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Entering Handwriting And Symbols Into Image File


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#1 dominose

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 02:46 PM

I'd like some way to enter math, creating an image file that's readable by anyone - like a .gif file, say - into my laptop. Not typesetting, but writing symbols by hand on something and turning it into a digital image.
What would be the best way of doing this? I have a laptop - Toshiba Satellite with Windows Vista. It's Vista Home Premium, so it has tablet support.
I wonder if the best way would be to write on a graphics tablet into Windows Paint, for example. I've been looking around and there are graphics tablets and digital notebooks. Some of these devices apparently record your writing into an image file themselves, and you transfer the file to the laptop. Some of them apparently just transfer the writing input directly to the laptop. I'm not sure which is best.
I have this pressure-sensitive area on my laptop, but it doesn't seem to work well for actually entering handwriting into Paint (is there maybe some kind of pen that will work to write on this area?)
Things that might be important:
- Writing area the size of a piece of paper might be good for writing down a long formula although I don't know if one gets used to entering writing on a smaller area.
- Good resolution so you can put in small symbols.
- Making a file in format that's generally readable, like you can convert it to a .gif file.
- Being able to edit it, like cutting sections and moving them, erasing, etc. Maybe Paint can do this while a "digital notebook" couldn't. I read something about digital notebooks making a separate file for each page, which sounds like it would cause problems if you want to edit it.
I'm totally new to all this, obviously. Probably many people are. But I realized it would be really nice to be able to just write down math on a tablet or something and show it to people over the net, without putting it into pidgin Latex like people usually do, or going to all the work of writing it up in an html file or a Latex file.
The other possibility is just to use a scanner. Maybe this is a better idea, scan in your handwritten notes and then edit them in Paint. A scanner can also scan in book pages that you want to save.
thanks
Laura

Edited by dominose, 18 March 2008 - 01:28 PM.


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#2 garmanma

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 04:14 PM

Are you talking about something like this?
Google-digital pen
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#3 dominose

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:12 AM

Are you talking about something like this?
Google-digital pen

I'm probably talking about a graphics tablet. The digital pens seem like they're trying to replicate things that could be done in Windows Paint, and they have things like handwriting recognition software that I don't want. Handwriting recognition might automatically do things I don't want - I wouldn't want software grabbing things I write and automatically "recognizing" them into text, wrongly. For example picking up subscripts and superscripts and automatically "correcting" them up or down. It seems like I'd be better off getting a graphics tablet without a lot of bundled software - some of them come with Adobe Photoshop for example, and I don't plan to edit pictures. Then if there were better software than Windows Paint around, I could buy that separately - but Paint might work pretty well with a graphics tablet (it's very laborious making images in Paint with just my laptop). In Windows Paint you can enter text using the keyboard, in a text box.
Or maybe a tablet PC, even - it'd be more portable than my laptop. I don't need to write into a tablet PC outside of my house right now, but it might be useful in the future? I'm not sure if a tablet PC is very expensive, some things that were described as tablet PC's, like the Adesso Cybertablet, don't cost much, and other things cost like $1300.
I'm not sure how a graphics tablet would interact with my laptop, whether you could, say, draw strings of symbols on the tablet, and type text in on the keyboard. I suppose it would have those two different modes, just like in Paint I can have a text box and type into it, and also draw using the laptop drag area.
Any thoughts? Maybe I should ask in a math group, other people have surely already thought about this.
The other possibility is just to use a scanner. Maybe this is a better idea, scan in your handwritten notes and then edit them in Paint. A scanner can also scan in book pages that you want to save.
thanks
Laura

Edited by dominose, 18 March 2008 - 01:29 PM.


#4 dominose

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 09:41 AM

Maybe the Iogear Digital Scribe, or some kind of digital pen, is what I need. From the description on http://www.iogear.com/product/GPEN100C, it works with the laptop in streaming mode, it doesn't automatically try to convert handwriting to text, because it doesn't come with such software - probably could be used in Windows Journal, though they mention the OneNote application to use with it, which I don't have. (Windows Journal supports tablet input so probably it's ok with this). You can see what you're writing because it also writes with ink on paper - apparently you get a streaming digital copy on the terminal. It also works with Microsoft Vista.
Other kinds of digital pens might really do the same thing, although a lot of them don't work with Vista.
A graphics tablet would probably work - but the inexpensive ones like Bamboo have a small work area, like only about 4x5". I wasn't sure if that would work for me. The work area is apparently mapped to the whole laptop screen - so that you'd have to write really tiny if you're writing small math symbols, like subscripts and subscripts of subscripts ... Maybe you can change the mapping so you don't have to scale down your handwriting, and that might work, if it's easy to move the area on the screen that the tablet is mapped to ...
With a small work area it seems like it's more useful as a pointing device. Graphics tablets have a lot of subtleties like pressure sensitivity which I don't need, and it seems like the tradeoff for that is a small work area.
Best Buy, which is the only store around here that has a graphics tablet, the Bamboo, doesn't let you try it! All they said was, we have a 30-day return policy. If all you can do when you go to the store is stare at the box and, why not buy it from Amazon ... The salesperson was not even very knowledgeable.
Anyway I'd appreciate comments - all this is very new to me and there are a lot of details involved in whether it'll work well, it's hard when I can't try one in a store and have to try to figure it out by surfing.
Laura

Edited by dominose, 20 March 2008 - 09:45 AM.


#5 garmanma

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 12:58 PM

You might try starting another post with "digital pen" in the title. I know a few people here use them. I'll see if I can contact a few
Mark
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#6 Sneakycyber

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 06:52 PM

Just hopped on http://Crave.cnet.com and found this is that what your interested in ?

Edited by Sneakycyber, 31 March 2008 - 06:53 PM.

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