Tablet PC – A Student's Perspective

One Note, Note Taking and Powertoys

OneNote Favorites in Full Screen

Posted by anirudhsaraf on May 22, 2008

I am always looking for ways to quickly find information. Users of EverNote are familiar with the tagging system, where you apply tags – homework, physics, computers – etc. to notes. That way you can look at notes, categorized according to these tags. This can complement the existing structure of notebooks/section groups especially when you have pages across notebooks, sections and pages.

Bring in the OneNote tags feature. It is one of those features which hold the potential to change the way you use OneNote. If you use OneNote to collect data, the tagging feature can make it a snap to find it again, and is specially helpful for review work. More on that later.

Jeff has a wonderful write up on how to use tagging in OneNote. I recommend reading that here if you are unaware of this feature. Now to create easily accessible favorites, create tags with which you want to classify your favorites, or simply create a tag called favorites. Now go to the page title and add the tags to your page. It will look something like thisimage



Now to view pages tagged with favorites, call up the tags summary ( accessible in full screen mode) option.

In the tags summary pane you can view all your favorite pages under the favorites tag. You also have a bunch of sorting options ranging from viewing only the current notebook to viewing recently tagged notes.

Thus tagging pages with these tags, in combination with the tags summary pane can provide an easy way to create favorite pages, which are easily accessible in the full screen mode.

This feature is also very useful for reviewing notes, but a more detailed write-up on that later.

Posted in One Note Usage, OneNote | 2 Comments »

OneNote : Moving things in OneNote

Posted by anirudhsaraf on May 2, 2008

Picking up on John’s post on using OneNote in the classroom, I realized that class notes need a lot of restructuring. I thought i’ll share the technique I use to move things around in OneNote. OneNote is great for moving around text in containers, however it doesn’t always behave so well when moving ink. A technique I often use to move things around is a combination of zoom and the lasso tool. The lasso tools allows me to select exactly the things I want to move – meaning I can move graphs and associated text together; while the zoom in function shows me exactly how the placement is going to affect other text.

Quick Tip : The right click button on the pen is mapped to the lasso tool by default I think, hence you can quickly move things around with the lasso tool even as you take notes 🙂 . Lasso is also very handy to delete large portions of text.

View at 75% Zoom ( my normal writing setting)


At 25% I can see a larger portion of the page ; hence making it easier to move things around. I can even select multiple things and move them at once 🙂


It takes a little practice to use the lasso tool if you haven’t used it before, but once you get the hang of it, it is much quicker.

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Interviewing with Microsoft : Part 2 – The Butterflies Period

Posted by anirudhsaraf on April 13, 2008

After I got the interview call, I felt butterflies in my stomach. Literally my stomach was churning. I was excited, true, but I had no idea what to expect. Google search revealed lots of question, which ranged from easy to outright impossible. I had not programmed in C++ for over 2 years, C# was a relatively new language and I was yet to take a formal Algorithms course. To top it I was interviewing for a position in Test – and I had no idea about the formal way to test. I had just learnt that something called Unit Tests existed. Most of my knowledge was on a need to know basis. It’s actually a simple concept I follow to learn.

Step 1: Decide on a project. No matter how absurd it seems, you need to have a fundamental belief that you can make it work.

Step 2: Get excited about it for 2-3 days. Think in very abstract terms (plain English) how it can be achieved. If at the end of the 3 day period I still have the same excitement, then I know that I can make the project happen. It is vital to wait for 2-3 days so as not to have too many abandoned projects. Of 10-12 ideas I generate, at the end of the wait period only 1-2 seem to be manageable and implemental. So for example, for the DoubleHyperlink project I broke it down as

1) I create a new page – Simple I knew how do that.

2) Create Hyperlink to that New Page – Again relatively simple using the API.

3) Insert Hyperlink at the Current Cursor Position – I didn’t know how to do this when I started.

4) Browse to new page – Again relatively simple.

As a rule of thumb, if there are more than 5 abstract concepts I need to figure out – I drop the project. Note : Most of my projects are 2-3 weeks timeframe projects with a full course load of classes. So I don’t want anything too big on my plate.

Step 3: Now I have the basic idea of how to achieve my goal. I just need to gather the knowledge. So I need to figure out how to insert at the Current Cursor Location. This is basically the bottleneck in my project. So my goal is narrowed to one single thing – learn how to insert text at the current location in OneNote. At this stage I break it to more fundamental steps. How can I achieve this, since there is no API to do this. After some though I decided that copy-paste would be the simplest thing. So what I need to do is put the hyperlink on the Clipboard and then Paste it into OneNote. So the whole project was broken down into learning how to handle the clipboard. I googled Windows Clipboard management and spent some time learning the syntax and basics behind how the Clipboard works. Equipped with this knowledge I was ready to embark on my major project.

