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Pen Attention - highlights your pen cursor for giving presentations
04/18/2008 - 00:26
Update 1/03/2010:Download the latest version from here
Update 5/10/08:An updated version of this program is available that fixes the bugs described in this post.
I've been using my Tablet PC to deliver lectures for years, and I love having the ability to record lectures, mark-up PowerPoint, and write by hand using OneNote. However, it's always bothered me that the pen cursor is a tiny little dot. An example is shown below from OneNote:
In that image, the cursor is right below the number "2" but it's REALLY hard for my class to see on a projector since it's a teensie weensy dot. The problem is that I like to use the pen to "point" at things as I give the lecture, but it doesn't help if the class can't see it. To remedy this, I've been using the eraser mode of the pen while in hover mode to "point" at things I want to talk about. It works, but is a little klunky.
After lots of searching around for ways to change the pen cursor to no avail, I finally (after 5 years!) got the idea to make my own program to highlight the cursor. A few afternoons of hacking later, and the result is PenAttention v1.0. This program draws a circle highlight, pencil, or pointer at the location of the pen, when the pen is detected on the screen:
The class can easily see the location of the pen. One drawback of this mode is that it's a little more distracting to write, but doesn't seem too bad so far and I think I'll get used to it. Using the pencil or pointer mode is a bit less distracting:
The program itself installs into the system tray. Tapping on the icon or clicking on it with the pen brings up a context menu that lets you pick which type of pointer you want for the pen:
The program is free and requires .NET 2.0 or higher and Windows XP Tablet or Windows Vista with a tablet pen. So far I've only tested it on machines with Wacom pens. I've tested this on about four personal machines and it seems to work, but please send me feedback if you have problems or if there are improvements that you would like to see.
To download the installer for this program click the link below:
IMPORTANT: If the program installs but the highlight doesn't follow your pen, try installing this Microsoft redistributable update for C++:
If you are interested in the C++ and C# source code, see below:
UPDATE 4/21/08: I updated the program to version 1.01. It fixes a bug in Vista when in Internet Explorer where the cursor isn't visible unless UAC or Protected Mode is disabled, and fixes a bug that prevented the cursor from being displayed in XP Tablet.