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Handhelds Hardware

Alternative to Graffiti Input? 157

An anonymous coward writes "A team at NYU has developed a new text entry system for the palmpilot. It is much different than graffiti, and takes a little getting used to, but it is much much faster than graffiti. You can download it and play with a java demo here It seems pretty cool. "
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Alternative to Graffiti Input?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ummm... he wasn't asking how to do it. He was asking why his entirely unrelated mouse motion put a y on the screen. I think the applet is just a little sensitive. With a small amount of practice, though, I was able to write full sentences without any real problem. I would imagine with an actual palm pilot (andthe fact that there is some resistance when you move your stylus), it would work much better
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This might work pretty well if the cheat sheet diagram around the input area was built into the PDA.

    Yeah, good call. But I think that would only help beginners, or for those obscure punctuation marks that I can never remember in Grafitti either. A smaller square (without text) would help minimize path lengths and be quicker to use once you memorized the layout.

    Perhaps a cheat-sheet can pop up on the Pilot's display area (a la the keyboard), and allow you to drag letters in either the normal writing space or on the display. (I don't have my HotSync cable on me, or I'd have tried their demo by now. Maybe the feature is already there...)

    All in all, it's pretty cool. When I first bought my Pilot, I had visions of taking notes with the thing. Unfortunately, I can only write about 1/4 as fast with Grafitti as I can with a pencil; I keep making stupid mistakes and backspacing, or I don't move the pen far enough and end up with a dot-punctuation instead of two characters.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What I like about this system is that once one learns the "alphabet" it would work well on an amazingly large number of different input devices. Obviously any nine button pad such as a phone would work. But so would anything that can distinguish eight directional inputs and a center. Trackballs, gamepads, laptop touch pads, those Thinkpad pointing nipples, plus your more exotics like pupil trackers.
    A PDA which put a single thumb rocker for "typing" in the position you would normally put your thumb anyway would be much nicer for general input than the pen as your PDA would become a one handed machine. Alternatively, I'd love to have a glove that would monitor the movement of one finger.
  • Well, xkeycaps lets you type at a window, so this shouldn't be too hard to implement.
  • At work recently someone bought a writing tablet (Crosspad I believe was it's name) that does handwriting OCR. It's just a legal paper sized tablet on a platform, and you just take it to meetings or whatever and write away. Then when you get back to your computer, hook it into the serial port and it uploads & OCRs the handwriting.

    Anyway, has anyone used these sort of things much? Do they work reasonably well with decent handwriting. This guy's biggest problem was his horrible handwriting. I print mostly, so it shouldn't be that hard for it to recognize, but I want opinions before I spring a few hundred for one. Of course, Linux support would be nice, but I'd imagine not many developers have one to test and write the drivers for it.
  • It probably wouldn't be too hard to make up a little app that uses the number pad as someone else mentioned. But, can an X program send keyboard signals to another app? Say you have this app running, type the strokes on the number pad, than have it send the letters to a vt window.
  • Yeah, the hardest thing with the applet was keeping the mouse in the center, and not accidentally moving into one of the zones...
  • Judging from the Java applet, the system is good once you get the hang of it. As a Finn, I'm slightly concerned about whether they will remember to allow us and other non-Americans to type our funny characters (such as åäö). You would either need another shift or two, or the kind of "accent characters" that the Palm devices use.
  • But kinda cool once you play with it for a bit...
  • Hold down your green power key while pressing the reset button on the back of the Palm. You should get this prompt:

    Erase all data?
    YES - "up" button
    NO - any other button

    It's easier than waiting for the batteries to drain.

  • $ telnet www.mrl.nyu.edu 80
    Trying 128.122.47.64...
    Connected to MRL.NYU.EDU.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    HEAD /perlin/demos/Quikwrite.prc HTTP/1.0

    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    Server: Netscape-Enterprise/3.6
    Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 22:28:58 GMT
    Content-type: text/plain
    Last-modified: Thu, 13 Aug 1998 22:44:03 GMT
    Content-length: 5446
    Accept-ranges: bytes
    Connection: close

    Connection closed by foreign host.
    $
  • yeah, ./ must have eatten the angle brackets.
    the line with while should have lessthan and greaterthan inside of the (). which there is no way to enter in ./'s current setup. (i think)
  • Look at the other stuff on his website. There is a look of cool stuff there. Lots of Java applets. I like his Zooming User Interface (ZUI). It is a great idea.
  • ...Trapped in Windows. http://www.execpc.com/ikilledkenny/Quikwrite.zip I coudn't figger out how to get windows to d/l it as a binary, wo there you go. I must say it rocks heavily. Grafitti sucks.
  • Right! Except that doing it this way is slower, more expensive to build, more error-prone when using, and requires a stylus.

