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Palm Tipsheet 31 - June 2002
iSilo Edition (19k):
The Palm Tipsheet is sponsored by readers like you! You can now donate via PayPal or the Amazon Honor System, using one of the two links below. Donations are voluntary and are greatly appreciated! :-)
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Amazon.com -- PILOTING PALM, the new book from Andrea Butter and David Pogue offers a unique insider's view of Palm, Handspring and the birth of the handheld industry. All purchases provide referral rewards.
Handspring.com -- TREO 90 & TREO 270! Treo 90 sports a color screen, thumboard and SD slot for $299. The Treo 270 combines a color screen, GSM voice and wireless internet with Palm OS organizer features. The Treo 270 is $499 with service activation or $699 without activation. Check it out!
DealTime.com -- Compare PDA prices and save the easy way! DealTime searches hundreds of online merchants for the best prices. Check it out!
Fundamental Objects, Inc. -- The official Palm Tipsheet development affiliate, specializing in custom handheld development, including full integration with your web site and databases. Visit us today!
Buy.com -- Buy.com -- LORD OF THE RINGS ON DVD! Pre-order LOTR, Fellowship of the Ring on DVD in full or wide screen for $19.99. Reserve your copy today!
Gear Up for Outdoor Adventure at REI! Get the stuff you need for skiing, snowboarding and all of your favorite winter sports at REI.
As excited as I am about getting another issue of the Tipsheet out the door, I'm even more excited about the news that I'm going to be a DAD! Yep, we're expecting a new baby the end of November, 2002! Woo hoo!! :-)
Looking ahead, I realize I'll be needing several guest writers to help out once the baby arrives. If you're interested in guest writing, let me know.
May marked the release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I enjoyed the film, and while it isn't equal to Lord of the Rings, it's still a fun, exciting, visually stunning film, which I highly recommend.
Qvadis, makers of Doc reading and Language tools are now bundling Doc editions of the Tipsheet with their Qvadis Express GT Doc reader! :-)
I'm also pleased to announce DealTime as a new sponsor! DealTime helps you get great deals on PDAs and other items, by letting you search and compare prices from multiple online merchants. Check it out:
Last but not least, I want to publicly thank Charles, George, James, Merrill, and Topher for their generous donations. You're the best! :-)
Okay, on with the show...
Two New Treos: The 270 & 90 -- Handspring bolstered their Treo line in June, releasing Treo 270 and 90. The $500 Treo 270 has similar specs as the Treo 180 but adds a color screen, backlit thumboard and longer talk and standby times. The $300 Treo 90 is a non-wireless handheld, sized like other Treos, with a color screen, 16MB RAM, OS 4.1, thumboard and an SD slot:
Treo Resources -- If you're thinking about buying a Treo or already have one, then you might want to check out Treo specific news, reviews, resources and discussion boards, at TreoCentral and TreoBB:
Is Your PDA Secure? -- The Register has an eye opening story about unprotected private data on PDAs. Research suggests one in ten handheld owners use no encryption tools, leaving data such as corporate information and bank accounts totally unprotected. Yikes!
*Palm Expansion De-mystified -- Larry Garfield has an excellent article at InfoSync, explaining VFS expansion on Palm handhelds:
PalmEvolution.com -- Palm Jedi Master Dan Royea has put together a useful and informative reference on the evolution of Palm handhelds, complete with a family tree and a milestones organized by date:
Lexica Language Dictionary from Qvadis -- Throwing their hat into the language dictionary ring, Qvadis has just released Lexica. The viewer itself is free, while dictionary modules are $10 and $18 each.
Jargon File for Palm -- If you deal with tech jargon on a daily basis and are sometimes stumped, check out JargonFile, a $5 jargon reference:
Presenter-to-Go on an SD Card! -- Margi Systems has released the SD version of Presenter-to-Go for $200, compatible with Palm SD slots:
"Wow! What a gorgeous color screen!"
That was my first reaction after pulling my shiny new Sony Clié N610C from the charger and turning it on. After two years of using my trusty Visor Deluxe and its low-res, black and white screen and Springboard slot I was headed for Sony's world of hi-res, color screens and Memory Sticks.
