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Palm Tipsheet 27 - February 2002
Supercharge your To Do List! In this issue of the Palm Tipsheet I'll share techniques to help you make the most out of your handheld's built-in To-Do List and I'll highlight To-Do replacement applications. In the Tipsheet interview, Argentine Palm user Gustavo Talavan talks about his Palm handheld and the popularity of handhelds in Argentina.
Supercharging Your To-Do List
The Tipsheet Interview: Gustavo Talavan
Palm Doc Edition (18k):
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Handspring.com -- The NEW Visor Treo combines GSM voice and wireless internet connectivity with powerful Palm OS organizer features, all in an incredibly small package! The Treo 180 is $399 with service activation or trade in of a VisorPhone module, or $549 without service activation.
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Hey, it's great to be back! I've just returned from a pilgrimage to PalmSource 2002 in San Jose and a few days off in San Francisco with my wife. It was a much-needed break from our long Wisconsin winter. I'm already missing California's warm sunny weather! :-)
Being at PalmSource was a great opportunity to finally meet fellow Palm community members and to get a first hand glimpse what's happening in the Palm world. Gail and I were fortunate enough to attend a special InterPUG Q&A session with Jeff Hawkins, in which he spoke about the new Treo, his product design experiences and the future of handhelds.
Finally, I was pleased to see Palm OS 5 for ARM-based processors announced at PalmSource, and to hear the new processor will offer a significant power boost while the OS will retain backward compatibility with older apps. I'm very optimistic about the future of Palm handhelds.
You may have noticed this issue is arriving a bit late. I decided to delay issue 27, so I could include important PalmSource news and to assure a quality issue rather than something rushed out to meet a deadline.
So, let's get right to it! In this issue I'll reveal ways to 'supercharge' your built-in To Do list and share links for replacement To-Do applications.
Mike Rohde, Editor
PalmSource 2002 Coverage -- There were many stories related to PalmSource 2002 conference and Expo -- PalmInfocenter's Ed Hardy provides great coverage and an exclusive interview with Michael Mace. Check it out:
Palm Separation Complete -- In January, Palm announced it has completed the split between its hardware and operating system groups. The separation should allow the OS group (renamed PalmSource, Inc.) to focus on developing the operating system with its licensees. The Palm Solutions Group (which essentially becomes an OS licensee) can focus on Palm hardware development:
20 Million Palms and Counting... -- Palm's separation wasn't the only big news; Palm reported that 20 million Palm handhelds have been sold since their introduction in 1996. This is an amazing number, roughly 4 million Palms sold per year over the past 5 years!
Palm VII Evolution: Palm i705 Released -- After rumor and speculation, Palm has now released the i705. This 'always-on' handheld is slimmer, lighter and rounder than the VII, with an integrated antenna and LED notification system. The $450 i705 features 8MB RAM, 33MHz processor, Palm OS 4.1, an SD card slot, lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, MultiMail Deluxe, DataViz Documents To Go Pro, an AOL instant messenger client and a basic web browser. Palm.net service is required for wireless operation and comes in 2 flavors: $20 per month for 100KB data transfer, $40 per month for unlimited access. The i705 is only available in the US, though Palm is hinting international availability may be coming in the future:
Handspring Treo Released -- Handspring announced its own long-expected wireless device, the Treo 180. This 3-in-1 handheld offers wireless voice and data features via dual-band GSM and organizer features in a device smaller than the m500. The Treo 180 sports a metallic blue case, 16MB RAM, 33MHz processor, Palm OS 3.5.2, Rocker switch, lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, integrated Blackberry-like thumboard (the 180g offers a Graffiti area), Blazer browser, SMS and POP email clients. The Treo is $400 with service activation or a VisorPhone trade-in, $549 without service:
