First, I have to note that I love Dropbox. I’ve been using the service almost since the beginning to synchronize my work across multiple desktops, notebooks, and mobile devices. There’s really no alternative at this point that rivals Dropbox in my mind.
That said, the state of their camera upload organization is abysmal. This is a recent new emphasis for Dropbox, automatically uploading all the photos taken on a mobile device or onboard an SD card inserted into a notebook. The problem is that all of these photos are dumped into the same /Dropbox/Camera Uploads folder, so you end up with a huge list of photos. That’s not so bad, except that in my case I’m dealing with sample photos taken on multiple devices for testing results in a completely unwieldy directory with so many files that it often causes Finder on OS X or Explorer on Windows to stall for seconds upon opening.
I’ve pleaded my case for a simple feature to be added – per device folder creation. This didn’t make it into the last update, and about a week or so ago I wrote a script to do exactly that. It parses the EXIF data, and sorts photos into a folder with name /[type]+[model]. The end result looks like this:
It’s called EXIFmover and I stuck it up on Github as a Gist since it’s pretty simple. I use Python 2.7 personally, so that’s what this is tailored for. I’ve tested on OS X, Windows, and Ubuntu. Python’s OS interface is fairly platform agnostic. The one prerequesite is EXIF-Py for parsing the EXIF metadata from photos, which can be obtained from that project’s Github page.
Stick both EXIFmover.py and EXIF.py in the Camera Uploads directory, and run. As more files are uploaded, this can be run again and photos will be sorted once more.
Finally, some organization.
I’ve made a habit of only ever looking at signal level in numerics on iOS since the iPhone 3GS days. This has paid off a few times in the past (notably the iPhone 4 antenna situation) but in general just gives a better perspective for network conditions. I regularly post screenshots with both cellular and WiFi in numerics instead of the default bars, and on iOS this is pretty simple to make happen, at least to the cellular signal level indicator, without jailbreaking.
To do this the basic workflow is to enter FieldTest.app, then force quit the application. When FieldTest launches, it changes a .plist file for springboard which controls whether numerics are being shown for cellular signal. This is exactly the file that SBSettings tweaks if you’re toggling “Numeric GSM” and “Numeric WiFi.” I should note that these settings also stay around across iOS restores. Anyhow a lot of people have been asking on Twitter lately for some reason how to make this happen, so I thought I’d write it up.
Anyhow to show cellular signal without using SBSettings:
- Launch FieldTest.app by going into the dialer and dialing *3001#12345#*
- Hold down standby/lock like you’re going to turn the phone off
- Release standby/lock after the power off slider appears, then hold home (this is force quit on iOS – it’s impressive so few people know it)
- Boom, you have numerics instead of bars
This can now be tapped to switch back and forth. Launching FieldTest again and quitting will restore the file however, so every time you quit this will have to be a force quit to preserve the setting without jailbreaking or restoring an iOS backup with the plist file set how you want it.
I should also note that on LTE this number is RSRP (Reference Signal Received Power) in units of dBm. On WCDMA this is RSCP (Received Signal Code Power) in dBm, and on CDMA2000 1x/EVDO this is RSSI I believe (or EC, I haven’t ever carried a CDMA2000 iPhone for an apreciable amount of time). On WCDMA and 1x/EVDO values between -50 and -113 dBm are typical, with -50 being at cell center and -113 dBm being at cell edge. On LTE because the iDevice is showing RSRP, values between -75 and -120 dBm are typical, with RSRP showing ~20 dB lower than the analogous RSCP/WCDMA-land signal if you’re trying to compare.
Update/Note: In iOS 7 the signal bars were changed to dots, but the trick still works. Although switching into numerals by force quitting Field Test still works, sometimes it takes a few tries before it works. I’m not sure why that is, but keep force quitting or try quitting and coming back and force quitting again and eventually you’ll switch over.
The other day, one of my Twitter followers asked if I could post a list of iPhone applications I have installed that are useful. Right now, there are quite a few (145 icons by my count). I’ll share a gallery of all of them, and post a list with links to the ones I really like or use a lot.
