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Palm Tipsheet 23.0 / October 2001
Supercharge your Launcher! In this issue of the Palm Tipsheet, I'll share techniques for supercharging your Launcher and highlight 3rd party shareware and freeware launcher replacements. In the Tipsheet Interview, I'll talk with Israeli Palm user Hagay Giller about his Palm use and the popularity of Palm handhelds in Israel.

Editor's Welcome
Notable Links
  Supercharge Your Launcher
  The Tipsheet Interview: Hagay Giller
End Note

Palm Doc Edition (17k):

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Hello friends,

As an American, I was shocked and saddened at the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. These were not just attacks against Americans but against the international community, as citizens of many countries were represented among the dead. I send my deepest sympathies and prayers to the families of those killed by terrorists and the survivors of the attacks.

I was heartened by heroic acts of passengers who rushed the hijackers and forced their own jet down in Pennsylvania. I was encouraged by the bravery of New York fire fighters and police officers rescuing those still trapped in the World Trade Center. Finally, I was inspired by the generosity of people around the world who gave blood, funds, comfort and prayers to victims of the attacks and their families. Thank you all so much for giving.

While handhelds aren't terribly important in the overall scheme of life -- especially in the wake the 9/11 attacks -- I feel it's critically important we continue on with our lives as a statement of defiance against the terrorists. I will *not* let terror diminish my enjoyment of life or the sharing of my joy with others.

On a lighter note, I'm pleased to report the Palm Tipsheet mailing list has surpassed 10,000 subscribers! Thanks for reading and sharing the Tipsheet with fellow Palm users. Your loyalty is much appreciated :-)

Remember to make time for your loved ones. Life is short. Carpe Diem!

Mike Rohde, Editor


Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: The Palm m125 -- While you may mistake the newest Palm handheld with the m100 or m105, looks can be deceiving. The light blue and black casing resembles other m-series Palms, but the m125 offers several nuances inherited from the m500 series, like a Secure Digital (SD) slot, universal USB connector, Palm OS 4.0 and a 33MHz Dragonball processor. The m125's screen size is still as small as the m100/105, though the handheld includes a nice 3rd party application suite, including Documents To Go, MGI Photo Suite, AOL Mail, PalmReader, Vindigo, AvantGo, MultiMail SE, Mobile Connectivity software and Chapura's Pocket Mirror for Outlook. Still, the $250 m125 seems slightly overpriced compared with $200 handhelds like the Visor Neo or Sony Clié S320.

Two New Visors: Handspring Visor Pro & Neo -- In September, Handspring launched two new grayscale handhelds; The $300 Visor Pro with 16 MB RAM, 33MHz processor, rechargable lithium-ion battery in a silver case and the $200 Visor Neo with 8MB RAM and 33MHz processor in Smoke, Red or Blue casing. If you plan to buy a new Visor, be sure to take advantage of Handspring's $70 rebate on Documents To Go 4.0. Offer ends 15-Nov-01.

Price Drops: Handspring Visor Prism & HandEra 330 -- Pressure to sell handhelds is increasing if handheld price reductions are any indication. The Handspring Visor Prism, Handspring's top-of-the line color handheld was reduced $100 to $300, while HandEra's 330 with CF and SD card slots and 240 x 320 pixel grayscale screen was reduced $50 to $300.

Palm Users Unite: SYNCFest 2001 -- If you enjoy gathering with Palm users, then consider a pilgrimage to Handheld Computing Magazine's SYNCFest on Saturday 27-Oct-01 at the Hyatt (Airport) in San Jose, California. SYNCFest will feature seminars, panel discussions, exhibits, product demos, and prize drawings. Tickets are $8 before 25-Oct-01, $12 at the door.

Keep Up with Palm Daily News -- If you want to keep up on Palm news but don't have the time to search Palm news sites daily, then check out Palm Daily News. Each free daily installment provides 5 top Palm news stories, each with a brief description and URL link for quick access.

