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Palm Tipsheet 21.0 / August 2001
If you're a music fan with an extensive CD collection, in this month's feature article I'll share ideas and solutions for using your Palm handheld as a mobile CD database tool. In the Tipsheet Interview, I'll chat with Indian Palm user Sandeep Shah about his own Palm handheld experience and the general state of Palm handhelds in India.

Editor's Welcome
Notable Links
  Manage Music CDs with a Palm Handheld
  The Tipsheet Interview: Sandeep Shah
End Note

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Send the Gift of Flowers with Internet Florist! Let the ones you love know just how much more special they are than your gadgets. :-)

Gear Up for Outdoor Adventure at REI! It's time to stock up for summer camping, hiking, climbing, running, trekking and cycling at REI.

Hello again! I hope you're doing well and enjoying your summer (or winter if you're down under). It's been a hot summer here in the US midwest, but a good summer -- even if it seems nearly over already!

I'd like to open this issue by sharing some Palm Tipsheet developments from this past July. First, I was quite pleased to see the Palm Tipsheet appear in Projects@Work magazine, a national project management trade publication! In the article 'Palm Software at Hand' by Rachel Ross, I'm quoted on choosing the best Palm project management tools for the job. The article was included in the April Projects@Work print and online editions:

Secondly, the Palm Tipsheet mailing list server has been updated this July, to a more powerful and flexible server. The new server simplifies subscriptions and un-subscriptions. Check the Subscription Information area at the bottom of this issue for more details on new subscription functions.

Finally, my wife and I are happily settling into our new home and are enjoying all of the perks and tasks that go along with owning a home... even pulling weeds! Thanks to all who sent kind words; they're much appreciated.

Okay, I'm excited about this issue, so let's get right to it! :-)


Mike Rohde, Editor

Divided We Stand: Palm Splits in Two -- The separation of Palm software and hardware division as suggested by Palm CEO Carl Yankowski is now reality (see issue 20.0). Palm, Inc. has announced the Platform Solutions Group (operating systems) will now become a wholly owned subsidiary, separate from the Solutions Group (hardware) to allow better focus by each group. This might be a precursor to a complete spinoff of the hardware or OS division, though Palm has not formally commented on this possibility.,23008,3339488,00.html

Handspring Cuts VisorPhone Pricing -- Handspring just made VisorPhone more attractive by reducing the cost by $200 to $49 with a service plan. The VisorPhone is a Springboard module which turns any Visor handheld into a multi-featured dual-band 900 and 1900 MHz world phone and wireless modem.

Visor Prism Powers Rock Band's Wireless Road Journal -- Elliot Murphy and the Stormy Mondays have put a Visor handheld to the test by keeping a wireless road journal with a Visor Prism, VisorPhone, EyeModule2 camera, Targus Stowaway Keyboard and Palm software on a recent tour. Using a handheld certainly lightened their load of road gear and gave their Visor and peripherals a real-world field workout. Tech support was provided by Jorge Otero and David de Ugarte of Piensa en Red, creators of Piensa en Palm. I love reading about practical applications of Palm handhelds! :-)

Roving Emails Travelogue Written and Published Via Palm -- On a similar note, I've found an interesting travelogue site created and maintained regularly by Will Dange Lau of Snapper Solutions. Will is traveling North America and Europe, writing a travelogue on his Palm V. It's great to hear a New Zealander's perspective of travel and to see a Palm used so practically.

Mac & Palm Users Gain A New Resource -- Mac users rejoice! A new website just for Palm-toting Mac users called should suit your Mac OS and Palm OS needs perfectly. The site features the latest news, rumors, hints & tips, tutorials, reviews, and forums related to Palm/Mac issues.

BlueNomad Releases WordSmith 2.0 -- WordSmith, a powerful word processor for the Palm OS has set the bar even higher with the release of version 2.0. The update includes many new features, including FineType, which lets PC users import anti-aliased TrueType fonts, true tab support, support for bulleted lists, bookmark support, endnote and footnote functions, improved find/replace features and more display options, to name but a few. WordSmith 2.0 is $30 retail; its a free upgrade to registered WordSmith 1.X users.

