To view any of Daniel’s books online, the best place to start is with the links on the right where you can view a gallery of covers, a brief description of each book and links to the book’s content in different languages. Also on the right are links to Understanding newsletters and other related material. The best known work of Daniel’s is the White Sands Incident, however, the most complete story of Daniel’s experiences is now available in an eBook sold from this site.
Daniel also started an organization called “Understanding Incorporated” which published a monthly newsletter for over 25 years, made videos and once even tried to start a radio station. Using a scanner and Optical Character Recognition software (OCR), most of the Understanding newsletters have been converted into a searchable HTML format. I have republished the content here in the event others would like to know what Daniel and Understanding were about.
A Word About Copyright
The copyright for most of Daniel’s books have, according to U.S. copyright law (PDF), expired and to quote the relevant part (bold mine):
Of Daniel Fry’s books that were copyright between 1950 and 1963, the following were apparently not renewed and lost copyright protection in the year in brackets:
- 1954, “White Sands Incident” and “To Men of Earth” – (lost copyright in 1982)
- 1956, “Steps to the stars” – (lost it in 1984)
- 1960, “Atoms, Galaxies and Understanding” – (lost it in 1988)
- 1957, “They Rode in Space Ships” – (lost in 1985)
And most of those books that do fall after the 1963 cut-off were reprints of these earlier books. To ensure the books had not been renewed, I did a search of the copyright office’s on-line records and the only book that appears is Verse and Worse.
As for all the Understanding newsletters, except for those published after 1978, the law (PDF) is quite clear:
None of the Understanding newsletters had a copyright notice.
For those works still under copyright, for example “Curve of Development” and Understanding letters after 1978, I own the copyright purchased from the inheritors of Daniel’s estate.
Why scan in all the newsletters?
In order to understand Daniel Fry and his life, it is important to be able to see all sides of the story. One side is the newsletter contents which, although mundane, do hold a few gems of information. With a searchable on-line database, anybody can learn the true nature of Daniel’s story, me included.
With much TLC! (Tender Loving Care) It’s a four step process:
- Scan the Newsletters in at 300dpi black & white JPEGs
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) the text
- Format the text and export to HTML
- Upload and then, with a nifty extension to the software that generates this site, the HTML is dynamically sucked into the template and cached so it can be searched.
From scan to uploading, it takes about 1 to 2 hours per newsletter.
A little history:
I started out with a cheap Benq scanner that was laying around, but it was very slow and worse, the scanning head would get lost and it would take minutes for it to reset. I also started with perhaps the world’s worst version of OCR software, TextBridge 9, because it could not save work-in-progress. In other words, you were forced to export the finished document to “save it” but if you wanted to come back and fix something, you had to do the OCR all over again! But the biggest problem was that, for unknown reasons, the export frequently failed and you had to re-OCR just-finished-pages to get it to export. It did have one feature that worked well, which was the ability to specify the scan was of two pages of a book and it “zoned” them very well, complete with pictures. I scanned about five years worth of Newsletters before giving up.
First, the Benq scanner took up permanent residence in the closet and was replaced by a Lexmark X5150, although I use the native windows scanning application.
Thinking the bugs would be fixed in the latest version, I purchased Textbridge Pro 11 and they were, but they removed the only feature I liked. They replaced it with automatic zoning which doesn’t work because it mixes up parts on opposing pages. They also removed the WISYWIG HTML exporter from the previous version and the HTML exporter they replaced it with uses non-standard “\” slashes in the paths – ack – in other words, once the HTML was loaded to the server, any “normal” browser, like Mozilla couldn’t find the files! But the accuracy went up substantially and you could finally save work-in-progress. In the end, I used TextBridge PRO 11 to do OCR and Word, with custom styles, to fix the formatting and any remaining spelling mistakes.
Surprisingly, the HTML exporter on Word 2002 was relatively “clean” if you used the “filtered” type and were choosy about what content used. For instance, the wingding font works in IE, but not in Mozilla. What really made Word a pleasure was that I could store my styles and macros in a template and after inserting the OCR’d text, I could apply the styles to the headers and regenerate the table of contents dynamically. It also created HTML links although it took a good many hours to figure how to create the HTML links AND page numbers in the TOC (sounded simple when I thought of it too and the trick turned out to be – generate a regular TOC, but then add “\H” to the field codes and use a macro to fix the formatting.)
I had finished scanning about 2/3 of the newsletters at 150dpi in colour before the number of errors per page was starting to make the OCR step a huge bottleneck (hours per issue!). After experimenting for a bit, I found that 300dpi in black&white significantly reduced the number of errors and I could do a page in about 20 minutes. However, even then, it was the formating and final spelling check in step 3 that was the bottleneck.
Of course, the real beauty comes from WordPress, the Content Management System this site is built on.