Wednesday, November 23, 2005

OneNote Mobile... man, I wish they had it for the Treo

Chris Pratley had some interesting news about OneNote Mobile on Monday. I guess I never really focused on the OneNote 2003 SP1 feature that they added which synchronized with a Windows Mobile smartphone. With OneNote 12 and OneNote Mobile, you WM people will be able to do two-way sync of a specific section between OneNote and your WM smartphone. You can even take pictures with your smartphone's camera and put them into OneNote. Then the OneNote 12 OCR can make the words in the picture searchable. The same is true of audio recordings (which I've never used), whether you record them on your PC or on your phone. (Searchable audio! This is how you know that you are basically in the future compared to what you knew when you were a kid. Computers have slowly edged closer to my dream of the "song search engine" which indexes the lyrics as sung so you can search by "the wind of mayhem" or whatever song whose lyrics but not title or artist you can think of. (BTW don't search for "the wind of mayhem" please, it is from the song of the same name by Bathory and also includes the line "it brings us curse, lust, hate, damnation and death"))

I am really jealous of the Windows Mobile people now because OneNote Mobile sounds really cool. I have a Treo 650 and I've pretty much resigned myself to be unable to sync it with OneNote until someone writes a third-party utility. And I don't really have my hopes up too high for that, since people who use both OneNote and Treos are probably not enough of a user base to warrant someone writing one. Particularly since Palm SHOT A BULLET IN THE HEART of the Palm OS by announcing the traitorous 700w. Maybe a devoted Treo/OneNote fan will write something to meet their own need and I can leech off of that. I suppose it is far too much to hope that that person is also a TabletPC owner so that they will integrate this utility from the future to allow ink. Wouldn't it be cool to handwrite notes on your Tablet or your Treo and read and edit them on either platform? Then again, you could only write like four words on the tiny Treo screen. Further, there are probably only like 10 OneNote users who use both TabletPCs and Treos. I just checked and Marc Orchant is one, so maybe he can convince someone to right OneNote Mobile for Palm OS.

One thing that wasn't discussed was whether methods other than ActiveSync would be supported to keep the smartphone and PC copies in sync. There probably are none. I think it would be pretty cool if you could sync between a section hosted on a SharePoint site through the smartphone's data connection or through 802.11g. Or if you kept your section on an SD card (which you'd probably have to do anyway, the damn things get so big after awhile) and then passed it between the PC and PDA. Cradling your device to sync it is so 1999.

So, if you use OneNote and a Treo, leave a comment or something and we'll try to convince people to write a sync program / client app to display OneNote sections on a Treo!


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Sunday, November 20, 2005

back from vacation

Back from two weeks in Beijing, Shanghai, Kyoto, and Osaka. One thing to bring up here: why is it that when I stay at a somewhat low-end Drury Hotel in St. Louis, I get free internet access, whereas when I stay at Westins and Swissotels, I have to pay $15+ per day for internet access? It seems like the more you pay for a hotel, the fewer things come with it for free. I recognize that many European countries expect you to pay for internet access that we in the U.S. have come to expect for free and in fact we tend to have cheaper or free internet access available to us while those countries are either highly regulated or are state-owned monopolies, so the hotel's own cost to provide us with access is higher.

I also have only recently begun traveling with my laptop (actually, my work-supplied TabletPC) so of course I should have expected in previous travels to pay to use a computer that is not my own to access the internet, a la internet cafes and hotel business centers. We did this in Bangkok and in Cambodia in our trip two years ago but of course it cost next to nothing ($0.50/hr in Phnom Penh), versus 5 euros per hour in Barcelona. Bringing the laptop not only allows you a familiar computing environment (and keyboard!) but also you don't have to worry about time limits, and you can install things (like Flickr Uploader) and keep backups of your pictures and whatnot which is very useful. I used the RPC over HTTPS connection to keep my own Outlook up to date on my work email and also enjoyed the Outlook Additional Time Zone feature (right-click above the time column in calendar view, Change Time Zone), which I had previously been using to stay on top of Central Time appointments for my St. Louis client, to keep track of the mind-boggling time difference between Eastern and China time (-13 hours + 1 day so 1:30PM Sunday is really 2:30AM Monday morning in China; add one hour for Japan time).

I had a weird travel experience where my Dazzle 4-in-1 card reader corrupted my SD card multiple times. I bought this along with my Dell PC almost two years ago and it has been fine for CF cards and SD cards, and I even brought it on my last trip (Berlin and Estonia) and used it with our CF card with no problems. However, the first day I went to copy the pictures and upload them, there were all the sudden no pictures on the card. Tried multiple USB ports and deleted the device from Device Manager and re-added it, and had no luck. This was a new SD card since we bought a new camera and card for this trip (Canon SD400, replaced a Canon A80 which we liked a lot but is like 4 times the size and 10 times the weight). I don't really know how to explain it. We bought a much smaller, SD-only reader for 1200 yuan (approx. $12.50) and it has worked fine throughout the trip and beyond. It is small enough that I'll probably throw out my shitty free 64MB USB keys and use it with my 1GB SD card to transfer important files (movies) to my STL coworker "AB".

That's all I got for now. Still catching up on sleep, email and laundry from vacation. More technical posts coming up this week...


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On vacation

I apologize to my few readers for my sporadic posts. The next two weeks will be even more sporadic since I am in Beijing now and will be going to Shanghai and Kyoto as well.  Those of you looking for OneNote/Media Center/TabletPC info will just have to chill for a few weeks.

On a side note, I realized yesterday morning why I don't fly United anymore when I recevied a call from my firm's answering service (so they had called my work number at 6AM rather than my home, or cell phone number) telling me my 9AM first leg flight from LGA to ORD was delayed two hours, so I should plan to take the 8AM. (We were connecting a 12PM flight from ORD to PEK (Beijing).) Then when I called United at 6:10AM to figure out what was going on, they told me the only thing I could possibly do was get to Newark for the 8AM flight. My wife got back from getting bagels at 6:20PM and we frantically got ready; fortunately our car service was already there at 6:30AM and agreed to take us to Newark and that we were able to get through check-in and boarding in enough time to make the flight. Imagine if we'd lived in Long Island, or if I'd gone to LGA thinking that I was on the 8AM flight based on their message? We would have lost a day of our vacation. It's like, I know that I got my tickets using reward miles so I'm the lowest person on the totem pole to United. But this just brought all my fears of United to light, which was that they'll just cancel any flight and/or their crews will just show up late to any flight they want since the whole company is in such shitty shape and every employee is so demoralized. I switched to Continental for my St. Louis travel and though I don't love them either, they only cancel flights when extreme weather dictates it and have treated me decently so far. I almost wish I'd spent the extra $1000 or whatever to get these tickets so I could have gotten up to Elite on Continental and rewarded the airline that I'll be traveling with for awhile.

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