Palm Tipsheet 10.0 / September 2000
What makes certain Palm software essential? Why are some applications more useful in everyday life than others? In this month's feature article, I'll investigate what I feel makes a software product essential and suggest several of my own essential Palm software applications.
This month's issue features a new section called the Tipsheet Interview. I'll be talking with Dominik "Hiromatsu" Oslizlo, a Polish Palm handheld user, who may be one of the first users in Poland to start up a Polish language newsletter for fellow users in his country.
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Notable Palm Links
Mike's Palm Software Essentials
The Tipsheet Interview: Dominik "Hiromatsu" Oslizlo
Palm Introduces the m100 -- On Monday, August 7, Palm, Inc. announced a new organizer named the m100. This new $150 handheld is closest in size to the Palm V series at 4.66" x 3.12" x 0.72" and 4.4 ounces, though its rounded shape is quite a departure from earlier Palm handheld designs. The m100 sports a 25% smaller, sharper detailed plastic screen, 2MB of RAM and no Flash ROM, PalmOS 3.5, louder alarms, a Sync cable with integrated HotSync button, and a flip cover which when closed has a small window for the new 'Clock-At-A Glance' feature. This new flip cover with a mini-window displays the time with a button press and can flip around to the back of the unit and out of the way.
Another new feature in the m100 is a 'sticky note' application for taking freehand notes and drawings, with a conduit and corresponding desktop applications for the Mac and Windows computers. The m100 has replaceable face plates priced at $20 a piece, like the faceplate feature of many mobile phones.
The m100 seems aimed squarely at students, especially if Palm can bring the price of the m100 down to the $100 price point in time for the Christmas shopping season in the US. Handspring should take notice as their Visor Solo now has serious competition. Still, the two devices are slightly different; the Visor Solo comes without a cradle (The Visor USB cradle is available separately for $30) while the m100 offers a new Sync Cable and the Visor offers a Springboard slot to counter the m100's lack of expansion capabilities.
If you like living dangerously, this Japanese website offers step by step instructions in English on how to void your warranty on a Palm m100 by upgrading the on board RAM from 2MB to 8MB.
Palm Vx Adds 2 New Colors, Palm VIIx offers 8MB RAM and a New Case -- Also announced with the m100 were two special edition versions of the $400 Palm Vx, in two new metallic colors: Champagne and Millennium Blue. These organizers sport only exterior color changes with no hardware updates.
Also released was the Palm VIIx, an upgraded Palm VII device, with 8MB of RAM in a darker gray case similar to Palm IIIc and IIIxe. The Palm VIIx costs $450.
Sony to Sell CLIE Palm handheld in September -- Sony formally announced the new CLIE (Communication Link Information Entertainment) Palm handheld which includes 8MB RAM, 2MB Flash RAM, an 8MB Memory Stick and a grayscale screen. The CLIE runs Palm OS 3.5, sports the new 'Jog Dial' navigator, a rechargable internal battery, USB HotSync cradle and battery recharger, AC travel adapter and protective case. The handheld also includes software for moving data to and from Memory Sticks as well as an audio/video player. The device requires Windows 98/ME/2000 and is currently incompatible with Macs, even though a USB cradle is provided. CLIE retails for $400 and is available now from Sony online and in stores during September.
Palm Fights Back Against the PocketPC Threat -- In this interesting MSNBC article, Pui-Wing Tam of the Wall Street Journal explains just how Palm Computing, Inc. has taken a proactive, aggressive stance against Microsoft's efforts at dominating the handheld market.
Right on the Spot, Palm Spot -- This past month I came across the Palm Spot, a Palm-centric website which features a 'what's new' page with a current list of the most recent Palm software releases and updates. Other optional what's new pages include news and e-documents. The Join-in area provides forums for Palm handheld users and an Add-Ons area offers books and accessories for handhelds.
HandheldNews.com -- Another of my recently discovered sites includes HandheldNews.com, a clearing house for software releases and updates, news, reviews, discussions, listings of Palm mailing lists, classified ads, and Palm related links.
Internet Only Palm User Group (IOPUG) -- If you would love to join a Palm user group but no user groups are close enough to you, then the IOPUG might be the perfect solution. Palm users can join for free at the group's website and have discussions with other members by also joining the user group's eGroups mailing list. The purpose of IOPUG is to share tips, tricks, and information for all PalmOS handhelds and to connect Palm users from around the world together via the internet.
