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Monday, May 14, 2012

Amazing tool for sign translation

The number of available phone applications is growing at top speed. I am trying to learn new languages and love traveling, so a good grasp of several languages is what I really need.



Recently I came across a superb course of English language history and begin to understand better grammar rules and language phenomena.

Hopefully there will be more other applications for language learning and I will review them with great pleasure.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nokia N800 & N810: Take notes and doodle with Xournal

Xournal for the N800 and N810

Xournal is a very useful and fun application for OS2008, the operating system run by the N800 and N810 internet tablets.

Its basic idea is very simple: it simulates having pads of paper, pencils, coloured pens, highlighters and rulers. This means you can write and draw on virtual bits of paper just like you would do in real life.

At this point many of you may be screaming at the monitor: "Why don't you just use real paper and real pens you idiot?" That's a fair point, but there are two main advantages that Xournal has over the real thing:

- You can write, draw and highlight in lots of different colours, on any colour or pattern paper you want, without having to carry a bag full of materials with you. It's like having a stationery shop in your pocket.

- You can save your work and refer to it later, or even turn it into a PDF file which can be e-mailed to other people and viewed on other devices such as your PC.

In any case, Xournal is completely free so if you're interested it's well worth installing it and trying it out for yourself.


How to install Xournal

Xournal is available for free from the maemo.org website's downloads section. Here's the exact way to get it:

1. On your tablet, open a new browser window and go to the address maemo.org

2. Click on the "Downloads" link at the top of the screen.

3. Click on the search box in the top right hand corner, enter the word "xournal" and click on the search button.

4. You should get just one result, the Xournal application. Click on its title and you'll be taken to a page all about it including user reviews and comments.

5. Click on the green arrow to install Xournal on your tablet. This will make the Application Manager open and start the installation process automatically.

6. Say yes, ok or I accept to all of the windows that appear.

7. Xournal will tell you when it has been installed successfully. You can now close the Application Manager and the web browser window.


How to use Xournal

You can activate Xournal from the Applications Menu (the green squares on the left). You'll find Xournal's icon in the Extras section, probably right at the bottom.

Xournal is a fairly simple application, but it also has lots of advanced options for people who want to tweak and customise it to their liking. The best way to get to know it is to try it out by doing a rough sketch and then pressing the buttons at the bottom and selecting the options in the menu at the top.

Here are some hints and tips to get you started though:

- The palette icon doesn't do anything, it seems to be just labelling the colour menu to its right.

- If you're using the text tool, if you've clicked somewhere and can't get any text to appear, try clicking on that place again.

- The horizontal arrows move you up and down through the various bits of paper you're working on.

- The curved arrows redo or undo your actions. You can press them several times if you want to remove or restore several actions. This might sound a bit odd, but it's very useful and you can see it demonstrated in the video above.

- You will find it easier to work with the paper by pressing the tablet's full screen button, and then clicking on the "best fit" option from the magnifying glass with the square inside it (in the bottom right corner).

- You can access the menu at the top while in full screen mode by pressing the tablet's "menu" button (it's the middle one of the three on the front of the N800, and next to the keyboard on the N810).

- You can zoom out with the magnifying glass with the "-" sign on it, and you can still write and draw while zoomed out. Pressing the "best fit" button is a good way of getting back close to the paper.

- You can save your work so far by clicking on the floppy disk icon at the bottom of the screen. You can start a new file by clicking on the icon that looks like a white bit of paper.

- You can turn what you've written and drawn as a PDF file by going to the menu at the top, then clicking "File", then clicking "Export to PDF".

- You can alter the thickness of pencils, rubbers (erasers), or highighters by clicking on the menu at the top of the screen, then clicking on "Tools", then "Pen Options" or "Eraser Options" or "Highlighter Options".

- You can change the style and colour of paper from the menu at the top, in the "Journal" section.

- You can save your current preferences or set them to save automatically from the main menu at the top, in the "Options" section.

- Don't be afraid to try stuff out, there are lots of useful things in the menu at the top. Remember to use the arrows at the bottom of some menus to see all their options.


How to remove Xournal

If you no longer want it, you can remove Xournal from your tablet by the following procedure:

1. Click on the Applications Menu.

2. Select "Settings".

3. Select "Applications Manager".

4. Select "Show Installed Applications".

5. Select Xournal from the list, and click on "Uninstall" at the bottom of the screen.

Xournal should now automatically remove itself from your tablet.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Canola and the future of the Nokia tablets

Normally the Internet Tablet School refrains from any kind of editorial position, we're usually just trying to help people get the most from their internet tablets. However, the following article is an exception.

We now feel that the time has come for Nokia to abandon the current graphical interface used by the tablets, and replace it with something simpler, more streamlined and intuitive. It should be something that even a non-technical person could use without any prior knowledge, and without having to consult any instructions.

There's a wonderful interface already available on the tablets which is up to this task, but so far Nokia don't seem to want to use it. It's called Canola.


How the tablets got their current interface

The Nokia internet tablets currently use a graphical interface called Hildon, which was first developed for their 7700 and 7710 smartphones way back in 2004. The latest version of Hildon is to be found in OS2008 on the N800 and N810, and it still follows the basic design principles of the original 2004 version.

However, the world has changed quite a bit since 2004. More and more ordinary people want to use the internet on a portable device. Pocket-sized computers are no longer playthings of nerds and businesspeople, they're becoming useful tools in everyday life. The portable internet is going mass market, just like mobile phones went mass market.

The very fact that a site like the Internet Tablet School now receives thousands of visitors a day shows how Nokia's tablets have entered the mainstream. We only write tutorials for tablet beginners, and our visitor numbers keep growing and growing.

These everyday users need to be catered to if the tablets are to mature beyond their "hobbyist" image and attract large numbers of users.

The very first home computers in the late 1970s and early 1980s had their roots in hobbyist computer kits that sold a few thousand. Home computer sales skyrocketed into the millions when they became easy enough for anyone to use, and didn't expect users to have any prior knowledge. The Nokia tablets are now at a similar sort of turning point.


Why Canola should become the Nokia tablets' new interface

Canola tears up all the rules that Hildon laid down about interfaces. It does the job mentioned above: it completely ignores what's gone before and reinvents the tablets as devices that anyone could use, even people who are using them for the very first time.

The visual prompts and layouts used by Canola are spot-on, it's always obvious what you have to do to make something happen. This is very important because if you instinctively know how to use the interface first time round, you won't forget how to do it later.

The beauty of Canola is that, unlike Hildon, it requires no instructions at all in order to use it. Every icon and option has a very specific and unambiguous meaning, so navigation between pages is extremely intuitive. When something moves on the screen in Canola it does so gracefully, making the whole process seem efficient and fast. Put all these together and you have a very newbie-friendly interface indeed, which is what the tablets need right now.

You can see a demonstration of Canola in action in the video above.

You can also try Canola out on your N800 or N810 tablet right now by going to maemo.org on your tablet's browser, then click on Downloads, search for Canola, then click on its title, and finally click on the green arrow to install it.

Canola isn't perfect, and it still needs lots of work because at present it only handles multimedia applications. However, based on what it's like so far, we are absolutely convinced that Canola (or something very much like Canola) is what Nokia should use as a basis for a new tablet interface.

Hildon's design princples are from the days when portable devices were bought by small numbers of serious users. Canola points to the future, and shows us portable devices being bought by large numbers of casual users. If Nokia wants the tablets to survive and thrive, they need to embrace the future and adopt a Canola-like tablet interface.

That's all.