Saturday, March 31, 2007

Australia gets all Samsung Q1 flavors

Earlier today I received word from within the guts of the Tegatech den that Australia now has access to all the Q1 Flavours! This is awesome, not only does Australia and New Zealand now have stock of VIA’s Q1B (with 5hrs battery on standard battery) but I have been told the SSD (Solid State Disk) is here too [as seen on JKonTheRun].

Now this news may not even raise a splash in the Northern Hemisphere, but Downunder in Australia and New Zealand this is enough to make a grown man go weak at the knees. IT's A BIG DEAL TO US OK! Looking under the UMPC section on the Tegatech Australia website I can clearly see that the Samsung stable now includes:

I can’t sleep!

Friday, March 30, 2007

My 13 Tablets will be shut down for Earth Hour 2007

Recently I posted thoughts regarding the environment and the impact we as humans are having. Rather funnily I found out that Methane created by cows farting create more harm, in one day, to the environment than a year worth of electricity consumed by Al Gore charging his Apple Mac.

That aside, I have two children and I know many of my readers are mothers and fathers too. Their future is more important than mine given that they have more time left on this planet than I do. I am a believer that the climate IS INFACT changing – whether it’s due to us, cows farting, or Al Gore’s notebook I’m not sure; I do know however that prevention is better than cure.

So when the lights go down in Sydney for Earth Hour on Saturday 31 March 2007, the best place to be is with friends and family. Grab a pizza, a set of Candles and have some fun with Earth Hour.

So what is Earth hour? Earth Hour is the launch of a 12 month campaign to reduce Sydney's greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. WWF-Australia and The Sydney Morning Herald are asking all businesses and households to turn off unused lights and appliances on standby. I for one, since becoming aware of this movement, have trained myself to turn OFF devices as opposed to always having them in sleep mode, especially overnight. Earth Hour is an effort to promote this train of thought!

We all know one hour will not reverse, undo, help, assist or prevent anything. But like a Coca Cola campaign, or a minimalistic ad for an Apple iPod stuck on a bus shelter, Earth Hour is designed to bring awareness. So tomorrow night everything will be off at my house, and that includes all 13 Tablets!

[PS. As usual Enviro-Techno-Guru Jon Dee is involved! ]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

OQO 02 begins to ship

Don't stress if you're in Australia and wandering why the shiny new OQO 02 you just ordered hasn't arrived yet. I am lead to believe they are on their way! Until then however here is OQO's biggest fan "tnkgrl" in the OQO Office having some hands-on experience (does that sound weird?) Cleverly he she has also taken with him her some OQO 01s so that we can tell the physical difference.

via: JkOnTheRun

OQO 02

Jon Dee and the R400 - again

Incredibly my mate Jon Dee has turned up in the media once again, this time touting the Toshiba R400...again. Does this guy ever sleep…hey wait its 2am and I’m still blogging!

Either way I thought it was interesting enough to post this as Jon has done such fantastic work for the environment and his R400 is displayed as a testament to his commitment to a paperless society.

On this occasion Jon has appeared in Australia’s Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph. The title of article is Green Technology Strategy and Jon is the goofy geek smiling behind his JasJam. The article is extremely well written by Stephen Fenech as it helps capture Jon’s amazing personality and passion for tech. The best thing is that it allows several mentions of the Toshiba R400 in a very positive light and depicts the Green Technology Strategy as one we should all adopt.

Here are a couple of quotes I like:

"Apart from switching over to non-polluting and renewable green energy, generated by wind turbines and solar panels, Dee also lives a paperless lifestyle.
This is achieved via a Toshiba Portege R400 tablet PC and an iMate Jasjam Pocket PC phone.”

"You're even able to search through all your handwritten notes. I don't understand why tablet PCs have not had more of an uptake because once you've actually used one, you will never go back.

For those of you waiting for another Jon Dee/Hugo Ortega video I am afraid it will still be a little longer. He and I can’t seem to be in the same State or Country for long enough to complete one; but it is on our radars!

Kludge on Channel 10

It seems as though my mate, Dave Wallace, is getting more popular every day. This time he is on Microsoft’s Channel Ten being touted as a pioneer in technology. I for one find David to be an inspiration and watching this video has confirmed it for me.

He has tasted Tablets (Acer C200 and Sahara Slate) and his feedback is always valuable as it comes from “the other side.” When someone truly lacks mobility – David is a quadriplegic – then the term mobility is not about planes, trains and automobiles. For Davie it is a way of life and a kludge!

Watch the video to see just how much technology and lateral thinking it takes to make Dave the productive star he is today. My hat goes off to him!

Will Hugo Shift?

It seems that HTC has actually hit most of the sweet spots geeks worldwide were looking for. Perhaps this was a fluke, or perhaps intentional, but no matter how they came about their design it has definitely caught the attention of many. I for one have never seen such a flurry of emails come into my Inbox regarding any other product – and that’s saying a lot. From the moment Engadget released info I was pinged from Australia, New Zealand, England, India, China, United States, Spain and Germany. (NO JOKE!) So without further delay I will post my thoughts as per the request of many.

There are still a few grey areas about the HTC device but we have started to see a lot of details emerge. At this point we know a couple of things that I find positively exciting:
  • It will run Glass
  • It has a 7” Wide-touchscreen
  • Slide out Tilt Keyboard
  • And a massive array of connectivity options.
When I look at Glass I am not “that” excited about the fact that we will be able to see behind floating Window panes. What I am excited about however is that being able to run Glass means that the Shift must also pack a really nice graphics card in it. If it does do this then productivity via such a device will become a little easier. The first thing I will do when I get one is turn off Microsoft’s Glass effect and let the Shift graphics card calculate more important algorithms like assisting with load-baring on the CPU and multitasking too.

The Wide touchscreen has some clever advantages, and you only have to spend 5 minutes with the ASUS R2H to know this. One of the benefits of “wide” for me is how it interacts with Microsoft Office and the clever zoom feature incorporated everywhere. “Wide” allows users zoom and utilize as much screen real estate for each application as possible.

