Editor’s Pick of the Week: CamScanner

Welcome to the first edition of Editor’s Pick of the Week. From now on, every week, our editors will write about a service or app they are passionate about or use on a day-to-day basis. 

Often a situtation arises that one would want to scan a document but has no scanner available nearby and unwillingly has to take an actual photocopy of the same since photocopy machines are available easily while scanners are not (because you need a computer to save scanned data, but a photcopier outputs it on paper). Moreover, I would also point out that photocopies use paper: destroying trees, so it’s not environment friendly. I wouldn’t say a computer is environment friendly either, because there are a lot of factors to considered.

These days, a smartphone has become a common device, so common that people may not have laptops or desktops but have smartphones which come with good cameras (well, mostly). So there is the key to our problem: we can take photographs of the documents to be scanned. It’s essentially the same thing: you have the document in digital format; the only difference being that it is not properly processed as a scanned document might be. And since it’s a photograph you can obviously take it at different angles, again impairing the visibility.

So there’s this handy application for smartphones (iOS, Android) called CamScanner which can enhance such photographs so well that a person can barely point out the difference between an actually scanned document and the output of this app. You can have PDFs (which means you can scan a multipage document into a PDF) or save individual processed images or both.

I’m a student of Engg in India, and it is a religion to copy practical journals, simply because it involves too much effort to think and write it by hand. I used to take photographs and real photocopies of the documents earlier and then came to know about CamScanner from — I guess you know where — the Internet. After a few uses, I was so impressed that I bought the pro version (because most of the documents I required to scan had multiple pages).

Now, all I do is use the app to scan documents (or rather, copying material) and it works out way cheaper and cleaner for me than photocopying it.

The application is very feature rich (not an exhaustive list):

  • Single & Multiple Page Documents
  • Document tagging (for grouping)
  • Facility to share a document
  • Uploading to cloud storage (GDrive, Box and Dropbox)
  • Google Cloud Print: If you have printers connected to Google Cloud, you can directly print them.
  • Various image enhancement options

If you need to scan a lot of documents, CamScanner is a must-have app for you. Do make sure that your phone has a decent camera, otherwise the app will have trouble in properly recognizing the contents of the document you are scanning.

Download CamScanner for Android from Play Store and for iOS from iTunes App Store.

Self Refilling Ink In Printer Cartridges

Inkjet printers, are rather common in households and small scale offices. These printers are cheap because the technology used in them is cheap — ink spraying. There are cartridges filled with ink and an electrical circuit to control which pores are opened and which are not. And it generates the characters and images on the paper.

Why you should refill ink in the cartridges yourself?

Because, it’s cheaper, and you do it properly. A lot of shops can be found offering cartridge refilling services, but they charge like $1 or more for refilling a cartridge and don’t do it properly. I’ve often had to buy new cartridges due them filling poor quality ink and choking or spoiling the electrical circuits.

The refill kit is available for around $10 and half a litre of black ink costs around the same, $10. So if you calculate, you can refill the cartridge 50 times (assuming each refill takes 10mL) and the cost per refill comes out to be $0.4, including the equipment cost as well. If you don’t include that, then it’s $0.2. Very cheap!

Refilling cartridges may void warranty of your printer, so you better check with manufacturer’s terms before attempting this.

For the environment enthusiasts, I would like to point out that refilling cartridges is environment friendly — because every time you buy a new cartridge, the product has gone through various industrial processes, new plastic is used, etc. Also, when you dump your old cartridge in garbage, it simply goes into dumping grounds and as you might be knowing, plastic takes ages to decay, so why not recycle it?

As of writing this, I myself have refilled my printer’s black cartridge about 5 times, which means I saved $15 * 5 – $20 = $55.

Some printers have detachable print heads and others have non-detachable print heads. In printers with detachable print heads, the electrical circuits to control pores along with the ink supply are enclosed in one single detachable part (that’s why detachable head). In printers with non-detachable heads, the electrical circuits to control pores are fixed with the printer, while the ink supply is a different unit and can be replaced.