    Great solution, people...

    --Chouser
  • The layout is well though out. All of the vowels are easiest to produce and the common constants are also in easy to produce spaces. A few minutes is all it takes to learn the letter positions. Once you know even a few positions, such as the vowels, you can "type" reasonalble well with minimal "hunting and dragging"

    Now all I have to do is get a Pilot....

    -Viper
  • ...and I liked it. At first it was a little confusing looking but I was surprised at how fast I was able to input text after only a few minutes of playing with it. I don't have a Palm Pilot, so I'm not sure how "grafiti" works, otherwise I'd voice a comparison. Oh well.

    Kudos to the QuickWiting folks for daring to try something new like this. I like it.

    -Derek
  • well, palm pilots have that - tap the little 'abc' thing and a standard QUERTY keyboard appears. it's very simple, so when people who don't know graffiti try to use my pilot they invariably sit there tap-tap-tapping away at the letters. simple, yes, but it's like typing with one finger on a very small keyboard. a keyboard with no keys, no less.
  • It crashed my Palm V to and I don't even have any weird programs on it so:-(. So I went searching the newsgroup about it, and it turned out that the way to solve it was to hold down the page up button for 5 seconds while pressing the reset button. This made it possible to get it so I could delete the applet. For some reason it had installed itself as "This applicat" followed by an unprintable character.

    The problem probbably occurs because the program is executed and hangs in the boot sequence. At least that was the idea I got from the newsgroups. Anyone have a more enlightened answer?

    Torbjörn
  • I also have 3.0.2. I'm running HackMaster and SwitchHack (no other hacks). Your file may have been corrupted on download. Some web servers and browsers have problems with .prc files (i.e. not in a .zip) and will send them as text instead of binary. The correct file size is 5446. Netscape 4.5 for Linux works as long as you shift-click the link.
  • What a fresh approach to writing! I tried out the applet and really liked it, though it looks like some practice is necessary to get fast input. I wonder how many words per minute one could "type" with this? To increase input, though, I'd like to have some function keys to make shifting case, numerics, punctuation, etc. a bit faster.

    I don't like the name, though. While playing it, I was reminded of an old parlor game I used to play when I was a kid. Why not call it "Ouija Write?"

  • Well, that's what I thought, but then I decided to see if I could make it work. By cursively "looping" each character and drawing a straight, uniform length line from one character to the next, the system does translate into a written alphabet quite nicely.

    As cr0sh predicted, it looks quite alien, especially when the inter-character segments are vertical or even diagonal!

  • This is cool. What's really neat about it is that you could even use it to enter characters on a normal 8-direction gamepad - much better than one of those horrible onscreen keyboards. I have an 8- direction pad-button-scroller-thingy on my mouse, but have no clue how to make it work in Linux (maybe I should write a driver for it) - this would be a good use for it .

    This really makes me wish I could afford a PalmPilot.
  • damn this is a very simple to use product. it rates imop as good as 'jot' (which allows for natural handwriting).

    but then again what do u expect from the man who bought us the 'perlin noise' function used in rendering tools such as povray, 3dmax, renderman etc

    cant forget the day i rode 20 miles on my bike on a stinking hot summers day to pick up a copy of this book :) Texturing and Modeling, A Procedural Approach by David Ebert, et al,
    AP Professional, Cambridge, 1994. my chapter is entitled: Noise, Hypertexture, Antialiasing and Gesture

    http://mrl.nyu.edu/perlin/doc/oscar.html

  • The problem with a phonics-based keyboard is that English spelling is not a phonetic system --- it's what is called `morphophonemic', where individual morphemes (smallest units of meaning) are spelled consistently though their pronunciation often depends on context. For example, the `-s' at the end of `cats' and `dogs' is two different sounds. We spell it the same way because it means the same thing: plural.

    The rest of the oft-cited difficulties of English spelling are leftovers from several centuries of changes in the way we pronounce words (e.g. we used to say `light' more or less the same as the German `licht', and vowels have changed a lot), as well as quite a bit of borrowing from other languages. However, the system is still quite consistent and rule-based.

    See Wier, Ruth and Venesky, ``English orthography: more reason than rhyme'', in The psycholoinguistic nature of the reading process, K. Goodman, ed. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1968. pp. 189-199.

