Saturday, 08 May 2010
I decided yesterday to start using my Nikon D200 digital still SLR camera to do some interval shooting, and then took the series of images to make a time-lapse film. It’s something I’ve messed with before a little bit, but for some reason I decided I wanted to dive right in.
I made a couple so-so quick and dirty videos yesterday, and then shot some night clouds moving across the star-lit sky last night. The nice thing about living where I do is that there’s lots of sky and trees to help frame the shots, and the city lights are fairly far away. So clouds get a glow on a long exposure at night but the stars show up nicely, too.
Anyhow, another cool thing about this new little hobby tangent is that I can spend three to five minutes setting up a interval series shot, click a couple buttons, and then walk away for about 90 minutes while the camera takes its pictures. That works great for quickly starting a shot between work calls or what have you.
I used to be a photographer professionally – back when people still shot film. That was two careers ago, and I miss it at times. So I have a pretty solid understanding of how things work for different types of exposures, and all the weirdness that goes with long exposures. But with digital cameras things get messy when you do exposures more than a second, and the whole video noise thing is really pretty annoying.
At any rate, I came up with a few videos, so I thought I would post them here along with a few noted about how they’re made.
My initial videos were kind of messy, but you can click the links to see them if you like. Gotta start somewhere, heh.
I’ll start here with a video I made today, which took advantage of the rather spectacular clouds building in the sky over my house this afternoon. To see this video in its highest quality, view it in HD at YouTube.
The night shot at the end of the above video was filmed last night. I didn’t quite capture the stars as brightly as wanted, but it still turned out pretty nice.
So, tonight I decided I wanted to try again. I adjusted the shooting exposure (went from a 10-second exposure to a 15-second one) and the result was the quick video test below, which shows the stars much more clearly I think.
Night clouds and stars take two from Greg Hughes on Vimeo.
It’s not really too hard to do these time-lapse films. I have a camera that will do interval shooting, and I also have a remote intervalometer shutter release for it. Some consumer cameras have this feature, some require an external controller like the one I have.
Once the series of photos is made, I import them into QuickTime Pro. You just choose File > Open Image Sequence and then point at the first file in the numerical sequence. As long as the files are one complete numerical list, QuickTime will import them in the right order. Then I export the files as MP4, 1920x1080 and 5,000 Kbps or higher bit rate.
After that I pulled the film segments with the soundtrack audio into Windows Live Movie Maker on Windows 7, produced the video with transitions and what have you, then exported to a new hi-def video. I also automatically published to YouTube.
That’s about it. I will try to post a more detailed tutorial sometime soon, after I do a few more time lapse sessions.
Wednesday, 04 October 2006
Rob Bushway over at gottabemobile.com has posted some pre-announcement specs about the forthcoming ThinkPad X60s Tablet PC, which is highly anticipated as the next big Tablet PC thing from Lenovo (the company that now makes those ThinkPad notebooks we all love).
Supposedly, from what people are saying, the actual announcement is not scheduled until next month, but here's what Rob says he hears we can expect (go to his site for the details). If it all holds true, this looks like a very interesting machine. I have to hope the graphics and DualTouch will support Vista. In fact, one has to wonder when Vista will be the default OS on these things. When you consider RTM is likely to happen early next month for the new OS, the stars do seem to align. Hmmm...
Anyhow - back to the geek-out specs:
Intel 945GM chipset
Intel Core Solo and Core Duo Processors Low Volt Processors
Core Duo ( L2400 (1.66ghz) and L2500 (1.83 ghz)
Core Solo (U1400 (1.2 ghz) to announce in January 2007
new 2.5" SATA high-speed, standard models with 5400rpm, up to 120gb capacity and optional 100gb 7200 rpm HD available
128mb of Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Up to 4gb of PC2-5300 DDR2 memory (667 MHz) - 3.2gb available to the operating system
2 memory slots - memory is no longer soldered to the mother board
12.1" XGA Wide angle display ( 170 degrees) comes standard with
Anti-glare / anti reflective coating, now with dynamic screen orientation that adapts the screen to how you want to work ( we are assuming this is like the M200 and M400 accelerometer that auto rotates based on the angle you hold the screen)
Plus two other new screen options
UPDATE: The pen has an eraser on the end of it
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Sona Mobile has announced they will release a media player for newer model Blackberry devices that enable users to partake of wirelessly updated "BerryCasts" and wireless streaming media.
Sona Mobile Holdings, Corp is launching a BlackBerry Media Player software application, designed to offer multimedia applications on the latest generation of RIM devices. The new application will offer near TV quality playback of synchronized video and audio files, and will bee showcased at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium May 16-18.
"We are thrilled to be first to market with a media player for BlackBerry devices. For the very first time, BlackBerry users can receive either BerryCast (PodCasts wirelessly updated) or streaming video on their mobile devices," said John Bush, CEO and president of Sona Mobile. "And being able to announce CanWest MediaWorks as our first customer who will supply news content daily for a Sona Mobile BerryCast, lets RIM customers take advantage of a download-and-play method of delivering multimedia files to BlackBerry devices. We believe that this application will be well-received in the marketplace."
Should be interesting!
Wednesday, 01 March 2006
DualCor will soon release their new cPC computer. Many are poised on the edges of their seats, waiting to see more, and many also can't wait to buy.
Digital Lifestyle Magazine has a new video with lots of good footage of the device being shown on by Steve Hanley, DualCor CEO. An external battery pack with 10 DAYS of battery life. Wow - cool.
See the video here and learn more about the new device.
Note: As mentioned here before, I am a DualCor technical advisor, so I am not exactly completely unbiased, but you have to admit, no matter what - this is great stuff.
Sunday, 18 December 2005
James Kendrick's got some exclusive details on the DualCor cPC, a nifty looking mobile device that can run Windows XP for normal computing tasks, and switch to Windows Mobile 5.0 when the user needs more PDA type functions:
"The cPC sports a dual processor design, a Via 1.5 GHz processor running Windows for standard computing functions and an Intel chipset running Windows Mobile 5.0 Phone Edition for handling PDA and phone tasks. The cPC doesn't just rely on the dual processor/ OS design to innovate, it also has a passive digitizer (touch screen) running Windows XP 2005 Tablet Edition! This will provide a rich stylus-enabled experience for those times when end users are mobile and not docked."