It’s a definite goal to reach the installed application limit, and admittedly the organization of just a bunch of tiles on a grid is already stretched thin. I originally did a better job organizing applications by page such that similar tasks or groups were all consolidated. For example, games are all on one page, utilities are on another, e.t.c., but it’s fallen apart lately.
The irony is that there isn’t an app you can install that will tell you what other apps are installed because of sandboxing reasons and App Store restrictions. Oh, Apple…
Some of my favorite and most used applications are:
- Speedtest.net – This is the iPhone version of Ookla’s speedtest.net. It used to be absolutely positively horrible. I mean not just totally false – but boldfaced staring you in the face wrong. They’ve improved it a ton in recent updates, and it now supports exporting to CSV as I’ve mentioned before, including all the geospatial, test results, and other relevant data. Makes analysis possible for end users, not just them.
- Xtreme Speedtest – Before Ookla got off their collective arses and made the speedtest.net application work, this was my favorite. I’m ashamed to admit I ran it as much as I did. Lately there haven’t been any updates or any love for even the paid “pro” version.
- Jaadu RDP – Hands down the best remote desktop application. It’s also the most expensive at $24.99, which is annoying, but it truly does work the best. Integration is just extremely smooth and well executed. There’s also Jaadu VNC.
- Mark the Spot – This should come preinstalled on every single iPhone. If you’re on AT&T, this is your best friend. It’s both a way to report bad connectivity and vent when coverage sucks too.
- BeeJive IM – All around best IM application. It was one of the first to really leverage push notifications well, and keeps you logged in for as long as you’d like. It’s a brave new world being logged into IM on the phone all the time, but if you want it, this is what’s awesome.
- Gass Cubby – Keeps track of gas mileage. It does an awesome job, and is fast and easy enough that I do it every time. It even syncs back up to the cloud for backups and storage, or if you have multiple drivers on a car. The graphical visualization and ability to correlate fuel economy changes with service is what really makes it stand out.
- iStat – Although the real beauty of this application is that it ties into the dashboard widget and server daemons of its namesake, it also works great as a simple resource monitor and informational view. There’s more info about everything here.
- SpaceTime – This is the absolute best computer algebra system for the iPhone. It’s that simple. There’s 3D plotting, derivatives, integrals, and just about everything else you can get from a Ti-89. I still like my 89, but this is the next best thing.
- Pi Cubed – Another really good mathematical tool, this one finally leverages the full capacitive touch screen of the platform. There isn’t a virtual keyboard or buttons, but rather a more intuitive interface with pretty print that’s better. I really like that it can export to PDF and LaTeX dynamically.
- iSynth and Seadragon - These are both awesome Microsoft Research Labs applications that exist on the iPhone. The former is a photosynth viewer created by a software intern as an independent project, and it works surprisingly well. The Seadragon viewer lacks the photosynth code and just displays images using the same sort of algorithm.
- iRa Pro and IP Vision – If you have a network camera that has MJPEG streaming outputs, these should be on your phone. No excuses. iRa Pro is an $899 application (last I checked, the most expensive in the App Store) but delivers absolutely unparalleled integration with the big enterprise camera setups including PTZ and up to 6 camera streams at a time. If you don’t have a fancy enterprise setup, IP Vision lets you view one MJPEG stream and 2 stills at a time, which is totally adequate for most everything. It’s what I end up using most of the time, and is considerably cheaper at $7.99 – there’s also a more expensive version that works with PTZ cameras.
- Pocket Universe – This was the first augmented reality application, and for its purpose, the implementation is superb. It’s designed to be an aide for amateur astronomers trying to find a particular celestial body of note. It uses compass and accelerometer data to point you in the right direction, toward finding it.
- JotNot – It’s a document scanner using your iPhone’s camera. The beauty here is that it removes the distortion based on edge detection, works for large documents, posters, books, and other rectangular, er, media. The other awesome part is that it tightly integrates for output over email, evernnote, WebDAV/iDisk, Google Docs, Dropbox, and Box.net. Either PDF or JPEG output with optional OCR to boot! I use this one a lot.
