Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The day Dr. Neil came to my house.

He's a learned man, our Dr. Neil. A man of focus, passion and determined to be of significance. Ironically we met in the elevator of an apartment block my wife and I inhabited. It was 2001 and we were living in the beachside suburb of Dee Why, found on the Northern Peninsula of Sydney. I’d just completed my MCP and was feeling optimistic and invigorated. My first encounter with Dr. Neil wasn’t as memorable for me as I’d now like to recall, but it was eventful. I know that we connected at an umbilical level and shortly formed a sibling like relationship that would later encircle both our partners and my son Leon.

Four years on and Dr. Neil was in the country for yet another short stint. He’d left several messages that I’d ashamedly not replied to. Finally on the third day we connected and were able to talk. “I’ve got to come and see you”, he says, “There’s something you need to see”.

Fidgeting and restless, Dr. Neil hurriedly ate his meal. “I’ve got to show you that thing I told you about”, he proclaims wile masticating his last mouthful. We head to the lounge room and gather around an ottoman, dishes left idle at the dining table.

Falling in love, an event witnessed by many, is an emotion sometimes impetuous, sometimes cruel but always potent. Not knowing that my still rather untamed passion for IT was about to have a very rude awakening, I sat and waited. Dr. Neil ripped open the Velcro clad slip case and slid out the most attractive, most visually satisfying computer hardware I’d ever seen – a Tablet PC, and in this case the iTablet Slate PC.

iTablet Slate PC, now known as the Sahara in Australia

As unaware as I had been about the event about to unfold, I was also now unable to reply to this assault on my senses. “It’s a Tablet PC I found in the U.S”, he states, while simultaneously booting the device and ceremoniously drawing the digitizer pen from the screen itself. I found myself awed by the device and find it extremely difficult to contain my enthusiasm.

Dr. Neil Roodyn studied Software Architectures for Real Time Systems at University College London, for which he received a PhD, and is a Microsoft Tablet PC MVP; he’s an Author of two Tablet PC e-books and a textbook on Extreme Programming for .NET. We spent the rest of the evening going through the intricacies, the pro’s and con’s and a brief history of the device. I know that evening left a huge impact on my life as I’ve since become an owner of three different tablets, sampled tones of them and more recently got involved with distributing the devices in Australia and New Zealand. Had I known that Dr. Neil would have such a grand influence that very evening I probably would have spit polished my shoes, vacuumed, mopped and perhaps showered…oops. I’m forever indebted to that elevator in Dee Why and perhaps blessed in ways yet to become apparent. I know that Tablet PC, in all its majestic printed circuitry, is a device yet to make the splash it intended. When that splash eventually turns into a ripple however, and later a Tsunami, I’ll be surfing the bastard for all it’s worth!

  • Have you met Dr. Neil Roodyn?
  • Do you remember the first time you played with a Tablet PC? (kind of like, where were you when JFK was shot? or Princess Diana was killed?)


Craig Pringle said...

Hey great to see another tablet blogger downunder. Could not find your contact button on your site but I would be keen to have an offline conversation. I'm a Tablet MVP in NZ - if you browse to my blog there is a contact button in the right hand menu. Till then!

Hugo Ortega said...


Hey Craig, your blog looks great, and very iformative. I've sent you my details

All my contact details are now on the footer of my BLOG!!

adam said...

