Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20060731


Good morning, another week has flitted by and I’ll bet that like me you didn’t even notice it whooshing past (it’s the same sound as deadlines make as they go past). This week I am going to start with the game BUT there is a reason for this. PRETENTIA.COM (the company who pay for the bandwidth for this stuff) have an almost mystical link with sheep (but only if they are in Ireland or Scotland).
Any way here is this weeks Flash game. It’s a hoot.

This site has just the one of the best names Extreme Instability and when you see the pictures Mike Hollingshead takes of the weather you will agree. Mike is a chaser, you know the whackoes who cruise around “Tornado Alley” in the stats looking for weather. Big Baddda Boom weather. I should point out that I love Twister – the movie not the game. ( ) Check out the Aurora shots , truly beautiful.


SimpleOCR Freeware

Ever been here?

You borrow a scanner and remember to grab the driver disk (clever you) and head for the library for an afternoon of plagiarism research.

So there you are sitting in a library with your laptop and it’s time to rock and roll and about now you discover that there is no character recognition software on the driver disk. Bugger.

Not to worry, over at SimpleOCR you can download a freeware character recognition program.

Here’s some of the hype…

Accuracy With optical character recognition up to 99% accurate, there is no better OCR application for the price. This increased accuracy greatly reduces the need for post-recognition proof reading and correction. And after all, isn’t that why you want to OCR the document in the first place? Of course it is!


Huge Dictionary – With more than 120,000 words, it is unlikely that SimpleOCR will run into a word it does not know. In the rare event that it does not, our improved text editor allows you to easily add the new word to the dictionary. By adding new words to the dictionary, SimpleOCR becomes better with every use.

Despeckle – For those documents which are not particularly clear (i.e. faxes, copies of copies, …), SimpleOCR provides a despeckle or “noisy document” option which increases SimpleOCR’s accuracy.

Format Retention – SimpleOCR can keep certain elements of the document’s format in the recognized document. From varying font sizes to font formatting elements such as underline, italic, and bold, SimpleOCR recognizes it all. For certain documents, it retains the original document’s format with up to 99% accuracy.

Image Retention – Along with the document’s text, SimpleOCR has the uncanny ability to capture and retain pictures from the document. This is a great feature which reduces the need to import images from a document by other means.

Plain Text Extraction – Just need the plain text from the original document? No problem. SimpleOCR can be set to recognize the characters and words but ignore the formatting. The resulting file is ready for your word processor or your HTML/web editor and your own custom formatting.

Simplified Error Correction – Our text editor highlights suspected errors in the recognized text for easier correction. This simplifies the otherwise time-consuming task of proof reading the recognized text for errors. But because SimpleOCR has up to 99% accuracy, you may never need this feature.

Input Formats – SimpleOCR works with all fully compliant TWAIN scanners and also accepts input from TIFF files. Output Formats – SimpleOCR can save the documents it acquires in text formats (TXT and RTF) importable into most every program such as Word, WordPerfect, HTML editors, and e-mail programs, either fully formatted or as plain text. Additionally, it can save scanned documents in the industry standard TIFF format, a format as widely accepted as PDF files.

System Requirements SimpleOCR works on any PC with either Windows 95, 98, NT4, 2000, or XP. Your scanner need only a TWAIN driver, the driver that comes with a majority of all scanners sold. In short, SimpleOCR will most likely work with the PC and scanner you already have.

Pricing Our software is free for all non-commercial uses.

Can’t do better than that. I have used this (hence my writing it up) and it pretty well lived up to it’s hype. Worth remembering. (and yes the library did have WiFI)

Open Source Technology

Software KVM Switches

I have a bunch of computers scattered around my workspace. One for the business stuff, one for recording, and the test bed (Ubuntu today, WIndows tomorrow, Centos last week). When the current one is busy out with rendering stats from the servers, burning backup DVDs or finding messages from the gods in pi, then I just move along to the next one and work on something else rather than just stare at the hourglass thing. Of course I don’t actually want to move somewhere else to control that next machine, I use a hardware KVM switch but this limits you by the number of ports and cable reach and ANNOYINGLY you cant swap BOTH monitors. I have used a virtual client such as UltraVNC or Windows remote desktop (didn’t like it), but running these programs loads the remote system’s screen into your current one, losing precious screen real estate.

So here are a couple of thoughts to play with

lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It’s intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

and this great article over at called A guide to building a software KVM switch

Here is some of the hype….

This guide, or tutorial, explains how I’ve used VNC to simulate the effect of using a regular hardware KVM-Switch to control my Ubuntu Linux server PC with my Windows XP main desktop PC.
However, this can be applied to any two sets of operating systems.

Now this looks like it could be fun. I will let you know how I go.


Quick Server Client

QSClient is a system-independent client application to access over 25 internet-services and as far as a can see a bloody godsend.

QSC GuiIt´s currently available for windows and unix systems and fits perfectly into the desktop or shell environment. The main reason QSClient was written is the fact that there is no real standard to start internet tasks like a remote desktop connection, ssh sessions or just web logins.

Everything depends on the system: Sometimes you find a rdp client here, or download a ssh client from there. Or just think about pptp-connections: how many posts do you find on the internet, where the normal user surrenders by such a simple task like setting up a pptp connection.

The QSClient looks to be a killer solution for all of this stuff. Just download and install, put the connection information into a qsc file and click on it – Everything will be done within a blink of your eyes. The QSClient auto-installer has all the missing tools and clients you need and puts them together into a common framework.

You can find the download off the Quick Server Client Quickstart guide.

Now if only it would run from my USB thingie… sigh.

Excel Tutorial

OVer at the The University of South Dakota is a great basic Excel Tutorial

Even though it was written for Excel it should work in other spreadsheets (Open Office).

Start with the Welcome page and then stroll through the tutorial.

For Chris: Here is a simple explanation of the IF function


Guide to Useless Services

Don’t you love really helpful statements that you find in “tweaking” guides like

Yep, sure, no problem. WHICH ONES DONT WE NEED?

Here are two really good articles that will help you figure it out.

First up, we have India’s Guide to Useless Services (Windows XP SP2)

Here is a bit…

An operating system is made up of various components that work with each other. The OS isn’t just one object – it’s a collection of smaller objects, each of which performs a different task. Their conjunction is what makes an “operating system”. Windows calls these components “services”, Linux calls it “daemons” and so on. Each service in Windows is essentially, to put it in a simpler way, an application that stays running in the back doing its job when required. Now each service takes up some memory, which isn’t good if your system has a low amount of memory (like 256MB or less). Fortunately, not all of the default services are required by all users, so you can turn some of them off to free up some memory.

and next up The Elder Geek’s Services Guide for Windows XP

When I first sketched out the rough draft of what I wanted to include in The Elder Geek I wasn’t going to have a section dealing with Services. There are a ton of sites out ‘there’ that go into excruciating detail on how to extract the last ounce of performance by fiddling with the default XP services. A few hundred e-mails later from readers wanting to know why I didn’t have a services section, here it is, ready for you to peruse.

Read both and then you will know whether or not it’s worth your effort.

For the record, I only ever turn off two straight off and then the rest depend on the machines use.

Be careful.