed, and you have a computer. $299 is a bit high but if you think you need one, wait a few months.


See you next month, listen online on WSVA, March 16, Monday from 9-10 am.  If you miss the live broadcast come back here and listen a little later in the day…or next depending on my workload.

Ron

April 29, 2014

Online Docs May Be the Answer

Last week we looked at the confusion regarding the many choices with Microsoft Office.  I said I would have another solution for Lindsey and you this week.   

imageHere are two more good options.  Office Live or OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) depending on where you read about it or Google Drive (drive.google.com or just get there from any Google product you are logged into.)  Either of these are very good online solutions.  There are many ways to get Office Live.  I suggest using Live.com.  There you can sign up for a free Outlook.com email account which gives you access to everything you need.  You can also sign up with Yahoo! or Gmail accounts; although I have not experimented with those.  If you already signed in to other MS devices like a Windows PC, tablet, phone, Xbox Live, Outlook.com, or OneDrive, use that account to sign in.  Once there you can view and use your email, address book, calendar, online drive Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. To get to these click the labeled down arrow in the upper-left corner of the window.  Any of the files created can be stored in OneDrive so that you can retrieve them from any online computer.  They are all saved in the default MS Office formats so you can easily share them via email, etc.

imageVery similar products are available with a Google/Gmail account.  Setup a free account or you can use one you already have. Once logged in click the "Apps" button in the upper-right corner that looks like a small tic-tac-toe pattern, and then select "Drive."  You have a create button on this screen where you may choose from Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form and several others depending on what you normally use with Google.  The files you create here are saved on your Google Drive for later retrieval just as in Live.com.

Even though I am a Google fan boy, Google is not quite friendly to Microsoft Office file types.  That being said they work with MS products; they just take an extra step or two.  There are several ways to do this but they all require you to download the file to your local computer.  I suggest finding your file in the file list, right click on it and choose download.  You will be presented with a choice of what file type you want to use, so choose "Microsoft Word. (.docx) You will then have it in your downloaded files to share as a standard Word doc.

Another note regarding Google docs.  When right clicked you may also choose to "Share" the file.  If you choose email as an attachment you once again can choose the file format and MS Word is one of the choices.

Now the final note.  OneNote is a terrific app available only with the Microsoft suite.  If you are interested let me know via email and I will share that with you in the future.

There are many other options and features in both Microsoft and Google online offerings.  Lindsey chose to try both and make a final decision later.  How about you?

April 22, 2014

2013 or 365 That is the Question

As time goes by I realize that many companies, unfortunately Microsoft included, strive to keep the customer confused.  I received a question last week from Lindsey saying she had just gotten a new computer and wanted to know which MS Office to get.  She had Office 97 on her previous computer and yes, Windows XP.  Now she has Windows 8.1 and no Office Suite yet.

She wanted to make sure the old documents would still work with the rest of the world.  She does some occasional consulting work and needs to make sure her work is MS Office compatible.  First off, congratulations to her for switching to a new computer with 8.1.  Secondly, congrats on wanting to upgrade the office suite.

My first suggestion was Libre Office (libreoffice.org) since that is free and fully compatible with all MS Office modules.  Libre Office is quite compatible with Office 97 as far as the mechanics of how it works.  However, she, as many, is more comfortable spending the money and staying in the Microsoft world.image Now comes the confusion.  As she read online she found out there are basically three versions of MS Office now available in the world.  All of which will present her with a learning curve since her old version and the new ones are not similar.  I am going to be very general from here on out since I do not want to write about the versioning for the next year.  Visit office.microsoft.com for all the details.

image First there is the standard of the line, MS Office 2013 which is installed locally on a computer.  This is essentially the original Office that has evolved over the e-years.  There are also a couple of versions there from around $140 to $450.  The price depends on what you get with it.  The base model for Students has Word, Excel PowerPoint and OneNote.  The high end one, 2013 Professional Plus is mainly for larger businesses.  It has all of the above plus Outlook, Publisher, Access, Infopath, Lync and Office Web Apps.  Most of these the normal home and office user will never need.  These are onetime prices and included upgrades within the 2013 version.  Then you need to buy the next version if you want to stay on top.  You will be licensed to install 2013 on one computer.

image Next is MS Office 365, a cloud version.  Wow!  Let more confusion roll.  Two versions are available, Personal and Home.  These both have monthly fees (yes, you can also pay annually).  Personal is currently $6.99/month and can be used on one PC or Mac, plus one iPad or Windows tablet.  Home is $9.99/month and can be run on up to five PCs or Macs plus five iPads or Windows tablets.  They both include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher, 20 GB of OneDrive storage (formerly SkyDrive) and 60 minutes per month of Skype calls.  There are a few other items that are not that significant.  The Home version is basically for your home if you have multiple computers or a small office.

Stay tuned for next week when I come up with a better answer…the one Lindsey decided on…which includes none of the above.

January 28, 2014

Chromebook

Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

December 24, 2013

Office – Which Office?

I received a great question today from one of my regular readers and writers, so thanks Ivan for turning me around.  I was going to have an entirely different theme today but it will have to wait.

Ivan asked, "What choices do I have beside Microsoft Office to install on my computer?" 

I thought that I would send him to one of my previous articles and then I realized I had mentioned this before but never specifically addressed it.  So, the answer is, "Yes, there are two freebies which are excellent replacements for MS Office. I have tested both and I do have a preference.

image First, off let me state that Microsoft Office is the "King of the World" when it comes to office suites being used by people all over the world.  However, I will also state that OpenOffice and LibreOffice are excellent and mimic most of the functionality of the "King."  Please, note that they both merge the two names. That is not my typo. 

