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Palm Tipsheet 19.0 / June 2001
Are you ready for a summer getaway but dread hauling books along? In this issue of the Palm Tipsheet I'll share ways to use any Palm handheld as a powerful, portable reading tool. We'll also hear from Irish Palm user Ciarán Bohane about his own Palm use and Palm popularity on the Emerald Isle.
Palm Handhelds as E-Book Readers
The Tipsheet Interview: Ciarán Bohane
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Welcome to the Palm Tipsheet and the Editor's Welcome section of the newsletter. I've added this new area so I can share some personal thoughts, opinions or experiences not necessarily related to other parts of the newsletter, yet related to Palm handhelds. I hope you like it.
As you may have noticed, the June issue is delayed; this is due to a German business trip I've been on early this month. Rather than sending out a hastily compiled edition on the 1st of the month, I've delayed the publication schedule, allowing time to prepare a normal, high quality issue.
Regarding my business trip, my Handspring Visor Deluxe proved a helpful tool. It began each day as an alarm clock with Cesium, helped retrieve phonecard info with Web Confidential, tracked projects with BrainForest and helped in the writing of the Tipsheet using WordSmith and my Stowaway keyboard. A Handspring Backup module also came along for little peace of mind, though I was quite happy having no need to make use of it. :-)
I sincerely hope the new Editor's Welcome makes the Tipsheet more fun and personal. I'm always interested in hearing your feedback, so please feel free to share what you think of the new section.
Mike Rohde, Editor
So Long and Thanks For All The Fish... -- Douglas Adams passed away on Friday, May 11, 2001 of a heart attack. For those who may not know of him, Douglas Adams is the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a popular BBC radio drama turned book series. I will remember Douglas Adams for his unique blend of wacky humor and creative vision, which had a significant impact on me. Douglas, you will be missed. You can find more details on Adams' passing or post a tribute to Douglas at his website:
Sony Now Selling the New CLIE PEG-N710C in the US -- As announced earlier this year, Sony has made good on their promise to release the highly anticipated CLIE in the US. The $500 CLIE sports a high resolution color 320 x 320 pixel screen, plays MP3, ATRAC3 music files as well as video clips.
Handspring Offers Special Deals on Visors -- Want a new Visor Edge but aren't sure what to do with your old handheld? Through July 1, 2001, trade in any Palm OS, WinCE OS, PocketPC OS, Symbian OS, Psion, Newton, Casio or Sharp handheld (working or not) for $100 off a new Edge, for a final cost of $300. Old devices must be shipped to Handspring by July 31. Handspring also encourages registered Visor owners to give old Visors away and still receive the $100 rebate. Also, the Visor Prism is now $400 and you can get a GSM VisorPhone w/ activation for $99 with the purchase of an Edge or Prism.
Palm Vx & Keyboard Deal -- If you would love a new Palm Vx and Palm Foldable Keyboard, now you can get $50 back from Palm when you buy both. Purchase the combo by July 2, then send in the rebate form for a $50 check.
Woody's Palm Watch -- Looking for excellent newsletters with more information about Palm stuff? Check out Woody's Palm Watch. Much like the popular Woody's Windows Watch, the Palm Watch has a reputation for giving the straight scoop with no punches pulled. Stop by and sign up today:
Great Reviews: Palm m505 and HandEra 330 -- If you're still on the fence regarding which newly released handheld to buy, then check out these comprehensive Palm handheld reviews. Craig Froehle reviews the HandEra 330 while Gadgeteer Julie Strietelmeier reviews both the 330 and Palm m505:
Get m500 Series Information at Mark's Palm Place -- If you own Palm m500 or m505, then one of the first places to visit is Mark's Palm Place. Mark has dedicated his site to the m500 series and keeps a daily log of hardware and software releases as well as links relevant to owners of an m500/505:
Splash Money and PocketQuicken Duke It Out -- SplashMoney from SplashData and PocketQuicken 2.0 from LandWare both offer Quicken HotSync conduits and multiple features on the Palm side. SplashMoney is $20 supports PCs and Macs and can also sync with MS Money, while PocketQuicken 2.0 is $40 and currently supports Windows PCs and Quicken only. Mac users can use PocketQuicken 1.01 until a Mac version 2.0 of the app is released.