  • Opps slash dot eight my
    "left angle braket" STDIN "right angle braket"
    in three plases.

    while ("left angle braket" STDIN "right angle braket") {

    $t = "left angle braket" STDIN "right angle braket"
  • Maybe it's just the peculiarities of the java applet, but it seems as though the difficulties I have with it go deeper than the learning curve. How could dragging the mouse into the upper left major zone produce a Y?

    If it works for someone, somewhere, more power to it. One feature of Graffiti that I really appreciate, though, is its position-independence.
  • Netscape and presumably other browsers respect the Content-Type header sent by the server, which is this case is text/plain. So Netscape downloads it as text, as instructed.

    IE ignores the header and looks at the URL as if it were a filename with a n extension. If the extension is .html, it treats the file as html. If it doesn't understand an extension like .prc, it treats it as application/octet-stream.

    Basically IE's non-compliant behaviour is masking a problem with the webserver's configuration. It's not really Netscape's fault. Point out the problem to the webmaster, and complain to Microsoft and the WSP.
  • In most futeristic movies, interfaces don't have keyboards like we're used to. Maybe the Enterprise uses something like this, 'cause I've never seen anybody using a qwerty keyboard (except Scott, on the Mac).

    just a pseudo though
    scottwimer
  • This input system should be called "Ah ha!", 'cause that's exactly what my brain did when I finally 'grokked' how to use it.

    Kewl thang!

  • by gryn ( 4139 )
    Yes! I agree with everyone, this is wonderful, I might actually buy a PDA now.
    [that is, one without a keyboard, the one I had gotten before was a Sharp Zaurus which was nice, it had a stylus and a mini keyboard, even with my huge fingers I could still type about 20wpm. unfortunately it broke :( ]

  • For righties...

    * One mouse for normal point and click stuff on the left hand for speed or right because it's easier.

    * A pen pad for the right and a cheap monitor or status window for those who have yet to memorize the interface (to track position).

    Inverse for lefties.

    I think this seems like a great low impact alternitive to typing(smooth sweeping movements rather than short jerky ones.) But how fast can a skilled user manipulate it 20,30,40 wpm? Anyone have an idea?


    Matthew Newhall

    Yes! I'm in heaven!
    This is nice.

  • The basic idea is that characters located in the corners are entered by drawing a straight line into it's region. To get the first character located, lets say, to the right of the upper left-hand corner, you draw a line into the left corner region and over one region to the right. To get the first character located below the corner you draw a line to the left-hand corner and down one region.

    It takes a little practice to get used to and seems to be a faster way to input. But I think I'll stick to my conventional alphabet.
  • Did the same thing to my Palm V. I had to reset the memory by holding down the power button while resetting. Then, with nothing on the machine at all, it STILL killed it.
    It looks amazing, though. I can't wait until someone fixes it... because I'll use it 99% of the time.
  • I can see where it might be faster, but not until I memorize the layout... is there any rhyme or reason to it?
  • Holy cow, this is cool! The simplicty is frightening!

    I HATE graffiti, and my handwriting stinks so bad that I can't even read it, much less a computer. Grafitti is so darn slow, it just can't keep up with my thoughts, and after using it for a couple of years, I still need to check the cheat sheet for obscure punctuation and the like.

    But this, man. I spent about five minutes puzzling over it, and had was writing at a reasonable speed not much thereafter.

    This would actually make pda's useful for me. Now if only they had a Newton version...

    -LF
  • Interesting ... so you're saying, initially you were closed minded, but then you decided you'd try the graffiti thing. And that worked out, but why risk it by being open minded again?

    [All in good humour ... :-)]

    --
    Ian Peters
  • by Qeyser ( 6788 )

    First Dvorak, and now this. . .
  • Well if you have linux/unix or anything that supports perl...can someone port this to win95/dos...?

    you can get perl for win32 at activestate [activestate.com]
  • This is the coolest input method since the invention of the keyboard. It took no time to get used to and was nice and fast. Also the input area is tiny. Wow cool, I'll buy a palm when I can use this on it.

    Andrew
    --
    ...Linux!
  • Some considerations for making a desktop, pointer-driven version:

    • The input "box" should be hidden until needed.
    • Some combination of modifier keys should bring the box on to the screen, centered underneath the cursor.
    • While the input box is on the screen, it steals all cursor events, so as not to confuse apps if the cursor leaves the box.
    • Optionally, a short, discreet beep should be issued each time the cursor enters a quadrant giving audible feedback on stroke progression. If you pick different tones for each quadrant, you'll get accustomed to the "sound" of each glyph, and know when you mess up.
    • The size of the box could be enlarged to accomodate sloppy strokers, or shrunk to increase speed for the proficient.
    • Once you're proficient enough, the box could be dispensed with all together, and you'd be able to type without taking your hands off the mouse, watching your input go right into your document.
  • If pushing multiple keys for a single character is causing a slight deficiency in your efficiency, then maybe someone can invent a keyboard where every letter can be typed with a single keystroke.

