Snipping and Tablet PCs

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Since I’ve finally figured out how to use Microsoft’s Snipping Tool for the Tablet PC, I have a suggestion or two to offer. I realize the software is in early stages of development, so I hope these are helpful suggestions.

I’m a stickler for efficiency. I have my HP Tablet customized so I can use it as efficiently as possible. Something that would GREATLY increase my efficiency while using the Snipping tool would be the ability to set a quick key (have it invoked via command) on the tablet.

Currently, the process to snip involves moving your pen from one end of the screen to the system tray to enact the snipping utility (that is, if you have it running).

Wouldn’t it be easier to just tap a button on the side or top (depending if you’re in portrait or landscape mode) to denote the beginning of a snip? Instead of potentially forcing your pen to travel 80% of your screen’s real-estate, having it move 1/10th of the distance would save a very small amount of time – but the convience would encourage users to use it more. That time adds up quickly.

I can honestly picture myself using the snipping device to portray points in online documentation/support situations, but the amateur appearance of the cutout shape of the snips is a double edged sword. Could there be an option to snip with a rectangular marquee by default?

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Tablet PCs: Worth Another Look

Are Tablet PCs going to flop? Not really.

Are Tablet PCs going to be in every American household in 3 years? No.

I’ve been using a Tablet PC on a daily basis since late September. Before then, I had used one for about two weeks during the summer of 2004. The tablet I’m using is a HP Compaq Tablet PC tc1100. The university received a large number of tablets under a grant from HP. I’m looking at my role with a tablet PC as a R&D guy.

This past September I spoke in brief about students and the educational role of tablet PCs compared with laptops, PDAs, and pencil/paper. Realistically, the pencil/paper combination was the clear cut winner – but we hinted at a strong possibility of tablet PCs gaining more notoriety.

Is a Tablet PC right for me?

(more…)

Tablet for Two

Tablet PCs have been added to the latest list of buzz words, but for good reasons?



Recently at work our office was charged setting up these HP Tablet PC tc1100s. Luckily, I was also chosen to do some RD(Research and Development). I’m a harsh critic of technology (some have even said Nazi) but the fact is most technology is just not that useful.

Tablet PC Competition

Tablet PC competitors are: PDAs, Notebook PCs, Pencil and Paper.

PDAs? I hate PDAs. I hate Palm Pilots. There’s very little practical PDA use once you get past the stylus use (you have to be able to write in Phoenecian). Don’t even try and sell one of those other input devices with the PDA – the keyboards are cramped, klunky, and difficult to set up. I’d be fine with a cellphone that can import contacts from a PC to keep track of phone numbers, addresses, etc. but I see very little real-world-and-general-public use of PDAs. There’s just not enough software developed to lure in the nerd card. There are some really neat uses of them, like doing automobile diagnostics, but a PDA in the hands every ordinary Joe is not going to happen. * 1/2 (out of five stars)

The Notebook PC (Laptop) provides a lot of power – but the power costs a pretty good amount of money. The ultra thin laptops are ultra awesome. They’re even better if you don’t need to hook up anything like another hard drive, CD-rom, etc., but they provide less portability than a PDA, but much more power. Notebooks are a perfect companion to have for the nerd-on-the-run, but with regards to general usage, I’m not so sure how Notebook PCs perform. Imagine having to take a laptop to a meeting and take notes (not minutes) with it. Fire up text-editor of your choice, right? What happens when you need to jot down a diagram, or a chart—are you going to open up Paint and meticulously draw this out with your touchpad? ** 1/2

Pencil and Paper—old faithful. Pencil and Paper is hard to beat for notetaking situations. Pencil and Paper’s main advantages are that it’s cheap and it’s easy. Disadvantages? It’s difficult to collaborate with Pencil and Paper if someone can’t read your writing, or if you’re in different locations. Information retrieval is also made into a hassle – you have to find your paper, then scan through your notes to find the statistic. *** 1/2

Tablet PCs (and their software) are still pretty expensive. Voice and handwriting recognition software has improved greatly since my last use. In fact, my handwriting (except for the letter K) was recognized almost 100% of the time. Voice recognition software is still very tedious to set up, but once I completed the training it was amazing. Still, I spent far too much time training my software instead of using it. Currently: ** Could be: **** 1/2

Tablet PCs as a personal/portable computing medium will succeed if the following things happen:

  • Lower Cost
  • Better Recognition Software

The medium just works. If I need to type, I can switch it over and type. If I need to draw, write, or speak, I can do that from anywhere. As far as potential practical use, the Tablet PC medium just works.