Keepin' it Comin' -- Sony Clié PEG-T615C and PEG-S360 -- Not to be outdone, Sony has released two new super-slim Palm handhelds. The Clié PEG-T615C offers 16MB RAM, 33MHz processor, 320x320 hi-res screen, lithium-polymer rechargeable battery and Palm OS 4.1 for $400. The PEG-S360 replaces the S320 and adds 16MB RAM, 33MHz processor, Palm OS 3.5 and lithium-polymer rechargeable battery for $200:
Handspring Visor: Should I Stay or Should I Go? -- In a January conference call with Wall Street investors, Donna Dubinsky, Handspring's CEO said Handspring was planning on "eventually exiting the organizer market" to concentrate on the communicators. Speculation that the Visor and Springboard were soon to be dead, flew round the Visor community. Several days later, Jeff Hawkins sent a letter to developers and Palm news outlets to clarify Handspring's position. In the letter, Hawkins vowed Handspring's commitment to the Visor line as long as there is demand, narrowing of the Visor line to the Edge, Pro and Neo and continued support for Springboard expansion. However, Hawkins reiterated Handspring's long-term shift in focus toward the Treo and other future communicators:
Mac OS X Palm Desktop Public Beta Released -- Woo hoo! Palm has released a public beta of their latest desktop software and for Mac OS X and OS 9:
Better Palm Time Management at KeenPDA -- If you're serious about making your Palm handheld a more effective organizer, check out David Keener's excellent website, full of very useful tips and ideas:
A New Launcher on the Horizon -- LauncherX, a new app launcher from Little Mobile Creations, built on Launcher III's foundation is nearly ready for public consumption. LauncherX will feature custom Active Skins, which alter the look and behavior of the application. Check it out here:
iSilo: An AvantGo Alternative -- Convert text or HTML for your Palm handheld with iSilo 3.0 & iSiloX. The updated $17.50 Palm document reader and free desktop converter for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux/FreeBSD features an improved compression ratio, hyperlinks, images and tables within documents, support for high-res, jog dial and VFS removable media:
TakTik Blends Strategy & Slick Imagery -- TakTik, a new strategy game from Kickoo (creators of Ababall) blends chess, checkers and slick graphics into a funky Palm OS game. The $12.50 game requires Palm OS 3.3 or higher, supports normal and high-res screens, 16 grays to 65k colors:
Track Your Weight with Himando -- This simple freeware app from Bashi enables tracking of your weight and then graphs the results. It even features cute animal icon 'advisers' to keep things light and fun:
Supercharging Your To-Do List
by Mike Rohde
Simplicity can be deceiving. I was reminded of this truth, as I returned to the built-in To Do list after several years of using BrainForest, a hierarchal list manager. To prepare for this article, I began using the To-Do list again and found it refreshingly simple to use, yet powerful.
In this month's feature article, I'll show you how to supercharge your own To-Do List by exploring its features and sharing information about third party To-Do replacements.
To-Do Advantages -- Using the built-in To-Do List has a few advantages, the first advantage being synchronization between the Palm Desktop and the handheld's To-Do Lists. I love being able to enter to-dos directly into my Visor as they come to mind, or directly into the Palm Desktop while I'm working. In either case, a single HotSync brings both sides up to date.
The second advantage is the To-Do List's simplicity and power. Because it's so simple to use, it actually *gets used* for tracking my to-dos. It's also powerful, as it offers various ways to categorize and annotate your action list. To learn how to make use of the To-Do List , let's take a look at its features in detail.
Entering Action Items -- To build your to-do list, open the To-Do application by locating its icon in the launcher or clicking the To-Do hard button on your Palm handheld (third button from the left). In the lower left side of the screen, click the 'New' button to create a new to-do. Oddly enough, the To-Do app doesn't offer a command stroke for creating a new to-do record!
A quick way to delete a to-do item, is to select its text and delete it with a right stroke on the Graffiti area. While this option is quick, you may want a deleted to-do archived in the Palm Desktop. To delete and archive a to-do, choose the 'Record--Delete' from the menu; a dialog box will appear to verify this deletion, with a checkbox to 'Save archive copy on PC'.
Now that we've explored creating and deleting to-do items, let's take a closer look at how to organize your action list.
