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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.
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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!
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.
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.
Main -- My most-used 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
*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).
You're welcome Mike.
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.
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):
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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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. :)
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
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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.
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