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November 14th, 2011, 01:55 PM   #1
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Wacom tablets and algebra/math software

Hey everyone,
I have currently been wasting a lot of paper and money for my math problems. So for both the environment and also my pocket I am thinking of switching over to a tablet.
I am just wondering if anyone has used a Wacom tablet for writing out equations/questions or maths problems before. If so can you recommend any software which is capable of doing such a thing. I'm using a Mac though.
dthomas86 is offline  
November 14th, 2011, 02:02 PM   #2
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Re: Wacom tablets and algebra/math software

I use a Wacom on a Mac all the time. I have a "Bamboo" model and another (not sure which, but I have the ~$70 model and the ~$200 model). Both work fine, it just depends on the software that you use.

The vast majority of my Wacom use is on virtual classroom/whiteboard applications for online tutoring (and I'm not impressed with these companies' software).

But I do have many gainfully employed artist/design friends who use Wacoms for work. I'll see what the recommend for (y)our needs.
The Chaz is offline  
November 15th, 2011, 12:36 AM   #3
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Re: Wacom tablets and algebra/math software

Thanks Chaz for the help. Yeah I have a few friends who use them for graphic design etc but know of no one using them for math calculations. Please let me know if you come across anything. Thanks.
dthomas86 is offline  
January 21st, 2012, 03:08 PM   #4
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Re: Wacom tablets and algebra/math software

Has anybody tried using actual tablet computers so you can write directly on the screen? The ones with a sharp stylus and Wacom-made screens seem good, but I can't find any in local stores to try.

e.g. ASUS EP121


e.g. HP TM2
kablooey is offline  
February 6th, 2012, 07:39 AM   #5
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Re: Wacom tablets and algebra/math software

I own a Wacom tablet and have tried using it for simple mathematical expressions (just fine), but for more complex math equations, you are better off using paper and pencil. Computers are useful to a point, they are better for storing and organizing information, but lacking when it comes to the learning process. If I were to learn piano or organ, I would not use "software" to replicate the experience I want the real thing! So for math, paper and pencil/pen are your superior instruments.
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February 27th, 2012, 02:14 PM   #6
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Re: Wacom tablets and algebra/math software

I have been using the Fujitsu T900 tablet for over a year. I use Microsoft OneNote
and do all my homework on it. It is actually MUCH nicer than pen and paper as far
as I am concerned.

I just draw my equations, I don't convert them to equation typescript. I can do very involved calculations and proofs, things like double/triple integrals, etc., on this and
it is very nice. You can use the lasso to select part of your work and then shrink it and tuck it someplace handy. You can also use different colors and thicknesses. It naturally
formats to an 8.5/11 inch page. If I am doing intermedate caculations, say for a trig identity, I can take the less important part and shrink it down to a barely visibile dot.
It is out of the way, but if I need to look at it later, I can just lasso it and enlarge it
and all the detail is still there.

To erase a mistake, you use a back and forth horizontal gesture, and the stroke you do it
on is gone. There is also a large, medium, and small eraser that will take away just
what you touch with it--like in MS Paint. You can also undo and redo quite a few times.
When the algebra gets involved, you can cross out with a very find red pen and you can
still easily read what was crossed out. You can also cross out with blue and green pens, too.
I use red for terms that cancel, and blue for terms that combine. it really helps prevent

It also organized the work very neatly. You can create a "section group"--a kind of a folder, and name it for the chapter, and you can create subsection groups for the sections in the chapter, and sub section groups for notes and exercises. For exercise, you can create section, name it for the chapter/section, and then have individual pages in the exercise.
I remember fondly the days when I could do 10 or 12 problems on one page. Now I am
doing 2 pages per problem...!!!

It keeps track of dates, etc.

You can even do rudimentary manual graphing. It supplies a 2 dimensional axis and a 3 dimensional axis that you can pull down and drag around, and stretch. It will draw lines, arrows, circles, squares rectangles, triangles, and a couple of other polygons. It can be
set to snap to a grid or not, however, snap only works when you are creating something,
not when you are moving things.

It does do calculations but it is a real pain and not worth it-- and it won't graph equations, you have to do that yourself. But the graphing it does do is a bit of an improvement over pencil and paper. It rotates figures 90,45, and 180 in both left and right directions, but is not a cad system. I really wish it would allow you to specify degree of rotation, but it doesn't.

