Plus Edition Article

(+) OCR Documents the Easy and Free Way

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, is a powerful tool for computers. It allows you to convert text within pictures to editable word processing text. For instance, you might scan or take a picture of some pages in a genealogy book while at a library. When you get home, you find that you have pictures, not text. While you can insert the picture of a page into your notes or into a book you may be writing, that is not as useful as inserting text. Ideally, you want to have normal text inserted that you can modify that text as you wish, such as adding bold, italics, underlines, larger fonts, or anything else you normally do with a word processor.

(+) How Safe Are Your Old Documents?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.

A number of us are fortunate enough to own old books, birth certificates, marriage certificates, naturalization certificates, old newspaper clippings, or other family heirloom documents that we want to preserve. What condition will they be in 20 or 50 years from now? For that matter, will the fruits of your genealogy labor be available to your descendants 200 years from now? You should take steps now to make sure the documents remain in the best possible condition. I thought I would discuss the techniques of document preservation a bit more in this newsletter.

Very old books and other paper documents are rather easy to preserve if a few basic precautions are followed. Modern day paper is made from wood pulp. The manufacturing process extracts cellulose from the wood, and then paper is manufactured from the cellulose fibers. Although pure cellulose is extremely durable, the various additives can cause deterioration, usually through acid degradation of the fibers. The life expectancy of most modern paper can be as short as 50 years. Even worse, documents you produce on your laser printer may not last that long. The toner that substitutes for ink in modern laser printers probably will not last as long as the paper it adheres to. While toner is made of carbon or plastic, which lasts a long time, it will not stick to paper forever. In fact, if rubbed occasionally, even by the expansion and contraction that occurs during temperature variations, the toner carbon will easily rub off.

(+) Use Boolean Logic to Improve Your Online Search Results

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

In 1854 self-educated English mathematician George Boole published a paper that eventually resulted in 21st century genealogists finding more information about their ancestors. Boole published The Laws of Thought that illustrated new ways of looking at mathematical data.

NOTE: You can read The Laws of Thought at https://archive.org/details/aninvestigationo15114gut. However, you won’t find any mention of computers or of searching on Google in this 1854 publication!

Boolean algebra emerged in the 1860s and went on to become a standard method of analyzing all sorts of data. In the last half of the twentieth century, computer scientists and programmers found many applications for Boolean logic. Now Google and many other search engines and quite a few genealogy sites also use Boolean logic extensively. If you understand a few of the simpler Boolean search methods, you can greatly increase the probability of finding the information you seek.

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