Monday, April 28, 2008

Adding Twitter to my blog

Now that I have a fancy new phone, I decided to try Twitter, a cool service that allows you to keep friends updated with what you are doing at any particular time.

The concept is simple. You login and type a quick update, like "I'm eating a cheese sandwich...and it reminds me of summer." Or anything you want, really. But it can only be 140 characters long. No blog posts, no novels. Just a quick blurb. The cool part is you can use your mobile phone to text in your update, and receive updates from friends or people you are "following".

I added the Twitter feed to the top of my blog here, so quick updates will show there, while full blown blog posts are shown here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ok, I got the Moto Q9c

So I went with the Q9c from Sprint...and so far, it rocks! I'm actually posting this from the phone itself!

I know I said I had to wait until June, but apparently Sprint mixed it up (my WIFE has to wait till June to upgrade, but my account was ready now). So I was able to get the best discount (with a 2 year renewal, of course).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

OneNote 2007, Tablet PC's, and Smartphones

Been a while since I've posted anything here. Been busy. But now I feel I have something to share...and it's almost entirely not Zazzle related! :-)

So I've recently shifted positions at Zazzle (I said "almost"!). My new role is in our product group, specifically acting as an Interaction Designer. This means more mockups, prototypes, and wireframes. It also means being involved in a few more meetings every week, where I need to be a bit more organized about my To Do lists. Before, as an engineer, I was more focused on writing code, so it was always more obvious what I needed to be working on at any given time.

Getting digitally organized - The Hardware
Now, I am involved in more projects, and need to prioritize my time better. So I decided to get an old Tablet PC to take notes. I wanted a pen device because I wanted to be able to draw ideas and have it in a digital format. I searched eBay and found a Motion Computing M1400 Tablet PC, and got it for around $400.

Yes, it's a few years old, but it's powerful enough for what I need. It runs Windows XP Tablet Edition, which means I can install any Windows software I'm already used to or depend on. To that end, I installed Microsoft Office 2007 and noticed something interesting.

Getting digitally organized - The Software
I chose to do a custom install of Office because I knew I wouldn't need to install the whole suite. When I saw the list of programs that I could choose from, I saw something called OneNote 2007. I decided to try it out.

Here's what the Amazon product page for OneNote says:

  • Digital notebook provides one place to gather and manage notes and information
  • Offers powerful search capabilities to find what you're looking for quickly, and easy-to-use shared notebooks to help manage information overload and work with others more effectively
  • An integrated part of the 2007 Microsoft Office system
  • Helps consolidate various types of information-- including freeform notes, images, documents, files from other Microsoft Office system programs, and rich media-- and organize it in the way that works best for you
  • Creates a living repository of group decisions and brainstorming sessions that adds continuity and context to business meetings and memos

Well that's perfect! So I set it up on my tablet as well as on my desktop, and now I can take notes in meetings using digital ink, and have it fully integrated into my work Outlook! I can even create To Do items in OneNote that automatically get added to my tasks in Outlook. And as long as my OneNote notebook files are on our network, I have access to it from both my desktop and tablet.

Going Mobile
So this now brings me to the Smartphone part of this post. I will be getting a new phone come June, when my current phone turns two years old and Sprint will give me a nice discount on any new phone to keep me as a customer.

While researching smartphones on Sprint, I liked the Samsung Ace (Windows Mobile), Blackberry 8130 (Blackberry, duh), and Moto Q9c (Windows Mobile). Sprint is also slated to get the shiny new Blackberry Curve soon, and I love the specs on that thing.

But now that I am using OneNote, it changes my view a bit. See, OneNote comes with a Windows Mobile version, but NOT a Blackberry version. Hmmm. So come June, I have a choice to make. I could get one of the Windows phones (which are pretty cool), or go with the slightly better specs of the new Curve.

Decisions, decisions. If I keep using OneNote and find it increasingly useful (as I do so far), then I'll probably lean toward a Windows Mobile phone. It's nice to be completely synced with all my devices (I hear push email on a Windows Mobile device is better than Blackberry if you are using Microsoft Exchange). But I still need to do more research and weigh the pros and cons.

I mean, I may not really need to use OneNote on my phone. At the office, I'll always have my tablet with me, so the phone is extra. But if I can sync offline notes I take on the phone with my OneNote notebook at work, it's a no brainer. Or, better yet, if I can open my office notebook remotely on my phone, that would rock! I kind of doubt that will be possible, however, since it resides on our corporate network.

But maybe I can VPN from a Windows Mobile smartphone....hmmmmm?