iambic Releases Ababall, a Colorful New Palm Game -- If you're a fan of Palm OS games and have a color Palm handheld, then have a look at iambic's Ababall. The game features 32 levels of arcade style action with fluid, colorful 2D and 3D graphics. Ababall is specially priced at $10 until June 15th, after the 16th the regular price is $20. Ababall demos are available.
Combiner: It's Like Zip for the Palm! -- If you frequently run out of space on your Palm OS handheld, check out Combiner from envi.com. This utility can compress files on a Palm or Windows desktop. The Palm app is priced at $11.90, Windows $16.90 or a combined package for $28.80. A 30 day demo is available. See the PDASquare review for additional information.
Colorful Visor and m100/105 Snap Covers Now Available -- If you own a Visor, Visor Deluxe, Visor Platinum Palm m100/105 check out these cool snap-on replacement case covers. Surplus PDA offers Visor face plates with buttons in a variety of colors and textures, ranging between $20 and $23.
Meanwhile, $25 m100/105 cases from Brando replace existing cases in pink, orange, light blue, bright green, light green, purple, ice and black and come with front and back plates, flip cover and joint and matching buttons.
Palm Handhelds as E-Book Readers
by Mike Rohde
Palm handhelds are powerful origination and productivity tools, but did you know they also work well as portable e-book readers? In this month's feature article, I'll share ways to turn your Palm handheld into an e-book reader as well as several excellent e-books resources.
E-Books on My Palm? -- Yes indeed! I realize speaking of e-books and readers may cause some to think of dedicated e-book readers, a hefty Mac or PC and expensive reading content. While dedicated e-book readers and computers are certainly option, I think you'll be pleased to learn any Palm handheld can easily be transformed into an e-book reader when outfitted with reading software and content, much of which is free!
Because a Palm handheld is portable and has a decent amount of RAM as storage space, it can work well as an e-book reader. This is further enhanced by a wide selection of free and shareware document readers and e-book resources. I often use my Visor as an e-book reader, since I can carry multiple texts everywhere I go, letting me read while in waiting rooms, on airplane flights, train travels or even in bed. My Visor also has a built-in backlight for reading in low or no-light situations.
Palm E-Book History -- Before we get into specific tools, let's briefly review Palm e-book history and the general differences between formats.
Every Palm OS handheld, beginning with the very first Pilot handheld has been able to carry texts in the form of Memo Pad memos; however, documents are limited to 4k. This is quite cumbersome, even if users are content to carry very short stories or break longer texts into 4k blocks.
Not long after the release of the first Palm OS handhelds, programmer Rich Bram applied his talents to create a document reader which could read larger texts and even compress and store them in about half the space as the original plain text files. Bram called his reader and the reader format 'Doc' and saw its popularity grow swiftly in a very short time.
Doc became the de-facto standard in the Palm world for the next several years. A while later Aportis bought the Doc application and began selling it as commercial software. Since Bram made the Doc format freely available, other programmers and companies began building their own readers and converters based on the Doc spec. New readers and new formats have been appearing since Doc format was created, though Doc has remained a standard.
Other formats which followed Doc include: Peanut Reader, iSilo and TomeRaider, though these are for the most part 'proprietary' formats and have yet to gain dominance over the more common Doc format.
E-Book Readers -- Now that you have a general idea of Palm e-book history, let's take a look at several e-book readers. This listing of readers is by no means an exhaustive list, rather it's a starting point.
Doc Readers -- Since the Doc format is the most common Palm OS format for e-books, I'll begin here. Doc readers range from free to $30 depending on features, yet all read the Doc format and in some cases, other formats.
