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Palm Tipsheet 22.0 / September 2001
If you're an educator or administrator, Topher Macintosh has excellent ideas for using a Palm handheld as a educational power tool. In the Tipsheet Interview Ridder Dijkxhoorn shares his experiences as a Dutch Visor user.

Editor's Welcome
Notable Links
  Palm Handhelds as Educational Power Tools
  The Tipsheet Interview: Ridder Dijkxhoorn
End Note

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Hello everyone!

It's been another very busy month here at the Tipsheet with more press exposure for the Palm Tipsheet, and an interesting Internet documentary I highly recommend.

First, the Palm Tipsheet was featured in LockerGnome Windows Weekly's "GnomeFavorites" on Friday August 24th:

LockerGnome is an e-zine written and published by fellow Midwesterner Chris Pirillo of Des Moines, Iowa. LockerGnome's four daily newsletters cover tech subjects and have 250,000 readers worldwide. I'm honored that the Tipsheet was chosen, since Chris is pretty picky about the websites he recommends.

Next, I saw an excellent documentary this month called "The Future Just Happened" written and hosted by Michael Lewis. This four-part series explains how the Internet is affecting people's lives and how they're affecting the internet. The series aired on A&E in the US, and BBC in the UK. I've found the series on the BBC site, in four 39 minute segments:

Finally, I'm pleased to present Topher Macintosh's excellent article about his use of a Palm handheld as an educator and interim administrator.

Ok, on with the issue! :-)

Mike Rohde, Editor


Let It Be: Palm Buys Be, Inc. -- In August, Palm Inc. purchased Be, Inc. for $11 million in stock. Be, Inc. is the creator of the BeOS operating system and BeIA OS for Internet Appliances. Be's employees have experience with media-oriented systems, which should prove useful on future Palm OS releases. Alan Kessler, general manager of Palm's Platform Solutions resigned and was replaced by former AT&T Chief Technical Officer David Nagel, who was named President and CEO of the Platform Solutions subsidiary.

Wireless Palms? Now You See 'em... Now You Don't -- Forgetting to check a box on a web form is no big deal, except if it delays publication of pre-release product info on the FCC website. This is apparently what happened to Palm and Handspring with wireless product submissions to the FCC in August. The product sneak peeks reveal a push in the wireless area.

Palm's new i705 is a repackaged Palm VIIx, in a smaller metal case using the always-on service. Info on the i705 appeared on PalmStation several months ago, so these images aren't as revealing as the Handspring's units.

Handspring's sneak peek reveals two units, the Treo k180 and Treo g180, featuring an integrated antenna, flip cover and GSM 900 & 1900MHz compatibility for worldwide use. Oddly, Neither Treo has a built-in Springboard slot, Handspring's signature expansion port. The Treo k180 departs from its Visor cousins even further, by sporting a Blackberry-style thumbpad and *no* Graffiti area whatsoever.

Treo k180 & g180:

All three devices were swiftly disapproved by the FCC a day later. This may have had less to do with the devices failing FCC tests and more to do with Palm and Handspring getting their pre-release information taken offline. I'd say the damage was already done.

AlphaSmart Licenses Palm OS -- Palm has added AlphaSmart as a licensee of the Palm OS. AlphaSmart, maker of the rugged portable word processor AlphaSmart 3000, should provide expansion in the educational arena.

Palm Revises US Tech-Support Fees -- US Palm m100 and m500 series handheld owners may already know of Palm's updated tech support pricing structure. Owners of older Palm-branded handhelds will see the new standard $25 per incident charge begin on October 30, 2001. I suggest using Palm's free online services or Palm-related listservers, before calling Palm.

Handspring Trims Prices -- Handspring reduced prices on most of their Visors in August. The Visor Platinum was reduced from $249 to $199, the Edge from $399 to $299, The Deluxe from $199 to $169 and the Visor from $149 to $129. Handspring also reduced the VisorPhone from $49 to free, when purchased with any Visor handheld and GSM service activation.

