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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.