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Old 11-03-2007, 02:25 PM   #16
ebookie
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Sorry, and one more bit, when you take the notes image back off the Illiad and put it on your PC to print, the resolution will claim its 72DPI (bogus!) So it prints incorrectly unless you change it back to 160 (fixdpi can do that as can many drawing programs)

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Old 11-03-2007, 05:22 PM   #17
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Inkscape, which is free, is a vector graphic application that produces exported PNGs at specified resolutions.

Originally I asked about the Iliad in terms of essay writing. Some of the things I am reading here seem to point to it not being useless in this regard. The "inking" delay, the slipperiness, and contact problems (e.g. dots being joined to "i"), seem things that could be put up with.

The most serious seems to be the delay of ink following the pen, but this also seems to be the easiest one to adapt to (left-handers have a similar problem), it would depend on how big the delay is, but comments here point to it not being too bad.

Slipperiness and contact joins, might be fixed by adding a transparent plastic texture mat, giving better tactile responses, even if it has to placed on screen for writing.

I find it interesting that there is a bias towards cursive writing rather than printing - a very good thing for my purposes.

The fineness of line looks very good, I could see that only technically improved, by introducing variable widths based on the attitude direction of the pen and stroke direction - i.e. like traditional fountain/dip pens, a sleight "italicisation" that improves readability.

The way I was envisaging things was an old journalist trick of writing paragraph strips (which can be rearranged and easily edited). Hence "filling the page" which would make the electronic shortcomings excessive, is not really being considered.

The last is writing speed, a very difficult judgement not reducible to simple numbers. Do people with the Iliad feel that it keeps up with them (different from ink lag), or do they have slow down for it?

The last request is if anyone could send in examples of PNG files, with some explanation of context "I wrote this with a fine nib, very fast, without worrying about neatness, or legibility" as against "Fine nib, cursive, written slow-moderate for legibility". Whether some things were easy, and others hard or frustrating.

If I have the money I will get the Iliad - no problems, I make notes (which I lose) constantly, that is for me. But when I do this depends on whether I conclude that it is likely to be viable in schools for in-class writing.

I would also like to thank contributors, this has been for me an interesting and important read.

Greg Schofield
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Old 11-03-2007, 05:59 PM   #18
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[...] If I have the money I will get the Iliad - no problems, I make notes (which I lose) constantly, that is for me. But when I do this depends on whether I conclude that it is likely to be viable in schools for in-class writing.
If you are thinking about secondary school students using this one other thing to consider is that you do need to be a little bit careful with the iliad. The screens can break and some people have been surprised at how easily they break. Try searching this or the irex forum for complaints about broken screens. It generally seems to be more fragile than say a PDA. There are various reasons for this. If you stick the iliad in a school bag with a sports kit and packed lunch things could get messy and expensive.
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Old 11-03-2007, 06:38 PM   #19
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Thanks daudi, six inches of armoured glass will get broken by teenagers.

The only real way to do this, is massive educational orders, and especially adapted and designed student versions. But more than this, a supply of quality written textbooks (very rare, in fact very very rare aside from classic novels).

The Western Australian education system is collapsing, so dumbed downed that I am thoroughly ashamed of calling myself a teacher (barely literate high school students graduating - some even getting a university place).

Getting back to where we once were (Australia once had a reputation for high quality public education we are rapidly becoming the joke of Asia) is not probably without using some technical enhancements (and I do not mean big expensive projectors etc.,. - but textbooks in abundance - e-ink solves this in a major way).

Ideally, the ebook device should be the writing device, and it should be handwriting for a variety of reasons. Iliad is taking the right direction, I want to estimate how far down the road it has to go and has already been.

In terms of pricing (especially with bulk orders) Sony comes out on top. But order size makes a big difference with everything.

However, it is early days still.

Me, I can not for much longer go on as I am, I want to use my small pool of knowledge to get things improved, or at least give it a damn good try.
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Old 11-03-2007, 07:05 PM   #20
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Ok, you can see how crappy my handwriting is

So different nibs, different speed writing. The pen sends pressure data but the notes (scribbler) application doesn't use it or recognize it, it does not send tilt (some Wacom tablets send tilt).

There is also an issue where when you first write something the result looks different than when you re-display it. The simplest explanation is that the simple frame buffer driver in the Illiad isn't tuned for an E-Ink display, during writing there seems to be a very simple "turn what every pixels are under the pointer during 'contact' on" with a simple "and those pixels in a 0, 1, 2, or 3 pixel radius" kind of enhancement for width. But when it re-renders it parses the data file and trys to draw what you wrote and doesn't do as good a job. So either its not capturing everything the pen has sent, or its just doing a bad job of interpolating between samples. Personally I think its the latter.

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Old 11-03-2007, 07:08 PM   #21
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Oh, and I write left handed, so I tend to prefer taking notes in landscape where my hand won't push either the page bar or the other buttons. A nice enhancement would be to ignore input from the buttons when the pen was in contact with the screen. Would someone please do a re-producible GTK2 example app?

