Thursday, December 19, 2002


I have been holding off from writing about Newpen for two reasons. One is that I ought to be spending more time with my employer. The other is that my first experience with Newpen a month or so ago was not good, so I wanted to be sure I was happy with it before I recommended it to anyone else. That time has come.

The basic idea behind Newpen is that if there is a text field in focus, the whole screen becomes a graffiti area (dividing between alpha and numeric at the same point as the dedicated graffiti area). So writing on the screen creates graffiti input, and, to make life easier, your strokes appear as a black line on the screen:

Newpen in actionseparatorNewpen

Once Newpen is active, the area in the bottom right of the screen which is reserved for the 'uppercase' and 'punctuation' indicators, is outlined (you can see it best in the datebook screenshot above). If Newpen is disabled, it is outlined with a broken line. Tapping on this area toggles Newpen on and off. Newpen also appears as an application in the launcher and can have some of its settings adjusted. The set-up I have found best for the TT is:

Newpen settings

With this set-up, Newpen will still send a screen TAP through to the OS as just that - allowing one to easily select options on screen while Newpen is active, but will let you write graffiti anywhere on the screen. Double or triple taps in text fields will highlight the text as expected. One of my initial problems with Newpen was that on the default settings, graffiti strokes had to start within the text field on the screen, which could be quite difficult. With this set-up, there is no such restriction, but the cost is that to enter punctuation mode one cannot use a TAP but must use a stroke. Newpen reserves the \ written from right to left for this, so to enter a full-stop (period) you must write '\\'. For the record, 'Command Bar Support' allows one to toggle Newpen on and off via the command bar.

After a couple of weeks using Newpen I would not be without it. In fact, it really completes the TT, allowing one to add quick appointements or todos without opening teh sliding mechanism. Interestingly, it does not make the graffiti area redundant, since writing grafffiti on the screen is (a) slower, and (b) likely to cause scratches in proportion to the amount you use it. So I still use the graffiti area when I want to write on my TT, but use Newpen when I am just jotting.

Believe it or not, this essential utility which adds huge value to your TT, is freeware. The author, Tatsuo Nagamatsu, does not have a website (and from his e-mail address, it seems he works for Sony Japan), so the best place to get Newpen is from PalmGear. Current version is 1.4.

Reader Tien Lee has written to tell me that the online audiobook specialists,, now support the TT. I have not checked it out myself yet, but if you do, and you decide to sign up, why not give Tien as your referrer? His id is atl068.