Saturday, May 28, 2011

How to get the Footime Pedal working with Unrealbook on the iPad

The magic setting is in Network Settings > BT Keyboard Connected > ON.


Make sure the button on the back of the pedal is pushed in.  Ignore the warning that “The connected USB device is not supported”.  It will disable the onscreen keyboard, which is a bit annoying, but it will turn your pages if you have the “BT Keyboard Connected” set to ON. 

Luckily, the iPad works just fine “upside down” once you get used to the home button being on top, since the camera connector sticks out.

Inking Shootout - A Comparison of Many Inkable Things

Here’s a repost of a video I made for tabletpcbuzz:

With the HTC Flyer in the house now, I have machines sporting two different active digitizer technologies and two different touch screen technologies in various combinations of form factor and operating system. Here's a video comparing the inking in the context of simple note-taking.

A summary of the devices:
HP TC1100 - Windows 7, OneNote 2010, Wacom Penabled
enTourage eDGe - Android 2.2, Custom Journal app, Wacom Penabled eInk screen, OneNote syncable via USB connection to computer
Archos 9 - Windows 7, OneNote 2010, resistive touchscreen
iPad - iOS 4.3, Penultimate, Targus capacitive stylus
HTC Flyer - Android 2.3, custom Notes app, n-trig duo sense pen and touch digitizer with battery pen (digital pencil, magic pen), Evernote syncable through the cloud

Monday, May 23, 2011

HTC Flyer ink is searchable in Evernote

ink search in evernote

I didn’t think it would be, as it’s sent over as a screen shot of the device.  A special request on the XDA forums inspired me to give it a try though, and low and behold, the handwriting is searchable! 

Pocket Notetaking Battle–HTC Flyer vs enTourage pocket eDGe

It’s tricky to get a side by side shot of these, as one is eInk and one is a backlit LCD (the rest of the eDGe is off to the right), but here you go….


The HTC Flyer is a 7” Android tablet with n-trig’s Duo Sense pen and touch digitizer.  The eDGe is a 7” Android tablet attached to a 6” Wacom Penabled eInk screen.  Sony also makes some readers with Wacom Penabled screens, but they lag so much as to be unusable for notetaking. 

As far as 7” Android tablets go, the Flyer has the eDGe beat, no question.

Capacitive over resistive screens

1.5 GHz Snapdragon over 1.2 GHZ Marvell

1024x600 screen over 800x480

Gingerbread with a Honeycomb update over Froyo still in beta

Front and Rear cameras over just a Front camera

Way better multimedia support and full market access over the enTourage store that just went under

Despite all of that, the eDGe does have a few advantages.  The eInk side is Wacom Penabled, which many prefer over n-trig’s digitizer.  This particular implementation, over eInk, doesn’t seem any more accurate to me though.  But the fact that it’s pen only means palm rejection is a sure thing, and writing notes on eInk really gives you the feel and look of writing on paper, minus the lag of eInk.  The fact that the eInk is on a separate screen means you can also keep reference materials open on the tablet side while writing on the eInk side. The eDGe is also considerably cheaper if you can still find them (after a woot sale at $150, several have shown up on ebay from for $160, but they have been pulled from Amazon). 

My favorite feature of the eDGe is a third party app that runs on Windows and will import your eDGe journals into OneNote as ink.  That means the ink can be marked as handwriting, indexed, searched, and even converted to text.  I found the text conversion to be flawless despite the slightly messier than normal inking. 

The HTC Flyer provides a very solid inking experience, and I am still discovering all the things that can be inked on.  But as far as the notes app goes, it syncs to Evernote.  I have not found a way to edit tags or even send a note to a different notebook – just pick the default and that’s where they go.  If these options can be changed, they are not obvious.  The ink notes are synced to Evernote as screenshots.  That means no editing on other clients beyond adding text underneath.  But at least that means the ink is visible, unlike OneNote’s inability to display ink on either the mobile or web interface. 

The neat second screen of the eDGe does also lead to a fair bit of added bulk.  While the second screen adds a lot of possibilities, video playback (one of the main advantages to adding a color LCD to an eInk reader) is sadly lacking.  It’s also quite a bit more plasticy than the metal backed Flyer.  But then again, it’s 1/3 the price. 

While the eDGe will run for quite a while on just eInk, with the LCD side on, they promise only 4 hours or so.  I found myself mostly using it as either a notetaking device with the LCD mostly off, or reading ebooks with the LCD always off, so the battery life ends up working out well enough.  Despite my best efforts to kill the Flyer with a 14 hour day of use, it still had about 20% left when I plugged it in at night.  I think the official battery time is just under 10 hours, but I take a nap and do some work on the computer, so mine wasn’t on all the time. 

The eDGe is a neat device if you are looking for an affordable extension to your OneNote notebooks, although you will need to connect to a computer to do the syncing.  It’s also got a great eInk screen for book reading, combined with a passable Android tablet for web browsing and email if not so much video. 