Show: Controlling Your To-Do Views -- To setup the features in the To-Do app is by clicking the 'Show' button in the lower right hand corner of the screen. This will open a dialog box with various choices for your to-do display. let's go through these one at a time:
Sort by: Priority, Due Date
Due Date, Priority
Category, Due Date
Each option sorts your to-do list by the two criteria listed in each option. The combinations are self-explanatory; I prefer 'Priority, Due Date' as it sorts my priorities first, then sorts by their due date. You may prefer a different view. Next, let's have a look at the remaining check box options:
 Show Completed Items <-- Completed, checked items stay on-screen
 Show Only Due Items <-- Keeps to-dos hidden until they are due
 Record Completion Date <-- Records the date when a to-do is checked
 Show Due Dates <-- Displays a due date to the right of the to-do text
 Show Priorities <-- Displays a priority to the left of the to-do text
 Show Categories -- Displays categories to the right of the due date
Each option provides a different way to display your action list. I prefer to display just priorities and due dates, as showing categories absorbs a bit too much screen real-estate for my taste. I also like to hide completed items, so I can see my action list dwindle in size.
Now that we've covered display options, lets take a look at how to make use of them to help organize and manage your action list.
Priorities, Priorities -- An option I find useful is the Priority feature. Using priorities forces me to decide which action items are most important. Priority 1 is the default, though it's easily changed. Select the priority number -- a pop-up list of priorities from 1 to 5 will appear -- choose one and the item will be sorted according to 'Show' preferences.
NOTE: If you're a Franklin-Covey fan, you'll have noticed there is no option for the 1A, 2B type of priority list in the stock To-Do application. I'll share two ideas for overcoming this shortcoming, in 'To-Do Text Tricks' and '3rd Party To-Do Replacements' later in this article.
Adding Notes For More Detail -- It may not be practical to use long, highly-detailed descriptions for your to-do items, since you can simply attach a note to any to-do for more information. This is a great way to add detail to your to-do items, using text entered by you or copied from other sources (documents, web pages, emails, etc.).
To add a note to a to-do, select the item and choose the menu item 'Record --Attach Note', or click the 'Details' button and select 'Note'. A note text field will open, in which you may add up to 4k worth of information. Once a note is attached, you can quickly access the note by clicking the note icon to the right of the to-do text field.
Defining Due Dates -- Next, you can define a due date for any to-do item. Like the priority selector, clicking directly on a due date will activate a pop-up list of choices:
One Week Later
These five choices are self-explanatory. In particular, 'No Date' is handy if you don't want to include a due date (to help indicate a low-priority item) and 'Choose Date' brings up a monthly calendar date chooser.
Use Those Categories -- The To-Do List has categories, which come in handy when dividing up your action list. You can create up to 15 categories, either very specific or very generic. If you have many different activities to track it may be best to keep your categories generic.
Because categories are always displayed in alphabetic order, you might want to use various special characters and spaces to control where categories appear. For instance, you can add a space to the start of a category name to move that category up in the category list, like this:
Work Project 1
Work Project 2
Numbers and special characters such as * or + can also move categories up or down; experiment with these characters to see which ones work best for your needs.
Details: To-Do Info at a Glance -- Details provides a quick way to access and manage the details of each to-do item in your action list. To use it, select a to-do item and then click the 'Details' button on the bottom-center of the screen. A dialog box will appear with options available for each to-do, including Priority, Category, Due Date, Private and Attach Note options. To-dos can also be deleted using the 'Details' dialog.
Menus Exposed -- To wrap up our tour of the To-Do app, let's see what options are available in its Menus:
Record -- This menu offers the Delete option, Attach or Delete Note, Purge, and a Beam option for to-do items or entire categories. The Purge option is especially handy after you've added many to-do items and want to clear out older or completed items. Purge also offers the option to archive these delete items to your Palm Desktop application.
Edit -- Offers standard Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste and Select All options as well as the virtual keyboard and Graffiti help.
Options -- This menu provides access to Fonts and Phone Lookup; the Phone Lookup is useful if you use your To-Do List to manage your phone calls.
