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Palm Tipsheet 32 - July 2002
iSilo Edition (18k):
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We're smack in the middle of summer here -- an important time in Milwaukee because this hot, sunny period lasts a few months and then it's back to cold and snow. You can imagine, Milwaukeeans consider our summers precious! :-)
Milwaukee is called the 'City of Festivals' because we celebrate summer with great festivals. From May through October at the edge of Lake Michigan, festivals are happening every weekend and include Polish Fest, German Fest, Festa Italiana, African World Fest, Indian Summer and more:
But the biggest summer festival here is The Big Gig: Summerfest! Rock, R&B, Jazz, Country, Blues, Swing, Alternative, Comedy -- you name it Summerfest has it in spades! From June 27 to July 7, musical acts like Alicia Keys, Cheryl Crow, Train, Nickelback and The Eagles, along with up and coming and local acts jam from 11am until midnight:
So, if you're looking for a fun getaway and great summer festivals, check out Milwaukee! We'd love to have you over. :-)
In the world of handhelds, things are good. We're getting great use from our Clié's in preparing for the baby. I hope the long list of to dos I have will actually get done by November...
My congratulations to Brazil on their World Cup victory! I can imagine there is much joy in Brazil following their win on Sunday. Trabalho bom! :-)
Ok, here we go...
AlphaSmart Dana, a Palm OS Laptop Replacement -- AlphaSmart, a company which builds devices for education, announced Dana, a Palm OS device with some very interesting specs. The Dana offers a 560 wide by 160 pixel tall grayscale screen, 2 SD slots, an integrated full-size keyboard, USB port, AC power adapter, 8MB RAM Palm OS 4.1. The Dana is a 12.4W x 9.3D x 1.9H, 2 pound package made of tough ABS plastic. The Dana is built for schools as a laptop replacement though it will be available for retail sale at $400:
The World in the Palm of My Hand
It was about 10 PM when I stepped onto the vaporetto that carried me into fabled Venice. As I leaned against the wooden balustrade my senses were filled with the beauty of La Serenissima. Lights twinkled upon the waters of Canale Grande as we sailed our way to the stop at Piazza San Marco. Stepping out of the boat, I grabbed my traveling companion's arm.
"Can you believe we're finally here?" "No," she replied, "I can't! Now, where did Rick Steeves' book say we should go for cappuccino?" I pulled out my trusty Palm, hit the memo button and pulled up my memo entries on Venice. Choosing the entry for "Food and Drink", I consulted notes I had made before leaving the US.
"Rick says we should head for music and cappuccino at Café Florian, the oldest Café on the Piazza that Napoleon once called 'the finest drawing room in Europe'." I said. "We should head into the Piazza and turn left... it should be right there." "Awesome! Let's go!" said my friend, and off we went, into the magic of this incredible Italian city by moonlight.
Last summer, I was privileged to go to Europe for the first time. It was a pleasure trip, seventeen days touring with my choir. I carefully researched my destinations, bought a couple of Rick Steeves' travel guides, and visited the travel accessory section of my favorite discount chain. I found some handy gadgets to take along, but the most useful thing I took was my Palm and the travel kit I'd bought for it!
In this article I'd like to share just how my Palm handheld made this European trip of a lifetime easier. I'll show you how built-in apps and third party additions served to simplify many aspects of my expedition.
I also loaded up on games, from the Giraffe to Backgammon, and many others. I packed so much into the Palm that it kept me busy during most of our down time, both during the trip there and as we moved from place to place.
I loaded the currencies for Italy and Austria, but in hindsight I wish I'd added the Netherlands, as a missed flight there which gave me an unexpected afternoon in Amsterdam. (Note to self: download info on all the places you'll be, not just your destinations!)
In Schoenbrun Palace in Vienna, I found a lovely music box with a Lippizan horse on it for my pony-mad daughter back home. I just typed in the price, hit convert, and found that yes, it was in my budget! In Florence, I found a gorgeous necklace with huge chunks of amethyst and tourmaline -- was 100,000 Lira a good value? Once I found out it was only about $42, I bought the matching earrings as well. And how good of a deal was the 28,000 Lira three course menu turistica at the sidewalk cafe in Siena? Well, for less than $12, I have never had a better or more filling meal!
Translator -- I loaded True Term's English German and English Italian (and vice versa) dictionaries into my Palm and took advantage of the easy look up feature to talk my way through the tour.
