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Tip: Record LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen Ink Without Audio

livescribe_pulse_2gb

I’ve had my LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen (2GB model) for a week now. It won’t get a real-life field test until next week. So, I’ve been using this time to figure out how make the best use of it. One of the first things I learned that I was wrong in assuming that it could only sync its data (ink and audio) with a single computer. I’ve been syncing with three computers for the past week without any issues (Windows Vista desktop PC, Windows 7 netbook and a Mac).

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The next issue that only occurred to me after getting the pen was: How do I just record ink (drawing and writing) digitization WITHOUT recording audio. Pre-purchase my main focus was the audio recording capability that synced with the ink (writing and drawing). After receiving my pen, the obvious struck me: It is nice to just capture ink without audio as when I’m writing notes.

I couldn’t find this feature in LiveScribe’s various documents, how-to videos, or knowledge base. So, I tweeted @livescribe to get advice and was told that solution was simply to do nothing but write. Yes, that’s right. All I had to do was NOT press the Record “button” on the bottom of each note page. Pressing the Record button begins recording audio synced with ink. I assumed that the pen ink activity was not recorded unless that button was tapped. This, however, is not the case.

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As you can see in the image above, I digitally captured my writing by simply writing on the microdot paper without pressing the Record button. The only requirement is that the pen is turned on. The writing seen in the image above is, by the way, not a photograph. It is a screen capture of the synced digitized data on my Mac. Pages can also be saved as PDF files.

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Mobile Devices

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iPhone Tip: Resize Text Columns by Double Tapping It

The brief video above contains two iPhone/iPod touch screen double tap tips:

1. Double tap narrow hard to read text columns to automatically resize them to fill the screen in either portrait or landscape modes

2. Double tap the top of the web browser to automatically return to the top of a web page (assuming you have scrolled down the page)

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iPhone

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Back to Basics: Never Use Windows Mobile Messaging Automatic Email Settings

Google’s IMAP4 email service was so slow that it drained my Dash’s batteries 4% everytime it checked for mail. So, I removed it from the Dash’s Messaging (email) app last year. I decided it was time to check again. But, instead of the Dash, I decided to try using a TyTn (Windows Mobile 6 with a recent update from HTC) touch screen smartphone. Just for fun, I decided to say yes when asked by Messaging’s account setup if I wanted to have Windows Mobile to check if it knew how to configure the account automatically. I have never seen this thing actually find settings. So, I figured it would fail as usual and then move on to the manual configuration windows. I was shocked when Messaging reported it had found settings and had applied them to the account.

However, when I had Messaging try to get mail from Gmail, I knew right away that another miserable Windows Mobile failure was in progress. It was grabbing hundreds of email messages (or so it said) but not displaying anything. After spending many minutes going through this process (I had to grab a power supply so the TyTn wouldn’t power down or drain its batteries), absolutely nothing was in the inbox list despite the fact that I had mail as recently as a few minutes previous to starting the Messaging process. Why did this happen? Because Windows Mobile Messaging is clueless about Gmail’s IMAP4 service and configured it for POP3. Moreover, Windows Mobile Messaging’s POP3 interface is broken. It has been broken from the first day it rolled out of a Visual Studio on someone’s desk and remains broken today.

The moral to this story is NEVER NEVER NEVER bother to use Windows Mobile Messaging’s feature to auto configure and email account. It has never actually found anything for me until today. And, now that is has finally found something, it turns out it didn’t actually know how to configure the so-called “known” mail service correctly.

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Mobile Devices
Pocket PC/Phone Edition
Smartphone
Windows Mobile

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Back to Basics: Email Key Sort


I cannot believe I did not know about this until yesterday. You all probably know that you can search through contacts and recent calls by typing a string on a Windows Mobile smartphone keyboard. Type O-G-A and my full name shows up as part of the search results of people in your contacts list, for example. But, I didn’t realize this also works with Email. In the example illustrated above, I tapped the keyboard letters P-B. As you can see, the email messaging client found this two letter sequence in both the From and Subject lines and highlighted the string. I am kind of embarrassed that I didn’t know about this useful email filtering feature until now. I wonder when it first appeared? It works on both the Standard (non-touch) and Professional (touch) Editions of Windows Mobile.

