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Palm Tipsheet 35 - October 2002
iSilo Edition (20k):
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Well, right out of the gate I must apologize for the late delivery of October's Palm Tipsheet. Mainly the backup is due to a much needed three day vacation near the end of September, added to our already busy baby prep schedule. But now this issue is off and I'm feeling a bit more caught up.
My wife is doing quite well with the pregnancy department, though it is harder these last 2 months as our baby begins to grow about a pound per week! November 28th is coming up fast and we're excited!
I'm pleased to have so many great guest writers for upcoming issues, because this will lessen my Tipsheet workload and provide great content for you to read. This month, guest writer Topher Macintosh shares his view of Palm handhelds as they're currently used in education and what the future may hold. I've also added a 6 month follow-up article about my switch to a Clié and we'll hear from Belgian Pascal Zander in the Tipsheet Interview.
Ok, enough intro, let's to it... you've waited long enough! ;-)
OS 5 Arrives: Sony NX70V & NX60 -- Sony's fast track handheld design team have done it again! The Sony Clié NX70V and NX60 are two new handhelds based on the NR series, but with a two major new features: they both run Palm OS 5 (beating Palm's rumored new OS 5 device to the punch) and have slots for a WiFi (802.11b) wireless card:
Both the NX70V ($600) and NX60 ($500) feature a 200MHz ARM processor, Palm OS 5, 320x480 pixel screen, 16MB RAM, Memory Stick slot and a wireless communication slot ($150 Sony Wireless LAN Card sold separately) and silver magnesium casing. The NX70V comes with an integrated digital camera and optional gunmetal gray casing. In my view, the NX feels a little bit like a Frankenstein PDA -- bridging the gap between OS 4 and 5. However, I suspect many high-end users with WiFi networks will be pleased with an NX.
Oddly, Zire has just 5 buttons: Power, Datebook, Address Book, Up and Down, with no buttons for To-Do or Memo. Why? Palm's research showed Datebook and Address Book are most popular, by far. I like the Zire. I think the clean, iPod-like design and low price make it a great handheld for those who currently call sticky notes and paper scraps their 'organizer'. :-)
Battle lines drawn in expansion war (Vladimir Campos):
The Future of Palm Handhelds in Education
Over the past number of years, Palm handhelds have proven themselves invaluable to many people in many different ways. Ask any owner and you will hear that they are the undisputed champion of personal organization. This was their core purpose and they do it very well. Their use though, has grown and spread beyond basic organization into many other areas such as medicine, law, real estate, the military and education.
*Professional uses for the Palm:
As an educator and Palm user, I am particularly interested in the area of education, and the impact that Palm handhelds have had on teachers, students and the learning dynamic in classrooms. In this article I'll explore what I see as the current state of Palm handhelds in education and speculate a bit about what the future might hold. I'll also offer suggestions for PalmSource and Palm OS licensees on ways they can better serve education while building a larger user base.
First, let me share a few popular Palm educational sites that I've discovered on the web, created and maintained by individual educators, educational groups and even Palm, Inc:
In schools Palms are used for a wide range of organizational and administrative tasks and their popularity and use seems poised to expand. This growing popularity in education is due, in large part, to the many add-on applications that have been developed.
As with all things computer, as software developers see a need or a market, they race to fill it. The same is true of Palms in education. There are now applications for almost all facets of education: some help students and teachers organize their days; some help students study for tests; some help students, teachers and administrators store, retrieve and use massive amounts of information; still others allow calculations to be graphed, complex conversions to be made, notes to be taken and organized and pictures to be added.
*Planet 5th Educational Palm App Directory:
*The Concord Consortium Directory:
*Palm Software Connection: Education Software:
*PalmGear Educational Palm App Directories:
*PalmGear: Doc Readers:
For others, Palms have replaced the morning newspaper. Now teachers (or students) in London can stand on the subway holding the handrail to steady themselves with one hand, while reading the morning edition of the New York Times in AvantGo or iSilo with the other!
*Though they sometimes resist them, teachers like gadgets -- especially if they are expected to improve education. In the same way many teachers' ears pricked up when they first learned about Palm Pilots. There is good reason for the excitement, because in most ways Palms neatly enhance the educational experience. Palms are relatively inexpensive, they are reliable, they are backed by a massive collection of software and, perhaps most importantly, they personalize education.
*As the laptop brings together all of a business person's documents, agenda, correspondence, contacts, email, etc. into one small box, so the Palm does for students. Palms can hold a wide variety of information and are easily customized. These characteristics give students a strong sense of ownership and independence. On these small machines students can carry all their classroom notes, class schedule, agenda, calculator, newspaper, research, drafts, final copies, contacts, reading books, and the list goes on. In short, a Palm handheld can replace many of the tools, books and paper students carry today -- all in a shirt pocket.
*Price is another factor that has many thinking Palms will be the norm in future classrooms. While educators have long recognized the potential of laptop computers, they have also been put-off by their price. Most parents and schools are unable to afford laptops. With Palms though, cost is much less an issue. The simpler machines today are little more than the cost of a discman, a skateboard or a pair of basketball shoes.