This is a great idea - dock it and you get the keyboard experience with a monitor and all, pop it out of the dock and switch to mobile mode instantly, with an uber-smartphone. I can think of a few people who are probably going to want one of these...
Here's how DualCor puts it:
"Delivering the Holy Grail of Enterprise Mobility: 100% replication of the fully functional, fully connected, non-diluted, intra-enterprise desktop experience in a completely mobile hand-held device."
And I like the letter-opener style stylus (see the larger view of the image, above, by clicking on it).
Sunday, 20 November 2005
A couple months ago I took early delivery of a ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC, and I like it a lot. There are a few things I'd improve (like maybe offer a faster proc and faster hard drive spin speed as an option, and possibly higher resolution video), but overall it's great.
But I ran into my first problem last week. The "push-through" latch - which sticks out of the machine's screen either on the screen surface side or the top surface side, depending on whether you've rotated into slate mode - broke and fell out. So not I have a Tablet without a latch. Luckily, the lid tends to close shut. he only real problem is it also tends to rotate if you push on it the wrong way.
Looking at the base side of the latching mechanism, it appears something in there broke. Not good. And the thing, is, all I've done with it is open and close it normally... No torture, drops, hard landings, hard closings or anything.
Bummer. Seems like the convertible Tablet PC latch market needs a better design. Someone out there should design the perfect latch, patent their Really Good Idea and run with it.
Thursday, 27 October 2005
I've been using my X41 for a few months now, and overall I like it a lot. It's one of the better portable computers I've used.
Charles Jade over at Ars Technica has put together an "unreview" of the X41 and it's a fun read, not to mention an interesting evaluation of this specific Tablet PC computer, as well as a commentary on the Tablet PC edition of Windows, which he frequently refers to (in his somewhat sarcastic but also accurate fashion) as "WXPTPCE2005."
He finds both good and not so good things to write about. I liked the review. Read it here.
Friday, 14 October 2005
If you happen to have the .NET Framework 2.0 pre-release installed on a Tablet PC and you've noticed reliability and/or stability problems using the Microsoft Ink functionality on your Tablet, Microsoft has released an update to fix some compatibility problems:
"Compatibility issues (events not firing, classes being disfunctional) with CLR2.0 have been found in Windows XP SP1/SP2 versions of Microsoft.Ink.dll on Tablet PCs. Since this dll is a system file on these configurations, they require update through Windows Update."
Wednesday, 05 October 2005
Got a Tablet PC and wondering about games on the platform? Yeah, me too. Recently I've been thinking about the Tablet PC platform in general (I have had four different models in the past few years) and what could make a difference in terms of more real reasons to need one (as opposed to want one, but hey - I suppose 'want' counts for something, too).
Some games have incidental (as opposed to direct and intentional) support for the Tablet PC, but what games are out there that are designed specifically for the Tablet? I know it's hard to design and build expensive games for an audience that won't let you recover your dev costs, but someone has to start somewhere. Microsoft should really push this envelope harder.
I did some searching around, and discovered one that I missed before. It's called Arcs of Fire - and appears to be written in C#. It's made up of a game engine, the Tablet Game SDK, and the Tablet PC SDK. Tied together, the combined platform makes for a game environment that lets you leverage all kinds of features of the Tablet PC - like pen pointing, ink and drawing, and screen rotation. On the web site, there are whitepapers, video tutorials and overviews (see the documentation section), and a whole slew of other technical information about the game.
Heck, the Arcs of Fire web site is cool in and of itself - when I go to provide my info to download the game package (which weighs in at 50MB), I am presented with text input boxes that sense my Tablet pen input device. I write in ink, and the web site code leverages the Tablet bits (the TIP, I imagine?) to convert my ink to text by default - very cool.
The site's ink-enabled forums allow you to write handwritten forum posts. It's a bit hard (read: impossible) to index those in search engines (including the forum search), but the concept and execution are quite well done. The ASP.NET source for the ink forums is also available for download.
Granted, you have to use IE to do these fancy things, but hey - someone should be able to fix that problem...
Oh, that's right - there's a game on this site... The source code for the game is available on the download page for anyone who wants to tackle that. After downloading and running the MSI installer, which includes a distribution of the required DirectX 9, you're presented with a rather nifty game. It's simple, to be sure, and it takes some getting used to. But for a tank-vs-tank battle, it's an interesting gameplay experience.
It's not much more than what you're used to in shoot-the-other-tank games with third-person, cross-section view. The difference here is that you use the pen to fire your ammo at the other side. Pressure, speed and inking gestures all make a difference in how your rounds get fired at your enemy. Background music and sounds effects make it more fun.
I'd say this is a good start to something bigger and better, for sure. I was mostly (and pleasantly) surprised to find a site and game that are geared directly at the Tablet PC user. Makes me wonder what other games would lend themselves well to Tablet PC deployment. Maybe use the pen to draw your strategy plan for the Terrans to annihilate the Zergs? Or maybe draw your next play from the virtual huddle?
Check it out at http://www.arcsoffire.com/
Choose your player name (click to enlarge)
Game screen (click to enlarge)
Wednesday, 07 September 2005
Gateway's announced a widescreen format Tablet PC - cool design, and it has dedicated ATI graphics, which should be nice in the Vista world of Aero Glass. PC Magazine has a review here:
"The CX200 is a workhorse: It's loaded with the fastest Pentium M (770) processor currently available, 1GB of RAM, and the ATI Mobility Radeon X600 graphics chipset. Unfortunately, the system couldn't run our SYSmark 2004 SE and MobileMark 2005 benchmark tests because of the tests' limitations, but other systems with this type of configuration perform very well on day-to-day computing tasks. Both the Doom 3 and Splinter Cell games ran smoothly. The 3DMark 2005 scores were very respectable at 996 (1,024-by-768), something rarely seen on a tablet..."
Thursday, 01 September 2005
For those who are running the Vista Beta 1 on a Tablet PC but have not had the TIP (Tablet Input Panel) because you're not on the formal beta test program, your wait is over.
Microsoft's released the TIP to the MSDN Subscriber Downloads, so go get it and ink away.