Since it’s still relatively early for the Tablet, I won’t gripe that much that they’re damn near impossible to set up on a large (aka more than 1 at a time) scale. The NIC is a pain to configure in order to work with drive imaging software like Norton Ghost. We had to do some very-close-to-system-level configuration of these cards just so Ghost would work. You can take HP’s side and say Ghost didn’t abide by guideline A or B, or Ghost’s side that HP didn’t play by the rules. That doesn’t matter, what matters is that it took us about 4 hours of scouring several different sites to get the Broadcom card to be registered especially when their solution wouldn’t work.

Today’s Thoughts and Links

Today’s post covers the following:

  • Security
  • iPads
  • Finances

Enjoy.

Security

A lot of my time awake lately has been dealing with Information Security. Some ponderings:

Privacy 2.0. You’re only as secure as your friends allow you to be. [link]

Interesting and very scary thought. Especially with what I’m seeing with Google’s Social Search. This is fairly disturbing to me. Friends: Please let me know if you see anything from my account on this and I’ll work on getting it removed.

The more interesting part of this is the derivation attacks that can occur with something like Google Social Search or Facebook.  In the 2008 election, Sarah Palin’s email account was hacked. From a Wired article:

As detailed in the postings, the Palin hack didn’t require any real skill. Instead, the hacker simply reset Palin’s password using her birthdate, ZIP code and information about where she met her spouse — the security question on her Yahoo account, which was answered (Wasilla High) by a simple Google search.

With regards to secret question/secret answer and sharing of gobs of data, according to how “friendly” I am with someone on Facebook, this is worrisome.

  • What was the first school you attended?
  • What’s the name of your first manager?
  • What’s your first born nephew’s name?

With a little bit of elbow grease, some reasonable attempts could be made on almost every one of these answers. The problem is that Social APIs enable programmatic gathering of this data and focused attempts. Solution: Put in complete BS for secret questions & social networking; hope that you remember the BS and still have friends.

iPads
Long time readers should know that I was a fan of the tablet form factor six years ago. Pics here. It’s nice in niche environments but doesn’t really fit into everyday use.  The major change is that they’re using a touchscreen UI. All of the other “innovations” are just normal evolutions of software / hardware that happen over time (e.g., screen resolution, usability, better software).
See, in order for a device to be worth something it has to add more value than cost. Not just a status symbol or a cult mentality, but actually make life better without breaking the bank. Just like the already existent Windows based tablet PCs, the iPad is not going to be a value added experience for most people.
Things that a iPad/Kindle/eReader will have to do to REALLY add value:

For about a year, the iPad should bring some good competition to the tablet industry for user experience and price. That’s A Good Thing™.  After the first year, the industry’s competitive reaction will depend if they’re making money.

Finances
I wanted to get tax out of the way. What are the readers using for taxes? I’ve been a Turbo Tax customer for many many years, I was wondering if there were any better choices out there.

Year In Bullet Form: 2004

In the spirit of last year’s entry titled [The year that was], I’ve decided to give that entry’s format another shot for 2004.

2004 was a year filled with challenges to overcome: Personal, Academic, Professional, and others.

  • A year ago I lived by myself in a 1BR apartment. Now I’m kind of commuting from my parent’s lake place and the 3BR apartment that I’m moving out of soon.
  • A year ago I convinced myself I had found ‘the one’. Not so much anymore.
  • A year ago I was unsure of my graduation date. It’s May 2006.
  • A year ago I lacked strong political/religious convictions. Last year brought some growth in those areas.
  • A year ago I had two more math classes to take. Now I can say this: I AM DONE WITH MATH CLASSES FOR EVER.
  • A year ago I wrote more personal entries on this site than technical ones.
  • A year ago I despised Chinese food. When I’m in Murray, I love Asian Buffet. Sooo dericious.
  • A year ago I read the book of Luke. I haven’t read any books besides the Da Vinci code since then.
  • A year ago I shaved every 3-5 days. You’ll be lucky to see me go
    over 2 days without shaving.

  • A year ago I had never heard of Tablet PCs. In 2004 I organized [my best presentation yet highlighting Tablet PCs].
  • A year ago I played euphonium in MSU’s symphonic band. I’ll still be doing that this year. )
  • A year ago I had no clue what I want to do when I graduate. I have no clue today.
  • A year ago I could be categorized as an idealistic, compassionate, oblivious-to-the-world (to my last few month’s detriment) male college student. I just want to have a load of fun and get out of school now.

Portfolio Beginnings

I’m currently compiling content for my online portfolio. I’m also in the early stages of the site’s design/layout.

The site’s content and design are equally important because without an eye catching/easy to use portfolio the content might as well not be there. On the other hand, if the content is not well polished and truly worthwhile, a potential employer has no reason to hire me.

I realize the job hunt is fairly far away (Fall 05/Spring 06), but my entire college career I’ve heard two things:

  • “I’m graduating and I have no clue what I’m going to do” – said by graduating students, to me.
  • “You can get just about any job you apply towards.” – said by friends, family, and colleagues to me.

