It is also worth looking at my two case studies on using tablet PCs and recording lectures, available from
or directly from
Part I: Toshiba tablet PC solutions
See that post for more details, including details of the precise settings that I used.)
- I have lots of strange problems when I run my laptop on battery power
This turned out to be the single main cause of almost all of my problems! Especially when running several programs at once (e.g. Windows Journal + Camtasia, recording audio and video), laptops can struggle when they are running on battery power instead of on mains power. See my blog for descriptions of some of the symptoms! The solution is easy: always use mains power when you are giving a presentation using your laptop.
- I am disappointed with the quality when I export my pdf files for use in Windows Journal
However, most of the time I view these slides at full page width, so that only half of each slide is visible at any one time on the data projector screen.
I found that the pdf “lecture skeleton” files I had produced using pdflatex looked fine on the screen, but when I printed them using the virtual printer Journal Note Writer to produce Windows Journal notes the results were disappointing. However I was able to obtain improved results by first “improving” the pdf file. I produced a new pdf file from the original by printing it via one of the available virtual pdf printers (e.g. Primo PDF or Adobe PDF). I then printed the “improved” pdf file using Journal Note Writer. This did produce better, but still imperfect, results. Different varieties of pdflatex also produce different results of different quality: I found that the results I oibtained from pdflatex under linux were better than the results obtained from using MikTeX’s pdflatex under Windows.
If you want the PDF to display perfectly during the class, it is better to use alternative software such as PDF Annotator.
- No matter what I do, I end up with the wrong display orientation on my tablet
There is a standard control panel Tablet and Pen Settings: in the “Display” tab you can specify your preferred orientation, and also you can choose to change the sequence of orientations the tablet uses if you use a tablet button to change orientation.
BUT this control panel can be overruled by the Toshiba Tablet PC Rotation Utility, which you can find via the Start Menu.
On both the M400 and the M750 I found this under
Start Menu -> All Programs -> Toshiba-> Tablet PC -> Rotation Utility
- Menus keep opening while I am trying to write in Windows Journal.
This and other strange behaviour I observed was due to me accidentally clicking the tablet pen side button while writing. Not everyone has this problem! In my case, I had to disable the tablet pen side button completely.
On the Toshiba M400: There are two relevant control panels, and also some options within Windows Journal. I started with the control panel Tablet and Pen Settings and, in the Pen Options tab, I unchecked “Use pen button to right click”.
However, I still observed some unusual effects when I pressed the button while writing. Further investigation revealed another control panel, Pen Tablet, which, under the Pen tab, allows you to disable the tablet pen buttons completely. In my case, this control panel appears to be designed for a pen with two side-buttons (in addition to the tip and the eraser). My tablet pen has only one of these side buttons: the one I needed to disable was the side-button shown as nearest to the tip in the control panel.
Finally, in Windows Journal, under Tools->Options->Other, I unchecked “Enable press and hold while writing” for additional safety. (This still allows you to obtain a right click using “press and hold” under other circumstances.)
On the Toshiba M750: The first difference here is that, on this machine, by default, “touch” is enabled so that you can use your finger instead of the tablet pen for some purposes. This caused me trouble, so I used the Touch Settings control panel, and unchecked the “Enable touch” box. However, I made the mistake of also unchecking “Press-and-Hold to Right-Click” here, and this disabled press-and-hold for the tablet pen too. Be warned! The control panel Tablet and Pen Settings is as above.
There is no Pen Tablet control panel on this machine, so I do not know for certain whether I have completely deactivated the pen button this time. I have not, however, been able to produce any ill-effects by pressing the button while writing.
The Windows Journal press-and-hold options are as above.
- Problems with widescreen tablets
The M750 has a widescreen display: it has an aspect ratio of 16:10 instead of 4:3. However, I have been using this tablet to present my classes using data projectors with the old aspect ratio of 4:3. There is apparently no entirely satisfactory solution to this. In the end, rather than putting up with distortion on one display or the other, I settled for using one of the 16:10 resolutions on the laptop. The data projectors recognize this, and you simply lose a bit of the vertical space on the display. This is a pity given that one of the main drawbacks of using tablet PCs to present is the limited amount of material which can be displayed at a time. However I did not find it was a significantly worse problem with 16:10 rather than 4:3.
- Windows Journal default page settings
I am sure that everyone will want to tune their Windows Journal default page settings to fit their own needs. Here is what I have used to fit with my teaching methodology.
Recall that I currently work with A4 portrait slides, but that these are usually displayed at “page width” view (continuous), so that about half of each slide is visible at a time.
In the View tab I have Insert space in full line increments checked.
I also started with Prompt when inserting too much space checked, but when prompted I chose “Insert a new page and move items …” and checked “Always use this setting”, so that this becomes an easy way to insert new pages in the middle of a Windows Journal document. (I have put a short video about this, with rather poor sound quality, on YouTube!)
Still under tools->options, clicking the Default Page Setup button gives several more tabs.
In the Paper tab, I have A4 Portrait (with usual width and height).
In the Style tab, I have my own custom style. On my old M400 I used thin blue horizontal rules spaced at 7mm, with no vertical rules and no margin rule, as this worked well when used at “page width” view (as described above). I have modified this slightly for the M750, where I use 7mm squares instead.
In the Background and Title Area tab I have no picture, and have unchecked Show title area on note.