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November 19, 2002—In this issue:
- Windows XP Tablet PC Edition: Digital Ink
2. KEEPING UP WITH IIS
- Throttling in a Web Farm
- Results from Last Issue's Instant Poll: IPSec for IIS Servers?
- This Issue's Instant Poll: Has Microsoft Improved Product Security?
- Give Us Your Feedback and Be Entered to Win an Xbox
- Sample Our Security Administrator Newsletter!
- Event Highlight: Building a Web Services Foundation
- Featured Thread: IIS Version Information
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Understand HTTP and the Web
- Submit Top Product Ideas
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
In last week's commentary, I explained how skeptical I'd been about the Tablet PC and the assumptions I'd made about its lack of capabilities. Then, I received a Tablet PC demonstration and started to really study the device's features.
This week, I explore the features of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which Microsoft launched November 7, and the incredible devices it runs on. XP Tablet PC Edition is a superset of the XP Professional Edition OS.
Tablet PC users input data with a digital pen. Because Tablet PCs are full-blown XP PCs, users can also input data by using a standard keyboard or mouse. Tablet PCs have special active digitizer screens to let users write directly on the screen, a process that Microsoft calls "inking." Left-handers' chronic problem of accidentally touching the screen as they input data is eliminated with the Tablet PC's electromagnetic sensor, which detects only the digital pen's touch.
An exciting Tablet PC feature is that you don't have to train the computer to recognize your handwriting. Microsoft Research analyzed, collected, and stored numerous styles of writing and incorporated them into the handwriting recognition engine's intelligence. The result is that you can convert your illegible, cursive handwriting to text through handwriting recognition or leave it as handwriting, which you can treat as an image. You can use both the image and the converted text in Microsoft Office applications on any Windows-based computer. Many competitive OSs and applications can also read Office file formats, and these competitors will eventually support Tablet PC handwriting recognition. Although XP Tablet PC Edition's handwriting recognition capabilities are beyond anything I've ever seen, they're not perfect yet. As I've frequently heard since the Tablet PC launch, if people can't read your handwriting, neither can a computer.
Inking technology lets you input information in a way that's more natural. The technology makes it quick and easy to insert a sketch or drawing, write down a chart, take notes, and annotate Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. For many users, using digital ink is faster and easier than using a keyboard. A learning curve will exist though, especially for old dogs like me. The morning of the Tablet PC launch, even Bill Gates admitted to NBC "Today Show" host Katie Couric that Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer chastised him for bringing a pad of paper and a pen to a recent Microsoft meeting. That must have been an amusing exchange.
Inking comprises numerous technologies. Alex Gounares, Microsoft software development manager and lead software architect for the Tablet PC, says that Microsoft teams on several continents collaborated to create inking. Tablet PCs contain a digitizer that overlays the LCD screen and creates an electromagnetic field. When the special Tablet PC pen contacts the screen's electromagnetic field, the pen's motion translates on the screen to a series of data points. As you move the pen across the screen, a digitizer uses a sampling process to collect the pen's movement information. The digitizer can sample 130 data points per second. The data points that the digitizer samples are then rendered on screen as pen strokes. Because the sampling rate is so high, the Tablet PC can display and store the digital ink with a high graphical resolution, which contributes to on-screen legibility and maximizes the accuracy of the handwriting recognition process.
About 15 OEM hardware manufacturers will release (or have already released) Tablet PC models. You can select between designs that have hinged or detachable screens, pure slates (i.e., sleek Tablet PCs with small footprints), docking solutions for those who are on the run, and sturdy slate computers that can handle the beating of the road warrior. To read more about the Tablet PC, click the following link:
Tim Huckaby, News Editor, [email protected]
2. KEEPING UP WITH IIS
One reader set up his Web sites to use no more than 10 percent of the CPU in his Web farm. He reset the monitoring interval from 24 hours to 10 minutes so that if a site takes more than 10 percent of the CPU for 10 minutes, the server throttles the site. Although the setup isn't perfect, it keeps individual sites from tying up the CPU. Click here for Brett Hill's analysis of the problems with this solution and a suggestion for a better:
The voting has closed in the Windows & .NET Magazine Windows Web Solutions channel's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Do you use IP Security (IPSec) to help secure your IIS servers?" Here are the results (+/-1 percent) from the 37 responses:
- 24% Yes
- 76% No
The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you think that Microsoft has improved product security over the past year?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine Windows Web Solutions home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, in new products and through security patches, b) In new products but not for existing products or versions, c) I've seen some improvement but not enough, d) I haven't noticed any improvement, or e) Security was already adequate.
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December 10 through 11, 2002
Web services are becoming a reality in the enterprise. This conference will help you prepare your company. General session topics are Web Services Strategies, Web Services Planning, WS-I Implementation, Standards Roadmap, Moving from Connection-Oriented Architectures to Web Services, Design Patterns for Web Services, Application Servers, Global Authentication, and ROI of Web Services.
For other upcoming events, check out the Windows & .NET Magazine Events Calendar.
Dschenzen wants to know how to programmatically determine which version of IIS is running on a system or which version is installed but not necessarily running. To lend a helping hand, click here:
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Sue Cooper, [email protected])
O'Reilly & Associates published "HTTP: The Definitive Guide," written by David Gourley and Brian Totty. The book explains the HTTP protocol, how it works, and how to use it to develop Web-based applications. "HTTP: The Definitive Guide" also covers the other core Internet technologies that HTTP depends on to work effectively. Topics include HTTP methods, headers, status code, proxies, caching, Web robots, crawlers, cookies, authentication, secure HTTP, internationalization, content negotiation, and redirection and load balancing. Chapter 6, "Proxies," is available free online. "HTTP: The Definitive Guide" costs $44.95. Contact O'Reilly & Associates at 707-827-7000, 800-998-9938, and [email protected].
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected].
6. CONTACT US
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