Puzzling PDF

Roy Smith roy at panix.com
Sun Feb 16 16:33:39 CET 2014


In article <mailman.7056.1392559276.18130.python-list at python.org>,
 "F.R." <anthra.norell at bluewin.ch> wrote:

> Hi all,
> 
> Struggling to parse bank statements unavailable in sensible 
> data-transfer formats, I use pdftotext, which solves part of the 
> problem. The other day I encountered a strange thing, when one single 
> figure out of many erroneously converted into letters. Adobe Reader 
> displays the figure 50'000 correctly, but pdftotext makes it into 
> "SO'OOO" (The letters "S" as in Susan and "O" as in Otto). One would 
> expect such a mistake from an OCR. However, the statement is not a scan, 
> but is made up of text. Because malfunctions like this put a damper on 
> the hope to ever have a reliable reader that doesn't require 
> time-consuming manual verification, I played around a bit and ended up 
> even more confused: When I lift the figure off the Adobe display (mark, 
> copy) and paste it into a Python IDLE window, it is again letters (ascii 
> 83 and 79), when on the Adobe display it shows correctly as digits. How 
> can that be?
> 
> Frederic

Maybe it's an intentional effort to keep people from screen-scraping 
data out of the PDFs (or perhaps trace when they do).  Is it possible 
the document includes a font where those codepoints are drawn exactly 
the same as the digits they resemble?

Keep in mind that PDF is not a data transmission format, it's a document 
format.  When you try to scape data out of a PDF, you've made a pact 
with the devil.

Unclear what any of this has to do with Python.  Maybe the tie-in is 
that in the old Snake video game, the snake was drawn as Soooooo?

Anyway, it's S as in Sierra, and O as in Oscar.



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