Axiotron Modbook Pro

modbookpro3-737507Via: Develop3D

You may remember Axiotron from when they released the Modbook, a portable tablet computer built around a hacked up 13″ Macbook. With a professional quality pen tablet screen the Modbook became a subject of lust for many designers and artists that have been forced to turn to Windows systems for a portable tablet.

Now that Apple has released the new line of Unibody Macbook Pros, Axiotron has stepped up to release the Modbook Pro, another portable tablet built around the guts of a 15″ Macbook Pro. The system is more powerful and has a bigger screen, but that’s not what has me most interested in the unit.

A major downfall of traditional tablet computers is that you lose many of the keyboard access you need for shortcuts and modifier keys while working in applications like Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator, Rhino, etc. Axiotron is trying to overcome this with the Modbook Pro though, touting their new Synergy Touch technology. This technology lets you use the pen while also using your fingers for touch input at the same time. System software overlays keyboards, numpads, or shortcut keys in floating transparent panels so that you can hold down modifier keys while giving input with the pen. If this works as well as they say it does I believe it could change the tablet industry. I’d love to see them license the technology out to other tablet manufacturers or even Wacom for use in the Cintiq line of displays.

As far as how they’re accomplishing these two input methods at once… I’m assuming it’s a capacitance touch setup for the hand input, and the typical RF Wacom technology for the pen. They must have a threshold set on the capacitance input to ignore a surface area much larger than a couple fingers, otherwise the palm of your pen-hand would be delivering all sorts of false input while you operate the pen.

The Modbook Pro is a pretty hefty investment at $5,000, but I imagine there are a few professionals who will see the pricetag as a bargain for such a mobile workstation. It will be interesting to see how Axiotron does with this product, and what else they’ll come out with.

Resize Images Automatically in PHPBB

I’ve spent the last year building a PHPBB based discussion forum. I’m using version 2 of PHPBB, with a tables based template. Yeah, it kills me… but I haven’t had the free time to invest in a CSS structure overhaul… and honestly I don’t think I know enough right now to pull it off.

I allow images to be embedded into posts by users, but images are posted that are too wide for the message area, and the format of the whole site gets broken. The header tool bar stretches, and there’s some nasty sideways scrolling introduced.

While browsing through the www.phpbb.com MODS database I came across the Resize Posted Images Based on Max Width MOD. My installation is pretty heavily modded, with a lot of that being changes I’ve made by hand in full ignorance of how things should be done properly. Regardless, the MOD installed instantly with EasyMOD and works flawlessly.

The result uses Javascript to automatically resize images that are wider than a dimension you set (default is 400px). The resized image keeps your site’s formatting correct, and the user can click on the image to see the full size copy in a pop-up window. My only gripe right now is that since the resize is done with Javascript, the user still has to download the full-size image file before they can load the page. This means that users who embed a 5meg image are still going to cripple the page. Of course, to truly resize the image and create a thumbnail would take a much heavier MOD.

If you run a PHPBB forum and find your site layout getting broken by images, I highly recommend this MOD.