However, you can get clever. For 3space, it gives you the Z and Y axis and you can adjust the X axis to any angle you like. However, there are no rulers on the axes. The grid
supplies the ruler for Y and Z, and for X I just draw circles centered at origin and it the
circles give me my ruler for the X axis. It works OK but is kind of tedious, but still better
than pen and paper. One nice thing is for 3D figures, you can make wireframes for cylinders very easily. Eg, if you are doing the cylinder z=y^2, you can draw 1/2 of the parabola by hand, then copy it, paste it somewhere, flip it horizonally, then move it
up to the original parabola, and you get a nice neat symetrical parabola. Then you can
copy the whole parabola, paste it somewhere, change the color to a very light pastel
color, copy that and then past it repeatedly, moving slowly down the X axis. It creates
a very nice 3d wireframe effect that helps visualize the 3D. This is especially nice
when it is NOT a circle or parabola, but something irregular. Not as good as
Mathematica, but definitely better than pen and paper.

It supplies a number of different background grids, and lots of pen colors and highlighters.

Writing is a little tricky because there is no resistance to the pen tip, so it flies. It took
me a little practice to make nice neat numbers and letters.

But, if you are writing a long equation, series and you run out of room on your line, you
can simply lasso the whole thing and "smooge" it over (shrink in horizontal direction only)
and for a 7" of line, you can shrink it back 2 inches and it is still quite readable.

If you need to lable the rectangular coordinates for a point, e.g., (root(3)/2, 1/2), you can write them big, then lasso them and shrink them down very small and move them to your graph. If you make them neat when they are big, they shrink down suprisingly small and are still readable.

Of course, you can select and move stuff all over the place, you can cut, copy, paste,
etc., everything goes to the clipboard. If you don't like the thickness or color of something
it is easy to change. You can customize the ribbon so you have your favorite commands
available close at hand.

I also have a reference page that has hand-drawn figures I need, like sigma, gradient,
etc. I just copy them from there and then use them on my page if I am doing that kind
of problem.

You never have to save with OneNote, it is constantly saving for you in the background.
I keep my files on my file server, a different W7 computer, and it syncronizes
automatically with that server so I always have a backup.

You need a fairly fast computer with some memory. I have a CORE I5 and it works well.
The tip of the pen is about 1/8 of an inch from where you are writing, which is a downside,
but after a while, you get the hang of it and you forget about it.

By the way, I don't find that it interferes with my ability to write on paper with a pencil
eg. for an exam. In fact, my pencil and paper writing has become slightly neater.

If anyone is interested in discussing OneNote and the wacom tables, I would like to share (and receive!) information.
OrderChaos is offline  
February 27th, 2012, 05:06 PM   #7
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Re: Wacom tablets and algebra/math software

Follow-up to my previous post about OneNote:

If anyone is interested in seeing what my work looks like in OneNote, I have a sample jpg I can send. I don't know if I can display it on this forum.

I use a Fujitsu T900 and I just got a Fujitsu T901. Both run Windows 7 32 bit. I got the Fujitsu because it has the largest screen I could find, 13.3" WXGA.
It is only a little bit smaller than an 8.5/11 sheet of paper, and exactly the same size as the portion you would be writing on, so I can pretty much
use it as a sheet of paper.

After more than a year of using tablet computers, I honestly believe that pencil and paper are going to be obsolete in the near future. My T900 died (under warrantee) last month, and I had to send it in for more than a week for warrantee repair. I found paper and pencil to be so obnoxious after using the
T900 exclusively, that I purchased a T901 so that I can have a backup tablet computer. I simply can't do without it any more.

The funny thing is, I have no problem using pencil and paper for an exam, it's not that I have lost the ability to use pencil and paper, it's just that the
annoyance factor of futzing around with paper and having find a place to file the homework, etc., is now intolerable. With the tablet, everthing is
automatically filed and at my fingertips.

Computers are good for storing and retrieving information, but that is no longer their primary use. Cell phones wouldn't exist without
a computer inside doing all the work. Nor would HDTV's, audio systems, microwave ovens, refigerators, automobiles, remote controls, you name it.
They are ubiquitous as controllers and communicators and they enhance virtually every aspect of our lives in the 21st century.
Using a computer to replace paper and pencil for math is, in my opinion, the next logical step. Most instructors don't currently use tablets for
math lectures, but they do use technology, and the technology they use is laughable and primitive compared to what they could do with
OneNote and a tablet computer. The only reason they don't use them is because they don't know about them yet. But the IPAD is opening peoples
eyes to what an intelligent pad can do, just the same way that the Iphone introduced people to how an intelligent communication device can enhance
peoples lives. It is only a matter of time (and I think a very short time) until people will look back at the paper and pencil the same way we look at
clay tablets and cunieform writing.

My analogy for the Wacom (with the right software) is that it compares to paper and pencil the way an electronic piano keyboard compares to a
piano. All the hand motions and coordination are exactly the same. The feel is a little different, but the versatility is much enhanced.
The software doesn't do the work for you, it just takes some drudgery out and gives you MORE time to learn concepts and improve skills.
I'll take any edge I can get.
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