A New Office Contender from iambic -- Adding a new MS Office compatible suite to the Palm-Office fray, iambic has released iambic Office. The $40 suite includes TinySheet, TinyChart, iambic Mail and FastWriter, along with conduits to sync with Windows PCs. FastWriter is iambic's new word-processor and reader, which can create and edit MS Word, RTF, Doc, HTML and Memo Pad files on a Palm handheld. FastWriter is also Stowaway compatible.

Quickoffice: Evolution of the Original Palm Office Suite -- Cutting Edge Software's original MS Office compatible Palm suite gets a boost in version 5.6, with updated versions of Quicksheet and Quickword. The updated word-processor now offers expanded RTF, HTML and new editing features. The $40 suite includes Quicksheet, Quickword, Quickchart and QuickData (a HanDBase to Quicksheet converter) and Windows-only sync conduits.

MiniOffice: A Small Footprint Office Suite -- Looking for an MS Office compatible editing suite but want to keep RAM use to a minimum? Check out MiniOffice from Solutions in Hand. The package includes MiniWrite, MiniCalc, MiniChart and mCalc which enable you to create, edit and modify MS Word and Excel documents on your handheld. The suite's mCalc is an advanced scientific and financial calculator with graphing capabilities.

SyncBuddy -- Mac users with USB can now connect directly to a Palm handheld via version 1.3 of Florent Pillet's SyncBuddy (formerly PalmBuddy). The $25 Mac utility provides a direct connection to Palm handhelds via serial or USB, displaying a device's contents as if it were an external hard drive. SyncBuddy can also convert plain text files to Doc format or CSV files to a variety of database formats on the fly with plug-ins.

e*Mail -- This clever little e-mail replacement app created by Ikeda Shigeru offers 32k maximum message limit (rather than Mail's 16k) the ability to set a default BCC recipient, sort in numerous ways, time-stamp sent messages and many other improvements over Palm's built-in Mail app.

HandStory Views Docs & Images -- If you're constantly converting text and images for installation on your Palm handheld, then check out HandStory. This $15 tool is a Windows converter (Mac version to come) and Palm viewer app. The Windows app quickly converts text from web pages, documents and images to Palm-compatible formats. Once these converted files are installed, HandStory Palm browser can view them all. HandStory supports 320 x 320 resolution, Jog Dial, Flash RAM, Springboard Flash and VFS expansion cards.

JFile Pro 5.0 Released -- Land-J Technologies has released version 5.0 of JFile Pro. The $25 Palm OS database application now offers file encryption, support for VFS memory cards, color and more.

Keep Meetings Short & Sweet -- I like Meeting Timer, a freeware utility from Mark Holcroft! Enter the number of people and their hourly rate into the timer and the app calculates a running cost of the meeting. Cha-Ching!!


Supercharge Your Launcher
by Mike Rohde

The Launcher is probably the most used and least noticed application on most Palm handhelds. In this month's feature article, I'll share ways to supercharge your standard Palm OS Launcher and I'll explore a variety of third party Launcher replacements you may want to consider.

Basic, Yet Functional: The Built-In Launcher -- The Palm OS built-in Launcher is by no means feature-packed, though it certainly works as advertised. The Launcher can be used to organize Palm applications into categories, offers icon or list views, enables the deletion, beaming, category editing and information viewing of applications. The Launcher also provides battery level status, current time, current category and general Palm OS version information. Let's look at these functions in detail.

Get Organized: The Category Function -- The most important function of the Launcher is organizing applications into logical categories for easier location and launching of applications. Just as Palm handhelds can be used in various ways, each user determines a organizational scheme which best suits them. For example, I've divided my apps into 5 categories:

  Main -- My most-used applications
  Utilities -- All my utility applications
  System -- All system apps, including Datebook, Address, To Do and Memo Pad
  Games -- My selection of games
  Travel -- Travel applications

As you can see, I've decided to store hard-button apps in the System category, since I can access these apps by hard button. This also frees up my 'Main' category for other common applications. I also have a separate category for 'Travel' to store my large collection of travel tools.