If you have a printer with a non-detachable print head, make sure that you buy good quality ink, otherwise the pores could get blocked and would cost you a lot to get it repaired. You should be concerned about the ink quality even with detachable print heads, because the print heads cost around $12 or above, depending on the quantity of ink, the make, and other factors. You don’t want to spend on new cartridges because the pores got choked due to bad quality ink, do you? But in general, if you have a printer with a detachable print head, you’re on a safer side, in the sense that you can buy a new original cartridge if for some reason the one you’re using gets choked.

Enough of discussion about print heads and stuff, now let’s come to the point — how do you refill the cartridges?

In this article I’ll be covering the refill process only for detachable heads due to certain limitations, which should give you an idea about refilling non-detachable heads as well. It’s quite simple, there are holes provided to inject ink into the cartridge. The photo below is of a HP 21 cartridge (black). The top sticker has been removed and you can clearly see the hole.

Color cartridges have three holes instead of one, because they contain inks of three different colors – Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. If you want to refill color cartridges, you have to buy inks of all three colors separately. To refill the cartridge, you simply need a syringe, a needle and a bottle of ink. Yes, that’s it! But, as I stated earlier, refill kits are available, which do a much better job. They come with a syringe and a blunt needle, so that you don’t inject ink into yourself! Also, a case (box) to carry out the process so that spilling does not occur. Below is a photo of the ink refill kit I bought from eBay.

The process is very simple. You fill the syringe with ink and then inject it very slowly into the cartridge. If you bought a refill kit, then follow the kit’s instructions.

That’s all, enjoy refilling and saving the money as well the environment :)

A Script to Save Cached Flash Videos on Linux

It happens so many times, just so many times — we watch a YouTube video in the browser and then want to have a copy of the same. But saving it directly from the browser requires addons/extensions, which may not be available instantly; actually, Chrome doesn’t need a restart after extension installation and you may be able to save the cached video instantly. Or may be not — I don’t know because I don’t use Chrome, but Firefox and I know this script works very well as I use it quite often :-)
Also, it is quite possible that an addon/extension is not able to get the video from cache, and starts downloading again (makes no sense actually).

The flashplayer is very smart, it deletes the file as soon as you’re done with watching the video, but thanks to Linux, we can still recover the video from memory. It’s a property of Linux that files don’t get deleted immediately. When a file is deleted, but is open by a program, the file is not removed from memory/disk (but is not visible in the file and directory listings) and can be easily recovered from the /proc virtual filesystem. I’ve written a small script to help this problem and it is available under GNU GPL license at https://github.com/nileshgr/utilities/blob/master/general/flashdownload.sh which uses this feature to copy the videos from memory into another location so that you can have a copy. A copy is pasted below as well.


# Script by Nilesh Govindrajan <[email protected]>

# Saves cached flash video from any running browsers (that use libflashplayer.so)
# File will be saved as the random string with extension .flv in the current directory.

for p in $(pgrep -f libflashplayer.so -U `id -u`)
    for f in $(find /proc/$p/fd -type l)
	filename=$(readlink $f)
	echo $filename | grep /tmp/Flash
	if [ $? -eq 0 ]
	    dstfname=$(echo $filename | cut -d' ' -f1 | awk -F/ '{ print $NF }')
	    cp $f ${dstfname}.flv

It should be quite clear from the script that this will work only if you use a browser which uses the libflashplayer.so plugin. I think the binary versions of Google Chrome packs in a flashplayer by default, and hence, might not work on it.

How to use this script:

After you’ve finished watching a video, do not close the window. Open the terminal and execute this script; see the example below.
Suppose the video I watched had filename FlashXXXX when cached to your system, then on running the script, you should get FlashXXXX.flv in the directory where you ran the script.

$ cd
$ wget https://raw.github.com/nileshgr/utilities/master/general/flashdownload.sh
$ chmod +x flashdownload.sh
$ ./flashdownload.sh

As stated earlier, you should get FlashXXXX.flv in your home directory (because that’s where the script was run in the example).
Note: This script will save all flash videos (ads too!), so you’ll have to watch whatever gets saved to make sure you got what you want, and then delete the rest.