Handwriting Tips for Newton Power Users
Handwriting Tips for Newton Power Users
Tips for optimal character recognition for Newton 2.0
These tips are also available in Adobe Acrobat format.
- Use the printed recognizer
If you can possibly write your characters printed and disconnected, do so. The "Printed, disconnected" recognizer is more accurate than the "Cursive" recognizer (also known as "Paragraph"). Moreover, the printed recognizer can recognize essentially all standard ASCII characters, whereas Paragraph is unable to recognize a few characters such as square brackets and underline.
- Write in mixed case, upper and lower. Do not write in ALL CAPS.
- Disconnected means that you pick up the pen in between letters. As long as you do that, it's okay if there is some overlap.
- Don't write at a strong slant.
- look at the "casual" font for clues
The Newton's new default font is a simulated handwriting font. As such, it can sometimes serve as a guide to what your printed characters should look like for best recognition.
SECRET RETURN GESTURE
There has been a lot of talk on the net about this hidden gesture which will insert a . The gesture is a backwards "L". To make the gesture draw your line down and then to the left in one stroke. See the red gesture below.
OPPOSITE OF THE CARET GESTURE
The manauls tells you about the caret (^) gesture to insert a space and the ^--- gesture to insert lots of spaces. There is an opposite gesture in NOS 2.0-- the inverted caret (v).
If you want to join a letter to a word for example "car s" you simply draw a small "V" just below the bottoms of the two characters that you want to join. Then Wizzo, they will join right up. This is great since there is no easy way to do this except to use the delete key on the caret. And that is a pain since it is tough to place the caret right after the space. - Dan Frumkin
HANDY AUTO EXPANSIONS
You can enter text much more efficiently if you make judicious use of the autoexpand feature. For instance, if you define the string "bul" to expand into "< return >< opt-8 >< space >" (option-8 is the bullet character ), then you can write without stopping the text "groceries: bul eggs bul milk" and it will be recognized as:
To get to the user words and autoexpansions dictionary, first tap the keyboard iconat the bottom of the screen, then tap the dictionary iconon the bottom left corner of the onscreen keyboard. (Another way to enter words into the autoexpansion dictionary is with Expasion.pkg by Catamount Software)
Expansions can be used to enter words with accents or enter accented letters saving you the steps of opening the keyboard. You could write "Munich" and it would expand to "München" or you could write "M uu nchen" and it would expand to "M ü nchen" and you can remove the spaces. You must enter the phrases to expand as separate words so the Printed recognizer knows to expand them.
- Here are some useful autoexpansions:
- ret -> < return >
- bul -> < return > < opt-8 > < space >
- ind -> < return > followed by three spaces. (stands for "indent")
- ind2 -> < return > followed by six spaces.
- pp -> < return > < return > < three spaces > (new paragraph)
- cr -> < return > (carriage return)
- sig -> my multi-line signature, including returns
- addr -> my full address
- hdr -> a letterhead (stands for "header")
Newton OS 2.1 does recognize accented characters correctly so the above trick is only needed on NOS 2.0.
- Munich -> München
- garcon -> garçon
- ea -> é
- eg -> è
- eh -> ê
- uu -> ü
- aa -> á
DISTINGUISH PROBLEM CHARACTERS
The "Printed" recognizer is extremely good at telling characters apart if you give it enough to go on. But sometimes a tiny change in the way you write can have a big impact on those last few errors by making it easier for the Newton to tell one of your characters from another.
In the past, some Newton users have used a program called "Graffiti" which requires that you change your entire alphabet to get good recognition. With the new printed recognizer this is not necessary, but for best results you may still want to tweak your writing style a bit.
Here are some suggested tweaks if you are having problems:
- "I": Put a top and bottom cross-bar on it.
- "i": Make SURE to put the dot over the "i". Also, if you miss the i and dot something too far to the right or left of it you are almost guaranteed to get bad recognition. This is mostly a problem for people who write with a very strong slant, which is also not recommended.
- "l": if you write it with a loop as if it were cursive, it will never get confused with "I", "1" or the vertical bar. Or if that's too cumbersome a change, try just putting a little horizontal tail at the bottom of your stroke, as if you were writing a very narrow capital L.