Real People helping Real People at Suite 101 Palm -- This site, created and maintained by Palm user Janice Karin, features interesting new articles each Tuesday, which vary from reviews of Palm software to how-tos for Palm users. Janice's articles are available on the website or for reading or for download as Doc formatted files. Useful links, top five websites, and discussions are also available at the site.
A New Palm E-Zine: The Palm Review -- This new weekly e-zine created by Dennis Metzcher offers original in-depth articles, news, reader polls, hardware and software reviews, as well as user tips for Palm handhelds. If you're interested in receiving this excellent weekly newsletter, you can sign up at the Palm Review Listbot website or check out the discussions, software and archived issues in Doc format at the Palm Review website.
Questions Answered at Ben's Palm Rapid FAQ -- Ben's Palm Rapid FAQ contains answers to the burning questions plaguing Palm users. While it is a FAQ which answers standard Palm questions, the site takes the approach of answering common questions which are being discussed currently within the Palm online community.
Funky Custom Palms at Palm de COOL -- If you're interested in seeing just how far people will go to customize their Palm handhelds, then you'll want to check out this website. The latest photos of 'tuned' and 'hacked' items such as a hand-cranked battery powered Palm V, pink Handspring Visor Deluxe, and clear plastic TRGPro are listed on this funky Japanese site. If you're interested in English details, there is an English page, though it's not as frequently updated as the Japanese page.
Find It With IntellegentFind -- Improving on the stock Palm find application, IntellegentFind allows users to ask questions in regular English and provides a results list by relevancy. The application can search inside any Palm application which supports the built-in find function and is very reasonably priced at $10. A 30 day, unlimited demo is available.
The Michelin Red Guide in the Palm of Your Hand -- If you're a European traveller who uses the Michelin Red Guide for hotel selection, you now have another option; the Palm version of the guide. The application offers all of the features the paper version does along with the capability to add your own notes to each entry. The Red Guide requires PalmOS 3.0 or later and is available in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian for $50.
Carry Kid's Books on Your Color Palm with eTales -- If you've ever been away from home and have forgotten toys or books for the kids, now you can carry children's stories on your Palm handheld! DDH Software is now offering four Palm-based children's stories, complete with vivid color illustrations in a package for $10. Note that DDH's eTales require PalmOS 3.5 or better and works best on a color screen but will also display on a grayscale handheld. If you'd like to check out the stories, you can download 'The Party Outside My Window' for a 30 day free trial.
Carry PDF Document Data on Your Palm -- Two products were announced in August making PDF reading and viewing possible on the Palm platform. First, Aportis is offering a new Windows application which extracts the text from any PDF document and saves it as a Doc format file for reading on a Palm handheld. The Aportis offers a 30 day trial on the $15 PDF converter.
Later in the month, Ansyr Technology announced that they will offer Primer PDF Viewer for Palm, which is supposed to view actual PDF files on a Palm handheld, rather than simply extracting text. The company already offers Primer for PocketPC and expects to ship the new product in September.
Capture your Notes With Seiko SmartPad -- Take handwritten notes which are recorded on both paper and in your Palm... too good to be true? Not with the $200 Seiko SmartPad. The SmartPad comes bundled with a leather case, which holds a regular pad of paper over the SmartPad capture area and a holder for any Palm III or V series device. The pad captures your notes and drawings from the paper via an included SmartPen and relays them via infrared to your Palm handheld. Notes can then be transferred to your PC via conduit for editing. Unfortunately Mac users don't get a conduit and must email notes via MultiMail Pro back to themselves to access the captured information.
Wrap Your Palm III Series Handheld in Aluminum -- Tired of your Palm III series' gray plastic case? Now you can replace your average gray plastic case with a brushed aluminum case from Dave Design. These cases are CNC machined from high quality aluminum and are available in anodized silver, black or blue, with custom colors at an additional cost. The Dave Design replacement case is about as much as a new Palm IIIxe or Visor Deluxe at a cool $250, but you'll certainly stand out from the crowd. The case may also be useful for those who use Palm handhelds in industrial settings.
MemorySafe Provides a Backup Solution for Palm Users -- Northstar Mobile is now offering a storage and backup solution to the new Palm handheld called MemorySafe. This small device contains either 2MB or 8MB of Flash RAM and snaps onto the serial port of any m100 or Palm III series handheld, including the Palm VII. The 2MB version sells for $50, the 8MB version for $65.