    Remember, I thought of the idea first...
  • > A smaller square (without text) would help
    > minimize path lengths and be quicker to use
    > once you memorized the layout.

    Yeah, but a smaller square would be more error-prone, and would therefore negate any speed gain from the shorter paths.

  • I bet this would rock if you could use a digital joystick (with the buttons for SHIFT & CTRL).

    Win a Rio [cjb.net] (or join the SETI Club via same link)
  • It happened to me too...twice. After I concluded it might have been a conflict with the Jot app, I loaded it up into the Palm III Emulator on my NT machine. It looped around an alert box calling out a "bus error". Maggie's assessment: toxic to Palm IIIs. In Perlin's defense, he does say he's had reports of this. I do with I'd read that comment before installing. Mea culpa.
  • Yeah, I agree here. I downloaded it and tried it out but it really didn't feel as good as graffiti for two basic reasons:

    1) It lacks the intuitive feel of graffiti where the input strokes resemble their corresponding characters.

    2) There is less tolerance for positional errors. If I'm writing while looking elsewhere, my pen tends to drift around in the input area a bit. Granted, you do need to be somewhat sensitive as to your position with the letter/number distinction, but there's still more tolerance than this new system.

    Now, I'll admit, perhaps I didn't give it enough of a chance. But I really don't have enough complaints about graffiti to make the effort to change either.
  • I suspect they put the 'e' and 't' keys on the horizontal axis because horizontal movements are easier than vertical ones. However, it may be conceptually easier to put space, backspace, and enter on the horizontal axis instead. To move forward, I want to flick the pen forward, not down!

    On the other hand, there's a nice symmetry to the keyboard in their current positions. Down could mean "hitting the space bar," up could mean "stretching your pinky up to hit that backspace key," and down-left looks like the symbol on many enter keys.

    I just think it's more viscerally appealing to see the cursor move the same way your pen moves; besides, that's the way Grafitti already does it, so it can't be wrong. :) Perhaps there could be an option (or HackMaster thingy) to swap the N/S fields with E/W...

    --

  • I think this is a great system, better than grafitti. My problem is with the layout. I would rather have all the letters alphabetical and the numbers along one side. That way if I have to hunt and peck, it's so much easier because I know where everything should be.

    That's same problem I have with ultra small keyboards. Once I can't touch type, I'd rather just have an alphabetical layout because my eyes don't know where the keys are, only my fingers do.

    -harry
  • Can't be a conflict unless it's with the pilot in it's "Post Hard Reset" state.

    I have tried several times since having to reset (No data to worry about now =) and have gotten the same results.

    Anyone with any suggestions?
  • I just downloaded this PRC and installed it on my palm III - I succeeded in hotsyncing and at the end of the hotsync recieved a "FATAL ERROR" and a button labeled "RESET".

    A reset gets you the PALM splash screen and nothing else, you cannot turn your palm off, it's zombied. At this point I executed a HARD reset nuking my schedule that hadn't been hotsynced yet (DOH!) and tried again with just the ROM portion of PALM OS installed, no upgrade performed... Same results.

    Just wanted to STOP you guys before you ended up in Hard reset ville with me...

  • I'm thinking more along the lines of uCLinux.. You know, the one for the Pilot. One of the primary problems with it, if I remember properly, is that there are patent problems with Graffiti, such that it couldn't be reproduced as an input method. Thus, uCLinux can only get input right now through a serial port. I'm guessing that this thing is more lenient, as it is the product of an educational institution. And besides, increased productivity with a steep learning curve is what Linux is all about. I'm salivating over wiping my Pilot and starting anew with some phat free software.

    So far, though, I haven't been able to get the hang of it.. I'll give it time.
  • Prof. Ken Perlin @ NYU apparently wrote. He won
    an Academy Award for his special effects technique.
  • before my palmpilot 1000 i had a casio with a keyboard for input. after playing around with the pilot demo unit in the store for a few minutes i was fairly proficient at 'how now brown cow' and 'now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country'. the strength of graffiti is that it is intuitive and makes it easy for me to remember. trying to remember where all the letters are and what their strokes are is quite difficult. i'm sure if i were to use it for a whole day i might get used to it, but i bet i'd still be looking up those obscure punctuation marks just like in graffiti. at least with graffiti i can try and fudge it, hmm + is .. and draw something like a plus.

    i've used tealwrite for sometime and it helps a lot to distinguish between characters. graffiti ha s been fast enough for me. i'm not in class taking notes with it, i dont know if i could ever enter data with one hand, one stylus for that matter as fast as i can touch type. ok now i had to learn that too, but if i forget where a character is that i dont use that often is it doesnt take me that long to find it :P i use my palm for writing down quick things i dont want to forget, sometimes in the car where i cant look down. phone numbers, things to get at the store.. no novels here. even with the mistakes that i make (that i dont see till i look back at it later) i still undrstd th not i wrt.

