Turning PDF Charts Into Usable Data

Someone once opined that nothing set back information exchange more than the fax machine.

For data, I'd rank PDFs as a close contender.

Tonight I became convinced that I needed to begin pulling City of New York numbers out of a PDF chart by hand (I'll share the chart once the story comes out), or plunk down $100 for some conversion software.

Then, through this blog post, I discovered this online conversion service from Nitro. For free. 

It took a few minutes for it to convert ... in fact I thought it didn't work. But then, it appeared in my email box: A perfect Excel file, correctly formatted, funky columns and all. Whew.

Now if NYC.gov would post this info in a more data-friendly format, that'd be really fantastic.