Another week, another technological upheaval of sorts. I’ve taken on a Tablet PC, the HP tc4200 I mentioned before, using it for this first paragraph. The handwriting recognition, while remarkable, really works in conjunction with a word completion facility.
Good thing it has a normal keyboard, using the Pen alone might drive me round the bend. My handwriting skills have atrophied to the point of near-uselessness, and I haven’t felt much of an obligation to redevelop them. That will change in the future, since the Japanese entry systems for Kanji definitely require more work on my part.
From what I’ve seen so far it’s not enough to just copy a character; no, you also need to enter the right number of strokes, in the correct order, to get a good match for the character you mean. There’s almost no instructional material available on this aspect, it seems to be treated as common sense, or under the assumption that you have undergone school-level Kanji instruction, drawing characters by hand with a brush on paper.
My new PC’s delivery coincided roughly with the release of Microsoft Windows Vista Build 5219, or “beta one-and-a-half”, as I see it. After downloading huge ISO images from a server inside my company – a process that took three days – I installed it on my other two PCs at home, and may use it at work too, on my old work PC.
My home desktop PC runs on a AMD 64 3200+ CPU, so I needed the x64 version. To run it alongside my existing Windows XP installation, I planned to use the old hard drive I had in my PC, a 13GB drive from 1999. It wasn’t big enough – Vista wanted 14.5GB at install time! The actual usage dropped to under 4GB once the installation was complete, but I didn’t find that out until after I swapped the old drive for the 44GB drive I previously used for external USB backups (which was recently replaced with a 250GB drive).
After a few false starts – including a strange inablity to clear the old partition off the drive, which I had to do under XP – I had it going. The second installation was on my trusty old Compaq laptop, which was looking for a new role. Since I knew what to expect from the first time, I was able to take advantage of the streamlined install process: after I answered the required questions on PC name and install location, I left it going while I went out shopping, and came back to a completed installation. This is one change that users will find most welcome.
The usage results are mixed so far: the laptop is flying, with all its old hardware recognized (after the install of the extra driver pack). The driver situation on x64 is some way behind, with e.g. my USB card reader not recognized, even though it’s a standard “USB Mass Storage” device, like the external hard drives that worked without problems.
The new “Aero” interface looks cool, but I still need to spend more time figuring out what’s going on there. I’m used to just taking over an address bar and typing whatever I please in there, and that might still be possible, but it’s not clear just how that works now. Others, including some from Microsoft, have written more on this, so I’ll see what I can find on the topic later.