@R-Hack: If an iPad app has no copy and paste feature, “OCR” a screen grab

I’m a fan of the Kindle ebook reader iPad app. However, like the other popular ebook reader app for DRM‘d books, Apple’s iBooks, the Kindle app lacks a feature that is essential for those who read ebooks in the context of research and other writing projects: the ability to clip a brief section of text that can be transferred to another document — the simple cut and paste feature. 

As cut-and-paste is a feature on many iPad apps, I assume that book publishers have arbitrarily put the kibosh on ebook clipping — even when the clipped text is as short as the less-than-full-page sections a reader is limited to with highlighting and notations.

So here’s my work-around.

Explained in the “how-to” steps below, the hack takes advantage of the screen-shot feature of the iPad: While pressing down the round, concave “home-button,” quickly click the on-off switch (think of it as a camera shutter button) and you’ll snap (a white flash will even appear on screen) a very crisp JPEG of whatever is on the screen. The screenshot is auto-saved as a JPEG in your iPad’s photo gallery. Using one of several methods*, move the screen-grab JPEG to your computer. Upload the JPEG to Google Docs with the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) option selected and, automagically, the JPG turns into text on the resulting Google word-processing document.

Oh, and here is the text from the page I used in this example, a page from  Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom:

“Apple Computer must be way more committed to a better world, because iPods are so much cooler-looking than other MP3 players, which is why they’re so much more expensive and incompatible with other companies’ software, because-well, actually, it’s a little unclear why, in a better world, the very coolest products have to bring the very most obscene profits to a tiny number of residents of the better world.”

*Fast way to move bulk JPEGs to your computer: Use Dropbox & CameraSync. Simple way to move one JPEG: Email it)

[I like technology that helps me find, collect and organize the information, content and media I want or need to pursue my passions, be productive at work, stay in touch with those important to me and to, it may surprise some, to simplify my life. I dislike technology that adds hassle, noise and distraction. @R-Hacks are posts that describe how I use the helpful technology and work-around the junk.]

Keynote help: Why Helvetica Neue may be incompatible with Helvetica Neue

In September, I wrote a post about things one should consider if they are creating a Keynote presentation that will be displayed on an iPad, as well as on your computer. (If you’re not a Mac user, Keynote is software that can be used to create a PowerPoint presentation. That, of course, was a joke — although it is probably what most people think Keynote is.)

While it may be understandable and reasonable to have slightly different capabilities in the Mac and iPad versions of Keynote, I’ve recently become aware of an incompatibility, of sorts, between two different Macs running the same presentation. To me, that seems like a bug.

Here’s what happend: I know the font Helvetica Neue works on both the Mac and iPad versions of Keynote, so I’ve begun using it a lot these days. However, when I recently tried to open one of my presentations on someone else’s Mac, I received error messages indicating some font incompatibilities related to Helvetica Neue.

With a few clicks, I could see that Helvetica Neue was on the computer, so I was perplexed how I could have created a presentation on a Mac using Helvetica Neue and moved it to another computer that has Helvetic Neuve, but there be incompatibility issues.

Fortunately, this is just the kind of situation where it comes in handy to have an in-house team of designers and technical people who work on both print and web projects. So, fortunately, I was able to turn to Patrick Burns, Hammock’s resident professor of fontology, and ask about my incompatibility issue, “What up with that?”

Patrick explained to me that a downside of my using an up-to-date version of the Mac OS X is, that if I use a 10.5+ “system font” in creating something, it may not be a system font for the pre-10.5 Mac OS X — and the old Mac version will consider the font incompatible, even if that font exists elsewhere on the machine. (For a long explanation of this, including how to fix it, here’s a long article about the issue, and what to do about it.)

If this were any company than Apple, I’d suggest this was a bug. However, I have learned over the past 10 years of blogging, never to suggest something like this is a bug as there is an army of Apple fans who will argue that it’s the user who is a bug, and that anyone with any sense should know how to fix it. And, furthermore, anyone who didn’t update to 10.5 the day it came out deserves having the bug…

But it’s Apple, so, please, dear Mac fan boys, do not consider this a suggestion that Apple did something wrong.