Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Toy

I dithered a long time about what to get myself with money given me for Christmas. I like those Keurig machines, not so much because they do indeed make decent coffee, but because I've found that my schedule gets me up way too early in the morning to both make a single cup of coffee and drink it. But the waste gets to me, as does the use of counter space. Besides, I've gotten into the habit of brewing a pot of coffee when I get to work, which makes everyone happy.

I wound up getting a Wacom Bamboo tablet. Of all the peripherals I've had over the years, I've never had something quite like this, and the idea intruigued me. I do a lot of UI work these days, and have a couple projects in mind that might benefit from the ability to draw more easily. Naturally, I thought of getting a scanner, but I have access to one of those, and it would not be as portable.

The tablet arrived today, and I've had a little chance to play with it. The first thing I wanted to try was Apple's Inkwell handwriting recognition. It... might be helpful for taking notes, but at this point I type faster than I handwrite, and it drives me nuts to see typos on the screen and not correct them immediately, a task at which Inkwell does not excel. Given its lack of prominence in documentation and the broken links on Apple's website, I suspect that the project is no longer being pursued.

Drawing is going to take some getting used to, but it's already fun. It comes with a couple programs, one from Adobe and the other from Corel, each of which apparently deals well with the Wacom's input, which includes a measure of force (plus hovering over) and information about which end of the pen is in use. The hardest thing to get used to, oddly, is the fact that the pad is intended to represent the entire screen. Tapping the very top will not get me to the top of the page, but rather to the menu bar. There may be a way to change that, but it also might prove to be convenient once I get used to it.

Drawing itself takes a bit more force than I'm comfortable with, right out of the box. I'll need to practice, but it's fun so far. In the meantime, I can sign this post,

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