Friday, 19 August 2005
There's a bit of chat about regarding handwriting recognition on the Tablet PC, and the new feature/functionality in the Vista beta version of the OS.
I used to write in block letters or carefully crafted print on my Tablet PC. Then I decided (thinking naively that it would be a miserable failure) to write in cursive script. Much to my surprise, I found it worked much better.
With the Vista Beta One TIP (Tablet Input Panel), the ability to enter text and make changes is greatly improved. I've found it's even more accurate. In fact the whole TIP behaves much better all the way around - not so much in the way, more flexible, and all-around better recognition. I'd post pictures but I'm afraid I'd be breaking an agreement (although screenies of the Vista desktop and stuff seem to be very common on the Internet these days).
It also seems to recognize non-standard characters that are written by hand. Stuff like smilies and whatnot. That's cool. There's similar thoughts over on the Tablet PC Blog. It will also be interesting to see what Beta Two holds.
Wednesday, 17 August 2005
I have a request for makers of Tablet PC hardware - one that I think would be totally feasible, and would greatly simplify my Tablet PC ownership.
The one thing about using a Tablet PC that regularly haunts me, as an adult male approaching midlife crisis age (and with all the associate baggage in areas like memory, concentration, etc), is the fact that the pen/stylus I love to use with the Tablet is really, really, reaaaaally easy to misplace. It's a problem.
Cuz ya know, there's nothing quite like having a fancy-dancy convertible notebook Tablet PC without a pen. Heh.
Just ask the IT guys at my company who loses the most styluses (styluses? stylii? hmmm). They'll just roll their eyes, laugh and point at me.
So, here is my idea, recorded here for posterity: Build in a proximity device that I can turn on that will make the pen chirp or something if it's more than, say, about 15 feet away from it's home (the Tablet PC, that is) for some extended period of time.
Heck, it might even be worth enabling the pen to speak out loud and say something like, "That dork Greg Hughes at 503-629-xxxx left me sitting here all alone. Please call him and tell him to come pick me up, and that he needs to go put a quarter in the jar."
Or something like that. I'd settle for just the chirping alarm.
Any other bright ideas?
Sunday, 07 August 2005
Here's a shameless plug of my very own... I guest-co-hosted the Tablet PC Show
with James Kendrick today, filling in for the one and only (and much-better-at-this-than-me) Marc Orchant. It's been published, so check it out if you like:
The TABLET PC Show #19 (MP3 - 21MB - 60min)
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE
Marc Orchant was away but guest co-host Greg Hughes graciously stepped in and we have an action packed show. Greg fills us in on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet PC that he’s been lucky enough to use for the past month so anyone interested in this fine convertible (or those anxiously awaiting delivery) will get some good information to take away. After the break we shift focus to the hot topic of the week, WindowsVista Beta 1, and round up the information that is starting to emerge from those brave enough to install it on a Tablet PC. Enjoy the show and as always we appreciate your feedback! (We missed you Marc!)
The Tablet PC Show #19 (MP3 - 20.9MB - 61min)
00:00 Intro- Greg Hughes & James Kendrick
05:45 Greg has a Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC
25:00 The Podcast Network
26:00 WindowsVista Beta 1 information roundup
eWeek- will your Tablet run Vista?
Random Elements- Colin Walker installs the beta
Greg punches a cat in the face
IE7 panning with a pen
Tablet PC team has a blog
Speech recognition- command and dictation fused
Ink Analysis in Vista
60:00 Wrap up
I am writing this post by speaking into my microphone on the Tablet PC. James told me that maybe I should try this again and get a more serious shot. I have to admit I'm actually a bit surprised that it's working as well as it is.
Let's see how it handles some common text.
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. When in the course of human events it becomes blah blah blah.
OK, I have to admit this is pretty cool. After adjusting the volume of the microphone it seems to be more accurate. The gain on the microphone was just too loud.
Very very cool.
JK says he uses this capability all the time for writing columns and articles. I've tried it before but never really considered it to be a "real" source of input. But after hearing him talk about it, and giving it a shot, I'm convinced there are some possibilities here. The Windows Vista enhancements should make it even more usable.
What would be interesting is trying technical writing with this speech recognition engine. Somehow I think the recognition of technical (computer/scientific/etc) terms might be a challenge.
But it's pretty darned cool.
Just couple quick links to some cool new stuff.
Microsoft's Tablet PC team has started blogging - very nice. Check it out:
The Tablet PC Avalon (a.k.a. "Windows Presentation Framework") team has also started blogging:
Two blogs that look to be worth watching, and I've subscribed to both.
I just finished spending an hour or so conversing about one of my favorite topics with James Kendrick (jkOnTheRun) as a "guest host" on The Tablet PC Show. As is often the case in the podcast world, we used Skype to communicate and JK recorded and produced the thing on this side of the connection. We talked about the X41 Tablet PC (of course) and then spent a bunch of time bouncing around different Windows Vista on the Tablet PC topics.
You can listen to the show by visiting this link.
I had a lot of fun doing this. Thanks to JK and Marc Orchant (the real co-host of the show, who was out of town this weekend) for the opportunity. James made it easy for me, and hopefully it turned out ok.
If you're visiting here from the show and wondering who the heck I am, check this link. Tablet PC stuff I have written about in the past is available here.
If you're a regular reader here and want to see what podcasting and The Tablet PC show are all about, check out the show's web site right here.
There are a couple things I *have* to do now that I've spoken about them out loud:
- Get this Windows Vista ISO image to freakin' work - I must have a bad DVD burner or something, as I am consistently making coasters (and then, of course, install it and the additional Tablet bits on a Tablet PC).
- Revisit the speech recognition capabilities of the Tablet PC - James says he uses it all the time, and I am thinking I may not be taking it seriously enough in terms of daily use, so I want to check it out again.
This whole podcasting/audio show/Internet conversation/etc thing is fun and cool. And, depending on how it's used, I think it can be a great medium for certain styles and forms of content delivery - especially interactive conversations.
Anyhow, the 19th edition of the Tablet PC Show has been posted, so check it out. I'll post a link to the show when it's up. Hopefully I won't sound like a complete dork (but I probably will, heh).
Monday, 18 July 2005
Over on the Microsoft Office Assistance web site, there's a great video of Chris Bertelson - an long-time Microsoft employee with lots of experience demonstrating software - navigating his way around the features available in Office OneNote 2003.