Mike's Palm Software Essentials
by Mike Rohde
I'm often asked by new Palm handheld users, what applications I consider software essentials. Normally I suggest a process of first clarifying my goals in order to find applications which best fit my needs. By starting with the goal in mind, the right software tool can be correctly chosen.
In this article I'll share details about the essential software tools I use daily. Although I may suggest certain applications, this doesn't necessarily mean others ought to consider them essentials, since their goals may vary. Essential tools differ from person to person and that's the beauty of the Palm; it's flexible enough to fit a wide variety of people's needs.
What Makes Software Essential? -- Over the past few years, I've found that I have often chosen a select few tools again and again to achieve my goals -- these I consider my essentials. These essential tools tend to be multi-function, and adapt well to various tasks. They're also able to manipulate data in multiple ways to suit multiple needs.
Stock Essential Tools Included! -- While many of the essential tools mentioned in this article have been created by software developers outside of Palm computing, it is worth mentioning there are Palm stock applications included on every Palm handheld which I consider essential tools.
Take for instance the Address Book, which I consider one of the most useful applications on the Palm. This is one bit of software is used a huge percentage of Palm users, indicating it is a truly essential Palm tool.
While the stock Address Book is aimed at storing contacts, it can be used as a handy database of more detailed information relevant to each contact. This raises the Address Book well beyond the simple name and address storage tool it appears to be at first glance. For more detail on the Address Book, check out 'Supercharging Your Address Book' in issue 8.0 of the Palm Tipsheet:
Another tool I consider essential is the Memopad, which allows Palm users to store all different sorts of information in a variety of categories. The Memopad is fluid enough to store recipes, song lyrics, album track listings, movie show times, meeting notes, poetry, train schedules and more.
The Memopad also benefits from its desktop counterpart and the conduits which link them together via HotSyncing. Because it's easy to copy and paste data into the memopad on the desktop, all sorts of useful tidbits (up to 4k each) can be carried in your Palm. This also works from handheld to desktop, when you jot down quick notes, or edit information which might have been originally entered on the desktop.
Third Party Software Essentials -- The first two essentials mentioned are applications included with your organizer whether you like it or not; the next list of essentials are those you need to download and in some cases purchase from their developers.
One of the most often used applications on my own Visor Deluxe is the hierarchial outliner BrainForest. Rather than a simple check list like the stock to-do list, this hierarchical outliner allows me to create items and then insert or create sub-items within them. BrainForest even provides a 'percentage completed' feature for even greater control. Outliner applications can help reduce a long list of to-dos into a collapsable 'tree' format similar to the folder formats of Mac and Windows computer filing systems.
BrainForest (*Mike's Essential*)
*Doc Editor & Reader
Another tool that I've come to regard as an essential, is a Doc editor & reader. This essential tool allows me to read as well as create and edit Doc files right on my Visor handheld. Doc format was created by Rich Bram in the infancy of the Palm, and provides a way to compress regular text files to a fraction of their original size (useful when RAM was tight on Palm devices).
Many Doc readers have since been released, offering a wide variety of features. This ability to edit Doc files on my Palm handheld is incredibly handy, especially for taking notes, editing or writing texts which are too long for the memopad. Several Doc readers are able to edit and read Doc files, including SmartDoc, TakeNote, Pedit and QED.
SmartDoc (*Mike's Essential*)
Having access to and capturing data on my Palm handheld is an essential function, making a Palm database an essential tool. For example, I have several database templates I use often; a template to track my fuel mileage, a template to store my URL links and another to store my CD collection. Palm databases are great, because if I see the need for a new database, I can immediately create it on my Palm handheld and begin entering data.
I've chosen HanDBase as my database application of choice, though all of the other available databases, including DB, JFile Pro, MobileDB and ThinkDB are quite powerful and ought to suit many users' needs.
HanDBase (*Mike's Essential*)
*Shopping List Application
Because Palm handhelds are so small, they make wonderful shopping tools. A few software developers have realized this and have developed some shopping applications to fill this need. Generally, shopping-specific applications allow you to enter stores as well as shopping items from which to build a shopping list. Each item can then be checked off as they're purchased until you have a empty shopping list. I've chosen HandyShopper because it's powerful and free!
