Better Luck Next Week

A few weeks ago, I bought a graphics pad. Encouraged by favorable reviews, stories of folks abandoning pen and paper entirely, and even the gushing of the Best Buy cashier, I believed that this device would be a miracle. It would be a revolution in computer input and that I’d be drawing and painting constantly. That, as you may have noticed, has failed to happen.

The few times that I’ve plugged in the device, I have found myself frustrated beyond belief. A lot of the frustration comes from a hand-eye disconnect that the tablet creates. It is much like that infamous touch-typing teaching technique in which the keyboard is hidden from the sight of the typist, who must learn to type by feel. Perhaps I could learn to deal with this issue in time, but there is another problem.

Because the tablet obviously isn’t the same size or shape as the screen, there seems to be a weird scaling effect happening. I draw what should be a circle, but get an oval. I draw a line at what should be one angle, and I get it at another.

Even when selecting, I spend a lot of time with the stylus hovering just above the surface, trying to zero in on the exactly the right location on the screen. But, let it get too close, and the surface interprets that as a click! Or sometimes not, because sometimes I can tap the stylus tip as much as I want and nothing happens.

I was about to go onto Amazon and rate this device as low as possible (I’ve never even gotten the touch gestures to work.) But, before I could do that, I stumbled across one last piece of advice: try using the tablet to play Solitare for a couple of hours to practice clicking and dragging. I tried that and was bored to near-death after my third game or so. The cards were so big that I didn’t think that I was really learning anything, either. Somehow, I got the idea that I should try playing SimCity instead.

Well, I built a few sewers to nowhere and accidentally demolished all my buildings from time to time, but eventually I reached the point where I was more focused on what I was doing than how I was doing it. (Except for scrolling, which remains unbelievably touchy.)

Time Suck

Of course, clicking on and selecting a few tiles here and there is a completely different experience than trying to draw a particular shape. I haven’t quite gotten around to trying it again.

You see, I have this great idea for a commercial district…

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