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Pocket PC/Phone Edition
Smartphone
Windows Mobile

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Back to Basics: Which Idiot at Microsoft Decided Anniversary Events Should Alarm at Midnight?

Windows Mobile smartphones (Standard Edition) can be actually powered down. However, Pocket PCs (Professional & Classic Editions) are not really off unless the battery is pulled out. So, if you have an anniversary event (birthday, wedding anniversary) set in contacts, it wakes up at midnight and sets of the audible alarm (if that is turned on which is usually the case). I’d like to know which braindead idiot at Microsoft decided this is a desirable behavior.

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Pocket PC/Phone Edition
Windows Mobile

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Back to Basics: The Mobile Browsing Experience


Most web pages are designed to be viewed on a desktop or notebook computer. Looking at these pages on a small screen phone is like looking at a mountain range through a pinhole. It is not a good viewing experience. Some web site owners and designers now understand that many people look at their pages on-the-go on their phones and other small screen mobile devices. Unfortunately, there are tremendous differences between the various browsers on various devices.

My first web-enabled phone had a monochrome display that placed black characters on a green-ish tinted background like the green-screen CRTs from decades ago. It supported the Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) which simply placed characters on the tiny screen and assumed your main input was a 12-key phone keypad. These days it is still considered the most basic format supported and you still see addresses like wap.ao.yahoo.com. It has the advantage of being lightning fast because it is usually text with little formatting. It also works on almost every mobile device running today.

Many of today’s so-called smartphones use mobile versions of familiar desktop browsers such as Internet Explorer and Opera. These smartphone browsers often are missing some of the functions of their desktop counterparts but can deliver a limited but still useful web experience if a website is designed for the mobile browsers limitations.

Finally, there are mobile browsers that deliver near desktop experience on a small screen. Opera Mobile and the Apple iPhone’s Safari deliver outstanding mobile web browsing experiences. However, as good as these browser are, the pinhole viewing effect still exists. Fortunately, some websites are now designed to identify the different mobile browser types and deliver optimized web pages for the different platforms. The USA Today newspaper online site is a good example. If you type usatoday.com in an iPhone (or iPod touch) Safari browser, it automatically redirects you to the iphone.usatoday.com site optimized to look and work best with an iPhone. Typing the same usatoday.com on a Windows Mobile smartphone, on the other hand, sends you to the simpler but still useful m.usatoday.com formatted for use with most of the web browsers used by smartphones using various mobile operating systems.

You can see two versions of the same USA Today web home page above. The screen on the left is the page formatted for an iPhone. The screen on the right is formatted for most mobile web browsers. This specific screen capture came from a Windows Mobile Professional Edition smartphone with a touch screen.

Incidentally, the one thing you rarely see is the ill-fated attempt to create mobile specific web domains ending in the .mobi name suffix. The common naming conventions for mobile friendly websites use prefixes such as wap. (wap.oa.yahoo.com), mobile. (mobile.msn.com), and m. (m.digg.com). Sites designed specifically for the iPhone sometimes use the prefix iphone. (iphone.usatoday.com). There are other variants such as a trailing /i path after the domain name (friendfeed.com/i). So, it can be a challenge to figure out what the correct mobile friendly webpage name is if the site does not auto-identify and redirect you to the correctly formatted site as USA Today does.

The good news though is that browsing from your phone or other small screen devices is on the radar of web site ownes and developers. And, it has resulted in a much improved web browsing experience when on the go.

Apple
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iPod
Mobile Devices
Mobile Phones
Netbook
Windows Mobile

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