Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MyScribe eReader

As a student at DeVry, I am using an eReader called MyScribe. Having used it for a little over three weeks, I have developed a few opinions about it. There are some rather serious flaws in the software, but if these problems are ironed out it would be an excellent program.

Major issue - unreadable text. Scrolling down my statistics book, I suddenly saw classic gobbledygook. Closing and restarting MyScribe seems to have cleared this issue for now.

Taking notes: Myscribe allows notetaking on your eBook! This awesome feature is only marred by closing spontaneously before I'm finished writing my note. This happens often esp. if I pause to think about what I'm writing. It acts like it is on a short timer.

Applets: Are the applets supposed to do something? A potentially useful teaching tool but mine do nothing. Example - applet on 1.3 of Elementary Statistics, Fourth Ed, by Ron Larson and Betsy Farber. It looks like a random number generator. Specify minimum and maximum values and the number of samples and press the button. Presto chango! Nothing happes on this one. (All the applets are dead, actually.) I can't even type in my numbers.

Scrolling: scrolling is not smooth between pages. Sometimes it pauses quite a while. This may have to do with my memory, but it would be nice if the scrolling was steady.

Auto Summary: While useful (I think it is a great feature!) it does not handle math well at all. f/n (where the f is over the n) is shown as "f n" Mixing text and variables results in useless/unreadable notes. I was esp. saddened by this as I am taking Statistics. I need those equations.

Page numbers: This is just a note for future improvement. I would love to see the Book page # and the eBook page # being the same. For example, my stat book's page 1 is on page 25 of the eBook. Most educational books have pages i, ii, iii, iv, etc before the regular number system begins. I would have thought that MyScribe (pushed by the college) would compensate for these pages. Adobe Reader does this well on the one PDF math book I have.

For reference, I have a laptop running Windows Vista, Norton 360, it has 2GB RAM and I usually run MyScribe alongside Word and Excel and perhaps a web browser, IE7.

Conclusion: MyScribe has some great features including note-taking, highlighting, and an auto-summary that seems to work backwards (page up to see the following page.) If the bugs were worked out MyScribe would be a valuable educational tool. As it is, I see incredible potential hampered by poor execution. Perhaps the next upgrade will be better.