Find Your Way With iWay -- If you're planning a road trip in the US this summer or fall, check out iWay, a $15 Palm application which acts as a guide to fuel, food, lodging, medical services, retail outlets and more for every US Interstate exit in the contiguous 48 states. The tool relies on a Windows PC desktop tool to select and create interstate info packages, which are loaded on a Palm handheld and read with the iWay Palm OS application.

Another Powerful Launcher: MegaLauncher II -- If you regularly carry a multitude of apps on your Palm handheld, check out MegaLauncher II. This comprehensive $20 launcher lets you create multiple sets of applications and features a myriad of power tools, while remaining intuitive and simple.

Get Ready for the Euro With EuroCalc -- The Euro as currency will be a reality in Europe in only a few months, so If you're a European Palm user or frequent European traveler, grab a copy of EuroCalc. This little freeware currency conversion tool from Eike Francksen converts to and from the Euro and other world currencies. If you install a copy, say thanks to Eike! :-)

Automated Backlight Activation with BacklightOn -- If you're an m505 user and want your backlight to turn on at power on, check out BacklightOn. This 1k application from Peter Easton is simple: it activates the backlight whenever you switch on your m505. Best of all it's freeware!

Multi-Stylus Options at -- If you're in the market for a stylus/pen combination, look no farther than Styli come in a wide selection of materials and colors and feature 1 and 4 way ink, pencil, or PDA stylus tip combinations. Stylus prices range between $5 and $19 each.


Manage Music CDs with a Palm Handheld
by Mike Rohde

If you're a music fan like me with a relatively large CD collection, you may want to know exactly what music you own, which discs you're borrowing and which you've lent to friends. Recently, I've decided to track my CD collection more closely with my Visor, as it seemed a practical use of mobile technology. This article is a compilation of information gathered in my search for CD database tracking tools and methods for managing a large CD collection on a Palm handheld.

Why Keep CD Info on a Palm Handheld? -- For several reasons. Let's have a look at why you might consider storing your CD collection on a Palm:

Advantage 1: General Collection Reference -- Imagine you're chatting with a friend about your love of jazz and Miles Davis. If your friend asks you about Miles, you can quickly verify the CDs you own and you might even be able to provide detailed information such as track listings and your ratings or musical notes (if you've entered them). Storing detailed musical CD reference material can also save time finding a certain artist, disc or track using the built-in Find feature of all Palm handhelds.

Advantage 2: Better Buying Decisions -- If you have a large CD collection, and shop for music in a store or online, having a current list of music CDs on your handheld can help you quickly determine whether you already have discs you're interested in. It can also store CD wishlists built and maintained while listening to the radio, watching videos, reading reviews or listening to a friend's CD collection. Knowing what you have or what you'd like to buy, along with pricing can really help with difficult purchasing decisions. Keeping updated wishlists are also handy when friends and family are looking to buy gifts for you on birthdays or holidays.

Advantage 3: Loaning and Borrowing Information -- If you loan your CDs to friends or borrow CDs from friends or the library, having a list of loaned and borrowed CDs can help you keep your collection intact and keep you out of trouble with friends and the library! :-)

CD Storage Ideas -- If you see advantages to carrying your music collection on a Palm, I'd now like to share some ideas for getting the job done. First I'll begin with ways to use a Palm handheld's built-in applications to manage your compact disc collection, followed by a list of freeware and shareware apps for managing a CD collection. Finally, I'll share ideas on inputting your collection into a handheld.

Built-in Palm OS Applications -- I really like the idea of using built-in Palm OS applications, since they already exist on any Palm handheld and data stored in them is synced directly with your computer. Data is accessible and editable in either location and is searchable in the built-in find function, so CDs are easy to locate. With this in mind, here are two ideas; one for the Memo Pad and one for To Do list:

*Memo Pad -- Using this application, create a separate category for 'CDs', then create new memo entries for each CD you wish to record. Within the memo itself, consider using a format similar to what's listed below:

  Blue Train / John Coltrane
  Genre: Jazz
  Disc(s): 1 CD
  Track Listing:
  1. Blue Train
  2. Moment's Notice
  3. Locomotion
  4. I'm Old Fashioned
  5. Lazy Bird
  Loan info: N/A
  Location: CD Rack
  Notes: My favorite album by John Coltrane

The CD title and artist would be the memo title and each following line of the memo would be a database field. You can add many fields or keep the fields quite simple and straightforward. Alternately, you could separate the data for each field with a tab rather than a colon -- this might help facilitate export to another system later on.