At our hotel in Montecatini Terme, it was invaluable in asking for a deck of cards with which to join my friend's double solitaire game, and thus I spent one of many fun nights on the trip, just playing cards by the pool under the lemon and lime trees. Again in hindsight, I wish I had downloaded the Dutch dictionary as well!
Hello Mike. Good to be here.
The Palm user base four years ago was a trickle but has grown substantially in the last two years or so. Mainly found in the major urban centres like the Klang Valley (the commercial hub of the country), Penang and Johor Baru in tandem with the demographics of mostly affluent, educated males concentrated in these three hotspots.
On sale now are Handsprings (Visors and Treo 180), iPAQs and other PocketPC models, the Sony Cliés and an assortment of Palm's own such as the m130 and m515. Psions are still available either new or used. I have been told support for it extends to 2005. Malaysia usually lags behind Singapore in introducing the latest models. For instance, the Clié NR70V is now selling in Singapore but it is not available north of the border (i.e. Malaysia).
The colour Treo is expected to debut in Malaysia in July 2002 and will sell for around US$790 in this corner of the world. A heavy price to pay and at that price point will only cater to a very niche market.
Malaysia is a small country of 23 million people. Its main exports are palm oil, rubber, oil and natural gas as well as manufactured goods such as electronics. Intel has a huge plant here. You are probably using an Intel chip for your desktop PC that is made in the state of Penang, Malaysia.
Furthermore, some Handspring components are made in Johor, a Malaysian state next to Singapore, and subsequently put together in Singapore.
The national language here is Bahasa Malaysia (BM). It’s romanised script, eg "Apa khabar, Encik Rohde?" is Bahasa Malaysia for "How do you do, Mr Rohde?" If you mean whether there is a BM version of the Palm OS or Graffiti, I haven’t heard or come across one yet but it’s likely to happen when there’s enough demand for it.
Bahasa Malaysia follows English closely where the character set is concerned so there’s no big movement to change what works. English Graffiti serves the BM users equally well. Besides, English is a second language here, so it's widely understood.
On the other hand, there is a sizable Chinese population in Malaysia so for some who prefer the Chinese character set, that has been available for some time now.
For those who haven’t seen it before, the initial reaction is it’s a cute toy and the reaction is basically "Wow!" after they learnt that it can do so much more than being just an electronic organiser. It becomes a bigger "wow" when I fished out the Palm Portable Keyboard to show that it could be a potential (IBM) ThinkPad killer.They are suitably impressed after I rattle off a list of things the Palm can do.
I don’t go out of my way to spread the Palm "gospel". The few people I brief are usually adequately impressed with what the Palm can do. But then it can swing the other way. A friend I help influenced about the Palm last year eventually opted for the iPAQ, going to the other camp because of the whizz-bang features that the Palm lacked.
People who use it appreciate its capabilities and the usual exchange centres on software, accessories and "Hey, what are you using it mostly for?" That pretty much happens elsewhere in the world, I guess.
Doing the beam thing is like sniffing the aroma of a good cup of coffee. You want it to linger. It was the Geek Factor at work a few weeks back when a colleague and I marveled at the ability of his Ericcson cellphone to beam his contact address to my Clié. Hey, it works! So cool. Go figure.
The biggest impact has been the fact that it has put some semblance of order in my life. I’m the type to write notes on scraps of paper or whatever comes to hand. As sometimes happen in such situations, I lose the info when I need it most.
It helps me plan the day and for the long-term as well. All these you can still do on the traditional organiser or diary but the small form-factor and 8 megs of the Palm Vx offer so much more storage and versatility. Plus it looks good anywhere. The Clié T615C I upgraded to in February is definitely a big boost in storage power with 16MB. Don't forget the Memory Sticks with 16MB going up to 128MB. I hear 256MB is on the way.
Occasionally, I still revert to paper scraps when I’m just too lazy to fish out my handheld from my bag or to wade through the password-protected Clié. You can’t change 20 years of habit overnight ;)
I know some Palm enthusiasts who wax lyrical about the Palm being a notebook replacement. Yeah sure, with the Portable Keyboard, you can do substantial writing on it compared to poking around with a stylus. But it has limitations. After using the Vx on and off for a year, I find the small screen a pain after writing for more than 30 minutes or even reading an e-book. The fact is you still need the stylus to perform certain actions.
Screen resolution and hopefully its size have to improve before it becomes a better user experience. And you have to be careful not to drop it while balancing it in your hand as you read whatever’s on your screen. Replacing a cracked screen is an expensive exercise, at least in these parts.