To-Do Text Tricks -- One trick you can take advantage of when managing your action list is the use of common text combinations to organize items. For instance, you can use codes to indicate where a task will take place:
These codes can be used to identify nearly anything and can even be reduced to one or two letters to designate functions (like 'PC' for Computer, 'OF' for Office). Franklin-Covey fans can also use this trick to bring secondary priorities into their to-do list. Using A-E as an added text code might work like this (the  indicates the built-in priority selector):
 A Wash Dishes
 B Take out garbage
 C Wash the car
 D Clean the grill
 E Paint the house
The only limitation to using this trick is you cannot sort by these A-E letter codes, however, this does at least offer an A-E letter code option. However you use codes, be creative; you can use all sorts of common combinations to help further organize your to-dos.
To-Do Limitations -- While the To-Do app is quite powerful, it does have limitations. The most glaring is the inability to setup recurring tasks used to regenerate to-dos which happen on a regular basis (take out the garbage for instance). Also missing from the To-Do List are alarms, which does limit the To-Do List's effectiveness. Fortunately, 3rd party applications do add these capabilities, so let's have a look at them next.
3rd Party To-Do Replacements -- I've gathered a few applications which are designed to completely replace the built-in To-Do List and add enhanced features, while still the standard to-do database. This is important, as the synchronization between the Palm and desktop are maintained:
*Big ToDo -- A $5 To-Do replacement app with priority choices from 1-10:
*cJAG Tasks -- A powerful $10 To-Do replacement app with a handy toolbar filters, show/hide column options, bullet & numbering features and alarms:
*To-Do PLUS -- Another powerful $20 To-Do replacement offering templates, drawing features, alarms, repeating to-dos and a handy toolbar:
3rd Party Apps: Linking & Displaying To-Dos -- Some applications approach compatibility with the built-in to-do database quite differently; some multi-function applications provide direct access to the built-in database, some link to to-dos from their own proprietary databases and others offer only import/export features:
*Action Names Datebook -- A $20 Datebook/To-Do/Address replacement app which adds icons, alarms and recurring features to to-dos:
*Arranger -- A $19 hierarchal task management tool which can link directly to the built-in To-Do application database:
*Bonsai -- A $25 hierarchal task manager which links to the To-Do database and offers a desktop companion and HotSync conduit:
*BrainForest -- A $30 hierarchal outliner which imports/exports to-do items to/from the built-in To-Do application. $40 buys the Palm and desktop apps:
*Datebk4 -- A $25 Datebook replacement app which displays to-do items with icons and adds alarms, recurring and floating features:
*LifeBalance -- A $40 hierarchal list manager which uses priorities and 'fuzzy logic' to determine task priority. To-do items are automatically import/exported from the built-in database to LifeBalance:
*LinkPak -- A $25 package of built-in replacement applications for To-Do, Datebook, Address Book and Memo Pad which interlink between each other:
*ListMaker Pro -- A $15 hierarchical list manager with import/export to/from the built-in To-Do database, $25 buys the Palm and desktop apps:
*ShadowPlan -- A $13 hierarchal list manager with direct linking to the to-do database. A full desktop app and HotSync conduit are $7 more:
To-Do Utilities & Enhancers -- You may want to work with your to-dos in various ways; these utilities offer a few options for exporting and sorting your to-do list:
*Manana -- A freeware app which stores ultra low-priority to-dos which you may or may not complete in your lifetime:
*ReDo -- A $10 utility which adds recurring features to the To-Dos List:
*To-Do2Memo -- A freeware app to export to-dos to the Memo Pad app:
*ToDoRoll -- A $5 utility to switch overdue to-do deadlines to today's date:
*Todo2RTF -- A free utility to export the to-do database to an RTF file:
*To-Do Sort -- A $5 utility for manually sorting to-do listings:
Conclusion -- I hope this overview of the To-Do List, practical ideas for managing your to-do list and various 3rd party apps will help improve the way to-dos work for you.