What brought about this change in allegiance? Would the Clié measure up to the Visor? In this month's article I'll answer those questions and share software, hardware and resources I've discovered during my transition.
But over time, I began to compare my Visor to Gail's new Clié. While color wasn't critical, hi-res certainly looked nice. I wasn't sure about memory Sticks, but liked them after seeing them work up close. Further, Gail really *loved* her new handheld and told me so... at least once a day! :-)
I was also impressed by reports from my friend Andy Bauer, who had recently bought a Clié N770C as his first Palm handheld. He was impressed, which is quite significant as he's a former Newton user who's tough to dazzle. Andy met my reservations about upgrading to a Clié with compelling arguments.
One of my biggest concerns was battery life, since my Visor easily ran a month before needing fresh AAA's. This was especially important for writing with a Stowaway keyboard, as constant handheld use can eat batteries like candy. I found reviews of the Clié 610's long battery life, claiming 5 to 6 hours of constant use per charge. Cracks were forming in my resolve....
Then the last straw came. One evening, I was trying to read an e-book on my Visor Deluxe in our moderately lit basement. No matter how I shifted the Visor, I couldn't read the screen! using the backlight made matters worse. Meanwhile, Gail was happily playing a game on her backlit Clié. Arggh!!
The very next day I searched, found and bought a refurbished Sony Clié N610CS on eBay. My days as a Visor user were numbered.
I really like the international multi-voltage charger which can charge the Clié directly through the serial port, or can be plugged into the cradle for charging. unfortunately, this dual-mde feature was eliminated in later Clié designs. The 610's battery life is excellent. On two separate occasions I wrote and edited the Tipsheet with the Clié for 5-6 hours straight at a 25% brightness level, with a reduction in battery level of only 51%. I think the Clié 610 is the best designed, and most balanced handheld I've ever owned.
The most difficult task was getting files from my Visor's Compact Flash (CF) card onto my Clié's Memory Stick. Using a PC card adapter for CF cards, I was able to get files from the CF onto my Mac, but lack of a Memory Stick PC card adapter was a problem. I decided to only move the most important files over. I was pleasantly surprised to learn Palm Desktop 2.6.3 for Mac enables direct installation of files to Memory Stick at Hot Sync.
Even with this nifty direct install feature, the sync process was relatively slow, because I was using InfraRed (I don't have a USB port on my Powerbook). To solve this, I picked up a Brando Workshop Serial HotSync cable which made syncs speedier and easier on the Clié's battery.
I had no problems syncing with IR or Serial using Palm Desktop 2.6.3, though I have heard newer Mac/Clié users with USB have had to use The Missing Sync from Mark/Space ($30) to get a Sync to work properly.
*Fonts -- One of the most annoying features of the Clié line are its fonts. I felt they're poorly designed and letter spaced. I'm picky when it comes to fonts (I'm a graphic designer) so the psuedo-helvetica had to go. My wife was very happy with Hacker Dude-san'sThinFontFix, so she beamed it to me:
While ThinFontFix did improve the font weight, it still didn't deal with my biggest gripes -- poor font design and letter spacing. For a while I reverted to low-res fonts, though any app in Flash RAM or ROM wouldn't allow me to use these, which was a bit annoying. Finally, I found Sergey Menshikov's FontHack 123 4.0, combined with Lubak's new OS 5 font package, offered a very nice replacement font that satisfied my font requirements:
The replacement font solution still has a few minor glitches, but I feel it's a vast improvement over the stock sans serif font.
*VFS Functionality -- Next, I needed a software patch to access the Virtual File System (VFS) of Memory Sticks, so that VFS enabled software would see any Memory Stick as expansion media. I found MSMount, a freeware VFS driver which lets the Clié read the Memory Stick as removable VFS media:
I also required a file manager, to copy, delete and move files and create directories on Memory Sticks. I found two nice apps: Filez and McFile. I use Filez most, because it's free and has a clean interface, though McFile offers a checkbox interface, handy for moving multiple items at once.