  • - Other languages can be supported simply by doing the equivalent of using different "character sets". You just need a standard one for each language.

    - The "common letters" list for English begins "e a t o n". After that there are a load with roughly the same frequency. They seem to have incorporated that pretty well.

    - It would be easy to avoid "drift", and so to be able to enter text without looking, if the pad you were writing on had a raised border. Sound would also help (as suggested). The raised border could be implemented in software if using a joystick etc. (no movement beyond a certain radius).

    - Given that the hassle of having more than one "version" of this would far outweigh the convenience of swapping a few letters, it's VITAL that the layout doesn't fragment within one language if this is to catch on. Remember the annoyance of different keyboard layouts.

    - Imagine the size you could get hardware down to! I could do this on the face of my watch. Forget voice recognition; this is the future ;-)

    - It's very, very cool, and anyone can learn and use it given a few hours. If it was standardised on, it could become a skill everyone knows, like typing.

    Gerv
  • Well, I don't have a palm anything, so I had to use the java demo.

    It seems extremely cumbersome with a mouse. But then again, it's not designed to be used with one.

    Anyone got a light pen and X drivers? Using a light pen would be a more fair assessment, considering what the program is designed for, than using the clunky mouse.
  • I don't think that I ever had a problem with inputing with the graffiti system. Well I actually did for some time. About the first 3 minutes that I first had gotten my palm pilot. I decided that it would be easier to just use the build in keyboard. One day I decided to mess around with the graffiti. And low and behold I picked it up in like a minute. there are only like 3 letters that aren't almost exactly how the real letter looks. they are "e" "q" and "f" wow those were hard to learn. I can write graffiti into my pilot without looking at it at aloomst the same speeds that I can write with a pen and a piece of paper. LONG LIVE GRAFFITI!!!
  • Dvorak is the best! Everyone should do it!
  • Give me a nice accurate, ergonomic Mac mouse anyday :-)

    yeah, I like my drawing tablet for this applet. it works great with a real pen... but you have this feeling you should push the pen down like on the PP to make it work. oh well, force of habit, i guess.
  • Well if you have linux/unix or anything that supports perl you can writing this app. The code is above. Though some guy says it doesn't work right.... I personally wouldn't know. Anyways can someone port this to win95/dos or whatever for us loosers?
  • Yea my old boss had one of those, really spiffy. Never got a chance to play with it seriously though. The thing uses a radio transmiter in the pen which is activated by pressing on the pad. So you do have to buy special pens so conserve ink or something.. Though you may be able to change the ink yourself I didn't have a very good look at it. But it does come with 2 pens. anyways I set it up for him. And it seemed to use regular serial connection. From what I could tell it sent the info like a null modem would. So I'm proetty sure you could use it in linux, you would just need to figure out what format it sends the image in. It just sends the image of what you write. It lets the computer do the ocr, and I'm sure there are some good ocr programs out there for linux if you look. And its only like $300 bucks.. considering what you get not too shabby
  • No problems here; Palm III (3.02), Hackmaster (Fitaly, ClearHack, LightHack, SwatchHack, GoType). Seems like a pretty good thing to me; I'd spend $ for it.
  • The Java Demo looks good but it lacks the possibility of accent some letters like á or õ that is common used in other languages than english.
  • How could dragging the mouse into the upper left major zone produce a Y?

    Go center -> right center zone -> right lower corner zone -> back to center.

    ;-)
  • whoops didn't realize this was a seperate writing app, and not a substitue for the graffiti pad on my V.
    Answered my own question

  • It looks like you can get it here [nyu.edu] I'm not doing to well with this java demo though :(

  • Well as funky as it looks, I will have to dive it a try. Anything to speed up input ;-)

  • dive it a try
    Give it a try
    Dam these hands!!!! *curses*

  • Actually it does make alot of sense. Once it finally clicks with you, it becomes very simple.

    So, if you were to use this, would you need some sort of sticker over the writing area? Or would you just have to remember the symbols postion?

