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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.
Amazon.com -- If you enjoy this issue of the Palm Tipsheet simply purchase any item at Amazon.com, using the special link below. All purchases at Amazon.com provide a referral reward to the Palm Tipsheet.
Handspring.com -- NEW PRICES! Save up to $100! The Visor Edge now only $299, Visor Platinum $199 w/ leather case, Visor Deluxe $169 w/ leather case and the Visor is now just $129. Get a VisorPhone is FREE with purchase of any Visor and service activation. All get FREE US shipping.
VersionTracker.com -- The place to get the hottest Palm OS software! Offering daily updates and notification e-mails, let VersionTracker.com keep you on top of the latest and greatest Palm OS software titles:
Outpost.com Check out the excellent selection of hardware and software for Palm handhelds, Windows PCs or Macs at great prices at Outpost.com!
Buy.com -- US and UK readers, get the best deals on PDAs, computer hardware and software, electronics, DVDs, music, books and more.
Gear Up for Outdoor Adventure at REI! Get the stuff you need for
camping, hiking, climbing, running, trekking and cycling at REI.
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! :-)
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.
Palm's new i705 is a repackaged Palm VIIx, in a smaller metal case using the always-on Palm.net 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.
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:
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:
To complete the non-geeky look, Dockers offers the $52 Mobile Pant with special gadget pockets in a variety of sizes, colors and styles:
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:
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:
PDAs in the Classroom: Pass or Fail?:
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 (Scholastic.com) 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!
Scholastic.com 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.
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!
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.
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!
The Educator's Palm:
Rainbow Tech Palm Section:
Education @ Palm:
Palms for Academics:
No problem, it's always good to share experiences with other palm users.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ;-).
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.
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!!! :-)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
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:
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This issue is dedicated to the memory of John Gorter (1944-2000), my optimistic and inspiring, dad-in-law. We miss you.
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