Tablet PC Thoughts

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Nice post about GoBinder

Our CEO sent out an e-mail that included this great post on the value of using GoBinder. It's a blog post by one of our users who really likes the virtual printer, and the annotation and search capabilities.

Good to see feedback from someone really using the product!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

GoBinder SDK ... Alpha Code

Things are starting to heat up here at Agilix Labs as the GoBinder SDK is now reaching good Alpha stages. I just installed the first cut of the GoBinder SDK (build 931) on my Virtual PC Windows XP machine ... and it's up and running!

The core functionality is there and working, and we even have the first sample "File System Sync Provider" in place to test with. I'm now beginning the process of writing my own plug-ins ... as a test of the new platform, and my own skills! :-)

It's cool to see things coming along nicely, and we'll soon have some developer forums in place for the SDK. I'm also going to be looking for some developers who want to join an "early release" program and beta test our SDK. We're looking for .NET developers who want to create some cool plug-ins for our product launch later this year. If you are interested, send me an e-mail: scott.lemon [at]

Monday, June 20, 2005

Firepoll ... get cash with the right identity!

Some friends of mine have created a very cool new start-up called Firepoll. It's like combining Instant Messaging with Surveys ... and you get paid for it! Well ... if you have the right identity.

What they created is a small IM-like service that you install on your machine. You then register with their server, and they ask you a lot of identity/profile information. All of this is stored at their server. Companies interested in doing market research can then visit the Firepoll web site and subscribe to do "Instant Surveys". Through a web page they select all of the attributes of the target market that they are interested in surveying, and in real-time they can see how many of "those" people are currently on-line. They can then design their survey through their browser, and select which "rewards" they are offering for completed surveys.

Lastly, they indicate how many survey results they want and when they post the survey it is sent - instantly - to all of the on-line community members who match the profile that was defined. As soon as enough people have replied, the survey is closed.

As a user of Firepoll, I have it running on my machine all of the time. When a survey is created, where I match the demographic profile requested, I get a small pop-up message on my machine. When I click the message my browser is launched directly to the survey, and the first question is "Which reward do you want?" I can get things like MP3 music, $1 to my PayPal account, discount coupons, etc. I then proceed to answer the survey questions, and then post my results. I get an e-mail with my reward notification in minutes. The entire process is a clean and simple experience.

To me, this is a facinating solution for a number of reasons ... combining many facets of the Internet into one powerful solution that really leverages the power of distributed networks. On top of that, I can leverage my identity - or the one that I define and create - to actually generate money.

It's a cool product ... I'd love to hear feedback from others on what they think of it!

The Apple Tablet PC doesn't appear to be real

Ok ... so the TabletPCBuzz post about getting Apple software to run on a Tablet were false ... the author has no real evidence to prove it. Bummer.

On the other hand I *did* get OpenDarwin running on Virtual PC 2004 ... that is the same kernel and libraries that forms the base for OS-X. I even got a better window manager working this morning. So at least *some* Apple software is runnable on a Tablet PC!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Apple's First Tablet PC

Well ... that sure didn't take too long! Here it is that I'm just blogged about the fact that I can't imagine that it's too long before Apple has a Tablet PC ... and wham! It's done! (Ok ... sort of!) One of my co-workers came across this post today ... one of the Tablet PC hackers out there got OS-X working on a Toshiba Tablet PC. This whole Intel migration might just occur pretty quickly!

Installing Apple OS X operating system on a Tablet PC

Apple's Developer Transition Kit offers information, sample code, software, and hardware developers need to build Universal Binary applications to run on Macs using Intel processors. As expected, people are also trying to install OS X on Intel platform computers that they already own.

Charles Alexander installed OS X on his Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC. The system runs. The digitizer functions. He's run into issues with screen rotation, networking, USB, etc. He writes on, "But with apple's inkwell ( this thing is really showing potential."

I admit, I'm curious about this and would like to see this working. The install process appears to be fairly complicated - certainly not an average Apple or PC user experience for people. Nevertheless, a curiosity. [What is New]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More Peer to Peer Opportunities

As we continue to make progress on our next version of GoBinder at Agilix Labs, I am continuing to look at all of the potential plug-ins that might be attractive to students, and our customer base in general. One area that I am anxious to explore is Peer to Peer solutions. I am already looking at the Microsoft Peer to Peer SDK, and have an initial project that we are going to complete. Once we have our first P2P plug-in, I want to create the next. Phil, as usual, has given me an idea of where to look next!
Distributed Back-up Systems.

I've been interested in distributed back-up systems for some time. For example, I'd love to see a P2P client given to BYU students that allows them to commit a percentage of their disk to a distributed back-up system in exchange for that much storage on the overall system. Rather than the University having to commit capital to a back-up system for students files, excess direct-attached disk and software would solve the problem.

I've also be enamored with erasure codes for reliability. Using erasure codes would allow the distributed back-up network to provide reliable storage in the face of a certain percentage of nodes going down, leaving the network for some reason, and so forth.

A couple of students in my Middleware class this semester picked this theme up and did some further exploration. There were a couple of items that caught my eye.

  • PStore is a secure P2P storage solution from some researchers at MIT. Overall, the feature set seems quite nice, but the code is not available and it doesn't incorporate erasure codes as fas as I know.
  • DIBS is a similar idea written in python that does use erasure codes. The UI is something only a geek could love.

Apart from being genuinely useful in a campus environment where its difficult to provide effective back-up solutions for even critical files, this is an excellent example of a P2P network beyond mere "file sharing" which has grown to have negative connotations. I'd love to see the headline "BYU Embraces P2P Technology."

[Phil Windley's Technometria]

Monday, June 13, 2005

Tablet PC ... it's not about Windows vs. Mac

I just found an interesting post on my Tablet PC blog that gave me cause for this blog post:
Hmmm ... I'm not sure that I have anything against a Mac. In fact, I don't believe that it will be long before Apple also ships a Tablet PC. People ought to understand that the Tablet PC is not necessarily about the operating system ... it's about a collection of capabilities and an ergonomic design!

What I have found is that the Tablet PC is really about a design which allows for easy use of a computer as a "tablet", coupled with software capabilities that allow for stylus-based annotation and writing. As I am watching the various vendors who are now introducing Tablet PC systems - like IBM/Lenovo - I can only imagine that we are going to watch more vendors jump onboard. When Dell jumps in ... it's a proven market.

One of my questions to my friends at Novell is why there isn't more Linux effort to support the standard Tablet PC platforms ... and maybe there is. I just haven't found too much yet. Along this same line of thinking, I really do think that it is just a matter of time before Apple jumps in with their own Tablet Mac ... or something like that. It's not about the operating system folks ...

Skype ... ready for prime-time

Years ago (wow ... almost 10 years ago!) I was experimenting with voice and video over IP using products like WebPhone, CU-SeeMe, and NetMeeting. It was a blast ... and all using 14.4kbps dial-up modems! This is what really drove me to upgrade modems through the 28.8kbps, and then to the 56kbps modems. All of these products seemed to fizzle during the Tech Boom, and also went away during the Tech Crash.

Sometime during the last year I installed an early copy of Skype and was impressed ... it was pretty raw, IMHO, but it was on the right track. Well ... as of a couple of months ago I upgraded and have been continuing to track the progress. Skype is now looking really good ... I am thoroughly impressed.

What really got me over the edge was using Skype with work. At Agilix Labs we are dealing with Universities that are all over the planet, and I found that many of the schools from Asia are requesting all "conference calls" to be done using Skype. I had a call last week that was over one hour and forty-five minutes long ... with two people in Singapore, one in California, and two of us in Utah. It was clear, and free. I have now added Skype as a permanent service on my desktop!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Agilix GoBinder and plug-ins

At Agilix Labs where I am working, we are about to introduce the second generation of our GoBinder product. GoBinder is a "digital notebook" or "digital planner". It provides a variety of contact management and binder/organizer functionality. Our second generation is a major rewrite of the product as we are moving completely to a "plug-in" architecture. With these changes we will open up GoBinder to unlimited extensions and possibilities.

Now Agilix, and any developer, can create new tabs (or pages) within GoBinder that will provide new functionality. In fact, all of the existing GoBinder functionality has been rewritten as plug-ins ... so GoBinder itself is truly becoming like an empty binder, providing the basic structure to load and run plug-ins which provide all of the end-user value. I am really looking forward to the completion of this version as it will open GoBinder as a true platform for educational, business, and entertainment plug-ins.

While reading on-line I came across this great article by one of the members of the Eclipse project. It is about plug-in architectures and many of the issues that have to be dealt with. It's a great primer for anyone wanting to learn more about software plug-ins and plug-in architectures.
On Plug-ins and Extensible Architectures [Slashdot:]

Tablet PC Choices

Well ... I held off my purchasing choices until the new HP Tablet PC shipped. It's now shipping and two of the folks here at "Agilix" have bought them ... and really like them. If course now IBM/Lenovo is about to ship one also ...

I'm thinking that I still like the HP ... but then I haven't done my homework on the IGM/Lenovo unit yet. The one thing that might sway my choice is screen resolution. I've found that I have grown to really enjoy the higher resolution of my Dell latop.

I know this ... if I choose the HP on Monday I'll have it in my hands before the week end!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Adam Curry ... the Father of Podcasting!

I know that this is somewhat old news ... almost two months ... but I am now catching up on my blogging after completing the first cut of my new tool. (Yeah ... I know ... I'm talking so much about a stinkin' tool for posting to Blogger and Blogspot from Radio Userland !)