As tools go, there are always tradeoffs. You gain true portability from the handheld but it takes away other things like screen real estate, or Quake-like gaming adventure kicks.
In my work, it helps me to keep track of articles I’m writing and other tasks I have to accomplish before the deadline hits. I’m always working to deadlines. The Palm has been a big help in this respect. It’s nice to know the Palm can also be shoehorned into enterprise use if I need to one day.
I have lately become interested in programming (Palm and desktop apps) so knowing the Palm can do that is icing on the cake.
I must say pedit32 is one of the better software apps around. I enjoy using it enough to rate it as a truly useful text editor from Paul Nevai:
I also used Cryptopad and ActionNames regularly. These are software that have been mentioned before in your earlier columns so I won’t say more about what they do.
FireViewer is a great tool to view resizable pictures on the Vx. On the Clié, PG Pocket is my default image viewer which does a decent job at displaying hi-res colour pix, though colour saturation could be better.
I'm currently playing with a demo copy of Quickoffice version 6 to see whether it can replace QED and WordSmith on my Clié. If it suits me, I might buy it. I'm considering Screenshot Hack too as screen captures are useful for software reviews I do.
Also, ILINX has just come out with a web browser called XIINO that displays graphics so I may be persuaded to part with cash for that little wonder-ware. But I reckon it won't be much fun on normal dial-up unless I get a GPRS network to ride on. That may be a year or so away as GPRS hasn't gone mainstream in Malaysia yet, though a few GPRS handsets are now on sale.
Other than that, I'm pretty well-equipped with a Nokia 8850 to talk to my handheld and hook up to the Net for the occasional downloads of time-sensitive data.
Since the last time we spoke to each other, I had acquired a Dell notebook to complement my Palm and desktop PCs. I don't really need the notebook but just couldn't resist the urge when I could get it at 70% off retail under a company scheme. The notebook now acts as a repository for all important data and when I want to do extensive writing or Internet surfing.
The Vx will be with me for a few good years until its battery goes kaput. The internal battery can be replaced but by then I’ll probably moved on to a new handheld. Meanwhile, the Clié will be the daily tool I carry around so I won't feel "naked" without a PDA.
There’s no Ha-ha story to share with your readers because I take my Palm seriously. ;)
Frankly, I’m sometimes amused to see the look of wonder on some people when they realised the Palm could be a universal remote control. Once I was at a friend's house and she had the air conditioner on. While she was in the kitchen, I fished out the Vx from my bag, fed the remote's IR frequency into the PDA and was ready to cause a major puzzle.
When she came back in, I pretended to be busy messing around with my PDA but was turning her air conditioning off. She thought it was on the blink. She turned it on, and I turned it off again... this happened five times... and she was fuming by then. Anyway, she was about to call the technician when I let the cat out of the bag. To cut a long story short, she refused to talk to me for an hour. Perverse man that I am.
Thank you for having me in this column.
In the last year, we have seen an increasing number of companies entering the handheld market. The heated rivalry can only be good for consumers. The upcoming ARM-based processors to add so-called "multimedia" muscle on the Palm platform will be eagerly awaited but I shall keep a tight rein on my credit card until I can see how useful ARM-handhelds are in promoting the mobile lifestyle.
It's certainly an exciting time to be in as so much innovation (in software, hardware and peripherals) is bubbling forth in this space that Microsoft once overlooked.
It has been said before that one must not chase technology for its sake because it is forever in motion. Kinda of like a dog chasing its own tail -- there's no end to it. Resistance is futile if you are a gadget nut. With a great deal of self-restraint and rationalisation, I'm trying to stay grounded, buying only when necessary. Sigh! But sometimes one deludes oneself by turning desire into necessity.
Right now, I'm excited by the thought of having a handheld that has speedy wireless connectivity to the Net and LANs, that is matched with expandable storage up to 1GB. In that regard, the Clié T615C won't be my last upgrade.
My Clié is the first thing I turn to when I need a morsel of info. Can a Palm be any more useful than that?
Malaysian Palm News & User Groups:
Malaysia Palm User Group:
Klang Valley Palm User Group:
The list of upcoming interviews includes: 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, South Korea, Indonesia and Oman.
The list of past interviews includes users from: Malaysia, 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.
Thanks again for reading another issue of the Tipsheet! I do hope the Carrie McKenzie's feature article and George Wong's interview have provided some great ideas for making the most of your Palm handheld.
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Catch ya later,
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