Tagged: Tablet PC

New workstation design!

DeskI have gradually refined my workstation design, and its changed quite a lot since the last time I posted.  So I thought I would provide an update.  This first image shows an overview of the whole environment, there are some key points to look out for:

  • First I two PC’s shown at the bottom, the one on the left is my desktop, running Windows 2003 Server, with 2GB of memory and VM Ware Workstation and all of my other applications.  This PC drives the three monitors via two ATI graphics boards.

Behind the PC’s in a curtain that my wife made for me that hides one hell of tangle of cables!

On top of the centre monitor is a USB web cam.  On the CRT monitor is my headphone jack and volume control and my Secure ID token (dual factor authentication) for my company VPN connection.

The two monitors centre and left are 19” TFT’s that run at 1280*1024.  The one on the right is a 19” Flat CRT.   I tend to use the one of the left for email, reference materials, instant message discussions etc.  The one in the middle for writing, presentations and reading, and the one …

The business case for portable computers

Just recently I read a blog post (which I can no longer find) that cast doubt on the business case for portable computers.  The basic argument went like this:

  • Portable users worked for 14% more hours
  • Portable users produced 13% more work
  • Therefore portable users were 1% less efficient

Assuming I remember this correctly it seems a pretty strange analysis, so here is my counter analysis.  First the case for portables and productivity:

  • Portable users do more hours when they have a portable device because it allows them to work when they would otherwise be undertaking some leisure activity, depending on the portable device in questions, these times are most often, whilst waiting in airports, travelling by train, sitting in front of the TV etc.
  • Portable users do more hours because its easier to “just spend an hour” working at the weekend, than it is to drive to work and do it there
  • Portable users spend more time with access to time critical information sources, email, IM etc and so respond faster reducing lead-times, and improving decision making
  • Portable users make better use of their time in the office, processing email, expenses and other low low importance high volume tasks tend to …

Ink, Typing and Creativity

In his podcast today on Tablet PCs James mentioned that studies have shown the creativity is reduced when typing with both hands (which use both sides of the brain) which explains why many people find that their creativity is increased when using ink as the input method to capture ideas.  In addition the freedom of expression enabled by ink also increases creativity.  I have also seen this, and noticed a similar effect when mainly using my mouse and minimal typing to create Mindmaps on my desktop.

Its interesting how this interesting observation links together posts from yesterday on thinking and on report writing here and here.

Tablet PC Podcast

James, author of the jkOnTheRun weblog, covering all thing mobile, emailed me yesterday to let me know about his new podcast on all things Tablet.  I have recently been getting into podcasts and listen to them when I am out walking or swimming.  This time though I listened to James at 5* speed in Windows Media Player at home while I followed the products and sites he mentioned in my browser.  All in all the combination of the 5* speed and the excellent content made for a very useful 10–15 minutes.  Podcasting has definately got a future!

Check out the podcast, James covers a wide range of topics, including: 

  • The under utilisation of speech recognition
  • Inking strategies and the effect of inking on the creative process
  • Alternative pen input applications including ritePen, OrangeGuava and a rumour of a Tablet enabled version of ActiveWords.

Here is a list of the main sites he mentioned, snipped from his blog.

Tablet PC Buzz– Spencer Goad, Rob Bushway
Tablet PC Talk– Chris de Herrera
What is New– Lora Heiny
Tablet PC Weblog– Marc Orchant
Tablet PC Questions– Layne Heiny (newsgroup)
Tablet PC Post– Lora & Layne; …

Report writing – second edition

Imagine my surprise when the day after writing this post on my frustrations with the existing medium for writing and delivering reports, I see a very similar post on the subject of writing books and insightful comment.  Although in this case the frustration is not so much with the paper medium (which has worked and continues to work pretty well) but with the fact that we have not exploited the electronic medium.  The following extract talks to the lost opportunity, without which Joe does not believe eBooks will really take off:

