One of the features of Smart Notebook 11, the latest version of the software used to run Smartboards, is a featured called ‘SMART Ink’. It’s an evolution of the previous functionality that allowed you to write on any window using the Smartboard pens. Previous versions just put a big picture frame over to allow you to write, which was great for full-screen applications but not so good for windows that move around. To get around this problem, SMART released SMART Ink, which ties the writing to a specific window, which can then be moved around the screen. Which is all great in theory.
However, in practice it results in lots of ugly green boxes sitting in the title bar of every single window you have open, and even every little dialogue box as well. And then when you move the window around, it doesn’t gracefully move with it but rather jitters around, destroying all the hard work Apple engineers have done in giving silky-smooth-graphic-card-accelerated windowing.
But not only that, it also seems to generally slow the Mac down, as acknowledged here and here by SMART. Not very smart.
Several people have suggested ways to remove the software, which I have roughly followed. It basically involves removing the ‘SMART Ink’ login item from System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items and then killing the process using Activity Monitor. It’s a bit of a faff to go computer to computer, but seems to have had a good impact on speed.
Well, SMART Notebook 11 is here. And it’s not bad. It feels a lot more up-to-date, particularly on the Mac version, and includes interesting features like the ability to embed a live web page onto a page. Stability is also good, as is compatibility with Lion. It seems like a good, solid update and we’ll be rolling it out across the school when we reimage during the holidays.
However, not the same thing can be said for ‘Smart Ink’, a bit of software that installs with the Board Tools, which are the drivers needed for running any attached Smartboards. Smart Ink puts a little horrible green button onto every and any window, allowing you to write all over the window and then move the window around, keeping all the writing attached. Not a bad idea I suppose, but it does add a whole level of ugliness to the OSX interface, which isn’t good. The fact that the green button wobbles around the screen in a very Windowsy way whenever a window is moved doesn’t help either. Hmmm.
But in SMART’s defence, I was impressed that every ageing Smartboard we attached to our new Mac minis did seem to work fine. That sort of backwards-compatibilty is very un-Apple, but saves us a load of money!
Whilst I am not the greatest fan of Smartboards, they certainly do have good customer service! After sending an email to them in Canada, asking of OSX 10.7 Lion would ever really be supported, they emailed me back to inform me of a soon-to-arrive Notebook 11 software. Amongst its other features, it has full Lion support (yay!). Hopefully they will still support 500 series Smartboards too, but that may just be wishful thinking on my part.