There are a ton of others that are installed, but these are the ones that really stick out to me as being relatively undiscovered. If you’ve got others you think are useful or related, I’d love to hear about ‘em in the comments section!
I didn’t have much time this year to follow TED (In fact, when I first sat down to write this, it was still going on). To be honest, I usually watch the videos a few months afterward, once they’re all finally uploaded and the hype has died down. It’s easy to get caught up in how much certain talks are plugged compared to others, especially with how much live information leaks out over twitter.
But I did break that trend this year a bit. I noticed an intriguing project by Robert Scoble on a blog post of his involving taking photos of notes by the attendees and posting them to flickr. Intrigued, I expected to be wowed by the different creative and thoughtful methods employed which I could use myself for note-taking.
Imagine my disappointment, then, when what I saw that most attendees were either using their iPhones or BlackBerries, scraps of paper, nonstandard spiral bound notebooks, or just generally chaotic methods for taking notes. I mean, aside from the now-famous mind-mapping note girl (photo here; I can’t look at it again because it makes my brain hurt and my teeth start gnashing), there really wasn’t anything TED-level-inspiring.
Let’s just break it down for a second:
- 34 pictures in the set
- Mobile devices: 9 – 26.5%
- iPhones: 7 – 20.6%
- BlackBerry: 2 – 5.9%
- Paper: 25 – 73.5%
- Notebooks (spiral or bound): 14 – 41.2%
- Mini Notebooks (or similarly sized): 6 – 17.6%
- Program/Scraps: 4 – 14.7%
- PowerPoint Handouts (Bill Gates): 1 – 2.9%
- Mobile devices: 9 – 26.5%
Generally, I abhor excel plots, but this does a good job communicating my point:
But that’s not all; of the iPhone note photos, virtually every single one used the built-in notes application. Yeah, the notes application that ships with the iPhone which lacks just about everything imaginable.
No Evernote love? No Google Documents love? That’s certainly surprising. Yet these attendees consider themselves shakers and movers? Definitely avant-garde? Perhaps ahead of the curve at adoption of new tech? Sorry, virtually every one of you was thoroughly beaten by mind-map girl entirely by default, entirely because of her uniqueness factor. Even more surprising, the journalists in the photo set aren’t even using Steno pads.
With the exception of Bill Gates (who obviously is using PowerPoint handouts for his presentation), there’s really no excuse.
Granted, this could entirely just be bad sampling on Scoble’s part. Whatever the case, it’s a unique opportunity to segue into how much I love the way I take notes.
OneNote – The best kept secret for organizing everything
Ok, those words aren’t entirely my own, but they’re the truth. Microsoft OneNote 2007 (and its predecessor) aren’t just about notes, they’re about collecting, organizing, searching, and making accessible just about anything and everything. You don’t need a tablet, and it isn’t just about text. I think it’s pretty fair to say that OneNote is almost the best kept secret and most undiscovered part of Office 2007.
My freshman year of college, I decided that I wanted to try using it for all of my notes. At the time, I was intrigued by the notion of using a Samsung Q1 Ultra V, a UMPC, due to its tiny form factor and long battery life. That worked, but I’ve since moved on to a Latitude XT in favor of its active digitizer and capacitive multitouch screen. Regardless, I’ve used OneNote for virtually all my notes since, and it has numerous advantages over paper:
- My notes are searchable, entirely. Not just text in its native form either, but handwritten text from the tablet, images (it searches the images), and audio.
- I don’t have to carry around spiral bound notebooks that are heavy, or waste money on dead trees (hey, this is one aspect of my life that actually is green).
- I can annotate and take notes directly atop PDFs, PowerPoints, or whatever materials are being studied without having to print them beforehand. This is extremely useful as I can get anything into notes by printing it to OneNote.
- My notes can be (and are) backed up regularly. That’s something you can’t really do with paper notes, short of making copies or scanning every day.