I am an MCP. It just me? But MCP, MCSEs, and all the other "letters" have tablets? I specialize in Web Graphics and PC Computer Repair (Mac too), and basic networking. I work at computer repair company, in The Village of Union Lake (now, White Lake) Michigan.
We take in all manner of computers for repair, Laptops, Desktops, servers and the random; odd-ball devices; Such as, Palms, Pocket PC, MP3 Players and Yes, sometimes TVs and Printers. Sometimes, we are unable to fix the device, and the owner; just gives us the device to wave any “service fees.” The item just gets tagged, and set in the back for parts, or a possible resurrection. Well, my tablet came to me something as a “resurrected system” computer; a customer left it for dead.
It came to us, DOA. (Dead On Arrival). As all techies know, a “dead” laptop is never a good thing. With its integrated, parts and pieces; leaves you with one stock answer, “it’s the motherboard.” At first I thought it was just a small LCD screen, maybe for a cash register system, or some professional sales kiosk; like at a store? Not letting on I did not know, what this, “thing” actually was. I just nodded and asked him, “What’s wrong with it?” He started,”Well this tablet…” Ah! That’s what this thing is…a Tablet?” I thought to myself.
He told me the story; doesn’t work, but he said with a smile, “worked real good for my needs.” He worked in professional building; He did a lot of forms that needed to be singed job sites, and this tablet showed many "ware-scares." He went on; lost the original restore CD’s in a bad divorce, the Original USB ROM; fell in a toilet on a job (I did not ask for details), The tablet pen, broke in half (it looked like a sharpened-too-much pencil or the but-end of a used cigar). The tablet its self, smelled
He let his kids use it, (beat on was more like it). Of all the computers I have seen over the years this one was, shockingly bad. Not just of actual normal ware and tare, but the level of abuse. The power cord, looked like an army of mice went after it. About every inch or so, there were wraps of back-electrical tape. The actual rubber bushing that feed the cord into the black-hard-plastic-electiral enclouser, were exposed; I saw the red and white casings- at one spot, there was copper wire showing.
I said with shaking my head, “I don’t really know. I can put it on the bench and call you with an answer tomorrow.” I did just that, we installed Windows XP, (Looking back, its funny that a XP Home CD worked with an XP Pro ID- since Tablet Edition is a spin-off of XP Professional.) It worked. We stood around stunned it even worked. Half way into it the install died, bad USB Ports, we got a hub tried it all again, it worked. Pen did not work to move on with the install of the serial numbers. We had to use the Keyboard. Then, we had no idea; we needed the special Wacom Tablet Drivers. So we pretty much, after an extensive effort to get it work wrote it off as… “Dead.”
He took this hard drive, ram, and “funky-power cord” and basically left us a shell. I set it on a shelf over my desk and forgot about it. About 5 months later when I was cleaning off the shelf, after being promoted and moving to a bigger office, the one with a window. I saw this "Tablet" again.
I wanted to make it work. It worked with windows, but the pen did not work. AND, the two USB ports were loose- the only way we could load any so, was with a USB CD ROM/ and a USB Keyboard. Well... I messed around with it at home in my spare time. I had a 20gb laptop Hard drive I threw in there, because it would format faster because, I had very little battery life left, and I knew I had to at lest get windows on it to start my adventure. I had an old USB burner (from god knows when). I had a USB keyboard with many keys missing; I saved from the trash at work, for just something like this. I got windows on it, just as the low battery speaker was sounding. I just made it, it turned off, and it felt like it was trying to work for me.
I found a replacement power pack, new on EBay. I was a not sure I wanted to invest $30.00 on a whim. Well, I did, and I got a solid working computer… it was basically a laptop with no keyboard or mouse at this point. I went back to eBay. This time, I was looking for restore CDs. I Found “copied restore” CDs I got them, and I crossed my fingers. My Tablet, sat on my dresser, in a state of “Frozen.” I remember looking at it while I said on my bed thinking, “I am not giving up on you, and you’re something special.” The next morning, I got my disks. I was still in my sweat-pants and t-shirt from sleeping, when I went to work on it.
I saw the stock Window Xp back round; “Bliss.” That was very much what I was about to feel, because at that point, I picked up the half (broken) pen, and carefully and slowly, touched the screen. The mouse pointer moved! I screamed, “YES!” I started clicking things. My computer. Properties. “What are you,” I though to myself, as the System Properties popped up. I had a Motion PC M1400. I was in awe with the write to text feature. Seems mine had aftermarket voice recognition software, of course the first thing I started to do, like a little kid was, "swear" at it. I said, “Ass” about 15 times. Each time it came back with an almost write spelling. And “Microsoft Bob”…..”Foreground window” (inside joke you know who you are). Read each one, still makes me crack a smile. I found I needed a new pen and a Motion Brand easel for it. The hard drive was swapped out with a new 120 GB one, and now I use it for all my lazy nights I want to lounge in bed and surf on line, or when I need a solid portable system.
That’s my Tablet Story, I’ve been offered money for it, but its now a part of me, its like something I directly saved, I cant sell that!!!

ALSO, having deal with this one, I bought another one on e-bay. A Motion M1200. “Broken switch” $70.00. Yea broken “plastic switch” a paper clip let me trip the inside switch works flawlessly. Motion PC makes a great tablet! Again another one I saved. GO Motion PC if your looking for a Tablet, they are good from all aspects!

Hugo Ortega said...

Wow - great comment!
Go Motion! (I think that was the end point.)

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