The Tipsheet Interview: Gustavo Talavan
In this month's Tipsheet Interview, I'll speak with Argentine Palm user Gustavo Talavan, an MCSE Systems security consultant, who uses his Palm IIIxe to manage his contacts and his busy business life. Gustavo also loves to use his Palm to play games, watch the night sky and read e-books. He is also a long-time Palm user and owner of the original US Robotics Pilot 1000 (which is still being used by a friend).
*PT: Gustavo, thank you for taking the time to share your Palm experience with the Palm Tipsheet.
Of course, it is such an honour! :)
*PT: You live in Argentina -- 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?
In the last two years, I have seen growth in the number of people that use a Palm on a daily basis. Previously, I was seen as a nerd, writing in such strange device. But nowadays, it's a very popular handheld, of course sharing the market with the others that use WinCE.
*PT: Does your Palm use a Spanish OS? Is there a version of Graffiti which allows you to write special characters on your Palm, or must you use other methods to enter them?
I am used to using my Palm in English (I've bought my previous machines in USA) but I will tell you my story:
In March 2000 I bought my Palm IIIxe here in Argentina, with a Spanish OS (which I disliked, as I love OSes in English). Ten days later, my dear Palm suddenly froze, and never started again. Soft resets, hard resets, nothing could bring my Palm back to life. I took it to 3Com Technical Support and they told me that there was a problem with the motherboard, and that I would get a replacement unit. Ten days later (an eternity for a compulsive user such as myself), I got back a new IIIxe, and I could choose the language. As you can imagine, I chose English for my brand new Palm IIIxe.
*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?
Reactions are multiple. Some people ask me about my "nerd device", and I show them all the programs I load in it. I proudly show them the advantages of having a Palm. In December, I went to a meeting with a possible employer, and I showed her my Palm. She was captivated by the handheld, a love story!
*PT: How does the Palm help you in your everyday life?
My address book has more than 600 contacts, I have a spreadsheet to keep track of some important things, and specially for reading electronic books, Peanut Reader... lighter than paper books, of course.
*PT: Are there any programs which you use daily and couldn't live without?
I love Quicksheet, ScratchPad for a quick sketch, Planetarium (I like to watch the sky at night), BugMe to remember things, Secret to keep information away from prying eyes, Sums to summarize numbers quickly. Bejeweled to play a lot, DopeWar, Tumble and Vexed... and of course, SimCity and Rally 1000,the popular card game:
*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'd love to have a compass to attach to my Palm (I currently use SunCompass, using the sun as a reference), and a digital camera. If a company wants to make me feel like the happiest man on earth, just send one of these as a present, and I'll thank them for the rest of my life!
*PT: Would you share a funny story that relates to your Palm with us? :-)
Yes, of course... It saved me from being stuck in the middle of a parking lot, having forgotten my keys inside my locked car. I suddenly remembered that I had memorized in the application OmniRemote the frequency of the InfraRed key that opens the car door. I pointed my Palm to the infrared port on the car, and the doors opened. I promised to myself not to leave my keys inside the car anymore, and, of course, to never delete the OmniRemote application from my Palm.
*PT: Thank you for taking time to share your Palm using experience in Argentina with the Palm Tipsheet. Are there any final comments you'd like to share with the readers?
Yes. When I bought my first Pilot, all the people told me that it was nothing more than a new fashion device, and that the same thing would happen as to other PDAs, like the Newton. Fortunately, I never left my beloved Palm, and all my work and life depends on it -- I'm not exaggerating!!
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: , Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand, Venezuela, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Italy, The Philippines, Belgium, South Africa, Bahrain, Barbados, Russia, Romania, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Argentina, Guatemala, Portugal, Slovenia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Kenya, Croatia and Denmark.
The list of past interviews includes users from: Argentina, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, 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 email@example.com for consideration.
I hope this month's Supercharging Your To-Do List feature article will encourage you to delve into the power of To-Dos on your Palm handheld and keep your life more organized. Special thanks to Gustavo Talavan for sharing details of his use of a Palm handheld and their popularity in Argentina.
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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Until next time...
Mike Rohde, Editor
Copyright 1998-2002 (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 by 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, in any language, in plain text, HTML, AvantGo or Palm doc formats.
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