Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to convert PDF to Word?

I got this email from my friend a few days back:
"Hi, do you have any idea of a software that I could use to convert pdf to Word. I'm working on a movie but I've got the script in PDF... I want to convert it to Word. I tried but i am not able to copy it... any idea???"

Most probably the PDF has the text as image (likely because its a scanned page stored in PDF). It is usually difficult to copy text out of such PDF documents unless the parser is able to use some character recognition to figure out the text.

But the question is can we carry out a conversion of a document in PDF to MS Word?
I tried to search and did find many softwares to do so but all turned out to be closed source, costly and at times not good enough. I was looking for a open source option to do the same.

So finally I advised him to use PDFtoHTML to convert the pdf document to html and then use MS Word to open the same copying the text out from there.

I know this is a cross country trip but if someone has a better way to carry out the same using only open source software please let us know.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

KeePass - Password Manager

KeePass is a "free, open-source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager."

KeePass is your master key to all your locks. It is a better way of saving, storing and tracking your password in your computer. No doubt it is better than having them around in some text file or draft email copy (I know we do that!). For quite sometime I have been saving my growing and ever increasing web logins and passwords in a text file. But then I realised that somehow it was getting difficult each day managing them from there. Plus I have a collection of UNIX boxes with weird passwords on each. I had to look out for a open source password manager. I played around with two and am currently using KeePass.

The other open source password manager which I tried was "Password Safe".

There are some stark reasons for me sticking to KeePass:
  • KeePass has an excellent GUI and is easy on the eyes and friendly to use
  • It allows between two very powerful encryption algorithms to choose for encrypting the password storage file: AES(Rijndael) or Twofish
  • KeePass 1.x is portable and does not require a install. It truly does not store anything anywhere in the system other than the password database.
  • Import/Export the database file from/to a range of formats like TXT, HTML, XML and CSV
  • It provides options to make groups, subgroups, trees, attach files (PGP signature files) etc.
  • Auto-Type, Global Hot Key, Drag-n-Drop
  • A nifty and strong built-in password generator
  • Has a plugin based architecture.
  • The application along with its files occupies only about 888KB of disk space with its actual size being close to 873KB (The storage file or DB has not been included here - its going to be as big as the number of entries - typically 5KB for 14 entries in my machine)
  • Occupies a steady 8MB-10MB of system RAM or memory when open (much more than "Password Safe")
The upcoming release with some more new features, KeePass 2.x is for Windows XP and requires the .NET runtime to be set. I would have been happier if they would have left the .NET out of this, I as a user with very less system RAM did not have too many happy experiences with .NET

Download KeePass 1.0.6 install package : KeePass-1.06-Setup.exe
Download KeePass 1.0.6 zipped package: KeePass-1.06.zip
Released on: 2006-10-14 10:23

A wonderful thing about using password manager is that I can be sure that the passwords generated are the most difficult ones to crack.

The sad part about using a password manager like KeePass is that I have to carry the database with me and also have KeePass to be able to open it. One way is to store the password data file and KeePass application in a USB drive. But I have seen instances where USB drives are not permitted to be used (though floppies are, don't ask me why!) and then we will be without access to anything much than the master password.

Well there seems to be a online solution to a part of the problem (partly open source as the libraries for encryption are open source) called Clipperz.

But if you are a deskaholic/laptaholic and online most of the time, have numerous logins, think that the extra space saved by not remembering all the passwords can be reused, have a USB key chain to flaunt (with something in it!) or just want to try out a cool looking open source password manager then KeePass would be your one stop solution.

Be safe:
Remember whatever be the encryption algorithm or software solution; you are only as safe as the complexity of the password.