Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Monday, December 08, 2003

Steve Hannaford has an interesting blog: Oligopolywatch. He tracks big companies and the effects they have on economies and people.

My Longhorn Blog: The 10 things advanced users need in Longhorn.

A bit controversial, perhaps, but I want a better experience for advanced users (and beginners too!) What do you think?

By the way, if you are an advanced user using Windows XP, this list (and instructions for turning on these features) might prove useful.

Rob Relyea (program manager for XAML) asks "what is missing from or broken about XAML?"

I'm watching Peter Jennings at ABC TV reporting on the problem of obesity in America. Interesting that our government is subsidizing a lot of the problem.

Maryam's mom just got out of her brain surgery. Turns out it was successful and the tumor removed is not cancerous. Sigh of relief.

Yesterday was the 62nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Maryam and I visited the site last year. Being over a sunken ship where 1177 people died is very sobering. The ship is still leaking oil to the surface. The park service is now exploring the Arizona with a remote controlled vehicle.

This site shows just how many patents apply to a typical video shop website.

(Note: this post was written in an airplane yesterday on my Tablet PC): When Dana Epp visited me recently, he got on my case because I didn't use my Tablet for weblogging. Why not? Because the handwriting recognition was not very good. Now, let me explain. First of all, this is the first blog post that I've made completely with the use of a pen. For this, I am using a pre-release version of the "Lonestar" update for the Tablet PC (which will officially be called Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004).

First, Peter has the best report on Lonestar.

So, why haven't I used the Tablet PC for text entry before? Because my handwriting sucks and the first version of the Tablet PC has trouble with it. Now, to be fair to the Tablet PC, the fact that it recognizes anything at all is a major accomplishment. But, even if your handwriting is recognized 95% of the time, it's frustrating to use and slow. I keyboard at about 100 words per minute with nearly 100% accuracy (and without needing to look at my hands or think about the act of inputing). Using a pen on today's Tablet PC is a long way from that.

With Lonestar my inking frustrations are gone.

Lonestar is a free update to the Tablet PC. I installed it in minutes on Friday. On top of my existing Tablet PC operating system. I can even uninstall it. Why didn't I install it before? I didn't want to mess up my machine. If that's you, get over your fear. This is a HUGE upgrade for the Tablet PC. I can't repeat that enough. It made this blog post possible.

Here's my experiences: handwriting recognition is now about 99.9%, even with my bad handwriting. That alone makes writing much more enjoyable (and fast). But, when a mistake does happen, then you really see the innovations that have been made. First, the "TIP" (Tablet Input Panel), which is where you enter your text, is completely new and redesigned. The first thing I noticed is that the ink is smoother and more responsive. That makes writing more like the experience on paper.

The second thing I noticed is that my writing was being recognized on the fly. As I write little tags appear underneath my writing with the Tablet PC's best guess.

Then I noticed that there were some mistakes (hey, my handwriting is bad!) "Holy crap," I said when I discovered that I could click on the words and Lonestar gives you a bunch of choices. For instance, when I wrote "crap" it translated that to "crop." So, I click on "crap" and it gives me a bunch of best guesses to change it to. In my experience so far this works on nine out of 10 mistakes.

So what about the times where it doesn't give you a good suggestion? Well, you can either delete your try and try it again or you can choose the closest and then correct it character-by-character.

Some mistakes even get through into Word. Even here the TIP is much better. Just highlight the mistake and re-ink what you want instead. This is totally going to change the editing process. Now I can write on the couch.

There are tons of other enhancements too. For instance, the TIP can be set to float next to your cursor.

Anyway, just wanted to say this is a HUGE increase in Tablet PC functionality. It's amazing how much better they've made the experience of using a Tablet PC.

What does this mean for Microsoft? Well, I think we should change our motto to "making it possible to compute anywhere at anytime." This release dramatically puts Microsoft out front in the computing race. No other platform has the ability to recognize my handwriting as well as the Tablet PC now can.

Oh, tomorrow I'll start my ink blog. Watch for it.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 3:26:35 AM.