Clié Reference Galore -- Sony Clié owners rejoice! Many new Clié-oriented resources are now on the net. First, the Sony Clié Information Page includes reviews, links, and discussion boards:

Next, Sandy Madison's Clié-Mac Page offers news and info for Clié-Mac users:

Finally, the Yahoo Clié User Group offers a Clié email discussion list: The Law in the Palm of Your Hand -- If you're a law student, legal scholar or practicing attorney, check out for law reference, software suggestions and related links. The site was created by Denise Morgan, Tanina Rostain, Grace Lee, and Altagraia Dilon Levat of the New York School of Law to help anyone using a Palm handheld to study, teach or practice law:

Palm Calculator Comparisons -- If you want to add a more powerful calculator for school or business, visit Geekzilla's useful Palm OS Calculator comparison page:

UPDATE: Tom Z. wrote in to mention the Geekzilla page above only includes calculators which do infix (got me: I'm not a math guy!). Alternately, Tom suggests checking out the PalmGear Store Calculator page for those with RPN as well as infix capability:

Palm Doc: A New Standard? -- This interesting article by Mark Bernkopf at Brighthand suggests the Palm Doc format created by Rick Bram should be considered a common document format, since it can be read on multiple platforms including Palm OS, Pocket PC, Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Unix:

Documents To Go Pro Adds PowerPoint Compatibility -- View PowerPoint files, view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel files on your Palm handheld with DataViz Documents To Go Pro 4.0. This $70 application syncs documents from a Windows or Mac to your Palm handheld. Mac users can view and edit all but PowerPoint files. PDF viewing is available as a free add-on for Mac and PC.

Manage Asthma with HealthEngage -- Keep asthma in check with HealthEngage Asthma for Palm OS. This $40 tool enables collection of asthma measurements, management of meds and notes. The Palm application also syncs to a Windows, Mac or Linux version of the HealthEngage Asthma Tool.

Digital Duds: Gadget Vest and Techno Pants -- Carry electronic gadgets without looking geeky with a SCOTTeVEST and Dockers Mobile Pants. The $160 SCOTTeVEST features a 'Personal Area Network' to wire gadgets together between pockets. The vest comes in M, L, XL or XXL in either black or khaki:

To complete the non-geeky look, Dockers offers the $52 Mobile Pant with special gadget pockets in a variety of sizes, colors and styles:

Tough & Tricky Screen Protectors -- Tough: ECFilm Pro sticks to your screen and provides a tough, glare-resistant surface with good visibility. I've installed one on my wife's Visor and she loves it. 5 pack for $45:

Tricky: The TTools SOLOvision hides your screen from prying eyes. A holographic image enables you to view the screen while side view visibility is obscured. 2 pack for $15:


Palm Handhelds as Educational Power Tools
by Topher Macintosh

As Palm technology becomes more widespread, it is interesting to see the different uses various professions make of it. Doctors and medical students are finding great uses for Palm handhelds. Amongst other things they have developed numerous databases to help with information retrieval in hospitals and in medical classes. I believe the education industry is also poised to make great use of handheld machines. In this article I'd like to share my reasons for thinking this.

Palm handhelds are proving more than a basic organizational tool. They are reliable, easy to use and relatively affordable for schools. Though the question of Palm handhelds for students is still much debated -- as discussed in recent Wired and Visor Village articles -- their usefulness for teachers and school administrators is less contentious. In this article I will discuss my use of a Palm handheld as both a teacher and administrator.

Debating Merits of Palms in Class:,1383,45863,00.html

PDAs in the Classroom: Pass or Fail?:

Palm handhelds as Teaching Tools -- About two years ago I became interested in Palm technology and thought it might be very useful in teaching. As any teacher is well aware, the job is all about information, and requires a great deal of record keeping and paperwork. It seemed to me that a handheld might help to organize and utilize this mass of information. I have since learned that they are perfectly suited to the job. I no longer lug around a bulky daytimer, am more organized, and have massive amounts of information at hand to boot! The following are some of the ways I have learned to utilize the technology.

