Saturday, November 04, 2006

UMPY - A new Tablet is born

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I finally got down and bought the Asus R2H Ultra-Mobile PC from a retailer in Toronto. I checked hundreds of companies (OK, well, maybe tens of them) and even the ones who had it listed would not have it in stock for weeks. Until I found They had it listed, and told me they could get it in stock that day. Well, I was in Ottawa that day, but I knew that I would be having a couple hour stopover in Toronto on my way to Regina, Saskatchewan. So I told them to make sure they had one for me.

I got on the earlier plane between Ottawa and Toronto so that I could make sure to completely cross town in order to be able to get back in time for my 4:30pm flight. Normally this takes about 1 hour to 1:30... Fortunately last Wed, it only took 25 mins.

So I bought it ($1070 +tax) and started setting it up at the airport, and while I was on the plane.
The most frustrating experience was when you first turn on the R2H the touchscreen or pen does not work and there is the Tablet keyboard in the middle of the screen. You need to manipulate the joystick mouse around to drag the kyeyboard away from what you are trying to enter on the screen , and then manipulate the joystick mouse to use the tablet keyboard. Took about 15 minutes to set all the settings.

But this thing is cool. It is sleek. When I saw the blog about unboxing the R2H, I was intrigued, but I am telling you that the experience of taking it out of the box was quite neat. The box is a collectors item!

One of the first things I did was hook up my T-3 machine (Toshiba R10 Tablet) and synced my documents using the USB EasySync cable. I have been wanting something like this for quite a while to work with the times I want to grab more files than fits on a flash key my other computers. The software auto-popped up on each computer that I had connected, and it was simple to figure out how to sync the directories. I really like this tool.

When I plugged the USB mouse in, the R2H forgot all about the touchscreen. Actually there have been several times where I rebooted and the touchscreen no longer worked. At one point I went into the Control panel -> Device Manager to see what was there, and I had re-enable the touchscreen, but there came a time where it seemed the driver just disappeared completely. Re-installing the Touch drivers seemed to fix that.

I have been searching everywhere for a foldable Bluetooth keyboard for the R2H , but the only one I found in Regina ( I am here for another week...) was an HP Ipaq one. It only works with PocketPC's... Sigh... I am currently typing this with a USB connected keyboard I am borrowing from my client.

The R2H is fast...enough... and the screen is sharp. The sound is incredible. I right now have a Motorolla HT820 Bluetooth Headset attached, listening to Aelsin Debison... Really crisp music. No white noise... I also hooked up a slimline DVD-RW DL disk to it, and watched some movies last night. Really good video and sound. I thought we'd have some delay and choopiness, but it seems to be good enough. Not as good as T-3, but quite tolerable.

Only 3 other things that drive me really crazy with the R2H.
1) Battery life sucks. 2h15min... I am getting a portable pad to extend it
2) It gets really hot. Hard to hold when it has been on and plugged in for a while.
3) The tablet TIP keyboard on screen seems to have some serious redraw issues. I click Shift, and then a key, and it correctly capitalizes the character onto the screen, however, the shift button stays highlighted. It doesnt continue to capitalize, however the keys on the TIP keypad still have capitals, until I click on them and they revert to the lower case characters. But if I hit SHift again, it doesnt work. I have to hit it twice to get it back to Shift mode. I dont know whether this is a table bug, or an R2H bug.

1 really cool thing I found out is I bought the R2H at the exact right time. If I had bought it a few days earlier, I wouldn't be eligible for the free Vista Upgrade. But alas, I bought it on Nov.1st and I am eligible.

And the last really cool thing is my wife now has one too, so we are going to be able to figure all kinds of neat things we can do with our UMPY's...

Stay tuned as I throw some pics on here!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Asus R2H UMPC seems realy really cool

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In my Gmail today, they pushed a webLink to me that just jumped out at me. I was looking at this on Friday and Saturday when I was writing my previous article on what kind of a tablet based PC I need for what I do.

It seems everyone
loves the Asus UMPC. The only 2 complaints we hear are: 1) All the preloaded stuff bogs things down quite a bit... (so remove it!) And 2) The battery life is 2h12m, or 3h20m with it in powersaving.

I am very fascinated by this model, and I think I will probably take the plunge this week. I will figure out how to tweak it and use better battery powered chargers etc..,

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pulling Origami - Searching for the right UMPC

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I have been vary fascinated by Tablet technology over the last 5 years. So much so that I was an early adopter 4 years ago with Acer's Travelmate C100 tablet. It was very small, very portable, but very slow. "Tabby" went everywhere with me, and I loved the fact it was portable. Between Tabby, Microsoft OneNote and Frankin-Covey's TabletPlanner, I was in Organized Guy's Heaven. Then I lost my contracts, needed to feed my family, so I sold Tabby to some guy off the internet.

A year later I decided to go with Acer's Travelmate C310 Tablet. It was fast, powerful, upgradeable, but big. It was a good laptop, and it had tablet functionality. So "Tabitha" let me do some powerfhouse programming, detailed schematic modeling, and kept my schedule in check. But I had to sell her when I lost my job. It was pay mortgage, or keep Tabitha. Again, my family won out.

Not enter 2005. I had several big contracts on the go, and again I was struggling with needing to be mobile, and keep all my notes in sync. So my wife and I agreed. It is time to get a Tablet again. So I did a lot of research. I needed a really good laptop and a really good tablet. I need to be able to demonstrate enterprise server software, develop .Net applications as well as number crunch spreadsheets. I needed lots of diskpace and good video. I needed a tablet that I could take notes when I was in meetings with customers. And I did not want to spend an arm a leg, and my first born son. So I chose after great deliberation, the Toshiba R10. I love it. It is a wonderful laptop and a great tablet. And so "T-3" was born. I am using it currently to write this entry.

But after all this time, I have discovered something. These Tablet/laptop hybrids are very big and bulky. You have to turn them on fully to get to write your quick scribly notes. Checking your calendar is awkward unless you have the laptop on. I still have my Cellphones (I use only Microsoft Windows Mobile Technology phones - I could write a whole other article on my Smartphone/PDAPhone experiences) but they are only good for taking quick short notes, reading emails on the go, and making phone calls. Cellphones are not computers, even though they have some features.

So I need something else. I look at what I have turned to just recently. I now have 2 books I carry with me wherever I go: A writing pad to stire all my notes, thoughts, todos, and I have a Week-at-a Glance Agenda that has all my appointments and this weeks todos. Why do I have them? Well they are small (8" x 5") and fit in any thing I need to take with me. They are quick to turn on, and they let me write anything anywhere I want. But I am still using yet another thing that is not c`onnected to the wired/wireless world I live in. I use GMail, Google Calendar, spreadsheets and docs and Notebook for flagging, collaborating all my thinkstuff. So I have to replicate this on paper. Or vice versa. (I have the same complaint about the Microsoft based PDAPhones.... Their broswers suck so Google's neat AJAX features nver work properly. I still to this day cannot sync my Gcal to my UTStarcomm 6700)

So what do I need? I need something that meets the following criteria:
  • Small enough to fit in my hands (8"x 5")
  • Needs to be powerful enough to be a real computer - 1Ghz
  • Needs to have enough hard drive space to hold a reasonable set of documents
  • needs to be a portable multimedia device - MP3's etc...
  • Needs to be quick to turn on and get to
  • Needs to have really great Wireless networking so that I can get all my Google based knowledgeware
  • Needs to be expandable to meet the needs of other technologies as they come down the road.
So we come up to the Ultra-Mobile PC's (UMPC). These devices have been talked about for over a year. I remmber the whole lead up to the origami launch... But a year has gone by, and there has been little more than a fair whisper of the manufactures delivering these things.
Especially in Canada. It is hard to find sources for Tablet PC's forget UMPC's!

But now I hear word that Asus is finally delivering on their R2H and it will be available in Canada for under $1000. It does everything I want, although battery life isn't that great. It even has a camera built in, GPS built in. Will I be able to upgrade it? Put more memory, larger harddrive etc? The release annoucnement and many of the reviews are making me salivate. But can I justify it?

We'll see. And if I do get it, you will see a review for it here soon.

Neat Tool: The Mobile Secretary

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Windows Mobile Team Blog : The Mobile Secretary
This seems to be an interesting idea to allow people to get more details about why you cannot answer them than a voicemail message.

It makes the missed call interactive.
I plan to install it and write a review on it in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

IBM Rational Clearcase 7.0 Released!

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Just as I suspected, IBM Rational released their newest version of their Flagship products ClearCase and ClearQuest. I am trying to get my hands on the release so that I can update my training materials for my fall session.

Among the changes that have been announced are the following:

  • IBM Rational ClearQuest® is extended to enable tracking of when a build starts and ends, and can maintain a solid record of other status information. It can automatically track each milestone as a release progresses through the build cycles, test harnesses, and established approval gates before deployment into production.
  • The records for build and deployment can be associated with each other, and with other development artifacts such as requirements, code changes, test cases and test results, enabling traceability across the full lifecycle.
  • With the integration of IBM Rational Build Forge®, detailed build information can be automatically created and updated, allowing for detailed audit records and extended traceability.

  • IBM Rational ClearCase®
    and IBM Rational ClearQuest can also be integrated with IBM Tivoli® Provisioning Manager. This enables deployment of approved build files directly from the source code repository into a variety of test environments, and into production.
  • Delivers software configuration management of life cycle assets. With this release, it provides automated release management through an integration with IBM Rational ClearQuest and IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager.
  • Java™-build auditing with ANT extends build auditing to Java developers and enhances traceability.
  • Enhanced WAN access and large file support improve development flexibility

With Full UCM with ClearQuest support in the ClearCase Remote Client, and the Java ant build auditing, I think that ClearCase 7 will take us to the next level in Configuration Management. I look forward to assisting my clients with the migration, and finally answering the questions of “how can we use ClearCase to do remote and distributed development?”

My First Post with Microsoft Office Word 2007 Blogger

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I just discovered today that Microsoft Word 2007 has a built-in ability to blog.

I have been looking (er. Waiting) for some tool that I already use to have that feature, as I don’t always feel like logging into a website to write my thoughts or comments. I want to be able to do all my writing offline, and then when I am ready publish. It’s the reason why we have VCR’s, PVR’s and microwaves… Lets do it when we want to.

I tried setting this up with a community server account, but I cant seem to get that working, so I went back to old faithful, Blogger.

So. This post is coming to you live from my new Word 2007 Beta 2 that I downloaded last week.

I love the new features for Outlook (layered multi-calendar is my first cool feature) and Powerpoint has a much cleaner look and feel. I am looking forward to really playing with the new InfoPath and hosting some forms in webs and Outlook, but I have a lot of cleaning up on my servers to be able to do that.

I love Beta testing, and will hopefully soon have put these tools through the paces so that I can develop some updated training packages to start training in the fall.

Well, next up is Blogging from OneNote 2007!