For me the slide out keyboard by far is the biggest winning feature on this device. When in Redmond last week I held a Medion UMPC and regrettably it struck me as heavy and awkward. The weight however is not what I mean when I say “heavy”; it’s actually the weight distribution. Because the keyboard slides the monitor up and away from the user it is implied, by manufacturers like Medion, that a user will use the keyboard with their thumbs. Sitting next to Craig Pringle I witnessed something very different and intuitive to him in that Craig tried immediately to touch-type on the Medion instead of dealing with the top-heavy body under his thumbs (very clever). This insight got me thinking that the slide out keyboard is still not the solution we are all waiting for…until The HTC Shift that is.

If you look at the slide out keyboard on the HTC device you will notice that it also tilts and lays flat on the workspace in front of the user. Therefore the implied usage is that of a touch-typist as opposed to that of a SMS-ist! The one thing I hated about the 7” Medion UMPC was this top-heavy weight distribution model they had adopted. It is almost ridiculous for manufacturers to expect this to work. I think HTC has done a great job of this concept and time will only tell if they have pulled it off or not. Interestingly it will come down to the action on the keys and the physical layout too.

The one thing this blog would like to comment on but cannot is the Pen and Touch features of the device. This will be a sticking point for me given that not all touchscreens are the same. If you haven’t done so you might want to watch my video review of 5 UMPC. You will quickly catch up to speed on my thoughts.Overall the device, at this point in time, has to be rated as a 7 or 8 out of 10 for proof of concept. It addresses a lot of issues and does so in a very compelling fashion.
Until I get my hands on one I will not know for sure just how much fun is in the function but I will let you know if I find out. If I were Medion I would be very concerned about my future UMPC sales. If I were OQO I would be very happy as the OQO 02 will probably appeal even more so to the funkier SMS-ist while the HTC UMPC will probably capture Mr. and Mrs. Touch-Typist.
As a closing note - will Hugo shift? I'm leaning more to yes than no on this one; and if you've followed my blog for more than six and a half minutes you'll know I nearly never recommend before testing anything. Oh! And on a side note, how good is the name!!! Endless marketing possibilities.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday drive but which UMPC

This Sunday I had the opportunity to spend a little time with a friend, my wife and kids, and take a drive down the Northern Beaches. The location was the Newport Arms Hotel and the distance about 45 minutes. I could have packed a few CDs in the car but I remembered I needed to also prepare some emails. So without much haste, since life is truly Ultra Mobile around my house, I grabbed my Samsung USB-to-USB data transfer cable (no drivers needed) and linked up my Raon Digital Vgea with my Samsung Q1P.

It took less than 10 minutes to get 4GB worth of music that had sat on my Vega onto the Q1P and I was ready to go. The reason I took the Q1P, in case you're interested, is the screen brightness (280 nit), and the fact that I had the latest edition of the Microsoft Origami Experience pack. The reason this is so nice is that my media player is now encapsulated in this Origami Pack and displayed with really large finger-licking buttons. SO no matter who has it in their hands we can all tell the music what to do.

All that was left was to plug in my $6.50 analog audio-in adapter into my cassette tape deck and let the good times roll. (When will car manufacturers learn that an iPod is a stupid device and a UMPC, cradled into the car dashboard as my car stereo and GPS, is much better? Maybe 2010!)

I hope you have/had/having a great weekend too.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Chuzzle a hit on Q1P

As you know I have come home (from Seattle) with a Samsung Q1P in my pocket. I haven't had a lot of time with the device and I know many of you are waiting for in depth technical review of the product. Until then however allow me to share this, “Chuzzle Rocks!”

Chuzzle is a game designed by PopCap. And my son loves it. Here he is playing the UMPC friendly game that fits nicely into the full screen. The best bit is that it can be played using nothing more than the finger. I’m sure the fact that my Q1P has a HID (Human Interface Device) Driver installed also helps.

Samsung Q1P and Chuzzle!
Natural Interaction is the Future!

TabletKiosk i215 Sahara Slate - SlashGear

Hugo Ortega on the Amtek TabletKiosk T200 Sahara i215

Slash Gear recently announced a new Slate by a Taiwanese OEM named Amtek. The model number is the T200 and the branding is iTablet; Warner was quick to spot it too. What I found interesting was that I have had the exact same model under my pillow for over two years. I even blogged about some Tablet PC surgery I performed on her (don’t try this at home folks). Over this period the only negative about the device, other than the retro specifications, was that it was never built to run Windows Vista, that is until I received an email from a friend recently.

It turns out that the Manufacturer Amtek, had in fact released a Vista BIOS that now allowed for the installation to occur. So instead of going through the install on my own I thought I would make you all part of my work day and share with you the Vista install. Enjoy!

By the way, Amtek is the manufacturer while Tablet Kiosk is the ODM; just like the ASUS is the manufacturer and Motion Computing is the ODM. The most exciting thing about the Sahara is that it just had a new sibling, the i440D.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Samsung Q1 and Audi Keyboard

Hugo Ortega on Audi Keyboard

Before time got away from me I wanted to post a first-look at the Audi Keyboard solution I recently spearheaded for the Melbourne Motorshow (02 March to 12 March 2007). The basic concept involves a Samsung Q1 UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) as a device used to capture details of visitors to the Audi stand.

A custom made software keyboard was developed in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and designed using Expression Blend. Its purpose was to allow stand attendants to enter information in a natural way (with a QWERTY keyboard) and with the added benefit of custom functions like a key for "", and Audi branding. Tegatech Australia (the Tablet guys), Dr Neil Roodyn and UK interaction design firm Tricky Business collaborated on the project to bring it to fruition.

This is a great example of how XAML provides the glue to allow developers and designers to work together - exactly why Microsoft came up with it in the first place.

How it looked on the Samsung Q1.

Related Links:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I get my face on the Q1 Ultra

Sounds like a strange blog post I know, but it just gets stranger from here, so brace yourself. *smiles*

It seems as though the Tablet and Ultra-Mobile PC community are a bunch of maniacal one-eyed geeks and freeks. On this occassion it is Germany that has got my attention via ältere Beiträge. Not only has he been at the CebIT Fair in Hannover, but he has got his hands on a Samsung Q1 Ultra. Now instead of doing something productive he has struggled with the new QWERTY keyboard to actually type in my URL. LOL. So these images are of him looking at me while I'm looking at him...I love the virtual world and my virtual friends!