*AportisDoc -- This $30 reader is based on the original Doc from Rich Bram. Note: Aportis Doc has a nasty feature which deletes any Doc files on your handheld when you remove the application, so be aware of this problem:
*CSpotRun -- Personally, I have grown quite fond of CSpotRun, a free reader with many very nice features, including auto-scroll and screen rotation:
* iSilo -- iSilo offers its own special format for readers and converters as shareware, though iSilo Free also reads regular Doc format:
* MobiPocket -- Another free reader with many useful features:
* PalmReader -- This free reader by PeanutPress.com is specially designed to read PeanutPress books, though it works equally well as a Doc reader:
*Quickword -- This $20 application is geared as a Doc editor with a Word conduit as part of Quickoffice, though it does work well as a Doc reader especially if you already use it for editing documents:
*Qvadis Readers -- Qvadis offers 3 Doc readers with varying features and pricing. Qvadis Reader Pro is $27, Reader GT is $15 and Reader Lite is free.
*TealDoc -- As it is both small in RAM space and at $15, this feature rich application includes picture support and links when using TealDoc format or works quite well as a plain Doc reader:
*WordSmith -- Like Quickword, this $30 application is best suited to Doc editing with a HotSync conduit for Word and RTF documents. WordSmith is large (about 411k) so it isn't ideal as a simple Doc reader. However, if you own WordSmith for text editing, it will certainly work well as a reader.
PeanutPress Format -- As mentioned above, PeanutPress' PalmReader can view Doc files but it is specially designed to read its own special 'Peanut' formatted books. Peanut e-books are layed out in single pages which are turned with screen taps or clicking buttons rather than vertical scrolling. The 'Peanut' format includes the Peanut Markup Language (offered to anyone willing to learn it and convert books) while the proprietary encrypted version (not publicly available) protects e-books and allows Peanut Press to offer the newest releases of well-known authors in electronic format.
iSilo Format -- This is also proprietary format which offers compression at a 20% better level than Doc, provides image, hot link and bookmark capability within texts and offers bold, italic and other rich text format features. iSilo converters can also grab web pages and convert them to iSilo format. These converters are available for Mac and PC while a shareware and free version of the iSilo reader are also available for Palm handhelds.
TomeRaider Format -- This format began on Psion handhelds and has extended to the Palm OS as well as Windows and Pocket PC. TomeRaider format combines text and database-like features as well as formatting and compression features to provide a rich and powerful reading environment complete with search features, bookmarks and hyperlinks. TomeRaider for the Palm costs $20, while the Windows converter client is priced at £15. Demos are available for previewing all applications.
E-Book Resources -- Now that you have an idea what tools exist to read e-books, let's have a look at some places to find content. Some of these sites offer free books, while others charge varying prices for their titles.
*Baen Free Library -- This free book library is a repository for Baen science fiction book titles. All of the e-books here are free for download and are offered in Doc and several other formats when you register your name and email address with the site:
*BookRags E-Books -- This site features e-books of all sorts, including books divided into 32k pieces for Palm handhelds with limited RAM space:
*Editio-Books -- This site provides a wide range of e-books in many genres for Palm Doc readers, which can be purchased online:
*FictionWise -- Starting out as a source for short science fiction, FictionWise has expanded into multiple genres and novella length stories. Many titles can be purchased for less than a dollar while novellas cost a bit more. Files can be downloaded in Palm Doc and many other reader formats:
*HandHeldCrime -- This site offers crime and mystery stories in Doc format in a newsletter style, with short stories in each free issue. Each issue can be emailed to you or you can download current and past issues online:
*InternetBookCo -- This site offers novel length e-books in Doc and other e-book formats, and the titles range through all genres of writing:
*MemoWare & PDA Bookstore -- This is a one-stop shop for all sorts of document formats and e-book genres. MemoWare has an excellent selection of free, public domain e-books, while PDA Bookstore sells commercial e-books:
*PocketManager -- This site offers e-books on the topic of business and management including communication, international business and more:
*Underground -- This excellent book by Suelette Dreyfus is $12 in print, however, a free, 500k e-book is also available in various Palm e-book formats. Underground is an engrossing read in which Dreyfus recounts tales of hacking, madness and obsession on the electronic frontier. Wherever you stand on hacking, I highly recommend this well written and intriguing glimpse into the hacker lifestyle and mindset. If you like the e-book, say thanks to Suelette with the purchase of a $12 paperback edition.