There are many other file managers out there, but I have not yet checked them all out, as I haven't needed much more than these two tools.
*Launcher -- First, I grabbed the latest copy Launcher III as my primary app launcher. I've been a Launcher III fan since my Pilot 1000 days. I experimented a bit with SilverScreen, which was slick looking, but it seemed slower than Launcher III. I'm looking forward to the release of LauncherX, which I hope will have the speed of Launcher III and beauty of SilverScreen.
*Flash RAM Access -- I began hearing about another tool called JackFlash and JackSprat from Brayder, which would let me reclaim some of the unused Flash RAM space on my Clié 610. Using JackFlash I was able to load a few of my favorite apps into Flash RAM (about 700k worth). Then I used a beta version of JackSprat, to back up my Flash RAM (an important first step), remove several excess apps and gain an additional 700k. None of this could be done with my Visor Deluxe, which lacks Flash RAM.
*Reading -- One function I use my Palm handheld for is reading news and ebooks, so I installed iSilo and PalmReader. Since both apps support VFS media, I was able to store larger books on my Memory Stick and read them in these two readers. Reading is truly a pleasure on the Clié's hi-res screen using high-res fonts, when compared to my Visor's green screen.
*Writing -- A heavily used feature for me is writing and the Clié came through with flying colors. The 610's bright, backlit, hi-res screen and long battery life helped greatly in this regard. When combined with WordSmith, QED and a Stowaway keyboard, my Clié is my mini-laptop. My Visor worked reasonably well as a writing machine, but was always limited because of the screen. I was always worried about lighting conditions when writing with the Visor, but with the Clié I just write wherever I want.
*Travel -- I hadn't thought my travel tools would benefit from a hi-res Clié screen, but they do. I was pleased to see color features in SlovoEd, BDicty and TravelPack Pro. Even Vindigo's maps were nicer in color.
*Games -- I'm not a big gamer, but I do like having a few games around, just in case. I was a bit bummed that my old version of Vexed has trouble with the Clié's screen, but was happy to find Vexed 2.0 has color and more levels. I even found Kickoo's hi-res version of Breakout which I enjoy playing.
*Bible -- I love using my Palm handheld as a Bible. Moving to a Clié was even better, since I can now read with hi-res fonts and in low-light situations. I've switched from an old version of Scripture (now Laridian's MyBible) to BibleReader from Olive Tree Software. I did this because BibleReader was free and I could store the Bible texts on a Memory Stick. MyBible can also store its bible files on VFS media, and I prefer its interface over BibleReader, so I may still get a copy of MyBible.
*Cases -- I saw an immediate need for a case, since I saw fine scratches on the Clié's body after only a few days use with the stock silver flip-lid. I tried out several different cases to see which suited my needs best.
The first case I saw was the E&B Slipper 610 leather case. It's well-made and allows in-case syncs with the sync cable. The case uses durable leather and offers a magnetic closure rather than a snap closure. However, I felt it's side zipper became a little bit annoying after regular use.
The Piel Frama Clié 770 case was next, which I modified for the 610's Jog Dial placement. The leather is high quality and the belt clip is slim and well designed. It allows for in-case sync with a sync cable. The case has more padding and is a bit thicker. However, it was missing a hole for the reset pin and its soft leather scratches more easily than the other cases. Still, this is a nice case, which I use to carrying the Clié on my belt.
The third leather case I used is the Vaja case for the 610. Its leather is quite sturdy, though not as fine or soft as the Piel Frama, but since I'm hard on cases, tougher leather is a plus. This case also has a snug fit, which helps retain the Clié's thin feel. I had problems using a sync cable with the Clié in the case, due to the sync hole size. I like the Vaja's feel and construction overall, so I've made it my everyday case.
As for hard cases I tried out two from Brando Workshop, the CLIE N760 Hard Plastic Case and the CLIE N760C Metal Case. Of the two, the metal case is much more practical, since the plastic case didn't cover the edges of the Clié and seems flimsy. My wife has claimed the purple metal case and says she likes the purple color, magnetic closure and protection, though she has problems with the lid flopping shut when it's tipped vertically.
