Thursday, December 15, 2005
My (almost) 365 days with a TabletPC
Tonight, Memeorandum yielded a nice article by TDavid, a regular TabletPC blogger who I have read in the past but have not kept up with in the past few months. (I have not really been keeping up with certain subsets of my RSS feed list and TabletPCs have definitely been one of them.) He has just passed 365 days as a TabletPC user and since I am coming close to that milestone myself I realized I had a couple things to say about my own experience as well as about TDavid's article:Positive things about the last ~340 days as a TabletPC user:
- Taking ink notes in OneNote
- No more pads of paper
- Searchable (conversion willing) hand-written notes
- Much less antisocial form factor than a keyboard with a screen blocking off the people across the table from you in a meeting
- It is now second nature for me (and my coworkers have stopped giving me shit about this) to bring the tablet into a meeting to take notes. Why would you ever write on a pad of paper?
- Admittedly, when I interview prospective consultants for my company, I usually leave the tablet at my desk and revert to paper. Part of it is that I don't want to derail 5 minutes of a 30-minute interview by discussing the tablet with them, part is that I don't want to distract myself with e-mail and whatnot, and part is that my battery doesn't last for four half-hour interviews.
- Otherwise, I take the tablet to every meeting. The power supply comes along too :)
- MindManager Pro
- After sitting and staring at a Microsoft Project plan for an hour, I launched MindManager, picked up the pen, and had an entire 200-item project plan an hour later.
- The handwriting recognition in MindManager is very accurate compared to OneNote
- I wrote a few reviews for my employees and the words just flowed when I understood that I didn't have to answer each question in order. I know I could have jumped around in the Word template but when staring at a Word document it just wasn't flowing for me. I try to do this with Word now now that my trial copy has expired but I miss MindManager.
- I wish my company had bought it for me, the application was fantastic during the trial. It is unfortunately a profoundly expensive application and I had to say goodbye before I could convince my IT manager of its value.
- Snipping Tool (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/tabletpc.mspx)
- Seriously, even though these days I use my tablet in convertible mode (e.g. without the pen) 90% of my day, not a day goes by in which I don't launch Snipping Tool, take the pen out of its slot, circle something, and send it to a coworker.
- I know TDavid mentioned it and so probably does every other TabletPC blogger, but for real, Snipping Tool rocks so hard. What a genius utility.
- Firefox + mouse gestures
- I use All-in-one Gestures (https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=12) for its Mouse Gestures feature. Though I started using it long before I had a tablet because it was just convenient, it is actually invaluable in tablet mode. Back and Forward, whatever; but Up for new window, Up-Down to scroll to the top of the screen (and Down-Up to go to the bottom), and Right-Left-Right to close the window save you a lot of hand movement. Any time you don't have to move to the scroll bar or up to the Close Tab button just means more convenient keyboard-free browsing.
- I just installed Gecko TIP (http://geckotip.mozdev.org/) because TPC TIP wasn't compatible with Firefox 1.5 on the advice of the Magic Spot blog. Though I haven't used it much, it sounds like it fixed the problems that made using the pen to enter URLs and whatnot into Firefox so annoying.
- Converting the ink notes (e.g. when I need to present minutes to a client)
- Font size problems are to be expected
- OneNote NEVER understands the difference between my commas and my periods.
- Attempting to use ink in a OneNote shared session
- The application was clearly not designed for this since it only supports drawing mode rather than inked text mode.
- Far slower speed of writing versus typing
- If I had a slate instead of a convertible tablet, or if I couldn't type 90 WPM, I think writing would be radical. But I can touch-type like a madman, and every time I can do so without annoying others, I will do so.
- However, I have experienced what other TabletPC users have described as a more contemplative use of the computer when writing. It is just different writing in OneNote or into a mind map; a more relaxed pace if you will. I do tend to switch to tablet mode and take out the pen when on the phone with someone, or when sitting around my apartment trying to brainstorm something.
- That said, for things like Outlook e-mail, it is so much slower to use the TIP, particularly if you actually correct the misinterpreted words, that I just never perform my regular "information worker" tasks using the pen.
- Like anything else, different people have different work styles, and much of the time, my work style is more compatible with using my tablet as a traditional laptop.
I also had a few comments on TDavid's post:
- I tried ActiveWords and hated it. I know this makes me a rebel tablet user but I guess I am set in my ways such that a combination of a few quicklaunch icons and my Run command history was good enough for me.
- I checked out TDavid's "crink blog" (CRappy INK, http://www.tabletpcblogs.com/blogs/tdavid/default.aspx) and am intrigued. I really have no plans to blog at work (which is where I use my tablet, for the most part) so I'm not really going to be inking except in my hotel room in St. Louis after I've finished my work for the night, but maybe sketching something quickly would get me back on track to blog regularly.
- Though I always jump at the chance to evaluate new PowerToys, I couldn't think of a use for those offered by tabletdev.com (http://www.tabletdev.com/Downloads.aspx)
- I agree with TDavid, ArtRage rocks. I used to dread trying to create something worthwhile using Corel Painter since it was so time-consuming, but using ArtRage with a picture to trace has nudged me to create many more artistic things. I even found I was taking random shitty pictures of things on my Treo just to have something to trace in ArtRage. Cool.
Of interest to you might be...
FireFox/Flock to OneNote
MindManager to OneNote
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