- If you've never seen or used OneNote, this video will show you all kinds of cool things, and gives a great idea of what OneNote is all about.
- If you're already a OneNote user, don't skip this one! Be prepared to see all sorts of great things that you can add to your personal toolkit to make you a OneNote power user.
This 45-or-so-minute video (see links below) should be mandatory training for OneNote users. It's that good.
I use OneNote every day on my Tablet PC as well as my desktop machine. One thing many people don't realize is that OneNote is not just a Tablet PC application - In fact OneNote was initialy conceived and designed before the Tablet PC was born, and it's a great program for desktops and laptops, too.
Chris covers some serious ground in the video:
And if you want even more detail, check out the webcasts:
The Webcasts of this demo are available on demand. These are generally more in-depth than the demos because they include audience interaction and questions and answers. You can watch them on your own schedule.
One more dedicated post reviewing the new X41 ThinkPad Tablet and my experiences of the past week, then back to our regular (random) programming. You can read my first two review posts here and here.
Walk into an aiport or a coffe shop and start writing on your screen. You'll get "the look." Tablet PCs tend to attract and grab the attention of people who have not seen one before. They're also of interest to gadget freaks, of course.
I spent a few hours Saturday with some "new media" geeks, hanging out in downtown Portland. Several of them asked if I brought along the new ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC I've been using this past week. Well, of course I did. Several of those present said they've been thinking about possibly been getting a Tablet PC for their next computer, and wanted to see one. Others were simply curious about what IBM has done with their initial foray into Tablet-Land.
Of course, Josh Bancroft wanted to take pictures, heh. Many wanted to hold it in their hands, see how it feels, and to learn about what you can do with it. I've noticed one of the huge selling points of these things (with geeks and their wives and girlfriends, anyhow) is how the thing feels in your hand. Once I rotated the screen and placed it in their hands with the extended battery as a sort of "book spine" grip, that Tablet PC realization kicked in and you could see the expressions change on each of their faces. When people start using the pen, the "ahhhhhhh's" come out and the questions start. The main difference this time around is the X41's an even better example than most of why Tablet PCs are so darn cool.
Anyhow, I have been making a quick little list of things I'd like to see IBM/Lenovo to do to improve this thing, because while it's a terrific machine and I'm definitely won over, it's not quite perfect.
Use the hard drive protection gyroscope for screen orientation
I've been playing with it for a while now, and as far as I can tell, this model has a gyroscope (or similar) device built in that's used for real-time awareness in order to protect the had drive from shocks. You can even open the active-protection configuration applet and move the computer around and watch the picture of the thing on the screen move around just as fast as you can make it. But it doesn't appear the IBM software is connected in any way to the software switches that control screen orientation. Why not? If I'm holding the thing in my right hand with the battery on the left, use that technology to make sure the display isn't upside down, for gosh sake. Or, if I am missing something and the capability's already there, tell me, please.
I wrote about this before. The pen has no "eraser" end on it. As expected, I was able to verify that any standard stylus that does have an eraser end works just fine with the T41 (I used an Acer pen for the test)... So, hopefully IBM will ship a new pen that has the eraser end, and I will buy it. Honestly, it's driving me nuts every time I work in pen mode. But that's okay, I'll live. For now, anyhow. I just wish the Acer stylus was the same size and shape as the IBM model, so I could just swap them out. No such luck.
Fingerprint software loses focus when Windows has been console-locked
This is a software nit-pick, and I am not sure if the problem exists on non-tablet versions of Windows XP or not (and I don't have a computer to test this with), but when the computer is "locked," the fingerprint reader dialog (they replace the regular Windows "This computer is locked" dialog with their own) often loses focus, and swiping your finger does nothing until you click on that Window to bring it into primary focus. I am wondering if it's because of the on-screen virtual keyboard, since it appears to have focus on the screen. I'll have to check on that and figure out how to turn it off, if that's the issue. Anyhow, it's a usability issue, and should be addressed one way or another.
Your mother is a hamster; Your father smells of elderberries
Just seeing if you're paying attention. Are you? Hmmm... If you can read this, you're too close. No, I mean you're doing fine. Yes, fine, thanks for asking. No, sorry I am busy tonight. Move along, nothing to see here. Maybe lunch though? Oh, oops...
So - All in all, not much to gripe about. If those are the worst things about this computer, then hey - it's a pretty darn good machine.
There are (of course) also a number of things about the computer that I really like over others I have used. So, to tie this thing up and put it to bed, a couple of them are:
The wireless networking software and hardware is pretty much rock solid
They got it right some time ago, and I really appreciate the reliable, easy to use and easy to count on wireless networking setup. I especially appreciate the fact that the ThinkPads are among the few computers that load the wireless drivers right up front, so when I log onto the Windows domain, the login scripts are able to run just like I was plugged into the wire.
Sturdy, very light, and everything is right where it should be
From the pen location (front left side edge, right up front) to well-placed slate-mode controls (the fingerprint reader is on the monitor frame along with special Tablet PC buttons for rotation and common keyboard buttons as well as CTRL-ALT-DEL), they put stuff right where it works well. It's super-light, and no rickety construction here. The real point is that IBM waits til they know they've got it nailed down before they release it to the market. We've seen them do this before, and I remember talking to and IBM rep over a year ago when they told me IBM was working on a convertible Tablet PC overseas, and that it was definitely coming, but not to expect anything for about a year because there was no way they were going to get it wrong when they actually released it.
Wednesday, 13 July 2005
Ok, this is almost weird and takes ego issues to a whole new level, but what the heck...
Rich Claussen proves he's easily excited (heheh...) when he says:
"My goodness! What nice, legible handwriting! You need to get that MyOwnFont app that won the Think in Ink contest and make the dang thing available!"
Dude, way ahead of you on that. Already did that, yesterday while showing the new tablet off to a coworker. See the attached file below.
Download: GregWrite.zip (TrueType font file)
For those of you who got here looking for the Tablet PC My Font Tool, it's on the Tablet PC Power Toys page at Microsoft's web site - but for quick access, here you go:
Download: MyFontTool for Tablet PC (.exe installer)
Oh, and that whole "easily excited" thing? Just kidding, bud. Rich also lists some cool places to download free fonts on his weblog.