Using the Category function in the Launcher is quite easy. First, click on the silkscreened icon in the upper-left area of the Graffiti area to activate the Launcher. Next, choose the menu item 'App' and submenu 'Category' to reveal an alphabetical list of your apps with category selectors to the right of each name. You can use these selectors to assign categories to your applications. If you need to add or rename categories, click any category selector and choose 'Edit Categories...' at the very bottom of the listing.

Once you've categorized your apps, click the 'Done' button, which will bring you to the main Launcher screen. Now use the category selector in the upper-right hand of the Launcher screen to choose a category, or tap the Applications Launcher icon in the upper-left corner of the Graffiti area to quickly rotate through all categories, much like Alt-Tab on a Windows PC.

Zap, Zing, Zoom: The Beam Function -- To share applications or databases stored on your Palm handheld with other Palm users, the Launcher also includes a beam function. Beaming is a bit limited in the Launcher, as it doesn't show every database listed on your device. Still, for general app and database beaming it's functional. Several freeware and shareware Beaming utilities are also available for more advanced users.

To beam apps and databases, start in the Launcher and choose the menu item 'App' and submenu 'Beam'. This will reveal an alphabetical list of applications on your handheld and the size of the app or database in Kilobytes (or K). You may notice some of your applications display a padlock icon to the left of the size; this indicates copy protected applications, which can't be beamed with the Launcher.

Next, move your sending handheld in range of the receiving handheld (make sure Beam Receive is on in the receiving handheld's Prefs application), select an app or database to beam by tapping it, then tap the 'Beam' button. A dialog will appear until beaming is complete. Now you can click the 'Done' button to return to the main screen of the Launcher.

Buh and Bye: The Delete Function -- Another useful feature of the Launcher is the delete function, which allows you to remove any user-installed application from your Palm handheld. Because the Palm stores all built-in applications in ROM (Read-Only Memory) you can't delete them; in fact, they're not even listed. However, any apps you've directly added can be deleted using this feature.

To delete an application or database, start in the Launcher and choose the menu item 'App' and submenu 'Delete'. This will reveal an alphabetical list of items on your handheld. Notice the status listing at the top of the screen, displaying your handheld's free memory and a visual indicator bar below these numbers.

Below the RAM status indicators, you'll see a list of apps and databases eligible for deletion and their size in K. To delete one, select the name of the app or database and click the 'Delete' button. You'll be asked if you're certain about the deletion -- if so, select the OK button to return to the listing. When you're finished deleting files, click the 'Done' button, which will return you to the main screen of the Launcher.

WARNING: Be aware that deleting some applications will also delete related databases! Deleting a Doc reader like AportisDoc for instance, will also delete all Doc files which have been associated by the system with AportisDoc, so it's advisable to be *very* careful when deleting applications with any supporting files.

Get More Detail: The Info Function -- Additional information on Palm applications and databases can be gathered using the Info function of the Launcher, including free memory, file size, file records, file version number and Palm OS system version.

To see your handheld's detailed information, start in the Launcher and choose the menu item 'App' and submenu 'Info'. This will reveal the device's free RAM memory numerically, a visual indicator bar, an alphabetical list of apps and databases on your handheld and their size in K.

Along the base of the screen are three square buttons: Version, Records and Size, the 'Size' option being default. Clicking the 'Records' button shows the percentage of free RAM on your device and replaces the size of the file with number of records in the file. The 'Version' button displays your Palm OS system version number and version numbers of installed applications (databases are listed as v.0.). Once you're done reviewing this information, click the 'Done' button to return to the Launcher's main screen.

View Options: Launcher Preferences -- The Launcher's display can be viewed a few different ways using the Preferences function. To view preferences, start in the Launcher and choose the menu item 'Options' and submenu 'Preferences' to view a small dialog box with several options.

