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Anyone scan their handwritten notes?

I've been trying to scan my old handwritten notes as images (no desire to OCR them).  I generally use those yellow legal pads.  I've tried lineart (adjusting threshold) and RBG at different dpi up to 300 with not much success; I can't get the handwriting to be sharp in color and in lineart it looks smudged when attempting to sharpen.  Any of you guys do this with any success?  Thanks. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I scan in hand drawn design diagrams -- it is so much quicker than trying to reproduce them in any tools I've tried.

I use just white copier paper and typically draw in pencil.  There isn't much writing, and it is almost as legible as it is in the original diagram (which isn't saying much ...)

Posting the diagrams to the project wiki seems to be the best way to keep the documentation up to date without spending a lot of time on the mechanics of it.

Rob Walker
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

For your existing notes, I have nothing, but ... I've been looking at this (and other systems) to avoid the problem in the future.

Looks like it's about a hundred bucks.

If you buy it, let me know how it works!

Shoot, I'm probably just going to buy it next week anyway.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


I think I saw that product on TV. TechTV it was I believe.
It seemed like a useful thing, but not sure... College kids were using it in class.

BTW, since you are getting it anyway, why don't you tell us how it works out for ya?  :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I haven't tried this exactly, but I used to know my way around Photoshop.  I would approach it this way:

-- Scan it in as an RGB image.
-- Play with the color adjustment in the Curves dialog box to drop out the yellow background.  (If it has blue horizontal rules, those will be trickier but possible.)
-- Convert it to greyscale or b/w.

This would be a lot of work, but there might be a way to automate it with a macro.

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

There are notes online about how comic strip authors convert hand written line art into professional and distinctive computer-based line-arts (usually vector based). By following these rules you should be able to convert any scans into vectors pretty succesfully. You'll need something like Photoshop Elements and/or Flash.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I think your best shot is to scan the images in color (get a good clean scan), then switch to a YCrCb domain, and drop out everything but the luminance (all chrominance is unnecessary).  You'll then have a greyscale image.  A quick binarization with a threshold somewhere in the neighborhood of 190 should get you a relatively clean image, _if_ you scanned it well (300dpi) and you don't have a huge coffee stain in the middle of your drawing (otherwise that just binarized to black).  This gives relatively clean results I've found.  If you want to smooth things out a bit more, perform about a 5 pixel Guassian Blur prior to conversion to the YCrCb domain, then proceed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I've used color paper occasionally (though, admittedly, not yellow lined paper), and a normal* copy machine seems to work fine.

*where a normal copy machine is defined to be a copy machine that automatically adjusts intensity levels so that everything seems to come out fine, and is converted to pdf then emailed to you

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I tried scanning, but it was too slow and offered little more benefit than simply carrying my original(paper) notebook.

The Seiko products - InkLink and SmartPad - looked like good alternatives, but they appear to be technology back-waters. You'll note from their compatibility charts that they are only available for older PDAs.

Nokia, Logitech and a couple of others offer a digital ink pen that works with specially micro-encoded paper. The pen is a weird shape, and the paper is not globally available.

In the end, I settled for a PDA. I'm two months into a three month self-discipline project, completely replacing my paper notes with a PDA. I use a Palm Tungsten/E (a mistake, no universal connector) and replaced the stylus with a Lamy pen combination.

It is GREAT. I now have searchable notes, which is better than scanning. I occasionally miss a decent diagramming capability, but I think a larger PDA surface (Sony, Tapwave or Tungsten/T3) and an alternative sketch application would probably solve this problem.

My only problem is that I now get cast in the role of minute secretary for most meetings which I attend :(  Oh well, I can always edit out the bits of the meeting with which I don't agree ... *grin*

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I used to take my notes on paper and then retype them on a computer at home - it was a good method of studying, helping to solidify the information just by the act of copying it.

Then I bought a TabletPC, and MicrosoftOneNote, and now I have my notes on my computer, and with me, all the time...

I sound like a OneNote commercial.  Sheesh.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A copy machine is definitely the best bet for a fast yk - they remove cyan lines and yellow background outomatically. Then you can scan in.

I've also gone teh photoshop route but it is a lot of work. I have an old copy of photoshop - a more cerent version that allows scripting would allow you to possibly batch process this.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, April 22, 2004

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