Take the new Palm Zire for example, with its list price of $100 and a likely street/educational price of $75 (or less). For most power users the Zire is insufficient, but for students this simple machine is a perfect match -- especially when a school is purchasing for large groups.
Schools currently pay many thousands of dollars to purchase desktop and laptop computers and achieve student machine ratios of only 4:1 or worse. These same schools could instead spend their funds to outfit whole classrooms with Palm handhelds and, quite quickly, have every student carrying a machine.
*Reliability is another characteristic that makes Palms well suited to the classroom. Technical support is a significant problem with computers in schools. Many schools spend much of their annual IT budget on support. As Palm owners know though, Palms are highly reliable machines. Once a student or school has purchased the machines there is little cost for technical support. For these reasons and more many educators are keen to use Palms in the classroom.
*Recent Palm Study on the use of Palms in the Classroom:
*A Report Card on Handheld Computing:
*Common Problems -- Schools that have already implemented Palms in their classrooms report some common frustrations. Issues such as battery life, breakage, synching difficulties and in-class gaming are raised frequently. While these are significant obstacles, all of them can be overcome with the combined effort of the schools and hardware and software developers. None of these obstacles is a fundamental problem as none contradicts the essence of the Palm -- that being small, powerful and portable.
*Biggest Problem -- There is one other obstacle to Palms becoming commonplace in classrooms -- and it is a big one. Palms are purpose built and proud to be very small. This much-loved feature though, significantly limits their use in schools. Palms provide many of the tools students need, but they lack the screen space needed to use them.
This is a fundamental problem, because Palms are specifically designed to be small and portable -- hence their name. If teachers and hardware developers hope to have students take notes, write essays or do research on Palms, they will have to give them a larger screen on which to do it.
Just as most business people would laugh at the idea of spending a full day in front of a Palm screen, so too would most students. Before we can have the truly paperless classroom, manufacturers will have to provide a larger screen for students to do their work.
Dana features a wider grayscale screen (560 x 160 pixels), integrated full-sized keyboard, two SD card slots, IR and USB ports, Palm OS 4.1, 3 AAs or a rechargeable battery pack in a very light yet rugged 2 pound package. This 'Palmicized' laptop may be one solution to the biggest obstacle to Palms in the classroom. This is a computer with enough screen real estate, full keyboard and expansion options to allow students to take full advantage of all Palms have to offer. All this at a price most parents and schools can afford when compared to laptop purchases.
Changing of the Guard Follow-Up
My switch to a Clié 610 back in May 2002 has turned out to be a great move. The other day, while considering my handheld, I thought a follow-up to my original switch article in issue 31 would be fun and interesting.
I've made several changes to my app collection and hardware kit since the article was written and wanted to share them with you.
I packed up the Clié and shipped it off; within a few days I had my device back with 16MB of spacious RAM! Of course this upgrade voids the warranty, but my refurbished Clié's 90 day warranty had already expired. STNE Corp. can update many other handhelds (even the new Zire), so if you'd like to extend your handheld's life a bit longer, this could be a cost effective option.
I've also been using both of my standby language dictionary apps SlovoEd ($10-40) and BDicty ($8-35) since the large language databases can be stored on Memory Stick. It's great to have a Spanish reference tool when learning new words from my Honduran friend, Carlos.
Along with MyBible, I've started experimenting with a companion app called Memorize! ($10) which imports verses from MyBible for memorization and quizzing. It's simple, fast and effective -- great features for any app.
It's a pleasure for me to share my use of this wonderful little piece of technology so helpful in many ways.
The market has been growing fast recently, these handhelds are gaining attention from a lot of people although they are not use by so many people.
I use an English OS because this version was installed on it (I'm used to English because of my sound engineering job in which the main language is English). Belgium has three languages (French, Dutch and German) and there is an OS in each language. The graffiti version I have with my English OS is enough for the use I have.
Everybody's so curious about what I'm doing with it, when I explain to them all the things I do with it, a lot of them would simply go to the first computer store and buy one. I tend to show the people around me that their lives would be so much easier with a PDA.
It helps me manage my busy life, it helps me with the hundreds of contacts I have for my different businesses and It reminds me of birthdays.
TC Calc -- to calculate time code offsets:
Bible Reader -- A free Bible reader:
Pocket Beat -- A metronome tool:
Palm Searcher -- Great apps helps you find things in your handheld:
ToDoPLUS -- Good replacement of the built-in To-Do app:
In the future, I'd like to buy one of those multimedia PDAs such as the Sony Clié. Being able to listen to MP3's on top of doing all the things a Palm handhelds does would be so great.
It was my pleasure to share with your readers. I'm so often amazed at how so many things are kept in my Edge, to be honest with you, I don't see my life being the same without it. It would be a big big mess.
Upcoming interviews include: Chile, Italy, Belgium, South Africa, Bahrain, Barbados, Russia, Romania, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Guatemala, Portugal, Slovenia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Kenya, Croatia, Denmark, South Korea, Indonesia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Austria.
I hope my Clié switch follow-up was informative and Topher Macintosh's excellent article on the future of Palms in education was insightful. Special thanks to Topher and to Pascal for their contributions to this issue.
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