The biggest barrier I see is this recognition that an e-book needs to be developed with the delivery platform in mind. Wouldn’t it be great if you could introduce the concept of a hyperlink to a printed book so that someone could just touch a phrase they don’t understand and they’re magically taken to a definition of that phrase or the first place it appears in the book? Instead, you have to flip back to the index, look it up, and then jump to that page. Oh, and while you’re doing that, you need to keep a thumb on your original page so that you don’t lose your …

Home office ideas

If you read my blog then you know I am pretty passionate about office design in general and have a category devoted to related issues.  So I was interested to see dave’s ideas for creating an office for writing, where in particular he describes the benefits of consolidating all of his computing needs onto a single device.  Bryan responds that he is struggling to cope with 3 computers

I found both interesting perspectives, especially since I have quite a number of computers, and largely find the experience quite rewarding.  Here is a snapshot of how I work.

I have a main machine, its powerful, and drives three 19″ monitors, and a great wireless keyboard and mouse.  When I sit at this workstation its optimised for writing, analysing and information gathering.  I have everything to hand and hopefully will soon be getting a optimised chair so I can work for more than half an hour without too much pain.  My main PC is a Windows 2003 Server which allows me to work without admin priv, and always have an admin RDP session open for when I need it.

I have a lab server because my main machine needs …

Exploiting your infrastructure

I have been frustrated for years at just how little attention most businesses give to exploiting their IT infrastructure investments.  I recently came across the book, Seize the work day, which asks the question:

Have you ever wished for a solution to a near out-of-control work day? If you are like I once was, you have often longed for a way to get and stay ahead of your work load. You have felt frustrated by hours of meetings that leave you little time to complete tasks during the day—by having to work late, night after night, to catch up on those responsibilities. You have felt frustrated by losing track of, or losing time for, commitments you have made. Frustrated by an avalanche of e-mails you cannot get to, by important documents you cannot find.

Well I guess that applies to most of us, and the book is a great example of just how much thought and attention can be applied to improving productivity and just how great the payoff can be!

OneNote and a new way to improve meetings

I recently had the opportunity to try out a new way to manage and a record a meeting using my Tablet and OneNote, here is how it went:


  1. First I created a main page for the meeting, where I recorded the location, attendees, objectives etc
  2. The I created sub pages with all of the material that I had been sent about the meeting, embedded as background images, (drag and drop word documents onto OneNote and it provides this as an option).  I was then able to quickly jump to these and mark them up if I needed to
  3. Then I created a sub page to keep my hand written notes
  4. Finally, I plugged in a $10 microphone on an 8’ lead, put it in the middle of the room, and recorded the whole meeting. As the recording proceeded, I made short handwritten notes when key points were made.  The key thing is that I did not try to take thorough notes, just jot down a memory clue that I could use later.
  5. Because I did not take extensive notes, I could remain focussed on the discussion, which is a major benefit
  6. On the way home (I travelled …

Welcome back to the Tablet!

Back in June I handed my TC 1100 Tablet back to the project I was working on and wrote a farewell blog article where I wrote up my on off love affair with Tablet PC computing.  In that article I concluded that a Tablet did not really meet my needs a home worker.  Well as time has progressed I have missed the Tablet more and more, and eventually a great deal on eBay offer seduced me and I now have an older TC1000 with 768MB of memory and a cheap TDK PC Card Bluetooth adapter. So what changed my mind:


  • I realised that I loved the slate format but hated the keyboard on the TC1*, and that all of the usage scenarios were slate format ones.  I had been trying to use my Tablet before in a multi-purpose role, I don’t do that now I have a range of machines that I use for specific purposes.  For example, almost all of my writing, evaluation and analysis work is done at my desk using my three monitor setup driving 2 Windows 2003 servers.  All of my company mobile working needs I use a IBM T40 …

So You Think You Want a Tablet PC

Links and references to get you started with the concept: (also see Welcome! New Tablet PC User) Tablet PC Home Page @ Microsoft Tablet PC How-To Articles Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition: An Overview1 Narrated Tablet PC Presentation Resources for the Tablet PC Developer The MSDN site for Tablet...