A while back I grabbed the Penultimate app for the iPad, just ‘cos it seemed fun at the time. I didn’t really envisage using it for studying—the fingertip control is pretty dicey to write anything small enough to fit more than two or three short lines of calculation. Besides, why bother when you can just grab a pad of paper and a pen(cil)? (if you’ve not seen Peter Serafinowicz’s iPad video, it’s worth a giggle).
That said, since the first road-test of the pad was taking it on holiday, I did actually find that I would occasionally drop from Kindle to Penultimate, to scratch out a determinant verification or the like. And with practice I became a little better at squeezing more in a page of scribbling. Not that I think anyone but me could have decyphered more than a character or two!
With that in mind, I decided to do some experimenting with a home-made stylus. Since the touchscreen is capacitance-based, it was going to have to conduct well enough to be more or less equipotential with my fingers. It was also going to need to be tapered to a flattish surface for the screen to register it. In the end, I sliced off the flat end of a pencil to leave the angle at the tip somewhere between 30 and 45 degrees, wrapped the whole thing in kitchen foil, and neatened up the ends.
Finding the right angle to write at takes a little practice. Also, though some people seem to have found the “wrist protection” feature in Penultimate to work well, I find it works some days but not others. Easily solved by just finding a thick enough insulator to rest your wrist on when writing. Results below (note: I have shocking handwriting at the best of times!)
I don’t think I’ll be totally giving up on pen+paper though.
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