Oh, and there's nothing quite like someone chatting with you on IM, using your handwriting. Crazy.
It's been a day and a half now since I started using a ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC. Yesterday I posted a few initial thoughts, and today I have some more (part three is also now onlline and can be found here). I'm pretty much using the new computer exclusively now, which is a testament to it's usability, since I really liked the Acer I've relied on for the past couple years.
Update - Many people won't ever find it on the ThinkPad site, since it requires st00pid pop-ups, but there's a very good animated 3D demo of the X41T on the web site. And that link doesn't require a pop-up.
A bit of a description of how this thing feels...
Essentially it's an X-series ThinkPad notebook, one that's thin and light. Mine has the 8-cell extended battery, and in the real world it provides about 5 hours worth of juice for off-the-grid computing (no pun intended, old-timers).
The keyboard is predictably great. I am surprised at how quickly I am adjusting to the little rubber eraser-like mouse pointer device. It's not as bad as I'd feared. I still need some time with it, but that has nothing to do with the fact that this is a Tablet PC - all the X-series notebooks are built with that pointer.
The pen/stylus provided with this model lacks an "eraser" end on the blunt end. I am used to having that with my Acer C300-series model, and I keep catching myself turning the stylus around to try to erase something and finding it lacking in that regard. I'll need to try an Acer pen on the ThinkPad tomorrow and see if it behaves well. If it does, someone needs to produce a good after-market stylus that fits in the ThinkPad holder and includes the "eraser" end. I'd buy a couple of 'em.
It's solid, clearly very-well-built, which is exactly what you'd expect from a ThinkPad. The hinge/rotation point appears to be significantly better-made than the one on my Acer tablet (which has a tendency to buckle and break under extended use).
The fingerprint reader and software (again, not tablet-specific, although on the X41 the reader is on the display panel (in the lower right, so you can use it in slate mode to log in or unock the computer - nice!) gets lots of "WOW, COOL!" comments, and it works quite well. So far, in my totally unscientific study, it has only let me unlock the machine - the fingers of others don't work. That's a good thing.
When you convert to slate mode (by rotating the screen panel backwards and folding it down over the keyboard), the whole thing fits in the hand quite well. It's well-balanced and the battery lets me comfortably grip it much like I would a paper notebook - a good physical metaphor. It also makes it easy to keep a very solid grip, which is a great think in the IT department world - Anti-dropping features are always good. And as a bonus, it has the requisite ThinkPad "hard drive air bag" capability that protects the drive and heads from shocks.
The screen has a very wide viewing angle (I think it's like 170 degrees). Once I installed the hey-its-about-time patch for the Tablet PC OS and configured a few tweaks on the machine (typical Windows stuff), it's running like a champ.
the 1.5GHz Pentium Mobile processor is quick enough, and the machine seems to run a little faster than the Acer overall. We'll see what happens when I install VS.net on it in the next day or two - Oh and that reminds me, it needs a bigger hard drive... I have a gig of RAM in it, and that certainly helps performance. the IBM software that helps control the display and a plethora of other things has improved over the years, and that's good to see. It even let me map the Right-ALT key to act as a Windows key, which is a welcome feature since the IBM keyboards don't have one. Nice tweak.
I was a bit confused when I saw a USB port on the right side, and another one on the left side with some goofy looking, slightly narrower port right below it. After doing some looking around, it appears the extra port is a power port that accompanies the USB 2.0 port. Nifty. Power to the people. There's also a SD card slot, which is how these pictures reached your eyes.
Okay - so... What makes this one better?
Up til now, most Tablet PCs have often been heavy in the "shiny" department - lots of cool looks and nifty flair - but somewhat lacking in the durability and consistency areas. Keep in mind, I haven't used every tablet out there. Motion and others make Tablets that I have no experience with. I have extended experience with the Compaq, Toshiba and Acer models. Of those, the Acer has been my favorite. Until now, that is.
But what I can tell you is that the ThinkPad X41 takes the strong utility value and characteristics of the IBM line, trims it down, and adds Tablet hardware. It's classic IBM (now Lenovo) to watch the market and wait things out to see what works and what doesn't, then take the market by storm.
In my book, it's all about ThinkPad keyboard and durability, light-weight construction, lonnnnng battery life, a nice bright/contrasty display (much better than Toshiba's in that area), and excellent placement of controls.
Areas to improve? Better pen (with the eraser end on it), higher-res display (Toshiba may be flat in terms of contrast, but they kick serious ass in the resolution department), more microphones (again a Toshiba win) and find some way to build in a slot-load or slide-out optical drive (not likely in this form factor, I know, but hey I can dream).
By the way, the screened label says "IBM ThinkPad" on it. On the bottom it also says "IBM" with no mention of Lenovo. I assume that will probably change over time.
There's no huge surprises here - and that's what makes this Tablet so great... You get everything you'd expect from a quality, lightweight, compact and durable ThinkPad, and you get well-designed and -built tablet PC components and functionality built into it. And it all works, without the typical third-party software glitches and digitizer electronics frustrations I've had to deal with in the past. It's already fitting like a glove.
In my book, that's a real success.
By the way - just to be clear - in my original post I said I have received this Tablet for "evaluation and testing." This is a purchased computer, one we are checking out for use at work. I just wanted to be sure to explain that no one sent a free one and I am only blogging about it because I think it's pretty nifty and sweet. - gh
I am showing my co-worker, Alex, how I can blog in text entered with the pen, as well as in ink on the screen via email to dasBlog.
By the way - this is nothing new... I did the same thing over a year and a half ago (see links below), but it still gets a bit of a "wow, that's cool" reaction.
Also did pretty much the same thing a few times from OneNote (which tends to group multiple images in a confusing way to try to avoid positioning problem unless you tell it not to, by the way):
Tuesday, 12 July 2005
Update: Part two of this review is here. Part three is here.
Just in time, since my old laptop's hard drive just started making shhhpppppttt-CLACK!!!
sounds (sure sign of impending hard drive death and doom), an IBM X41 Tablet PC arrived on my desk this morning for testing and evaluation. I'm doing more and more travelling, so a single-machine solution with killer battery life and compact size is of interest to me nowadays.
Anyhow... So I've spent the last half a day between meetings and conference calls with a new X41T. That and backing up the old machine.
So what's it like? Well, let me just say this: "Finally – a Tablet PC that really makes me really want to have and use a Tablet PC."
Keep in mind, I’ve been using Tablet PCs ever since the TC1000 came out a couple or so years ago. Since then, I have primarily been using an Acer C300-series Tablet. That’s the one with the sick hard drive. A week or so ago I wrote about past experiences and how much I use the Acer machine. I also wrote about my thoughts spawned by an Engadget article that asked "How would you change the Tablet PC?"
While the X41T doesn't have all the things in my wish list, what it does have is quality and well-put-together.
- This one has the biometric fingerprint reader. Cool, and it actually works.
- The red eraser/nub/pointing device will take some serious getting used to. Touchpad would be better.
- /me likes the keyboard - ThinkPad keyboards rock.
- Nice display, wide viewing angle, matte finish reduces glare nicely but doesn't sacrifice contrast. Needs to be higher than 1024x768 resolution, but I'll live.
- It's really light and really sturdy. Even with the extended battery I have on it. In fact the 8-cell battery makes it easy to handle when walking around with it, due to the ergonomic shape (OMG did really I just type "ergonomic???" Aaagh!)
- Seems to be speedy and snappy in terms of processing and computing power. I have a gig of RAM in this one.
- The hard drive is this goofy new short/stubby model, not something you can easily replace with another available standard notebook hard drive.
- Overall, impressive!
I'll have to live and work with this thing for a while, and then document some more thoughts. For now, the honeymoon has started and so far it's a lot of fun. But don't read anything into that.
More to come...
Wednesday, 06 July 2005
Microsoft has officially released a hot-fix for Windows XP Tablet PC edition that fixes the memory leak people have been complaining about for ages:
"A memory leak in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 causes a gradual decrease in available system memory. This loss in available memory causes degradation in system performance. When this behavior occurs, the user must restart the computer. This problem is caused by a memory leak in the tcserver.exe service."
You can download it here. More information about the issue can be found here.
Saturday, 02 July 2005
I've been using MS Tablet PC powered computers since Compaq came out with the TC1000 a couple/few years ago. After that I switched to the Acer C300-series devices. I've had a couple of the Acers, because they don't wear quite as well as one would have hoped. Thank goodness they have a reasonable RMA/repair policy. As it turns out, the Acer has pretty much everything I need and want: A big, bright, contrasty display; built in DVD burner; touchpad and decent keyboard. What it lacks is frustrating, though: Durability of the pivot hinge with significant use is bad; the case's surface finish wears off; battery life is fair; screen resolution is typically marginal (it's the standard 1024x768). I use the Acer as a laptop more than I do in tablet mode. but when I want tablet mode it's there for me in a matter of a couple of seconds. Oh, and the Acer's a bit heavy. There have been others. I carried around a Toshiba M200 for a while. I didn't like it. The display was flat and dim, and performance was mediocre. No built in optical or removable drive. It just didn't work for me.
Anyhow, yesterday over at Engadget they asked "How would you change the Tablet PC?" There are pushing 100 comment responses as of the time of this post, and while some of the answers are not that helpful, some of them are quite interesting. Check it out over there.
What do I think needs to be in every Tablet PC? Here's my own quick list:
- Greater than 1024x768 resolution (I can change font and icon sizes if I need to)
- Display must be bright and contrasty (I like the Acer and Sony bright displays for this)
- Included high-end docking station
- Optical burner drive built in (DVD+RW, dual layer even better, make it so I can replace it in a year when the "standards" change)
- OneNote included (like Toshiba does)
- Extra pen built in (like Toshiba does)
- Use a power source readily available on the market so I can plug it into my generic Car/AC/Airplane power adapter
- Up to 2GB RAM (or more would be fine)
- Touchpad (I really don't like the red rubber eraser nub thing)
- Microphones everywhere, high gain, noise canceling
- Built in camera on the top edge that can rotate/flip to point at the user or away (like Sony's portables) - at least a couple megapixels with a glass lens
- Biometrics - a fingerprint reader that works
That's for today. What do I want to see in the future?
- One button, two-second power-on-to-available capability
- Roll-up computer
- Gesture tough control support
- Whatever input recognition they choose, it sure as heck better not be T9...
- Brain input must not require use of the Microsoft ImplantTM (nor the Apple ImplantTM for that matter)
- Media center, personal media center, tablet, etc all in every device: Desktops, notebooks, handhelds, etc.
Tuesday, 07 June 2005
I was super busy all day yesterday, so I didn't get to update about the Tablet PC stuff that was announced by IBM. The news is everywhere, so I am just providing a few detail items that matter...
First of all - A link to the IBM/Lenovo PC Institute's webcast
from Monday (which is available til the end of June). They spend a lot of time talking up TabletPC's in general (Tablet PC's for beginners), discuss what they saw in the Tablet PC market that people really wanted, and show off their new X41 model.
Too bad it's 1024x768 though. That's going to have to change at some point. But I can live with that, my Acer Tablet that I've been using for some time now is 1024x768... I like the resolution of the Toshiba (yes I have used that one as well), but not the screen image quality. We can still dream.
And finally, here are the two models that were given actual online catalog prices and remain listed on the IBM/Lenovo SKU list that I mentioned last week. And hey, what happened to the others that were on there, and where's the $1899 model everyone's quoting press releases on?
X41 TABLET PENT M LV 758 (1.5) 12 WAXGA 256 40GB BG XPT 8C
X41 TABLET PENT M LV 758 (1.5) 12 WAXGA 512 40GB BG XPT 8C
Sunday, 05 June 2005
It became obvious last week that the IBM Tablet PC was most definitely real
. Now it appears IBM/Lenovo will hold a webcast
to introduce their X41 Tablet PC to the world, probably on Monday (possibly Tuesday since the URL includes 07June in the address?).
Lenovo/PC Institute: Complimentary Tablet Webcast
IBM Business Partners
Description: Be sure to tell your Business Partners and customers about this complimentary Webcast on the one-of-a-kind features of the new ThinkPad X41 Tablet!
