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Summary:

James asked me to introduce myself. I’m Bill Sodeman, the "new guy" at jkontherun, and I teach information systems courses for a university in Honolulu. I use a variety of mobile devices every day while I run my classes and manage the graduate program. My posts […]

James asked me to introduce myself. I’m Bill Sodeman, the "new guy" at jkontherun, and I teach information systems courses for a university in Honolulu. I use a variety of mobile devices every day while I run my classes and manage the graduate program.

My posts will get more timely and specific over the next week. But James suggested that I start by writing about my interests in mobile computing, which are as much practical as they are academic. I use mobile devices because they help me get work done anywhere and fast.

I’ve been interested in mobile and pervasive computing since I read a 1991 Scientific American article on the Xerox PARC labs and their ubiquitous computing experiments. PARC researchers proposed a computer tied to a large desk-mounted touchscreen display, along with smaller notepad-sized devices and RFID badges that all tied into a LAN. No file cabinets! I don’t like working from paper.

These days I run my own file servers, and my tablet computers sync to each other whenever they get Internet access, so I usually have the most recent version of my files, and automatic backups. I’m as close as I’ve ever been to that 1991 ubiquitous model, but I still want that large, touchscreen monitor under my desk’s glass top. The Wacom Cintiq is close, and Microsoft Research has something even larger.

I have been reading James’ blog for over a year. I started when I was looking for my first real Tablet PC, an Acer TravelMate C110 that I still use at work. The 10-inch screen is the only drawback. Otherwise, I still like that Acer.

Before then, I used a Sony VAIO PCV LX-900 for 2 years. This model was a 2nd generation design – a slim desktop unit married to a Wacom LCD panel, and for the first year, it was a nice ride. The Tablet PC Edition wasn’t available then, but Sony did include some pen-based tools, and I could use Adobr Acrobat Professional to mark student papers in digital ink. But this model suffered from quality control issues, dead pixels, and proprietary cables. The only component that I still use is the stylus, which works fine with many Tablet PCs.

There’s something nice about using the Tablet PC edition on a large screen. At my office, I do a lot of grading and writing at my desk, but that 10-inch Acer screen is just a bit too small. James has blogged about his tiny Sony U-70 PC, which is just too small for me to use comfortably.

On the other hand, I don’t want to carry a 7-pound largescreen Tablet PC.

Earlier this year, I decided to try the desktop tablet approach again. I used my university’s MSDN privileges to get 2 licenses for the Tablet PC edition. I installed each on a different desktop computer. At the office, it’s a Dell OptPlex 260. At home, it’s an HP Pavilion with an AMD Athlon64 CPU. Each box has its own Wacom drawing pad, and I attached the LCD panels to pivoting stands.

Other mobile computers I have used include the original Palm Pilot and various forms of the Pocket PC. My favorite small device is still the REX card, which was slim enough to carry in a wallet. Of course, it wasn’t rugged enough for sitting. No wonder that my main PDAs these days are my cell phone and the Hipster, which is just a stack of index cards and a binder clip!

I’d like to thank James for the writing opportunity. Post some comments and make some suggestions, I’ll read them.

  1. Welcome to the big show, Bill. I can’t believe you still use your REX. Mine was retired years ago. :)

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  2. Welcome, Bill. The question is (as of yesterday’s keynote) are you a radical?

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  3. Hey Bill! A very entertaining and well written post. Glad to see you here. :)

    -Joe

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  4. Hello Bill,

    Have you considered the 12-inch form factor? It seems to be the closest to what you are looking for in terms of size and weight. There are plenty of choices nowadays with the Toshiba, Fujitsu, Sahara, Motion, IBM Lenovo and others. Larger screen and in the 3-4.5 lb range.

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  5. Do you know of a good rugged notepad PC with a 10″ screen? How about a rugged PDA that uses Windows XP?

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