Palm Tipsheet 5.0 / February 2000
Hello Fellow Palm Users!
Welcome to the fifth edition of the Palm Tipsheet, the monthly email newsletter for PalmOS PDA users. The Palm Tipsheet is a publication that I research, write and produce each month, covering interesting developments that I see occurring in the PalmOS world and think are interesting enough to share with you.
I know that several of you are new to the list, as I have received many subscription emails starting in 1999 and continuing into 2000. For those who are new to the Palm Tipsheet, Welcome! :-)
In this edition, I have all sorts of great newsbits from Palm Computing and others to share with you all and a feature article on Palm PDA security.
Notable Palm Links
Special Feature: Palm Security
**Palm IIIc Color Palm Introduced**-- The long-awaited color Palm has finally arrived. Tuesday, February 22, Palm Computing announced the PalmIIIc, with an 256 color active matrix screen, 'weeks' of battery life based on permanently installed, rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries. Sporting a slightly longer form-factor (than the Palm III) and weighing in at just 6.8 ounces, the Palm IIIc is one of the smallest and lightest color PDAs on the market today. You will pay for the convenience of color though, as the PalmIIIc retails at $450.
Interestingly, the secret has more or less been 'out of the bag' for a few months, as Palm and some of the 3rd party software developers had already mentioned PalmOS 3.5 and the coming color capability in their documentation. Since the Palm IIIc introduction (and even prior to it) PalmOS software developers have been updating their applications to make use of the new color capability, such as Tealpoint software's Teal Paint application. Certainly more color updating of Palm software will follow.
Teal Paint 4.21:
Palm feels the IIIc is a color PDA 'done right' as they have worked hard to maintain battery life in the face of heavy power consumption that a color screen can draw. According to their statement 'weeks of usage' they estimate that 40 minutes of use per day will give the user about 2 weeks battery life. Heavier use will almost certainly drain the batteries more quickly,though this new color Palm does recharge its internal batteries while in the cradle, similarly to the way the Palm V and Vx do. This cradle-recharge feature may be the Palm IIIc's saving grace for its short battery life.
A great advantage to previous Palm users who might be considering an upgrade to color is that the form-factor remains consistent with past Palm III series devices -- so those cradles, modems, keyboards, GPS units and other Palm peripherals will work with the IIIc. Palm V and Vx users will have to wait for the next color Palm device, which I suspect might follow the Palm V/Vx form-factor.
All things considered, this is a major step forward for Palm and its users. I believe that the significant effects of the color Palm remain to be seen and the most exciting developments in my opinion will be Palm software that adapts to the possibilities that a color Palm offers.
**Palm IIIxe Introduced**-- Another new Palm device announced on 22-Feb is the Palm IIIxe, which is geared for professionals. This new Palm device comes in a darker 'slate gray' color and has an increased RAM capacity, topping out at 8MB for storing plenty of documents and applications. Priced at $250, the Palm IIIxe offers another great PalmOS machine for a reasonable price. I would expect that the introduction of the new models may also provide some great price deals on the Palm IIIx as a result of the similar pricing of the two.
**Palm Portable Keyboard Debuts**-- Imagine a device that expands from a package about the size of a Palm PDA, into a full size keyboard and you have the new Palm Portable Keyboard. Originally developed by the company ThinkOutside, this new keyboard, now branded by Palm Computing, may be just the peripheral you've been looking for.
Palm Portable Keyboard:
Priced at $100, this expandable keyboard provides the convenience of small size when compacted and a full sized keyboard when expanded -- all in one package. What remains to be seen is the keyboard's durability after repeated use, though several reviewers have commented on the toughness and quality of the keyboard.
PalmPower Portable Keyboard Review:
The Gadgeteer Review (Nice Photos!):
The Palm Portable Keyboard is available for all Palm branded devices (III and V series machines) while a Handspring Visor version is said to be due in March.
**Unlimited Palm VII Service**-- In an effort to expand the popularity of the Palm VII wireless PDA, and in response to the upcoming OmniSky wireless modem and service for the Palm V/Vx, Palm.Net is now offering a $45 Unlimited monthly service plan along with the 3 other plans they offer. This will make using a Palm VII much more affordable for heavy users, as the original service plans limited kilobytes included in the plans and charged additionally for extra KBs transferred. The other plans offered by Palm.Net range from $10 to $40 per month with a $10 setup fee.
Palm.Net Pricing Schedule:
This new unlimited plan seems to me a preemptive strike against the now in beta testing OmniSky service, which is slated to launch in Spring 2000 for unlimited wireless service with a Palm V/Vx compatible OmniSky wireless modem.
OmniSky Wireless Modem & Service:
PalmPower's Review of OmniSky:
**HandyShopper 1.7**-- This very slick little _freeware_ application, developed by Christopher Antos as is one of my wife's favorite Palm programs. It also rates very highly in the 'Wow, that's cool!' category whenever my wife and I show off our Palms to others. HandyShopper is a feature-packed database program designed specifically for managing shopping lists for multiple stores and items. Some of the cool features include: a coupon checkbox, price storage and even foreign currency capability. The app is availabe in English and German versions. Version 2.0 is currently in beta.
HandyShopper 2.0 (Beta):
**Handango Website**-- This recent combination of two large Palm related sites and one WinCE site (GoPDA.com, PalmCentral.com and CEStation.com) provides another useful resource for the Palm enthusiast.
**InCase Designs Neoprene Case for Palm**-- With the many Palm cases that are out there vying for your attention, I still occasionally stumble across new ones. This case is pod-like and comes in several colors (Black, Blue & Red) and are priced at $25 each.
**The Concept Kitchen Bumper Case**-- Offered by Concept Kitchen, this all rubber case envelops your Palm device and protects it from jars and drops and looks pretty funky in bulldozer yellow and steel gray.