  • That solved it for me. Thanks ;-)
  • I cannot get it to work! it runs ..

    beta:/usr/home/jblachly$ ./cord.pl > test.txt
    369
    7
    369
    2
    quit
    quit
    ^C
    beta:/usr/home/jblachly$ cat test.txt
    beta:/usr/home/jblachly$


    :( :(

    any idea what the problem might be? I cutnpasted from slashdot ...

    James
  • Just a quick comment -- the layout isn't quite optimized. The space and backspace are great, but I seem to recall 's' being one of the most used characters in english, but its position here is "secondary" (not just an in-out stroke).

    Also, the position of the zero is secondary. I'd assume that's the most used number.

    Any other thoughts about the optimality of the placements?

  • I own and use a pilot every day, and I've been playing with the downloaded app for twenty minutes now, and I can't see how it can be as fast as graffiti. I can hammer out graffiti strokes almost as fast as I can write, but I can't even generate random characters with 'QuickWrite' as quickly as I can generate meaningful graffiti.

    Besides, graffiti is actually easy to learn.

    This may be useful for some people, but I reckon it will never appear in a marketed device. The learning curve is too steep. Many people don't even seem to be willing to take the 15 minutes or so it takes to learn grafiti, so very few will take the (IMO) 3 hours it would take to become somewhat adequate with 'QuickWrite' - as it stands right now, after 20 minutes, I couldn't imagine trying to use it without the cheatsheet right there. Graffiti, on the other hand, is easy without the cheatsheet after 20 minutes.

  • Reasons I like the GoType keyboard:
    1. Seated, at a desk, I can take notes.
    Reasons I don't like it:
    1. Too small to realllly fly.
    2. My PIII wobbles in it.
    3. You need to have a surface to sit it on.
    4. It's another piece to carry around.

    A new graffiti system would be nice because I could use it while standing on the train.

  • Hey guys, Ken Perlin was also on the team that did the CG for Tron back in '82, and he won an Oscar for developing Perlin Noise, which makes CG stuff look more real (you know how rendered stuff can look *too* perfect?).
  • It's pretty spiffy, but I don't know if I'd actually want to use it. Grafitti is pretty intuitive because the letters are very close to the real thing. Quickwriting is a whole new writing system.

    --

  • I'm using PalmOS 3.0.2. What version are you using that didn't lock up your PalmIII? Mine locks hard every time and I have to reset it like described above.
  • If you don't have a Pilot and want to compare the original Graffiti with this input system, you can try out a Java-based demo of Graffiti at:

    http://www.palm.com/products/input/index.html

    My take: while this secondary system is FAST, it will take lots of memorization before you can use it without a crib sheet, and you'll never be able to use it without looking at the pad. Graffiti isn't perfect, but neither is this, the quest for the perfect pen input system continues...


  • At the end of the paper there is a reference to T-Cube. It sounds pretty similiar, but I wasn't able to find an online copy of the T-Cube paper. There's an implementation for Newtons (with a short description) here [visi.net]
  • I think they put S and 0 on secondary slots for just that reason: they are the most common letter/digit. Because the stroke would be used so much, the user would get very used to it (and fast), and thus more primary slots would be freed up for the less-common characters.

    Thats my opinion, at least.
  • For example, use 39 instead of 369 for 'j', and 93 instead of 963 for 'x'

    Perhaps someone could create a parser for long strings with the 5 key as the character seperator: 71569535415795 = "quick"

  • Good point. I could see using this system with a heads-up mode. Perhaps we should give this advice to the NYU team.
  • I ran into this applet about six months ago, but dismissed it. While I imagine it's very fast, it has a major flaw: you must continually re-locate the stylus to the near-centre of the screen. This means you must look at the pen as you write. There's no way to avoid drifting if you're not looking.

    I like to have the option of doing other things (ie watching a movie) while I write. When I am looking at what I'm doing, I prefer to look at the actual letters on the page rather than my stylus. Thus, I don't see getting into this device.
  • One of my friends bought himself a Crosspad (he's a distributor, so he got it cheaply). He also bought the stylish leather portfolio for it. The device is impressive -- not only because it recognizes decent handwriting with more than decent quality, but because it imports pictures seamlessly. Moreover, it looks very inconspicuous. When I'm typing on my GoType keyboard or even just writing Graffiti on my PalmPilot, I get curious people staring at me or interrupting me. A Crosspad is a bit thicker than a normal pad, and it beeps (this can be disabled), but aside from that it looks and works pretty much like a normal pad of paper.