The Flyer is great if you’ve got the funds to step into a high end 7” Android tablet, but still want the notetaking experience of an active digitizer.  Several artists have also been posting about its usefulness for sketching, although I’m not able to test that beyond drawing a few stick figures myself.  The Flyer is also promising a HoneyComb upgrade which will bring it in line with the 10” tablets coming out now.  The Flyer also pairs easily with the Bluetooth keyboard (which the eDGe won’t do despite having Bluetooth) making it useful for longer form document creation as well.  Typed notes are editable on any device with an Evernote app. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Full Day With the HTC Flyer

To give the Flyer a real test, I’ve tried to use it all day as my primary go-to machine.  I only turned to a computer to test Evernote syncing and browse forums.  I suppose I could have done that from the Flyer also, but I didn’t feel like typing in urls, usernames, and passwords.  I’m still baffled as to why my (synced with chrome) google chrome bookmarks don’t sync to my google android tablet.  Android is so good about pulling everything else from your google account.  Oh well. 

The day started with reading news feeds, emails, and social network feeds.  I’m using the HTC included apps for all of these tasks.  I particularly like how the news app automatically pulled my feed list from google reader. 

Our small group had a meeting later in the morning, and I used the Flyer for note-taking and switched back and forth between that and the Bible app for reference.  After lunch, I read more of my book with the nook app before giving the Flyer a break while I took a nap (it is Saturday after all).  I’ve spent the rest of the time testing various apps (yes, Angry Birds works quite nicely) and seeing how notes on the Flyer sync with Evernote. 

This is the only piece that’s leaving me a bit disappointed.  Ink notes sync to Evernote as a screen shot.  You can add typing to the bottom, but that’s it, no editing the ink.  It’s still a step up from OneNote not even being able to display ink outside of the desktop application.

On the other hand, there is a third party program for the eDGe that will import the ink notes into OneNote as ink that can be edited and converted to text.  Hopefully, with the availability of the pen SDK for the Flyer, some developers can provide similar apps for syncing ink off this device.

The Flyer also paired with my Bluetooth keyboard easily, which works well with the notes app.  Notes typed in (either with external keyboard or the onscreen keyboard) are editable in Evernote in all the other places Evernote works. 

The battery life is incredible.  I’ve been using it all day (14 hours with only an hour nap), and the battery just went yellow in the last hour and is now around 29%. 

The HTC Flyer goes on sale early

And I got one.  I had a pre-order and was pretty excited to hear that they would come on Sunday.  Then, there was a leak of an internal Best Buy memo instructing stores to go ahead and see them if they have them.  So, I walked over the Best Buy (yup, walking distance, dangerous) and asked if they had them.  They said they had just gotten them not 2 hours ago, so I cashed in my pre-order and walked out with a new toy.  They had to go hunting for a pen, since they hadn’t even put out the accessories for it yet.  Here’s my unboxing:

I’ve been playing with a lot and just took it for note-taking at small group this morning.  I’m very impressed with the pen and the notes app.  Inking is smooth and very accurate.  I’m able to write just as small and clearly as if I were writing on paper, which is good when you only have 7” of writing space.  But it’s about the same size as a personal journal (or a Moleskin if you really want to go there) so I’m finding it very easy to carry and great for journaling style note-taking. 


I’ve played with the multimedia notes some, but I’m finding inserting an image to be frustrating.  I’ll have to work with it more to see if I’m doing it wrong, or if it really isn’t set up very well.  More to come.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Playing from the iPad with UnrealBook


When I play bass, the music is just lead sheets, meaning the iPad’s screen is big enough.  I also don’t have to write as much in the way of little things in this music, it’s more general roadmap notes on the sides.  That means, the iPad becomes an option.  I chose the iPad as my retreat reader, as I had never been to the location before and wasn’t sure what the charging situation would look like.  I also wanted to use whatever machine I took to be used for notetaking.  That meant the longest battery life I could get, and that was the iPad.  That’s my Dell streak on the right, showing the event flow so I could create the set lists.  I’m a fan of multitasking with multiple devices.  It was much easier than flipping back and forth from my email to UnrealBook. 

While working with UnrealBook is not as nice as Journal, and notetaking with Penultimate is not as nice as OneNote, it was all good enough. 

The main reason I prefer Journal for music reading is the ease of using the pen for notes on the music.  With an active digitizer, notes are smooth and accurate, and erasing is as simple as flipping the pen over and using the eraser end.  With UnrealBook, you first have to select the pen tool (which means you can’t turn the page anymore without closing the pen too) and then write without touching the screen with your hand.  The inking is jagged, and it’s difficult to be accurate with the big rubber nub on the end of a capacitive stylus.  Erasing requires selecting another tool.  The ability to create set lists was nice, and helped manage the 20 or so songs that were spread over 4 different services. 

I prefer OneNote for notetaking primarily because of the cloud sync.  All of my notebooks are synced through the cloud to all of my other machines.  It’s nice to have everything in one place.  Also, the inking is really smooth and natural.  Penultimate does have nice smooth inking, but the palm rejection likes to remove the first word of a new line.  There were so many occasions where it would just remove words, several times in a row.  It would sometimes take three or four tries to write something that would actually stay on the screen.  That can be quite frustrating, especially when I really just want to be focused on the message, not fighting with a tablet.  Turning wrist protection off was frustrating in a now-I-have-to-think-about-my-hand kind of way, and it still didn’t catch all my writing. 