Reader enhancements -- Now you have direction for reader software and e-books, let's talk for a moment about enhancements for book reading. Font Hack in particular has improved my reading tremendously. When used with X-Master and replacement font files, this suite of tools replaces the standard font on your Palm handheld with much more legible fonts. I particularly like TallFontsNew, which look like taller, more readable versions of standard Palm fonts. Best of all these enhancements are free!
*Fonts (including TallFontsNew):
*Rainer Zenz's AlphaFont Collection:
Other E-Book and Reading Resources -- Here are some other articles to read for additional information on reading e-books on a Palm handheld:
*The Reading Experience by Jeff Kirvin:
*Document Readers for the Palm OS: a user's perspective by Larry Stedman:
*Books in the Palm of Your Hand by Jamie Engle
Conclusion -- I sincerely hope this article has piqued your interest in reading e-books on a Palm handheld. I think handhelds can be excellent devices for reading on the run since they are ready anytime, anywhere and can carry a large selection of titles. At the very least, e-books can reduce the weight you'd normally carry in a bag full of paper books. :-)
The Tipsheet Interview: Ciarán Bohane
In this month's edition of the Tipsheet Interview, we'll hear from Irish Palm user Ciarán Bohane, a medical student at University Cork College who uses his handheld to keep his school and personal schedule on track, to read the news and play a game or two. Ciarán is also a member of the U.C.C. Hockey Club and uses his Palm to update scores on the club's website right from the dressing room.
*PT: Ciarán, thanks for sharing your experiences with the Palm Tipsheet.
You're welcome Mike. I look forward to receiving the Tipsheet at the start of every month and I'm very proud to be representing my country here.
*PT: You live in Ireland -- 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?
Palms are still quite unusual here. Although they do seem to be gaining in popularity. Ireland is often thought of as the Emerald Isle, and a bit backward, but in recent years it has become the world's largest software exporter and we have the highest number of PlayStations per head of population, outside of Japan. Palms are starting to appear in computer shops and the Carphone Warehouse, a nationwide mobile phone store, which is now offering a special Palm m100s and mobile phone deal.
*PT: I imagine your Palm uses an English OS, however, I might guess that you would want to write Celtic (or Irish) letters from time to time. Is there a version of Graffiti which allows you to write special characters on your Palm, or must you use other methods to enter special characters?
Unfortunately Irish seems to be spoken and written less and less by people these days and I'm no different. The only special character in Irish is the fada. This is an accent over a vowel and I usually need it only for names such as my own, Ciarán. This accent is already a part of the Palm OS.
*PT: When you're using your Palm, what kinds of reactions do you get? Are people intrigued? Do you have opportunities to 'evangelize' the Palm?
Most of the time they're very impressed. My hockey team-mates are amazed that I can update the results on our club website from the dressing room. I've set-up a mailing list for the members to receive results by e-mail, which I send with MsgAgent (a nice freeware e-mail app):
I also send the results to the webpage's message board through a custom channel I have set up on AvantGo. I'd like to update the results and match incidents as they occur, but unfortunately the mobile phone rates in Ireland are a bit prohibitive and the club funds don't extend quite that far.
I do try to evangelize when I can. The more Palms sold the better the software and hardware will become. I have convinced some friends to invest. However Palms are quite expensive here due to the fact that the Palm market is still small and also due to the Irish Punt's poor exchange rate.
*PT: How does the Palm help you in your everyday life?
