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Quick draw

The worst thing about bringing a laptop into meetings is that you lose the ability to doodle while the speaker drones. No worries, the good old days are back again.

If you bring a laptop to meetings, you’ve probably felt that pang of nostalgia for the past, when you could doodle endlessly and look like you were taking notes. Well, the good old days are here again. Alias SketchBook Pro is a handy program that turns tablet PCs into portable drawing pads, complete with simple image editing and graphics options.

Designed specifically for tablet PC and Wacom tablets, the program (priced at $179) draws on the strength of that computing style, offering on-the-fly sketching ability. Looking like a funky sheet of digital paper, the interface is about as clean a space as you can get, uncluttered by multiple menu bars and pop-up boxes. Instead, it’s just white space and you, with a small box in the corner that can access standard graphics features like pen size, colors, erasers, and brushes. Like most drawing programs, it also allows for multiple layers and interconnection between them, so you can order your pages however you like. Photos, other drawings, and backgrounds can be imported quickly.

Although it can be used as a simple futuristic sketchpad, the program also allows you to show your masterpieces to the world. Pages can be saved with one-button screen captures that preserve an entire layer rather than just a single image, which can be quite nice when trying to patch your brilliant brushstrokes into a presentation.

Even more useful is the program’s e-mail integration feature. By setting a default e-mail program, new messages can be created automatically that already have your current masterpiece attached.

The seemingly endless image manipulation tools seen in a powerhouse program like Photoshop are missing, but sometimes, less is more. The program is simple, stripped-down, and very useful for anyone who just wants a quick way to draw an idea and share it with others.

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