Monday, April 25, 2011

Removing Livescribe Smartpen Content

Removing pages that you are no longer interested in from a traditional notebook is easy - you simply tear them out and shred or recycle them. But there is much more involved in removing pages from a Livescribe notebook. The process depends on whether you’ve recorded audio along with the notes on those pages, whether you’ve transferred the content to your Livescribe Desktop (LD) application, and whether you plan to continue to use the notebook for study or note-taking purposes.
Note: This article pertains to version 2.3.4 of the Livescribe Echo Smartpen and Windows Livescribe Desktop application software.


Before we discuss each of these scenarios, let’s review the terms, definitions and processes involved in using a Livescribe smartpen to take and refer to notes.
Making Notes
Taking notes with your smartpen involves writing or drawing in a Livescribe notebook which contains dot paper i.e. plain paper printed with a microdot pattern that allows the smartpen to recognize areas on the paper so it can associate your handwritten notes with recorded audio. Your notes may or may not have audio associated with them; it depends on whether you chose to record sound with the smartpen microphone prior to writing your notes. A session is a single, complete audio recording that may optionally have notes. So you have 3 note-taking options: notes + audio, notes only and audio only. Also, keep in mind that you can add notes to an audio recording at a later time.
Accessing Content In Notebook / Smartpen
Once you have made your notes, you can access them in several ways. If you recorded audio while writing notes, tap any note to start play back from the moment you wrote that note. If you didn’t record audio, you just read the notes as you would if they were written on normal paper. To play audio that doesn’t have notes associated with it, go to the Paper Replay application in the smartpen’s Main Menu, select Play Session and then select the audio session according to its date and time.
Accessing Content In Livescribe Desktop
You can also access your notes from Livescribe Desktop, the software that you install on your computer to allow you to transfer, store, search and replay notes from your computer. When you connect your smartpen to your computer, any new notes and audio you’ve added since the last connection are copied to your computer. In LD, you can view the notes in a particular notebook. Notes that have audio associated with them appear in “active ink”. Ink refers to the markings the smartpen makes on dot paper and active ink displays in green by default. Notes not associated with recorded audio display in “inactive ink” which is black by default.
So now you understand why you want to turn the smartpen on when recording notes only; it allows those notes to be captured by the camera, so they transfer to LD. The smartpen contains a ballpoint ink cartridge, allowing you to write on any type of paper but if the pen is turned off when you take notes in a Livescribe notebook, those notes won’t be captured for viewing in the Desktop application.
There are several ways you can listen to a recording in LD. If the session has notes associated with it, and you want to view the notes while listening to the recording, go to Pages View, select the appropriate notebook in the Navigation Pane, select the page containing the notes, and click the note at which you want to begin play back of the audio recorded as you wrote the note. The note must display with active ink. You’ll notice that notes recorded prior to this point in the session are green, while “future” notes are greyed-out and traced in green as the audio plays.
If the session doesn’t have notes or you don’t want to view the notes while listening to the recording, you can play the recording from the Audio View. Locate the recording by its date and time from the Session Name column. Double click the list item to start play back.

Remove Content From Smartpen

Removing notes from a Livescribe notebook requires you to consider whether the notes were made with the pen on, are associated with a recording, were transferred to your computer and are in a notebook that you still want to use.
If you wrote in your Livescribe notebook without turning the pen on, your writing wasn’t recorded and you would not have been able to record audio as well. So the pen does not contain a session nor does it even have a copy of your ink marking for transfer and viewing in LD. In this case, tearing that page out of the notebook is okay as long as all of the notes on both sides were made with the pen off.
Delete Session From Smartpen
Recall that a session is an audio recording that can optionally be associated with notes. The Paper Replay application in your smartpen allows you to delete an individual session or all sessions (select Delete Session or Delete All Sessions). This has several implications. First, once you delete a session from your smartpen, your paper notes will no longer play back the audio that was associated with that ink. Second, if you had transferred the session to LD, the session will still exist there. Third, if you delete the session before transferring it, the ink will still appear in LD, and due to a bug:
  • you'll receive the following error message after connecting your smartpen: "The following items failed to transfer: Audio Recordings"
  • new sessions won't transfer to Livescribe Desktop unless you archive your notebook (see Archive Notebook below for the implications of this).
I've notified Livescribe about this bug so hopefully it will be resolved in a software update in the near future. In the meantime, I recommend that you do not delete a session from the smartpen until AFTER transferring it to LD.
Delete Audio Session From Livescribe Desktop (and Smartpen)
Livescribe Desktop allows you to delete audio either from the LD application or from the smartpen.
To delete a recorded audio session from LD only, select Audio View, click the audio session to delete, right-click and select “Remove Audio from Livescribe Desktop…”. Deleting a session from Livescribe Desktop does not affect your smartpen.
To delete a recorded audio session from the smartpen only, ensure that the smartpen is connected to your computer. Select Audio View, click the audio session to delete, right-click and select Remove Audio from Smartpen…. This has the same effect as using the Delete Session command in the smartpen’s Paper Replay application.
As stated above, the implications of deleting an audio recording from the smartpen are that your paper notes will no longer play back the audio that was associated with them. If you delete audio from LD, you’ll no longer be able to play it on your computer.
If you wrote with the pen on, but made no recording, your notes will be transferred to LD where you can view them as inactive ink.
Delete Pages From Notebook
If you want to remove pages from a notebook in LD, you must first archive the notebook. Only an archived notebook can have pages deleted from it. You can also delete an entire archived notebook.
Archive Notebook
When you have finished using a notebook, you should archive it by connecting the smartpen to your computer and selecting the notebook in the Library tab of the Navigation Pane, and selecting Archive Notebook... from the File menu. Archiving a notebook moves it from the Library folder to the Archived Notebooks folder in the Navigation Pane. It also deletes your notes (ink data) and audio from the smartpen. This frees up storage space on your smartpen but also means that you won’t be able to use the smartpen to interact with the notebook. That is, when you tap notes in the physical archived notebook, they won’t play back any audio. However, you can still use LD to access the notes and audio in an archived notebook in the same manner as a non-archived one. Another important reason to archive a notebook is that it allows you to start a new notebook that shares the same series number (and thus the same microdot pattern).
If the archived notebook still has blank pages in it, you can still write in it. (But only do this if you want to treat the unused pages as part of a new notebook and don’t do it if you have started another notebook with the same series/name.) The Livescribe Knowledge Base says, "When you connect your smartpen to transfer your new notes, that notebook will re-appear in the active notebook section of Livescribe Desktop, and the additional pages you wrote on will appear as thumbnails when the active notebook is selected." You can archive the same notebook as many times as you wish.
For example, in a school setting, a teacher may want to pass a smartpen and partially used notebook on to another student. Of course the sessions on the smartpen should be deleted. Archiving the notebook does this. Then the teacher should remove the written pages from the notebook so another student won’t see work from the previous student. Finally, if the teacher doesn't want to keep an electronic copy of those written pages, s/he can delete them from the archived notebook.
Note that if you write on archived pages (i.e. pages that had content), those pages will appear in the active notebook with the new ink that you applied.
Deleting Archived Notebooks and Pages
If you want to permanently remove an archived notebook or some of its pages, use the Delete command as follows: Select an Archived Notebook in the Library tab. Select Delete Notebook... from the File menu to remove the entire notebook. Or, select one or more page to be deleted (use the Ctrl / Shift to multi-select) and select Delete Page(s) from the File menu. Note: If there is audio associated, at the prompt choose if you also want to delete the notebook’s or page’s audio. Also, if you have custom notebooks that link to the pages you're deleting, these pages will also be deleted from the custom notebooks.