- I can keep every year’s worth of notes in one place. Obviously, that’s a ton of stuff 3 years in. I think you’d be hard pressed to carry around your spiral bound notebooks every day.
- I can organize with sections, tabs, notebooks, and pages. The analogues to a notebook are obvious, but there are other things as well that make a lot more sense in the context of digital notes.
- Something which always comes in handy is being able to instantly send my notes to other people; I can make PDFs of pages, sections, or entire notebooks.
- Everything lives in one place: text notes, powerpoints, images, clips of webpages, even file.
I honestly can’t see how it’d be possible to take notes electronically without OneNote at this point. Granted, there are a lot of other alternatives, but I find that they either have gamestopping flaws or are otherwise unwieldy:
- Microsoft Word
- I see this one a lot in classes, and don’t even know where to start. Word is great as a word processing tool, but that’s about all. Sure, you can take notes, but they won’t be searchable (which is a huge drawback for me), and ultimately you’re constrained by this page-by-page model that lies at its core. Combining graphics with notes is possible, but hard. OneNote is almost like Word without pages.
- How the heck are you supposed to take equations down quickly in Word? If you’ve used the equation editor, you know what a lesson in frustration it is.
- Google Docs
- I think using google documents makes a lot of sense, especially given the online nature, but it seems just as difficult to manage with lots of media. Of course, the fact that you can access it anywhere is a huge plus.
- A while back on Slashdot I read a great article I could relate to about taking notes in class for science and engineering. It discussed/asked what the optimal computerized note-taking suite was given an emphasis on entering equations. Of course, came up, along with its GUI-wrapped similar cousin LyX. I’m a big big fan of , especially for documents and other things, but I can’t see it being practical or fast enough for taking notes every day. Granted, there are people out there (like some of my crazier friends) that are faster at typing the equations than writing them, but I find myself being able to write faster.
- You run into the same problems that Word has here; you’re stuck managing files for each set of notes.
I’ve been meaning to try Evernote, and have heard great things about integration across virtually every platform. It seems like the way to go, and if I’d definitely like to try it out.
I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that there are so many better solutions than just using pen and paper or the default notes application that ships with most smartphones. Even though those are what you might grab for at first, you’re setting yourself up to be locked into two methods that leave much to be desired.
If you’ve read my big post on the Zoneminder configuration I have at home, you’ll notice that I favored capture of JPEG stills over using MJPEG during initial configuration.
At the time, the reason was simple; I couldn’t make MJPEG work. I’ve now succeed in doing so, and understand why it didn’t work the first time.
I remembered reading something in the Zoneminder documentation about a shared memory setting resulting in capture at higher resolutions failing. Originally, when I first encountered the problem I decided that it was simply me getting something wrong with the path to the .mjpeg streams on the cameras, since I was more familiar with capture of jpeg stills from prior scripting.
However, I stumbled across some documentation here from another tinkerer, which also pointed to the memory sharing issue.
The problem is that the buffer of frames (usually between 50 and 100 for the camera) must be contained in memory for processing. If the size of the image:
Exceeds this shared memory maximum, you’ll run into errors or see the camera status go to yellow/orange instead of green. (It can get pretty confusing trying to troubleshoot based on those status colors unless you’re checking the logs… /doh)
In fact, the problem I was seeing was likely directly as a result of the large capture image size of my Axis 207mW, as they cite it directly:
Note that with Megapixel cameras like the Axis 207mw becoming cheaper and more attractive, the above memory settings are not adequate. To get Zoneminder working with a full 1280×1024 resolution camera in full colour, increase 134217728 to, for example, 268424446
/facepalm. I really wish I had come across this the first time around. Either way, you’re going to ultimately run into this problem with either higher framerate connections, color, or higher resolutions.
I followed the tips, here, but doubled them since the machine I’m running ZM has a pretty good chunk of memory available.
