Czur scanner, thoughts and remedies

The Czur scanner (model ET16) is really cool and useful hardware. The software is on par with other electronic document creation software that comes with cradle, sheetfed and flatbed scanners. Here are some thoughts on how to make it better.

First you have to understand that scanning software begins with the image. Its like taking a picture and results in a directory or folder full of jpeg or tiff images. The quality of the images will only be as good as your lighting conditions and the same factors that would affect any camera. The advantage of using a scanner is you don't have to worry about setting up many of the things that trip up a professional photographer. Its all preset up for you.

But in the end your still left with a pile of pictures, which might have some mistakes in them. The lighting might not be right, the color of the light, the straightness of the edges of the document, it could be rotated this way and that, have varying widths of margins surrounding the document. It might have captured fingers, hands or other parts of your body. You might have even been caught suddenly moving the object to be scanned while the picture was being taken. So you have the same problems everyone has when taking a picture.

So the next step is generally sorting through the pictures to find the ones that look acceptable and those that don't and replacing or retaking them. Some of the pictures can be saved however by using software to correct the brightness and contrast, color temperature (or hue), reorient or turn the pages slightly to line up the edges and finally to intentionally distort (or dewarp) the ones that actually have a wavy or "curved" appearance to an equivalent straight line in the document. All of this is [image] manipulation within software and its usually what professionals and perfectionists do with a tool like Photoshop.

The Czur scanner comes with free software called the Windows PC USB Capture software.

It is both a remote control program which can use the scanner to "take" pictures, or to receive them, when you press a button on the scanner or one of its optionally attached accessories, like the hand button or foot pedal.

Usually you'll want the freedom to stand or sit near the scanner and use the hand button or foot pedal to trigger a picture to be taken and "offloaded" to the PC running the Windows PC USB Capture software.

The scanner is attached (or tethered) to the PC by a USB 2.0 cable. When setting up the scanner with the PC, you had to make sure to [Install] the Czur software "first" so that it could insert the scanner driver into the Windows operating system [before] the scanner was connected with the USB cable. The reason being that the scanner can also appear as a generic webcam, if windows "sees" the scanner before it has the proper driver installed, it will install a webcam driver and [prevent] the Czur software from using the scanner. In that case you have to not only remove the device driver manually, but then have to make sure the software driver is installed and then reconnect the scanner.

When taking pictures with the hand button the scanner can capture images and save them to internal memory faster than it can "offload" them to the PC over the USB cable. Because it can do that you can continue to scan and take another picture much faster than waiting for the stack of pictures to be copied to the PC. But you have to also make sure not to interrupt the scanner once your done taking pictures until it says it has offloaded all of the pictures to the PC. If you power the scanner off or disconnect it from the PC before it is done copying the images over to the PC, those pictures that are not finished copying could be damaged or lost.

Once you have a stack of pictures on the PC, you can "post process" or begin the process of sorting and correcting them. You do this one at a time and save your changes to each picture. There are some batch features to make the same changes to many of the pictures, but thats a more advanced feature to learn.

At this point the Czur software differs in some way from other document creation software.

You can conveniently [bind] all the pictures together into one file called a PDF.

Or you can choose to run an image recognition program call OCR on each image to detect the pixels that represent  letters and words. OCR stands for "Optical Character Recognition" and it basically means tell the computer to look at the image and create a text document from it. The information in the document can then be merged with the PDF to provide an [index] or "map" of where each letter and word was found in each picture in the document. This allows a person reading the PDF file in a reader program to [search] for letters and words and their program will jump to that spot in the document.

OCR'ed PDFs are somewhat common, but they are not required.

You can create a PDF that is not OCR'ed and just read the pages by look at them in a reader program.

You can also choose to run many third party OCR programs on a PDF file after it is created.

OCR is not perfect and often makes mistakes, the best OCR'ed documents are those that are "corrected" by humans who "proof edit" or manually "guide and correct" the OCR indexes that computers create.

Most people however would rather just scan and get a single OCR'ed document all at once without bothering with the details of "post processing" and "proof editing OCR results".

This is what simple office scanning document software does.

The Czur scanning software is much more powerful than that and allows you control over each stage of the document creation process. This is both a [pro] and a [con].

Its a [pro] because you have all the choices before you.

Its a [con] because it can appear complex and confusing.

If your used to creating documents from piles of pictures, you can also choose to just use the Czur scanner software to capture and offload images of the scanned documents and use them with the software that you already have. The choice is yours, Czur way?

Tips! How to simply scan a book and make a document.

... to be continued