My Tablet PC is Gone

Not forever…but possibly for a week or so. But after just one day without I am definitely noticing it’s absence.

I haven’t blogged about my Tablet in such a long time. It’s not because I don’t love my tablet – in fact I am pretty sure I will never be without one now (this present week excluded). However I guess with all my excitement over other technologies lately (SharePoint, InfoPath, Project Server, Whidbey, Team System) – some things tend to fade in the background and appreciation for my Tablet is one of them.

I am currently on my third Tablet PC. My first was a Acer C100 and I loved it. However it didn’t quite have the “umph” I needed to make it a permanent weapon in my productivity arsenol.

I then moved onto an Acer C300 and I’m currently using the C302 model that has just a few extras (dvd-rw / extra memory / slightly faster processor). It’s a tablet but it doesn’t mind if I want to run Virtual PC, Photoshop, Illustrator etc… Unlike my previous models.

Overall my satisfaction with both machines from the 300 series is high. However there are a few things that bother me.

In particular it’s the fact that I had to send my Tablet back to Acer today for the 2nd time this year. The first time I returned it – the latch on the back had cracked so bad that I couldn’t open or close it without hearing a MASSIVE snapping sound. This was the 2nd time I had experienced that same issue. This first C300 I had was starting to develop the same issue just before I finished with it. In the end, when I got it back from Acer – it was fixed but there were still some noticable flaws in the latch so I am not 100% sure how long it will be before I experience the problem again.

Today I had to send it back because the power button had become extremely flakey over the past month or so and this morning I couldn’t actually turn it on. Ironically when I checked – there was 1 day left on the warrenty. PHEW! The button had started to fail about 3-4 weeks ago when I was on the road. Not a nice situation. But I found that if I jingled the button slightly it would eventually come on. I wasn’t happy with that solution but I have come to depend on that machine so much over the past year that I really didn’t want give it up for any length of time. Plus the past few months have been so busy – I really couldn’t deal with any hassles associated with returning it.

Another complaint that I have had with the 300 series is that both machines I have had wore extremely fast on the keyboard and surrounding areas. The first 300 I used had virtually no letters left on the keys. After just 3 months, the machine looked older than any laptop I have ever owned. My current model is slightly better but still noticably worn. Not really acceptable for a machine that is less than a year old.

However all those things aside – my tablet is a beast and I love it. The performance of the machine is superb and I really love the fact that is a very powerful laptop in addition to being a Tablet PC. The increased screen size (14″), 1gb of memory, faster processor and dvd-rw drive mad it a massive improvement for me over my original.

The important thing for me to point out however is that for ME a tablet is the optimal choice for a laptop / computer in a work environment. This was something I had decided 2 years ago and it still stands true today.

From a previous post explaining why I love using a Tablet:

I am a note taker. I take a lot of notes and I make a lot of lists. Being a process minded person, I have to document steps for just about everything. A tablet pc allows me to take notes anytime, anywhere. I can share my notes with anyone who wants them, in electronic or hard copy. As well, instead of having 23 different post it notes all over my desk and 5 different note pads blocked full of scribbles, I can have all my information stored in an easily accessible and convenient location.

I like diagrams. Sometimes I can’t see how something is going to look in my head so I draw it out until it feels right. Sometimes I can see something in my head but I still draw it out because I may want to show someone else or by the time I get around to working on it, I may not be able to see it anymore. The tablet is great for drawings and mockups. I can directly paste notes from another document directly next to my diagram to illustrate.

I like being able to multitask or obtain information fast. Sometimes in a meeting it would be inappropriate to be typing away and visually clicking around the screen. The tablet offers discretion.

I enjoy having a personalized whiteboard that I can project notes, drawings or images onto a screen while working with a team. But I enjoy even more being able to save this information for everyone’s reference later rather than having members of the team distracted with recreating it on paper. The shared sessions in OneNote have really improved on this as well.

More importantly I hate paper. But I was never overly comfortable as a screen reader. This has changed drastically for me with the tablet. I now print things for other people usually but use the tablet for reference or notes myself.

In particular, OneNote has helped me consolidate all my information and notes from the past 2 years into a single location. Every client meeting, team gathering, diagram, piece of documentation, every important screenshot – it’s there. And between the search feature and note flag summaries – I can retrieve anything in seconds. You just can’t put a price on that.

So in summary, while I do have some peeves regarding how the Acer C300 is packaged – I love my Tablet and really cannot wait for it to come home. :-a)

Tabby Lives Again

I just flattened and reinstalled Windows on my Tablet PC. Pretty brainless process with the recovery cd. Definitely drives home that I really need to start using Ghost for our other machines. In the meantime, while I wait for the updates to finish I figured I may as well catch up on some blogging which I have been neglecting to do for a while.

The only lame thing is that half of the buttons for the web control panel for my blog don’t show up on Safari (I’m on an ibook) or IE. Doh! I think I am only missing formatting ones anyways so probably no big deal.

Scrub Time

Gonna try and scrub my Tablet this weekend since the amount of junk on it is getting out of hand (I went a little nuts with the app testing when I first got it) and I have noticed a significant performance decrease over the past month or so. Depending on how things go I may finally get around to picking up a new mobo for my primary pc and getting that back up and running.

Hooked on OneNote 2003

I have finally perfected my OneNote setup. When I was first started using the Beta I was also just getting used to the tablet. Therefore I never really took the time to set things up properly. I liked the program (after the technical refresh) but never truly embraced it.

Last week when I installed the final release, I took a very important 30 minutes and reorganized everything by making better use of the concept of folders and sections.

Now OneNote makes all the sense in the world for me. I can keep all my client, project and internal work perfectly organized and easily accessible. Plus the publishing power is excellent and that is very important in a collaborative environment.

Plus I like how you can specify a network location for the backup file. I didn’t realize that until I got everything organized and started to feel paranoid about how I could keep all my info safe.

Update on Tablet PC Progress

Wow I was just thinking and I have been using the Tablet for about 3 months now and I have to say I have become extremely attached to it. Or rather I guess it would be more appropriate to say it has really become attached to me.

There is often a lot of debate around why or why not to purchase a Tablet. But what new technology isn’t scrutinized to the point of insanity? In the same way that there are those of us who find certain new technology exhilarating and enjoy seek ways to adopt it into our work processes, there are also others…

A) Those who don’t get it – because they are adverse to change or perhaps just too intimidated by new concepts or processes. Perhaps they are unable to see the value in new technology.

B) Those who don’t want to get it – they are instead merely perfectly satisfied with what they have. These people strongly believe in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. This is certainly not always a bad attitude.

C) Those who refuse to get it - maybe because accepting new technology and concepts threaten their feeling of “knowing it all” or being “the best”.

When it comes to new technology, whether its a piece of hardware or a new platform, the key is being open to trying new things, and knowing when it is appropriate use it.

The tablet pc is the perfect example of that for me. I don’t use it for EVERYTHING. But I do use it a lot. The key for me was learning when it was effective for me to use ink and when it wasn’t.

At first I dove in and used ink for everything. Partially because of the novelty and partly because I still hadn’t worked out my own system for how to do things.

But once I started really getting familiar with the different programs and understanding where my efficiencies lay, I was able to modify my work processes to make the Tablet a beneficial tool.

Does that mean I am never going to use my desktop again? Of course not. In fact I still use my desktop regularly.

But the tablet has reduced a great deal of redundant work for me. I am a note taker. I take a lot of notes and I make a lot of lists. Being a process minded person, I have to document steps for just about everything. A tablet pc allows me to take notes anytime, anywhere. I can share my notes with anyone who wants them, in electronic or hard copy. As well, instead of having 23 different post it notes all over my desk and 5 different note pads blocked full of scribbles, I can have all my information stored in an easily accessible and convenient location.

I also like diagrams. Sometimes I can’t see how something is going to look in my head so I draw it out until it feels right. Sometimes I can see something in my head but I still draw it out because I may want to show someone else or by the time I get around to working on it, I may not be able to see it anymore. The tablet is great for drawings and mockups. I can directly paste notes from another document directly next to my diagram to illustrate

I like being able to multitask or obtain information fast. Sometimes in a meeting it would be inappropriate to be typing away and visually clicking around the screen. The tablet offers discretion.

I enjoy having a personalized whiteboard that I can project notes, drawings or images onto a screen while working with a team. But I enjoy even more being able to save this information for everyone’s reference later rather than having members of the team distracted with recreating it on paper.

More importantly I hate paper. But I was never overly comfortable as a screen reader. This has changed drastically for me with the tablet. I now print things for other people usually but use the tablet for reference or notes myself.

So in conclusion, I love the Tablet. I am glad I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to use it. And while I don’t believe its the solution for everything, I would find it difficult to remove from my work process and revert back to my previous practices.

Tablet Update

The good news is that my boss, Steve has told me I can continue to use his tablet indefinitely since I am getting so much use of it. Personally I think he is afraid to try and pry it out of my hands. Just kidding. Thanks Steve!

I have spent the last 2 days in a couple of design sessions with our lead architect for a new project we have coming down the pipe. The tablet is proving quite useful for us since when connected to the projector it is far more powerful that a whiteboard or standard projection could ever be. I can bring up documents, websites, or diagrams. Write directly on them, scratching down ideas and then save to our project’s Sharepoint site so that everyone can have access to all the diagrams, flowcharts, and concepts we discussed. These files also prove very helpful when I start writing more finalized documents since by converting a lot of my handwriting to text, I can cut down on a lot of needless rework.

I am still on the fence with OneNote. I like it. But I don’t love it yet. I want to love it but I need more time I guess. In the meantime, I find myself switching between it and Journal for most of my tablet use these days.

The next thing I want to do is start getting as much of my reading material as possible as ebooks. Traditionally I disliked ebooks because I never found my desk the most comfortable place to do any significant amount of reading. These days I find it a pain to use a real book. I know I know it sounds like a lot of bull. But it?s very true. Between lighting, comfort, and the lack of pages to turn, the tablet an excellent tool for catching up on many of my favorite subjects online.