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?

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?

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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.