More on tablet…

Either my handwriting is getting better (I doubt it) or I am getting more comfortable with writing on tablet,

I am quite amazed how well things I have scribbled down today were recognized. And in all honesty, the things that were not recognizable by the tablet were actually quite unrecognizable by my own two eyes. Let?s face it, sometimes chicken scratches are just unavoidable.

I have found that by zooming the screen when working with One Note or Journal to about 130 to 150%, my ink notes are tidier and cleaner. This is something I learned from working with Photoshop (bigger zoom = better precision)

Scoble has an interesting post on differing opinions of the tablet. I appreciate how he does acknowledge some of the negative sides of the tablet – the sign of a good debater. However he also makes some great comments on the value the tablet pc has.

I have found the tablet great in multiple aspects of my daily life:

1) Team Collaboration: Quick meetings – a couple of clicks and notes are transformed into live tasks and added to team site or emailed.

2) Storyboarding – I always sketch out an outline for the ads and print materials I create. It?s nice to do this in a digital format that is edited easily and can be stored directly with production files.

3) Reading – Excellent tool for research, blog reading and browsing. Last night I picked up a traditional book for the first time in a week instead of using the tablet. I think I may actually like tablet more. No pages to turn, consistent lighting, and more comfortable to curl up with.

4) Brainstorming – Check out Mind Manager. Enough said.

5) Creating outlines for complex documents and projects. Convert to type and drop into one of my word templates. Voila I have my document ready to go with TOC. Its just more natural feeling to scratch down all my headings and drag around the screen till the flow is acceptable.

6) Quick information lookups. Often in meetings something comes up in conversation that sparks something I would like to know more about. Being a Google addict I get a twitch whenever I hear something I am not 100% familiar with. It?s far more discrete and polite to use my pen in tablet mode and browse to a website or email message than to start typing. No one even picks up on the fact that I am not just taking notes. Perhaps when I know everything about everything (sarcasm) I won’t have to do this. Until then it is nice to have some flexibility and discretion.

As far as the Tablet as a desktop replacement – I really can’t see that happening. Games, graphic design and video editing are better on power boxes. But heck I never considered my laptop a desktop replacement. But a tablet could easily be a laptop replacement and more for someone like me. And as for the other activities that I do on my desktop – they really only account for 2% of my total computing time as they are only hobbies.

Tablet PC : Still Going

Still using tablet – saved my life in a major client meeting today. I am leaving tomorrow for a week as part of my summer holidays. I have a considerable amount of work to do before I go.

After nearly 8 solid hours of meetings, discussions, presentations etc? there are a lot of notes and action items.

However thanks to Tabby here I was able to sit down this evening, convert all my pages to text (some minor editing required) , add in some short comments and basic formatting and email to my team so that they all had a copy of everything that was discussed today.

If I had taken my traditional approach I would have about 20 pages of paper that I wouldn’t even be able to consider typing tonight amongst some other things I would have to get done. Instead I would have to leave that till I returned in a week?s time. At which point the content would not be as fresh in my mind.

I love Tablet PCs.

Day 4 : Tablet PC

This morning started out a little rough. It was the third morning in a row that I woke up feeling terrible because I stayed up far too late playing with the tablet. Steve tells me this is “Tablet Hangover”. I think he is right. Of course this doesn’t mean I won’t be doing the same thing again tonight. But then again, my days with the tablet are indeed limited so I must make the most of them.

I truly can’t remember the last time I was this excited over something. It is a nice rush to the system. I guess the last time I was this intrigued was the Mac phase I went through about 12 months ago when OSX came out and we got an IMac and an IBook. I still enjoy playing with the Macs but the tablet has a much more practical use and potential in my life. I just wish I had one when I was in University. Almost makes me want to go back. Well no that’s not true.

I spent most of the day at the office working on a documentation piece for a Sharepoint install our company performed this week. Basically a little customization to a simple manual I had written a while back for another install. I was basically taking a bunch of screenshots of the test site that we had deployed at the office and dropping them into the document along with text descriptions of various steps. The interesting part came I started using ShareKMC so that I could share my pc’s keyboard and mouse with the Tablet. A very nice app I might add. I turned on the “Write Anywhere” function on the Input Panel of the Tablet. I was then able to go to various pages on the test site, circle/highlight items with ink over the page, click Print Screen on my PC’s keyboard and voila, I had a screenshot highlighting exactly what I wanted without any heavy modifications or editing.

I will also be using the tablet to do all my reviewing and editing over the weekend. I take back my statement on how I didn’t like the Windows Journal. I was wrong. Its actually working a lot better for me now, I think I may have been using the pen too lightly since it was my first day and I remember being quite scared that I would break something. This is pretty much the approach I take whenever taking on new technology or applications. I try not to get too caught up when something doesn’t work or I can’t figure out what to do next. I usually move on to some other aspect and learn some more things so that by the time I make my way back to the original stumbling block, I know enough to coast on past without difficulty. Perhaps an approach I should adopt in non-technical life too.

This evening I have been spending a lot of time online reading and checking different tutorials and instructions. Still dying to find a massive resource for the Tablet where I can learn more fun stuff. Loren’s blog does include and link into some good stuff so I will be returning there for a while.

Messenger 6 is still high on the hype-o-meter today. I’ve been sending my share of ink messages. Most people unfamiliar just think I am using a funky font. Of course no font could ever capture the craziness of my unique handwriting / printing / scribbles. I even played checkers tonight with a good friend. The pen is great for clicking the squares. Unfortunately my checker skills are subpar.

An interesting thing that I have noticed, many of the people that I have chatted with chose the rubber ducky as their first pic when they installed the new version. In fact, I would say of the people I have been chatting with 90% did. At first I thought it was just an eerie coincidence, but I think it just means we all have a deep rooted emotional link to our childhood rubber duckie. Or maybe not.