HandyShopper (*Mike's Essential*)
While shopping applications are more focused on tracking items you can shop for, many users have used shopping list tools for other database uses, like tracking rents. For more information on alternate uses for shopping tools, check out Deron Matson's review of HandyShop in issue 6.0 of the Palm Tipsheet:
*Sensitive Data Storage Application
Another item which I consider an essential is Secret, my sensitive data storage application. Secret stores my credit card numbers, PIN numbers and any other secretive information which requires protection from prying eyes. Several different applications are available to fill the bill, and each one approaches private data storage differently; but all of these tools use powerful encryption schemes to protect your most sensitive data.
Secret (*Mike's Essential*)
Mobile Account Manager
*Hackmaster & Hacks
Finally, one of the very first additions to my Palm handheld many years ago was the classic system extension Hackmaster. This essential utility provides control panel-like access to the Palm operating system. For instance, several favorite hacks allow me to use my menus like a Mac (MenuHack), switch between applications and list the 10 most recently used apps (SwitchHack), change my system font (FontHack 123), and hold up to 28,0000 characters in my Palm's clipboard (ClipHack). Hackmaster is $10 and hacks vary in price from free to a few dollars each.
Hackmaster (*Mike's Essential*)
Conclusion -- I sincerely hope this list of my essentials inspires you to investigate these tools and encourages you to find practical applications for your own essential tools. Above all, have fun! ;-)
The Tipsheet Interview:
Dominik "Hiromatsu" Oslizlo
If you're as curious as I am about the state of the Palm in countries around the world, I think you'll really enjoy this feature interview. Many Palm Tipsheet readers are from international locations, so I felt it would be quite cool to have some of them share their Palm experiences with us in an interview format.
I hope these interviews provide insight about Palm use in many countries, offer international perspectives to the Palm community and demonstrate how much Palm users really have in common.
*Let the interview Begin -- In this issue, I have interviewed Dominik "Hiromatsu" Oslizlo, a Palm user from Poznan, Poland. Dominik is a student at the Poznan School of Banking and uses a Palm Vx for tracking his schedule, reading e-texts and playing an occasional game. Dominik has also created a new iSilo formatted Palm newsletter for Polish users providing news and reviews from his own perspective.
*PT: Dominik, thank you for taking the time to share your Palm using experience with the Palm Tipsheet.
Dominik: Not at all, Mike. It's an honor for me, as the Palm Tipsheet is the first Palm e-zine I really like and find useful.
*PT: You live in Poland -- I'm curious to know how popular Palm handhelds are there. Have they been gaining popularity recently, or have you noticed them being used by people for a long time?
Dominik: Actually, I haven't met any Palm user before I bought my Palm, but I didn't search for them either. I have some friends who use Palms but I don't know them personally, we just send e-mails. But, as the guy who sold me my Vx said, the popularity of Palm is still growing here. The only problem is that Palms are not cheap and most of people I know prefer to buy a laptop than a HPC.
*PT: Is your Palm an English version, or a localized Polish language operating system?
Dominik: I use an English OS. There is a patch for 3.1, but not for 3.5 yet. (BTW, I haven't experienced any problems with 3.5.) I once installed InterPilot, but it wouldn't work. It has been tested under 3.3 and it seems that it doesn't want to work correctly on my Palm. As soon as the patch is released by Scientific (my provider), I will install it.
*PT: Is there a version of Graffiti which allows you to write special Polish characters on your Palm? Or must you use other methods to enter special Polish characters?
Dominik: For this 3.1 patch -- there are special graffiti strokes to write Polish letters. We have 9 local characters.
*PT: When you are using your Palm, what kinds of reactions do you see from people? Are they intrigued by your Palm? Do you have opportunities to 'evangelize' the Palm to them?
Dominik: Yes I have. Many of them haven't even heard about Palm. Palmtops, in general, yes, but not Palm. In my opinion the distribution channels of Palm in Poland are too new, Cassiopeia has probably a slightly better position on the market. So if somebody has seen a palmtop, it would be a Cassiopeia or Psion rather than Palm.
Also, the reactions vary. Sometimes they don't react. Sometimes they just observe, which gives me some satisfaction. But sometimes they ask. One day when I was on my way home, a girl asked me what was the thing I was using. She couldn't believe me when I said it was a computer. I think people here got used to the typical image of a PC -- stationary or a laptop.
*PT: How does the Palm help you in your everyday life?
