Multimedia: April 2009 Archives

Mod Book Review 1

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I just used the Mod Book (like a Tablet PC, but on a Mac) for a meeting, so I thought would write up a few notes before I forgot. Dave has been using his modbook as a sketchpad and has gotten some excellent results, but since I'm not an artist, I thought I would use it as an engineer might to take some notes and add sketches.

Sketch of Pause Button Icon

Today I took it to a Breeze meeting, and it works fine, but there were some gotchas.

Encryption and Keyboard

The modbook is encrypted with PGP, but PGP needs password input from a a keyboard I requested. My desktop keyboard is too bulky to travel. According to Chris Demcheck PGP requires a keyboard with a USB connection.

In some ways, this is a benefit in disguise because I like being able to switch between Typing (e.g. URLs, passwords) and other modes. However it means that I have to go through an extra step to activate the pen.

FYI - If you don't have a plugin keyboard and you do have an unencrypted Modbook, then you can use the Axiotronic virtual keyboard utility. It puts you in iPhone mode where you tap one letter at a time. Not bad, but it is nice for me to have the working keyboard too since I can type fairly quickly.

Unicode (Of Course)

There is standard Mac OS X Unicode support on the Mod Book. What this means is that if you activate the Greek keyboard then 1) any plugged in keyboard will function as it does on other Macs but 2) the Axiotronic keyboard actually SHOWS you the Greek letters. I'm tempted to see if I can install it on my main Mac as a main reference. I'm not sure how it handles Chinese and other complex scripts, but it's a great start.

The other issue is handwriting recognition. We know that English is possible, but according to InkBook the only other options are French and German (not even Spanish). It's still a young tech.


For note taking, I am using the Inbook app which the company advertises as "Perfect companion for your ModBook". It opens in a format similar to a looseleaf notebook. You can add tabs for pages or section (and color code). The file can be printed as a PDF or saved as text/RTF (I will have to play with that next week).

For note taking, something like InkBook can be useful if your notes are full of weird symbols. Since you are basically handwriting notes, you can write just about anything from graphs and equations to Old Norse runes. Preference wise, I found I liked the calligraphic pen over the regular pencil. I think it forced me to print more clearly, and a little larger.

Quirk wise, I did notice that there was some glare issues with the monitor. I dimmed the lights in 210B (dark on my side) so I could see the monitor. I also propped the modbook on my sweater so i could use the speaker phone and write at the same time.

In terms of workflow, I decided to save my notes as a PDF for this round. I don't have Inkbook installed on my main machine (although you can use it on a normal Mac as long as you also have a Wacom tabler), so the notes do need to be in a format they can use. But at least they're electronic now.

Some Screencaps

I bet you were wondering if I would post any! Here's a portion of my notes with a weird upside down triangle dot symbol (∵) for "because". As you can see my handwriting is not the best, but at least I can read it.

Abington 4 exams today because no exams final week

Caption: Notes are trying to convey that engineering students at Abington have 4 exams today (Friday before last week of class) so they can be squeezed before the final week of classes when exams are NOT supposed to happen.

And here's some Old Norse Runes. As you can see, you can change colors of your pens. The top is in the calligraphic pen, but the signature is the regular pencil

Runes are blue and English pronunciations are red