A Palm Handheld as Teacher's Assistant
* There are the dates and appointments that every school operates around: staff meetings, departmental meetings, sports games, special events, test and exam dates, professional days, holidays, field trips, etc. Third party Software such as DateBk4 or Action Names Datebook address these scheduling needs nicely. At the beginning of the year I plug all the pre-set school and district-wide calendar dates into my Handspring Visor and then update it as the year goes along. I can link any of these appointments and dates to relevant contacts, and often attach journal notes (or a memo pad entry) as discussion points for the meetings. Of course, the alarm provides a handy reminder of any important event that I might otherwise miss.


ActionNames Datebook:

* Teachers must also manage information relating to their instruction. Good teachers are always scouring sources (increasingly the web) for information which enhances their classroom lessons. A Palm handheld is a convenient way of collecting, reading and transporting such information. I am now in the habit of saving any interesting and useful articles onto my desktop machine and then synching them into WordSmith on my Visor Deluxe. The articles become portable, enabling me to use them wherever and whenever I want.


I also use the memo pad in WordSmith to take various notes. While reading printed materials I use the memo pad to record important references and any other points that might add to my teaching. The amount of notes and scribbles that I take has multiplied dramatically since I bought my Visor. The organizational abilities of my memo pad allow me to keep all my notes orderly and useful.

AvantGo is another source of useful and convenient information. After signing up for this free service, you can select any of a number of educational channels and have them download topical information to your Palm every time you synch. I use this service for information specific to education ( and for local and international news. The latter material provides daily topics of discussion for my history classes ... and for the time being at least, there is no better way to get the attention of 30 teenagers than pulling out a Palm and reading the morning news!

AvantGo: AvantGo Channel (K-8):

* Perhaps the most important information teachers have to manage revolves around their students. Between their classes and clubs and teams, it is quite typical for a teacher to be responsible for 100-200 students at any one time. Connected to each of these students is vital information that the teacher must have close at hand. Sports teams need attendance lists, practice plans and game schedules. All of this information can go in the Palm and is easily carried on a field or in the gym. For each classroom student there will be daily attendance, 40 or more marks issued over the course of a term or year, notes from contact with parents, and general notes about the student's progress. Again, all of this information fits neatly in a Palm handheld and can be carried everywhere and retrieved at any time.

In particular, I find BrainForest a very useful application for organizing projects. It is an effective hierarchical organizer that is simple to use and allows you to list deadlines.


For keeping track of my students and other records in a classroom I use Teacher's P.E.T. With this software I can record a maximum of ten class lists and keep student attendance for all of them. It also allows me to record and manipulate assignments and marks much as I would with any other marks application.

Teacher's P.E.T.:

With the use of PalmPrint, I can then print the marks and post them for my students. Alternately, I can carry my Visor around the room and give each student their marks privately. Flexibility is the hallmark of the Palm!


Palm handhelds as Administrative Tools -- Over this past school year I was fortunate enough to be appointed to a temporary administrative position. As vice-principal of the school, I had a range of ongoing administrative responsibilities and was also asked to organize several special functions.

As a new administrator I was introduced to a very busy calendar, packed with all the standard school and district-based appointments, but compounded by a barrage of regular daytime and evening meetings. My first instinct was to grab my daytimer and madly record all of these new appointments. When I realized I was spending a minimum of 30 minutes each night transferring my To Do List and updating my project plans, I came to resent the paper organizer and the precious sleep I was missing just to organize it! It was then that I decided to purchase a Palm handheld. An administrator's job is about information and mobility and handheld technology provides a means of dealing with both.

A Palm Handheld as Administrator's Assistant
* Most administrators deal with a formidable calendar that is filled with appointments and issues concerning many different groups. These meetings often vary in terms of their priority and importance. On any given day an administrator might meet with 10 current students, 2 teachers, 1 past student, 3 parents, the custodian, and a couple whose property borders the school. All of these meetings are important. Some require legal documentation and some only informal notes, but by the end of the day, an administrator will have had many important discussions and generated a considerable amount of paperwork.