Where will Hugo Ortega pop up next? I truly do not know! Thank you ältere you've got my Sunday off to a really awesome start. I alsmost feel like I've spent time with the Q1 Ultra too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Got my hands on a Q1P

I've returned to Australia from the United States and more excited about Tablet PC than ever. While some of you are screaming for updates I will have to let you know up front that most of what I saw/heard/touched is under strict NDA. I will however tell you this, the Ultra-Mobile PC platform is here to stay and shows no sign of slowing its coverage. In short...EXPECT MORE!

From all the things I can't report there are some things I can. The first is that I have expanaded "the family." I've actually pulled back into Old Sydney Town with a Samsung Q1P in my pocket (figuratively speaking). This little device now rounds up my Samsung trio to include the Q1, Q1B and Q1P. In the next few days I'll post more thoughts but let me know what I need to cover off for you! I'm pretty excited about having the P as it is the only Samsung with a Pentium M; so multitasking is just around the corner - now Kevin Tofel and I have even more in common than ever. Make sure you read some of his latest posts regarding his interactions with a Samsung Q1P.

In other news I also managed to get my hands on a Medion UMPC, albeit a demo (non-working) unit. Whilst I could not boot the device I can assure you it probably runs OK. What was interesting was the form factor. Not only did it feel good in hand but it also was quite funky! The slide-out keyboard concept is functional and I can only imagine it is going to become a common feature as we see more manufacturers enter the market.

So enough unsaid said. Stay well, speak soon.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Blogging from the Northern Hemisphere

Sitting at Tacoma Airport Seattle I thought I would take a moment to talk about the Vulcan Flip Start and the Motion C5. Whilst I didn’t spend a great deal of time with the devices in my hand I figure it’s probably a lot more time than many of you did. So in order to maintain the “realtime” focus I’ve been working on I thought we’d take a little to look at them together. I’ll sit here and enjoy some food and wait for my flight, while you read some thoughts on these upcoming devices.

The Motion C5:

The Motion C5 is a device focused mostly on the Vertical Market arena, i.e. Medical specifically. Before I get into it too much I should probably be fair and say that I am sure many of you would be happy with a system like this too. The first thing we should talk about when looking at the C5 is the ergonomic qualities. What crosses my mind when I think of this first is the massive, hand-bag-like handle that dresses the top of the device.

Unbelievably I have to admit upfront that the handle is actually extremely useful/functional/helpful. My biggest concern when I saw the initial photos uploaded was that the equilibrium created by the placement of such a specific feature would be an instant failure. You need to remember that up to this point nothing had really been as boldly designed for carrying a Tablet PC. We had seen bags, pouches, slip cases and caddies, but never an integrated handle. The integration of such a concept into a production unit lends itself so easily to criticism…don’t you think?

The way I see it is that if the handle was anything other than perfect I would find it so easy to write pages and pages of criticism. As it turns out, the handle is perfect. (Shock I know). The handle is perfect…there I said it again. It is so good because it allows for firm grip; it allows for ease of transportation, and most importantly it has addressed many OH&S concerns normally associated with the use of Tablet. Incredibly it makes the device feel lightweight and promotes confidence in use. If there was one thing that came out of several conversations with the Tablet PC MVPs this week it would be that Tablet is still the best digital replacement for Pen and Paper. And if you also consider that Pen and Paper is normally carried using a clipboard then you’ll see that the Motion C5 has actually taken us forward in development and not back at all.

Continuing on with the concept of ergonomic developments it is probably good to mention that the C5 is draped in the nicest rubberized backing I have ever felt on a Tablet chassis. It isn’t as cheap and nasty as I might have just made it sound, it is a rubber that provides cushion, and, I cannot confirm, but I am pretty sure it also provided some insulation against the heat of the CPU and HDD to the user. This coupled with the handle truly lend this slate for use as a Slate PC. While this sounds like an obvious thing to say, you would hate to know just how many slate users spend most their life looking for a keyboard. In this case I believe the slate user would spend most their time spending time as a slate user. Nice!

Another feature is the internal specifications. Some features that spring to mind are not the features often associated with Tablet PC. For instance, on the handle there is a two-part switch. One click forward activates a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Scanner, and one click back activates an Infra Red Scanner. This obviously isn’t designed to meet consumer needs but it does talk very nicely to Vertical Market needs. The other neat feature is the inclusion of a digital still camera facing away from the user. What is cool extremely useful is that the Tablet screen also becomes the viewfinder for taking the photo. The obvious implications of this in the medical environment are that a nurse or doctor could take photos of patients (and their related wounds) and take notes using some specifically designed software. This can improve functionality and has obvious implications on overall productivity too.

One of the features that Rob Bushway pointed out, that is really significant, is the use of the flush mounted screen. The reason this is so crucial is that as a Slate Tablet User, one normally spends most of their time leaning on the glass. If there is any sign of ridges or valleys where the screen resides then the user experience becomes instantly compromised. Many of you may have not have had much Tablet experience to date but a flush mount screen certainly is something you would appreciate on slates….trust me.

So my first experience with the C5 has been a rather positive one. Whilst it is most certainly targeted at the Medical Arena I can really see some of you carrying this around as the ultimate Slate PC. I don’t know the final hardware specs, or the “pretended” battery life. All I do know is that if Motion wants me to spend a few weeks with one of these I would be happy to put it through its paces, especially when you consider that the pen and ink experience is exceptional too. Craig Pringle has added: "For the record all of my interactions with Motion Service and support home been positive and have been through the NZ distributor i-toyz, who do a great job."

Now the FlipStart. Regrettably I did not spend much time with the FlipStart but I did manage to capture lots of people’s reactions as they approached James with the device. Up front it obviously gets the WOW factor associated with anything big, dull and cumbersome, i.e. “WOW, that’s really average!” It isn’t that the function is lacking, but more so, the finish that first strikes everyone as the most unappealing feature. The machine is thick, heavy, thick and did I mention heavy!?!? The other WOW factor is that James Kendrick, who I got to know really well this week, is the FlipStart’s number one fan.

As James battles through the same issues every few minutes he also impresses me as he begins to present features and benefits not already found in other similar devices. The battery life he claims is exceptional; and the QWERTY keyboard is rather functional when used primarily with your thumbs, but “I wouldn’t like to touch-type on it” said fellow MVP Craig Pringle. The mouse pad seems to work very well and is a rather disproportionately large size, which becomes a benefit in itself. The best feature is found however when you close the lid!

