About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 28, 2014


I went through almost my entire college career without taking notes.  I found that when I took notes I was busy writing and missed what I really needed to get from the lecture.  I was/am not good at shorthand; neither the genuine one nor my own made up version.

Lo-and-behold, technology triumphs again!  This creative technology started out in mid-2000s and after an iteration or two became known as, "Livescribe."  

Basically, you have a Livescribe pen and special paper.  The pen basically contains an ink cartridge and a laser camera in the tip.  It also has a cap, on/off switch, small screen, USB port for charging and syncing data, microphone, speaker and an audio jack.  Costs vary depending on where you get them.  Check out for information on the current three versions.  Each one does a little something different. 

You tap a button on the paper labeled Record with the pen, hear a beep and start writing notes.  When you are done, tap the Stop label.

Livescribe Pen and NotebookLook at the notes you just took and they look, well like notes.  However, the paper has almost imperceptible dots on it.  Now tap at the beginning of the notes and the pen will play the audio portion of what it recorded in your written text.  If you were to number five items and tap on number four, the speech you were listening to when you wrote "4." will play.  A friend of mine uses his for illustrating sophisticated Network Diagrams.  When he goes back in his notebook and taps on one line in the diagram, it plays back what was being said at that time so he is reminded of every component.  Amazing! 

I heard of these before and thought it was a silly gimmick and a waste.  When my friend Nick pulled his out at a meeting we recently attended and started using it I was e-awestruck.  He tapped a note he had taken a year ago at the previous year’s seminar and I could hear what it was all about.

All of the audio and written information is stored in the pen.  Once you are done with your note taking you can attach (depending on the version of pen you have) the pen to your computer and transfer the information there.  It creates a PDF file of the information.  Later you can open the file with the free Adobe Reader and read the notes.

But that is not all.  The recording is also in the PDF file.  Simply click on a line with your mouse like you did with the pen on paper. The audio recording will play back on your computer speakers.  It is much clearer on the computer than the pen.  Also good in the event of a lost paper notebook.

Simply explained, the laser camera in the pen tip records what is written on the paper using the small dots to coordinate its position.  The camera records everything that goes on the paper.  The audio is obtained in the tiny microphone which synchronizes with the text.  All of this data is stored in the pen’s memory.

It does a lot more, search for Livescribe online and see the demos.  I think I will make a note about that!

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