The process is simple. You’re going to have to edit /etc/sysctl.conf to include the following somewhere:
# Memory modifications for ZoneMinder (kernel.shmall = 32 MB, kernel.shmmax = 512 MB)
kernel.shmall = 33554432
kernel.shmmax = 536870912
Now, apply the settings with
Which forces a reload of that file. Next, you can check that the memory parameters have been changed:
brian@brian-desktop:~$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/shmall
brian@brian-desktop:~$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/shmmax
Which is successful. You can also check it with ipcs -l. Now, reboot ZoneMinder and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Motion JPEG Time!
Having made these changes, I was ready to finally explore whether MJPEG works! I went ahead and decided to use the MJPEG streams from my two respective types of cameras in place of the static video links. These are:
Linksys WVC54GCA: http://YOURIPADDY/img/video.mjpeg
Axis 207mW: http://YOURIPADDY/axis-cgi/mjpg/video.cgi?resolution=640×480&clock=0&date=0&text=0
I also discovered (by reading the manual) that there’s a handy utility on the Axis config page (under Live Video Config -> HTML Examples -> Motion JPEG) which generates the proper URL based on a handy configuration tool where you can select size, compression, and other options:
The idle load on the system has increased, as expected, but that’s partly from me raising the FPS limit to 10 which seems reasonable, and enabling continual recording with motion detection (mocord).
I’m making a lot of tweaks as I get ready to transition everything onto a VM on a faster computer with much more disk space (on the order of 8 TB). If you’re interested in reading more about the Linux kernel shared memory settings, I found some good documentation:
These past couple of days, I’ve finally gotten some time to work on the tremendous backlog of photos that I have sitting around from a number of trips. Among those pictures are sets of photos in the hundreds destined for photosynth. A number of my friends have expressed interest in what the software is, what it does, how it works, and how to take photos best suited for processing. I think now is a great opportunity to go over the basics.
What Photosynth Does
First of all, what Photosynth does is create a 3D point cloud model/representation of an object or scene from a set of photos. Depending on the scene complexity, the number of photos might be in the tens, or hundreds for sufficiently complicated scenes. It all depends on the model and how much time you have on your hands.
Perhaps the best way to explain it, is to see it. The following is a synth of the Pantheon that I recently finished processing, constructed from photos taken by my brother and I from a D80 and D90:
How it does it
The software uses feature extraction to identify textures in parts of each image that are similar, then tries to fit each corresponding from each image together to create a perspective-correct view. The process is extremely computationally intensive, but only needs to be done on the initial set of images to determine position and location. The beauty, of course, is that this process requires no human input for reconstructing the scene; it’s entirely computationally derived.
I won’t claim to be the most qualified to talk about it, but it does use feature extraction and some fancy fitting to work. An important note is that the software works based on unique features in texture, not necessarily on structure. This is why synths with lots of unique patterns turn out extremely well, while others don’t.
Creating the actual Synth is actually the easiest step; just create an account, install the software, add your photos, and go.
The real work in that process is creating proper tags, descriptions, and then adding geotagging data from photos, or later on in the web interface. Doing so is a great way to get your synth recognized.
How to take the best shots
If I’m taking a photo of a single object, something like this column, for example, I’ll try to stay equal distance away from the object, and take photos in steady progression around the subject.
The important thing to keep in mind is that although Photosynth can extrapolate the point cloud from features, it still cannot extrapolate images that you haven’t given it. Simply put, if you want to get the nice scrubber bar to circle around an object, you’ll need to take the requisite photos to make it. I find that pacing steadily around while taking photos at regular intervals is the best way.
- Take photos of subjects from a variety of angles. If you can, from every angle possible in an equal manner.
- Take photos from a single perspective pointing in multiple directions. I find that spinning around taking photos from each corner of the room works marvelously well; even though you look slightly special in the process.
- The most important thing to keep in mind is that quantity is generally on your side; so long as there is variety in the shots, but overlap as well.
- Choose subjects that have a variety of textures and features. Things like the Sistine Chapel synth really well because unique texture is everywhere, while cars generally don’t because of their solid color.
- Take wide angle shots of the entire room from the four corners first, then one from the center. Afterwards, take photos of objects/features close up. These are things that people will want to focus on when viewing later; a good example are pictures on the wall in a museum or specific fresco sections on a large wall.
Some of my favorite Photosynth creations are:
- Piazza San Marco: Link
- Sistine Chapel: Link
- Artemision Bronze: Link
- Salpointe Graduation 2009: Link
- Replica of Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius: Link
- Library of Celsus: Link
- Pantheon: Link
For equal comparison, here are some that didn’t turn out so well:
Why Scan Books?
With the prevalence of eBook readers like the Nook, Kindle, Spring Design Alex and others, comes the necessity of building and maintaining a vast digital library. There are more resources online than one can easily list for both purchasing (and downloading) books in a suite of electronic formats, from PDF to DJVU, but what if you already own a book of the traditional dead-tree sort? What if you aren’t willing to purchase it again just for the convenience and ease of reading it on your brand new eBook reader?
Scanning becomes your only option.
I’ll be honest, the process isn’t easy, quick or glamorous. But it beats spending a day craning over your flatbed scanner or cutting the spine out of your expensive book to feed it through an equally expensive loose-leaf scanner (speaking of which, what the heck is up with how expensive they are?!). If the book is sufficiently expensive, it becomes an economical prospect quickly given the few hours required from start to finish.
I’m not going to address the legal/ethical/moral considerations. You could argue that making a PDF copy for yourself constitutes Fair Use, but the law being what it is, who the heck knows? Regardless, just exercise some moral introspection and decide for yourself.
- A relatively decent Digital SLR with wide to normal focal length lens
- Large sheet of black construction paper
- Tripod/Monopod and a way to hold the camera
- Snapter or other image processing software
- Adobe Acrobat/other PDF creating utility
- 2-4 hours of your time, depending on the book complexity
The specific equipment I use is:
- Nikon D80 with Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens
- Nikon SB600 flash (optional)
- Nikon remote shutter release (IR)
- Large piece of black construction paper from Michael’s
- Monopod, table, and a copy of my CRC Handbook (more on that weird combo later)
- Snapter for processing images
- Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro for making PDF and OCR
I’ve already mentioned Snapter twice, and although they’re commercial software (with a very generous 15 day free trial that gives you all the functionality of the real book), don’t let that fool you. I’ve had a lot of success with their software just because of how easy and functional it’s been in my experience. So much so that I went ahead and got the paid version.
That said, there are a few open source alternatives that do a pretty good job and are worth mentioning:
Scan Tailor is pretty good, has a nice GUI, and is very active. Unpaper doesn’t have a GUI but offers a lot for a command line tool. There’s always the advantage both OSS solutions offer that you can either code/propose functionality changes in the software itself with the active developers.
Another relevant article with tips is from /. , which posted ironically the week after I had already embarked on and discovered the ins and outs of scanning with a digital camera myself.
My setup is simple: I mount the camera on the monopod, stick it on the table, and balance it there with my trusty CRC handbook and some other heavy books.
You might be wondering why I didn’t just use a tripod. The reason is that it’s a much more challenging prospect to carefully both tilt the tripod and balance it so the camera is completely perpendicular to the book’s surface. For the best photo quality, one needs the book to be as close to coplanar with the camera sensor as possible. It makes sense, otherwise we’ll have a more challenging time getting the book totally in focus (depth of field will come into play), and have a harder time flattening the book in software.
I generally tape the black paper down to the floor, snap photos of the cover and back cover, and then tape those down as well. More on positioning later.
The whole thing looks like the following:
I have the flash set to bounce from the ceiling, just because in practice this yields the most readable photos. I also use all the light I can from the room itself.
A difficult consideration is that sometimes the print/copy itself has glare. This seems a lot more common with newer books than older ones; it’s almost like the print has a layer of varnish atop it. Just make sure you preview a few images and can actually read the copy.
Positioning the book is the tricky part; it’s difficult to balance between filling the frame with the book (so you have good resolution), and leaving enough space at the edges so that your software can do edge detection. Leave too little space around, and you’ll have a nightmarish time trying to field flatten. Leave too much, and you’ll be throwing away a ton of your image. Even worse, if you don’t tape the book down, it will gradually creep out of the frame.