When the user closes the Vulcan FlipStart what they are instantly faced with is the future…wrapped up in retro clothing. Let me explain. Many of you may have heard of Windows Vista SideShow. SideShow technology is based on rendering, or displaying if you like, local information (stored on the device) on an easily readable external format. The format is usually a screen that provides the user a window-like view into a sleeping notebook’s data. Through SideShow a user can look at photos, listen to music and read freshly received email without the need to even boot the PC. What Vulcan has done is NOT use SideShow but they have rejuvenated existing technology and provided the same window into the sleeping FlipStart. So what can you see? Well rather remarkably a user can see emails (and read them) and calendar events (and read them) and contact details (and read them). You get the point.

So what do I think of the FlipStart? The FlipStart is the best notebook like UMPC available in the 4” – 5” range. It’s QWERTY-ness and effectiveness in which it renders its mobility features is truly amazing. I can see why James is so passionate about this device as it truly reflects the power of a mobile PC device. What was missed however was the ability to let user naturally interact with either Pen or Touch. This to me is where future computing lies and any company that gives me anything less than a touch screen has missed the mark. Since being introduced to Pen and Touch my productivity has felt more intuitive, I have been able to function more easily and at the speed of thought. I no longer feel a lag in my thinking and in fact I have witnessed a spike in my own processing of information. So Vulcan would need to introduce touch, and possible a convertible feature in the screen to make me more convinced.

So sorry I could not shoot the video I promised but I am sure you realized just how busy I have been this week. I still can’t believe Bill Gates looked at me! So as I sit in the Tacoma Airport departure lounge, with my Samsung Q1 and 8 cell battery bank plugged in, I can’t help but think that UMPC is right on track. I’ll be offline for the next 24 hrs (mostly in the air). But I will be back bigger and better than ever (mostly due to all the eating I am about to do). LOL

I will miss you Northern Hemisphere…you’ve been good to me!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Vulcan Flip Start and Motion C5

Today was Building 32 day.

The first thing you need to know about Building 32 is just how much this building has (indirectly) impacted my life. Since seeing my first Tablet PC my life was eternally changed forever. The only other three occasions my life was transformed as much would have been on my Wedding Day, and at the Birth of my first and second child. It was Dr. Neil that showed me my first Tablet and it was TabletKiosk that had given him a Sahara i215 Slate to play with.

Since Tablet PC has come into my life I have had more sleepless nights than I care to remember. Not sleepless from anger, fear or upset, but due to absolute adrenalin and passion. That moment was so impactful that I bought one, I ordered another, and then decided to start a business based on it. The other consequence of this ominous meeting was the fact that I became a blogger too! So if you’ve followed me for more than six minutes you'll probably know that the impact has been massive to say the least.

So back to building 32. As we met outside The Grand Hyatt on 7th Avenue, Seattle, it was definitely “cold” outside. I was full of excitement as I was about to make my first trip to the Microsoft Campus in Redmond. As we pulled in I must admit that I was overwhelmed by a feeling of completion. While to some of you this might sound like some blogging bullshit but to me it is sincere. As I pulled into the Redmond Campus I also pulled into the original home of the Tablet PC Team. After meandering through countless corridors, glass doors and security checks, we arrived at Building 32, the building where the Tablet PC Team spend all their time. In there we met with him, her, him, him, her, her and yes, him too. (Sorry all NDA.) We also talked about that, this, this, this, that, this and that too! (Sorry).

The best thing about being a Tablet PC MVP is meeting the people. The second best thing of being a Tablet PC MVP is the gadgets. The following photos are me standing with the brand new, yet to be released, Motion C5 and the Vulcan FlipStart. I promise that tomorrow I’ll get some video footage of these for you.

Motion C5

Vulcan FlipStart

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hugo Ortega practices what he preaches

You may remember my 3 part video of the Samsung Q1 and why/how I managed to take myself from Tablet user to fulltime Ultra-Mobile PC user. In the video I detailed the specific use of extended batteries to make my life more mobile, and the use of the Samsung Organiser pack to make my productivity more effective.

What I am posting is a photo that sums up exactly what I was talking about in my video. In the video I mentioned the Organsier Pack and how it allowed me to (obviously) use the keyboard, but at the same time fold the keyboard underneath itself to use the Q1 in slate mode. I also described the use of the 6 cell battery to get 4hrs+ battery life, but more importantly I also blogged about the way I use the Samsung Q1 PowerBank. The PowerBank is an 8-cell external battery that not only powers my device but actually chargers it too! (The cable leading from the Q1 to my Oakley Bag that came with my free Acer Ferrari is actually connected to my Q1, and charging it while I stand.)

Blurry photo care of Anonymous
Q1 + 6-cell + 8-cell in bag = Happy Hugo Ortega

So, in this photo, what you are seeing is Hugo Ortega practicing, and benefiting from, what he preaches. I am content with my mobile setup and finding that it has quickly become one of the most intriguing setups at the Summit. I am constantly finding myself pulled aside by other MVPs to answer questions regarding my kit, and Ultra-Mobile PC in general. So has it been worth the trip? Absolutley, to preach to the converted is always fun. LOL.

Bill Gates still totes the Tablet

This morning I had my first opportunity to see Mr. Bill Gates live. There was a real buzz in the air. Not only was the MVP Summit made up of “experts” worldwide but an increasing number of these experts are from overseas, i.e. those other than The Americas. For these folks, to whom I happen to belong, the ability to see Bill G live was something we all looked forward to.

As the group finished breakfast and began to line up outside the auditorium you could feel the excitement. Not only were folks starting to fight for the front row, but, there was actually chanting and cheering as well. Once the doors finally opened there was such a rush that if you WEREN’T using shoulders to sneak past other MVPs then you probably would not get a good seat. As it turns out, Craig Pringle, Dennis Rice, Rob Bushway and I all have good elbow power. We made it (as a group) to the third row from the front. At a quick glance I realized that many folks had video cameras out and no one was stopping them. So without delay I whipped out my camera and started filming.