Well its the weekend. So that means hardcore tablet use now. When I am at work I try and incorporate it into my day as much as possible but cautious not to get too sidetracked. Now I can dive in head first and really spend some quality time with my new companion “Tabby“.

Day 3 : Tablet PC

Today was another great day with the tablet. I am starting to find it difficult to imagine how I functioned without it. Well that’s a stretch I know but heck its fun. Now all I need is to give it a name…..

It is proving to be the perfect companion for quick little progress meetings. All the flexibility of a pad of paper with the functionality and accessibility of a laptop…but better.

Tonight I am noticing another great use for the Tablet. I love it for reading. There is so much material on the web that I love to read but generally cut short due to this discomfort of sitting at my desk staring at my monitor. I usually take the iBook and kick back either on the deck or in bed, but that too has its limitations. However curling up with the Tablet is ideal. Espiecially for Blog reading.

Even tonight while I was installing Windows on my PC (new harddrive), I kicked back and read most of Joel Spolsky’s book on UI Design (at least the online segments). Great writer. He hits on some real truths about end users and delivers them in a truely entertaining and interesting manner. I love reading his stuff.

I admit I am having alot of fun with the new messenger. Sending messages in ink is fast, fun and safe. No worries of embarressing errors in handwriting recognition. At first I was disappointed that I couldnt use the cool new emoticons but then I realized (when talking to my older bro) that there are things I can draw with ink to convey a message that I doubt Microsoft will ever create an emoticon for.

I was disappointed with One Note in the way it keeps creating new sticky things as I am trying to make a list or note. At first I thought it was a setting I had wrong but Steve tells me that its a common problem people are having that will be fixed in next Beta release. This pleases me since I would rather stick to MS Products whenever possible when it comes to project docs and collaboration as they all work so well with each other now.

I am still using Mind Manager too. I was playing around with creating some branch templates, filtering, and exporting. The filtering and power select functions are great.

Picture it, you leave a crazy design session where 1000 ideas were tossed around, tasks were identified, questions raised, questions answered, decisions made etc.. Normally all these things don’t just come out in an orderly form that flows directly onto your paper. In fact if you want to stand any chance of survival you need to learn to flag as many things with symbols or marks as possible so that they don’t get lost in the pile.

With Mind manager you can just assign a colour to certain items. Simple enough and not time consuming. Then when you get out of the meeting you can filter items by referencing the colour and add symbols that are representative of what the object actually is (question, task). As well you can export maps into word, html docs, project, powerpoint, images etc.. It even has built in publishing to the web via FTP.

I also noticed today that for making quick calculations or edits to a spreadsheet using the tablet, its much easier if you zoom in on the sheet. Great for quick cell changes, comments and calculations.

Its also nice to print files to the Journal Note Writer and scratching them up. Excellent for making presentations and having group discussions.

Day 2 : Tablet PC

Today was another fun day with the tablet. After spending last night getting to know each other a little better (should have hooked up my webcam and sold to Fox as the next big realTV show…the geekette)….sidetracked…I spend today actually putting it to use in the workplace.

First thing this morning I had an internal meeting to discuss a project. I was able to scratch down the same notes I would normally take (but cooler) and identify all action items, milestones and tasks right there on the screen. Then when I return to my office I convert my notes to type (good job) and import the tasks into Outlook and assign. I am then able to pretty up the map and post to project portal site. Not bad. All in the time it would normally take me to type up my meeting notes. Still have some things to learn before the process is streamlined but already quite impressive. I was using Mind Manager again this morning since at that point it was the program I was most familiar with.

As well later in the afternoon I ran into a mind block trying to plan out some modifications that were necessary to our ISP customer management system in order to incorporate some new sales promotions. All was going well when BAMMO I struck a wall. I then spent 30 mins brainstorming and came up with 3 different scenerios, grabbed the manager for that division to discuss, made more notes on top of my brainstorm web with him, decided on an alternative, printed a copy for him, exported and added to my spec document. Nice. Unfortunately I later discovered a flaw in the plan but at least I still have all my notes from today saved in my WIP folder. Normally they would be in the shredder or wastebasket by my desk by now.

I tried the Windows Journal for doing some quick notes. It doesn’t seem responsive enough to my pen. Maybe I need to adjust something but its enough of a problem for me to discontinue playing with the program for a while.

This evening I am testing out One Note a little closer. I like it. I can’t say I love it yet but time will tell.

I also downloaded the latest version of Messenger (v6). Pretty cool. The ink takes up ALOT of room when you preserve handwriting. I felt like I was dominating the conversation based on the size of my words. Not really sure how that could be avoided without damaging the quality of the words.

Anyhow, toys to play with….ahem I mean work to do. Will post back later once I do a little more with One Note.

Day 1: Tablet PC

My boss let me borrow his tablet PC today. He said i could use if for a week to sees what its like. so i plan to keep a log starting today of everything i learn.

So far l have very basic things down, but i must say the handwriting recognition is amazing. i am intentionally not fixing any errors so that lcan monitor my progress .

One thing i haven’t decided on is whether i like using it in landscape or portrait mode .

Landscape is more screen likeand idon’t feel like lam smudgingthe screen as much.

One thing i notice already is that the more i write the sloppier my handwriting gets and the more mistakes i am making. it reminds me of writing lines on the chalk board. i used to be a chatterbox ok. i would start off so perfect and by the time i was done the bottom line was twice as wide as the top line.

My boss had “Mind manager” installed so I tried that out in a design session we had this afternoon. The brainstorming Concept is pretty cool and closely matches my way of notes taking.i need to try converting my notes into others docs and tasks now.