Another big consideration is rotation. I’ve discovered that Snapter doesn’t really account that well for material that has even subtle rotation. You end up with slight skew in the resulting images. It isn’t a big problem, but rotation will immediately cause you headaches.
I usually go for something like this:
You could zoom in a bit more in this case if you wanted; in practice you’ll discover for yourself what works best.
I set the camera to use a relatively big F/# (in this case F/5.6) so there’s as much depth of field as possible. You want the whole book in focus.
Now just snap away
This is the grueling part, capture images of every page. Snag a friend or something as having two people makes this process go much faster. One can turn the page and crease stubborn ones into place, and the other can trigger the shutter with the remote and make sure the book isn’t creeping out of the frame.
I find this can take anywhere between a half hour to much longer, depending on how much trouble the book gives you. The most challenging parts are the very beginning and the end. At these points, the pages have the most curve to them, sometimes sticking up. This is where sometimes creasing them down or using some tape on the stubborn ones can make or break your day.
Eventually, you’ll have a directory full of images somewhere you need processed.
At this point, you can use whatever tool suits your fancy, but if you’re using Snapter, read on.
Click Book, grab all your photos, and go make yourself a drink as you wait for it to do initial edge detection and processing on images. Nothing is being changed, it’s just generating the initial traces around the book it finds.
After this is done comes the only other bothersome part. It’s very worthwhile to manually go through each page and make sure you’re happy with the edge detection. Frequently, pages that have black or dark color at the edge cause headaches. Drag the handles around until they match closer. This can be grueling, but it’s important.
Click Input, change the background color to black (since we’re using a black piece of paper, or at least I did). Under Output, I also generally turn cropping each page off since I’d rather deal with a spread. Grayscale output will save on space later, and I keep the DPI the same since I’ll compress and downsample later in Acrobat. Now, you can click process and have yourself another drink.
After this is done, you can preview the results on the right. If everything is right, click Save and wait a little longer.
Now you should have a directory full of images waiting to be made into a PDF.
You can use whatever you’d like to make the PDF from the resulting JPEGs, however, I’ve had luck just using Acrobat.
Click Create -> Merge Files into a Single PDF, and then grab all those images you have.
Combine them, and you should now have a huge PDF. Save it, but you aren’t done yet. At this point, I generally take a look at the PDF Optimizer under the Advanced tab, and click Audit Space Usage. Yeah, it should be pretty huge.
If you absolutely need color, just skip this. If your book is black and white, converting is going to save you a ton of space.
To convert pages to grayscale, under Advanced click Print Production -> Convert Colors. Check “Convert Colors to Output Intent” and select “Gray Gamma 1.8.” I usually then exclude the front and back covers from the page range, unless you don’t care about that pretty color you’ll be missing out on.
This process also will take some time. Adobe is multithreaded, but still doesn’t use all my 8 logical cores on my i7 920. Just be patient.
After this finishes, you should now see a dramatic difference under the space audit report for Images. There might be a lot of document overhead, however. Don’t worry, this is normal.
At this point, it usually makes the most sense to do some OCR if you want, just to make the document searchable. Document -> OCR Text Recognition -> Recognize Text Using OCR does the trick.
Click Edit and select Searchable Image (Exact). This won’t resize your images or do compression; we’ll do that later. Now, wait a long time while it consumes CPU cycles and hopefully makes your document so much more powerful and useful.
After this finishes, you’re ready to do some compression and hopefully make your document small enough to not be an embarrassment, you storage hog, you. I usually downsample to around 300 DPI, leave monochromatic images alone (since we don’t have any), and opt for JPEG2000. Check everything in the Discard Objects, Discard User Data, and Clean Up tabs.
Click Ok, and now be prepared to wait the longest you have yet. Even on my rig, this takes an hour or two.
Check the space audit once more, and you should now have a reasonable sized, fully searchable, readable PDF, ready for your enjoyment.