- "u": put a little tailon it to distinguish more from "v".
- "zZ": the European way of drawing a z, upper or lower case, is to cross it in the middle with a little bar. Adopt this stylish habit yourself and it will never be confused with a "2".
- "1": if you put a little barb on the top you will never get an "l", "I" or "|".
- "0": Put a diagonal slashthrough it to distinguish from the letter "O".
- "2": A round looprather than a sharp corner before the last stroke can help distinguish from "Z".
- "%" The one-stroke percent sign is often taken as a "2". Instead, use a two-stroke percent sign; lift the stylus before drawing the lower circle.
- "_" exaggerate how low the underscore is relative to the text, or you'll get a hyphen instead.
- "&" almost nobody knows how to draw this the way it looks, and if you do you might get a "G" anyway. So draw it like this instead:
By going to the Letter Shapes preference of the Cursive handwriting style you can see the letters drawn. If you draw your letters the same way the Letter Shapes draw the letters you will achive surpurb sucess. To open letter shapes: tap on the recognizer popup, select Preferences, select the cursive handwriting style,tap options, select Letter Shapes, select the letter you want to see drawn, and tap twice on one of the shapes.
From Jim Smallwood:
Best way to make sure to get an ampersand is to
write a backwards cursive "L". So, whereas the normal or forward cursive
"L" gives a good lower case printed "l", writing a backwards version of
the same character is recognized as an ampersand almost all the time.
From Alan Frank: [the written description of my second ampersand from the right]
draw a vertical line as you would a number one, go back slightly up and to the left as is if you were making a backwards "r", make a small loop down and bring it horizontally across. I'm sorry I made something so easy sound like a government project!! Here's my proof: &&&&&&& (written as fast as I could)
- ":" Make the dots little blobs rather than taps. Taps will get taken as commands to move the caret. Little round blobs will get passed to the recognition system.
- ";" same comments as for the colon.
- Quotation marks: Since the recognizers are scale-independent, how can they tell the difference between a double quote and a very small "11" or "(("? Answer: they often can't, unless there are more letters to look at that establish the context. So if you want to draw a quote or double-quote all by itself, use the caret popup.
- "+" make your horizontal bar equal or longer than your vertical bar is high. A t's horizontal bar is not as long as its vertical bar.
Examples of unambiguous text:
FIXING ONE LETTER
This is also in the manual, but as few of us like to read 300+ page manuals we'll just hilite it here.
Another tip, is if you want to correct one letter just write over it. But if you write more then one, the "word" gets inserted at the caret. - Dan Frumkin
If you choose to write in printed upper and lower case but use the Paragraph (cursive/connected) recognizer, you may have a problem with letters turning into numbers. Some of the above suggestions will help with this problem, as will this additional suggestions:
- "g": The descender should cross itself completely to avoid looking like a "9". Like so:?
- prime the Paragraph recognizer
To speed the weeks of learning the Paragraph recognizer must go thru to learn your handwriting you can preset some of the letters for your style. This usually takes about 15 minutes, but can offer some dramatic improvements on your recognition. To preset the letter styles you need to tell Paragraph how you write your letters. Open letter shapes: tap on the recognizer popup, select Preferences, select the cursive handwriting style,tap options, select Letter Shapes, select the letter you want to see drawn, and tap twice on one of the shapes. Below the shapes are 3 choices: Often, Rarely, and Never. Select a letter shape, watch how it is drawn, and change the setting to how often you think write the letter that way.
If you normally write using block printed letters, the "printed" recognizer can read this, but will interpret what you write as being all in capitals. If your capitals are larger than, but otherwise identical to, your small letters, use the "Cursive" recognizer and you will get the mixed-case results that you desire.
If you want to let a stranger write on your MessagePad 2000 make sure you set the MP2000 to the Paragraph (cursive/connected) recognizer. I still use the "Printed" recognizer on the MP2000, but for beginners the Paragraph recongizer will do a better job and you won't have to tell the user to print.
Set your Newton to the "Printed" then write "Rosetta!" three times in a row!!!
This document is a collection colloboration of tips from various sources.
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(last modified : July 9, 1998)