So back to the main point. My entire knowledge is haphazard, with no structure and I felt totally unprepared to take a technical interview without google at my disposal. I had a week before my Interview date. I was panicking. At this point, of the various people I talked to, the best advice was from John (yes he was the one who “noticed” me) which I will quote below

“The only tip I have is relax. Think of writing and testing your code, and then just do it.No pressure.” – Thanks John 🙂

Although it seems too simple and obvious – I’ll advice everyone interviewing to repeat this mantra 10 times a day. You’ve gotten this far; You know your stuff – and you can’t really do much in a week’s time in terms of increasing your knowledge. I did review some C++ – pointers , linked lists and trees – which seemed to be popular according to Google. And yes I did freak out a little when I read questions which seemed totally beyond my grasp. The only thing I recommend practicing is the WhiteBoard question. Don’t do it alone. Get a professor ( if you can) or a friend to give you a mock interview. Practice thinking out aloud. Trust me, you don’t want your first experience to be in front of an interviewer. The first time I did it ( with my prof.) I was totally tounge-tied – specially after I stumbled. Don’t stress over knowing deep issues like the difference between a class and struct. They aren’t looking at what you know. They are looking for how fast can they teach you. This was of course only clear to me after the interview. As for the actual interview – well you’ll have to wait a few more days for that one !!

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Interviewing with Microsoft : Part 1 – Getting Noticed

Posted by anirudhsaraf on April 6, 2008

I remember saying in one of my earlier posts that I wish Microsoft would hire me without a degree :). Guess what, they did just that. They gave me an offer for an internship on the OneNote team this summer. Woot !!

So, how do you get that coveted intern spot at Microsoft? The first thing you need to do is get an interview. You are lucky if you are in one of the many colleges Microsoft recruits at, but if not what do you do? You try and get noticed !! If you love programming, I am sure there are many projects you work on, many “geeky” activities you undertake. While your friends are getting drunk on Friday nights, you are perhaps cloistered in your room debugging that program which is so close to working. Its 4 am in the morning and your program finally worked. Do you just give yourself the smug smile and move on? Wait, there is another important thing you need to do – tell others about it !! Don’t forget this absolutely essential part. You may be the best programmer, but if nobody knows it, you ain’t getting any job offers.

A simple way to share your achievements is through a blog. Note, I am not talking about starting a blog which shows pictures of you in a drunken state, but a blog which shows your knowledge. Here you can show your knowledge, talk about your projects and get feedback from the community. More importantly, your blog will help you network and get noticed by potential employers.

Other ways to get noticed are by leaving “intelligent” comments on other people’s blogs. A lot of Microsoft people have their own blogs and leaving insightful comments can also help you get noticed.

So go ahead, start your blog ( there are many free blogging services), talk about your projects and about your insights into programming, and sooner or later (if you are worthy 😉 ) you’ll get that interview call. But just remember, don’t do it for the interview call, do it for your passion of programming.

Posted in general | 3 Comments »

Bringing together OneNote and PDF Annotator

Posted by anirudhsaraf on March 26, 2008

So you have all these PDF Files flying around. Research files, Professor Handounts, ebooks etc. etc. You love annotating with PDF Annotator ( check out the new version – IT SIMPLY ROCKS), but everything you have is in OneNote. Do you just shrug and print the PDF to OneNote and suffer?

You don’t need to. OneNote has this great feature called Insert -> File ( note :- not as PrintOut). This creates a copy of that file and embes it into OneNote. Clicking on it will open it in the associated program, but the file still remains embedded in OneNote. Now clicking on the PDF opens it in PDF Annotator where you can edit it. I recommend deleting the original file after inserting it into OneNote so that there is no confusion. Optionally, you can drag a file into OneNote and it will ask you whether you want to link to it or embed it.

The only drawback of this is that the embedded file is not searchable in OneNote. And be careful, otherwise you’ll soon find yourself using OneNote as a Windows Explorer replacement !!

For those interested in knowing how the files are actually embedded into OneNote follow this excellent post on how OneNote embeds file on Dan’s blog.

Inserting a File Steps from the Office Help Website


Posted in One Note Usage, OneNote | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »