The next gen Tablet

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Most of my readers know that for years I have blogged about the productive benefits of using Tablet PCs. Although I haven't blogged much about this topic lately, I think this product overview is worth watching...

It's triangular. It's mobile. It's sexy. And now it comes with spice 2.0. It's currently only available in orange. I'm waiting for the guacamole green version.

"You had me at the pen ..." The X61 Tablet PC

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
I recently visited with my good friend and fellow productivity consultant, Kelly Forrister, at her home in beautiful Ojai California.  The purpose of my visit was to show her the Tablet PC system and environment and to give her a tour of my most recent addition to my mobile knowledge worker productivity toolkit, the X61. I've known and worked with Kelly and her husband John at a number of organizations over the past 15 years and we share a common passion for finding cool gear to help us get things done. (For those of you who started with the first Palm Pilot and early Palm hand-helds, you may remember that Kelly published a very successful email newsletter with productivity tips on how to use the palm productively.)

Lenovo was kind enough to provide me with the amazing ThinkPad X61 Tablet PC and I have been enjoying using it and demonstrating to folks how Tablets work and how I use the Tablet PC. (Be sure to search my "Tablet PC" archives for other posts about this incredible tablet.) The X61 combines the best of features - a powerful processor, a long battery life, high resolution and highly visible screen, light weight and the fantastic ThinkPad keyboard 7 TrackPoint to create a flexible and powerful computer. Add to this, Microsoft Vista (I know; it's not ideal on the desktop, but it is a much improved Tablet OS) and I have a powerful tool for mobile productivity.

Listen in as I give Kelly a tour of the new Lenovo ThinkPad X61 Tablet PC.

Continue Reading ""You had me at the pen ..." The X61 Tablet PC" »

I've written before that I was disappointed that Lotus Notes wasn't more ink friendly. Well, I'm pleased to report that I'm using Notes on my new Lenovo X61 Tablet PC with Vista. Nothing's changed on the IBM Notes side, but the TIP implementation in Vista makes Notes MUCH easier to use with a stylus. On the flight back from Boston, I processed several hundred emails in Lotus Notes on my X61 Tablet - entirely in slate mode. The improvement and my change in perception about Notes as an ink enabled app is due to two things: first, the ink support and the TIP implementation in Vista are very good. Second, the Lenovo X61 Tablet is a great machine.  Nothing like my other tablet. The pen is like writing in paper and the size and button layout makes it a dream to use. You might even say I'm about to become YABHTU again.
I've received several emails from folks asking how well the new SuperView screen coating works on the Lenovo X61 Tablet PC, so I decided to conduct some tests.  

There are three places outside of my office or a client's office where I'm likely to use my new Lenovo X61 Tablet in bright light: Kathy's car on the way to Disneyland, at the local pool, or at the local lake. Lenovo X61 Screen test in car on the way to DisneylandI decided to test the first two. Yesterday, under the premise of conducting "research," we headed down to Anaheim to test the X61 on the way to Disneyland. Kathy drove and I sat in the passenger seat and processed my pending email. Well, actually, I sorted my pending email to process later and spent the rest of the time Skyping Michael Sampson from the car, but that's another story.

Continue Reading "Lenovo X61 Screen test: SuperView coating works well" »

Lenovo X61: BOS to LAX on one battery!

Thursday, June 21st, 2007
I'm on board United flight 167 To Los Angeles with my Lenovo X61 Tablet PC. I neglected to charge my second battery so I decided to conduct an experiment to see if I could get coast to coast or ore Battery with only a few brief Breaks.

Continue Reading "Lenovo X61: BOS to LAX on one battery!" »

X61 Update from Enterprise 2.0

Thursday, June 21st, 2007
We're in the home stretch on the Enterprise 2.0 conference sessions. Live blogging the conference has been an interesting experiment for me and the new Lenovo X61 Tablet PC had made the process easier - factors contributing to the tablet success for me include, small size, weight, excellent battery and power saver modes. Michael and I will try to do a podcast about our tablet experience later today.

Lenovo X61 Battery stretch

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007
I turned on my laptop with battery conserve mode at 8:30 am. It's now 10:00 and I'm at 69% remaining. I just found and enabled battery stretch to extend my battery. We'll see how that goes. To get to battery stretch, click on the battery icon in the system tray.

Apparently, others are geting 4+ even 6 hours on a single battery. I hope that will be my experience, too.

Switching to OneNote for my note taking

Monday, June 18th, 2007
I began the day in slate mode, using Windows Journal to take my notes. What I found is that I could not take notes fast enough - at least not blog quality complete thoughts.

Insert thought: for conferences, I really like the small form-factor of the Lenovo X61 Tablet. I'm sure my seatmates appreciate it, too.

I plan to switch to OneNote 2007 as my note-taking tool. I like the interface of a notebook and pages on which to take notes. Note to self: bring an external mic so that I can record sessions in OneNote for review. So, after the break, I'll resume in OneNote 2007 but still in laptop mode and see how it goes.

Tablets and Macs sharing the stage

Monday, June 18th, 2007
Michael is doing a great job of using both his Mac (as a presentation tool) and his Lenovo X60 Tablet as a mobile note-taking device for real-time display during the Enterprise 2.0 conference.
Michael's taking notes using OneNote in real-time as he presents. Then, during each break, he uploads the notes to the web. (Example) A powerful use of a Tablet. Today, he's tethered by a 25' VGA cable. I'll have to show him how to use MaxiVista for true mobility.  Note: if you want to do the same, you'll need to disable screen saver and auto-rotation. Also, you'll need to invert the tablet screen from the normal landscape orientation. Overall, it works well.

Enterprise 2.0 and Tablet PCs

Monday, June 18th, 2007
I'm at The Enterprise 2.0 Collaborative Technologies Conference in Boston. I plan to blog the conference using my New Lenovo X61 Tablet. I'll try to do most of this in slate mode. I want to get the full experience of using this cool tablet PC.

Testing the Lenovo X61 Battery

Monday, June 18th, 2007
I brought two fully changed 8-cell batteries with we to the conference. My goal is to make it though the day on battery power alone. I've set the laptop for Low-power, mid-brightness and Wifi, enabled. The power bar reports 4.5 hours available. we'll see how I do.

Lenovo X61 adventure begins: Day Two

Friday, June 15th, 2007
Yesterday was mostly a shake-down day for me as I had quickly moved everything from my brand new T60p wide-screen onto the X61. On the tablet side, I did not have an opportunity to use the X61 in tablet mode much so no comments there. Once I get my applications stabilized, I'll switch to slate mode. On the software side, I mentioned that concurrent with the move to the Lenovo X61 Tablet PC, I also took the plunge and moved to Windows Vista Ultimate. I did this for two reasons: First, I wanted to experience the X61 Tablet PC with the latest tablet supported OS, and second, because I wanted to experience Vista. In hindsight, I'm not sure about the Vista decision. It seems that I spent too much time getting my core apps, Palm installer, to work. No points to Palm for Visa compatibility. I'm sure I'll have more to say later.

Continue Reading "Lenovo X61 adventure begins: Day Two" »

Lenovo X61 adventure begins: Day One

Thursday, June 14th, 2007
Last week, Lenovo called me and offered to send me one of their new, soon-to-be-released X61 Tablet PC's. Of course, I did the noble thing and accepted their offer. I sent them my wish list for my dream Tablet and two days later DHL showed up with a new X61 Tablet, configured exactly as I has desired. (Thanks, Lenovo!)

I'm getting ready to head to Boston next week, for the Enterprise 2.0 conference. I'll be attending, with my long-time friend and colleague, Michael Sampson, who you may remember recently returned to the Tablet PC platform himself. You may have read that it's been a while since I used the Tablet PC for my eProductivity work. My experience with my previous tablet, the Toshiba Tecra M4, left something to be desired from the Tablet PC experience I had hoped for.  [If you would like to catch up on my past Tablet PC blog entries, there are over one hundred of them, here. If you want to read about some of my less productive experiences with the M4 Tablet, see here.]

So, thanks to Lenovo, I begin the journey again. I had actually just purchased a brand new ThinkPad T60p and was in the process of migrating to it when Lenovo contacted me. So, I decided to hold off and mirror the migration onto both the T60p wide-screen ThinkPad (and awesome machine in its own right) and to the new X61 Tablet at the same time.
Continue Reading "Lenovo X61 adventure begins: Day One" »
Xerox LiveBoardIn my conference room, I have a huge machine called a LiveBoard. It was made by Xerox. Think of it as the extreme digital whiteboard. It's has a 60" rear projection system with built-in optics so that digital markers can be tracked anywhere on the surface.  The markers have no ink in them, they simply transmit an IR beacon that the electronics inside of the LiveBoard pick up to determine pen position. The system functions as a giant PC. Now, with a suitable internet or data connection you can connect two (or more) LiveBoards in such a way that anything written on one can will appear on the other and vice versa. It's a wonderful collaboration technology. Unfortunately 15 years ago, when it first came out, the $45K price tag put out of the reach of most businesses. I suppose the fact that it weighed 600 lbs was a detractor for some people, too.

Today, Microsoft introduced the first of its surface computing products (yes, Michael, just one more reason that the Windows platform has a long and innovative future ahead of it) which basically shrinks the Xerox LiveBoard functionality and more in to the size of your coffee table. Initially, multiple users will collaborate around the table, but in the future, they will be able to connect their surfaces for shared collaboration. Again, nothing new here.

Continue Reading "Microsoft brings LiveBoard to the coffee table with Surface" »
It's time to get to work!

I always knew you would return...

Now, you can stop playing around with those cool lifestyle applications (photos, movies and music) and use real business tools (spreadsheets, word processing, presentation software and Lotus Notes) to get things done. ;-)

Continue Reading "Welcome back, Michael! I knew you'd come around!" »
Here's a request I receive frequently from my readers. It usually goes something like this:
Dear Mr. Mack,
I have been following your website, EricMackOnline for about a year.  I still check in regularly and enjoy immensely for almost every topics from robot to home school :)  Particularly, I enjoy your work ethics that was also mentioned in your opening of your first tablet PC.  I'm writing this email in regards to your recent use of your tablet PC.  Since November (almost 6 months ago), I have not heard anything related to your Tablet PC adventure.  I think many of your loyal followers still would like to know how you apply this fascinating technology to your works.  Your opinions mean a lot to your sincere readers.

Chun Shun Lau
(posted with permission)
Well, there's a subtle answer to this.

Continue Reading "Why haven't I blogged about Tablet PC's in six months?" »

Journal: The undervalued notes program

Thursday, November 30th, 2006
Following up to my post on why business applications should be ink-enabled, I'd like to share this excellent post on why Microsoft Journal is the undervalued note-taking program.

Tracy Hooten, of the Student Tablet PC, recently wrote this detailed post about the power in the simplicity Journal as a tool for note-taking with digital ink.  (I had the privilege to work with Tracy last year during our 8-week paperless challenge. Details here.)

Tracy blogs about how she's returned to Microsoft Journal and she offers four reasons why:
1. Stability
2. Flexibility
3. Familiarity
4. Simplicity
Tracy's article describes both the beauty of the Tablet PC platform and the power we can find in simplifying our tool set.

Continue Reading "Journal: The undervalued notes program " »

My thoughts about an Ink-enabled Lotus Notes R8

Thursday, November 30th, 2006
Ed brill and I have exchanged a few e-mails about the idea of Ink Enabling Lotus Notes for the Tablet PC. I hope that Ed will post his thoughts on his blog, so I won't steal his thunder. Meanwhile, I will share one of my emails that summarizes my thoughts on Lotus Notes for the Tablet PC and whether it is critical for IBM to address digital ink in the next release of Lotus Notes (R8).
Ed, Aside from my personal desires, I do not see this as business critical for IBM/Lotus today, but I do see a shift in what users will come to expect in the future. I agree that, in the business, market Tablets are still niche oriented and vertical market. However, the once-large price difference between a laptop and a Tablet PC form factor has diminished rapidly. As it does, more tablets will be sold and more people will expect to use their  applications with a tablet.

Continue Reading "My thoughts about an Ink-enabled Lotus Notes R8" »
In response to my earlier post, about the lack of ink-enabled business applications, Ben Poole wrote:
Here's what I don't understand:
Why should ANY application be "ink-enabled"?

Seriously. Why?
The way Microsoft have approached the Tablet PC is all wrong in this regard: ink-enabling should be an OS-level abstraction. Applications should just take advantage of what the host operating system offers, using its input managers and what-have-you. It seems crazy to me that the OS vendor is relying on application developers to push *their* technology in this way.
I'm sure MS have their reasons for tackling the Table PC like this, but I must be missing something big time...

Yes, Ben, you've missed something.

So did IBM and the Lotus Notes team.

Continue Reading "Why should ANY app (e.g. Lotus Notes) be ink-enabled?" »

What business app do you want Ink Enabled?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006
Rob Bushway's trying to find out what business application do users most want to see ink-enabled.

With as much progress as the Tablet PC continues to make with education, health care, legal, etc., it continues to surprise me as to how few business applications are ink-enabled. By ink-enabling, I'm referring to converting a note field to accept both ink and text, adjusting fields for context awareness so the TIP can be used more effectively, etc....

My answer:
1. Lotus Notes

2. Adobe Acrobat  
3. SameTime

Did I mention Lotus Notes?

What business application would you love to see ink-enabled?

Post a comment here, or on

ThinkPad X60 Tablet PC worth the wait

Monday, November 27th, 2006
I recently deployed a Toshiba M400 for a client who could not wait any longer for the long-rumored X60 Tablet PC from Lenovo.

The Toshiba M400 is a nice Tablet PC and were it not for the challenges of getting good support from Toshiba I would recommend the M400 to anyone looking for a powerful Tablet PC. Of course, I warned my client that as soon as he purchased his new Toshiba M400, Lenovo would probably announce the X60.

You guessed it...

Continue Reading "ThinkPad X60 Tablet PC worth the wait" »

How to gently tell a friend to buy a Mac

Thursday, August 24th, 2006
One way is to tease him publicly, like this.

20060823 - Four weeks without my Tablet PC.jpg

Michael knows that I'll have my Tablet PC back from repair tomorrow, but he's not going to miss any opportunity to leave a hint.

I guess Michael's not yet seen these Mac & Tablet PC commercials?

Seriously, a Mac is on my computing horizon. What I'd really like is a high resolution Apple tablet. I wonder if we'll see one this year?
Remember my recipe for homemade productivity juice?

20050323 - Eric's Productivity Juice for M4.JPG

Details here.
I've just surfaced from 6 weeks of intense work, presentations, and client travel. Two weeks in Ojai with the David Allen Company, two weeks to complete and work on my eProductivity business plan, and two weeks of client travel to meet with clients who waited patiently during my absence. This, punctuated by a memorial service for my grandpa, my business plan presentation (miracle did occur),  a dinner meeting with Marc Orchant and a delightful visit from my good friend, Michael Sampson and his Mac. (We enjoyed a very quick Thanksgiving dinner and church the next day, followed by a brief visit aboard a special aircraft.) Blog posts on all of these, coming soon.

I am going somewhere with this.
I'm setting the stage for typically serious post-travel overwhelm. Whenever this happens, I apply the GTD work flow model to processing my stuff.  I'm now wresting with last 100 emails (out of thousands) and a small stack of papers, 33 draft blog topic ideas, and a business plan to revise.

So, what does all of this have to do with using a 24" LCD Panel as a tool for visual project mapping?

Continue Reading "24" LCD Panel as a tool for visual project mapping" »
Can you tell who's who? Listen to how Marc Orchant introduces my friend, Michael Sampson, now global VP of Word of Mouth Marketing for Foldera, on a recent  On the Run with Tablet PC podcast:

Sorry Michael, I couldn't resist. :-)

Source: On the Run with Tablet PC Podcast #24 (listen at 5 min 15 seconds in) Better yet, click on the podcast link below for a 60 second sound byte.

Do you have specs of dust under the screen of your Tablet PC? Blog reader, Marcus, posted these steps on my blog, today. Note that I do not recommend or condone these steps as they will surely violate your warranty. Still, I think it is a shame that a Tablet PC experience should be marred by a few specs of dust under the screen. Hopefully, Tablet PC vendors will find ways to ensure that no dust can enter the gap between the screen protector and the screen. (What about a gasket?)

In any case, here are the steps that Marcus submitted:

Continue Reading "How to remove dust from M4 Tablet PC Screen" »
For those of you following my Tecra M4 repair saga, UPS picked up my M4 on Friday and returned it today. That's a 3 working day turn-around. Impressive!

Interestingly, it did not go to a Toshiba Repair Depot. According to  a reader of my blog, Sean, and the UPS tag, it went to a UPS repair depot. I was very concerned to hear this, but my M4 is back and I'm thankful for that. Before I brag too much about the repair service, though, all is not dust free in tablet-land.

Continue Reading "Toshiba grants 4 out of 5 wishes in only 3 days" »

Tecra M4 Repair Adventure Begins - Day One

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006
I would normally not blog about this, but I continue to receive emails and blog inquiries, asking about the status of my Tecra M4 repair and my experience with Toshiba Technical support. You may recall that I recently became an unhappy Tablet PC user. The truth is that, up until today, I've done nothing about it, other than to copy my mission critical data to a Thinkpad so I can continue working. For me, the idea of calling overseas support ranks right up there with a root canal. To me, calling for my own computer repair is even worse, because it means unproductive and unbillable time. Most of my blog readers will probably want to skip over this post. For those, who are passionate about Tablet PC's or Toshiba (or both), you can follow my support call ...
Continue Reading "Tecra M4 Repair Adventure Begins - Day One" »

Oh No! Now I’m an Unhappy Tablet User!

Saturday, May 20th, 2006
I can't believe it. Just 3 days after my YABHTU announcement, my Tablet PC is really dying. This disappointing news does not change my position on Tablet PCs - I still think it's an ideal computing platform. And, optimistically, I still think that the Tecra M4 is the ideal Tablet PC for my needs. (At least until I can get my hands on one of these.)

My next challenge: Getting Toshiba to repair my M4. Quickly.

20060520 - Toshiba Tecra M4 Dead Screen.jpg

I'm not as concerned that my Tablet PC is showing its last pixels as I am concerned with how difficult it could be to get it repaired. As you may recall, my last call to Toshiba tech support was not a happy one.
The outcome of this experience will influence whether or not I purchase another Toshiba product and whether I allow my clients to do the same. I hope that Toshiba comes through for me and for my clients.
The fact that many dissatisfied Toshiba customers have been sending me their Tecra M4/Toshiba support problems, is not encouraging. James Stewart, of Otaku software, even blogged about his Toshiba Repair experience, stating that he will never buy Toshiba again.

I'm not ready to go that far. I like the M4 and I think it is an excellent tablet. I love the large screen, built-in multi-drive, and the overall design.

Continue Reading "Oh No! Now I'm an Unhappy Tablet User!" »
I now consider myself to be YABHTU. It feels good to say that. After a year of working with the Tablet PC in a variety of applications, I'm ready to join the ranks of the blissfully happy tablet users. (By the way, none of the wild guesses about  this announcement even came close!)

A year ago, I approached the Tablet PC platform with great interest but reasonable skepticism. Since then, I've had the opportunity to conduct a number of intense 8-week challenges - some public, some private - that lead me to conclude that the Tablet PC platform offer a significant number of productivity features that will be of benefit to any kind of user. As a management student, I believe that every student, young or old, needs a Tablet PC.

Why did I put so much effort into evaluating the Tablet PC platform and why did this evaluation take me 12 months?

Continue Reading "Drum Roll, Please ... My Tablet PC Announcement" »

James Kendrick Taunts Mac Users

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006
I opened up Skype, today, to find this comment in my Skype contacts list:
20060516 - James Kendrick taunts Mac users.jpg
People are posting their guesses at what I plan to announce. There have been several interesting comments, so far.

I fully expected that Michael would have the first comment, and he did not disappoint me. Rob Bushway didn't miss a beat, either,

I much prefer Cary Phillip's guess at what the announcement might be:
You've finally found a 70 inch touch screen with 1024000 x 768000 resolution (perfect for mindmapping)?
Cary, I wish it were so!  (I actually built one, but the resolution was very low)

Dave, took the analog productivity track and suggested that my Tablet PC adventures might be pointing in the "paper-based challenge" direction.

No, my announcement will cover my experience during the past year of working with a Tablet PC and the Toshiba Tecra M4 in specific.

Here's a summary of my Tablet PC experience. I will review this and comment, soon.

Continue Reading "Wild guesses about my Tablet PC experience" »

Tablet PC announcement coming

Monday, May 15th, 2006
It's been a year since I received my Tablet PC and almost a year since I opened the box. During that time, what I intended to be a very small part of my focus, has become a large project, with over 100 blog entries in my Tablet PC category.

I'll make a statement in the next few days. Meanwhile, if you want to review my experiences and podcasts, click here and read from the bottom up. See if you can guess what I'm going to announce.

Channel 9 guy has a new buddy

Friday, April 21st, 2006
20060408 - CH 9 Guy and Tablet PC Guy.jpg

This story actually began here, when Channel 9 Guy came to visit and decided to say, After a while, however, his smile wasn't.

Thanks, Rob.
I've been thinking a lot about my recent posts. I can't get the experience of working on a 24" Tablet PC out of my mind. it was great. Now, I want one. I'll put up with the size for the increased productivity and flexibility, even if it isn't as portable as some Tablet PCs.

Marc Orchant just posted his observations about booting Windows XP on a Mac. These are well and good and I'm all for increased competition (read: innovation) in the marketplace. Marc concludes his discussion:
Now, if Apple would just get off the stick and build a Tablet Mac that could also run Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, I would run, not walk, to buy one. Hey, a guy can dream, right?
For the record, if Apple wants to come out with an Ultra Wide-screen Tablet Mac, I'll switch, too.

Hey, a guy can dream, right?
Here's a perfect application for the new Ultra Wide-Screen Tablet PC. Musician, Hugh Sung, of Tablet PC Musician, just wrote me to tell me how he would use the new Ultra Wide-Screen Tablet PC. Hugh wants to use it as virtual sheet music with a foot switch for automatic page turning. What a terrific idea. Now I want two units - one for my office and one for my piano. Read Hugh's email and then share your comments about how you would use an Ultra Wide-screen Tablet PC. I'm sure that the manufacturer would love to hear from us. The more of us who speak up, the sooner we'll see this on the market.

Dear Eric,
I'm a classical pianist who has been using Tablet PC's to completely replace my paper music library - in conjuction with my new wireless footswitch from Musebook, i'm able to turn pages without removing my hands from the keyboard (for musicians, that's a BIG deal!)  Anyway, saw your blog about the UWSTPC (ultra widescreen tablet pc) and I have to say - this would be PERFECT for orchestra conductors!  I've had several look wistfully at my system, envying the fact that I can carry my entire music library in the hard drive of my Fujitsu Stylistic ST5202D, but the 12.1 inch display is too small for the enourmous orchestra scores they have to lug around.  Seeing your picture of the pre-production unit made me say, "YES!!!"  This could be the perfect Tablet PC for orchestra conductors!

I hope your manufacturer friend will seriously consider making a presentation at next year's NAMM convention (NAMM is an arm of the International Music Products Association - ).  I would love to see our orchestras adopt tablet pc's - once you can convince the conductors of the benefits of the technology, you'll start seeing it trickle down (hopefully) to the rest of the classical music community.  
Have fun with the unit 'till Monday!
All the best,
Hugh Sung

How would YOU use an Ultra Wide-screen Tablet PC?

Post a comment with your ideas. I wonder if I can get the manufacturer to give a unit away to the best application posted to this blog. It's worth a try. ;-)

First Look: Ultra Wide-screen Tablet PC

Saturday, April 1st, 2006
Here's a first look of the new ultra wide-screen Tablet PC format. Watch the video and you'll see why I think this is the dream Tablet PC for people who need a larger screen for their work.

Click on the podcast link below to watch the streaming video. (1 min 20 seconds)

Ultra Wide-screen Tablet PC Heaven

Saturday, April 1st, 2006
OK, this new Ultra Wide-Screen Tablet PC rocks! Talk about productivity! I love the size of this screen! Finally, a manufacturer that listens to what their customers want. It's about time. It's not light but it's packed full of power. Did I mention that the screen is really really big? (That's my Tecra M4 in the foreground.)

20060401 - Ultra-WideScreen Tablet PC Evaluation 001.jpg

Battery life is, as you might expect - short - however, there are 4 additional expansion bays on the back of this thing that allow you to extend the power from a measly 120 minutes (I got only about 88 minutes, at full brightness) to upwards of 5 hours. Still, I don't see this as a portable tablet. It's certainly not going to make James Kendrick's list of super small mobile computing devices. No one will use this Tablet while standing in line at the airport and forget using it on the plane, except in First Class and only if you have a power outlet at your seat or carry your own productivity juice on board with you. It's simply too big. Still, if you're like me and you want all of the functionality and productive benefit from a Tablet PC in a larger form factor, then this is the type of unit you want.

Continue Reading "Ultra Wide-screen Tablet PC Heaven" »
Fellowes makes a laptop stand for the desk that looks like it would be useful as a tablet PC stand. I just found this picture on my Treo from a shopping expedition earlier this month.  


Continue Reading "Inexpensive Tablet PC Stand for your desk" »

Mystery box arrives

Friday, March 31st, 2006
Well, there's something, big in that large computer box. The box is not as heavy as it's size would seem to indicate, so it's probably just packed extremely well. That's promising.

Here's a picture of Amy and Wendy, coming down the driveway, with the box that FedEx just delivered. (Captured on my Treo 650)

Continue Reading "Mystery box arrives" »

Ultra-wide screen Tablet PC coming!

Thursday, March 30th, 2006
I guess my blog posts about my ideal Tablet PC haven't gone unnoticed. At least one Tablet PC manufacturer is actively reading my blog. [You can probably guess that it's not my current Tablet PC manufacturer.] I just got off the phone with an excited representative from a well known computer manufacturer who called to let me know that, because of my blog, I've been selected to evaluate one of their new ultra-wide screen Tablet PCs. She promised me that it was perfect for Tablet PC mind-mapping and that I would be very happy with the display resolution and size.

Continue Reading "Ultra-wide screen Tablet PC coming!" »

Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006
One of the challenges of using digital productivity tools for extended periods of time is endurance. Last week, I found a solution to this challenge.

Many new increases in portable computing power require equally significant increases in battery power. I'm not complaining. My Tecra M4 is not nearly as heavy as my first computer. Still, it's hard to boast about the utility of Tablet PCs and mind mapping software when I can barely get more than 2 hours of use out of my system. Again, I'm not complaining [much] but I want a solution I can use for 8-10 hours at a stretch, even when I don't have access to AC power. I considered travelling with a small super-quiet Honda generator, however, I decided against this approach in pursuit of a better solution.

James Kendrick once mentioned that he uses an extended-run-time battery pack, from BatteryGeek. I had resolved to buy a BatteryGeek power pack to use at the GTD RoadMap seminar in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, I did not receive a response to my email inquiry in time to place my order.
Time was running out; I had to get creative ...

Continue Reading "Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done" »


Monday, March 6th, 2006
I looked up this morning from my studies to see a very unhappy Channel 9 Guy, sitting all alone on my digital whiteboard.

20060306 - Channel9GuyisLonely.jpg
Remember the commercial where all you see is the upper floor of an office building; then suddenly the mirrored glass shatters and a CRT monitor flies through the window and smashes into the parking lot a few stories below?

I've been away from the blog for a while to visit with my family, work on a few client projects, and study.This topic, however, brought me back to the blog. It even made me think of a new challenge.

Continue Reading "This site's a magnet for Toshiba Support Complaints" »

Toshiba Tecra M4 Fan Noise Problems continue

Sunday, February 19th, 2006
I can't stand it. My Tecra M4 Tablet PC is so loud that it is unusable in a conference room or classroom. And, it's getting progressively worse. I don't dare turn it on in public places.  My only option is to set the CPU to the lowest setting so that the fan will come on less frequently. Unfortunately, when the fan does come on, everyone in the room knows.

For the record, here are links to two recordings to document show just how loud my Tecra M4 Tablet is:

December 22, 2005 - Tecra M4 Fan Noise Demonstration

February 19, 2006 - Tecra M4 Fan Noise Demonstration

As I've stated before, I like the M4 for its wide-screen and computing power. There are just a few problems that prevent me from loving it: (Fan Noise, Dust under screen, High pitch squeal, and a problem with my SD Card reader.) Again, I'm sure that these could all be fixed in just a few days, however, given the reports from other Toshiba Tablet PC users who've sent their units in for repair, it could be a very long and frustrating time before I see my tablet again. For that reason, I will try to wait a while longer.  

I know, from experience, that if this were an IBM ThinkPad, I could get the problem resolved in 72 hours or less. I would call IBM, they would ship a box and pick up the unit the next day, two days later I would have a working laptop back. Apparently, according to my colleagues, this is not the way it works with Toshiba.

As you know, I like to blog about my "challenges," but this is not a challenge I'm up to.

Consensus: bigger display, get more done

Thursday, February 16th, 2006
Well, my posts on the merits of high resolution desktop displays as a productivity tool (See here and here.) have generated quite a bit of discussion. The bottom line, if you work on a computer at a desk, get the largest high resolution display that a) your video card will support, b) your desk will hold, and c) your wallet can withstand.

Continue Reading "Consensus: bigger display, get more done" »

Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part Four

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
This week, we conclude the paperless challenge discussion by answering your questions. In case you missed the previous segments, here are links to part one, two, and three.  [Update: 2/15/2006 9:30 AM:  I've fixed the link to point to part four.]

Listen in as I discuss my 8-week paperless challenge with my guest, Tablet PC MVP, Tracy Hooten, of The Student Tablet PC blog. This podcast covers the various aspects of the paperless challenge, its inspiration, how we prepared for it, the tools and methodologies used and the lessons we learned. Most important, we answer the many paperless challenge questions posted to our blogs or sent to us by email over the last several months.

Continue Reading "Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part Four" »

24" vs 30" Display for Mind Mapping

Thursday, February 9th, 2006
Yesterday's post on the ultimate display for mind mapping has already generated considerable discussion, both on and off the blog. Special thanks to my friends in the blogsphere for getting the word out.

I'm presently exploring whether (or not) the extra screen area a 30" display running at 2048x1536 represents a substantial productivity gain over a 24" display at its native 1920x1200 resolution for mind mapping with MindManager. (Assume, for a moment, that price is not an issue.)

Continue Reading "24" vs 30" Display for Mind Mapping" »

Tablet PC Video In action - James Kendrick

Thursday, February 9th, 2006
Fellow Tablet PC blogger, James Kendrick, has put together a great video demo of his Tablet PC and how he's using it. It's useful (and much appreciated) efforts like this that remind me that I need to spend a little more time sharing links to blogs I enjoy. Nice work, James!

Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part Three

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006
This week, we continue the paperless challenge discussion by answering your questions. In case you missed the previous segments, here are links to part one and two.

Listen in as I discuss my 8-week paperless challenge with my guest, Tablet PC MVP, Tracy Hooten, of The Student Tablet PC blog. This podcast covers the various aspects of the paperless challenge, its inspiration, how we prepared for it, the tools and methodologies used and the lessons we learned. Most important, we answer the many paperless challenge questions posted to our blogs or sent to us by email over the last several months.

Continue Reading "Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part Three" »

Are you using a very high-resolution (greater than 1280 x1024) monitor with your Toshiba Tecra M4 (or other) Tablet PC? If so, I'd like to hear from you. You see, I'm planning to purchase a very high resolution monitor for mind mapping use and I've been researching various options. The productivity benefits of using multiple displays are significant. At one time, back in the CRT days, I had 5 CRT's on my desk and it was great.

The challenge is finding and selecting an LCD monitor that matches the Tablet PC output at its native resolution. Any mismatch and the monitor will likely shrink or stretch the video, resulting in a blurry image. Further, according to the tech notes I've been reading many Tablet PC video cards will not put out the full range of display resolutions to the external port. That's why I'd like to hear from anyone who's currently using (or thinking about using) a Tablet PC with an external monitor at 1280x1024 or higher.

Continue Reading "The best external monitor for Tablet PC Mind Mapping" »

Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part Two

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006
This is segment two of the paperless challenge podcast. You can find segment one here.

Listen in as I discuss my 8-week paperless challenge with my guest, Tablet PC MVP, Tracy Hooten, of The Student Tablet PC blog. This podcast covers the various aspects of the paperless challenge, its inspiration, how we prepared for it, the tools and methodologies used and the lessons we learned. Most important, we answer the many paperless challenge questions posted to our blogs or sent to us by email over the last several months.

Continue Reading "Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part Two" »

Windows Vista. Looking better every day.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006
If you've haven't already seen these two narrated videos, demonstrating  the features of Windows Vista, head on over to Bruce Elgort's web site and for a preview.

Apparently, Microsoft has closed the customer-developer feedback loop for improved programmer productivity. (Pay close attention; there are several Tecra M4's in the video). Too bad WE-SYP was not active back in August.

I'm surprised Michael hasn't already blogged about this. I'm not worried, though. I'm sure he will find a way to sneak another jab in when I least expect it.

eBooks: Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

Monday, January 30th, 2006
I've blogged quite a bit about my paperless challenge and my desire for innovation on the part of publishers - specifically, providing customers with books in formats that they want, will use, and are willing to pay for. At the same time, Michael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers has made several thought-provoking posts on the death of traditional book publishing and how publishers must adapt to the digital age.

Thanks to Calrion, a reader of my blog, I've just learned about an unconventional publisher that offers its books in print, PDF, and print+PDF.
But wait, there's more!

Continue Reading "eBooks: Have Your Cake And Eat It Too" »

Win your own DocuPen RC800 Mobile Scanner

Friday, January 27th, 2006
How would a pen based scanner like the RC800 impact your digital lifestyle? Rob Bushway has generously offered to award a brand new DocuPen RC800 Mobile Scanner to the most compelling answer to that question.

If the RC800 would allow me to bring images into programs like Acrobat or OneNote in near real-time, it would make an ideal companion for my paperless challenge. I won't hide the fact that I'd really like to evaluate a small ultra-portable scanner; the RC800 looks like a nice solution. This evening I told Marc Orchant that I was trying to think up a compelling reason why Rob should pick me; I joked that I hoped my reason would be more compelling than whatever Tracy over at the Student Tablet PC blog might think up.

Although Tracy's not yet posted her reason, I think she would be an excellent person to get the pen. I'm sure that it would be a big help to her as she works with OneNote and I'm certain that she would tell us all about her experiences scanning documents into OneNote and Acrobat. This would add great value to the Tablet PC Community.

If you would like to tell Rob why you think YOU should receive the pen, visit his blog for details.

If you have experience successfully using a pen like the RC800 to scan documents into OneNote and Adobe Acrobat in near-real-time, I'd like to hear from you.

Thank you, Rob, for your offer. It's inspired me to think about sharing some of the goodies in my lab. I hope you don't mind if I copy your idea.

Shameless Hint: If the folks at DocuPen want to send me an RC800 DocuPen to evaluate, I'll certainly put it through a serious challenge and blog about it - especially if it works better than this attempt to scan on the run.

I wish I had my very own Tablet PC Guy

Friday, January 27th, 2006
I even have a place for him, on my shelf.


Tracy decides to give OneNote another try

Friday, January 27th, 2006
In our paperless challenge podcast, Tracy Hooten, of the Student Tablet PC blog, told me that she wanted to to reevaluate OneNote.

I shared my experiences and I told her that although I had worked with OneNote at 30'000 feet, I'd not really put OneNote a thorough evaluation in a production environment.  It told her it was something I was planning to do.  I'll probably draft up a new challenge soon, using OneNote. I'm particularly interested to evaluate the pros and cons of using OneNote and GTD.

In any case, you can read about Tracy's OneNote adventures here.  If you'd like to learn about OneNote for collaboration, be sure to listen to Amy & Wendy's podcast on OneNote and Shared Sessions.

I'll edit and post the next segment of the paperless challenge podcast as soon as I free up some more disk space.  If you've subscribed to this site's RSS feed then you'll be among the first to know about it.

Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part One

Thursday, January 26th, 2006
Listen in as I discuss my 8-week paperless challenge with my guest, Tablet PC MVP, Tracy Hooten, of The Student Tablet PC blog. This podcast covers the various aspects of the paperless challenge, its inspiration, how we prepared for it, the tools and methodologies used and the lessons we learned. Most important, we answer the many paperless challenge questions posted to our blogs or sent to us by email over the last several months.

Continue Reading "Paperless Challenge Podcast, Part One" »

Paperless challenge podcast invitations

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006
My paperless challenge was a success. It even led me to ask and research an interesting question. As a result, I've decided to do two things: 1) podcast to share what I've learned along the way, and 2) announce another challenge that I've committed to. (I'm still working out the details; more on that soon.)

- Empty Desk due to Tablet PC.JPG

As for the podcast on my recent paperless challenge., I plan to share some of my experiences and lessons learned and make a few recommendations. If you have a question that you'd like to ask, send me an email with your question (typed or audio file attachment) and I'll include it in the podcast. I do not presently have a co-host for this podcast. I thought it might be fun to extend the invitation for a co-host. If you'd like to nominate yourself, drop me an email and tell me why. I hope to do this in the next week or so, schedule permitting.

Wallpaper, Toilet Paper or ePaper?

Friday, January 13th, 2006
After nearly two weeks off the blog, I finished writing a paper that addresses this question and this week, I presented my research to my cohort in a fast-paced 50-slide, 12 minute, Dick Hardt-style presentation. I'd like to publicly thank my friend, Bruce Elgort for the inspiration and the excellent example at the LVNUG.  I think my presentation went very well, though I would have liked to have rehearsed it a bit more. I recorded the presentation, however, I've not listened to it yet. Perhaps when I have some free time, I'll put it on-line, though by now, you're probably tired of my blogging on this subject. I should probably find something else to write about for a while.

I really enjoyed my business law course, even though it was only a "survey" of the topic. I have a renewed admiration for the legal profession. I think one of my most useful takeaways from this course, in addition to what I learned about business law, was learning how to use the IRAC format to analyze cases. This is a great critical thinking tool that can be applied to almost any situation.


With respect to the photo above, the doctrine of First Sale permits me to do whatever I want with the physical book that I purchased - except for copying it. The Fair Use Exemption of the Copyright Law, however, provides guidelines for whether (or not) a copyrighted work may be copied without the permission of the copyright holder. Basically, there are four elements to the fair use consideration. These are: Purpose, Nature, Amount, and Effect. I believe that I made a compelling case that scanning my legally acquired (that is, paid for) textbook for my own personal noncommercial use, sufficiently meets the criteria to fall within the fair use exemption. *

So what?

Continue Reading "Wallpaper, Toilet Paper or ePaper?" »

Just how loud is the Tecra M4 Tablet PC fan?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005
I get asked this question often, both in email and in the comments on this blog.

I've noticed that my fan noise levels have been increasing lately, probably due to a bad fan. I thought I would document the noise levels and answer the questions of many who have asked at the same time.

Listen to this 2.5 minute podcast and hear for yourself.

The answer may not be as simple as you'd think. If Michael Hyatt is right about the death of traditional book publishing, then it stands to reason that many people, armed with an array of PDAs, Tablet PCs and ePaper devices (like this one) will want to put digital copies of books they already own on these devices. In fact, I believe that they will expect that they should be able to do so.

My recent blog articles about my paperless challenge, specifically scanning my textbooks to read and markup on my Tablet PC, prompted a question about the legality of doing so. University Lecturer, Pascal Venier asked,
Is it legal to scan a textbook?
Creating such PDF+text versions of the book would make be a very useful tool. However would scanning "Law for Business" to produce an electronic version be lawful or are there copyright law issues?
Pascal poses a particularly relevant question. I am not an attorney, but given the specific subject and my interest in the law, I feel obligated to look into this further. Furthermore, I promised to look into it and share my discoveries on this blog.

As I began to research this topic, I found considerable information and opinions, but few answers. I've already created a large mind map with the information and references I've collected on this topic. [My business law professor encouraged me to change my final project to deal with this topic, so I have increased motivation (and a grade) riding on what I learn along the way.]

The answer to this question could greatly affect how people use emerging technologies such as the Tablet PC, PDAs or other ePaper Devices.
Below, I've mapped out my response (or defense) to this question. I hope you'll read along, comment on my thoughts, and join in the discussion. This is a topic that will affect all of us.

Continue Reading "Is it legal to scan your books to read on a Tablet PC?" »

The Mack Family on the Wicked Stage

Friday, December 16th, 2005
The 1st Annual Life On The Wicked Stage Ink Blot Awards have been handed out and the Mack's received several of the highly distinguished awards. (Well, we did not actually receive anything - like money or a golden statue - but it's an honor nonetheless. *)

Ink blot awards host and Tablet PC MVP,  Warner Crocker, had this to say at the ceremony:
The Tableteers that make up the Tablet PC Community are an amazing collection of individuals who know and work with the Tablet PC platform. They are fiercely protective of it, insatiably curious about advancing it, very intelligent, often wickedly funny, at one time very forgiving and patient, and in the same breath, scathingly critical when the need arises. They are also exceedingly willing to evangelize the platform to anyone who will listen, and in my humble opinion, have helped keep the spotlight on The Tablet PC in ways that may, in the long run, prove to be responsible for keeping the platform thriving.

Here are the awards we received this year:

Best Exhibit Of Restraint When It Comes To Opening A New Tablet PC:
  • Eric Mack  (#2)
Best Kids Explain How To Use OneNote And A Tablet PC:
  • Amy and Wendy Mack
Best Running Battle With Toshiba Technical Support: Best Tablet PC OOBE: (Out of Box Experience)
  • Eric Mack with Those Tablet PC Podcaster Guys.
Best And Most Famous Tablet PC Acronym: YABHTU
  • Eric Mack (Sorry, Marc!)
I had no idea I spent so much time blogging about my tablet.

Thanks, Warner!

* I hoped I might receive a coveted Tablet PC guy; apparently, these guys are extremely difficultt to come by so I'll just have to keep on wishing... (Hint, Hint)

YABHTU Validation, and I’m to blame

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005
Many months ago, while researching what others had to say about their Tablet PC experience, I coined the term, YABHTU, to describe folks like Marc Orchant, Warner Crocker, James Kendricks and others as they shared their experiences with their new Tablet PC. I wanted to experience the same, but I remained skeptical. Little did I know that this simple term, intended to keep me from having to type out "Yet Another Blissfully Happy Tablet User" each time I wrote about it, would become an internet phenomenon.

Now, Warner and Marc write that YABTHU, has made the urban dictionary.

Continue Reading "YABHTU Validation, and I'm to blame" »

How hard is it to digitalize a book?

Monday, November 14th, 2005
Many people have written to ask me how long it takes to create a searchable PDF (PDF+Text) document from a book. This weekend, I decided to time the process outlined here.

Book scanning is the most time-consuming method of digitizing paper. Unlike loose pages, which can be scanned using a sheet-fed scanner, book pages must be manually turned for each scan. A specialize book scanner can help to greatly reduce time it takes to make a quality scan. A traditional scanner is impractical for scanning more than a few pages.

I scanned a nine chapters, totalling 154 pages of text, including illustrations, and diagrams, for an average of 4.7 minutes of total time (manual scanning + conversion to PDF + OCR) per chapter. The average per-page processing time is approximately seventeen seconds (rounded up).

Here's the breakdown:

Continue Reading "How hard is it to digitalize a book?" »

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
One step on my paperless challenge mind map is to convert my 1096 page "Law for Business" text book into a searchable PDF file. Why PDF+TEXT? Beyond the obvious ability to search for text, Adobe Acrobat allows me to highlight text and then review only the highlights as a summary. (See yesterday's entry on highlighting Acrobat documents on the Tablet PC).

My book scanning station

Continue Reading "How to convert a book to PDF+Text" »

System performance discovery on my Tablet PC

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
For months I've been battling an irritating and elusive slow-down whenever I would attempt to do operations that involved windows explorer. Some times, these delays could be as long as 45 seconds. This became the source of tremendous humor to my friend, whom I shall not name, who, as a result, suggested that I was a deProductivity Specialist, not an eProductivity Specialist. (Sticks and stones, Michael)

Anyway, the short version of my discovery is that I found that I have either a bad SD card (which I usually keep in the SD card slot) or perhaps a problem with the built-in SD card reader in my M4. In any case, I removed the card and now my system zips along.

Apparently, as best as I can tell, the corrupt card (or reader) created a problem for windows explorer as each file operation causes explorer to consider all available devices, resulting in a significant delay when a device does not respond properly.

I don't think that this is the cause of all of my slow-down problems, but I now believe it's at least a major player.

Has anyone experienced this?

Acrobat comment markup using the Tablet PC

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005
Special thanks to fellow paperless challenge partner, Tracy Hooten, of The Student Tablet PC, for her detailed post showing me how to collect highlights made in Acrobat on to one page for quick and easy review. (See my previous post: "The Perfect Tablet PC Highlighting Application")

I was speaking with Eric Mack and he mentioned his search for a program which kept track of what you highlighted. It didn't dawn on me until then that Acrobat may be an answer (though not ideal). If you've used Adobe Acrobat 7.0 before, you likely know that you can mark-up your PDF files by highlighting text, underlining text, and adding comments. By selecting a commenting option and using the comment list/summary, you can give yourself a list of every word you mark up.

20051101 - Acrobat Comment markup Screen Shot.jpg

Continue Reading "Acrobat comment markup using the Tablet PC" »
I've received many requests for my paperless challenge brainstorm map. I've updated my original post with links to my source file, created in MindManager, and a PDF file of the map.

       For non-IE users, click here to download the MindManager map
       For a PDF version, click here

Paperless challenge: here’s the map

Saturday, October 29th, 2005
Several readers have asked me to share my planning map for my Paperless Challenge. This afternoon, I created a MindManager map and dumped all of my current thoughts and ideas into it.

Here's the map.

Note, you will have to allow the Active-X control to see the MindManager viewer. You can move around, resize, print, or even download the map to your own PC. I recommend that you click on the menu button and open the map in a new window.

I can already tell you that the first challenge I faced today was my habit of printing my completed mind map out on a large 11x17 piece of paper. I like paper. I'm curious to see what my thoughts are in a few weeks. I can take comfort in thinking about all the InkJet cartridges I'll save. :-)

If you want to follow along and have not already subscribed to this blog, here's a link to the blog and comment feed.

For those of you who are interested in how I embedded the map viewer into my blog, it was really quite easy. Embedding the map amounted to pasting in a few lines of code. (See here for details)

UPDATE 11/1/2005

For non-IE users, click here to download the MindManager map
For a PDF version, click here

Toshiba wants to know what I think

Friday, October 28th, 2005
Ti Le, Market Research Manager, Toshiba America Information Systems, sent me an email (perhaps you received one too?) with a generic reply-to address asking me to complete an on-line survey to find out what I think about my recent Tecra M4 purchase. I guess Ti Le does not read my blog. :-(  

From the wording of the survey questions, it appears that they were more interested in looking for additional sales opportunities than they were in knowing what I thought of my recent purchase.  I decided to tell them anyway, in the tiny comment field provided at the end of the survey form:

Continue Reading "Toshiba wants to know what I think" »

More on my 8-week paperless challenge

Friday, October 28th, 2005
I've always held that there's no such thing as the paperless office, but that there is the promise of a less-paper office. Well, I hope to prove one of these statements true.

Clients are watching and smiling

A client smiled yesterday, when I described this challenge. As a productivity coach, she's seen too many people get caught up in the tools only to reduce their productivity. I've had the same observation and experience. This challenge maybe no different. I explained that my objective was not necessarily to prove that it could be done, but to learn what was practical. I fully expect that there are areas in which I will become less productive by eliminating paper; at the same time I expect to discover areas where I can honestly say that the Tablet PC has made a significant improvement in my work.

When I advise clients who inquire about the productive benefits of using a Tablet PC along with applications such as OneNote or perhaps MindManager or some other tablet app, I want to be able to tell them (and show them) from experience what I've concluded. So for me, whatever the outcome, this will be a success in that I will know first hand, what works.

Continue Reading "More on my 8-week paperless challenge" »

I’m ready for my next Tablet PC Challenge

Thursday, October 27th, 2005
Inspired by this post, I've decided to challenge myself to see if I can effectively use my Tablet PC as a total replacement for pen, paper, and books. Next week, I start an intense 8-week business law course and I've decided to use this course as the subject of my next Tablet PC challenge. My objective is to determine what the benefits/drawbacks of using a TabletPC as my sole tool (to replace pen, paper, and yes, even Post-Its) for the next 10 weeks.  I've previously blogged about scanning and annotation tools. Now, I'm going to see if I can live with all of these tools in an intense way for the next two months. I figure this will be the tipping point for my use of a Tablet PC. Through this experiment, I'm certain to find things that I like, things that I dislike, and hopefully, a suitable collection of tools and best practices to help me use the Tablet in the most efficient way possible.

Why am I doing this? Well, for the past few months, I've used my Tecra M4 more as a laptop than a tablet. Some of this is due to the software issues I've previously reported. Some of this is because I got out of the habit of using the tablet after the various systems problems.

I still believe in the Tablet PC as a computing platform for the future. The question, for me, is whether or not it's truly a viable and productive tool for the present - at least my present.

Continue Reading "I'm ready for my next Tablet PC Challenge" »
This weekend, I took the Family to the RoboNexus robotics conference in San Jose. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to visit with my wife and children and to visit my mother-in-law in the hospital.

I took the M4 along for the ride on Amtrak's San Joaquin to Northern California; I wanted to test my new prototype Tablet PC stand. Here's the blog update from the train.

Continue Reading "Training with the Tablet, Robots, and wireless" »

PowerBook to Tablet PC convert. Surprised?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005
My friend, Michael Sampson's just packed his bag for a business trip. Normally he packs a PowerBook and his Tecra M4 Tablet PC.

Click here to see what Michael packed for today's business trip.

Continue Reading "PowerBook to Tablet PC convert. Surprised?" »

The perfect Tablet PC highlighting application

Friday, September 23rd, 2005
I'm looking for an application that will allow me to highlight, organize, and retrieve specific selections of text - based not on what I write, but on what I highlight.

Many note-taking programs for the Tablet PC, such as OneNote or GoBinder, will allow me to highlight text in a variety of colors. Acrobat even allows this, though with a limited interface. I want to do more ... It's the retrieval part that is most important to me. I want to search and retrieve, not by text, but by the color of what I've highlighted.

Continue Reading "The perfect Tablet PC highlighting application" »

A compelling reason to use a Tablet PC

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005
Tonight I heard a very compelling reason for using a Tablet PC and I heard it on the Tablet PC Show #23. Twenty minutes into the show, Tracy Hoooten, of the Student Tablet PC Blog explained to James Kendrick why she preferred the Tablet PC over a traditional laptop:

Continue Reading "A compelling reason to use a Tablet PC" »

What would you reach for?

Monday, September 19th, 2005
This weekend, a friend asked me the acid test question for any PDA or Tablet PC user:
Eric, if right now, during this phone call, you wanted to quickly make some notes or map out an idea, what would you reach for?

Continue Reading "What would you reach for?" »

Why students need Tablets

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005
You'll probably find this video of interest, even if you're not a traditional student,

James Kendrick posted a link to a 3 minute video by Scott Guthrie that answers the question “why students need tablets.” I agree with James' assessment that it's well worth the 3 minutes. It's a fun look at the "potential" for Tablet PCs as a computing platform; the video showcases a variety of Tablet PC productivity applications.

The video has two parts: life before tablet, portrayed in dull black and white, and life after tablet, in Technicolor with the Charlie Brown theme. No reboots are shown in the video, leading us to conclude that the experience was a happy one for everyone In the video. :-)  (Sorry, I couldn't resist) Seriously, I'd like to see a similar video featuring business applications. There are many. I'll start collecting ideas.

The Ultimate Tablet PC Stand

Saturday, August 27th, 2005
Earlier this week, I blogged about how not to break your nose while reading a Tablet PC. I promised to post photos of my discovery of the ultimate Tablet PC (or big book) stand.  First, I want to thank for your patience and your prayers. It's been a very trying week, dealing with family medical issues made worse by a Tablet that wouldn't boot. My mother-in-law is showing small signs of improvement, and we're thankful for that.

Here, at last, are the long-promised photos of the computing stand that I found in the ICU ...

Continue Reading "The Ultimate Tablet PC Stand" »

My call to Toshiba Tech Support

Friday, August 26th, 2005
[Warning: This blog post is on the boring side and will probably interest only those with Toshiba Tablet PCs. Many non-tablet readers of my blog will want to skip over this rant, unless they are interested in examples of  TCFDTLAIDBWFS *]

I'm taking the time to post this, not to whine, but to raise the awareness level of how vendors, in this case, Toshiba, could take simple steps to create satisfied customers. (Of course that supposes that vendors read blogs to find out what their customers and people who recommend their products have to say.) Perhaps Lora, Warner, JK, Rob, or Marc will make some noise about this and kick this into the mainstream. [Hint.] If Toshiba (or any vendor wants to talk with me, I would be happy  to receive your call. You know where to find me.)

Continue Reading "My call to Toshiba Tech Support" »

Toshiba, how could you do this to me?

Friday, August 26th, 2005
Shame on you Toshiba. You left me out in the cold, with nothing to write on but my pen and paper.

To my readers: The key take-away from this post is to make sure that you have "Original Setup CD-Rom" for your computer, not just the product recovery CDs.

Wednesday, I turned on my M4 to find this error message at boot-up:


I don't hold Toshiba (or Microsoft) responsible for the above system error. Those things happen - at least on PC's. :-) What I do hold Toshiba responsible for is not giving me a simple tool that I could have used to effect my own repair - the master Windows XP install disks for my system.  I know that you are not the only vendor to withhold the Master XP install CD's from their systems. I suspect that most do it and when questioned, will all point to Microsoft as the root problem. Perhaps that's true; but I'm your customer and I need to fix my system. I'm counting on you, my vendor, to equip me to succeed with your product.

Yesterday, when I received the error message, I was 100 miles from home; I had no choice but to switch from Tablet PC to legal tablet until I could return home to find my folder with all my Toshiba M4 information in it. I arrived home last night  with the goal of getting my M4 back on-line. I planned to insert the disk, repair the damaged file and get back to work. That's when I remembered that Toshiba does not provide the Master Windows XP installation CD with the M4. In fact, they don't provide any CD. Shame on you, Toshiba. Even my snow blower vendor gave me a backup set of keys with my purchase.

I don't know what marketing exec at Toshiba (or perhaps Microsoft) is patting himself on the back for saving $0.09 by not including the original product install CD with the M4,

Shame on you.

Toshiba, I hold you to blame - not for my windows problem, but for failing to equip me with the master install disk so that I could take care of my own problem. Toshiba, I'm your customer and I've given you over 3950 reasons why you should have provided me with the master XP install disk with my new M4 Tablet PC.  Help me help myself (and my clients) and I'll be a happy camper.

For those who are curious, I did create a set of system recovery disks as soon as I received the Tablet. I even booted up using System Recovery disks tonight to see if I could make the repair from the recovery disk. The only option provided is to restore my system to it's factory condition, complete with the Toshiba-provided spamware.  No thanks.

I wonder if the folks at Toshiba and Microsoft realize that when Windows XP says it needs the master install disk to repair a damaged file, it really needs the master install disks - not a system recovery CD?   If The Microsoft OS wants the original disk to do a proper file repair, then that's what I expect to be provided by the vendor. An excuse about OEM licenses won't cut it.

I can hear it now, Michael Sampson and Michael Hyatt are gonna say that I should have bought a Mac.

Perhaps. Still, I want to give the Tablet PC a good shot. I like the promise of the Tablet and I'm reasonably pleased with the M4 hardware.

Is Eric Mack just a whiner with his own blog? Perhaps. But my clients and even a few friends look to me for my experience and advice on Technology.  Tablet PCs are on their minds. I want to be able to point to my M4 and say, "Yeah, I like my Tablet PC as much if not more than I like my ThinkPad T42p; get the same tablet that I have."

My clients count on me to share my experiences with specific hardware and specific vendors. They want to benefit from my experience by buying (or not buying) products I've tested. For that reason, I'll keep testing.

This is one huge step away from my becoming YABHTU. Too bad,

One step closer to paper

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005
I'm testing my ability to work on a completely paper-based system. That's right. Paper. (Michael's probably smiling right now, perhaps even drafting his next comment about analog productivity. That's OK, I'm quite happy to provide amusement to my friends.)

My sudden move to paper wasn't a planned one. Somewhere between the hotel and David Allen's office, my Tecra M4 OS decided to crash. It wants me to reboot with the original Windows install disk. Guess what? Nevermind. I'll have to wait until I get home tomorrow to see if my product recovery disks can be used instead. Otherwise, I'll test to see if I can recover all of my system, along with the "free" bonus software, which Toshiba so generously provided. You can probably sense my excitement.

Fortunately, I use Lotus Notes, so almost all of my files have been replicated elsewhere. (If I can repair my OS, then I can grab the current versions, otherwise, I'll use the replicas.)

Though the timing could not be worse, I have considered how I might change things on my tablet, if I ever had a reason or an opportunity to reload.  Well, I now have such an "opportunity."

As I wrote recently, I'm pleased with the M4 hardware. Other than the DVD power issue (which I hope to find a solution for) and an occasionally loud fan, I'm very pleased with the Tecra M4 hardware. Now my focus will be on the software side of the equation. Once I get everything tuned the way that I want it, I'll make a declaration as to whether or not I consider myself YABHTU.

Here's how you can help:

If you've recently loaded/reloaded your Tecra M4 Tablet PC from scratch, or if you're aware of a blog detailing the process for an M4 or an M200, I'd like to hear from you. I've documented everything I've done to date; however, I certainly want to take advantage of any new knowledge gained. (I believe that Warner and Marc recently documented their experiences; links welcome guys.)


I'll be back soon.
As a continual learner, I read many books; many of them are big and heavy. I've tried reclining on my bed or the couch with the book propped up in front of my face so that I could be more comfortable while I read. Perhaps you've tried this, too. This arrangement usually works fine for me for a few minutes, at least until I'm woken up by the sharp nasal pains caused by big and heavy book falling on my nose.  

After encountering this situation on one too many occasion, I decided to do some observation and study into its root causes. I concluded that the problem was that there was no way to easily turn the page from this position; this in turn led to boredom [continually looking at the same page]  which lead to a relaxed state of being, [while waiting for the page to somehow turn by itself] which led to slumber, which lead to a near-broken nose while studying.

I did many repeat experiments under similar conditions to validate my findings (which is why there's no photo of my smiling face with this blog entry).

A few years ago, I determined that I should do something about this problem.  As a robotics enthusiast, I decided that there must be a way to build a stand to hold my book with an automated page turner. I scoured the Internet for ideas; I even wrote to The Christopher Reeve Foundation to ask for ideas and to offer to share mine. Surely I was not the first person with this interest/need. My initial searches & inquiries returned nothing.

Well, that was a few years ago; I eventually did find a mechanism that would automatically turn the page of a book; I found it in a medical supply catalog for patients with disabilities. Unfortunately, there were approximately 3,950 reasons why it might not work for my application.

A few months ago I purchased Tecra M4 Tablet PC. This allowed me to scan in my text books and other materials that I wanted to study and read them on the tablet from a relaxed position. Once again, I thought back to my book stand/page turner idea. With the Tablet PC, I didn't need the robotic page-turner. I could used timed page turns or use a a Bluetooth mouse or Logitech cordless presenter to let me control the turn of each page. This was great.

But it wasn't. I soon realized that I had another more serious reading hazard to contend with...

A Tecra M4 Tablet PC falling on my face could kill me

Not one to be easily discouraged by technical problems - even in the face of life-threatening risks such as these, I renewed my search for the ultimate Tablet PC stand* - one that would allow me to [safely] read in any position, no matter how relaxed I got.

If you're still reading this far, you'll be delighted to know that I recently found my ultimate Tablet PC stand.*  I do not have one - yet- but I've sat in front of one for several days now, and I'm inspired to think about getting/building one for myself soon.

Still interested? Let me know, and I'll post some pictures soon.

* I thought about calling this UTPCS, but I didn't want to torture Marc Orchant and James Kendrick with Yet Another Acronym, so for the time-being, no cute name.

Tablet PC - Productivity tool for business

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005
While I relaxed yesterday, Michael got the jump on me by writing an excellent post with suggestions about the type of people the he thinks will benefit the most from a Tablet PC.

Michael suggests that the business people who will benefit the most from a Tablet PC are those who:
  • Spend Lots of Time in Meetings
  • Use Sketches and Drawings to Communicate
  • Lead Seminars, Courses and Workshops
  • Review and Edit Letters, Documents and Other Papers.
  • Like to Use a Whiteboard for Communicating and Sharing Information.
What do you think? You can read his post here.

Michael and I agree that it is likely that the Tablet PC, as a mobile computing platform, will eventually replace laptops as the device of choice. I'm still looking for a brilliant Tablet PC developer to step forward with a solution to last week's challenge. Meanwhile, I'll work on the software side of the YABHTU equation. Michael's got a good list, and we're on the same page/screen.

Outstanding M4 Tablet PC Review

Monday, July 25th, 2005
Shawn Erdenberg recently posted a 10-part review of his Tecra M4 Tablet PC. It looks like our experiences and opinions are quite similar (except that Shawn's obviously got way too much free time between classes). If you are looking for a detailed geek-review of the M4, this is a must read. Be sure to check out the comment threads, too.

Nice work, Shawn. Are you YABHTU yet? Skype me at eProductivityGuy and we'll talk.

Perhaps we can reach consensus on what it will take for us to get there.

A step away from YABHTU

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005
Patrick Mayfield Skyped me yesterday to introduce himself and to ask me if I was YABHTU yet. I told him that I was getting much closer, but that there were still a few issues to work out before I would make that claim.

After our chat, I thought about it and I decided that I should break down the scope of what it means to be YABHTU between the hardware and software of the Tablet PC Platform. Today, I'll discuss briefly the hardware side of the equation. I've now had the Toshiba Tecra M4 for just over two months. In that time, I've shared my experiences working with and adapting to this new Tablet PC. When I met with David Allen this week, I told him that I see tremendous promise for the Tablet PC platform and his next computer is likely to be a Tablet PC; however, based on my experience to date, I'm not yet ready to advocate that he or my other clients rush out and switch today. Still, I'm working with the Tablet PC. I want to find out what it takes to make me YABHTU so that I can serve and advise my clients on this technology in the future.

Back to the hardware. Yesterday, I prototyped a custom stand for my M4 which has made all the difference when I work at my desk. The stand itself is not terribly pretty, but what it has done for me is amazing. Instead of leaving my M4 in laptop mode while at my desk, I'm now using it mostly in tablet mode. This of course, has increased the number of hours I spend working with it in tablet mode; it has also improved my perception of the unit as a whole. I've found that, running in high-power mode, most of the problems (which I suspect to be Tablet OS & Driver related) do not affect me.


Battery life remains an issue, but not a big one. I understand that I have the mother of all Tablet PCs in terms of screen and computing power and that takes a lot of energy to operate. While I wish the battery life were better for me, I'm pleased with the results. Remember: I believe that I have a hardware TPC OS Driver issue that is affecting my ability to run in speed-step reduced-power mode reliably. Once/if this ever gets fixed, I expect that I can run in low-power mode the majority of the time, in which case I would definitely be thrilled about the battery life. (Until I learn new information otherwise, I shall assume that this is indeed a software problem only. (Again, I'll cover software in a future post.)

I've also grown accustomed to the various design features of the M4 - and many of them have grown on me. I've gotten used to the keyboard, placement of lights, switches, etc.. In fact, now that I've used the M4 for a few months, I can now see the wisdom of the design placement for all of these,

So, what remains for me to become YABHTU as far as the Tecra M4 Tablet PC hardware is concerned?

Not much.

My only current hardware issue with the M4 is the issue of the DVD drive. I enjoy the drive and all of its features - including the ability to read and burn DL DVD-R media. What I do not like - and what I consider to be a serious design omission - is that the drive pops out whenever I brush against the eject button. I'm constantly concerned that my drive will suddenly eject and snap off.

This is not a difficult problem for a brilliant Tablet PC developer to solve.

In fact, I've already mapped out what I want...

Eric's challenge to all Tablet PC developers:

I want a system-tray utility that will keep power to the DVD drive off at all times (even after a reboot). This will prevent the DVD drive from accidentally ejecting when I do not want it to. Further, it will reduce power consumption. This system tray utility should only turn on the power when I click on it; and then, when I click to enable power, it should pop-up a list of durations to choose from (10 min, 20 min, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, indefinitely). This way, when the duration has been reached, or the tablet is rebooted, the DVD drive will once again be powered off. I will save battery life, and more important, I won't have the problem of the drive suddenly popping out when I least expect it.

[Update: After thinking about this further, I would like to see a "power-off" after xx minutes of inactivity. This would probably be the most useful and flexible option. Of course, as long as I'm dreaming, I might as well ask that any drive access originated by the system be allowed to power up the drive, too.]

I know that Toshiba presently provides a DVD power utility in the system tray. The problem is that the default mode of this utility is for DVD power to be ON at all times. If you reboot the tablet, the DVD drive returns to power on mode.

Toshiba engineers came close but missed the point and value of DVD power saving. While I'm at it, they missed the opportunity to simply create a "DVD Power" setting within the Toshiba Tablet PC Power Management utility, too. The ideal would be to be able to manage DVD power both with the power management utility and at the system tray.

Hopefully, someone will take me up on this challenge. If they do, it will bring me one step closer to becoming YABHTU, at least as far as the hardware is concerned.

That’s much better

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005
If you've been following my Tablet PC adventure, you'll know
what this means.

Create your own caption

7 Pillars and OneNote Shared Sessions

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005
One of the highlights of the Collaborative Technologies Conference was the opportunity for me to attend and participate with my colleague, Michael Sampson in his 7 Pillars of IT Enabled Team Productivity workshop. Over the course of a the day, Michael walked us through each of the 7 Pillars. Throughout Michael's workshop, we split up into smaller groups to work on exercises designed to focus on specific areas of team productivity. It was great to hear what organizations, large and small, are doing to IT enable their team productivity. (There were many Notes/Domino organizations present, although IBM was notably absent).

During the section on shared spaces, Michael and I gave a live demonstration of OneNote shared sessions, using our new Tecra M4 Tablet PCs.

Michael used OneNote to mindmap the session objectives

Prior to the conference, Michael and I spent a lot of time working with OneNote shared sessions - the ability for multiple people to take notes simultaneously. Before our trip, Amy and Wendy met us in the Digital Sandbox and treated us to a live 4-way demonstration of OneNote and Michael and I followed up with several 2-way sessions. We even set up a network on the airplane just for OneNote. Our goal was to learn about and demonstrate what users can do today - using off the shelf solutions. We wanted to be able to discuss key issues that should be considered when selecting a tool for collaborating in shared spaces. Overall the shared session capability of OneNote worked well, however, there are still many opportunities for improvement in the area of joint editing and review. We've been in touch with the OneNote team, and we look forward to evaluating the next release. (Note: Michael's currently working on a paper that will summarize some of our experiences and his conclusions about OneNote as a collaborative tool. Keep an eye on his Shared Spaces blog.)

The folks at the CTC conference were kind enough to provide not one, but two 12' projection screens for this workshop, which made the demonstrations all the more impressive.

Michael and Eric in front of our giant OneNote displays

I think the only thing that would have been more impressive would be for Michael to have invited Amy and Wendy do the live demonstration of OneNote shared sessions.

Perhaps next year.

Toshiba, stop the spamware, please!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005
I seem to have become a magnet for feedback about the Toshiba Tecra M4. I wish that I had the time to respond individually to all of the email I receive each day either asking questions or sharing feedback on the productive benefits of Tablet PCs an d the Toshiba M4 in particular. I am grateful for the comments and suggestions from those who have sent tips and offered to help me with my issues.

Many people have blogged about their growing disappointment with the additional unsolicited software, gratuitously supplied with the US version of the Tecra M4.  I think this is a big issue and I believe it is to blame for at least some of my problems. For what I paid for my shiny new M4, I should not have to deal with this. Apparently, I'm not alone in this regard.

Note that it is not the M4 that people are complaining about so much as the preinstallation of unsolicited software. - I call it spamware (Listen to the Tablet PC podcast #16 for a good perspective from Marc Orchant and James Kendrick. At the least, be sure to read: this and this.)

A reader by the name of Gustavo posted this comment to my blog today:
I'm very very disappointed with how Toshiba US is handling this issue. My M4 is full of Spam and crap I never wanted. They even preloaded a full version of Office trial even thought when I so that on my email order confirmation I wrote therm and said I did not wanted that. I bought this laptop because of a technology advantage of having a full laptop system with tablet capabilities. By the time I need to upgrade other manufactures will have better tablets. Then I'll be happy to never buy a Toshiba product again.  This is also because their sales and support experience has been the poorest I've ever had.

Perhaps the folks at Toshiba don't read blogs or at least they choose not to comment. I hope that they are at least considering what people are saying. It would be great if someone from Toshiba would get back to Gustavo (or me) and offer to help solve the problems.

I know that I will need to reload my M4 from scratch. I hope that when I do, my experience will be better than it has been so far. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to reload any time soon. When I do, I'll go back and review Marc and Warner's narratives on their experience reloading their Tablet PCs.

Overall. I'm still enjoying my M4, though my move to the Tablet PC has not been as easy as I hoped it would be.

In fact, from a total productivity perspective, I'm still very much in the negative zone.  I believe in the potential of the Tablet PC as a productivity tool; however, I'm not there yet.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to press on, in the hope that I will someday become YABHTU

OneNote Shared Sessions at 30,000’

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005
Want to collaborate on a document with your seatmate at 30,000 feet? It's easy; all you need are the right tools.

Last month, on our way to the recent Collaborative Technologies Conference in New York, Michael Sampson and I put to use everything Amy and Wendy showed us about OneNote Shared Sessions. (Missed it? See here and here.)


Using our new Tecra M4 Tablet PCs, we were able to successfully conduct a OneNote shared session at 30,000' using our in-flight gigabit network. (Notice the red crossover cable between our seats.) Even more amazing to me, was that the guy across the isle from us overheard our evaluations and comments about OneNote and he jumped into the conversation. It turns out that he had recently joined Microsoft Research. (We promised him that we would not to post his name.) He was extremely interested in what we were doing with our Tablet PCs. and we spent much of the remainder of the flight discussing Tablet PCs, OneNote, and collaboration tools. If that's not interesting enough, he had - you guessed it - his own new Tecra M4, still in the box, in the overhead bin.

Michael and I offered to help him set up his new M4; I was even willing to extend our network across the isle so that he could help us test and evaluate OneNote Shared Session capability. (When I realized that the stewardess was becoming suspicious of our efforts to rewire the plane, I backed off from that plan.)

I'm still intrigued by the thought of three shiny new Tecra M4's all in the same row, at 30,000'. Now, what are the odds of that?

Note: I've made many posts about OneNote Shared Sessions. I've actually had these in my drafts folder for some time. Michael gently reminded me that if I did not blog about our trip, he would. Two more to go. Stay tuned!

OneNote Usability, Part II

Monday, July 11th, 2005
What about OneNote usability? Join Amy and Wendy in their second presentation/podcast on this topic.


This is actually an earlier podcast from Amy and Wendy's PowerPoint presentation on OneNote shared spaces; I did not plan to share it. However, when I listened for the second time, I realized that there's some good information that is not in the first public podcast.

So, while this podcast overlaps somewhat with our earlier podcast I think you will find it equally informative and entertaining.


OneNote and ActiveWords
OneNote at School
OneNote Templates
Action management
OneNote and the Tablet PC
Amy and Wendy (with Michael's help) again hint for a Tablet PC
Amy and Wendy share their reactions
What's your next action? Amy & Wendy's closing comments" title="Click to play, or right-click to download file.">Amy & Wendy on OneNote Usability
Eric Mack On-line - June 16, (30 min 43 sec) MP3 14.1 MB

Note: Amy and Wendy's entire PowerPoint presentation, this podcast, and their comments and observations are entirely their own. Other than supervising the loading of OneNote on their ThinkPads, I was not involved in their preparations. I'm very proud of their work.

In comparing my Tecra M4 to Michael's M4, there are two immediate differences.


First, the International version of the M4 has fewer vendor stickers on the front - less visual blight. (I know, it does not affect performance, but why take a good looking (and expensive) Tablet and make it look like it came from Toys-R-Us?) Second, Michael seems to have missed out on Toshiba's selection of "free" SpamWare that  is preloaded on the US version of the Tecra M4. What this means, is that Michael got the better value: Less clutter on the desktop; fewer apps to uninstall at initial power-up; and, get this, his machine appears to be more stable as a result. Overall, this contributes to a more productive experience. Toshiba, are you getting this? You've got a great machine, but for a happier customer experience (at least for me) you've got to ditch the SpamWare.

Are you surprised?

Monday, July 11th, 2005
I've received many emails from people telling me why, as a result of this blog and my podcasts, they decided to purchase (or perhaps not purchase) a Tablet PC - especially the Toshiba Tecra M4.

Michael did not send an email to inform me of his purchase. He simply showed up at the Digital Sandbox with his new toy in hand...




Tablet PC Memory Leak Fixed!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005
I may be a big step closer to becoming YABHTU!

Last week, a reader of my blog, Michael, wrote me:
The Microsoft XP tablet PC edition has, I believe, a memory leak. The solution is to reboot the system regularly (at least once a day).
While I believe his solution has merit the thought of doing it moved me closer to Mac than to YABHTU.

I may not have to.

Brian Beyer just posted a comment on my blog that Microsoft has apparently fixed the memory leak that crippled many Tablet PCs.

From Microsoft:
A memory leak in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 causes a gradual decrease in available system memory. This loss in available memory causes degradation in system performance. When this behavior occurs, the user must restart the computer. This problem is caused by a memory leak in the tcserver.exe service.

Microsoft Tablet PC Memory Leak Fix
Several people have written to share that, as a result of my blog, they have purchased a Tecra M4. One friend even surprised me with an announcement of his new M4 acquisition. (More on that soon.) This past week, I've demonstrated the M4 to numerous clients as well as people who come up and say "that's really neat; what is it?" As far as I know, I've apparently helped sell another ten M4's for Toshiba and at least as many licenses of OneNote, MindManager and other Tablet-related software.

I've been working with document management on the Tablet PC. Scanning books and documents for review on the Tablet seems to work well and, despite the weight and size of the unit, I really enjoy the large screen. (I would not switch back.) As I explained to someone today, since I can display a page in a window on the left and run MindManager or OneNote in a page on the right, I'm quite content to carry around a large Tablet.

I continue to enjoy the Tablet PC and the M4, well mostly. To be fair, four  items remain on my persistent tablet problems list.

1. Wireless conflicts - It seems there's disagreement between Windows XP Tablet Edition, the Intel PROSet Wireless Client, and the Toshiba Config-Free drivers as to who should get control of the wireless card. If I leave things alone for ten minutes the drivers seem to sort things out. Still, a big inconvenience. Ultimately, only the Intel PROSet application works.

2. M4 Goes into a standby or hibernate and I cannot get out of it except to power cycle. I still cannot explain this one.

3. At times, tablet goes into snail mode. I still suspect a power management or Intel Speed-step issue, particularly with pen mode. (The fixes I've tried don't seem to help.) Unfortunately, I have no time to reload until the end of June, so I'll continue to limp along. (For now, I'm  only run in high-power mode, which means that battery life is terrible.)

4. Most of my attempts to hibernate result in a windows error indicating that insufficient system resources exist to complete the operation.

These seem like issues with the Tablet OS, or perhaps a hardware conflict. I realize that problems 2-4 may also be due to software that I've installed; we'll see. Hopefully, my experiences are unique. I certainly hope so.

My friend, Michael Sampson, who's here with me, thinks this is hilarious and reminds me that I could have bought a Mac.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm down on the Tablet PC or Toshiba; I'm not. At this point, I have no plans to go back to a laptop only.  Still, since people seem to be relying on my blog for product information, I want to be honest about my experience thus far, sharing both the good and the bad.

Until I get these problems sorted out, I cannot consider whether or not I'm YABHTU, but I remain very optimistic.

I know that many of my clients read this blog and have been following my Tablet PC pursuit. I want to get through the initial start-up process so that I will be better equipped to evaluate and recommend this technology to these clients in the future.

Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Sunday, June 19th, 2005
Several people have written to share that, as a result of my blog, they have purchased a Tecra M4. A friend even surprised me by showing me his new M4 that he purchased after reading my blog. (More on that later.) This past week, I've demonstrated the M4 to numerous clients as well as people who come up and say "that's really neat; what is it?" As far as I know, I've apparently helped sell another ten M4's for Toshiba and at least as many licenses of MindManager, OneNote, and other Tablet PC applications.  Still, I've probably discouraged an equal number of folks from buying an M4 or a Tablet PC, too. To these folks: please understand that I push my systems to their limits and I'm quite harsh in my expectations of what a productive system should be like.

I continue to work with document management on the Tablet PC. Scanning books and documents to read and review on the Tablet seems to be working well and, despite the weight and size of the unit, I really enjoy the large screen. (I would not switch back.) As I explained to someone today: my screen is large enough to allow me to display a page in a window on the left and run MindManager or OneNote in a page on the right, I'm quite content to carry around a large Tablet. MindManager and Windows Journal remain my current favorite Tablet PC apps, however, OneNote is growing in favor. I've got GoBinder and a few other apps, however I've not had the time yet to explore their features.

I continue to enjoy the Tablet PC and the M4, well mostly. To be fair, four  items remain on my persistent tablet problems list.

1. Wireless conflicts - It seems there's disagreement between Windows XP Tablet Edition, the Intel PROSet Wireless Client, and the Toshiba Config-Free drivers as to who should get control of the wireless card. If I leave things alone for ten minutes the drivers seem to sort things out. Still, a big inconvenience. Ultimately, only the Intel PROSet application works.

2. M4 Goes into a standby or hibernate and I cannot get out of it except to power cycle. I still cannot explain this one.

3. At times, tablet goes into snail mode. I still suspect a power management or Intel Speed-step issue, particularly with pen mode. (The fixes I've tried don't seem to help.) Unfortunately, I have no time to reload until the end of June, so I'll continue to limp along. (For now, I only operate in high-power mode, which means that battery life is terrible.)

4. Most of my attempts to hibernate result in a windows error indicating that insufficient system resources exist to complete the operation.

[M4 owners, have you experienced any of the above?]

These seem like issues with the Tablet OS, or perhaps they are due to hardware conflicts, or both. I realize that problems 2-4 may also be due to software that I've installed; we'll see. Hopefully, my experiences are unique. I certainly hope so.  

My friend, Michael Sampson, who's here with me, thinks this is hilarious and reminds me that I could have bought a Mac.

I know that many of my clients read this blog and are following my Tablet PC pursuits. I want to work through all of the issues to determine my ideal Tablet PC configuration so that I can fully recommend Tablet PC Hardware, Software, and applications as possible eProductivity tools.

One last point: I don't want to make it sound like I'm down on the Tablet PC or Toshiba; I'm not. I have no plans to go back to a regular laptop. Still, since people seem to be relying on my blog for product information, I want to be honest about my experience thus far -- good and bad. I still see sufficient potential and promise in this technology, so I plan to stick with it.

Until I get these problems sorted out, I cannot consider whether or not I'm YABHTU; however, I remain very optimistic.

Quick M4 and TPC update 6/15/05

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005
I've been occupied with a number of eProductivity projects for clients, but I've not stopped capturing notes about my tablet adventure. In fact, I'm preparing a 30-day paperless/tablet challenge. If there's interest, I'll invite you to join me in this adventure to see if it's possible to live paper-free, with only a tablet, for a full 30 days. More on that soon.

I continue to work with the M4 - both as my most recent venture into the Tablet PC platform and as my first non-IBM laptop in 10 years.

Many people have written to tell me that they have purchased an M4 based on my blog. I've also heard that several people have decided not to purchase an M4 for the same reason. I hope that my posts, based on my own experience, were helpful either way. I plan to continue posting and podcasting on this and other eProductivity-related topics, sooon.

Meanwhile, now that I'm fully migrated to a Tablet, what do I think of the M4 and Tablet PC's in general?

The short answer is that both are growing on me. Most of the hardware features of the M4 that I found curiously placed (i.e. indicators, buttons, etc) now make sense to me.  It's obvious that Toshiba's put a lot of thought into this machine. (Except, perhaps, for the lack of a way to permanently shut off the CD drive. I continue to eject mine at the worst possible times. Recommendation: how about a switch to lock the drive: Closed, Locked on/Locked off)

As for the Tablet PC Platform, I'm close to sold on that, so I guess you might say I'm getting closer to YABHTU. I've now used the TPC in several meetings and I find it preferable to the traditional laptop. I'm still working to get used to the Toshiba Keyboad Layout, but that's improving. (FYI: I did take a look at the new IBM Tablet and I'm still pleased with my decision to choose the M4. I like the large screen. Worth the $.)

Some of you have written to ask about the problems I've experienced with my M4. I'm pleased to say that I've found solutions to most of them. I'm still trying to find the cause of the heavy CPU Utilization. This remains the biggest challenge, but I don't have the time to start fresh at this time. For now, I run in high-power mode, which means the battery life is not as good as it used to be and the fan runs all the time. In fairness to Toshiba, this may not be a hardware issue, though it still "feels" like a speed-step or tablet pen driver  issue to me - I'll work on this when I have more time.

For those of you who are wondering if I'll ever get to be YABHTU
...  I expect that I will. I want to be. I'm in the process of defining exactly what YABHTU will look like for me. When I have a benchmark, I'll share it.

Perhaps you'd like to share your thoughts on this?

What benchmarks define when a Tablet PC user has crossed into significant productivity gains with a Tablet that were previously unavailable by conventional means?

The ActiveWords Team does it in ink!

Saturday, June 4th, 2005
Here's a quick eProductivity tool: ink gestures that will make your Tablet PC experience more productive.

The ActiveWords team has done it again - this time, in ink.

[Notice: If you're a Tablet PC user, move it away so that you don't drool on the screen. If you are not yet a tablet user, here's another reason to consider one ...]

Yesterday, during our geek day in the digital sandbox, Buzz treated David, Paul, and me to a preview of the next release of ActiveWords InkPad for the Tablet PC.

uses the LiveBoard to demonstrate how ActiveWords can be used to simplify
the internet search process

The new ActiveWords InkPad, presently in beta, allows for the immediate launch of any of the productivity features of ActiveWords with a simple gesture. Now, that's an eProductivity tool I can blog about!

Tonight, I installed the 1.5 InkPad beta on my Tablet PC, hovered over the target region and inked the letters "EMO," A few seconds later, my blog appeared. See for yourself ...

Watch me use the ActiveWords
InkPad to launch a web site

More encouragement for my wild journey to Tablet PC productivity.

I've got a busy week ahead; lots of client meetings. I'll blog when I can.
Last night, when Buzz and David Allen were here, Buzz show us some of his work at the Microsoft Search Champs project. Buzz searched Google on various terms. For fun, I searched on "Tecra M4" and found my blog,, was the #1 returned  search result.  (Searching for "Toshiba Tecra M4" is only slightly different.)

Not that he has more than a passing professional interest, apparently James Kendrick noticed, too.

Surprisingly, no one at Toshiba or any of the other vendors, whose products I've mentioned, have contacted me to see if they might help me resolve the few remaining issues that I have blogged about. If they did, it might help me reach the tipping point to finally become YABHTU.

If I were a vendor, and if I checked the search engines daily for my product, and if I saw that the most popular search result was from a guy who mostly loved my product, but who was having troubles, I'd get on the phone immediately to find out if I could help him resolve his issues.[hint]

Imagine what kind of customer evangelists, not to mention good PR, this small investment of time would return.

Meanwhile, I'm fortunate to have made many new friends via my blog - friends who have posted or sent email to help me resolve some of the issues that I'm experiencing. I'm testing some of the suggestions and I'll post my experiences as I go.
I've previously blogged that my new Tablet PC is very slow and that the CPU utilization jumps to 100% and stays there - even at idle.

Lately, I've been experimenting with the speed settings for the M4. What I've found so far is that much of the sluggishness goes away at the high power setting. At the high-power setting, CPU utilization drops to about 12-15% at idle.  While this is an improvement - when the Tablet is plugged in - it is not an acceptable solution when on battery. (Besides, when I'm at full power, the not-so-quiet fan stays on full-time.)

Given the connection to the speed setting I now wonder if this is not an end-user software issue, but an issue with the CPU throttling or the tablet OS. based on the CPU utilization and some intuition, the problem appears have something to do with the Ink Recognition - at least that's where I see it the most, meaning that I can writing something and then the system will freeze until I tap. Then, everything works fine. [Note: This has been going on all week - long before I installed the ActiveWords beta this evening.] Other than this slowdown issue, I'm getting closer to YABHTU. In fact, If I could solve this, I would probably be there.

Of course, it could also be me and my expectations for how a productivity tool should perform. Perhaps I'm being unreasonable.

I'm still having fun and I'll keep trying to find a solution. At least, for now, I have an interim work-around.

Thanks to those of you who have sent tips and utilities. I'll work these and post as soon as I learn something new.
[Sorry, I thought I had posted this last week ...]
I know that many people are reading this blog to learn of my experience with the M4. I'm making progress adjusting to the M4. I'm enjoying it; in fact, this is my first blog entry from the M4. (Sorry, not in ink, yet.) I plan to keep the M4, but I've decided to return the ToshibaTecra M4  Portfolio case. It's a beautiful case, made from glove leather. It's a very clever 3-in-one design for use in three modes; however, it does not work. I'm short on time to write this up in detail, so instead, I'll share my recent correspondence with ToshibaDirect:
Dear Nicole,

Just a quick FYI:  I'm enjoying my new Tecra M4. Thank you for your help in getting it to me so quickly!

I just contacted Toshiba Customer Service got an RMA for the Toshiba M4 Portfolio case.

I want you to know that the reason I'm returning the case is that it is defective and poorly designed. The elastic straps block the vents, which cause the  Tablet PC to overheat. The "Made in China" label is in the worst possible place; it gets caught in the DVD every time I close it. I'm afraid that to continue to use the Toshiba Portfolio case with my M4 would damage the unit.  [Additional observation, post-email: the zipper extends high enough to interfere with laptop use.]

What really hurts is that I paid FedEx to have this case shipped to me. It arrived with these problems, and now I have to pay -- my dime - to return it and hope that I will get credit. I should not have to pay twice (or at all) for an unacceptable product that I am returning to you. It does not seem fair.

I do hope that you will forward this summary of my product experience to management.  I will certainly share it with a few people that I know.

Thank you,
Eric Mack

I received this response

I'm glad you are enjoying the notebook.  I emailed you an on line fed ex label to use to return the portfolio that way there will be no charge to you.  Thank you.

To which I responded ...
Thank you for the FedEx tag. Too bad I have to pay the other way. It's a matter of principle with me. It's not about the $15 in rush shipping. I purchased the Portfolio in good faith. The product does not work The inconvenience is bad enough. But having to pay to find that out hurts. Ouch! Live and learn I guess. I suppose that's the best I'll get from ToshibaDirect.

Meanwhile, I need another AC adapter for the M4.  (I don't need AC/DC)  Please let me know price and availability of such an item.


There you have it.

UFO on my M4 Tablet PC

Wednesday, June 1st, 2005
Ever seen an ant farm? Remember how you could watch the ants moving around? Well, I have the same capability on my Tablet PC. What I thought was a stray comma, turns out to be a piece of dust trapped inside my new Tecra M4 Tablet PC. I've only had the unit open for less than 2 weeks and now this excitement. Like the ants in the ant farm of my childhood, the spec moves.

Right now, it's in the middle of my screen.

I'm speechless. [sort of]

I can't find the link at the moment, but I recall a recent discussion on TabletPCBuzz about this problem.

I remember thinking to myself: that won't happen to me ...

Tablet PC Slowdown on the M4?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2005
I've noticed my Tecra M4 getting slower and slower -- to the point where it's difficult to even use a stylus or a mouse. I first noticed this in MindManager. (I've done the routine AV scans, AdAware scans, etc.)

Suspecting software to be the culprit, I've experimented with a variety of options. I found a post about some known issues with MindManager in Pen mode. Lately, I've been experimenting with CPU speeds. What I've found, while inconclusive, makes me wonder if the M4 CPU, when running in a power efficient mode (I'm actually not trying to save power - just keep the fan quiet) slows down considerably. Is anyone experiencing a similar problem?

Before I reload the OS and the dreaded spamware that comes with the M4 preload, I want to rule out anything obvious (and, possibly self-inflicted) such as CPU settings, or specific applications.

I've got a client demo in a few days, and I want to make the best impression possible. Right now, I'm not there. :-(

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

Saturday, May 28th, 2005
For the past two days, I've used the Tecra M4 as my only computing device. In all, the machine worked well. I should point out that other than a brief impromptu Tablet PC demo to David and Jason, I worked almost exclusively in laptop mode.

Some quick [unscientific] observations:

The M4's fast; consumes lots of power; the screen rocks more than a traditional laptop screen; the fan is much louder than the ThinkPad T42 (I was plugged in which causes the M4 to default to high-power); and I am not yet comfortable with the keyboard.

Keyboard observations: I've owned almost a dozen ThinkPads over the past decade, and I've been spoiled by the wonderful ThinkPad keyboard. The M4 keyboard is not bad mind you, but I'm not adjusting to it very quickly. Here are a few differences that I've encountered today: When using the Accupoint (TrackPoint, for you IBMers) the left and right mouse buttons are now top and bottom mouse buttons. Now Idea why Toshiba did that. I'm constantly clicking on the wrong button. In addition, the Accupoint seems very stiff to move around, even after adjusting the settings. The ThinkPad Keyboard has CRTL & ALT keys on each side of the space-bar. The Tecra's layout is very different. My productivity has dropped, largely because I have 10 years of ThinkPad keyboard experience to undo. Again, this is not a bad thing, but it will take some getting used to. Of course, I'll soon be doing everything in ink, right?

Screen observations: I 'm beginning to understand why wide angle viewing is such a big deal for a Tablet PC. When I look at the M4 straight on or use it in laptop mode, the screen is fine. If I'm even a few degrees off center, however, the screen readability drops. This would not be a problem with a laptop but a tablet, as I'm finding, is used very differently. For example, I tried to show Kathy a video clip. She was sitting next to me on the couch and could not see it. If I want to sit in a chair and lay the tablet on the table in front of me, it's difficult to see. If I prop it up a little, it's fine. If I want to write with the tablet in my lap I have to make sure that I'm looking at the M4 straight on to get the clarity that I would expect. Unfortunately, I have no way to compare this screen to another tablet, such as the Fujitsu, so I don't know if this is state-of-the-art or if I'm justified in expecting more.

As I type this, my fan has kicked into high gear. It does that from time to time. For the most part, I've been able to manage the power settings, but there's a high pitched whine - probably like my blog. I'll see what I can do to mitigate that and share what I've learned. On the topic of sharing, I have a list of questions people have asked me on or off the blog. I'll collect these and respond soon. Thanks for your patience.

I realize that not everything I've shared about my quest to become YABHTU is positive. I don't like to complain, but I'm not going to sugar-coat something that I think could be better either. As for the comments that I have made (or will make) about the Tecra M4, you should know the standard of comparison that I'm using. It's the IBM ThinkPad T42p. I've been fortunate to have this laptop for almost a year, and it's a delight. For the most part, I've been spoiled by IBM, the ThinkPad and the service and support. Oops; That's not entirely true. There was the one time I tried to give IBM $50,000 and they would not take it. But that's another story.

I guess this is all a part of the learning curve. I work with many new systems each year, and I retain few. Of those, still fewer do I recommend to clients. I'm still a long way away from any definitive conclusion on the tablet platform. I want to give it a fair chance.

All in all, my Tablet PC experiment continues well, though I'm not sure I did the Tablet PC justice in my impromptu demonstrations to David and Jason. My demonstration of OneNote and MindManager were not as smooth as I would have liked. Still, I think I was able to make a compelling argument for why I think the Tablet PC is a platform to watch. David's comment was that he's glad that he "pays me to evaluate hardware and software to figure out what works and what does not." There's still much that I want to learn about the Tablet PC as a paradigm for getting things done.

As I learn more I'll share it here. Over the next few days, I'll try to switch and do the bulk of my work in Tablet mode and see what kind of an impact that makes on my productivity.

Enough rambling. It's late.

As always, a special thanks to those of you who have taken the time to post comments with advice and recommendations.

Mobile Document Imaging

Friday, May 27th, 2005
The other night, I used the 14" wide-screen on my Tablet PC display a PDF file on the left while I created a MindManager map on the right. What a delight! No paper! As I've said before, I don't believe in the paperless office; however, I DO believe in the less-paper office. It looks like the will be a vital part of this strategy. I want to see how far I can take this.  (Do I sound like I'm getting closer to becoming YABHTU?)

Now that I have the Tablet PC, the next step is to deal with getting paper into it so that I can store, organize, retrieve, and markup these digital documents.

My current document imaging setup:

I'm presently using a hybrid of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 (for document preparation), ScanSoft PaperPort 10 (for file-based document management) and Cobra Image router for document image capture and automatic filing in Notes. On the hardware side, I use an HP DS9100C for high-volume work, an OpticBook 3600 for books, and a mobile scanner.  I have everything working with the Tablet PC - except for the mobile scanner

Visioneer + Tablet PC = Strike out

After a frustrating experience trying to get my new Visioneer scanner (Strobe XP 100) to work with my Tablet PC, I did what any sensible person would do ... I called tech support. My support tech rep informed me, "Visioneer does not support the Tablet PC with any of their products at this time; the market's just too small."  Despite this disclaimer, I he tried to help me anyway before concluding that this scanner and the related driver simply would not work with Windows XP Tablet Edition. There was some discussion as to whether or not Visioneer would take back the product since, according to them, the problem is that I am using a Tablet PC.  I finally got an RMA and the scanner will soon be on its way back.

Too bad. Visioneer makes a really nice scanner and its small size make it an ideal companion to the Tablet PC. I would have gladly recommended it to my clients as a standard part of their mobility toolkit. Instead, I will look for an alternative.

My current plan is to purchase the Plustek OpticSlim M12 (Rob Bushway has a photo and a link to a review, here. James posted his thoughts here.) The book scanner that I recently purchased is also from the same manufacturer. The drivers installed without a problem on my Tablet PC and the application worked flawlessly. I hope that my experience with the M12 will be equally positive. If so, I'll recommend it to everyone. (That's what blogs are all about, aren't they?)

If you are a Tablet PC user and you are successfully using a very small mobile scanner with your tablet, I'd like to hear about your experience.

Tablet PC Roller Coaster of Emotions

Thursday, May 26th, 2005
In case you haven't noticed, my Tablet PC adventure has been an emotional one. Lots to do, lots to learn. Fortunately, I've met some wonderful people along the way, who've given generously of their time to assist me in my quest to become YABHTU.

Lately, I've been pulled in two directions: I'm thoroughly enjoying the Tablet PC as a platform for getting things done. At the same time, I've been dealing with the tedious process of designing and configuring a new system with all of my favorite applications, just the way I want it. It's a process I know well; I do this for my eProductivity consulting clients. This time, I'm both my own client and consultant.

It's been a good exercise for me to experience both sides of the equation in a fresh new way. As the end-user, I've been searching for the ideal system and I have plenty of questions, like "I want to do this ..." or "why can't I do have that feature?"  As a consultant, it's my job to make technology easy for my clients, by selecting the right technology and helping them to implement it. In that role, I ask a different set of questions, such as "what's best for my client's needs?" and "Will this technology really help my client to be more productive?" At times, it's been a trying experience, as I've shared here.  I've encountered a few speed bumps on the road to YABHTU; I'm sure that I'll experience some more. I do look forward to smoother roads ahead..

I've often joked with David Allen that I'm going to give up on technology and open a bait shop; one with no phone, and no electricity.

The prospect is tempting. I think I could do it ... for a day.

It is with excitement that I announce that at 10:20 AM today, I switched from the ThinkPad T42p to the Tecra M4 as my primary computing device. I'm going to take it to a client's office to do some work. We'll see how it goes.

I'm sure I'll have more to share, soon.

Thanks for your support and encouragement.

Image:Tablet PC Roller Coaster of Emotions

Blissful OS configuration

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005
I can't believe that Marc scooped me on my own Skype chat with him!  After our chat today, I pasted the notes to save for a blog entry this evening. 15 minutes later, I read my RSS reader and Marc's already blogged about it.

Here's what I wrote at 2:49 PM PST:

Inspiration from my Skype chat with Marc Orchant today:
Marc, this may be strange, but I miss Windows 3.1. Only two ini files; system.ini and win.ini. I knew what almost everything was for and what every file did, and I could tailor the system to meet my needs. Complete control. That was productive. Sigh.
After words of encouragement from Marc and Lora, I've decided to move beyond Windows 3.1. The Tablet OS  is stable, so I cannot justify taking the time to reload it right now.

Update: 7:21 PM. Tablet PC loading progressing well. I may cut-over this evening.

A painful Tablet PC experience

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005
I may have to admit that Michael Hyatt was right, when he gave reason #4: why he ditched his tablet:
"Fourth, I just got frustrated with the Windows operating system. This is the crux of the matter. Ditching my tablet was not so much about the tablet as it was the operating system. I just got tired of fighting with Windows. I switched to the Mac."
Last night, I exchanged a series of emails with Lora Heiny last night about my Tablet OS woes. I told her I was about to flight test the tablet.  I explained that I wished that the Apple ads were true.  Lora offered some help and cheer; however, we were unable to resolve the issues.

Up until that point, things had been going well with my Tablet PC project. That is, until I tried to install two devices: the Treo 650 and the Visioneer Strobe XP 100 scanner. Both installs failed, which led me down a wild chase for the cause. In the process I discovered that the Windows XP OS had not created any restore points for the first two days of software installation and those that it did make over the past few days were unusable. I cannot restore my OS to any previous point.

Frustrating? Yes. A big waste of 8 hours? Yes?  Do I wish I had read Marc Orchant's Tablet PC blog post on this? yes

So now I have a decision to make. My tablet works well, and as I shared on the podcast, I'm really starting to enjoy it. I just wonder if I can (or should) trust it.

Do I proceed, knowing that XP system recovery points don't work, or do I start over and reload the machine from scratch? Well, not really from scratch: there's no legitimate way to  get a vanilla Tablet OS to load, so I'm forced to use the recovery disks. This means that I will have to once again deal with all of the "free" spamware that my Tablet PC vendor forces me to have on my machine.

I’ll keep Kathy and the M4

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005
Well, it looks like Kathy will stay on as a guest host on the podcast; at least for now. I've received more feedback letters for Kathy than for me - perhaps I should rename this site: KathyMackOnline ...  In any case, we've recorded another update with some words of appreciation, thoughts on the Tecra M4 14" UXGA screen (I love it); the portfolio case (I'm sending it back); the fan (loud, but you can use power management to silence it); and a variety of other tablet related topics. Yes, I'm having fun; mostly. (Don't ask me about restore points and software issues.)

Once again, Kathy prevented me from doing the podcast with a straight face. I suppose that's what I get for asking he to join me in a podcast at 1:39 AM, when we could be asleep.  If you have 19 minutes, are still interested in my experience with the M4, and you voted to keep Kathy as my co-host, then here's another podcast for you.

Quick Tablet PC Update for May 25, 2005

Eric Mack On-line - May 25, 2005, (19 min 33 sec) MP3  4.47 MB

Show highlights:

- James Kendrick comes through with info on a build-it-yourself pop-filter
- Eric and Kathy review some of the feedback to last week's podcast. Thanks!
- Eric describes his idea for an M4 wedge; Kathy goes off on another tangent
- Handwriting recognition in Tablet OS is excellent; Eric needs to relearn cursive
- Thank you James and Lora for your help today
- Discussion of my recent experience using the Tablet in the car
- The agony of loading software; problems with XP restore points
- Eric's thoughts on his tablet experience so far
- Wrap-up

If you have specific questions; things that you would like to know about the M4 or my podcast experience; or if you have a question for Kathy (about home education, etc.), send it in. We'll try to get to it.

Note; The opinions of expressed my guests are entirely their own and do not necessarily represent the opinions of :-)

Matt Buchanan made an excellent post today about his experience with the Toshiba MultiDock.

Matt writes:
I’ve been following your Tablet PC unveiling with great interest.  Nice job.  I am a Tablet user (M205), and probably YABHTU.

I recently had an out of the box experience with a tablet accessory (yes, an accessory!) that changed my tablet habits dramatically.  I posted about this experience this morning, and thought you might find the content interesting:
Matt's post came at a good time, too. I recently cancelled my MultiDock order because it did not look like something I would use. Well, apparently I'm not the only one who thought that way. Matt sets the record straight by sharing how he uses the MultiDock and he accents today's narrative with photos. I guess I'll have to call my Toshiba rep again ...

My current understanding is that Toshiba's discontinued the current MultiDock and that a new MultiDock II, apparently redesigned to accommodate the new 14" tablets (such as the M4), will ship in June. (Strange that the MultiDock II specs don't show gigabit ethernet support.)

Meanwhile, my own tablet adventures continue. I'm still configuring the new M4 in between client projects.  I took the tablet with me on my first road trip yesterday and I used it to take notes in meetings. I've got a page of notes to share on my current observations, lessons learned, likes, wants and rants. (Perhaps I can get Kathy to join me for the next podcast.)

Back to the title of this post. My favorite Tablet PC hardware accessory, so far, is a book scanner. (I've got a long wish list, including: an unobtrusive Bluetooth stereo headset/mic, a better portfolio carrying case, a magic wide-angle non-glare coating of some kind, and a mini fuel cell for 18 hours of uninterrupted use.) I'll blog about these soon.

What's your favorite Tablet PC accessory?
This afternoon, I used a book scanner to scan in several chapters from one of my management texts. Next, I created a searchable PDF file for each chapter. Finally, I sat on the couch, with the Tablet PC on my lap, and studied. I used the M4 jog joystick (or whatever they call it) to scroll through the document. I used the markup feature of  Adobe Acrobat 7.0, to highlight sections of interest. Other than the learning curve to make the book scanner to PDF process work, the process was very productive. Now, I can leave my texts on my bookshelf. The weight reduction will help offset the M4 and accessories. I'm glad that I waited for the 14" high-resolution screen. It makes for a bigger tablet, but it sure is nice to have room to work with. I've learned to tilt the screen to avoid glare from overhead lighting. It's not ideal, but I can live with it.

I still have a long way to go to fully migrate my remaining applications and data to the M4, however, I'm greatly encouraged by what I've accomplished this evening.

In the course of setting up the M4, I've discovered many features, some by accident, that I like about the Tablet PC and the M4 in specific. As far as the features I don't like, I've got a list, but I've already crossed several things off.  Fan and power issues remain a challenge. The fan can be loud of you are running in high-power mode. Fortunately, Toshiba has an excellent power management utility. I now have a profile that works for me. I'd like to find a way to keep the DVD drive powered down at all times unless I wake it. This would prevent the door from being opened accidentally and it would save power, too. There is an option to disable power to the DVD drive, however, it is a temporary setting until the next standby, hibernate, or power-cycle. I wish this could be made a part of the power management profile. [hint] At this time, the only real disappointment that I have is in the portfolio case. (My recommendation: don't buy it. I'll explain soon.)

I'm not yet YABHTU, but I'm getting closer. I'll post updates as time permits. Perhaps I'll even invite Kathy back as a guest on a future podcast.

I'll leave you with this powerful feature: the button marked "OneNote" on the side of the M4 serves not only to launch a program, but also as an "instant on." When your tablet goes into "sleep" mode (not standby or hibernate) this button will cause it to resume in a matter of seconds. I like this instant on capability. It makes the tablet operation closer to paper and pencil, especially with OneNote loaded. Somehow, in the course of installing software, Lotus Notes now launches whenever I press the OneNote button. Go figure. I'm sure that there's a setting for this, but I'm not complaining. I would like to see someone develop a pop-up utility for this button that would allow me to choose between two or three applications, including the most recently used application.  That would be helpful. As for the button itself, I would have named it the "instant on" button, however, I don't have the influence of Microsoft.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails to offer encouragement or assistance. If any of your end up purchasing an M4, let me know. It would be great to connect.

Quick Tecra M4 Update for May 21, 2005

Saturday, May 21st, 2005
The new Tecra's growing on me. I've been loading software all evening from my eMack configuration. (MS Office, OneNote, Project, Visio, MindManager, ResultsManager, etc.) Next step is to make a ghost image and then load all of my productivity utilities (Activewords, etc..) Once I get everything loaded, I'll switch over to the M4 full-time.

I've not loaded any Tablet PC specific productivity applications yet, though I have  a growing list of software I plan to evaluate. Right now, my priority is migrating my applications and data to the new machine.

Kathy joined me on this podcast, so the discussion is a little less tech than you've come to expect from me. I'll let you decide whether I should bring Kathy back.

Quick Tecra M4 Update for May 21, 2005

Eric Mack On-line - May 21, 2005, (7 min 20 sec) MP3  1.9 MB

Show highlights:

- Eric talks about the M4
- Kathy goes off on a tangent re: PC advertising
- Eric loses control of his podcast
- Can you say "toilet paper" on a podcast?
- Eric gives a quick update on where he's at loading the M4 and what's next
- Wrap-up

Note; The opinions of expressed my guests are entirely their own and do not necessarily represent the opinions of :-)

Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC Spam

Saturday, May 21st, 2005
I thought my new Tablet would make me more productive. Yet, I've just wasted 2 hours, removing software, so that I can be more productive with my Tablet PC.

As I prepare to migrate my working environment from the IBM ThinkPad T42p to the Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC, I must first remove what I will call Tablet PC Spam. You read correctly. I received two kinds of Tablet PC Spam with my new Tecra M4 and neither were delivered by email. I'll talk about the first kind in this post: Pre-installed software and desktop shortcuts.

Just look at what I had to remove today:

I uninstalled the following programs
  • Acrobat 5.0  (I'll install a current version, thank you.)
  • Alias SketchBook Pro
  • AOL - will not uninstall. Says it's not installed even though Windows shows it.
  • AOL Coach
  • AOL Connectivity
  • AOL Spyware (They got that right)
  • AOL Pictures
  • AT&T
  • MS Office SBE - I specifically ordered my tablet without MS office. (I already own MS Office Pro)
  • MS Works - If guess if you can't sell it ...
  • Napster
  • My Connect Special Offer
  • Pure Networks Port Magic
  • McAffee
  • And more ...

I uninstalled the following shortcuts
  • MS Office Editions Trial
  • AOL Trial
  • AT&T Trial
  • Napster
  • My Connect Special Offer
  • Toshiba Software Upgrades
  • Toshiba Great Software Offers (Free software that you have to buy)
  • EZ Firewall trial
  • And more ...

I realize that there are probably some marketing execs at Toshiba that are thinking "That's not Spam; it's a service to our customers." I don't think so. Not when it gets in the way of my productivity. Today, rather than spending two hours happily loading productivity software onto my new Tablet PC and blogging about the productivity gains, I wasted those hours uninstalling and removing unwanted software.

I don't mind that all of this software was made available to me. I mind that I had to remove it. And, I really mind that the AOL software that Toshiba allowed to infect my new Tablet PC, is impossible to remove.

Vendors. Don't irritate your customers and champions.
Seth Godin would probably jump all over this kind of experience. If you really want to serve your customers, give them a DVD with add-on software, but don't preinstall software they don't want it in such a way that it wastes their time or worse, cannot be safely extracted from the system.  

Current score on productivity - 2.0 hours.
(I know, Michael Hyatt will say he warned me)

Recommendation to Toshiba:
For those of us who paid a premium to purchase a "build to order" tablet, why not give us one more option: "Removed all 3rd party software from your new Tecra M4? Y/N."

I'll have more to share on the second form of Toshiba Tablet PC Spam - one that I find even more offensive and insulting - in another post.

I promised to share my experience and opinion. I've already documented 3 pages of likes and dislikes. I plan to work my way through the list to see if my initial reactions are reasonable. Then, I'll start to share them.

Right now, I'm going to load some productivity software on this machine so that I can report some good news about this very cool Tablet PC.

Quick Tablet PC Update 5/20/05

Friday, May 20th, 2005
I've been silent on the Tablet adventure for the past 24 hours.  There's a lot of information to digest, about tablets in general, and about the Tecra M4 in specific . Some things I like;  others I don't. (Not surprising. I go through this with every new technology I evaluate.)  I'm mostly sold on the Tablet PC platform - I sort of expected I would be. Some of my issues deal with hardware and ideal form factor. I suspect that as I study the manuals and speak with others who use Tablets, I'll come up with solutions to address some of my concerns. Overall, my impression is positive.

One feature of the M4, that I discovered quite by accident (before I found it in the manual), is a joystick on the front of the tablet screen. What first appeared to be a button is actually a pointer - like you would see on a ThinkPad. With a little pressure, I can move the mouse in four directions and make selections. Great for scrolling through documents and menus.

Today, I used the M4 to take notes during a company teleconference for DavidCo. It worked well. The down  side is that I ran through a battery rather quickly. (I'll play around with the power settings to see what I can do about that.)

I will continue to share my experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly - not as a structured product review, but as I encounter them. That said, my next action is to load up the tablet into my standard eMack configuration. Then, I'll use the unit as much as possible for day-to-day work. It would be great to have a few people that I can call on from time to time. If any of you would like to volunteer, you know where to find me.

Thank you to those of you who have sent tips, tricks, and words of encouragement.

Tecra M4 Out-of-Box Experience

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
Join me, in my quest to become YABHTU. In this fifth installment I'll take you along, as I power up the Tecra M4 Tablet PC and go through the out-of-box experience.

Eric's Tecra M4, Energized ...

Eric Mack On-line - May 19, 2005, (27 min 55 sec) MP3  6.39 MB

 (No time to listen and insert chapter markers. Sorry)

- Energizing the Tecra M4
- What happens next
- Kathy's first impression
- I've got ink all over me, but does digital ink really work?

Feel free to post feedback & questions. I'll try to get to them in a future post or podcast.

Two more gadgets arrive for my tablet

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
I was just about to go through the out-of-box experience (Initial power-up) on the M4 when my Kathy walked in with packages from UPS.

Inside ... two more gadgets for the Tablet PC. Cool!

Find out what's inside the latest two boxes ...

Eric Mack On-line - May 19, 2005, (5 min 42 sec) MP3  1.43 MB

 (No time to listen and insert chapter markers. Sorry)

- I start the Tablet PC out-of-box-experience
- Kathy walks in with two more boxes of Tablet gadgets
- We find out what's inside ...

Next step is to power-up.  I promise!

OK, The box is open

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
I'm getting ready for my first out-of-box experience with the M4. I've promised Mark and James the first interview once I have the M4 opened and set up. We're planning to do that this evening. Meanwhile, if you're curious, you can listen along share the initial experience.

Listen along as I open up my new Tecra M4

Eric Mack On-line - May 19, 2005, (17 min 28 sec) MP3  4.13 MB

 (No time to listen and insert chapter markers. Sorry)

- I describe the contents of each box as I open it
- James Kendrick Skypes me to find out how it's going
- I get to box #4
- ...
- This is awesome!
- Laptop mode
- Tablet mode

Next step is to take a tour of the M4 and power up for my first out of box experience with the M4 ...

Should I bother to podcast this? Is this interesting? I could simply use the Tablet for a week or so and then post something then. Let me know if I should record my out-of-box experience.

So, what does it sound like?

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
Kevin C. Tofel just posted a comment to my blog:
The suspense is killing me! What does the sound of the box opening actually sound like?!?!?  Seriously, as a fellow Tab owner (Tosh Portege M205), you will LOVE your purchase!
Keven, it sounds GREAT!

Here are some pictures from the grand opening:

Podcasting the opening of my tablet.jpg
My table, set up to podcast the experience in STEREO

2. Laptop mode.jpg
The opened Tecra M4 in Laptop Mode

3. Tablet Mode.jpg
And, most important, the Tecra M4 in Tablet mode

I'll update this site with the podcast of the grand opening. Give me 10-15 minutes, then refresh this page. Otherwise, check for it in the rss feed in a few minutes.

Step One - get ready

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
Throughout the morning, I've received several e-mails and Skype requests asking of today was the day. Yes!

I thought it might be fun to share my experience as a podcast. I'm not sure how practical this will be, as it takes time to post the podcasts. I suppose this will be a good exercise to me to test the podcast capability of Dominoblog, too.

If there's interest in my continuing, I'm willing to give it a try.

I've promised Mark and James the first interview once I have the M4 opened and set up. We'll probably do that later today. meanwhile, I'm happy to share the initial experience here.

Listen along as I prepare to open the boxes from Toshiba

Eric Mack On-line - May 19, 2005 (0 min 53 sec) MP3  .5 MB


00:00        Intro

"May the Ink be with you!"

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
Less than an hour ago I announced that there would be a grand opening today. I've already received a few emails, Skype calls and chats and now the first comment on my blog, from Colin Walker.

Thanks guys. I'm in a great mood, and ready to play in the digital sandbox. I want to find out just how productive this Tablet will help me be. :-)

Status Update: 1:32PM PST
Step 1 - collect
I decided to set up a table in front of my desk so that I could spread out. All of the boxes from Toshiba are now in one room and I'm feeling the force pull me toward the table. I'll set up a mic.

The next voice you hear will be my own, as I open the boxes. Now would be a good time to point your podcatcher here.

It’s begun

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
At 12:01 AM last night, coincident with a world wide grand opening, I began to plan for a grand opening of my own.

I'm clearing off my desk now.

Marc and James are standing by; I've promised to call them later this afternoon, once the box is open.

Tablet PC Show #8 is live

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005
Marc and James once again invite us to listen in on their Tablet PC discussions. This week, they talk about my Tecra M4, James' new HP tc1100 Tablet, and the Marc's Treo 650.

I'm not sure I merit the air-time they've given me, but it was fun to listen to someone talk about the Tecra.

Schedule-permitting, I hope to share more Tecra M4 information in the next few days.

Meanwhile, you can listen to their latest Tablet PC Show podcast here.
I did a bit of ego-surfing this morning, while waiting for a client file to download. Lots of interesting posts. Geeky info had this to say about my tablet temptation:
I am speechless with admiration that Eric could continue to process his in-box while the box which contains his new tablet PC sits on his desk. Or is it that Eric knows that his boss reads his blog?
I am an independent eProductivity consultant, so I don't have a direct boss per se. Still, I'm accountable to myself, my family, and the clients that I serve.

The greatest transparency, however, is with my wife and children. They know what's in the box. They've heard me talk about it at the dinner table. They know I want to open it. They can see my desk through the French doors of their classroom. If they see me approach the box, they know to smile, wave, and ask me if I've gotten all my work done.

It’s burning a hole in my desk!

Friday, May 13th, 2005
Yet, the box remains unopened, and the security tape intact.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post words of advice on what I should do relative to my dilemma. So far, over twenty people have written to me or posted comments on my blog. Most tried to provide an argument for why I should give in and rip the box open now. Two people even offered to hold the tablet for me until I was ready.

If I were to give in, the most compelling argument (so far) came from Steve New:
Here is one thing I must disagree with Mr. Allen over. While there are without question thousands of things you can get off your mind by scheduling them for future attention, a new computer in the box is not one of them. To be an adult you need to be honest with yourself. You know you won't be giving your full attention to your client's projects while the untouched Tecra remains in the back of your mind calling to you. I see your blog as a call for help. In your heart you know what to do. Play with it Eric. It's best for you and for your clients that you do.
I think Steve's argument supports the position that owning a new Tablet PC can be disruptive - even if you don't take it out of the box.

Several people appealed to my love of productivity tools, arguing that I would instantly become more productive with the new Tablet PC in hand. Marc and James have even offered to help me set up my new Tablet PC in a live podcast. (That would be fun; we may do this.)

All of this is well and good, but my in-box(es) still overfloweth.

After prayerful consideration, I've decided that to give in to temptation and play with my new tablet before I get my work done would be to undermine everything Kathy and I have taught our children about a strong and balanced work ethic. Work first. Play later.  (Amy and Wendy would like me to believe that I have these priorities reversed.)

If you do the things you need to do, when you need to do them, then you'll have the time to do the things you want to do, when you want to do them - Zig Ziglar.

I'm working as hard as I can to clear my plate of family, school, and work commitments so that I can play and feel good about it.

One step closer. Digital torture

Thursday, May 12th, 2005
I'm about to find out for real just how disruptive owning a Tablet PC can be.

FedEx just delivered a box from Toshiba. My new Tecra M4 Tablet PC waits patiently inside. After 6 months of research + two months from the time I decided to make my purchase, I'm ready to take the next step.  


I can't believe it's finally here!

Unfortunately, I've got a very full plate, with several eProductivity projects due for clients over the next few months.

I'm presently negotiating with myself just how much I will commit to get done before I break the first seal on the box.

Will I force myself to have a completely empty in-box (paper & digital) before I peek inside?

Or, will I give in to temptation, rip open the box, boot up Windows XP, Tablet edition and start blogging in ink?

Accountability and integrity. A real test.

What would you do?

Tecra M4 questions answered

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005
I've had a few lingering questions about the Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC, so I contacted my friendly Toshiba rep to find out the answers.

I've managed to confirm that the Tecra M4 indeed has a Mic Array. That's good. I've also confirmed that the speakers are blocked in tablet mode. That's bad.  I just found out that my tablet has shipped and is on its way to me. That's good.

From my correspondence with my helpful Toshiba Rep:

I asked about the Mic Array and the Speakers on the Tecra M4:

I have question about Mic Array and Speakers on the M4

I've been reading the materials from the web site. I have two questions about the M4 that I have purchased.
Table PCs usually have a Microphone Array consisting of 2-4 microphones that are built-in to the side of the case, for voice Dictation with the Tablet PC Operating system.  Can you tell me about the Mic Array on the Toshiba Tecra M4? I do not see any information about this on the web site.
I am looking at the PDF picture of the new M4. From the picture, it appears that the stereo speakers on the M4 will be obscured and the sound blocked when I demonstrate the tablet to my clients in tablet-mode. Is this correct?

My Toshiba representative promptly responded:

Hi Eric,
This is what I found out regarding your questions.  Also the speakers will be blocked when you are in tablet mode.  Here is the information I received from Toshiba regarding the microphone array on the M4: The Mic Array determines the direction of sound source input to the microphone and suppress sound from outside specified range and surrounding noise.

I followed up to ask about the Mic Array:

I understand, from your email, that the speakers will be blocked when in tablet mode. That's discouraging. I hope I will still be able to use multimedia functions while in tablet mode.

What about the microphone array?  
1. Please let me know if the mic array will be blocked from use when in tablet mode as well.
2. Please let me know how many mics make up the array. (Typically 3-4 individual mics. The screen shot appears to imply 3 mics).

To which, my representative responded:

Hello Eric,
No the mic array will not be blocked since it is located on the display
panel. There are 3 individual mics.

Should Tablet PCs make noise?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005
There's been a lot of discussion about Tablet PCs and whether they are disruptive. (See also Michael Hyatt's thoughts. ) Good discussion; however, I still decided to order a new Tecra M4 Tablet PC and blogged about it.

What will change my mind about the Tablet PC is the noise level produced by CPU fan.  I frequently attend meetings with clients where, Tablet or not, the whine of a CPU fan would be very disruptive.  In one of my management classes, a colleague has a laptop with a very loud CPU fan. The whine of the fan is so disruptive that she usually turns her computer off during lectures. (So much for disruptive technology.)

I will be very disappointed if my new Tablet PC makes enough noise that I have to turn it off in order not to bother others.  If it does, I can give you 4900 reasons why I will send it back promptly.

Many readers have written to ask me what I know about the noise-level of the Toshiba Tecra M4. I don't know anything yet. I'm still waiting for my Tablet PC to arrive.

I decided to take matters into my own hands; I contacted my helpful Toshiba sales representative to find out what she had to say about this.

Here's a summary of our exchange.

My question to Toshiba re: possible CPU Fan noise with the M4:
I have some concerns about fan noise on the Tecra M4 - Is it OK for meeting/classroom use?

A few readers have written to me, or posted on my blog, with concerns about the noise level of the Tecra M4. The concern is that excessive fan noise might make the Tablet too disruptive for use in a meeting or a classroom. I share this concern. I've been in meetings where someone -- usually with an older laptop - has a loud fan. It's very disruptive.

My ThinkPad T42p fan is almost unnoticeable after startup. It is my hope that the new Tecra M4 fan will be as quiet.

Would you please respond to this issue for me?  I'd like to put these concerns to rest.

Thank you,

Eric Mack

Toshiba responded promptly:
Hello Eric,
I have been informed that the Tecra M4 does have a louder fan then some of the other models.  I do understand your concern, however if this remains a problem for you after you receive the notebook we have a 15 day return policy, there will be no penalty to you.  Thank you

My follow-up question:
Thanks, for the swift reply.

I'm looking forward to receiving the new Tablet, as I will use it for client demonstrations and in meetings in a conference room.

Can you tell me, subjectively, how much louder? Are we talking Jet engine-loud?

If you are sitting at a conference table, will the people across and adjacent to you be able to hear it?  My main concern is whether (or not) this will cause the Tablet to be a disruption.


And The response from Toshiba:
Toshiba does not consider the fan a distraction.  However due to the upgrade in the processing speed; the power in the new FSB generates more heat.  Therefore, the fan must regulate this increase. I am told it is louder then the Tecra M2.  To be completely honest with you I personally have not seen the new Tecra M4.  I have not heard any negative feedback.   I do hope that when you receive your notebook you will not find the fan to be a problem, I know this machine offers many new awesome benefits.  I want you to be happy with your notebook, so please let me know if this becomes a concern for you when you work with it.  
Thank you

There, you have it. Once I receive the M4, I'll compare the fan noise to the IBM ThinkPad T42p on my desk and let you know about my experience.

New blog category for Tablet PC

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005
I've added a new category for Tablet PC and I've reclassified several of my tablet-related posts. As a result, some of these may reappear in your RSS feed.

Tablet PC productivity gadgets

Friday, April 29th, 2005
Thank you, to those of you who recommended your favorite TPC productivity software. I plan to look at each of these programs in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, I'm about to evaluate gadgets to go along with my Tablet PC.

Here's what's on my list so far
  • Spare Pen (I ordered Toshiba, considering a Cross/Wacom)
  • Toshiba Portfolio case for the M4
  • USB Headset/Mic (Logitech M300 or Plantronics)
  • Mobile Scanner: Visioneer Strobe XP 100 or Plustek OpticSlim M12
  • Book Scanner: Plustek OpticBook 3600 Book Scanner for my desk
Care to share your favorite Tablet PC productivity gadgets?

Update: I forgot to mention that I've purchased the new Toshiba superdock, which supports M200 and the M4.  I'll add the Cross Pen w/Cap to the list.

Tablet PC Software Recommendations

Thursday, April 28th, 2005
Several readers posted recommendations for productivity software I should consider for the Tablet PC.  Thanks. I appreciate the recommendations.

Here's what's on my list to evaluate so far:

Marc Orchant
  • Orange Guava Desktop with ActiveWords
  • Agilix GoBinder
  • Tablet Enhancements for Outlook
James Kendrick
  • For ease of use with the pen- Entbloess or TopDesk for switching windows easily
  • Tablet PC Launcher for pen access to all your programs and docs
  • Media Transfer from Experience Pack to get media files (including podcasts) onto TPC
  • ritePen which offers write anywhere capability for ink text entry and fuses their advanced recognition engine with the TIP.  I get better accuracy using ritePen than the TIP alone.
Warner Crocker
  • Orange Guava Desktop with Active Words
  • Agilix Gobinder
  • Experience Pack for the Snipping Tool if for no other reason
  • PrinttoOneNote powertoy and
  • PP2One to pull Powerpoint Presentations or slides into OneNote for annotating
Nik Tipler
  • ResultsManager, now "Ink Enabled"  
  • "I'm playing with Orange Guava Desktop with Active Words at the moment"
  • "I've set up some MindManager/ResultsManager Active Words commands which is looking interesting."
Eric Mack
  • MindManager
  • ResultsManager
  • Microsoft OneNote
These three applications are the main reasons I purchased a Tablet PC in the first place ... aside from the geek factor, of course.

Anything you'd like to add?

Box #1 from Toshiba arrives

Thursday, April 28th, 2005
FedEx just delivered my Toshiba Tablet PC Pen, battery, and Targus AC/DC/Air Adapter.

No M4 yet; however, it's only been 4 days since I placed my order.

I feel like Inego Montoya, looking down from atop the cliffs of despair, waiting for the man in black to reach the top ...
"I hate waiting"

Fortunately, I have several TPC software recommendations to review

Getting closer to YABHTU

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005
Toshiba has processed my credit card, the web site shows the Tablet is being assembled. I am hopeful that my M4 will ship this week.

Meanwhile, I've been researching productivity software for the Tablet PC.  Do you have a favorite app you'd like to recommend?

Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

Thursday, April 21st, 2005
Last week, I asked the question "are Tablet PC's too disruptive?" I don't really know yet.

Shopping for one certainly is.

In response to my blog, several power-tablet PC users have offered their advice, including Marc Orchant, Lora Heiny, Linda Epstein, Michael Hyatt, James Kendrick, and Rob Bushway,  to name a few. After several delightful conference calls and email exchanges with these fine people, I decided to purchase the Fujitsu T4010D Tablet PC ...

until I read the latest news ...

Just before I closed my shopping cart on the Fujitsu site, I checked Tablet PC Buzz; there, I read that Toshiba's just announced the Tecra M4 Tablet PC -- the latest in a series of Tablet PC announcements this month.  (See buzz thread.)This unit addresses many items on my Tablet PC wish list. The M4 sports an impressive list of features usually found only on high-end laptops. Perhaps I can become YABHTU after all!

Here are my quick observations taken from the PDF file on the Toshiba site:

Features that I'm excited about:
  • Larger screen. 14.1" - yes, I know that makes for a big tablet and a heavy one. I can live with that.
  • 8X DVD-R
  • DVD Dual-layer burning & playback
  • SATA Drive - presumably MUCH faster throughput
  • LCD Contrast
  • NVIDIA Graphics
  • FireWire built-in S-Video port, too.
  • AccuPoint - just like my IBM ThinkPad TrackPoint -- A big plus for me, when in laptop mode
  • SD Card slot
  • Reputation of M200
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Second Battery Option
  • Appears to offer options for HD up to 100 gigs, though only as add-on, not upon order. (Why?)
  • Microsoft One Note button on outside of Tablet for instant-access to MS One Note
  • "Longhorn Ready"  (Longhorn's a long way out. I will either grow to enjoy using the tablet or I will ditch the Tablet PC. It won't take long for me to decide.)
"Features" I'm not thrilled about:
  • Only one mic - no mic array. (I hope I'm wrong about this)
  • Bluetooth does not appear to be built-in. (Yes, I can buy Bluetooth as an "option," buy why? I hope I'm wrong)
  • Speakers obscured when in tablet mode. (Does this mean I have to switch to laptop mode to listen?)
  • No clear path to order faster processor or larger HD as a custom unit. (Fast HD is a requirement.)
Questions remaining:
  • Is it real, or just announced? If I order a customized unit today, when will I receive it?
If Toshiba had made it easy for me to buy the M200 I wanted weeks ago, I would have done so. I don't like to play the game, "let's see what gets announced next," as there will always be something new around the corner. I have work to do. Still, since I cannot get one immediately, I've had more time than I want to consider the options. I still really like the Fujitsu and, as I mentioned, had planned to purchase it this week. I've written to Paul Vollenweider, the VP of the Toshiba Business Direct Unit, to find out if this Tablet is real, and how soon I could get one.

I've run out of time. I need to return the wonderful IBM T42 I have been using and make a purchase.

What I thought I could do in a day - purchase a new Tablet PC with the features I wanted - has turned into an amazing adventure. I'm exhausted.

Still, the journey has been a productive one. I've learned a lot and I've met some very interesting people along the way. For that alone, this adventure has been worthwhile.

I would like to make a final purchasing decision in the next 48 hours. (If I can get the answers I want, I'll even order today.)

If you would like to offer your two cents - and I hope that you will - now is your chance.


Why buy a Tablet PC?

Sunday, April 17th, 2005
I just reread my blog entry about  the Tablet PC. The aspect of the TabletPC that interests me the most is the prospect of using digital ink to transform the way that I work:
I've been following the analog approach to note-taking. It's an attractive option. It's one of the key reasons that I plan to move to a Tablet PC - I look forward to the simplicity of analog note-taking and mind mapping with the benefits of digital recall.

Homebuilt Tablet PC in the works

Saturday, April 16th, 2005
I've decided to see if I can build my own Tablet PC, or at least something like it - something that I can use to evaluate ink-enabled applications before I move to the Tablet PC platform. There have been many discussions about how to do this in the various forums - most recently on the MindManager forum. So far, I have the Tablet OS loaded and MindManager will now launch in pen mode.

I'll have to forage through my junk room to see what I can come up with for a mega digitizer. Perhaps I can retrofit my LiveBoard to the task. Imagine ... a Tablet PC with a 6' drawing surface. That would be really cool. On second thought the LiveBoard weighs over 600 lbs.

I guess I won't be able to call it a tablet.

Tablet PC, too disruptive?

Thursday, April 14th, 2005
A week ago, I publicly teased my friend, Michael Sampson, by challenging him to cancel his order for a new PowerBook and to purchase a Tablet PC. I even asked for your help with persuasive arguments. Michael responded with a bullet-list of requirements and how the PowerBook suited his needs just fine. Several people posted or emailed comments with their experiences and opinions.

Mike Hyatt had this to say to Michael Sampson:
As you know, I have made the same journey. Initially, the Tablet PC was a delight to use. But then, like all Windows systems, it started bogging down with a bloated registry and annoying "bugs" that just wouldn't go away.
Mike, I've designed configured some amazing systems for some of the most productive people I've ever met. Over the years, I've developed a protocol for designing and tuning my client's systems so that they run exceedingly well. Still, I'll admit that it does take a lot of work to achieve this - I wish it was not so involved.

Most of the business applications that I use with my clients (and their clients, and their client's clients ... ) are PC-based; changing platforms is not a viable option.

In addition, the technology is just too conspicuous. I couldn't walk into a room with my Tablet PC without becoming the center of attention and people getting side-tracked from the business at hand. This made me very uncomfortable.

Mike, I am intrigued by your comment that  your Tablet PC was a distraction - especially in light of the quote from Michael Linenberger on your blog on  why you bought a TabletPC:

Placing a laptop with the screen flipped up in front of you on a conference room table creates a physical barrier between you and others in the room. This is literally a barrier to communication. The Tablet PC is normally on your lap, and out of sight. Or it is flat on the desk like a writing pad.

I would have expected that after a while people would pay no attention to your Tablet. I'm sorry the Tablet PC did not work out for you as you hoped it would. I'm still willing to give it a try. [I would be happy to send you my shipping address. :-)]

I've gone low-tech for meetings and love it. I carry a Moleskin notebook and write down everything. I put a "star" symbol next to those things I need to follow-up on. When I get back to my desk, I quickly transfer these to Entourage. My workflow is simple, unobtrusive, and 100% reliable.

I've been following the analog approach to note-taking. It's an attractive option. It's one of the key reasons that I plan to move to a TabletPC - I want the simplicity of analog note-taking and mind mapping with the benefits of digital recall.

And, I absolutely love my PowerBook 15". In my humble opinion (sorry, Eric), you're making the right choice.

I've since had many discussions with Michael Sampson, and I agree, that for his stated needs, it would appear that the PowerBook is an excellent option. As for me, yes, I would have to agree, the TabletPC is too disruptive - I think about it way too much.

Robert Peake wrote about a Linux-based Tablet:

If you've lost faith in Microsoft and are looking for a budget option, the Helium 2100

Robert, I've not lost faith in Microsoft, but I am discouraged at the effort it takes to get my hands on a new TabletPC. The Helium 2100 looks like a nice machine at a great price. I might even consider it. Too bad you have to buy 24 of them at a time. :-(

Several others chimed in with equally compelling arguments for either the Tablet PC or the PowerBook.

LBE made an excellent point:

[Eric,] you are confounding two distinctions - the operating system and the form factor. In the same form factor, an increasing number of people are finding Mac OS X to be more productive and stable for their needs. The rest just haven't tried it. If the tablet form factor works better for you than a standard laptop, then you are currently forced to by a Tablet PC.

and a good observation:

But that's not a reason to buy a Tablet PC, let alone advocate them. It's a reason to wish that Mac OS X came in a tablet form factor.

Good point, LBE. While I was having some fun with the  "PC vs Mac" debate at Michael's expense, my real comparison and interest, was Tablet vs traditional laptop. I should have been more clear about this. I hope Apple DOES jump in with a Tablet offering. It will no doubt raise the bar.

I'm still sold on the Tablet PC for my needs.
Michael Sampson lamented that it took Apple NZ 6 weeks to fulfill his order. I checked with him today, and he's since received his PowerBook and is happily working away. He plans to bring it with him in June, when he flies up to spend a day with me in the digital sandbox.

As for me, I have ... well, at least I'm still blogging about the Tablet PC.

Tablet PC Update 04/12

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005
I've been waiting for a fellow Tablet PC enthusiast and blogger to receive her Fujitsu T4010D before I placed my order.  I've been checking in with her every few days. It's been a few weeks, and she's still not received it. This is not encouraging. Still, there have been some encouraging posts on TabletPC Buzz from users who have received their new T4010's.

Frankly, had I not completely sold myself on the Tablet PC platform, driven by applications such as MindManager, ResultsManager, and OneNote, I might have given up and focused my attentions toward another technology. Do I order the Fujitsu now and hope for the best? Do I go back to my original choice, the Toshiba M200 and hope for the best? Do I wait for the new rumored Tablets from Toshiba and Fujitsu?

Decisions, decisions.

The pre-configured but ill-equipped Tablet PCs are starting to look really good. It shouldn't be this way.

Did I call myself a Tablet PC enthusiast in the opening sentence? Funny how we are so quick to visualize ourselves in desired outcomes.

And I don't even own one, yet.

Tablet PC vs PowerBook

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005
As my first act of Tablet PC evangelism, I tried to make a convert out of my colleague, Michael Sampson, today. I challenged Michael to cancel his pending order for a new Apple PowerBook and join me over on the "smart side." (And I don't even have a Tablet PC to show him yet! But that's another story.)  

Michael's just posted his thoughts on our discussion on Tablet PC vs PowerBook.

Working together, we can help Michael make the right decision, before it's too late. :-)

[I'll try to get my friend Mike Hyatt to join in, too. He's transitioned from PC to Tablet PC to a PowerBook. A PC guy switches to the Tablet PC, then to the Mac. How does it work out? Enquiring minds want to know. At least I do. Last June, Mike told us why he bought a Tablet PC. Then, in February, he took the plunge over to the dark side.]

I know that there are likely to be passionate discussions on both sides. For me, it all boils down to productivity, and I think that Michael makes a good case for ...  Or does he?

All kidding aside, I am very interested in the discussion that is sure to follow.  

It's not too late to help!

Michael has not yet taken delivery of the new PowerBook, but its arrival is only days away. We must act quickly! Can you provide Michael with compelling new information to help him make the right choice?

Post your comments and links to information.

This should be fun.


PS In the event that Michael does give in to temptation and accepts delivery of the PowerBook, I'll be sure to blog about it. :-)

Annotating paper on the Tablet PC

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005
As anticipate migrating to a TabletPC, I've been researching various productivity applications that I plan to use. This blog entry is not about a solution - yet. It's about my search for one.

One capability that I look forward to is the ability to mark up PDF files - not just any PDF files, but those that originate as paper. When I am in my office, I use my HP Digital Sender to take a stack of documents and scan them into PDF files so that I can work with them in digital form. However, when I'm out and about, with a Tablet PC, I will need another way to quickly capture paper documents into PDF so that I can edit them.

The options that I am considering will include a hybrid of hardware and software, hardware to capture and software to edit. The capture side has my attention right now. I'm presently considering two solutions: a portable scanner and a digital camera. Let's look at the benefits of each.

Portable Scanner

  • High resolution scanning
  • Suitable for OCR (for PDF+Text applications)
  • External device, cables, adapters
  • Additional steps to capture
Digital Camera
  • Easy to use
  • Much faster than a scanner
  • More expensive than scanner
  • Difficult to align for text capture
  • Images not suitable for OCR
  • External device, cables, adapters
  • Additional steps to capture
The ideal solution, in my view, would be for Tablet PC manufacturers to add a digital camera, scanner, or both, to a Tablet PC - I'd certainly pay for these options. I would like to snap a picture by holding up the Tablet. Likewise, I would like to scan a page in 1-2 seconds, either by drawing the Tablet across the page (like the HP Capshare) or by feeding the page through a slot at the edge of the Tablet.  I remember there was once a laptop with a built-in scanner.

I'm not asking for much. Once I see a Tablet PC with a built-in scanner and camera, I plan to ask for a built-in micro laser printer - don't laugh; it will happen. Right now, I'll settle for a fast and reliable mobile paper capture tool.

I'm certain that someone has thought through all of this long before me. Who will build it first?  (Toshiba? Fujitsu? Anyone?)

While I wait for an integrated solution, I plan to explore solutions that I can create using off-the-shelf technology.  I'll keep you posted.

Do you have a solution for real-time mobile import of paper documents into a Tablet PC?

Post a comment.

Evaluating TabletPC screens

Thursday, March 31st, 2005
In my pursuit of the perfect tablet PC for my needs, I've collected many documents and links to useful TabletPC information. Here are two documents and a link that may be of interest to those of you who may be evaluating TabletPC technology:

In response to my updated post about indoor/outdoor screens, Tom Bernhard, Fujitsu's Director of Strategic Product Planning, was kind enough to send me a document that covers the technology issues involved in designing and selecting TabletPC displays. It probably contains more information than most people would like to know, however  the document also contains some helpful summaries and illustrations. Earlier this week, I wrote to Tom to request permission to share the document. I've since learned that the document has just been posted to the web -- see below.

After reading this document, I have decided to go with the indoor wide angle SXGA+ screen for my TabletPC purchase. I believe that this will work best for my needs. Most of my work is done indoors and the wide angle viewing should make client demonstrations easier.

Another helpful document, also from Fujitsu, is the Fujitsu Mobile Whitepaper. Although a bit dated - it's from 2002 -- this document provides Fujitsu's response to Microsoft's TabletPC specification. While clearly written from the Fujitsu perspective, it has some good information and should be of benefit to anyone considering a TabletPC purchase.

Related documents: The TabletPC2 web site has an excellent field-trial comparison of TabletPC displays. Linda Epstein's done a fantastic job of comparing the screens and features of various TabletPC models.

I've still yet to order my new TabletPC. Unfortunately, there is no single SKU for my dream system. I know what I want, however, since it must be "custom configured," I'll need to sit down and map out all the options before I can submit my order.  While I have the flexibility to choose what I want, it means that I cannot just quickly call and order a new TabletPC overnight. That's too bad - I could have sold 3 TabletPCs to clients in the just the past week.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a quiet day and I can get this order going. Then, the countdown will really begin.

TabletPC Pursuit

Monday, March 28th, 2005
I have finally decided which TabletPC to buy. I plan to purchase the new Fujitsu T4010D - if I can get one soon. Many factors contributed to my selection of the Fujitsu model, including the screen, battery, optical options, and a handful of other innovative product features.

As a result of my blog posts, many people thoughtfully contacted me to share their personal experiences and to provide objective information to help me in my evaluation of the various TabletPC models from Toshiba and Fujitsu. Among these, were executives at Toshiba and Fujitsu, along with Marc Orchant, Lora Heiny, and Linda A. Epstein, creator of TABLETPC2.COM. (TabletPC2 is an outstanding resource for TabletPC comparisons.)  Thank you to each of you!

As you may know, when I researched the Fujitsu models, I became frustrated by the need to choose between the indoor or outdoor screen models. On Friday, an executive at Fujitsu sent me a detailed engineering document that reviews the engineering design process for TabletPC screens and how each design is more or less suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Equipped with a much better understanding of the technical details, I'm now confident that the wide-view indoor screen will serve my needs best. (I've written to ask for permission to post this document. Check back soon)  

With the knowledge of the specific TabletPC I want and the features that I will include, the remaining hurdle is how to get one.

It is still frustrating to me that I cannot go to my local computer super store and pick up a TabletPC or at least order one overnight from an internet dealer. Unfortunately, the combination of "features" that I have selected require that my TabletPC be "built-to-order." While I'm flattered that Fujitsu or Toshiba would build a TabletPC just for me, I still wish it were possible to purchase what I want from stock. Why should people have to go through all of this work? (Now that I've done the work, perhaps they should offer the "Eric Mack Edition." Hmmm. If Eddie Bauer can do it.... and he probably makes big bucks each time his name is used, too.  I'll have to think about that.)

If I am successful in ordering my new TabletPC for delivery in the next two weeks, this will be the last post on the ordering saga.

Moving forward, I plan to share my experiences integrating the TabletPC into my work and play.

I can't wait for my new TabletPC. Oh, I guess I'll have to. At least a few weeks more. :-(

Day 8. Still no TabletPC

Thursday, March 24th, 2005
Why can't buying a TabletPC be a quick and easy experience?

A week ago, I shared my frustrating and unsuccessful attempt to quickly purchase a high-end M200 TabletPC from Toshiba. My post about my desire to become YABHTU, created quite a stir in the blogosphere. James Kendrick and Marc Orchant even talked this, on today's Tablet PC podcast.

Here's an update on my mission to show my clients how to use digital ink ...

Today, I received an email from Paul Vollenweider, Vice President of Toshiba Direct. Mr. Vollenweider apologized for the difficulties I encountered and he outlined how the purchasing process is supposed to work. He also extended an offer to assist me. I really appreciate that he took the time to personally address my concerns and to explain how the purchasing process works. While I still don't quite know how long it might  take to get the TabletPC I want, I'm delighted to know that Mr. Vollenweider is genuinely concerned about the purchasing experience of his customers. Very professional. Had this happened a week ago, I would now own an M200, I would be well on my way to becoming YABHTU, and this post would be about how everyone should buy a TabletPC. Well, I'm not there yet. I've followed up with Mr. Vollenweider; right now, however, I must decide what to do with Fujitsu.

Wait a minute? Wasn't I trying to buy a Toshiba?  Yes, I was, and had it been available for purchase, I would have.  Since it was not, I decided to start over and research alternatives.  About the same time, Fujitsu announced their new T4010D TabletPC. With the introduction of this new model, Fujitsu is back in the running for my dream TabletPC. Previously excluded by the lack of an SXGA screen, Fujitsu got my attention by offering a TabletPC with not only an SXGA+ screen, but also standard Bluetooth and abg wireless -- two of the features unavailable from Toshiba M200 in a pre-built configuration. But wait, there's more. The high-end pre-built Fujitsu Tablet also includes a multi-format DVD burner, and a wide angle indoor/outdoor screen, Firewire ports, and Gigabit ethernet as well. Sweet. My corporate clients will love this.

I'm ready to buy  ...

As I did when I planned to purchase the Toshiba M200 TabletPC, I spec'd out my dream TabletPC, this time, from Fujitsu.  OK, I'm ready to buy; where do I send my money, and how soon can I have it?  I start by filling out an order on the Fujitsu web site. Wait a minute. What's this? According to the Fujitsu web store, my dream TabletPC - the one with the wonderful indoor/outdoor screen that I want - only comes in XGA. What? XGA only? Why can't I have the SXGA+ screen with the indoor/outdoor coating applied? Wouldn't everyone want the ideal TabletPC -- one that can be used indoors as well as outdoors? Certainly, I'm not the only one interested in this capability. Why do these features have to be mutually exclusive, especially when I'm willing to pay for them?

I guess I'll have to do some more research. This will further delay my purchase.

Why can't buying a TabletPC be a quick and easy experience?

Update 3:52 AM PST
- I just called 1-800-FUJITSU and spoke with Kim and then Brent. Both were VERY knowledgeable about their product and enthusiastic about their company - especially for people working the midnight shift. I got quick answers to most of my questions. The T4010D that I want will have to be custom configured, and the fastest drive available is a 5400 RPM drive, (no mention of throughput). Unfortunately, the SXGA+ screen option is only available as an indoor screen. That's too bad. The only way I can get an indoor/outdoor screen is to downgrade to XGA. Finally, the Multi-format DVD drive is not a dual-layer as one product review I read had indicated. It still looks like a good drive. All custom configured units come directly from Japan, so I will need to allow 7-10 business days + 2-3 days for shipping. I realize that there is no such thing as instant gratification (at any price) for the ultimate TabletPC. I'm disappointed that I cannot have the indoor/outdoor screen in SGXA+. I left my name, phone number, and email address; I asked for a product manager to contact me. Perhaps, when I wake up, I'll have some additional information in my mailbox to share.

Update 4:19 AM PST
-  I can be very vocal about what I want in technology and how I think things should be. I want to make sure that I share that despite my frustration with the process of selecting and purchasing this TabletPC, my interactions with both Toshiba and Fujitsu have been very professional. It's neat to deal with people who obviously care about their product. Now, if they would only contact me first about their configurations and proposed feature sets ...  Good night.

Not YABHTU Update #1

Thursday, March 17th, 2005
An interesting day on the blog. Last night's late-night cranky blog-rant about my inability to satisfy my need/desire for a TabletPC generated considerable feedback, both public and private. (Thank you!) Most encouraging was an email from Lora Heiny, of Microsoft's Mobile Platforms Division. Lora offered some assistance. She also provided me with some valuable insight on the differences and similarities between the Toshiba and Fujitsu TabletPcs.

While I would still like to buy a Toshiba TabletPC - if I could only get the one I want - I'm now considering the Fujitsu as an alternative.

I'll keep you posted.

Sorry Toshiba, I’m not YABHTU

Thursday, March 17th, 2005
I suddenly need a new computer ... yesterday.  No problem, I thought; I know precisely what I want -- A shiny new Toshiba M200, fully loaded.  I've been thinking about purchasing this wonderful TabletPC for months. I wanted to use it to show clients the latest in pen-enabled applications - impressive programs like MindManager, ResultsManager, and OneNote. Several months ago, my friend, Marc Orchant, of the tabletpcweblog even helped me spec out the system. I thought that all I had left do was to click and order to become YABHTU. (Yet Another Blissfully Happy TabletPC User)  

Not true.

This morning, I called Toshiba Direct to place my order. I wanted to buy an M200 for immediate delivery. I was prepared to pay FedEx overnight fees to get it quickly.  

You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when the very friendly and English-speaking representative at Toshiba Direct quoted me three to four weeks for custom configured M200 TabletPCs.

Three to four weeks to prep a TabletPC? What are they Thinking?

It's not like this unit was just introduced. Now, to be fair, the helpful lady on the phone did offer that I could purchase a "preconfigured" model, that could be shipped much faster. I asked about the preconfigured models and found that they strip built-in Bluetooth (??), built-in a/b/g WiFi (??) and the higher-speed hard drive (??) -- all features I wanted, and was prepared to pay for.

I wonder, how unique am I for wanting an M200 with built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and a fast 60 Gig 7200 RPM drive? Surely I'm not the only one.

Someone in Toshiba marketing does not get it.

Even if they did, how long does it take to pop in a hard drive and two mini-pci cards? 10 minutes? Offer to send me the parts, Toshiba, and I'll do it for you.  If I have to wait 3-4 weeks before the unit I want might even be ready to ship, I might as well wait for the new T4000 Convertible Tablet, by Fujitsu, announced only yesterday.

IBM gets it; they include fully loaded models among their standard ThinkPad configurations so that customers can quickly satisfy their desires (or needs).  And, they're in-stock!. Too bad IBM does not make a TabletPC.
As long as vendors, like Toshiba, prevent me from making an impulse TabletPC purchase whenever I want to (or, as in this case, suddenly need to), they will miss many sales opportunities.
This affects not only me, but my clients, too.

I really wanted this new TabletPC, too. I've been sold on it by Marc Orchant, Michael Hyatt, and Robert Scoble, to name a few. I guess I won't be joining the Toshiba TabletPC customer evangelist club; at least not anytime soon.

Because I need to buy a new laptop quickly, I may have to fulfill my mobile computing needs with another wonderful IBM ThinkPad. I really like the T-42p. That would not be a bad thing at all; but it would not be a TabletPC.  (IBM does not appear to get the TabletPC platform yet, but that's another blog for another day.)

End of rant; it's 2:29 am; time to go to bed.

Sorry for whining; I get a little cranky when the marvels of technology cannot work together to help me purchase what I want in a timely fashion.

I still wish I could get a new Toshiba M200 Tablet PC quickly.

PS. The last time I publicly complained about not being able to easily purchase new computers, the Sr. Manager for IBM North & South American portable computing personally called me to see if she could help. As a result, I immediately placed orders for 15 new top-of-the-line ThinkPads for one of my clients. My client was satisfied, and so was I. I wonder if the executives on the Toshiba TabletPC team read blogs?  I hope they do.  If so, my phone # is 661-242-8410x101.

* If you know this person, Send them a link to this blog.

UPDATE 3/17/2005 12:17 PM PST
-- I just spoke with Gord, a friendly sales rep over at Fujtisu. It looks like the Fujitsu Lifebook T4000 (Model T40910D) TabletPC has most everything I want, except for the fast hard drive (why do they do that??). They do provide a drive bay with Gigabit Ethernet and a DVD burner. I'd like that.  They quoted me one week to build and ship, plus free shipping, plus a free scanner; and, I did not even mention this blog.  Now, I just have to do some more research on the Fujitsu T4000.  Has anyone worked with this TabletPC yet? Thoughts?