Filming has a lot of negative repercussions (possibly) as I signed more NDAs leading up to this than I care to remember. What I have chosen to do is post a magic moment that occurred during the chat that relates to Tablet PC. Be careful however, if I am asked to pull it down, I will. If I don’t need to pull it down then I will leave it up to prove that Bill G still has Tablet on his mind, and in his heart. Nothing NDA there, just lots of love…and yes, that is me yelling out and getting their attention! LOL.

And yes, that is me yelling out to Bill!

Tablet at Hurrican Katrina

I've just finished with Bill Gates and am feeling pretty good. The buzz you get from sharing time with Bill, and with such a variety of "experts" from all over the world is absolutley awesome. I'll post a little video later that will show just how much Bill G loves the Tablet.

In other news, I am about to go into my first session but while I was sitting with Rob Bushway and Dennis Rice we had a SharePoint MVP come up to me and talk Tablet. What attracted him was the Samsung Q1 (which he had never seen before) as I was using WiFi and typing emails via my Organsier Pack he couldn't help but tap me on the shoulder and ask, "what is that!"

That may not sound relevant but it turns out this guy is a Tablet user that was involved in rescue in New Orleands, Hurrican Katrina. His business, he is activley involved. Turns out his use of a Tablet coupled with GPS and Streets and Trips he was able to BETTER assist the

Read Here: The use of Microsoft technologies to support search operations following hurricane Katrina


Technology touches our daily lives in so many ways that most of us have become complacent about how we work and use common applications. In disaster situations search teams are called upon to assist in rescue and recovery operations under extreme conditions. While these teams use specialized training and tools to perform many of their tasks, they also use common Microsoft applications to complete their missions.

I'm off to the MVP Summit sessions now (real time - NOW) and will talk to you guys again soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So we decided to have our own dinner instead...

Tonight was just fantastic. Not so much because of content at the MVP Summit, as we haven’t even had one session yet, but mostly due to the Tablet PC folks. As I mentioned earlier I had managed to hunt down, and be hunted, by various Tablet MVPs. After spending a couple of hours together we realized that we liked each other too much to separate at this early point. What Microsoft had planned for us – the Regional Dinners – was very different to what we planned for ourselves. So instead of clowning around with our locals (something we do every day) we decided to clown around with our product team, something that had never happened before.

At the dinner we spoke of nothing other than Tablet…true story. Even when topics changed subject they were quickly associated with something to do with Tablet. The restaurant we went to was a rather classy Italian Restaurant named Il Fornaio. It served up some amazing meals of which mine was the biggest talking point – a dinosaur impersonating lamb shank!

The highlight for me was watching Dennis Rice and Chris Deherrara argue over the merits of Active Digitizer versus Resistive Touch. There were lots of good points made but I will leave it to them individually to report on the findings. Interestingly James Kendrick joined-in in support of Touch!

Here’s a photo from the gathering, care of GottaBeMobile (as too was dinner!!!)

Dennis Rice, Craig Pringle, Chris Deherrara, Frank La Vigne, Rob Bushway, Josh Einstein, Andrew Brown, Tracy Hooten, Linda Epstein, Lora Heiny, Chris Hassler, James Kendrick, and yours truly, Hugo Ortega.

My Q1B makes it to The Aussie Outback

As you know I am in the United States and have managed to bring some of my Gadget Bag but not all. A notable omission is the Samsung Q1B which I loaned out. Which begs the question, who has it? Believe it or not the answer is VIA Technologies (indirectly).

It turns out that Fiona of ViaArena contacted me, after Samsung Australia had sent her to me, looking for a Samsung Q1B. Neither Samsung Australia, or VIA Technologies could help her…but I could!

The reason she wanted the Q1B is quite obvious if you know the internal workings of the device, i.e. it has a VIA Ultra Low Voltage processor. The main reason for needing it was a road trip she and her husband were about to go on in rural Australia…yes, The Outback!

Via Arena, in case you haven’t been there, is the official VIA Technologies, Inc. blog/forum. Fiona and her husband John are the official writers of the blog, and all round good guys. Their task on this occasion was to head to some cattle stations in rural Australia in search of the VIA EPIA EN mainboard in action.

So if you want to know where my Q1B has been while I am in Redmond, and if you’re interested in a really grass roots (pardon the pun) application for VIA Technologies then head over to this post.

Here is a snipping:

  • When? Wednesday 6th March 2007 - Sunday 11th March 2007

  • Who's going? Us! John and Fiona Gatt from VIA Arena

  • Why? To try working on the road with a UMPC with a wireless Internet connection and to check out an interesting use for VIA EPIA motherboards that have been employed in cattle stations in rurual Australia.

  • Distance to be travelled? 877.78 kms or 545.42 miles (times 2 for the round trip)

  • Estimated travel time? 10 hours of driving each way

  • Route to be travelled? Melbourne to Dubbo, stopping at Shepparton and Narrandera.

Tablet MVPs meet at the Tablet Summit

Blooging from the Northern Hemisphere was always going to be fun. Not because of any benefits in timing, weather or orientation, but mostly from the people point of view. Now probably most of you would not believe me but I have never met 98% of the Tablet PC MVPs in the globe. So when you hear me on a first name basis with James, Rob, Dennis, Craig, Marc, and others, it really isn’t based on real-world friendships but mostly on virtual ones. Today I got a chance to shake hands (real ones) and share smiles with the gang. It was awesome having Dennis and Marc come up to me this morning and say “HEY HUGO!” It was enough to make me go weak at the knees (lol). What did the movie say…”you had me at Hello!”

So this video is a quick glimpse of the world’s most passionate Tablet PC evangelists sitting round a Tablet sharing tales. It’s mostly a hello video with no real depth or message other than a shout-out. Tonight we have Regional Dinners but you will be pleased to know that The Tablet People are actually going out on a separate dinner…a Tablet Dinner. We will be rude and turn our backs on our regions with the intention of getting to know each other just a little bit better. I’m looking forward to posting more from there.

Thanks for your support guys! (By the way is there anything you want me to ask them in particular?)

Tablet People talking Tablet things

Monday, March 12, 2007

Day one and MVPs are everywhere

My Q1, Q1 8-cell, Acer Ferrari 1000, JVC Everio HDD Camera, phones, papers, pens, mice, watches...what's a geek to do!

