Big old scanned manuals to small old scanned manuals

It is good that there are so many scanned manuals for old computer systems out there. Every old system did things its very own special way, and life’s too short to guess. I mean, there’s not much out there on the SYM-1 I’m trying to get working again:

— not much except for 6502.org’s excellent Synertek SYM-1 Resources, that is.

Some manuals, though, while lovingly scanned, are just too large to download, browse or file. Take, for instance, AppleIIScans’ Apple II BASIC Programming With ProDOS. It’s a very faithful colour scan, but at 170 MB for 280 pages, it’s a bit unwieldy. I suspect it’s Adobe Acrobat Paper Capture’s fault: while it makes turning scans into readable files really easy, it doesn’t warn against using 600 dpi full colour for a book with only decorative use of colour.

Good old Ghostscript saves the day, though:

gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sColorConversionStrategy=Gray -dProcessColorModel=/DeviceGray -dPDFSETTINGS=/ebook -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dSAFER -q -sOutputFile=1983-A2L2013-m-a2-bpwp-grey.pdf -- 1983-A2L2013-m-a2-bpwp.pdf

By downsampling the scanned images and converting everything to greyscale, the result’s only 16 MB. All text and indexing from Acrobat is left intact.

For all your HP 7470a plotter manual needs

On the off chance you need to control a 30 year old graphics plotter, have I got something for you:

HP-7470A_Graphics_Plotter-Interfacing_and_Programming_Manual

The image links to a scanned copy of the HP 7470A Graphics Plotter: Interfacing and Programming Manual which I found on the web, and cleaned up. The pages have been OCR’d, so it should be searchable.

.awesome

Here are the complete 1988-vintage Sun manuals “Using NROFF and TROFF” and “Formatting Documents” scanned just for you. I’d scanned these in 2000, and they’d sat on a forgotten archive volume since then.

(if you need to get your troff on, go to Ralph’s troff.org.)

Futile Devices

I was struck last week by the realization that I hadn’t done long division in decades. When the Casio FX (can’t remember which; it was small and solar) hit my life, the need to do long division vanished. So it’s probably around 30 years since I last had to do it.

My first attempts to remember how were dismal. Then I remembered the whole bit about “bringing down the units”, and it all clicked. I made the following animation to show how I did it:

This might be a slightly odd way of doing it, but it’s the way we were taught.

help for the Weston user in your life

Talk about displacement activity: in the week or so before selling the house and upping and off to Canada, I scanned and converted the Weston Master V Exposure Meter and Invercone Instruction Book to HTML.