Convert/Capture Parallel port data from Unix box and convert to word or rtf file

Posted on 2003-03-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-04
I am installing a new SBS2k server and pc's at a clients.
They have been running a old Unixbox and terminal stations for years contected to a a Laserjet printer.
The company that looked after the Unix box is no longer around and I don't have the administrators password for the unix box so can't really change anything plus I don't really know Unix.

The client has thousands of documents stored on the Unix box that need to be transfered in MSword. The documents on the unix systems are in an old program called Meta4. It produces quite simple documents with simple formatting like bold, undline indents etc with all in 10pt Courier. I have as yet been unable to find a conversion program or utility.

What I am thinking of doing is somehow capturing output from the parallel port on the Unix box (standard AT machine) to the serial or parallel port on the PC and so that the document could be read in Word. I know this might sound tedious but I reckon its still much quicker than scanning and OCR.

Is this possible? has anybody done this? and what do I need in software/hardware? Any help would be much appreciated.
Question by:charin
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Expert Comment

ID: 8329763
The data coming out of either the serial or parallel ports would have escape codes in it, to turn on/off bold, underline,etc.  Are the files binary or are they text based ?
If they are text based, you would be better off writing a perl or awk script to convert them to .txt files.
LVL 62

Expert Comment

ID: 8492381
Meta4 is still alive and well so ask them.
I thought MS Word is capable of opening text files and integrates well with Old Bad UNIX
You need a "null-modem serial cable" to capture data sent to printer, using another PC/AT

Expert Comment

ID: 8654663
I assume you still can login to the Unix box using user account (non superuser). If your Unix is connected to a network, would it be faster if you transfer the file over the network using FTP?

What you need to do is:

1) print it to a file instead of to the parallel printer (see if your Meta4 have this feature).
2) do ftp to your PC. Win2K or NT usually have built-in FTP server, or you can download some free FTP server from www.download.com.
3) The rest is depend on the software.

If you want to try this method and need further help please let us know.

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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Hanno P.S.
ID: 8854938
The data flowing out on your printer interface (serial or parallel port) is NOT plain text rather that formatted for a particular printer.
Therefore, you should NOT try to use that stream. Alternatives:
a) See if you can instruct Meta4 to print to a file (in plain ASCII or RTF or whatever is possible) instead of a printer and copy the resulting file (or FTP it) to the windoze world
b) If there is no such option, create a temporary file (whereever you have write access to, if everthing fails try it in /tmp) with the command
    touch my_file
    > my_file
(if the command touch does not exist) and have Meta4 using this file as the "printer". Make sure you do use a simple (ASCII or plain text) type of printer from Meta4

Good luck

LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 10273705
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