Livescribe SmartPen Review and solution to "unable to access your database folders" problem
My wife bought me a Livescribe Smartpen for my birthday. It's an amazing device, but I can't recommend it at this point. First, the positive: as advertised, it records handwritten text (using special notebooks), displays the text on a computer, and recognizes hand-printed text well enough to search through stored pages for keywords. It can also record sound. It doesn't work with Windows 2000, so I switched to Windows XP, something I haven't had to do for any other program. But I thought my planned uses justified the switch:
1) lab notebooks. I often need to refer to something I wrote months or years ago. With Livescribe, it should be possible to find it quickly.
2) taking notes in seminars. The audio recording is good enough I can can just write keywords and make sketches of graphs, knowing that I can refer back to the audio for details I didn't get written down.
But, after only a few days of use, the program suddenly informed me that it was:
"Unable to access your database folders. Please contact customer support."
Reinstalling didn't help. OK, I'll contact customer service and report here (and Amazon.com, etc.) how they respond.
Apparently other people have had the same problem.
Update: I got a reasonably prompt generic ("what operating systems are you using?", etc.) response but no actual help so far. I was able to install on a different computer, but worry that the same problem could arise there at some random time in the future, meaning I would lose any files that weren't still on my pen.
Update2: After a few days, "customer service" sent me another generic request for information. Maybe they figure repeatedly asking for more information and just hoping users will solve the problem themselves can be outsourced, whereas they would have to hire someone competent to actually figure out what was wrong. The reason I suspect this is that they didn't seem to do anything with the information they asked for the first time, and they didn't answer a very specific question I asked when I sent them the first bunch of information they asked for, namely, whether it might help to copy the (hidden) MyLivescribe directory from another computer where I'd gotten it to work. Anyway, I went ahead and tried it and that seems to have fixed the problem. So I guess backing up the MyLivescribe directory periodically would be a good idea. There's apparently some way to back stuff up on the company web site, but what happens to the data when the company goes out of business?
I agree with comments on their website: until there's a way to send Livescribe files to colleagues without going through the Livescribe website, they will lose millions of potential customers. For example, this system would be great for notebooks used to document patentable inventions, but nobody working on a patentable invention is going to trust their notes to an outside company.