Oct 30
The Future of Handwriting
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Evernote, Life | icon4 October 30, 2014| icon3No Comments »

Quick brown fox

I hardly use handwriting any more. Just the occasional signature or scribbled note is all I usually ever have to do now. I used to keep a spiral notebook by my PC for the odd scrap note, but I’ve recently started a Scrap notebook in Evernote for this and I’ve been using that instead. Just as an aside and a quick Evernote tip, I called the notebook .Scrap so it appears near the top of my list of notebooks in Evernote.

But just where are we heading with handwriting? I’m guessing that kids in school these days are spending increasingly more time at keyboards including touchscreen keyboards and less time developing handwriting skills. Surely handwriting quality and speed is bound to suffer.

I remember I was a reasonably neat but also reasonably fast writer in school. Of course, as a student going through college, that quality was sacrificed through having to write seemingly endless lecture notes at great speed. I guess it’s changed days now as students increasingly take notes on laptops.

So that got me thinking. For me, which is faster: handwriting or keyboard? Of course, if you’ve learned touch typing properly, that would win hands down over handwriting – but not in my case. I still use two digits to type. Fairly quickly, but all the same, two digits. If only I could have seen the future back in the 1970s and started touch typing back then. I did try. Mum has this old Remington typewriter that was unbelievably heavy. I tried it now and again but kept making mistakes and back then there was no Delete key. Anyway, back then, typing was for secretaries – little did we know!

Okay, so is typing faster for me than handwriting? I thought it might be a close run thing so I tried a comparison test. For the test, I wrote this sentence: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog (if you didn’t know, it’s a sentence which contains all the letters of the alphabet). I wrote it 10 times on a sheet of lined paper as quickly as I could but trying to retain legibility (as shown in the image at the top of this post), and I timed that using the stopwatch on my Android phone. I then typed the same sentence 10 times in MS Word and timed that as well. I repeated this exercise two more times and here’s what I found. Times are given in minutes:seconds.

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Handwriting

2:44

2:45

2:41

Typing

2:29

2:17

2:12

Typing with corrections

2:47

2:21

2:26

I actually made fewer mistakes when writing, but even at my modest typing speed, typing is still quicker than handwriting, even allowing for corrections in typing. And of course, typing has all the advantages of being digital so storage and searching is better.

Incidentally, I opened Evernote on my Android phone and took a photo of one set of 10 handwritten test sentences just to see what Evernote would make of my handwriting. As you may know, Evernote can recognise handwritten text. In the 10 handwritten sentences, it recognised brown two times, fox three times, jumps once, and over three times, but failed to recognise any other word. I guess if I had written more slowly it might have had better success.

So it looks like handwriting is going to take more and more of a back seat as we all get typing and go increasingly ‘paperless’.

What do you think about the future of handwriting? How’s your typing speed? How’s your handwriting? And what about your kids’ handwriting? Are you concerned or is it just inevitable that handwriting will be affected by tech progress?


Oct 21

My hard drive died recently so I bought and installed a new 128 GB Crucial solid state drive (SSD) in my PC and I found it wasn’t too difficult to do. I had fitted the old SATA hard drive about 5 years ago and that wasn’t too hard, so don’t be put off by this job, have a go!

I decided on a 128 GB SSD so I could put the Windows 7 OS on it as well as the programs that I use most (MS Word, Google Chrome, Evernote, Adobe Reader). They’re the programs where I’ll see the biggest improvement in disk access. I’ll be fitting a new 1TB hard drive later to take the rest of my programs and all my data and where fast access isn’t so important. Doubtless, in time SSD’s will become cheap enough to handle all my programs and data.

When you buy a SSD, because of its small form factor, it’s important to get a bracket to mount it in your PC. They know this on Amazon so when you are looking at SSDs, you will see something like ‘When buying this, people also bought…’ and offer a 2.5″ to 3.5″ SSD Mounting Adapter Bracket.

IMG_0173

So this is what you get: the Crucial SSD, the mounting bracket, 4 small screws to fix the SSD to the bracket and four slightly larger screws to mount the bracket in your PC. You may also need a SATA data cable and possibly an IDE to SATA power adapter cable.

IMG_0175

and here’s the SSD fitted to the mounting bracket.

To mount your new SSD in the PC, you’re probably going to have to first take off both side panels of the PC to get access to the mounting screws on each side of the bracket holding the old hard drive. Take the cables off the old hard drive, and remove the screws holding the hard drive in place. Insert the bracket with the new SSD into a spare slot. Attach the SATA data and power cables to the new SSD and the other end of the SATA data cable to a SATA port on the motherboard. If your PC has old IDE power cables, you will need IDE to SATA power adapter cables as discussed in my earlier post on fitting a SATA HDD.

Mounting new SSD

Then just slide the SSD into place and secure it with the four mounting screws. Put the sides back on the PC and that’s it. Reconnect all your cables and keyboard and boot up the PC. As you’ve removed your old hard drive and the SSD is new, the first screen should ask you to insert your bootup media and press any key. So load your Windows installation disk into your CD or DVD and go ahead and reinstall Windows on the SSD.

I haven’t fitted the new 1TB hard drive yet. I’ll tell you how that goes in a later post. As I’ll have the Windows OS on the SSD and some programs on the HDD, I’ll have to tell Windows where to find those programs. More on that later.


` `