I brought this:
It's a FlyFusion computer pen. And it rocks.
I did this with it:
You can check out the original posts in which they appeared here and here, but the upshot is this: I was tired and overwhelmed for most of the conference and couldn't be bothered to lug my computer around with me wherever I went, and the FlyFusion allowed me to write and scribble and compose all manner of blog post while sitting through panels in hot rooms, all without ever touching a laptop case or fiddling with a single computer cord or struggling to get a wireless connection.
Which is exactly what I did. Scribbled, that is. I could have written lengthy, descriptive posts in longhand, and then uploaded them from the pen and converted them to word documents that could then be copied directly into my Blogger template (because it does that, people!!!), but I didn't. I doodled, a lot. It's fun to doodle. All the more so when you know that you can save your doodles and put them on your computer and fiddle with them in Photoshop. (Somebody commented on one of those doodle posts that I must be an art professor. Ha! Behold the magic of technology, that it can make me - all-thumbs me - come off as artistic.)
I was introduced to the FlyFusion at a little press event for LeapFrog products. Yeah, that LeapFrog - the folks who make all the edumacational toys for tots. Motherbumper and I had been checking out all the merch, when a man who had been lurking in the corner of the room near a desk of what looked like homework supplies asked if we wanted to see the FlyFusion. We shrugged at each other and sat down and the man began to speak about pens and computers and pen computers and blah blah blah and we were this close to saying something to the effect of yeah, and? when he pulled out one to demonstrate.
And blew our minds.
The FlyFusion Pen writes in a digitized notebook (which doesn't cost all that much more than some higher-end regular notebooks, but which comes with extra features like, um, built-in calculator and built-in translator and built-in music mixing program. NO LIE.) You can use the programming in the notebook to help with translations and calculations and other tricky stuff, and then upload whatever you've written to your laptop or desktop as a Word document or as a JPEG or both and then do with it what you will. It's what you've dreamed of, all those times you've sat in a cafe or on a train or in a super-boring lecture writing your deepest thoughts or silliest jokes or most heartfelt letters in longhand and wished that there were some way of getting the ink onto your computer so that you wouldn't have to type it all up. It's what I dreamed of, back when I was an undergraduate and taking all my notes longhand and drafting outlines for papers in longhand, etc, etc. And now it's here. It's like, totally, Jetsons, without the flying cars.
LeapFrog is marketing FlyFusion to parents of high-school kids, and to the kids themselves, as a homework tool, which I think actually misses the biggest potential market for this thing. The undergraduates that I teach take of all their notes on their laptops - they do everything on their laptops. They're not a generation that cleaves to pens and paper. I'm the generation that cleaves to pen and paper. I (and my peers, and my husband and his peers) carry Moleskine notebooks with me wherever I go, jotting ideas and keeping notes and drafting blog posts in longhand, not just because it's easier than lugging the laptop, but because it's habit, and, moreover, because I love the feel of paper, and the feel of pen rolling on paper. My husband, who works in the film industry, also carries notebooks with him wherever he goes, to keep track of job details and accounting and random bits of information about whatever it is that goes on on the sets of TV commercials. We're not giving up our notebooks anytime soon - we're children of an ink-and-paper era - and so the prospect of some technology that allows us to keep our notebooks and integrate those notebooks with our computers is like the promise of chocolate that makes you skinny, or vodka that doesn't give you hangovers.
And for bloggers? This is the ultimate blogging tool. Write blog posts anywhere, anytime. Make doodle-art. Mix music. Invent, create, scribble - and then upload it all to your blog, at your convenience. I get giddy just thinking about it.
Most of the readers of this blog, and my home blog, are parents, and I'm guessing that those of you who are parents of older children might want to buy this for them. But you'd be happier if you bought it for yourself. Or for your spouse, and then appropriated it for yourself. Because it's the single most awesome piece of technology that I've seen in a long time, and you'll appreciate it more than your kids will.
You heard it here first.