But the battery life was spectacular.  I went all day with some music reading, some notetaking, and some general interneting (we had wifi in the meeting hall), and still never went under 50%. 

Now if only we could get a Wacom digitizer in this form factor (or perhaps with a slightly bigger screen) with this battery life.

Now for the fun photos:


The setup.  I got to hide in the back corner and sit on my amp.  I find that being directly in front of (or sitting on) my amp, and right next to the drums, is all the monitoring I need.


My little corner.


The team in action, and I‘m just hanging out in my little corner.

Monday, May 16, 2011

4:3 Screens Faceoff–iPad vs x61t

By special request, a photo comparison of sheet music reading on a 9.7” iPad vs the 12” Lenovo x61t.


In case you weren’t sure, that’s the iPad on the left and the x61t on the right.  For notes-on-the-staff music reading, the iPad is just not big enough. 

I have used the iPad recently for some playing I did recently on bass.  I just have to read lead sheets for that (chords over lyrics, even though our lead singer/guitarist likes to call it sheet music), so the smaller screen size is less of an issue.  There will be more on that experience in another post. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Tweeting Baseball Organist


This is perhaps one of the more interesting mixes of technology and music I’ve seen – tweet your requests to Atlanta’s Turner Field organist. 

From the Wired article:

“But perhaps the best reason to follow Kaminski is right there in his Twitter handle, @bravesorganist. When he’s not playing jazz, polka or salsa, Kaminski plays the organ at Atlanta’s Turner Field during Braves home games — and he’s taking requests through Twitter.

This is now his third season with the Braves, and by crowdsourcing roughly half of his in-game playlist, Kaminski has allowed his followers to hear their quirkiest suggestions for visiting teams’ at-bat music played live for the tomahawk-chopping multitudes. (It’s certainly cooler than requesting John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” on your local classic rock station.)”

Read the full story at Wired.

Friday, May 13, 2011

enTourage Pocket eDGe finally arrives

I love woot, but my goodness their shipping takes for-e-ver.


I had the chance to play with these at CES, and really liked the Pocket eDGe (although I’m not a fan of their capitalization).  I just didn’t think I needed another gadget, and not for the prices they were going for.  When the Pocket eDGe showed up on woot for $150, I thought, why not?  Now I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner.

The Pocket eDGe is a “dual book” with a 7” Android tablet on one side, and a 6” eInk screen on the other.  The best part of the eInk side is that it’s Wacom Penabled.  The stylus that comes with it is pretty thin, but since it’s Wacom Penabled I am able to use any stylus from any of my other tablets.  In a nice stroke of good timing – my x61t came with an extra stylus, which will now live with the eDGe. 

I’ve gotten the upgrade to 2.2 done, and I’m trying to hunt down my usual Android apps with no market access.  Luckily, the easy to install Amazon App store has most of what I want.  The enTourage store is a little thin. 

My first impressions of the device are how small and light it is.  I think this is a great size for a portable notetaking device.  The resistive touch screen is more responsive than I had feared, and actually quite easy to use.  The eInk side is a little slow to follow the pen, but quite usable.  It’s much less laggy than the Penabled Sony Readers I tried at CES. 

Enjoy the unboxing while I play….

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Lenovo x61t Thinkpad takes over


I had seen one with the SXGA+ screen on ebay a few months ago and nothing since.  The SXGA+ (1400x1050) screen is apparently hard to come by.  But the older 4:3 12” screens offer a better size for music reading.  I wasn’t willing to deal with XGA (1024x768) as that’s what the TC1100 runs, as well as the Motion LE1600 I got to test, and that’s just not enough pixels for me.  The Motion LE1700 gives you an SXGA+ screen is a sleek slate form factor, but even with the extended slice battery would not give me the battery life I was looking for (the HP 2730p with a new slice battery has spoiled me). 

Then, an SXGA+ x61t showed up on craigslist.  It’s still a Core 2 Duo machine, although one graphics chipset behind my HP 2730p.  It’s still 4GB of RAM, and I get a much bigger 320GB HDD with way more expansion options as it’s a standard 2.5” hard drive.  The older chipset makes it hackintosh friendly too, which is a project for the future. 


The screen is just amazing.  I’m a pixel junky and usually like to see as many pixels crammed into screens as possible.  The only machine I’ve used that was pushing too many, forcing me to turn up the DPI, was Sony P – 1600x768 crammed into 8”.  One of the main reasons I’ve been tempted by the new 13” macbook air is the higher res screen.  It’s about time we started seeing options over 1280x800. 

I’ve already used it for a concert this afternoon, and I’m looking forward to taking it to the studio tomorrow.  The only drawback is that the battery life, while comfortable for a concert, may not be enough for a full teaching day.  Good thing the craigslist deal came a spare extended battery.  I’ll just have to swap between lessons.