Dominik: I didn't realize how chaotic my life was before I bought a Palm, so the time tracking apps are something I need most. My friend once asked me, after I had shown him my Palm, if as a student I have THAT many meetings. I explained to him that "meetings" are useful not only for real meetings but for every action that needs time to be completed.
*PT: Are there any programs which you use daily and couldn't live without?
Dominik: I haven't bought any program yet but I think about Action Names, because it extends the functionality of built-in time tracking and contact applications. I really couldn't live without it. The other apps that I find very useful are: iSilo and MobiPocket Reader (I love reading novels and jokes on the way, especially MobiPocket is a perfect app for this), FireViewer, games of course (Grouper is my best logical game). Palm V Hack is also very useful, and Victor 3.5 which lets me get rid of the orphaned memory.
Unfortunately I can't use AvantGo, because I have too much stuff connected to my PC (printer, scanner etc.) and no free IRQ, so when I open the connection between my Palm and PC I have no access to the internet. Well, sure I could resign of using my mouse instead :). The only solution seems to be a Palm modem or USB HotSync cradle.
*PT: Are there any hardware or software items that you plan to buy in the near future? What functions will you use these for?
Dominik: There are many of them, especially hardware solutions. I think the first thing I'm going to buy is a modem, because I'd like to check and send e-mail when on the way. Unfortunately there is no OmniSky service in Poland yet. But maybe I'll just use null-modem... still not sure.
There are more useful thingies: portable keyboard, FlashPlug, screen protectors, a REALLY interesting metal case (I wonder if I could paint the original hard case). I know there is also an extension that lets you use your Palm as a voice recorder. Well, maybe some day.
The thing I'd like to buy the most would be a 3 1/2" floppy drive for Palm, which would allow me to exchange files between PC and Palm without HotSyncing, storing documents etc. But there is no such drive. The software I'd like to buy in the nearest future is ActionNames and maybe Intelligent Find.
*PT: Would you share a funny story that relates to your Palm with us? :-)
Dominik: When I bought my Vx I used to download dozens of applications from Eurocool and other sites. As I have no PC in Poznan and the computers at school don't have HotSync cradles, every weekend I returned home I had 40-50 programs to install.
The funniest thing is that when I arrived home I always said to my beloved grandma I'd come in a minute to talk with her and then I sat at the computer and spent there many hours, finishing at night. Oh yes, I remember all these Fatal Exceptions. Mhmmm... memories... :)
I believe I might even break my Palm permanently. But you know, you don't know that you're alive until you have a gun put against your head. "It's better to burn out than to fade away".
*PT: I understand that you are currently working on a Polish language Palm e-zine, could you tell me more about that?
Dominik: That's true. I have recently placed my web page on the server. The address is:
The title is NaPalm!!! -- "Na" means "For" in Polish, so NaPalm would be something like "ForPalm" in English. I want my magazine to be not only about Palm. I'd like to place there some texts of my friends and all the people who would like to cooperate.
*PT: Thank you for taking time to share your Palm using experience in Poland with the Palm Tipsheet. Are there any final comments you'd like to share with the readers?
Dominik: You want me to say something like "Palm is great!", huh? Well, what else could I say... it is! :-)
Get Interviewed! -- If you're a Palm user in a country other than the US and are interested in being interviewed by the Palm Tipsheet, please let me know! Simply send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with 'interview' in the subject line. If the response is positive, the interview may become a regular feature in the Palm Tipsheet.
And that wraps up another issue of the Palm Tipsheet! I trust the description of my own essentials will interest you in these applications and help you identify your own essential Palm applications. Special thanks to Dominik Oslizlo for his time. I hope his interview provides insight into Palm use in Poland and shows that the Palm community is indeed an international one.
If you would like to read archived issues of the Palm Tipsheet, they're available on the Palm Tipsheet website for your reading pleasure in both HTML and Palm Doc format. To subscribe to the Palm Tipsheet, or to direct a Palm-using friend to subscribe, the website also has a subscription tool. As always, feel free to stop by and explore!
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Copyright 2000 (C) Mike Rohde. All rights reserved. There is no guarantee accuracy of articles. The mention of a product or service does not imply an endorsement. Company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective companies. This document is freeware and may be redistributed freely without modification. No portion of this document may be altered, reprinted, or sold to any person or entity without written permission of Mike Rohde. This copyright applies to all versions of the Palm Tipsheet, whether in plain text, HTML or Palm doc format. Remember, it's always fun until someone loses an eye.
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