Using a tablet pc because you HAVE to (or, life is too short for 3 minute tasks)

Laptop woes have been conspiring recently to keep me from blogging. Initially it was just a couple of keys on my tablet pc that seemed to need several hits to register. The next day, however, the whole keyboard was dead. Worse yet, our tech support guys didn't have a hot-swap machine to offer, and Toshiba was back-ordered on keyboards. So for a week I learned which apps work fine with just a pen (OneNote, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger), which ones are marginal (Outlook, FeedDemon), and which are just plain painful (old-school chat clients, and pretty much anything else that requires strictly text input). Unfortunately the otherwise-excellent blogging tool BlogJet falls into the latter category, and I couldn't bring myself to use the web interface to post in the meantime. After all, my tablet pc would be fixed within a week, right?

Well, yes and no. The good news is that the keyboard is fixed. The bad news is that its annoying habit of freezing solid at irregular intervals has multiplied a hundred-fold. I'm pretty sure that those irregular intervals used to be once a week or so, when I would assume that it was hung solid and just reboot the thing. But when all you have is a pen, life slows down, and you wait a while to see what happens (if there were roses to smell, I'd probably be stopping to do that, too). Turns out that it mysteriously un-hangs itself after 30-60 seconds, and XP continues merrily on its way as if nothing has happened, every time.

Which is amusing, until it starts happening every 3 minutes. Then you learn just how much (or how little) you can do in 3 minutes of your online life, and it gives tasks a whole new level of intensity. Can I read this entire channel group of blogs in FeedDemon in 3 minutes? Answer that email? Post a blog item? It's as if I have my very own anti-carpal-tunnel-syndrome work-timer, and frankly it's driving me nuts. I think we've ruled out the obvious causes, like a failing hard disk (chkdsk says its fine) or an overheating CPU (it still hangs on even the slowest, coolest power scheme), so now we're moving on to voodoo magic (swap out random bits of hardware while waving a dead chicken over it). Or at least, tech support is. I hand it over to their tender ministrations tomorrow. Hopefully it'll come back sans chicken blood.

Comments (4)

  1. Gadgetgeek says:

    I thought I was the only one with this problem. My CPU spikes to 100% for a minute or so, for no apparent reason. The mouse is entirely unresponsive. Then, suddenly, all is well.

    I have an Acer TravelMate C300 tablet. I have configured this machine similarly to the other laptops and desktops I own. The only software which is different are the tablet "tools" loaded on this machine. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what is going on.

    I have redirected "My Documents" to a server share and have made that share available offline. The problem seems to act up when I’m accessing, browsing, etc. the files in this off-line share. If I right click on a file, it’s at least a minute before I get my computer back.

    Hopefully this is a bug that can be corrected.


  2. Tony Elliott says:

    My problem is that after reinstalling wondows xp sp-2 and office 2000 on my motion tablet, the TIP keyboard keys disappeared.  I don’t find any fixes that specifically realte to this and all I can think of is a file on the hardware and drivers disk did not get run to install the characters for the keyboard.  Have you seen this before?  Is there a way to just fix this without reinstalling windows again?

  3. Tony – the TIP (and other Tablet stuff) only comes in the Tablet edition of Windows XP. If you’re just installing plain-vanilla XP SP2, you won’t get it.

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