Diagnosing laptop hangs – and using a tablet pc because I WANT to


The solution to my hanging tablet pc turns out to be a simple case of “don’t change the defaults, stupid”. While using the Toshiba Portge 3500 at home, I had been experimenting with decreasing the wifi speed from 11 Mbps to 2 Mbps in an effort to increase its reliable range. Under SP2, the choice of transmit rates for the “Toshiba Wireless LAN Mini PCI Card” has multiplied, and I decided to try “Auto Rate Select (Standard)” instead of the default “Auto Rate Select (High)”. This works just dandy with my decrepit old Linksys access point, but use that configuration on the Microsoft corporate wifi network, and it’ll lock the sucker up solid for one minute out of every five. It seems that auto rate selection on wifi cards is as fraught with problems as full-duplex negotiation was in the bad old days of Ethernet! The good news is that no chickens were hurt in debugging this problem…


In the same post I discussed using a tablet pc with a pen because I had to, since before the mysterious hangs it was the keyboard that had failed. Iggy points out that I could use customisable menu toolbars to improve the usability of Office 2003 apps with a pen. I’m in full agreement on that point – I make my own toolbars for OneNote, Word, and Internet Explorer- but even with these customisations Outlook 2003 is still not a great user experience with a pen. Good enough? Certainly. Better than other e-mail clients? Easily. But great? Not compared to OneNote! Now the OneNote team have an unfair advantage, because they started with a blank sheet of paper, but I still think that they set the current gold standard for an intuitive user interface that just feels right when you’re using a pen. And as Scoble points out, with OneNote it’s not just about writing vs. typing speed – the Tablet PC becomes something you can use to draw, and record audio, and remove the physical barrier between yourself and everyone else in a meeting. Someone somewhere still has to invent the great category-killer mail app for pen users. I’m hoping that the Outlook team are watching the OneNote team, and taking notes

Comments (3)

  1. Ron Jeffries says:

    Jonathan, I’m surprised to hear of your love for OneNote when penning, though I agree it’s way ahead of the Office suite.

    But to my taste, OneNote thinks it knows better than I do what I’m trying to do. I like to write all over the paper, draw little pictures, point arrows from one thing to another, and OneNote seems not to understand any of those things.

    It’s Journal for me, for now, though I’d like to have something with the files and folders of OneNote but fewer of the assumptions.

  2. Marc Orchant says:

    Jonathan:

    If you haven’t yet tried Josh Einstein’s Tablet Enhancements for Outlook it may be just what you’ve been looking for. This small add-in completely remakes Outlook into a completely pen-friendly environment.

    http://www.tabletoutlook.com/Overview.aspx

  3. Ron – yup, I agree that the "pure" feel of ink in Journal is closer to pen-and-paper. And I really wish that OneNote had some of Journal’s pens! But for my usage patterns OneNote still wins because it’s great at organizing information, not just capturing it – the "files and folders" aspect that you refer to. I need to get back to my OneNote series of blog posts…

    Marc – thanks for the reminder! I’d looked at an earlier version of TEO, but then I started using PlanPlus for Outlook, which pretty much kills every other add-on. Now that I’ve gone cold-turkey on PlanPlus I can go take another look at everything else I’ve missed in the meantime 🙂

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