Day one in Seattle has been a blast. The MVP Summit has not even commenced and I've already met more new folks than I probably met all year last year. Sitting in my hotel room I was pinged by nearly everyone on my IM list; one was wishing me luck, another the best, another wanted me to tell Neil to keep podcasting! Of all of them my favorite was a blogger wanting to remain anonymous after sending me this particular link. It seems as though there is a conspiracy theory for everything isn’t there?

Tomorrow I have coffee and cake (maybe breakfast if we wake up in time) with James Kendrick, Rob Bushway, Dennis Rice and more. I will keep you posted if this occurs and will do my best to take some photos. Although some of you may not believe me, it will be our first time together – mine with them that is. It reminds me of the tale James shared recently at CES this year as it was the second time only that he and Kevin Tofel had met. Amazing.

So what did I get up to tonight? Tonight I floated around. First I went to Gameworks – an electronic gaming lounge and fun park – where I sat with all the Mobile Device MVPs. As you might guess there I was greeted by an array of Dopod, Razor, Tazor and Amazor phones (the last two are made-up). The conversations were fun and focused totally and solely on mobility; no surprise there. I even met Mauricio Freitas for the first time where I looked at his IM list o(n his phone) and saw my friend Long Zheng on there…this kid is everywhere.

After Gameworks I took a walk down the road with Nick Randolph, Australia only Mobile Developer MVP, to another Bar down 5th Avenue. This time it was to hang out with Wayne Small of the SBS User Group “International.” Now these guys are true geeks. In the bar we drank Red Beer, ate carrot sticks and Indian Samosa sticks, while chewing over Small Business Server issues. Half way through the night all the Aussies were pulled aside and informed that Wayne was celebrating his Birthday. In true geek style the team had organized a big fat cake to make its way towards the front of the room as all the Aussies started yelling, at full pitch, “Aussie, Aussie Aussie!” “Oi! Oi! Oi!”

The pub was a roar of laughter and excitement as geeks shared tales of Ethernet, Online Protocols and Service Pack mayhem. I love these guys. Tomorrow is registration day and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

UMPC get off to a positive start

Standing in line at the Internation Terminal in Sydney I was unaware that my first positive UMMPC experience was only but seconds away. As I waited for the United Airlines lady to usher me over I remembered that I still hadn't notified the airline of my frequent flyer membership status. Due to a recent trip to China I was now a memeber of Krisflyer and I was keen to get my mileage up. Regrettably my membership card had stilled not arrived so what could I do. All of a sudden I remembered an email I had received with my membership number on it. The dilemma I faced was that my Acer Ferrari (with the meil in it) was buried inside my luggage and safely under locak and key. Then I remebered the Q1.

My Smaung Q1 has now become one of my intimate travelling mates. It goes where I go, and vice-versa. As the line crept forward I was under pressure to perform while managing to keep my cool - don't want anyone to see me making sudden movement (you know, this day and age and all that!) So as the catterpillar took one step forward I decided to open my hand luggage and reach for my Q1, now sleeping for over 45 minutes and intending on staying that way for at least another three hours. SO quietly I stroked the power button and brought the device back to wake.

I navigated the start menu, launched Outlook, and went to my "Travel" folder. In there I scrolled to my Krisflyer email and found what I was looking for, my membership number. All that was left to do was write down the number on my itinerary, send the Q1 back to sleep, place her in my bag and smile as if everything was OK. As the line graced forward I too smiled contently knowing that I rapidly living what I was preaching. I could feel a stare over my left shoulder and as I looked I caught the eye of a little boy standing with mouth wide open and eyes popping out of head! The little guy had seen me do all this in under 22 seconds (but who's counting) and was proably shocked not to find a keybaord or mouse in sight...nothing but a finger.

As I reached the front of the line I was now all smiles and feeling full of confidence for my trip. As I sit at the terminal (no less than 25 minutes before boarding my flight to San Fran) I can't help but remain contended and excited about the week to come. As I left my wife and two children this morning there was a sense of pride in the air..."daddy's going to see Bill Gates!' Saif my 5 yr old. Life's good isn't it!?

So the journey has begun, and as per my trip to China, this post is the first of many realtime posts that will be provided throughout the week! I am off to the United States to spend time with the folks in Redmond Head Office. It will be great fun and you can expect to fun posts from here. Have a great day guys.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Hugo Ortega is off to Redmond

Tonight I can hardly sleep – although my body is screaming for me to hit the sack! Tomorrow I am heading to the International Terminal and borading a United Airlines plane bound for the mothership…Redmond. I’m sure most of you are aware that Redmond, Seattle, USA, is the homeland of Microsoft Corporation. I am extremley excited as I will have back-to-back meetings and conferences with the Tablet PC Team and many more.

The reason for my visit is to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit. This event is designed to bring together the dudes making the cogs turn, globally, on a non-renumerated basis. Well, they might be paid by there own means but these are the guys that are not employed in any way, shape or form by Microsoft Proper. As you know I became an MVP late last year so it is truly exciting to be getting on that plane, especially when you consider that the event is held every 18-months, and Bill Gates won't be around for the next one.

Have I ever been to Seattle? Yes. I was there in 1993 representing Australia in Basketball. We played 20 games over 22 days, and got our butts very kicked a long the way. :-) Have I ever been to the Microsoft Campus? No. I have never been and to be honest up until 2005 I didn’t even know it existed. What I liken the feeling to is that level of anticipation and aspiration that I felt the first time I went to Disney Land - as a 9 year old. The reason it feels similar is that the shear thought of visiting the heart of the mity empire named Microsoft also congers feelings of bliss, happiness, joy, excitement and definitley awakens the inner-geek in me.

So from me to you I wish you the best this year and hope that the journeys I go on somehow also empower you. I know that I am a little behind on Vlogs but it is just an inevitable result of the amount of growth I am going through right now. Ideally I will be sitting with several key players in the Tablet space and beyond. If I get the chance I will Vlog in some shape or form. If I don’t I will surely post photos and thoughts.

Till then…take care! BTW, Tuesday morning I have a 2hr sessions with Bill Gates, including audience Question and Answer. OMG! What should I ask him?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Keyboard and Mouse sharing for UMPC

Recently I posted my first edition of “What’s in my gadget bag?” This was a very popular post that did the rounds amongst all the local legends including Sumo Cat and GottaBeMobile. The reason I posted the video was that I was going on my first trip to China, an event hosted by Microsoft regarding Vista Labs. This time I probably won’t do a new “What’s in my gadget bag?” because not much has changed. What has been added, however, is a new gadget!