To remember the last category viewed in the Launcher, click the 'Remember Last Category' checkbox at the top of the dialog box. This way, the most recently used category will always appear when you return to the Launcher.

If you have multiple apps, you may want to view them as a two column list rather than as a row of three large icons. The 'View' selector offers either List or Icon view options (Icon is default) which can be activated by changing the selector to 'Icon' or 'List'. Note that the list view may cause applications without small icons to display generic icons, which might make identification a bit more difficult.

3rd Party Launcher Replacements -- If the standard Palm OS Launcher is too limited for your needs, check out this brief selection of 3rd party Launcher replacements. Each launcher has features which set them apart, so hopefully one will fulfill your specific requirements.

*ButtonPro -- A $5 shareware launcher from Michael Chen, which enables launching of apps via multiple button presses.

*CoLauncher -- An $8 supplement to the standard Launcher, enables launching of apps using either Graffiti strokes or by clicking hardware buttons.

*Commander -- A $15 launcher from Palmation with security and shortcut capabilities to activate various utility functions. Features square tabs on the top of the screen displaying multiple categories at once.

*GoBar -- This $10 launcher replacement from Aladdin Systems has a Windows-like pop-up menu which displays apps in categories along with frequently used utilities and provides a tab at the top of the screen to display categories and utilities.

*HanDButton -- A $6 utility from DDH Software, which can assign 12 of your most-used applications to a special 'HanDButton', bypassing the launcher.

*Handscape -- A $20 Launcher replacement from MobiMate, with tabbed interface and pop-up contextual application information. uses plug-ins 'Live Desktop' which can display Datebook entries, to do items and a clock.

*Launch 'Em -- This $15 Launcher from Synergy Solutions has tabs on top, bottom, right or left side of the screen and a comprehensive toolbar with time, date and battery indicator. Supports VFS external media and Jog Dial.

*Launcher III -- The granddaddy of 3rd party launchers by Bodizar Benc. This $10 app offers a tabbed interface and multi-function toolbar. Launcher III 3.0 supports VFS external media (Version 2.2 is still freeware and can found at various Palm software sites like VersionTracker).

*LauncherLight -- Megasoft's $10 'Lite' launcher offers a variety of views and many maintenance features such as system and battery status screens.

*MegaLauncher -- MegaSoft's $20 premier launcher replacement features multiple views keyed to categories, a click-and-hold contextual information feature, dual world clocks, compression and beaming functions in a clean, Windows-like interface. Also supports VFS external media.

*PAL -- This $14 launcher replacement tool from Dove Software has a clean interface with a handy, multi-function toolbar.

*SilverScreen -- A $20 'skinnable' launcher from PocketSensei, with various interface themes, a pop-up toolbox for common tasks and a ticker to display Datebook and to dos among other features. Supports VFS external media.

*Speedy -- This unique launcher from Michael Chen uses Graffiti writing on screen to launch designated applications -- usually within 2 strokes.

*TealLaunch -- A $12 supplement to the Palm launcher from TealPoint. TealLaunch launches apps using special strokes and button presses.

*WorkBench -- This $10 utility from Toysoft lets you to launch apps using a Windows-like menu bar on Palm m500 series, HandEra 330 and Sony Clié devices. Supports VFS external media on these specific handhelds.

HackMaster-Based Launchers -- These launcher utilities are 'hacks' and therefore, require the system enhancing Hack managers (See links below).

*AppHack -- A basic yet powerful $5 hack from Ed Keyes, which uses button press sequences to launch your favorites apps.

*App/DA Launcher -- This freeware hack from Hoshi Takanori lets users launch apps and Desk Accessories (DAs) using the silkscreened application icon, divided into four quadrants (See the 2nd link for more info on DAs).

*EasyLaunch -- Postcardware hack from Petr Syrovatka, which enables pen strokes or button clicks to launch apps or other multi-function actions.

