Monthly ArchiveFebruary 2007
Maybe it’s more of a small ripple than a wave, but in perusing the few dozen blogs I’ve plugged into Google Reader I found a number recent Tablet PC reviews. Then it turned out to just be two reviews, each blogged about repeatedly (for instance here, here, here, and here), so I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon. (And it doesn’t hurt that the Lenovo X60 is in here…)
Business Week reviewed the X60 and said:
The Good: Extremely portable; Active Rotate feature automatically adjusts screen
The Bad: Lacks an internal CD drive; relatively expensive
The Bottom Line: It’s not much to look at, but it is a capable and easy-to-transport tablet doubling as a laptop
All three convertible tablet computers impressed Test Center engineers with above-average quality and similar feature sets. Price/performance came out roughly equal, as performance ratings were similar and the difference in list prices varied by only $112 between the lowest- and highest-priced units.
Lenovo garnered points for being the smallest and lightest unit tested here (excluding its expansion base), giving it a boost for ease of use. But by leaving out a built-in optical drive, that win came at the expense of features. Toshiba’s choice to include a built-in optical drive—a key decision that in the eyes of Test Center engineers creates a more versatile tablet PC—made it heavier than Lenovo’s X60 but on par with the weight of the HP unit, giving the M400 the advantage on features.
Users seeking the combined functionality of a notebook computer and tablet PC in a single unit will prefer the Toshiba Portg M400-S4032 over the HP Compaq tc4400 and Lenovo’s ThinkPad X60, which affords the lowest estimated partner margins among the three. But if low weight is a priority, then Lenovo is the way to go.
All in all, I think if I were buying a machine right now, I’d go with the Lenovo ThinkPad X60, but as I’ve said before size and weight are critical to me and battery life is a close second and I don’t really need an optical drive built in.
After scanning in the sketch, I import it into Flash on it’s own layer, and then I use my tablet pc to vectorize the final art on the layers above it. Not exactly the traditional vector artist technique, but it works just splendid for me. I have yet to find another vector program out there that can come close to matching the solid drawing tools in Flash. (click here to see video #2)
Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology on Education (WIPTE) at Purdue University, June 11-12, 2007:
WIPTE is open to anyone with an interest in instructional technology. A wide variety of disciplines are embracing Tablet PC’s and similar pen-based devices as tools for the radical enhancement of teaching and learning. This conference is intended to leverage this shared passion and to identify best practices in the educational use of pen-based computing so that all educators may benefit from this next generation of technology.
I’m thinking this might be really interesting and Purdue is pretty close to Chicago. I think I’ll have to order the monograph from last year’s WIPTE and see what it’s all about.
Off-Topic Isaac on 25 Feb 2007
Eddie VanDerbeck of GottaBeMobile.com and Peter Rojas of Engadget both have written about Shutdown Day 2007. The notion of Shutdown Day was enough to make me create a new category: Off-Topic (though I was tempted to call it something like “Lazy Sundays,” I didn’t want to limit myself to only being this far off-topic on Sundays). I think I’m of the same opinion as Peter Rojas:
Hold on there, big guy. You want us to STOP using computers for a day? How about we all decide to hold our breath for 24 hours, too? Yeah, that’s right, we’re not giving up our gadgets for anyone. We know that some day our computers will kill us (either by rising up against us or by getting us so sucked into a six day-long WoW marathon that we forget to eat), but hey, you gotta die from something right? [...] Anyway, we’re going to show the Blame Computers First crowd what’s what and use our computers TWICE as much on March 24th — even if that means grabbing two machines and then typing with our fingers and toes at the same time.
Not that Eddie VanDerbeck disagrees:
A little over a year ago, I broke 5 ribs, removed a good bit of hide from both legs, and broke my shoulder blade in a motorcycle mishap. I was back on my tablet in less than 12 hours. I know, you are impressed how tuff I am. Not really, I was in a bit of a fog from the pain killers and could not tell you what I read or who I emailed. But dang-it, I was inking!
Misc Ed Tech Isaac on 24 Feb 2007
Steve Myers posted about “Think Small! A Beginner’s Guide to Using Technology to Promote Learning” in Educause Quarterly 30.1, an interesting article about introducing and implementing ed tech. Some quotes from the article:
Before deciding what types of technology to use, we must first have a clear idea of what we want technology to do in our classrooms—what learning outcomes we want students to achieve.
Bringing technology to the classroom gradually, based on how best to support existing pedagogy, allows both students and faculty time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t.
The EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research found that students want professors to use technology, but only if it is used well, which many times it is not. Some students thought that technology had made their instructors less effective than when they used lectures and the chalkboard. Specific complaints included filling PowerPoint slides with lots of verbiage and simply reading them verbatim; wasting class time fumbling with equipment and software; failing to moderate chat rooms and discussion boards; and not making good use of course management systems.
The Rogersville Review in Hawkins County, TN reported that the school there is sending back a large number of Gateway Tablet PCs:
City school board members voted Tuesday to return the laptop computers, which have not yet been distributed to students, and terminate the lease agreement because of the company’s inability to provide maintenance as specified in the contract.
It’s good to see that at least some people take quality of service seriously. The last time I dealt with Gateway was way back in 1995, right when they first became big and couldn’t handle the increased volume of production, much less the increased customer service load. I have been hearing good things about their tablets, though.
Links Isaac on 21 Feb 2007
Since I already posted about the upgrade to WP2.1 this week, I thought I might as well post a list of the plugins I’m using. This should automatically update, since (as listed below) I’m using WP-Plugin List.
- Akismet v2.5.1
Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and track-back spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep. To get started: 1) Click the “Activate” link to the left of this description, 2) Sign up for an Akismet API key, and 3) Go to your Akismet configuration page, and save your API key. Automattic
- Bad Behavior v2.0.38
Deny automated spambots access to your PHP-based Web site. Michael Hampton
- Future Calendar v1.6.2
A simple plugin that utilizes a modified get_calendar function that shows what dates have a future post scheduled in a calendar format, and makes it easy to change the current timestamp. Includes a widget to display posts on your website. Aaron Harun
- Linkblock widget v1.0
Displays one specific category of links; up to 9 instances of this widget may exist. Heavily derived from the Text widget code included with the widget plugin by Automattic, Inc. M. Holger
- LiveContact v0.9b
A warm and fuzzy Web 2.0 contact form John Wyles
- Feedburner Feed Replacement v2.2
Forwards all feed traffic to Feedburner while letting through some important User-Agents. Steve Smith
- Permalink Redirect v1.0.1
Redirects all crap away from the end of the URL Joost de Valk
- Role Manager v2.0.0
Role Management for WordPress 2.0.x and 2.1.. Thomas Schneider
- Janrain Engage v1.0.1
Plugin to add authentication via the Janrain Engage service. forestb
- Sociable v3.5.2
Automatically add links on your posts, pages and RSS feed to your favorite social bookmarking sites. Blogplay
- WordPress.com Stats v1.7.5
Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. Requires a WordPress.com API key. Automattic
- Google Sitemaps v2.7.1
This generator will create a Google compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog. Arne Brachhold
- Sociallist v1.5.1
Automatically add links on your posts to popular social bookmarking service. Go to Options -> Sociallist for setup. Codemaster
- AskApache Search Engine Verify v3.5
Adds the verification meta tags to home page provided by Google and Yahoo AskApache
- Do Follow v4.0
Removes the evil nofollow attribute that WordPress adds in comments. Denis de Bernardy
- Simple Trackback Validation v2.1
Eliminates spam trackbacks by (1) checking if the IP address of the trackback sender is equal to the IP address of the webserver the trackback URL is referring to and (2) by retrieving the web page located at the URL used in the trackback and checking if the page contains a link to your blog. Michael Woehrer
- WP-Plugin List v1.0
WP Plugin List is a simple plugin to allow yout post your current WordPress 1.5+ Martin Wiso
- WordPress Database Backup v2.2.3
On-demand backup of your WordPress database. Navigate to Tools → Backup to get started. Austin Matzko
- Google Adsense widget v1.0
Monetize with AdSense in your sidebar widgets! Mike Smullin
- front page login v1.0
Adds a sidebar widget to allow logins on the front page Hermescb
If you happened to find this site any time yesterday afternoon, you probably caught me in the middle of upgrading to WordPress 2.1 Ella. So far, the differences are mostly small–there are a few plugins I wanted that only worked under 2.1, so I had to upgrade, but I was otherwise fine with 2.0.x. The post editor is probably the biggest difference, though it’s not all that different. The visual/code tab thing works well, autosave is nice, and spellcheck is always a good thing. If you find, as I did, that there are icons missing in the editor after upgrading, clear your browser cache and hopefully all will be resolved. Oh, and if you press Alt+V in IE or Alt+Shift+V in Firefox while in the editor, you get an additional bar of “advanced” buttons.