This Webcast will feature:
- A demonstration of ThinkPad X41 Tablet
- The new Lenovo CEO and VP of Marketing explaining Tablet's importance in the marketplace
- Microsoft, Dendrite and Siebel discussing Tablet OS and ISV strategy
- Customers, including MIT and Harvard Medical School, as well as IBM’s Healthcare and Life Sciences GM, discussing Tablet's use in the public sector
Replay available through June 30, 2005.
Sunday, 29 May 2005
Yes, sometimes the "switch" model runs the other way. Not quite (yet) in this case, buy hey, let's see what happens. Eric Rice, podcaster extraordinaire and self-described Mac guy, says he's using OneNote with a little Wacom tablet digitizer and a Windows notebook for now, but you can tell he's thinking:
"And as a result of all this OneNote mayhem, I'm now paying attention to people like Chris_Pratley, as well as the Tablet PC sites.
"This is all very weird for me. Updates as time passes."
Well Eric, you're paying attention to the right person, and as a Tablet PC guy and OneNote addict for a couple of years now, I can tell you the tools are great - one just has to try them to find out.
Saturday, 21 May 2005
Engadget has a great little article about an Indy 500 racing team's use of OneNote on Tablet PCs in the race pits and planning stages. It's pretty cool what they're doing with technology in auto racing these days. Go check it out.
"... Robertson said they are now recording a driver’s spoken comments about how the car is handling as a Windows Media Audio file and can do a voice overlay within a OneNote document along with a track diagram to show where the car went fast or slow. Such OneNote documents can be instant messaged to engineers back at the garages and stored for future use ...
... He said OneNote is useful in creating reports and presentations that combine computer-aided design (CAD) drawings, data from the on-board data logging systems, and engineering notes with information gathered from various sources, such as photos of necessary parts from catalogues, on the Internet."
[Read the story at Engadget]
Tuesday, 26 April 2005
Several Tablet PC hardware announcements/leaks/what-have-you in the past couple of days:
I'm still using an Acer C300-series. Still works, but I am holing out for the IBM to see what it looks like, since I am awfully impressed with their T-Series laptops.
Wednesday, 15 December 2004
Lots of Microsoft downloads recently it seems
If you have a Tablet PC and use Office 2003, Microsoft has released an update that you need to download and install. The update improves recognition of “inked” handwriting in Office 2003 applications, including:
- Microsoft Office 2003
- Microsoft Office Excel 2003
- Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003
- Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
- Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
- Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003
- Microsoft Office Word 2003
Get the update patch here.
Thursday, 14 October 2004
Thursday, 23 September 2004
I know he didn't mean to (so I won't act all flattered or smug or anything), but Robert Scoble just sort of summed up the better part of my topic/category list for this-here-blog of mine, over on his blog...
I thought it would be interesting to compare his list of cool upcoming topics for the future to what's categorized or searchable right now on my site. So, I did just that and have added the links, below. Not a bad start, and it points out to me where I am falling shorter than I had realized in my content. Hey Robert, thanks for the copy.
“For the next 18 months, where are the business opportunities going to lie? Tablet PC. Bigtime. Windows Media Center. Gonna be a big deal. SmartPhones. Wanna watch how fast the Motorola MPX220 sells when it's released in the next few months? Xbox Live. You only need to say one number and everyone knows exactly the Xbox thing I'm talking about: "2." Visual Studio 2005. Tons of stuff coming there. MSN has a whole raft of things up their sleeves. And we haven't even started talking about BizTalk, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, 64-bit Windows, SBS, CRM, LiveMeeting, and OneNote, among other things.”
It also gives me a gut-check on my existing blog categories. Here they are, with the ones that apply to this posting checked:
Monday, 09 August 2004
Over on Channel 9 there's a cool short video of an interview with Bert Keely, an architect on Microsoft's Tablet PC team. He shows how the Tablet PC can be sued so much more quickly with XP SP2 applied. This is a great little demo of Bert using the TIP (Tablet Input Panel) to make things happen quickly in the SP2 version of the operating system. It's amazing how fast you can work with the new TIP, compared to the original version - and the handwriting recognition is really pretty darn amazing.
For those who don't already know, when you upgrade your Tablet PC to SP2, you'll get all the nifty 2004-version (code-name was "Lonestar") tablet software right along with the SP2 security fixes. I've been using these features for several months with beta versions, and now-a-days every time I pick up a Tablet with the original software and try to use it, it just makes me crazy... That's how much better the new version is: It's well worth the (free) upgrade!
Tuesday, 06 July 2004
Evan Feldman has posted a second installment of his description of Tablet PC Field Trials (see entry Tablet Test, Trials and Tribulations from June 28).
The great thing about Microsoft blogs is that you sometimes get to read insights into what goes on there, stuff that you'd never see otherwise. I enjoy the nitty gritty about how the technologies I use each day came to be:
"There are some things that I can’t really talk too much about but instead, I’ll give some of those secret anecdotes that have been floating around Microsoft that many have never heard before."
Some of the anecdotes are funny, but Evan also includes a few of the more serious ones (things he describes as more difficult to share) that changed the course of the tablet in the early days."
I'm looking forward to the future installments, especially what he eludes to as a future topic : The Tablet as Primary PC.
Monday, 28 June 2004
Evan Feldman has written an interesting article about the process of field trials during the initial development of the Tablet PC. We've deployed more than 50 tablet PC's at the company where I work, and as the guy responsible for that decision (read: they guy whose neck is hanging out), I can say that I have heard the same concerns and have seen the same "celebrity" status (whether right or wrong) attached to using one of these truly nifty devices.
Ultimately, what matters most is finding and implementing a tool that makes people more effective and productive. Among other recent technologies we've deployed, the Tablet is one that is starting to show us its unique ability to help people become more flexible and effective in their day-to-day work. I'll be shocked if Tablet PC functionality doesn't eventually become commonplace or even standard in notebook computers - it just makes sense.
Tablet PCs, OneNote, SharePoint Portal and Windows SharePoint Services, Office System 2003, Live Communication Server, Exchange 2003, and much more -- It's been quite a year for those of us at work behind the scenes. What I especially appreciate is the noticeable improvement in quality in all of these product areas with new version releases, and the resulting increases in use and adoption by end users.