Most of you may know of, or may even be using, The Synergy Project. The Synergy Project is a nice bit of software developed to share one keyboard and mouse over remote access. This access may come in the form of Ethernet of wireless and give the user the ability to copy/paste while sharing one keyboard and mouse between two, three or even four or more PCs. SO when you think of Synergy Project it is not hard to think of Ultra-Mobile PC. Until now that is.

One thing about Synergy Project that always bugged me was the lag, drag, and delay associated with the remote connection. Obviously when moving one mouse from left to right and back again it is software like the Synergy Project that sometimes experiences intermittent laziness. Admittedly I was a big fan and have been promoting it often. Until now that is.

My new favorite friend is my Clixon VCC-300. It is a hardware based keyboard and mouse share and best of all it is clipboard share, Internet share and all bundled in a USB to USB dongle. So when you ask what else is in my gadget bag, you know what I will answer, my Clixon VCC-300. I know they will be available in Australia soon via Tegatech Australia but I do not know who else or where else you can get them. Here is a link to the Clixon Website. Vista drivers are available too.

Oh, that reminds me. Happy Birthday Dr. neil! We hope you liked your Clixon VCC-300!

Samsung Q2 not announced in Australia...yet

Don’t think I was going to let the Samsung Q2 go under the radar just like that! I was caught up with so much work and distracted with the fact that I will be overseas soon (more on that later). I’m want to take a moment to contribute thoughts regarding the new release in the hope of assisting some of my loyal readers.

The Samsung Q2 looks ergonomically fantastic. The QWERTY keyboard while, yes, it is split, I can certainly appreciate the thought that has gone into the positioning. If you think about your poor wrists, and just how top heavy this unit might have been had the QWERTY keyboard been placed at the bottom of the device, then you might consider the positioning a fluke, or a clever OH&S (Operation Health and Safety) consideration.

Another massive benefit on the Q2 is the camera array! How many times I have heard people wish that the Video Camera staring at them on an ASUS R2H or an EO i7210 was actually a Digital still camera, and placed on the other side. Well, lots! The inherent productivity benefits for someone working in an asset management environment or with data mining applications is massive here. Add the Tablet PC features (more on that in a minute) and the camera array becomes corporately appealing…we all know it’s also geek heaven.

The introduction of left and right click for me is a winner. I find myself favouring this form of input so often on the R2H and the EO i7200 series. It makes navigation, and especially right-click, a lot easier. On the Samsung Q1, Q1B and Q1P, one could always program the hotkeys (U1 through to U4) to perform this task, but I always preferred to program those for something much more convenient, and far less menial. Look at this video to remind yourself what I thought of programmable hotkeys.

Next I must admit that biometric is very useful. Recently when I was exploring the ability for touch screen devices to wake-on-touch I realized that it was not achievable because of hardware limitations. Because most touch screens that sit inside these Origami devices are based on an internal USB touch controller they therefore lack the ability to wake-on-touch, i.e. come back out of standby by simply tapping on the screen. I don’t know if you guys know but a fingerprint reader can actually be told to wake the device out of standby! To me this presents a quirky Star Trek type of feature that is also highly functional. I know I will be looking further into this when I get my Q2.

On the negative side it is probably crucial that we remember one important feature that is Absent Without Leave (AWOL). The TIP (Tablet Input Panel). Now I might be wrong, and I might be repeating what a hundred other Tablet blogs are saying (I haven’t been reading, sorry) but doesn’t Vista Home Edition lose Tablet PC features? The features found in Start, All Programs and then found in the Tablet PC folder, will actually be missing and not available. This sends off warning bells for me as from the little I knew about the Origami Project I always thought that it was designed to bring down the cost of a traditional Tablet PC…not kill it off!

The second concern I have, especially after viewing the Engadget photos, is the physicality of the device. It looks as though the Q1 has been basking in its own glory for a little too long and in turn forgotten to keep slim. When looking at the photo of the person holding the Q2 it looks uncomfortably fatter and bigger overall. It may just be the way I am looking at it. You tell me.
Since some of you asked it might interest you to know that I heard about the Q2 and its QWERTY keyboard about 8 days ago only. I won’t say who let it slip because of fear of repercussion upon them but I can say it was someone of rank and authority. Upon hearing the news I was intrigued immediately and concerned for the ergonomics; I guess the Engadget photos have done a great job of answering that.

Now the sad news for Australians and New Zealanders; Samsung Korea is still not convinced there is a market here! I had to get their attention by selling Q1s as a grey import for several months before I was actually allowed to have them for “real”. The Q1B and Q1P are not available in this region and the Samsung Q2 is most certainly not coming any time soon either…unless I get involved again. What do you think? Should we get the Samsung Q2 to Australia?

In case you haven’t seen, have a look at the little banner ad one the website promoting the Q2 at the CeBIT Show Hannover. I’m sure it will be well covered by bloggers.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Audi take Ultra Mobile PC to a new level

Photos courtesy of: The Wolf

A couple of days ago I put up a rather cryptic post regarding 10 girls, one car and the Samsung Q1. So without further delay, but with some constraints still upon me, I would like to shed some more light.

Recently I was contacted by Audi Australia by a rather freshly-migrated sounding German man. His name was Wolf [no surprise there] and his desire was to automate the manner in which Audi records and interacts with leads (names and numbers) from the Motorshow floor. The upcoming Motorshow was to be held in Melbourne, and in a very German like manner Wolf had only given me a matter of days to help him address his problems…all of them.

So after several emails, a couple of meetings and a dinner, Wolf and I became intimately acquainted with Audi’s intentions. For one, they needed to digitize a somewhat prehistoric data entry strategy, and secondly they wanted to utilize the latest technologies, both hard and soft. So I call in the big guns, Samsung and Dr. Neil.

When faced with recommending a product to them I had to consider three important criteria, i.e. resistive touch qualities, battery life and heat. The touch was easy, and if you’ve watched my video on 5 UMPC you’ll know why I chose the Samsung Q1. The second concern, battery life, was not so easy but still addressable via the Samsung Q1; although, I had proposed the Q1B but had that quickly brought back down to earth by Samsung Australia. “It’s not available!’ they rudely proclaimed. The third issue was heat and that too was an obvious decision. (Watch the video).