*To Do List -- This would follow a similar approach to the Memo Pad idea, except you would need to make the 'CD / Artist Name' field a to-do item, then create a note to store the other CD information. The To Do idea works well if you have many CDs on your wish list, since CDs you have get checked off, CDs you want are unchecked.

Freeware and Shareware Applications -- If you prefer not to use built-in applications, there are several CD freeware and shareware tools. Below is a brief listing of apps which can be used for storing CD information.

Specialized Apps -- This selection of specialized CD cataloging applications focus on CD tracking. Because they're dedicated to CDs, you can keep the CD data separate from other data. In some cases a sync option is provided via conduit or desktop application.

*AudioBase -- An $8 application featuring multiple data collection options for cataloging your CDs, with special emphasis on genre categories:

*CD Catalog -- A $5 CD database application with a variety of info fields and special emphasis on maintaining CD wishlists:

*CD List -- This freeware application can work as a stand-alone Palm application or sync with Windows 98 and Java using Palm JSync Shared Library to grab locally stored CDDB (Compact Disc Data Base) information:

*CDXRef -- A freeware application for managing your Music CD collection (as well as Computer and PlayStation CDs).

*Music Manager -- This $5 application features a tabbed notebook-like interface to help you manage your CD collection:

*My Music CD's -- A $10 Palm and desktop apps used to move CD information from your Windows PC to the Palm via CSV (Comma Separated Value) file:

*4T AV -- This $13 bundle features 4T CD and 4T DVD databases which can import/export records to/from the Memo Pad for easy transfer and backup:

Databases and CD Catalog Templates -- You can also use a standard Palm OS database application to store CD data; many offer synchronization with your desktop or notebook computer. In some cases templates for managing CDs already exist, though creating your own is very easy to do. Below I've listed several popular Palm databases, along with templates designed for CD tracking (where I could find them):


*DB -- An open-source database with multiple fields, and fewer features than shareware database apps. Still powerful enough to handle a CD collection:

*HandyShopper -- Version 2.0 (designed for shopping lists) also allows for customized templates which can be modified for CD collecting:

*CD_Collection_AEW.PDB a HandyShopper 2 template for CD collections:

*List -- A basic, 3 field database tool, limited to 12 databases. While fields are limited to 3, one can be used for large note texts for storage of your CD collection:

Shareware Databases
*dbNow Deluxe -- A $40 database with two-way synchronization with a PC desktop application. The site's library also features a template for managing a CD database:

*Music Collection DB Design Template for dbNow:

*FileMaker Mobile -- This $50 companion to FlieMaker on the desktop has a more limited feature set than the other Palm OS databases but does offer direct sync with FileMaker Pro.

*HanDBase -- This database app ($25 to $30) features a PC and Mac desktop app and a PC conduit, along with several database templates for CD tracking on the DDH Software website.

*CD Collection Template for HanDBase:

*JFile Pro -- The first and still powerful Palm OS database costs $20. Conduits to popular applications like FileMaker Pro on the Mac and Access on the PC are also available for synchronization:

*MobileDB -- This clean, powerful $20 database also offers editing tools for the Mac or PC, if you prefer entering CD information on the desktop side:

*ThinkDB -- This tool features tabs in databases to show much more data in one screen. Prices vary from $40 to $70 depending on components you choose.

*CD Collection Template for thinkDB:

CD Data Entry Ideas -- Now that you have a few ideas about which direction to go for keeping your CD database, I'd like to suggest a few approaches for adding your collection of compact discs to your Palm.