Personally, I've used a Tablet PC since the first models were released commercially more than a year and a half ago, and I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I get to (or unlucky enough to have to, depending on your point of view) test new equipment and software in the process of deciding how, when and whether we should use them at our company. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next in the Tablet world -- There's plenty of room and opportunity for this platform to grow, and the potential is certainly great.
Sunday, 06 June 2004
“Here's a yet-to-be-posted Channel9 video, where Susan Cameron, of the Tablet PC team, gives a tour of the Tablet PC.” (via Scobelizer)
What is not mentioned directly in Scoble's blog entry, but is of great interest to many I am sure, is that the functionality being shown in this video is all-new in the yet-to-be released version of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition - presently code-named Lonestar and a part of Windows XP SP2. Essentially, when you apply SP2 to the Tablet PC OS (when it's available later this summer), you'll get all the new tablet functionality as well as the regular service pack stuff.
And referring to the greatly reduced need to use the physical keyboard with the new TIP (Tablet Input Panel) as mentioned in the video, I can vouch for the fact that there's a huge difference there. I hardly ever have to switch over to the keyboard with the new TIP capabilities and improved accuracy. Sweet stuff.
Wednesday, 02 June 2004
Someone I know got third place in a Power-tool/toy coding contest for Tablet PC ink apps with a cool little application he wrote in 17 minutes last fall. The Web Search Power Tool, which allows to to hand-write a search phrase and then submit it to any of four search engines, is pretty useful actually, if you use ink a lot.
Second place is interesting, but not really all that up my alley - it's a nifty pressure-sensitive ink app called PowerPaint, check it out if you're into weird funky electronic drawing.
The first place winner is sweet. Create your own True-Type font in your own handwriting with the My Own Font tool. In less than 5 minutes I created, compiled and installed a Greg_Hughes custom handwritten font on my Tablet (by the way, you can use the generated font on any Windows computer - it's just another TTF font).
See a complete and well-done review of the tools at TabulaPC. Downloads also available at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/tabletpc.mspx.
Thursday, 22 January 2004
Over on the Tablet PC Questions web site, it was pointed out that I did not give much detail when I recently mentioned I can post to my blog with inked content, etc. from my Tablet PC with no software other than Outlook and the blog software. Valid point.
No keyboard is needed either. Unfortunately sometimes (see above), magical handwriting spellcheck would be nice. All of the text’s recognized from my mediocre handwriting. And that’s about all there is to it. Minor formatting changes can be made on the web application if necessary, after the item has been posted.
One thing I need to figure out is the why and how of getting what appears to be a single line feed in Outlook to carry over to the web entry. If I hit Return twice in Outlook, it puts one blank line between paragraphs. But on the website it ends up being four blank lines. Minor details. At any rate, this entry was just made entirely without the aid of a keyboard, for what its worth.
By the way, the Microsoft Snipping tool power toy for the Tablet PC, which I used to quickly grab the above portion of a screen in the dasBlog setup for mail posting, is super cool. If you have a tablet and have not tried it, you're really missing something.
Tuesday, 20 January 2004
My friend and coworker, Scott, forwarded me a link to a blog review where Steve Clarke describes his experience with the Acer C300 Tablet PC, which was recently introduced to the market. I have been using the same Tablet model for the last 6 weeks, and have found I like it a lot. Almost to a “T“ I agree with what Steve has to say.
Scott has the newest Toshiba Tablet PC, which is also a cool device. It has a smaller screen/slate, but higher pixel resolution. Like Steve, I have found the larger screen on the C300, even with max res of 1024x768, to be pretty darn nice. But, hey - Scott's into pain, so I am sure eye strain counts for something. Just kiddin' man!
Scott and I have also been running some interesting software for the tablet that I seem to have better luck with on the Acer than Scott has had on his Toshiba, but then again, with all the stuff he installs on his computers, well - who knows, eh!
(Oh, and Scott turns 30 on Thursday, so be sure to give him a ration if you happen to read this and have a chance!)
Monday, 29 December 2003
I’ve been using the new Acer c300 Tablet PC for a few weeks now, and am ready to make some educated comments. First of all:
Seriously, I am using this computer much more than my old notebook, and it beats the snot out of the old Compaq tablet we picked up a year ago. Tablet PC hardware has matured into a viable set of devices that can compete with other computers on the market. It behaves like a decent business notebook, but converts quickly to slate mode when needed. I am authoring this entry completely with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition’s handwriting recognition - no keyboard - and no wires thanks to the Centrino chipset. Cool stuff, and on top of that I’ve been sitting here using the computer on battery and wireless network for a few hours and still have plenty of battery life left to go.
Of course it also needs to be practical and useful, and I have found myself tending to take better notes when I need them. I am also taking notes at times and places I never did before.
The Acer is well-built, with a larger than typical screen/slate (about 14 inches compared to the more common 10 to 12). The digitizer is fast and works very well. I was pleasantly surprised when the unit arrived to find it ships with a built-in smart card slot and two cards. Without a valid card the computer will not start. Of course, you can do all the other Windows tricks with the smartcard, as well.
The case is sturdy, the wireless is fast and reliable (802.11b) and I can’t find anything to complain about. The pen stows neatly in the screen frame, and the unit has a built-in DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, which is very nice if you are looking to completely replace a laptop computer (that’s my goal). We will be doing some application performance testing over the next week or two, and that will determine if this unit is ready for prime time. I think it will do well.
The more thing: When Gateway announced price drops for its tablet machine a couple of weeks ago, Acer followed suit and knocked something like $400 off the list price, so the cost for the tablet is now comparable to that of a similarly equipped standard notebook. That makes it much more reasonable to consider the Tablet PC for business purchase.
Sunday, 28 December 2003
Nice - Tablet PCs can actually be useful, I am finding this out. This may not be the best example, but it does show how a little ingenuity and taking a little time to make things work together can change the way things are used. Not that this is an original idea - quite the contrary - but while others are out there writing special programs to do this, I just used existing programs with features that - when combined - allow this to happen. And, I thought of it and executed it in a matter of 30 minutes. All I need is my Tablet PC, Outlook 2003 installed, dasBlog on the server side, and finally a wired or wireless Internet connection, and I can do this. It's nifty.
Technology certainly continues to grow and change.
© Copyright 2013 Greg Hughes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
This page was rendered at Tuesday, 05 March 2013 15:40:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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