Finally, I wanted a general bag, large enough to carry my Clié and Stowaway keyboard, a small notebook and pen or pencil, yet smaller than my backpack. I decided on RhinoSkin's RhinoPak 3000, which works perfectly. I love the small size, tough nylon shell, built-in handle and optional shoulder strap, interior straps to hold my gear and all of the mesh pockets.
*Styli -- Softer than usual screens is one of the problems with the older Clié machines, so I decided a new stylus would be in order. I chose the Pilot Pentopia Chameleon Stylus (TFCLIE), which integrates a smooth, spring-loaded teflon stylus, replaceable pen and metal reset pin that fits the stylus silo of the Clié. Having a pen around is certainly a plus.
I've also chosen a Pilot Pentopia Stylus Pen (T2301-P) for my shirt pocket, with its combo pen, pencil and stylus. Having a 0.5mm pencil around is great for conceptual sketches. Meanwhile, my wife has been a Dr. Grip (T1041) fanatic for over a year. She swears by the cushy grip on the handle! :-)
*Portable Chargers -- One of my concerns about traveling with a rechargeable handheld has been the problem of finding a charging source in a pinch. I was pleased to find chargers that use regular batteries for power. The Brando CLIE 9V Emergency Charger uses a 9V battery and charges the Clié, though it seems the PC-Mobile AA Battery Extender is a bit more powerful, as it uses 4 AA batteries. I also prefer the on/off switch on the PC-Mobile Battery Extender, though both are great solutions for travel charging.
*Screen Protectors -- After scratching the soft screen of my Clié, I wanted to see what could protect it. I tried The Brando Workshop Screen Protector, which worked well and seemed tough. Using the screen protector made me feel secure, but the screen brightness level and sharpness were too diminished for my tastes. I've settled on using the Chameleon Stylus and 3/4" scotch tape over the Graffiti area, which I've used since my Pilot 1000 days.
Clié User Group
nXt's Clié Club
I've also come across a number of great Clié-oriented websites with great news, information, FAQs, newsletters and other useful tidbits:
It's a real pleasure! It's also an excellent opportunity to let the world know about my beautiful country, Venezuela.
Palms were not that widespread in Venezuela until about the year 2000. Of course, you would see one being used every so often, but most people here wouldn't have a clue as to what a Palm was. Most were old black & white Palm models. However, Palms are quite common now and most people have color PDAs today. Venezuelans travel frequently to the USA, and the Internet keeps us very much in touch with the latest technology.
I'm aware of the existence of a Spanish Palm OS: Some of my friends have it. However, most people (myself included) still use the English version of the OS. This is one of the great things about Palm: Standard English Graffiti allows you to write "accents" and special Spanish characters (such as ñ or é) very simply and easily, without any complication whatsoever!
I'd say that people's reaction here is the "normal" one you would get anywhere in the World: When someone sees me working with my Palm, they'll ask me if they can watch. They're impressed at the portability, ease of use and COLOR of the Palm IIIc. Most people then learn that a Palm can totally substitute a laptop PC! I try to pass on my experience with the Palm to them, and find myself promoting it without intention, although with much pleasure and sincerity. It's like telling people about a new, easier way of doing productive work on the go, without the weight and hassle of a laptop PC (which I've never purchased, precisely due to their weight and bulk).
All my personal information (and I mean ALL), contacts, phone numbers, dates, appointments, etc., are stored in my Palm IIIc and goes everywhere with me. I especially get a kick out of the ability to quickly enter and edit loads of information. I have many studio-recording appointments everyday; it's easy to get confused as to time schedules and locations for the different recordings. My Palm really does help me out with all this. As a matter of fact, I've become more punctual, arriving on-time for my different daily tasks, thanks to my Palm!
Sure! I'm a download freak! I'm always testing new software as it becomes available. My absolutely indispensable programs would be:
*ActionNames -- I love the icons, the color and its ease of use!
*Clock+ -- it's great with the calendar and the different time zones!
*PhoneMate -- unsurpassed in finding a phone number quickly!
*IOUMate -- a great help in remembering whom you owe and who owes you!