    YMMV.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm impressed with the efficiency & speed of input, but I question how generally useful it could be.

    That is, I don't really see a lot of people taking the time to learn it. Mainly because, I think it would intimidate most casual users.

    It strikes me as being something akin to shorthand. It will be invaluable to individuals who need to maximize input speed. And another group of users will learn it because they WANT to maximize their input speed. But both groups will probably remain fairly small.

    As a long time Palm user, I appreciate the speed potential, but it's not enough for me to give up the intuitiveness of Graffiti (besides, my handwriting is getting confusing enough already with the Graffiti characters that keep slipping in, I can only imagine what it would be like if a bunch of triangles & lines were added to the mix!?!).
  • I'm a big fan of TealPoint Software's TealScript [tealpoint.com], which lets you design your own graffiti -- you can make whatever letters be whatever you want, including alternate strokes and distortions. Really nice.

    --

  • One of the *really* nice features of Graffiti is that it provides for "heads-up" writing. I can hole my pilot with one hand and write with the other while looking at who I am talking with. This *really* adds to the experience, and isn't distracting.

    Sure, I make mistakes, but I tend to edit them later.

    Must of the Graffiti replacements have been the "keyboard-type" that require you to be looking at what you are tapping.

    YMMV, but for me, Graffiti is the most seamless.
  • Oooh, I want to try this on a joystick. Who needs a "writing surface"! You should be able to just jiggle a finger around using a device like the keyboard mouse on my Toshiba laptop.

    It works great on my Palm Pro with III upgrade. No crash here, but then I don't think I have any hacks active (I do have a GoType keyboard, but I've reset since it was last used).

    It's surprisingly easy to learn. The vowel-vs.-consonant positioning is pretty good, but it's slightly awry from the English-language frequency of character use - "m" is in the wrong place if you go by frequency-of-use alone.

    The recognizer should be improved so that it's not necessary to go through the center between every character - it sort of works if you drop the "center stroke" between characters, but not always. It's also a bit too sensitive to jitter, I find myself inserting spurious "e" and "i" characters with my shaky hands. But that can all be improved without changing the basic positions in the alphabet.

    What is the patent status? It would be nice if the pilot app were open source.

    I must have met Ken Perlin at NYIT CGL, Pixar, and Siggraph, but I don't remember.

    Bruce

  • This is actually pretty damn quick if you spend a little bit of time with it. Im trying to use a trackball to do it and can get characters out within 15 minutes almost as fast as I write. I can only imagine how much faster this would be with a real pen input for which it was designed.

    More importantly however it shows someone out there trying to do something really different. I still don't see what would be wrong with a phonics based keyboard set.
    ---
    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • This might work pretty well if the cheat sheet diagram around the input area was built into the PDA. You could even change it for shifts if you use a full screen as in CE machines instead of a silkscreen input area as in Palms.

    It would take a bit more vertical space and less horizontal space than Graffiti. This might not be a good tradeoff, since vertical space is more of a premium in the existing PDA footprints.

    After 1 1/2 years my graffiti is still mediocre. I suspect that I'd be much faster and with this, but it would take longer to learn and it's very easy to make mistakes quickly.
  • Hey, this thing's pretty cool. I can even see one's hand getting used to certain `word-patterns' which would become semi-automatic over time. It kinda gets close to Kanji in that a certain set of strokes stands for a word or part of a word and can be repeated quickly, with a little practice.

    Signing your name with a real pen is almost automatic, I can see it becoming that way with this system. After just a couple of minutes practice I was remembering where most of the letters where and `writing' almost as fast as I can with a pen.

    I don't think it'll replace true keyboards, but for PDA's it's golden, at least as far as the Roman alphabet goes. Might be time to fork over the foldin' for a Palm :)

  • wow. that's all I can say. wow. this is going on my palmIII as soon as i get home.. I'd absolutely love to see a version of this for PCs which used the number pad.. I can see definite uses for being able to use only 8-9 keys as a full input device.

    *hypothetical situation*
    text-paging a pager from a payphone, using this system. or typing notes. whatever... if you ask me, this is a great new way of doing things...
  • Since there are a lot of posts from those that don't have Palms yet, I thought I'd have some useful info. It works fine on my Palm V (I have lots of hacks and a Chinese OS and everything).

    The Palm demo consists of a large square on the left with the lines and letters and a small square to the right where you do your writing. The letters on the large square change when you shift, etc. And you can turn them off for practicing. Above the squares is the textarea where the letters come out. I really like the small writing square (shorter paths) and it seems to work really well with the stylus. I will have to practice more and see if I can get up to speed.

