Monday, February 22, 2010

Tablet PC Software, Installment 1

Let’s talk tablet software.

There are manifold aspects to the automation that I’ve experienced over the past few years in part due to adapting a Tablet PC to my daily workday, that I’ve come to take my tablet for granted. Today I want to take a moment to recount my experience with some PDF annotation software that Grahl introduced some years ago called PDF Annotator.

Prior to my foray into the tablet workstyle, my day was speckled with the occasional paper-to-pen-to-scan-to-print-to-sign-to-scan-to-send cycle, that I had accepted it as the de rigueur behavior for standard forms and paperwork. Receive a form, print it, fill it in, sign it, scan it and send it was just how business was done. And woe be to the hapless intermediary who also has to chop on a work-in-progress. Now it’s his turn to initiate another iteration of the print it, fill it in, sign it, scan it and send it cycle—which only serves to further degrade what was once a pristine electronic version of a form.

Enter Grahl’s PDF Annotator.

The cycle was broken with the ability to fill in a PDF with my TC1100 or Scribbler SC-3100 or Stylistic ST-5112. I can obtain the form electronically, fill it in with a stylus and the tablet pc, and then email it straight away for action. No printing and scanning. No fuss, no mess.

During the course of a normal business day, any number of correspondence requiring my signature and remittance comes and goes electronically, without so much as paper and pen coming between me and its ultimate recipient. This represents a real dollar savings in toner cartridges and paper not bought. But the value I see every day is the time savings I realize by being able to turn around routine paperwork in seconds what takes the conventional manager literally minutes to accomplish. This kind of automation really adds up during the course of a workweek.

So how does it work?

From this side of the tablet, it’s pure magic. The PDF comes in via email or file server, I open it with PDF Annotator and jot and sign away. I then save over the original (or save as a copy) and forward or file a copy of it to its intended recipient.

How many times have I been away from a printer, but tethered to the Internet, when I received a file for signature? This simple but powerful piece of software actually obviates pen and paper for routine forms and remittance. And if I had to rate the bang for the buck when it comes to tablet software, this little package from Grahl takes the cake.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Take 2 and Call Me in the Morning

Pardon my disinterest in Apple’s latest creation.

You see, I’ve been using tablets for about five years--since the heyday of the TC1100--so there’s not a lot for me to get excited about, here.

The TC1100 was of course a full-fledge computer, subject to the tribu

lations of the whimsical and vulnerable Windows operating systems. It, too

, did mail, web and eBooks. Yeah, it cost about four times the stripper model price-point of the iPad, but unlike the iPad, I could actually use the TC1100 as a work and school machine.

Oh, but then there’s that stylus. Frankly, I like the stylus. Try discreetly taking notes in a meeting and you’ll immediately embrace the natural feel of a penning device and notepad in your lap. I’ve actually been to meetings in which colleagues have brought laptops—not a pretty sight, folks. Two hands clanking on keys and head buried behind a screen is no way to commune with one’s associates.

Come to think of it, since my brush with the tablet, all my windows boxes since have been of similar lineage. Following the outgrowing of my TC1100 (it never died) I opted for the Electrovaya Scribbler.

A sturdy machine, it further broke down the barrier between me and it with the incorporation of a fingerprint scanner. At the time, this was a big deal, as I could actually authenticate with the device without even having to whip out the stylus from its silo to do so. The Electrovaya excelled in battery life, but

met its untimely demise due to some moisture collecting under its digitizer screen. (Lesson learned: do not leave a tablet in your car over night, folks).

I replaced the Electrovaya with my current tablet, the Fujitsu ST5112.

In fact, I have two. More on that in a later post. Suffice it to say that although I will continue to buy and bask in the glory of Apple iMac desktops, (my current model is the old white plastic 24 inch variety) I can’t see myself sporting an iPad in the work environment in the foreseeable future.