There are people who swear by both of them and both are excellent.  However, my personal opinion is that LibreOffice is slightly better.  The main reason is the same people were originally working on this application and it was only known as "OpenOffice."  Apparently there was a developer/designer conflict.  Some of the folks wanted to move in a slightly new direction and others wanted to remain on course.  A "spilt" resulted with the new group forming LibreOffice.

I believe LibreOffice is slightly better mainly because they provide updates to the entire office suite as well as individual features a little more often than OpenOffice. 

image imageLet me share more good news.  Either OO or LO have suite members which do most of the same things found in MSO.  You can create and edit text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and more.  Another very nice feature is the ability to open and save in the Microsoft formats.  That way if you use one of these two to create a file (or edit one you received from a MS Office user) it can be saved in the MSO format.  You can even set the default document types the same as MS types.      

If you want to take them for a spin, do as I did and install both.  Try them out and decide for yourself if one is better than the other.

Be warned that when you download either they are very large files.  This means that it could take quite a while to download them depending on your internet speed.  There are also many online tutorials for them so you will not be at a loss as to how to do tasks with either.  

April 9, 2013

Office 2013-Excel, Part 1

Before we start on Excel 2013 today, please accept my apology.  Last week when describing "collapsing headings" in Word 2013 I stated, "…when you hover over that created section a small triangle appears to the right of the text."  That should actually be the "to the left of the text." Thanks to the users who caught me and wrote in.

This column will be more for those who have previous experience in Excel, since it is a more unique program that Word or Internet Explorer but anyone may read on and learn.

In my opinion the first and best addition to Excel is the new "Flash Fill" feature.  In the olden days if you had a column with first, middle and last names all together in one cell and you needed to separate the individual names out you had to use the "Text to Column" command in the Data tab.  You can do this much easier with Excel’s new predictive ability to recognize patterns.

Name combinationsNext to the column with the complete names in it, insert a blank column.  Now type in the name you want to "pull" out, say the last name.  I would type "Doyle" next to the cell containing "Ron Doyle."  Then, click the Home tab, "Fill" and from the dropdown box click "Fill Flash."  The last names of everyone else in the list will be entered into that that column immediately.  If you want to do the same thing to the first names, go to the next empty column and type the first name of one person and follow the same procedure.  Bang!  They are now all entered.  Now for an old-timer in Excel like me (this is my favorite MS Application if I have not mentioned that before) you can even turn that scenario around.

Flash FillSay that the first, middle and last names are entered into separate cells and you need to combine them.  If you are familiar with "Concatenation" you know the old way but now you do it just as above.  Type in one person’s complete name in a cell, run the "Fill Flash" feature again and all of the names are joined together in the column.  I think this is a remarkable new feature.

 

 

Choose from multiple Pivot TablesNow let’s talk about the most amazing addition to Excel 2013.  If you are a Pivot Table user you know that you basically have to "play" with them and keep experimenting in order to get the information you actually need from them.  Now with the new pivot tables you can start out way ahead of the curve on creating new pivot table data.  As before, you click in a cell of the data you want to use, go to the Insert tab but now click, "Recommended Pivot Tables."  A list of a few to many sample pivot tables will present themselves. This is dependent on how much raw data is available.  Now double click on the one you like and it is immediately created.  If you need to adjust it at all do that the same way you used to.  Pivot tables are one of the only things I did not like before in Excel since they were so convoluted.  But now they are a snap.

That ends if for Excel 2013 today.  I hope to see you back here next week!

November 22, 2011

Thrive, Even in the Cold

This should be the final time I write about my Toshiba Thrive.  Here are the 1st and 2nd articles.  (Well, OK most likely the last one.) But two more questions about it need to be answered. These were the most common questions I received about it from my readers.

First, it has Android Honeycomb as its operating system and it has been upgraded once since I got it six to eight weeks ago. Next, I run Nook software on it and it also has Kindle and other book reader apps for it. PDFs can also be read on it. If you do not know what a PDF is, do not worry, just skip that last part.

imageFinally about the Thrive; yes, you can work with Microsoft Word documents on the tablet. However, you will need to purchase an application to do it. I bought one called “OfficeSuite Pro 5” (market.android.com) from the Android Market, for a whopping $4.99. Yes, the prices for the applications range from free to (I believe the highest I have seen was $19.99.) They are reasonably priced to say the least. With OfficeSuite you can create, edit and save (online or on your tablet) Word, Excel and PowerPoint files along with other neat features.

OK, I think I am done. Be advised; I left a lot out but you will have to read more, email me or buy your own tablet PC and let me know what you think. I always like to hear from you folks.

Here is something you may want to consider purchasing for your tablet, smart phone, iPad or any touch screen using friends for Christmas this year.

Picture this, it is winter time, cold, snowing, icy rain, whatever the case may be ands you have on your nice warm mittens. Then your phone rings, you pick up your phone and see it is someone you really need to talk to. By the time you take off your gloves they have hung up. You then call them back, while your fingers are getting numb. Is there a better solution? You betcha!

imageLook for some touch screen gloves. I have had a pair for a couple of years and they are great. I am not talking about gloves with the finger tips cut off so you can use your touch screen device. These are gloves which actually have a special material built into the finger tips which reacts to your devices just like you were using your bare finger.

Some of them have finger tips that fold up out of the way, but I like the ones mentioned above much better. The special material finger tips work very well without having to do anything that takes more time.

You can find them online anywhere from $15 to over $100. My comment on that is the old, “Let the buyer beware.” My wife found two pairs this week in a local store for less than $5 for both!

August 2, 2011

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