So the hardware was ticked off but what about the software. One of the prerequisites was that we utilize their German hosted corporate website, and the other was that we give them the ability to input using nothing but the finger. Sounds easy right! Guess again. The TIP (Tablet Input Panel) was too small and other keyboards too big - and full of features not needed. So what did I do? I called upon the best, i.e. Dr. Neil Roodyn and Richard “Tricky” Basset in the United Kingdom. The rest…if you allow me, is history. The application is developed using the latest Microsoft technologies and agile development practices like Microsoft Expression Blend toolkit which produces XAML, a markup language used by the new Windows Presentation Foundation found in Microsoft .NET 3.0.

Tonight all I can do is post some images and allude once more to the entire solution. It’s 11pm here and I need to be on a plane in 6 hours (including sleep) bound for Melbourne. I will video, take photos and describe the entire feat after tomorrows Official release. Until then sleep well…UMPC is a success!

PS. Ther is a counter at the Audi showcase with a massive counter on it...counting down! I wonder what that is all about!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

UMPC is saving our Planet

for lovers of UMPC is that the little Ultra-Mobile devices are actually considered one of the smallest contributors to Green House Gases, and Carbon Dioxide gain.
As you all know Jon Dee is the founder of Planet Ark and he is also a Tablet PC user. His gola in life to to create a sustainable and renewable planet and he sees Tablet as playing a significant role in that; even the paperless office remains at the forefront of his Tablet PC productivity practices.

I want to take a moment to thank Jon and all of you that take the Planet seriously. I have been enthusiastic and interested but remain considerably ignorant. I pledge to make it my goal to gain any information that may be appropriate and disseminate it in the best way I know how, i.e. Speech, Vlog and Blog. If you guys want to be part of the solution then please point me to links and tips and tricks relating to PC/UMPC usage and caring for the environment.

As an FYI, and I know this won’t come please several of you, but Jon and I cannot shoot a video tomorrow due to other constraints once again. I will be “probably” be in Seattle next week on the MVP Summit which means the video may be delayed even further. I do promise to get back on the Camera however and it may even be tomorrow.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Jon Dee and Hugo Ortega back on Monday

Hi guys! I know many of you are waiting and I have failed to produce. There is a good reason however in that Jon and I had always planned this date (Monday 5th of March) and it was I that had enthusiastically, and mistakenly, promoted it as last Monday to you my readers.

Sorry! It will be worth the wait I promise as Jon will be on a high after being on Australia Television (COOL AID: The National Carbon Test) and after haven won and Oscar - or at least Al Gore did for his work on "An Inconvenient Truth" of which Jon is the Official Spokesman here.

OQO 02 to be announced in Australia

The most celebrated PC release of CES 2007 was the OQO 02 model. So with much excitement I am pleased to announce that Tegatech Australia has begun the process of uploading specifications and pricing. Stay tuned Australia, the OQO 02 will soon be here...with that funky dock too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Another set of podcasts

[Caution, what you are about to listen to may contain information considered secret and confidential]

Today I spent time with "The Shire IT Cluster." I was the keynote speaker and must admit that I had a ball! The room was full of Geeks and lovers of all things PCB and, for your convenience, I even managed to record the event.

This cluster turned out to be a real source of stimulation. After the event many of the attendees gathered around to talk about UMPC and acknowledged that the talk I gave had inspired them onto the next level. For followers of my blog it will come as no surprise though! ;-) One pleasant surprise was a visit from a reader of my blog that resides in the local area. Due to my initial shout-out he actually got in the car and drove down to the infamous SSHED to hang out with me…cool learn about UMPC. Oh, and, his name was actually…”HUGO.”

Listen to my talk here! [31 minutes, 17.4MB]

In other MP3 news, Dr. Neil and I ripped another podcast on "The Dr. Neil's Notes" show. On this occasion I had barely three minutes to prepare (cheers Neil) so what you'll listen to here is the banter and tease that Neil and I have now turned into a serious pass time! LOL.

WPF, XAML, .NET 3.0 UMPC and me

On Tuesday the 6th of March 2007 I will be allowed to blog about a secret project I have been leading with some of the greatest minds available. It has been a very exciting project and one that has kept me away from the blog…sorry. Now that I am back however I am pleased with the results and looking forward to disclosing more. Not only have we crossed the globe, virtually, to deliver a solution unseen previously but we have also made use of a great array of resources still considered bleeding edge. Thanks to Samsung Australia, Microsoft Head Office Redmond, Microsoft MVPs and more, the results are huge.

The project is built using a combination of the latest Microsoft technologies and agile development practices. Dr. Neil, a Microsoft Regional Director for Australia, in collaboration with Tricky Business a boutique interaction design studio in the UK worked with Tegatech Australia to deliver a custom made solution for one of the world’s leading Car Manufacturers and UMPC.
Richard ‘Tricky’ Bassett, CEO of Tricky Business took a hands-on approach personally overseeing the design of the keyboard using the Microsoft Expression Blend toolkit. Microsoft Expression Blend produces XAML, a markup language used by the new Windows Presentation Foundation found in Microsoft .NET 3.0.

Dr. Neil was then able to take the keyboard designed in XAML and place in into a functioning application that was developed in parallel. The core of the application sits on the Windows Shell (the desktop) an uses the Win32 APIs, the frame that hosts the keyboard is written using Microsoft’s .NET 2.0 Framework and the keyboard user interface is developed using Microsoft’s .NET 3.0 Windows Presentation Foundation Working across the globe with the aid of Skype and shared notes in Microsoft OneNote, the team delivered a shining example of what is achievable today.

You’ll be surprised how simple the solution really is and see just how much potential Ultra-Mobile PC has. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Australia sees a new Sahara

This evening the staff at Tegatech Australia must have been given a huge pay rise, or at least some free pizza! Why you might ask? Well, while Australia was sleeping and many countries were just waking, Tegatech Australia went live with pricing for the new range of Sahara Slate PCs.

The new models are as follows:

Some of the most compelling features of these devices are inclusions such as Intel Core Duo, support for up to 4GB of RAM, a PCMCIA slot, and the ability to accept both Active Digitizer and Resistive Touch…yes, on the same machine.
Enjoy Australia, New Zealand and beyond.