All of this paperwork fits neatly into a Palm handheld. Using, DateBk4 and WordSmith, all the meetings can be accounted for and all the legal and informal notes can be recorded. Of course, as a Palm handheld fills up it contains a considerable amount of sensitive information. Fortunately, there are many security applications available for the Palm OS (not to mention built-in security). OnlyMe keeps all unwelcome eyes out of my Visor while allowing me quick access.


* Administrators are also expected to organize special occasions and events. This is sometimes lumped on top of their daily routine, so a Palm handheld provides an excellent way to organize and keep track of them. I use programs such as DateBk4 or Action Names Datebook to set up specific schedules for each event. As the date approaches, the software alerts you to the aspects and deadlines of your organizational plan needing attention. This frees your mind to get on with your day, knowing your Palm will busy itself with (amongst other things), monitoring the progress of your plans.

* Many administrators carry a small notepad with them as they walk the halls. Typically, they leave their office with a list of things to do and people to see. As they move through the halls they will be stopped by both students and staff and asked about matters that usually require some sort of follow-up. They scribble notes to remind themselves when they get back to their office. Shortly after I bought my Visor, it replaced my scruffy notepad. For the quick notes that might need a reminder -- a phone number, a meeting time, a contact name, a point of concern -- I found that BugMe! did the job nicely.


* Partway through the school year I discovered what is sure to become one of the most promising uses of a Palm handheld in school administration. With some help I was able to put all of our students' class schedules and contact cards into a JFile database. This was very handy in the halls. Using the database I was able to direct any wandering students to their correct classes, and I was able to provide home contact information to teachers.


* As I came to depend on this portable information I began to wonder about other uses for Palm-based databases. The constant difficulty of student lockers seemed to fit the criteria. Administrators spend too much time looking after student lockers. Students often lose their combinations and occasionally their whole locker! In the coming school year we will have a JFile locker database. It will contain every locker number, the name of the student assigned to that locker and the combination of the student's lock. Administrators will have this information on their Palm handhelds as they walk the halls. No more running back to the office.

* Word of this Palm-ability spread across the district, and murmurs of interest began to echo. I contacted Palm, Inc. and was told of a special offer for bulk buys. Administrators in the district were keen to have these machines, so I organized an order of 30 handhelds. The buyers have now had the summer to learn the basics of their new Palm handhelds. In response to this bulk buy our district IT department is trying to expand and standardize the use of Palm handhelds among administrators. They're finding the best applications for various needs and looking to buy district licensing. They are also working hard to think of new uses for them. The Locker Project was their summer homework.

Palm handhelds are now well established amongst administrators in our district. As is the case with Palms, the more we use them, the more uses we find for them. With so many administrators now using the machines, this coming year should be one filled with invention. As I return to the classroom I will look to discover more uses for Palm handhelds in teaching. Perhaps I will be able to drum up enough interest amongst teachers to put in another bulk order!

Conclusion -- I hope this article has provided many helpful ideas about the use of Palm handhelds in education. If you have related tips for me or know of any good Palm-in-education web sites I would appreciate hearing about them. I will finish with a list of helpful sites I have discovered:


The Educator's Palm:

Rainbow Tech Palm Section:

Education @ Palm:

Palms for Academics:


Editor's Note: Topher Macintosh is a teacher in Victoria, British Columbia, who spends summers working on his masters degree in education (MEd.) and keeping his home and garden in order. I'm told Topher's wife patiently puts up with his Palm addiction. :-) -- Mike Rohde

The Tipsheet Interview: Ridder Dijkxhoorn
In this edition of the Palm Tipsheet we'll hear from Dutch Palm handheld user Ridder Dijkxhoorn, works as a process operator at a Dutch chemical company. Ridder uses his Ice Visor Deluxe to manage personal and business schedules, his car mileage, read news and television listings and to play Amusement Park 2 with his daughter.

