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.



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Office 2003 | OneNote | Tablet PC | Tech
Monday, 18 July 2005 21:07:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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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.

X41-SlateModeI 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.

ShockerUse 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.

Better stylus/pen
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.



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Tablet PC | Tech
Monday, 18 July 2005 20:25:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 16 July 2005

UnderdogOh, if this turns out to be true, this could end up being my favorite movie of the decade. You think I'm lame for it? Fine, I can live with that...

Dude, Underdog is going to be a freakin' movie star.

Shoe Shine Boy's alter ego (that would be Underdog for the uninitiated) was my number one favorite cartoon character when I was a kid. I still keep thinking I'm going to get an underdog tattoo one of these days (I almost did a while back, but got a different one instead).

It sounds like it might not be a cartoon, though. Something about a real dog and CG. Hopefully they can pull it off and not ruin the name, heh. We'll see.

BTW, I found this while checking out the blog at the Delta Park Project (I met Jason of DPP today at a podcast/videoblog roadshow meetup in Portland - cool dude).

More info about the movie? Ya you betcha, available at Empire Movies. And about.com (pronounced 'uh-boat'). Or just Google it.



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Movies | Random Stuff
Saturday, 16 July 2005 20:06:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 15 July 2005

Come geek out this weekend. Bring a friend, your audio gear and a camera (or just yourself if that's easier), and lets do some podcasting and videoblogging as the Podcast and Videoblog Roadshow comes to Portland, Oregon. It happens Saturday at noon downtown.

Podcasting, videoblogging, audioblogging, etc. Get creative. Fun stuff. 

All the obligatory W's: 

See ya there.



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Geek Out | Tech
Friday, 15 July 2005 21:20:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 14 July 2005

System Administrator SongChris points out a funny song that describes with uncanny accuracy that which is the SysAdmin. Check out The System Administrator Song, at Three Dead Trolls (cool site by the way). Several video formats are available as well as an MP3 file.

You probably know these guys from their "Welcome to the Internet Help Desk" skit. Wow, Wes has really grown his hair out, eh?

Next time you cuss your system administrator, stop and listen to this song or watch the video. Be nice, and they will too. Heh.

You'll likely laugh. And no drinking soda while you watch - or you'll be sorry.

Click here to watch.



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Geek Out | Humor | Tech
Thursday, 14 July 2005 14:28:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Where I work we run a couple of high-security data centers, and the security policies don't allow outbound network connections to the Internet to be initiated from inside the datacenter. It's a good policy and makes for a much more secure environment. So, when it comes time to activate a copy of Windows Server 2003, I frequently get asked how to do that over the phone.

I could just say "Ask Google," but instead I think I'll just point people here, heheh...

The Microsoft Windows Product Activation phone number (for the US anyhow) is 1-888-571-2048

Also -- It's worth noting that Windows should tell you what number to call if you let it. From the Microsoft web page on the topic:

** Toll-free telephone numbers are available in all countries where telephony infrastructures provide for them. The telephone numbers are displayed when telephone activation is chosen.



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IT Security | Random Stuff | Tech
Thursday, 14 July 2005 08:14:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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