The tools that will land me a great job

are an effective resum(e) and portfolio. Heh, I’ve read/heard those, social connections, and that whole timing thing are the big factors.

I drafted up a few sketches last night on my Tablet PC using Microsoft OneNote.

The portfolio is going to be an awesome accomplishment when I get it all done. I’ll be sure to incorporate everything I’ve advocated over the years.

  • XHTML
  • CSS
  • RSS
  • Usability
  • Semantics
  • Machine Friendly URLs
  • Accessibility / WAI / WCAG / Section 508
  • W3C Standards

Some other notes:

The portfolio site will run within bofe.org’s installation of Movable Type. The URL I’m wanting to use is portfolio.bofe.org.

The hopeful completion date will be Spring of 2005, but the site will be a contiuous work in progress since I intend on doing activities that are portfolio-worthy in my lifetime.

Short Ride In A Fast Machine

This all happened last week:

I’ve earned a 89.3% on my first Calculus Exam. I’m pretty pissed it wasn’t an A. Longtime readers of The Bofe Blog may remember an entry discussing my difficulty with math.

I’ve also earned a 95% on my Business Law Exam. The highest score in the class.

I busted my butt planning, preparing, and proposing one extremely good presentation at The Forum that was essentially a live demonstration of Tablet for Two first seen on The Bofe Blog.

I was a panelist for one decent presentation for The Forum, but I was 1 of 7 students involved in this, so I can’t take much responsibility for it being good/bad.

I gave my all for two awesome performances at my last Festival Of Champions ever. Rehearsals were hellacious.

I’ve earned another raise at work, and a promotion of sorts. We’re still working out a few details of the position, but I think the official title will be ‘Intern Project Consultant’, or something to that effect.

At work, they also are letting me use a tablet PC for more R&D purposes.

So when you send me an instant message saying ‘update your blog’ or ‘your site is dead man’, or you leave a comment saying ‘post, you bastard’ I hope you can understand I’ve been SLIGHTLY busy.

Student Session

Supplies:

  • One Elmo Device for projecting pencil/paper.
  • Three Data Projectors, one for a PDA, one for a Tablet, and one for a Laptop.

Student activity related to coursework in the classroom can be narrowed down to these three categories:

  1. Recording Information
  2. Retrieving Information
  3. Collaborating with Peers

+I – Pencil and Paper (Me)+

  • Recording: Records notes on paper – can easily write out symbols, graphs, etc.
  • Retrieving: Sifts through tons of papers – reads through paragraph headings and eventually finds the information
  • Collaborating: Makes copies, peers cannot read handwriting to retrieve information.

+II – PDA (Devin)+

  • fishing for ideas on this one…

+III – Laptop (Michael)+

  • Keys notes, has difficulty recording complex symbols, mathematics, and informational graphics
  • Is able to easily organize notes by date, and search them all for keywords
  • Emails typed notes to group members which could be easily incorporated with a typed report

+IV – Tablet (Garrett)+

  • Is flexible with keying or penning notes, charts, and symbols.
  • Can have the handwritten notes converted to text and searched (with some limitations)
  • Emails files, etc. with ease.

Wrap it Up

I’ve successfully planned my last three semesters at MSU. I’m still undecided if I want to get my MBA at MSU. That’s nothing to worry about right now.

Classes are going well. Calculus will be a lot of work, but once I get it under my belt the rest of college will be a breeze. Econ is interesting. My professor is like Esmorelda Villalobos from Pulp Fiction. You know, the cab driver that says Butch funny? Not only did MSUR have its first gathering of 04-05, but MSURacers.com was also featured in the school’s paper again.

Regular readers of TBB may remember an entry entitled ‘Tablet For Two’—we’re giving a ‘real-time’ demonstration of this entry at this year’s Teaching and Technology Forum. I’ve written up a ‘script’ for how this will be portrayed, but I left it at the office. I’ll post it Monday.

Marching Band is back. We have 212 members, which is up 51 from last year. Our first performance is today and it looks like it will be in the rain. Anything would be better than yesterday’s rehearsal in the muddy intramural field.

Summer’s over, which is a bad thing because I had an awesome summer. I mastered Accounting, Unreal Tournament, and Cold Fusion. Those were the days. Come in to work at 8am, done at 4pm. Every day. Now I’m getting to work at 7:30am, and done at 8pm or for the past week, 9pm.

I can’t wait until the schedule normalizes. Chris, thanks so much for the My Bloody Valentine CD.

Stuck on Channel9

I’m addicted to Microsoft’s Channel9.

On the other hand, I’ve been addicted to sites like Slashdot, and K5 – but Channel 9 seems unique much more personable.

Not to mention the great branding with the logo and overall look. I’m under their spell.

Today’s video interviewing Bert Keely about a Tablet PC was awesome. He moves like I do on a keyboard, but he’s using a stylus.