The Gadgeteer Bumper Case Review:
**The RhinoSkin ShockSuit SportCase**-- Another heavy-duty Palm case on the market is the RhinoSkin ShockSuit SportCase, providing shock-resistant protection. This model comes in blue, black and gray. A belt clip version is available for the industrial techno-geeks out there.
The Gadgeteer Bumper Case Review:
**PalmUser Magazine**-- A recently launched paper magazine, PalmUser offers new subscribers in-depth information in a magazine format.
**Palm Museum**-- If you're into visual design, funky custom Palms, or Palms that look like iBooks, check out this fun Japanese website full of customized Palm PDAs. While much of the site is in Japanese, there is enough english to navigate around end enjoy these custom Palms!
(Note: Be sure to scroll the top frame to see the complete museum listing.)
Special Feature: Palm Security
by Mike Rohde, Editor
Have you ever considered what effect losing your Palm device might have on your private information? What if your Palm was stolen -- are there sensitive contacts or information on your Palm which might adversely impact your business or personal life? Is your Palm secure?
In this issue of the Palm tipsheet I'm going to focus on security. Below are some of the steps that I have taken to protect my own private information and a variety of links to applications that you might want to consider to help protect your secure information.
Now, Palm devices do provide some basic protection of the data which resides on them. The Security application has been a part of all Palm devices since the first Pilot 1000 & 5000 were introduced. But its protection is limited and not entirely bullet-proof.
The PalmOS built-in security feature does allow you to protect your device at statup with a password, but this can be bypassed by using the 'I forgot my password' feature. The problem is that once this feature is used, any files marked private will be lost, and any files not marked private are open and unprotected from prying eyes.
Another problem with the standard Palm security feature is that your user files -- while marked private -- can be accessed and read if copied from your Mac or PC. While the files marked 'private' are not visible in your desktop application, they can be accessed via your user data files. This data can be viewed with any text editor.
To resolve the security hole in Palm Desktop, check out Innersafe for Palm Desktop and add-in which secures your data in the Palm Desktop application.
Because of these limitations, I decided to approach the problem of Palm security in three ways:
1) Try not to store sensitive information in the stock Palm applications -- Datebook, Addressbook, To-Do List or Memopad;
2) Install a industrial-strength security application to protect my Palm device at startup -- one which cannot be easily defeated;
3) Use an encrypted storage application for super-sensitive data, such as passwords, credit card numbers and pin numbers.
1) Realizing that the stock Palm applications may be vulnerable to attack, my first line of defense is to just not leave any sensitive info in those applications. Obviously though, phone numbers could be considered somewhat sensitive, so I then need to go a step further in my security measures. I have also password protected my Macintosh Powerbook's hard drive, which helps keep my user data from being stolen.
2) In order to protect my Palm from the 'I lost my password' problem I've purchased the security application called TealLock. There are several other applications which perform similar functions (see my short list of links below). I chose TealLock, because it was relatively transparent and easy to use and also because I like Tealpoint software's other products very much.
Commander & Commander Lite 1.43:
I have enabled TealLock to activate on startup, but with the caveat that it wait 15 minutes (this time span is adjustable) after my first access of the palm device to ask for a password again. I get the security I want while keeping me from being annoyed by repeatedly entering my password each time I turn on the device. This comes in handy particularly when I refer to my Palm every couple of minutes while working on a project, or while I'm shopping.
While this does allow a window for a thief to potentially see my information, once that 15 minute window has passed, they essentially have to either attempt to guess my password or reset the stolen Palm to make any use of it. TealLock will refuse to HotSync while active, so this will protect against someone syncing my information to another computer and stealing that way. In TealLock, there is no 'I forgot my password' feature.
3) My next level of security is using a separate storage application to keep my most sensitive information protected. I've chosen the application Secret! which is essentially a strong-encrypted memopad application. Secret! requires a password for access, and even if someone were to steal the database for the Secret! application, because it's been encrypted it cannot be simply read with any text editor.
You might also want to consider some other applications which perform similar functions, all of them varying in price and features. Below are some links to a few other secure applications for sensitive data storage.
Mobile Account Manager 2.1:
Additionally, there are even applications for the PalmOS which can encrypt your information right in the standard Palm applications. Generally these apps are geared to encrypt memopad text, allowing you to leave your Palm unprotected while the information itself is protected. There are some drawbacks to this security method: if the encrypted information is edited or manipulated in any way on the Palm or in the Mac/PC Desktop application, it may not completely decrypt again if at all. Secondly, it's a real hassle to constantly decrypt/encrypt commonly used information. But for seldom used sensitive data this might be a good solution for many users. Personally, I've not made use of these types of applications.
Memo Safe 2.03
Finally, consider how well you care for and protect your Palm PDA. Common sense should also serve your needs rather than completely relying on security features you have added to your Palm's capabilities. Keep your Palm with you in public and be careful to not leave it unattended (like in your shopping cart or the seat of your car) which will help eliminate the opportunity for someone to steal your device.
Be careful when you enter your passwords in any security applications, and make sure that you shield others from seeing your passwords and you entering them. Most security applications have 'mask password' features, where your password will appear as a ******rather than clear text.
Also, be sure you can remember your password as with the stronger security applications, as in many cases there is no going back -- forget your password and can forget retrieving your data!
Being careful, using common sense and implementing of some of these useful security tools on your Palm should help keep your sensitive information safe and secure, as it should be.
This wraps up another edition of the Palm Tipsheet. I do hope that you've enjoyed the variety of links and that the security article has inspired in keeping your Palm safe and secure. Until the next issue of the PalmTipsheet, keep enjoying the Palm experience!
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