*MoneyMinder -- simply THE BEST personal finance software for the Palm!
*iSilo -- what an EXCELLENT and FAST doc reader!
*WordSmith -- I enjoy its integration with my Palm Portable Keyboard!
*MegaLauncher -- I love the interface! Very easy and efficient to use:
*2Sky -- an astronomy application:
*Moon Phase -- Displays the moon phase for any day:
*X-Master -- free substitute for HackMaster and the following hacks:
*Crash -- Automatically resets your Palm after a crash:
*KeyboardHack -- a full virtual keyboard:
*McPhling -- this one is FREE and a GREAT working hack!
*PocketWatch+ -- a Palm m100-like pop-up watch:
*SelectHack -- Provides several advanced selection features:
As a matter of fact, during my visit to Orlando, FL, I purchased the following hardware:
*Palm Portable Keyboard -- I get impressed looks from people in airplanes when I set it up on the tray table and begin typing! I do a lot of word processing, and this is the answer! It's also a lot of fun to use in hotels, where I use it to write email.
*Kodak PalmPix Digital Camera -- Simply awesome! I take digital pictures anywhere and download them into my PC. The resolution is good, and I can immediately email pics back home or to any friend I choose while traveling.
*Palm Modem -- keeps me connected while on the road.
*Sumdex Palm Case, which is a "space-age silver", and quite distinct from the "regular" cases I see people carry:
Sure! When I bought the "Palm Portable Keyboard" in Orlando (February 2001), I traveled to Puerto Rico the next day. A co-worker (with the Franco De Vita Band and Crew) had just bought a laptop PC. I had an urge to test my new Palm Portable Keyboard, the PalmPix and the PalmModem, but there was no way to upload drivers into the Palm, unless we did it with my friend's laptop.
So in the hotel room, we set everything up only to find that the laptop's serial port needed a "male-female" connector in order to hook up the Palm's HotSync cable. The next day we went all through San Juan, trying to find the connector. We finally found one that seemed appropriate.
Back in the hotel, I remembered that I'd need software in the laptop to achieve the HotSync! My only idea was to go to the hotel's "Business Center", get on the Internet, and download the free (and absolutely indispensable) program Pilot Install:
I did all this in less than 3 minutes. I now had the software and the connector for the laptop PC, or so I thought. When we got back to the hotel room, the connector didn't fit! I definitely gave up and decided to wait until I returned to Caracas...
Oh, and upon check-out time, I had a $200 charge to my account for "Internet service usage": I had used only 3 minutes! I couldn't believe this was happening! After a five-minute discussion with the front-desk person, he arrived at the conclusion that I had not identified myself as a hotel guest when I used the Internet, and therefore a charge had been generated by the hotel's computer... yeah, right!!! How the $200 got charged to my room I'll never know, but it fortunately had a happy ending: The $200 charge was duly canceled (and just between us, what a relief for me!).
So, next time you go to a hotel's "Business Center" and ask if you can use their Internet service, make sure you ask if the service is courtesy of the Hotel or not: A $200 charge for 3 minutes on the Net is an unwelcome surprise on check-out for anybody! Oh, and ALWAYS carry a diskette with the free "Pilot Install" program: It'll definitely save your life someday!
The Palm is a wonderful little gadget: I'd prefer it anyday over the more cumbersome PocketPC (I've always thought that if I wanted to carry a PC around, I'd get an actual laptop PC, not a slimmed-down version like a PocketPC). The Palm OS is simple, intuitive and extremely easy to use. I hope Palm will maintain and improve this philosophy in the new models to come. I would like to see MP3 integration and playability.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak for the legion of Palm Users here in Caracas, Venezuela: Your Palm Tipsheet has become quite popular here! Hope you can visit our sunny country sometime!
Happy palming to all! :-)
The list of upcoming interviews includes: 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, Denmark and South Korea.
The list of past interviews includes users from: Venezuela, Thailand, New Zealand, Mexico, 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 For consideration.
I hope this month's article about my transition from Visor to Clié is helpful for others out there contemplating a switch. Special thanks to Gilberto Bermudez for his candor and bunches of great software links! :-)
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