1) Don't overdo it! The worst thing you can do is try to enter your entire collection at one sitting. While some can approach tasks this way, you're more likely to grow tired and never try again with this approach. Instead, pace yourself so that you're only adding a few CD titles per day.

2) Another idea is to enter CD data as you play your CDs or convert them to MP3 files on your Mac or PC. This way you have a better feel for the music you have and can take time to write notes about each disc as it plays.

3) Finally, you might even consider adding CD information to your database as you organize your collection on a media rack or in a CD binder. This may work especially well for those with multiple CD binders, as you can note the binder each CD is stored in for quicker locating later on.

Conclusion -- Whatever software and method of entry you choose to store your CD collection on your Palm handheld, I sincerely hope this information helps you manage your music collection. I'm excited about having my CD collection handy, especially around my birthday and at Christmas time! :-)

The Tipsheet Interview: Sandeep Shah
In this edition of the Tipsheet Interview, we'll hear from Indian user Sandeep Shah who uses his Palm IIIxe for a variety of tasks both personal and professional. Sandeep is a self-employed insurance claims adjuster in Bombay, India who uses his Palm handheld to manage contacts, appointments, to dos, email and expenses. He also uses his handheld to keep up on the latest news with AvantGo and to play games in-between appointments.

*PT: Sandeep, thank you for taking the time to share your Palm using experience with the Palm Tipsheet.
Mike, the pleasure is mine! The Tipsheet is really good and has helped better the use of my Palm. I am only a recent Palm user so I have yet to finish reading some of the older issues.

*PT: You live in India -- 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?
Actually, Palm handhelds are not so popular in India. The Indian Palm Users Group, yes we do have one, has recently been active and we had one get-together with about 50 members.

The PC penetration also is quite low -- we are expecting 100% growth rates for the PC and Internet subscribers next year. This is a priority for most people. I have been seeing a few Palms with higher level executives recently. But since it is only recently that Palm has announced its official sales / support centre in India, people can only buy them from unauthorised dealers, so you are never sure of what it has been through.

Also, for India, $400-$800 (including customs duties and taxes) is a lot of money. So the $25-$100 Casio digital diaries and organisers are very common. Compaq and HP are going to use their India PC setup to market Pocket PCs and Nokia and Motorola are pushing their combo PDA/GSM phones quite hard. But yes, Palms are gaining in popularity and in recent months I've been seeing more Palms around. I think overall, 2000 was the year of the PDA here.

*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?
Since Palms are so rare in India, people are extremely interested. They are quite incredulous to find such a device exists at all. They cannot believe that it is a full fledged computing device for most tasks. They are definitely intrigued by it and more so when they see what I can do with it. Mostly they are used to (and quite fed up) with the Casio organisers and are always asking how I got mine and what is the cost. Yes I do get a few opportunities to evangelize it, but ultimately it is only when you actually use one over a few days you start realising you cannot do without it.

*PT: How does the Palm help you in your everyday life?
For me, the basic applications themselves are quite excellent and have helped me a lot. Before my Palm, I relied on my memory for my daily schedule out of the office, my to-do lists were on scraps of paper which kept getting misplaced, my address books were mostly out of date or illegible and spanned across three books, partly at home, partly at office, not including my mobile phone. For a phone number, exact address, etc. I had to call on my mobile and wait for my assistant to get back with the information. Now I have about 400 contacts with e-mails, mobile numbers, addresses -- the works. I have even used the 4 custom fields for additional e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Technology is yet catching up with the state run insurance companies so they often do not have a single central phone number -- you have to try different ones till you get through! Things are improving, though. For conveying the current claim status I had the same problem. Now I just use the Palm since the data is always with me. Customisable categories and easy import of data are also great features of the built-in applications. Expense is also a good application and one which has already saved me a lot of money! If I forget a business expense, I don't get reimbursement from the insurance company.

Of course, all of the above would be useless without data being up to date, which I now attempt to do everyday. It has definitely got me better organised and saved quite a bit of time and expense.

One area it does not help is my family life. Everybody complains that I now keep pottering with my new 'toy' even at home!

