Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Four down, four to go

I have been scanning like a madwoman the past couple days, in a hopefully-not-futile attempt to get all of the novels for this Spring's English classes converted to e-text and mp3 before classes resume. I am, clearly, reaping the rewards for having had the audacity to take some of my vacation time as an actual, you know, vacation.

In slicing and scanning these books (side note: I am considering starting a business called the Slice 'n' Scan), I have learned several things:

a) Mass market paperbacks SUCK. Slicing out the pages without thoroughly mangling them takes more concentration than I would like to give to such a task. Also, they have less of a white-space border around the text, so as you inevitably get farther away from cutting right against the spine of the book as you get deeper into the book, there is way less room for error. Also, when you put tape over the inevitable errors, it obscures the text beneath it, meaning text editing, which is a pain.

b) There are two settings for scanning--single-sided, and double-sided. Generally I leave the program set to double-sided, as that's most of what I scan. However, I haven't figured out how to make that the default, which means when I have to re-start the program after an error, or have selected single-sided to rescan a page, I have to remember to turn double-sided scanning back on. Who wants to guess how many times I only copied one side of the pages from an entire chapter before realizing I had failed to do so? Who wants to guess how many times I did that twice in a row?

This process makes my brain get a little. . . squishy.

c) It would be so much less mind-numbing if I could somehow do something else, at least while the pages were scanning, but this task requires *just enough* attention that you can't do something else at the same time. Not that that stops me from trying. I have managed to get the number of unread items in my reader down to 70 (from 532), though I did make use of the "Mark All As Read" button more than once, and neither task really gets my full attention, leading to the types of errors mentioned above.

d) The optical character recognition program is really, really good, but far, far from perfect. It's hard to explain, even if I did have a visual, but I'll try. The text you see on the screen from the page you scan is not necessarily the same as the text the program "sees" and reads. Sometimes I can tell, while editing, what underlying text needs to be corrected. Oftentimes I have no idea until I save a copy as a text file, and see a random string of symbols. And I'll admit that I don't always go back and correct these errors because there is just so much I can do. In reality, I should be doing a LOT more text editing (and I won't get into the details of the types of errors I see and routinely force myself to ignore), but I have to make a decision between having good quality copies of all the books or excellent quality copies of a few of the books. I hate having to make that compromise, but I think I've made the right one.

Also, I can only correct one word at a time. I have no words for how aggravating that is.


  1. Is it possible to rip the cover off for better slicing?


  2. I do rip it off. It's something about the glue they use for binding. It's a pain in the ass all around.

    Also, drop caps are going to be the death of me.