Tablet PC – A Student's Perspective

One Note, Note Taking and Powertoys

Archive for October, 2007

TreeView : How does it look?

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 27, 2007

So after being up all night yesterday, I finally have ver1.0 of the TreeView almost ready. I had to ditch my code 3 times on the way there, but the final solution was worth the sleepless nights.

The features it has are basically Tree Navigation of notebooks and title changing. The drag and drop functionality will be implemented after I get over with my second round of midterms (Sigh!!). I decided against the preview pane since I see it more as a tool to replace the one note side bar while you are using it.

If all goes according to plan – meaning I figure out the tutorial on adding the toolbar button to OneNote soon, and a way to keep the navigation window on top of Onenote – I should be releasing the PowerToy sometime during next week (keep your fingers crossed for that one).

Here is a Video of the TreeView Control in Action.

Feedbacks appreciated :).

And for those who have the means and would like to support the Development of more Powertoys please consider donating -even small amounts help, thats how Google made billions 🙂 – its difficult paying the astronomical college tuition fees.

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Posted in One Note powertoys | 6 Comments »

NoteTaking in Class and What it is Like

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 25, 2007

Apart from all the ooh’s and aah’s and the surreptitious looks, what is it like to take notes in class on a tablet PC? I remember the frantic anticipation I had when I ordered my first tablet. Having only scribbled on one owned by an acquaintance, I had no idea what it would be like to take notes on one. My only experience with “handwriting” was on a PDA, and that was not really flattering.

To those debating whether to get one, let me put all your anxieties to rest. It is absolutely totally worth it :). Now that in the typical college style I have stated my conclusion, let me go ahead and support it.

Does it fell like paper when you write on it ?

Its different, but better. Its a little smoother than paper, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Besides I love writing on my tablet, so as a result I take copious notes. Earlier I would only write what I felt was absolutely necessary, but now I write down almost everything. The pen flows smoothly and the writing is instant, no lags on the modern tablet.

What about Converting Notes and Handwriting Recognition ?

You have a tablet, why do you want to convert notes to typed text? Handwriting recognition works well if are browsing the web in tablet mode but if you want to convert class notes, forget it. Apart from conversion issues ( bad handwriting !!!) you loose most of your formatting. So stick with your handwriting. I am sure you can read it 🙂.

In Theory you want this to happen



What actually happens



Thus handwriting recognition works for small neatly written text. For hurried class notes, which sometimes even I find difficult to read, I shouldn’t really expect the computer to be able to convert it, should I?

Am I paperless ?

Relatively paperless. I still have to print my homework. Unfortunately professors don’t accept email attachments :(. And don’t forget to tell them that you have a tablet and thats why your Homework is printed !!. Most professors agree to email you the handouts if you ask them, or if you are willing you can just go ahead and scan them in. One note has an inbuilt OCR, enabling you to search the text withing images. All in all, it cuts down the paper clutter by 80%, while increasing organization efficiency ten-fold.

How do I take Notes? What software do I use ?

ONE NOTE, need I say anything else? For those wondering what one note is, it is part of Microsoft Office. It is the best there is for note taking. Once you start using it, you’ll never use anything else. Apart from One Note there aren’t many other tablet specific software you’ll need ( unless you plan on drawig /art).

What about Gaming ?

The big question I had when I decided to get a tablet was “Would it mean the end of all gaming” ? Thankfully the absence of a separate graphics card (on most tablets) does not mean you can’t play an occasional game. Given you won’t have superb graphics, but FIFA 08 runs beautifully on mine. So all I need to carry is my controller, and I am all set when I need a break :). As long as you game once in a while and don’t care a lot about high definition graphics, you should be fine.

Below is a screenshot of FIFA running on my tablet.

Which Tablet would I recommend?

Having had only the HP tc4400 ( you get get them for a bargain at the HP refurb outlet) I can’t really make an accurate judgement as to which tablet you should purchase. However a few pointers

  • Most tablets are 12″. Trust me you don’t want a bigger one. Buy an external monitor instead. Any bigger and you’ll be crying about how big and heavy it is to carry around.
  • Waccom v/s FinePoint : A few of Gateway models have Finepoint technology while most others use Waccom Enabled pen. What is the difference? From my research (note I don’t have first hand experience) it appears that Finepoint doesn’t have any pressure sensitivity. For note taking this shouldn’t make much of a difference. But for those wanting to use it for drawing, art etc. this may be an issue. So for simple note taking going with the Gateway’s Finepoint tablet may be cost saving.
  • The new HPCompaq TC 1100 HP TX1000 ( Thanks Barbara for pointing out the mistake) is NOT ideal for notetaking. It uses neither Finepoint nor Waccom, but has a touchscreen and a stylus. If you want a computer with a flip screen and very occasional tablet features then go for it, otherwise stay away.

So go ahead and invest in that Tablet. You won’t be making a mistake :).

Let me know if there are any other issues you want addressed.

Posted in One Note Usage, OneNote | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Follow up : TreeView

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 21, 2007

It’s great to see so much interest in the Community about the plugin umm powertoy. I would like to thank all the people and blogs which featured my yet to be released one note powertoy and hope that the final powertoy lives up to the expectations.

I am working to add the ability to change the titles from the tree view and hopefully I’ll have an update by the end of the week. Seeing the interest generated by the powertoy, I’ll try and post about its progress on a regular basis. However let me warn everybody not to expect a polished powertoy soon as being in college is time consuming; I wish Microsoft would hire me without a degree ;).

So stay tuned, and lookout for an update next week.

Thanks for all the motivation everybody….

Posted in One Note powertoys | 4 Comments »

TreeView of OneNote NoteBooks

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 19, 2007

So after a week of learning XML and C# I finally dived into playing with the OneNote API

Here is the result of my first experiment with the One Note API.

tree view image

What the program basically does is convert the OneNote Notebook structure into a TreeView structure. Not too useful at this stage, but its a start. A few of the features I hope to implement before releasing a powertoy based on this.

  1. Add SubPages as a seperate Node
  2. Link to Notes from Tree View
  3. Ability to change the page title
  4. A page preview pane
  5. Ability to move pages pages.

Please do leave feature requests/ideas in the comments below. Also if anyone is interested in developing/collaborating in the development of OneNote Powertoys do drop me an email.

Posted in One Note powertoys | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

Scribbling and Doodling in One Note

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 16, 2007

So how many times have you had the urge to just doodle away in a boring class ? How many times have you resisted it since one note saves every little scratch you make? Does the thought of erasing all your doodles to make your notes neat make you sick? Well, here is a workaround I use. One Note has a feature called Side Note Window under Windows ->New Side Note Window (Ctrl + Shift + M). Once your new side note window pops up, resize it to fit your doodling needs and pin it so that it stays on top using the pin button. This way your note page is free to take notes while you can still doodle when the urge strikes without having to worry about erasing anything. When you run out of doodling space simply scroll down or use the delete page/create new page button in conjunction (I prefer this) to start with a fresh slate. In case you like saving your doodles, the new page can be found under the unfiled notes section if you didn’t use the delete page/new page combo.

doodle image


Posted in One Note Usage, OneNote | 2 Comments »