This edition of NetSpeak profiles a few more tools/services that could boost the productivity of an on-line analyst/researcher.

TopOCR

While travelling we often stumble on a good newspaper or magazine article. If you find one such piece interesting and desire to take a copy of it, the best option these days is to take a snapshot of it with your mobile camera.

In this regard, the mobile phone camera acts as a scanner. Now, if you wish to convert this camera text image into normal editable text, the software TopOCR (http://www.topocr.com/) could come in handy. This free software lets you easily convert any text image into a normal text file — you just need to make it accessible to TopOCR. When you start TopOCR, it displays two windows side-by-side — one for the image file and other for the OCR text output. Once you are satisfied with the text output, TopOCR allows you to save it as a PDF or HTML file. In addition, using the program's text-to-speech feature one can convert the OCR text output to an MP3 audio file. Of course, this feature can be used to create audio from any text file — just load the text file into the TopOCR text window and press the TexToSpeech button.

IDriveSync

Though many types of on-line backup services are in place, the kind of solution offered by Dropbox (discussed earlier in this column — http://www.hindu.com/2008 /09/22/stories/200809225 2931700.htm) continues to enthral savvy netizens. Besides automatically uploading files/folders kept on a specified folder in the desktop on to its server, Dropbox can sync those files/folders across multiple machines too. Now, if your storage requirements exceed Dropbox's 2GB limit or you wish to have a ‘plan B', a Dropbox-type backup/syncing solution, take a look at the service offered by IDriveSync (http://www.IDriveSync.com/). This service allows you to store your files/folders on its server and transfer them automatically to multiple PCs (the storage space is limited to 2GB for free users). To use the service, you need to create an account. To help you easily download/upload/ the files/folders and sync/share them across multiple machines, IDriveSync provides a client-software too.

After installing the client, assign a desktop folder to it and log-in to the system. Once the IDriveSync setup is ready, you can simply forget about the backing up process. Whenever you wish to keep a file on-line, just place it on the IDrive folder — the IDriveSync client working in the background will come active and immediately transfer the file to its server. IDrivesync can be accessed via Windows Explorer too. This means you can upload any file/folder on your desktop by just right-clicking on it and selecting the ‘IDriveSync' option from the menu that pops-up.

Now, if you wish to transfer your files in the IDrive server to another PC, just install IDriveSync on the second PC and log-in to your account — the files from the server will start flowing to the IDrive folder of the new machine.

Enso TeX Anywhere

Enso (http://www.humanized.com/) is a program launcher that lets you accomplish many different tasks without having to move away from the current application. For instance, while composing an article you can invoke a Google search on a selected word or do a simple computation without interrupting the current workflow. Once installed on your system, Enso works in the background and you can invoke it anytime by pressing the ‘CapsLock' key. To accomplish a specific task, invoke Enso and type in the command relevant to it. For instance, while composing an article on Word, if you need to do a simple calculation, (say, 123*453) just type in the formula (like this: ‘123*453'), select it, invoke Enso and enter the command ‘calculate'.

Though Enso is a slightly old program, which is now free/open-source (http://www.ensowiki.com/wiki/index.php), it has some innovative and valuable components in its bundle. Enso TeX Anywhere (http://www.humanized.com/enso/beta/ensotex anywhere/), is one such tool worth discussion.

Creating a mathematical formula or a complex equation in common word processing packages like MS-Word is generally considered a difficult task.

To get around this issue many use the type setting language TeX (http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/biz/2002/ 09/23/stories/20020923000 40200.htm), which helps us generate complex equations/formulae with simple text commands (example: TeX command ‘A\subset B' will generate the set expression ‘ '). However, a large majority of users may not have the patience and inclination to learn TeX or install the TeX software. This is the context in which Enso's ‘TeX Anywhere' comes in handy. The advantage of ‘TeX Anywhere' is that it helps us enter simple TeX commands in Word or a similar application and render it into corresponding formula/equation. For instance, the Tex command ‘ \pi\over2' will be rendered as ‘ ‘; ‘\sqrt{x+2}' will be rendered as ‘ '. Likewise, the TeX command ‘\sum_{i=1}ˆN x_I' will be rendered as ‘ '. To create a mathematical equation using this facility in MS-Word, first type in the TeX command for this equation and then select it. Now, invoke Enso launcher (by pressing the ‘CapsLock' key) and enter the command ‘render tex'— at this point the Tex command will be replaced by the corresponding equation. TeX Anywhere uses a web service to convert a Tex command into an equation — this means we need to be on-line for this tool to work.

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com