*PT: Are there any programs which you use daily and couldn't live without?
I use the Address book to manage my contacts and find telephone numbers and addresses on the go. Date book helps manage my daily appointments. It's also good for birthday and anniversary reminders, bill payments, car service and other similar reminders. To Do list: All pending claim assignments are on hand, categorised according to their status. Comes in very handy, as I can immediately convey this to cool down tempers! Memo Pad holds all sorts of odd data and stuff. Also comes in handy to look through key reporting points and pasting revised text back into Word. Whenever I am twiddling my thumbs, I can just jot down what comes to mind and follow up on it later. With Expense I can easily record all my expenses while on the road and don't have to worry about missing any reimbursement. This has proved to be very useful.

As you can see the basic apps are quite important. In addition, Eudora Internet Suite allows e-mailing and web browsing with my Palm Modem when I cannot access my PC. AvantGo also allows me to carry the Internet with me.

Fireviewer allows me to keep photos of my kids with me:

Big Clock lets me know the time of 4 cities at one glance so I do not call any friends at awkward hours:

I am a fairly recent Palm user and am still using your Tipsheet for URLs and discovering new Palm websites. I have recently installed thinkDB2 and created a complete car expense (fuel and maintenance) tracking database which should help me knowing what really goes into the car! If anybody wants the car expense database, they can e-mail me -- I'll be glad to send it.

Games -- What would I do without them? I play bridge somewhat and have found a good freeware one: BridgeOC from ZDNet╣s site. So I am just using the popular freeware / shareware stuff at present:

*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 do not think I would buy any hardware items in the near future, since I already have the Palm Modem -- great compact stuff. Though a battery hog, it allows me to take it with me and check and send my e-mails from almost anywhere in India where there is a phone line -- I do not need to use any PC. A portable keyboard would be nice but not really necessary. As for software, I intend to go in for a good spreadsheet program so that I can make claim computations (and determine alternates) in a jiffy rather than using paper and a calculator. Templates can also be stored. I still cannot decide between MiniCalc, TinySheet and Quicksheet. I am going to try them out in the next few weeks.

*PT: Would you share a funny story that relates to your Palm with us? :-)
This is somewhat amusing; at any meeting with my friends, relatives, or at work, any information request is always passed onto me. "Hey Sandeep -- look it up on your Palm since you will definitely have the phone number." In fact now people are calling me for this even on my mobile -- they do not want to bother to look up the yellow pages or their own address books! I think in a few more weeks I am definitely not going to find it amusing.

*PT: Thank you for taking time to share your Palm using experience in India. Are there any final comments you'd like to share with the readers?
Well, this interview would not have happened if my younger brother had not given me his old Palm Pilot Personal a few months ago (when he upgraded to the Vx). I had given up on my old Sharp Wizard OZ7000 quite some time back. After realising its potential and looking at the new models, I had to upgrade and settled on the IIIxe and Palm Modem as being at the optimum price performance point and thank my relative in the US for bringing it for me. I am really happy with it -- a great compact handheld functional computer. I was seriously contemplating a laptop for work but at least for now I really do not feel the lack of one and also at a fraction of its cost. Best of all there is no booting up time. The Palm is always instant on. Of course for fancy or complicated stuff you do need a laptop but for normal everyday work and personal stuff it is very good.

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.

The list of upcoming interviews includes: Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Switzerland, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand, Venezuela, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Italy, The Philippines, Belgium, South Africa, Bahrain, Barbados, Russia, Romania, Honduras and Saudi Arabia.

The list of past interviews includes users from: India, Costa Rica, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Japan, Norway, Poland, and Turkey. If you are from a country *not* represented on either list, feel free to apply with an an e-mail to for consideration.

I hope your Palm will soon become a handy mobile CD information tool and will help you get a better handle on your music collection. Special thanks to Sandeep Shah for sharing his perspective in the Tipsheet Interview!

Want more? Check out the Palm Tipsheet website for archived issues, article and interview listings, Tipsheet FAQ, the '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.

Hasta la vista! :-)

Mike Rohde, Editor


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.

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