I feel like a kid in a candy store, or a child on Christmas morning… And I’m not talking about an Apple computer product either, which is so strange to me!

Thanks to a new “21st Century Learning Kit” that my fellow southwest education advocates and I have received, I’m an enthusiastic user of a new HP Tablet PC. Wow! I’ve been using this lightweight tablet PC for probably a grand total of four hours now, and I am both amazed and thrilled.

I have wanted to work on a tablet laptop for sometime, and have been disappointed that Apple has not come out with one, especially considering the fact that they have some patents on some tablet technology. Part of me wishes I’d had access to a computer like this during my graduate coursework, since it will make annotations of things like formulas SO much easier…. on the whole I’m just glad to be done with those classes,
though, with or without a tablet PC!

I am eager to install Ubuntu Linux on this computer and work more in that environment, but I strongly suspect (tho I haven’t confirmed) that a lack of Linux software support for the tablet hardware I’m using will convince me to stick with ‘ole Windows XP Pro Tablet Edition. I have been a multi-platform computer user since 1982 or so I guess… since I first started working with computer technology, and although I have grown to love and prefer Macintosh computers the best (they
are simple to use, rarely crash, and just WORK in helping me be creative) I consistently maintain that it is beneficial to know how to comfortably navigate and work in different operating system environments. So, having this tablet pc will provide me with more multi-lingual computer experiences, I’m sure.

I am so thrilled to have a Windows-based computer that is not locked down, preventing me from installing new software programs. So far, this is what I’ve put on this machine (all free downloads and installs):

  1. ClamWin (free antivirus software for WinXP)
  2. FireFox browser
  3. Flock browser (at the recommendation of Will Richardson, who loves it because of its web 2.0 / RSS tool integration)
  4. Google Earth (I am still SO blown away by this program, it is probably the most amazing one I’ve ever used next to a web browser)
  5. Other software included in the free Google Pack (Picassa, Google Toolbar, AdAware, Google Updater, Google Desktop, Adobe Reader, etc.)
  6. Gaim (multi-protocol IM, supporting my IM favorites: AIM, Yahoo IM, MSN IM, and Google Talk)
  7. Skpe
  8. Ecto (my preferred blogging tool)

Interesting discoveries during this install and setup process were:

  • If I had chosen to install Norton Antivirus from the Google Pack website and install tool, I could have received a SIX MONTH free subscription to antivirus definition updates. The version which shipped with my PC (which I completely uninstalled) only came with 30 free days of updates.
  • Google has released a very cool set of free tools as part of the Windows Google Desktop called “Google Gadgets.” This looks similar to “widgets” on Macintosh OS X. You can download and install new ones, Several, like the DIGG news gadget, look quite cool and useful.
  • Google Updater is a program that is downloaded and installed first with the Google Pack software package, It intelligently checks for updates of all the programs you’ve downloaded that are included in the pack, including Firefox and Adobe Reader. This is very cool, because it can be a pain to individually check for software updates on different programs. I have loved the “software updates” feature of Mac OS X, and I am glad to see a free
    tool like this available which will update non-Microsoft software as needed. Very cool, thanks Google! šŸ™‚

So far Firefox seems to be quite a bit more zippy than Flock, but I’ll need to do more testing before I’m sure of this. The blog and del.icio.us integration Flock has look very appealing, although I am actually liking the interface features of Ecto (my primary blogging client on the Macintosh side for at least the past year) even better than the Mac version. For some reason the Windows version is more WYSIWYG. There appear to be some quirkly line breaks in the
published post, however, that I don’t like… and the preview on old posts within the Ecto program is sometimes not accurately rendering things. So I’ll give Flock a try soon, and see how that compares. The Flock feature of highlighting text on a webpage and choosing “blog this” looks very appealing. Ecto version 3 is in the works, however, so hopefully it will resolve these problems.

In our new home, there is much less space than we had previously for a family computer, so for the foreseeable future my new Macbook may become a shared resource. That will be ok, except that I have quickly grown to LOVE the built-in iSight camera! I now need to find a small, good quality Windows-based (and hopefully linux-compatible) webcam for this laptop. I am going to miss the iSight camera more than anything if I have to switch laptops long-term, I think.

Another disadvantage of switching laptops is that I have a good deal of saved email in Entourage on the Macbook, but I can probably work around not having access to those messages. Software installs I still need to do include:

  1. Thunderbird for pop email.
  2. OpenOffice for the requisite clerical applications.
  3. Audacity for podcasting.
  4. QuickTime and iTunes
  5. Podnova
  6. CCPublisher
  7. Tor
  8. PhotoStory 3
  9. GIMP for Windows

What fun, what fun. You know, pre-Internet / pre-Google / pre-open source software getting a new laptop would have been a lot less fun! I just wish the German programmers of Ubercaster were releasing a Windows-version, I have now totally fallen in love with Ubercaster for podcasting! šŸ™

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On this day..

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10 Responses to Christmas in August!

  1. David Stone says:

    Whoa Wes!

    That sure is a lot of praise for a Windows based machine! You might give that HP a little time to prove itself true, or it may prove itself otherwise, like some of those Christmas gifts, when you were little, that didn’t even make it through the day! Granted, I make this H.P. laptop work hard, but if it were my choice, I would trade it for a MAC anyday-and I’ve never owned a Mac.
    Congrats on the new toy! šŸ™‚

  2. Alex says:

    The linebreak issue in ecto for Windows should be fixed in 2.1.6 onwards. If you still have issues, please email me and I’ll look into it! šŸ™‚

  3. john brandt says:

    You may want to be careful installing ubuntu on a laptop. There has been a series of messages in the ubuntu boards about a problem with overheating and permanently damaging some laptops.

    see http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=186003&highlight=overheating

    Not sure if it is specific to Dell laptops or something related to specific certain video cards.

    I’m running ubuntu on an old HP Pavilion desktop with only 256 MB of RAM and it works pretty good.


  4. taf says:

    Sounds good. Keep us posted.

  5. Wesley Fryer says:

    Great, thanks Alex! I’ll look forward to that update. So far I am continuing to prefer Ecto over other blog posting options I’ve tried, including Flock. Keep up the great work!

    Thanks for the caution on Ubuntu on a laptop also John– I have a relatively small hard drive on this laptop anyway, so I may hold off on that install for now. šŸ™‚

  6. Cheryl Oakes says:

    Hi Wes, thanks for the details about software/shareware. Have you used NeoOffice? I tried it last spring and liked it, now I am ready to install on our school new macbooks, but need the Aquabeta version due to the intel processors.


  7. Robert says:

    I had a student in a calculus class last year who had a tablet PC — it was pretty amazing. She’d take notes in class by writing them down, including hand-drawn graphs; then do her homework assignments the same way, switching colors for functions and their derivatives and so on when graphing, then submit her work as a PDF file. THAT’s pretty cool.

    Come on Apple, you’ve got to have more tablet ideas than just the Newton!

  8. […] Thanks Wes for pointing this one out! […]

  9. […] As I wrote a bit about last week (here and here), I have been experimenting with a new HP Tablet PC laptop because of its availability to me, the fact that I’ve wanted to try out tablet technology for quite awhile, and some unexplained shutdown problems I’ve been having with my new MacBook. […]

  10. Sean Carter says:

    Gr8. Keep us posted. I found some really cool Christmas stuffs at this Christmas Blog. Check it out guys… It’s quite interesting….

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