    I suppose it is just a demo but for now you will have to cut and paste the text from the app into wherever you want it. Very awesome idea. The pdf has a lot more info, too.

    bob
  • If you hold down the Alt key and press the key you want to type the applet will display arrows showing the trace that your mouse should follow.

    (I didn't get it at first because I kept trying to move my mouse directly to the letter of interest and back again. duh!)

    This is very cool. I might buy a PDA now.

  • I just now downloaded and installed Quikwrite.prc.
    As soon as the sync finished, the machine hung with a "Reset" dialog box. Soft reset brings up the "Palm Computing Platform" splash page and then hangs. Hopefully BackupBuddy will save me. I was running Hackmaster, that may have contribued to the problem.

    -Anthony Garcia
    agarcia@neosoft.com
  • Make sure to download the .prc file in binary
    mode. If an ascii dump of the first few bytes
    of the file aren't "Quikwrite", your prc file
    got corrupted during the download.

    The command
    pilot-file -l Quikwrite.prc
    will also report file corruption.
  • by bgdarnel ( 2144 ) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @02:19PM (#1909996) Homepage
    When you reset a Palm device, all apps are sent a notification code. If an app locks up upon recieving this code, a normal reset will not work. Instead, hold the up arrow while pressing the reset button (and continue holding the arrow for a few seconds afterwards). Then you can delete the offending app, followed by a normal reset.

    FWIW, Quikwrite.prc does not lock up on my Palm III.
  • by moore ( 3400 ) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @03:56PM (#1909997) Homepage
    Here is a rilly quick hack to use you key pad to
    do the same thing. to type run: "

    cord.pl > out.text

    To quit type quit and then return. to enter a leter type the apropreat key seaquance (ignoring the start and end for the center thing) and hit enter when the char is done.

    -------------------

    #!/usr/bin/perl
    #cord.pl
    my %c =
    (
    369 => 'j',
    963 => 'x',
    12 => 'g',
    14 => 'w',
    32 => 'd',
    41 => 'c',
    987 => 'p',
    789 => 'k',
    36 => 'r',
    63 => 'y',
    47 => 'h',
    74 => 'm',
    69 => 'u',
    96 => 'l',
    78 => 's',
    1 => 'o',
    98 => 'f',
    2 => ' ',
    3 => 'i',
    4 => 'e',
    123 => 'z',
    321 => 'b',
    6 => 't',
    7 => 'a',
    8 => "\ch",
    9 => 'n',
    147 => 'v',
    741 => 'q'
    );
    while () {
    chomp;
    last if /quit/;
    print "$c{$_}";
    }


    ---------------------------------


    this program is for traying the thing if you don't
    like the way it is set up;

    #!/usr/bin/perl

    my (%c, $t);
    while () {
    last if /print/;
    chomp;
    chomp ($t = ) and $c{$_} = $t;
    }

    print map "$_ => '$c{$_}',\n", keys %c;
  • by foolishj ( 4695 ) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @03:03PM (#1909998)
    Tried the app under the Palm OS emulator and it crashed again. I then downloaded it using IE instead of Netscape and it ran fine on both the emu and my device.

    Checking the file size gives:
    5491 bytes when downloaded w/Netscape (corrupt)
    5446 bytes when downloaded w/IE

    Anyone know why Netscape is downloading it this way?

    Thanks to the people who helped me save my data, too -- that reset/hold up trick worked great.
  • by Masker ( 25119 ) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @02:26PM (#1909999)
    It also crashed my Palm III immediately. I had to warm reset (hold up arrow for a couple of seconds while hitting reset and keep holding it for a second after) to clear the problem without losing my data. It also installed itself as "This appli" instead of Quikwrite. I have HackMaster with Eco Hack and a couple of other hacks, as well as PalmOS 3.0.2.

    Anyways, no real harm done, except for wasted time! But you DON'T HAVE TO HARD RESET. Just delete the app with Launcher (or Launcher III). Hope this saves some people's data, if necessary. I know I was panicked.
  • by foolishj ( 4695 ) on Thursday April 29, 1999 @01:26PM (#1910000)
    Downloaded the prc, put it on the install list, and hotsynced... then my Palm popped up an error message, and when I hit cancel it reset and now it just sits with the "Welcome to Palm III" screen draining my batteries. The power button doesn't even work. I've hit reset a few times and it does the same thing.

    Anyway, don't know if it was Windows or what, I've got nothing fancy on my Palm Pilot (not even HackMaster) so I don't know why it's doing this. Any ideas? I think I've got to take out the batteries and let the memory flash to get the thing back...

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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