I thought this was a great post for Tablet PC vendors when you get a guy like Adam Curry to start using Windows on a Tablet PC. For those who don't know, Adam has been hanging out with the Father of Blogging - Dave Winer - for a long time, and can be considered - IMHO - the Father of Podcasting. I'm glad to see him using a Tablet PC and look forward to more of his writing about it!
If you can't join them.... Just so you know, I've been assimilated. I've been learning how to use my new tablet PC for the past two days. I have to admit, pretty spiffy! Not only that, but this windows stuff runs some pretty interesting software. I'm digging the intricacy of sparks. [Adam Curry's Weblog]

Tablet PC RSS Feeds

I've been wanting to post this for some time now, but didn't have my nifty tool to make the post. Now that I've completed my Radio-to-Atom posting tool, I can get things in gear on getting information out on this blog.

This was a comment by Scoble about some new sources of Tablet PC information via RSS ... some good feeds.
Chris does Tablet PC newsgroup RSS feeds.

Chris De Herrera has built RSS feeds for the Tablet PC newsgroups. That's cool. Now I can watch what people in those newsgroups are saying in my aggregator.

[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]

The first post with my RadioAtomBridge tool

Well ... I appreciate everyone tolerating my flurry of test posts tonight. I am close to having completed my tool that allows me to now post from Radio Userland to my and weblogs. This tool installs into Radio, and allows me to write off-line and then post to my weblogs using the Atom API web services.

This post will tell me if I have it figured out. It's not perfect ... there is still one thing that I have to resolve, but it ought to be functional for now!

Thanks again ...

Test #9 Posting Radio -> Atom

This is test #9 of the new RadioAtomBridge posting capability! Ok ... I lied ... this is the last one. I think that I found a work around. It *does* appear that Radio's internal method xml.getaddress has a bug where a tag can not begin with a / ... which the Atom API reponse does have. This is the last one tonight ... I really swear this time!

Test #8 Posting Radio -> Atom

This is test #8 of the new RadioAtomBridge posting capability! It appears that Radio's internal method xml.getaddress has a bug where a tag can not begin with a / ... which the Atom API reponse does. I'm going to walk into the method while posting this post to learn what is going on ... oh yeah ... this is the last one tonight ... I swear!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

This is another testing post from my new Radio Userland tool - the RadioAtomBridge tool.  If this post works, then I'm going to complete the integration of the Atom API code ... and see if things really work.

More Test Posting Radio -> Atom

This is test #2 of the new RadioAtomBridge posting capability!

More Posting Radio -> Atom

This is a new test of the new RadioAtomBridge posting capability!

I am still doing some experimentation with Radio Userland after my success last night.  I know ... a lot of people don't understand what the big deal is ... but this is more research that I am doing into the future of blogging, and various blogging tools.

For a long time I have been looking at how to create the ultimate blogging tool ... a way to be able to post to numerous blogs - both public and private - easily from one tool.  I'm now getting closer to the model that I want ... and will then be able to see which implementation wins.

This post is actually a test of some other minor changes (damage?) that I made to Radio this morning ... I talked with Steve Kirks at Userland and he gave me some very good tips.

Ok ... I was able to get my first "test" post through late last night ... well ... early this morning.  I now have a basic framework of code for Radio that is able to post to or using the Atom API.  Woo hoo!

I do not yet have this completed for redistribution ... but soon will.  I was able to do this by creating hacked copies of Dave Winer's blogger.newPost methods, and creating a blogger.newAtomPost method.  I did one quick test post, and then headed to bed.  There are a couple of bugs that I have to work out, and then I was to see if I can hack this into the #upstream.xml file processing.  I'd like to simply be able to put a line in the #upstream.xml file that indicates that I want to upstream using the Atom API.

If not, then I'll still end up creating a seperate tool that will be a fork of the xManilaBloggerBridge tool written by Steve Hooker.  Fun stuff ... I'm glad that I took the time to write this ... it was a good learning experience.

P.S. For anyone who wants to use the xManilaBloggerBridge tool with Radio and Blogger, I found that there are two core changes to get this working ... I had to search for "metaWeblog." and comment out the calls to these methods, and then look right next to them and un-comment the "blogger." methods.  Once I had done this, the basic Blogger API stuff started to work just fine.  There is not support for 'titles' in the Blogger API though ... this is why I pursued the Atom API support.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I am trying to get my blogging tool - Radio - to post to Blogspot ...
and I think that I just got it working.  I'm going to do some
experimentation over the next few days, but this first test
worked.  I was able to get a tool called the xManilaBlogger
Bridge, and then hack the code to get it to use the Bloggr API.

At some point in the future I'll be modifying the code to see if I am
get this same tool using the Atom API ... this will allow me to add
titles, etc.

Cool ... this will make it so much easier to keep my Tablet PC Thoughts blog going ...

Posting Radio -> Atom

This is a huge test of the new Atom posting capability