Livescribe Smartpen User Guide
Livescribe Desktop for Windows User Guide
Livescribe Knowledge Base

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Contextual Spell Checker Evaluation

Conventional spell checkers fix spelling mistakes (i.e. non-word errors) by essentially performing a dictionary look-up of a word, and fix grammar errors by applying a set of grammatical rules. Contextual spell checkers are a new class of software that go beyond this; they use context (i.e. a number of words surrounding the word, most typically a sentence) to identify and correct misused words, also known as real word errors.
While researching the contextual spell check feature first introduced into the 2007 edition of Microsoft Word, I discovered an evaluation of four contextual spell checkers including Word 2007 (on Windows), MS Word 2008 (on MacOS X), MacOS X Spell and Grammar Checker, and After the Deadline.
The evaluation was conducted by Raphael Mudge, the developer of After the Deadline, an open-source grammar, style, and misused word checker that can be added to various applications as an extension e.g. Firefox web browser, word processor. You can read his 2010/4/9 blog posting about this at Measuring the Real Word Error Corrector. Mudge has made available the data set and programs to perform this evaluation on other such tools. The data consists of 673 sentences containing 834 errors (of which Mudge determined 97.8% are real word errors) that were collected from writers with dyslexia by Dr. Jennifer Pedler for her PhD thesis. Pedler annotated the errors along with the expected corrections and Mudge wrote a program to compare a corrected version of Dr. Pedler’s error corpus to the original corpus with errors. The program outputs 2 results as a percentage:
  • recall: how many errors were found and changed to something
  • precision: how often these changes were correct
Note: Mudge's program does not measure the number of words outside the annotated errors that were changed correctly or incorrectly. This is unfortunate because I noticed many false positives when using Ghotit i.e. correct words that were identified as errors.
So I used Pedler's data and Mudge's script to evaluate Word 2007 (to attempt to replicate Mudge's results), Word 2010 (to compare it to Word 2007), and two relatively new online contextual spell checkers: Ginger Software and Ghotit. When doing so, I accepted the first suggestion offered by each checker. For Ginger, I ran the test twice: I first approved the corrected sentence exactly as offered and then on a fresh copy of the error corpus, I explicitly selected the first suggestion for those corrections annotated with the ? icon as these usually remain unchanged. So selecting the first suggestion would show that Ginger did identify a potential error (improving recall) and may correct the error (potentially improving precision).
Spell CheckerRecall % (identifies word)Precision % (corrects identified word)
Ginger Software v1.16.1 (select first suggestion for corrections labelled "?")56.688.8
Ginger Software v1.16.1 (approve default sentence)50.989.6
MS Word 200740.690.3
MS Word 201038.689.4
After the Deadline2888
My results show that Ghotit scores best at identifying errors with 72.2%. This is well ahead of the second highest recall value of 56.6% achieved by Ginger, when explicitly selecting the first suggestion; approving the corrected sentence exactly as offered identifies 50.9% of errors. The fourth highest recall is MS Word 2007 which identifies 40.6% of the errors.
But as I said above, I noticed that Ghotit generated a lot of false positives (the manner in which the Microsoft Word plugin interface is designed required me to select the first suggestion from a submenu for each highlighted error). This seems to have increased recall but notice that the precision score of 77.9% is significantly lower than the 88 - 90% that all of the other spell checkers achieved.
The error corpus does use UK English and I was able to specify that (or it was the default) for all the spell checkers I evaluated.
Note that the results for Ginger and Ghotit are subject to change as their algorithms and data sets are continuously being improved.