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Old 11-03-2007, 07:19 PM   #22
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And another thing, the actual sketch / notes / drawing is stored in the .IRX file which is an XML file of stroke data. They use a 'pensize' argument of 1, 3, 5, or 7. Presumably this file is parsed to convert your scribbled text into ascii text when you use the Companion stuff. It also gives you the opportunity to pipe it though Gnuplot and see if it does a better job. Hmmm, I'm thinking an SVG style sheet ...

--Chuck
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Old 11-03-2007, 08:54 PM   #23
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ebookie overall not as bad as I was expecting - the real world PNGs are interesting. The fact the data is stored in XML, is more interesting, a SVG conversion on a laptop might give better results, but from what I can see, it is readable on the e-ink (perhaps more so as better resolution and more shades of grey). It could be just a software thing that could be improved on current models.

But not too bad at all. Thank you ebookie
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Old 11-03-2007, 10:32 PM   #24
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I have only experimented a bit with the writing functions. I have battled with the new pen calibration. I find that it still needs some work, at least when dealing with png files. I have noticed that the pen calibration actually seems to work better when scribbling on pdfs. When I get a chance I am going to try making some template pdfs.

I have only tried a couple of times that handwriting recognition software that iRex sells. Since it does not come with any document templates I see it as a complete waste of money. That is to say nothing of the fact that upgrading to the next version of the software was prohibitively expensive. I was hoping that I could make some sort of form on it so that I could record different types of information and direct import it into different document formats.

Truth of the matter is that it is really difficult to beat the ol' pen and paper! Never needs to be turned on, boot up or get calibrated.
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Old 11-03-2007, 11:24 PM   #25
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GregS, I think I promised you some screen shots a while back of my class notes, and I haven't had a chance yet to post them. I'm very sorry about that. I think ebookie's samples give you a pretty good idea of how the writing can look.

I probably write over 1000 words per class taking notes, and I wouldn't mind writing an essay using the iLiad if I were going to write it longhand, but I type so much more quickly than I write, that I think I'd find writing 1000 words with a pen or pencil on paper somewhat frustrating these days. I don't think writing on the iLiad instead would bother me more than using a pen or pencil on paper, for that length of writing. But that's just me.

Since you're talking about a potentially large order, why not contact iRex and see if they'll loan you a demo unit so you can test it for this purpose? They may say no, but it can't hurt to ask.
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Old 11-04-2007, 12:22 AM   #26
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<b>nekokami</b> no worries, the stylus is far better than I thought it might be.

Longhand is very useful in teaching Secondary Students to write well (a foundational skill), but typing is much quicker. However, hand writing hand works far better for notes in general, I suspect because it keeps something of its graphic memory, rather than just the words.

I suspect, once used to it, the stylus is a much better than paper for a number of reasons, but most of all perhaps because of easier correction.

My problem is that students don't have textbooks, or "exercise books" hence anything they do is soon lost - a digital solution has a lot going for it.

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Old 11-04-2007, 02:48 AM   #27
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[...]
Truth of the matter is that it is really difficult to beat the ol' pen and paper! Never needs to be turned on, boot up or get calibrated.
This reminds me of a story I heard about the days of the space race. I heard that the Americans spent a lot of time and money inventing a pen that could push ink to the nib of a pen in zero-gravity so it could be used in space; the Russians decided to use a pencil. I suspect it is probably not true, but it's a nice way to demonstrate that sometimes a simple solution gets the job done. Having said that, I find that I want to use my iliad for everything these days.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:25 AM   #28
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GregS, I agree, haptic memory (the memory of how it feels to write) is part of what helps note-taking work.

How old are Secondary Students in your school system? Here in the US, that would mean students aged 14-18, and they usually type assignments. (But then again, writing by hand in the US seems to have become a lost art.)
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:50 AM   #29
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GregS, I agree, haptic memory (the memory of how it feels to write) is part of what helps note-taking work.
Interesting concept. As I have been changing my study habits over the years utilizing a laptop to take notes and read documentation (all company documentation & manuals are now issued in pdf format on DVD). I find that even though I might be typing versus writing notes, still the act of recording information helps in reinforcing it into memory. I use a myriad of different methods. Need lots of space to study nowadays, room for the laptop, pencils, pens, highlighters, notepads, & paper publications. I used a portable keyboard and a PDA at one point. I use flashcards a fair amount. I have found that making the cards up in their own right is helpful in memorizing information.

I am not involved in academia but from my understanding most students take notes on laptops these days.

I am from the "Old Sckool", ain't it cool? I still adapt when I deem it appropriate. At work I am considered the "gadget gal", so I am in no way a Luddite.

Still like the convenience of that ol' pen & paper - though honestly I prefer the pencil; easier to edit!

Still waiting for the zero boot time, feels like paper to write on and immediately converts into a digital format my scrawling type of device. nekokami's infopad would suit me fine.

Last edited by firekat; 11-04-2007 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 11-05-2007, 12:35 AM   #30
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Oh, I think typing works too. I don't have any research showing that writing by hand works better than typing, once one has learned the letters. (I still practice writing Chinese by hand, because I remember the characters more easily that way.)

There's some research showing the value to the student of making flashcards. I'll see if I can dig it up.
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