*PT: Ridder, thanks for sharing your experiences with the Palm Tipsheet.

No problem, it's always good to share experiences with other palm users.

*PT: You live in The Netherlands -- 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?

The last year they gained popularity, but it's still a "big boys toy" as far as I can judge. That's mainly because of the high price I think. People also see it as a glorified organiser and don't know the possibilities (or they think it's a GameBoy) But as time goes by, people will see that you can do more with a Palm than just organise.

*PT: Does your Palm use a Dutch OS? Is there a version of Graffiti which enables you to write special Dutch characters on your Palm?

Here in Holland we use the English version of Palm OS. There are no special Dutch characters that will give problems. I have never heard of any Dutch application or OS and as far as I know, there won't be any. Maybe because most Dutch people speak, read and write English.

*PT: When you are using your Palm handheld, what kinds of reactions do you see from people? Are they intrigued? Do you have opportunities to 'evangelize' Palm handhelds to them?

When I was in the market for a palmtop, I checked out all available products. The Visor Deluxe fulfilled my 'needs' for a reasonable price. There was one problem: not available outside US (at the time) and I couldn't pay by credit card with an 'outside-the-US' billing address.

I was lucky -- my wife is an American, so I could order and charge it to the credit card of my mother-in-law. By the time I wanted to pay her back, she thought it would be a great gift for my upcoming birthday; I agreed. When my Visor Deluxe finally arrived in Holland, my colleagues were impressed and I had to order 3 more. By now Visor handhelds are available in Europe.

*PT: How does your Palm handheld help you in your everyday life?

I use it as a multi-tool: keep track of schedules, phone numbers, read news or books when I have to wait somewhere. I also have the Periodic Table installed and tools for chemical and mathematical calculations. I use MW Calc (molecular weight) to make chemical calculations at work or for my study. Bulky books with tables have more information, but are not always in reach. The Visor is.


MW Calc:

*PT: Are there any programs which you use daily and couldn't live without?

Most of them are the standard Palm OS programs. But a really useful program is Backup Bitster: does the same as BackupBuddy but is free.


Very useful: Big Clock (alarm clock):

And interesting: Planetarium:

and Star Pilot:

For some people: with an IR remote program like OmniRemote, you can shut up the Furby :-) But I use that application for TV/audioset too. Very useful for when the original remote breaks down.


*PT: Are there any hardware or software items that you plan to buy in the near future? What functions will you use these for?

Nope, nothing planned. A VisorPhone would be nice, but not worth the money when you already have a GSM phone. I don't need extra memory and I already have a GSM phone and a handheld GPS. It would be nice if all those toys could be incorporated in one unit (and that's possible) but would be too much money. I think my wife really wouldn't like me spending that much money on things I already have (to put it mildly ;-).

*PT: Would you share a funny story that relates to your Palm with us? :-)

I have to take a ferry to work, and while I am on that ferry I read the news etc. on my Visor Deluxe. One day on the ferry, a little boy came to my car and asked what games I had installed on my GameBoy. He wasn't impressed by the Visor: he preferred a GameBoy.

*PT: Thank you for taking time to share your Palm-using experience in the Netherlands with the Palm Tipsheet. Are there any final comments you'd like to share with the readers?

Change is like risk: it's not optional. But I like my Visor! I'll keep it!

By the way, I'm looking for a cable to connect my Garmin Etrex GPS receiver to my Visor. Until now I've had no luck, so any tips are welcome!!! :-)

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

The list of past interviews includes users from: The Netherlands, 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.

My thanks to Topher Macintosh for his excellent article on Palms for education. I sincerely hope his ideas will make their way into the daily routines of teachers and administrators around the world. Thanks also to Ridder Dijkxhoorn for his view of Palm handhelds from a Dutch perspective.

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.

Warm regards,

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.

This issue is dedicated to the memory of John Gorter (1944-2000), my optimistic and inspiring, dad-in-law. We miss you.

"Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion.
Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes.
Every day you are alive is a special occasion.
Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God."
-- Mary Manin Morrissey


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