*RunWrite -- A $12 hack from Dove Software, which launches apps with a trigger stroke and Graffiti letter combination.

*Switcheroo -- A freeware hack from Lonnie Foster for launching apps with a special stroke and Graffiti letter combination.

Hack Managers -- To manage launcher hacks, you will need a hack manager such as HackMaster ($5), TealMaster ($10) or X-Master (freeware).




Conclusion -- I hope this exploration of the unsung Palm OS Launcher and selected popular 3rd party launcher replacements encourages you to organize your handheld's applications. After all, just knowing where your applications are located is half the battle! :-)

The Tipsheet Interview: Hagay Giller
In this month's Tipsheet Interview, I'll talk with Israeli Palm user Hagay Giller, a recent graphics school graduate who uses his Palm Vx to manage his life, sketch ideas, read the latest news and e-books.

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

You're welcome Mike.

*PT: You live in Israel -- 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?

Palm handhelds aren't too popular yet, since the prices are still really high. If I had paid for mine, it would cost around 2,000NIS (about $500). Because of the price, most Palm handheld users are gadget-loving high tech workers. I think my entire school had only three people with PDAs.

*PT: Does your Palm use a Hebrew OS? Is there a version of Graffiti which allows you to write special Hebrew characters on your Palm, or must you use other methods to enter them?

I have to say that Calanit, the company which brought Palm handhelds to Israel, did a surprisingly good job at localization. There are Hebrew Graffiti and keyboard letters, with full support for right-to-left writing (The local version of Windows, for instance, is terrible in that area), and even a Jewish calendar option, which I don't use, but is a good idea nonetheless. When the Visor arrived it had no Hebrew support, so it wasn't too popular, but apparently PiLoc, the program I use for Hebrew on the Palm, works on any Palm OS device, and has an option for Visor users that makes all the menus and dialog boxes in hebrew, too.

Calanit (in Hebrew):

Hebrew PiLoc:

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

The people who don't know anything about computers think it's pretty amazing, especially when I show them how I write down notes during lessons without a keyboard. Those who know more about computers are less amazed, but still like it. I just let the non computer-literate ones play Solitaire, that wins them over. :)

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

Now that I am out of school, I use it as more as it was intended -- A phone book, a date book. It's useful since I carry it with me all of the time, and it has saved me a few times. I also use it for reading e-books from Project Gutenberg before I go to sleep.

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

I use Diddle for my sketches, AvantGo for the news, and a freeware doc reader CSpotRun, which is really easy to use and has most of the options of commercial readers. The others I could live without... like the Voodoo Doll app, which has no use whatsoever, but I still keep for some reason.




Voodoo Doll:

*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 think about purchasing TealPaint. I've tried the trial version, and it's much, much better than Diddle. (but hey, if they want to give me a free copy for advertising it, I don't mind!)


I also want a hard case for my Palm, because it already fell once and has a small, annoying crack on the screen.

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

Once, while waiting for a train, I decided to try and do sketches of people at the station on my Palm, without them noticing me doing it. The first person was easy, since he was on the other side of the tracks and didn't notice, but I wanted a bit more of a challenge. So when I got on the train, I waited for someone to sit in front of me. Fortunately, it was an old religious man, who kept reading his prayer book. So I got a nice sketch, and he wasn't aware of it, and nobody got hurt. :)

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

Well, if anyone at the company importing Palm or Visor handhelds to Israel reads this somehow -- lower the prices! $500 for a small piece of plastic is a lot of money, even if it does change my life. Even the Visor Prism costs less, and offers way, way more.

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, 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, Argentina, Guatemala and Portugal.

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

I hope this month's feature has challenged you to supercharge your own Launcher or to try a few 3rd party launchers on for size. A special thank you to Hagay Giller for sharing his thoughts 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.

Kind 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 the people killed by terrorists in the September 11 attacks in the United States. You are not forgotten.

''Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good." -- Vaclav Havel


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