I use the built in apps to keep track of my contacts and timetable. As a medical student I am not based in the same place from week to week and my Palm tells me where I am supposed to be. I'm the fixture's secretary for the University's Hockey club and I am responsible for organizing our matches and find it great to be able to search club's and umpire's phone numbers quickly. The Date Book week view helps in scheduling the matches so that home and away matches for different teams don't clash. The main app I use everyday is AvantGo. I read the news on my way to college and I have set-up a number of customized webpages. One allows me to read the hockey club message board and I have set others with local movie listings.
*PT: Are there any programs which you use daily and couldn't live without?
I use the built-in apps a lot and also play one or two games when bored in lectures. I've also got a lot of medical documents on my Palm which are helpful in college. I use them for quick reference on the wards and also for revision when waiting for the consultant. There is a large medical document section at MemoWare:
I'm lucky that health and the medical profession seems to be an area that is well supported by Palm developers. I also use qRX which is an app containing an extensive drug list and saves me having to carry the BNF (British National Formulary):
The only disadvantage is that most Palm apps are developed in America and there is therefore a bias towards American disease and drug names. However this problem will decrease, as global marketing ensures that drugs use the same name worldwide. MedCalc is an app which contains a large number of formulae which can help when working on the wards:
A good site for doctors and medical students is pdaMD.com or you can browse various Palm related medical sites through the medicalpiloteer webring:
*PT: Are there any hardware or software items that you plan to buy in the near future? What functions will you use these for?
I don't intend buying anything at the moment. The new HandEra 330 looks very tempting as does the Palm m505, but I'll probably wait until after I graduate this time next year, before I upgrade my Palm. But if I do happen to win the lottery I'd like to get a Palm Portable Keyboard and the PalmPix camera. I've tried them out in shops and think they're quite cool.
*PT: Would you share a funny story that relates to your Palm with us? :-)
Unfortunately I don't have any very funny stories. My Palm is a serious piece of kit and not just a toy. Although trying to convince my parents of this is very difficult, they just see it as another GameBoy.
However I did manage to trick a friend once. He was interested in my palm and was taking a look at my apps. I had SoftGPS installed and I convinced him that it was a software based global positioning system. He was amazed, but this quickly changed, when he opened the app and got a screen with a large X with the words, YOU ARE HERE, above it.
*PT: Thanks for taking time to share your Palm using experience in Ireland with the Palm Tipsheet. Are there any final comments you'd like to share?
I just hope the Palm continues to be a success because I really love mine. For more info on the U.C.C. Men's Hockey Club, check out these two links:
Interview Slots Still Available! -- If you're a Palm user outside of the US and are interested in being interviewed by the Palm Tipsheet, I invite you to check the list of past and upcoming interviews (to make sure your country isn't already represented) and send an email to for consideration.
Currently the list of upcoming Palm users includes: , Costa Rica, India, Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Switzerland, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Thailand, Venezuela, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Italy, The Philippines and Belgium.
The list of past interviews includes users from: Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Poland and Turkey. If you are from a country *not* represented on either list, feel free to apply with an e-mail to email@example.com for consideration.
Thanks again for reading another edition of the Palm Tipsheet. I sincerely hope you will explore reading e-books on your Palm handheld and will enjoy having multiple texts at your fingertips. Thanks also to Ciarán Bohane for sharing his thoughts and details of his Palm use in the Tipsheet Interview.
Want more? Check out the Palm Tipsheet website for archived issues, article and interview listings, Tipsheet FAQ, the new 'About the Tipsheet' area, our unofficial AvantGo channel and the handy search tool:
Feel free share the Palm Tipsheet website with new Palm users. If this issue was forwarded by a Palm friend, you too can get the Palm Tipsheet sent to your e-mailbox free each month. Follow the subscription instructions below, or use the subscription tool on the website to join the mailing list.
Happy landings! :-)
Mike Rohde firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 1998-2001 (C) Mike Rohde. All rights reserved. There is no guarantee of accuracy in 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 with written permission. 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, AvantGo or Palm doc format.
This issue in memory of Douglas Noel Adams 1952 - 2001
"So long, and thanks for all the fish."
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