Toshiba Portégé M200 and Windows XP TabletPC Edition 2005 context menu lag solved!

By chance I seem to have finally “solved” the annoying context menu lag on my TabletPC! :)

How was it done? I just installed the “Matroska Pack Full v1.1.1” (which contains many common audio and video codecs) and enabled its context menu extension. The most obvious (but not necessarily true) explanation is that installing Matroska’s context menu extension somehow fixed the context menu bug which was presumably introduced by upgrading my TabletPC to Windows XP SP2.

Now I’m really happy that my productivity is not restrained by this bug anymore :)

Bug tracking tools

Installed Bugzilla and Trac and a couple of other dev tools to complete the first development and runtime environment infrastructure of our[1] upcoming startup company (which will revolutionize quite some things in the blogosphere, if successful :)

If you take a close look at common OSS dev tools, it’s astonishing how limited most of them are. They usually follow a conservative, traditional “me too” approach to accomplish their tasks – despite of foreseeable drawbacks. I’d like to see more inventive and courageous approaches that lead to unconventional, but finally superior software instead of having a variety of very similar tools which are limited by design. It’s worth to take the time to think deeply about different (and also radically new :) approaches before digging into coding matters.

[1] So far, Ben’s and mine (interested to join? Contact us!)

goScreen rocks :)

Praise to Andrei Gourianov, the creator of goScreen, the only really usable virtual desktop manager for Windows. He recently managed to send me my license key within a couple of hours.

The not-so-good precursor: On that said day, my trial version of goScreen (or rather, a very central part of it, the desktop maps) stopped working without prior warning (very unusual for shareware) – unfortunately in a very bad moment for me! There was no way to make it temporarily work again (e.g. by prolonging the trial period), so I had to wait for my license to arrive to continue using goScreen. The good outcome: Andrei was very understanding, responsive and co-operative and sent me my key within exceptionally short time. That saved my day and work, Andrei! Thanks again!

Kudos also to Attila who told me about goScreen the first time. I always missed something like this on Windows.

CJK on Linux: SCIM

Smart Common Input Method platform

For Chinese character input, you need to type-in Pinyin.. at least I haven’t found any Chinese character handwriting recognition tool for Linux yet. There’s an outdated article about IBMCCR on Linux Today, but for unknown reasons I can’t access the IBMCCR page at Alphaworks ATM.. I will try later again. IBMCCR is for simplified Chinese only.

[Update 20040623 The IBMCCR page reads: “Chinese Handwriting for Linux has retired.”. Well, at least Chinese handwriting has not retired yet.. I guess there are roughly about 1’000’000’000 people worldwide exercising it every day ;)]

Windows XP SP2 RC2

I’ve just installed Windows XP SP2 RC2 on my TabletPC :) Everything went flawlessly, I just had to download 106 MB through the new “Windows Update” web application. So far, I haven’t noticed any drawbacks. And I’m totally amazed how much better the handwriting recognition has become! It’s really a huge step forward (the videos didn’t quite show this as they seem to have used RC1). Both in English and in German the recognition rate has increased

remarkably (I’d say it’s a solid 95% now). Improvements in ergonomics are great too: Fewer hand-movements are required to input text (it can be entered right below a text-field for example), you can write multiple lines at once (automatically expanded), easily correct errors and easily switch between different languages. I haven’t noticed any issues with too short or too long delays either. There’s still space for improvements however (require fewer clicks, write right inside text-fields through some kind of zooming, display recognized words aligned below the according handwritten words instead of left-aligned, further improve the recognition rate etc.)

Recognition of Chinese characters is much better too. See this screenshot for example:

我孚习汉语 (“I study Chinese” ;)

Entering URLs is no longer a problem and I could even enter a password using handwriting.

I haven’t checked out the other new features and improvements of XP SP2 RC2 yet, but the afore mentioned improvements alone suggest a strong upgrade recommendation for any TabletPC user (note that this is still a beta version though – I’m not liable for any damages/losses whatsoever ;)!

(BTW This whole article has been handwritten – proof enough? ;)

(Addendum: IE finally displays the CSS layout of this blog correctly – an improvement I have been waiting for for a long time :)

chinese for tabletpcs (using windows)

finally, with the kind help of the guys at, i made chinese handwriting recognition work on my tabletpc :) it wasn’t difficult at all, i just needed to install a chinese keyboard service in addition to chinese tabletpc services. it’s not an intuitive solution though (as i don’t have a chinese keyboard and i didn’t want anything but chinese handwriting recognition). ms should have mentioned this in the documentation or better, redesigned the user interface to be more intuitive and hence more user-friendly.

how well does it perform? the recognition rate isn’t particularly good – given the fact that my “chinese handwriting” rather resembles “print characters written by hand” than “true” chinese handwriting (i.e. chinese written by a chinese). quite obviously, recognizing “true” chinese handwriting is more difficult than recognizing chinese print characters (even for humans). nevertheless it’s at least better than if i had to type pinyin (ymmv, particularly if you’re chinese).

now i’d wish there were an automatic transcription of simplified (and/or traditional) chinese to pinyin (which was easy to do with “windows for pen computing” according to fritz switzer)

Drawing sketches using a TabletPC

I start to like my TabletPC :)

I just found two great applications for drawing sketches using a TabletPC:

Ambient ArtRage 1.0. Freeware. Nice effects, intuitive GUI. Sometimes somewhat slow in response (there’s a noticeable lag).
Alias Sketchbook Pro 1.0.3. A commercial tool (free trial) with a very intuitive GUI and a very realistic look and feel (nice work, guys! Kudos!). Excellent, like real, but with the advantages of digital imaging :) That’s how I imagined to use my TabletPC! As a bonus feature, Alias offers useful background templates for free download (among them some cool story board templates :). Have a look at the insightful Penny Arcade SketchBookPro tutorial! For artists (painters, designers, ..) the TabletPC concept is really a “must-have-a-look-at”!

Further, I’ve installed the enhanced Wacom TabletPC driver which enables pen pressure level support for legacy applications.

In other news, I’ve posted a couple of messages to
I hope this will help me make Chinese handwriting recognition work.

[new category: TabletPC]

o communities, where are thou?

ok. i installed/enabled the eastern asian language pack on my tabletpc. for some (unknown) reason however, i couldn’t enable chinese handwriting recognition. i was only given a choice of “de” (german), “de_ch” (german for swiss) and “en” (u.s. english). bummer.

so i asked ben who first pointed me to a tabletpc mvp’s blog (which appeared having been abandoned as it only featured a single, out-dated entry), then to the thing i actually was looking for was some kind of synchronous real-time peer support the way it is common in oss communities (almost every oss project provides irc channels for its devs and users). as it turned out, there doesn’t seem to exist any such thing (a central real-time meeting point for devs and users, like in the ms-sphere.

now here comes my free consulting for microsoft: get synchronous community communication up and running. i know there are efforts in this direction (e.g. or – but this is not enough. don’t implement community building from top-down. it’s too much services-like, with all the disadvantages i bet you can imagine. instead just provide infrastructure (think of for user groups to build a sustainable community from “bottom-up” themselves. and heck, if it’s a matter of money, divert some hundred million marketing dollars to initial grass-roots, bottom-up community building efforts. users will thank you (and stockholders as well).