The Palm Tipsheet

Home / Issue Archives / Palm Tipsheet 35

Palm Tipsheet 35 - October 2002
This issue of the Tipsheet features Topher Macintosh's perspective on the future of Palm handhelds in education, a six month follow-up on my Visor to Clié switch and an interview with Belgian Palm user Pascal Zander.


Editor's Welcome
Notable Links
  The Future of Palm Handhelds in Education
  Changing of the Guard Follow-Up
  Tipsheet Interview: Pascal Zander
End Note

Palm Doc Edition (20k):

iSilo Edition (20k):


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. Special thanks to Paul, Gordon and Man Hung! :-) -- The Best selection of PDA cases on the Web! NEW ON THE SITE: DirectCase DISCOUNT CENTER!! First quality cases and accessories from 20+ manufacturers with GREAT Prices!! A new case for you or a friend! As always FREE SHIPPING in the continental US!! Call (307) 732-1400 or visit our website:

Split Second Software -- YOU CAN SAVE A LIFE with Emergency Room First Aid & CPR for Palm OS. This life saving PDA software coaches you in any emergency. Yahoo Internet Life calls it "Incredibly Useful Software." It's just $24.97 with a 100% money-back guarantee! -- 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! -- 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!

PALMTOP USER MAGAZINE -- The journal for all handheld computers and communicators, worldwide. Over 70 full colour pages of relevant Palm OS content in each issue. Visit our site for details and subscription info: -- BOOKS, DVDs, CDs & MORE! Stop by for great prices on the stuff that makes life fun. FREE Super Saver Shipping in the US on selected purchases over $25. All purchases provide referral rewards! -- STAR WARS ATTACK OF THE CLONES DVD! Reserve episode two of the Star Wars trilogy in full or wide screen DVD for just $18.99!



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! ;-)


Mike Rohde, Editor

Donate via PayPal!


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.

Palm Launches Low-Cost Zire -- Palm's new Zire is a low-cost bare-bones device geared toward those without a handheld. This $100 device features 2MB RAM, 160 x 160 pixel monochrome screen (without backlight), a white and gray plastic case, rechargable battery, USB HotSync port, plastic stylus, rubber flip cover, along with a USB cable and an AC recharging cable:

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'. :-)

Handspring's Palm Desktop for Mac OS X -- After several months of waiting, Handspring has finally released an OS X version of Palm Desktop 4 for their Visor line. This version of Palm Desktop 4 is *not* suggested for the Treo line as there are still issues with Treo config and install apps:

Apple iSync Public Beta -- If you're an adventurous Mac OS X user, check out the public beta of Apple's iSync software, which syncs Apple's iCal calendaring app with Palm handhelds, iPods, mobile phones and other Macs:

Agendus for Windows Public Beta -- If you're an iambic Agendus user (formerly Action Names), check out Agendus Windows public beta. This PC app syncs with Agendus Palm and has features similar to the Palm app:

SnapperMail Public Beta -- Will Lau of SnapperMail fame wrote in to let everyone know that SnapperMail is now in public beta, ready for users download and test. If you use email on your Palm handheld in any way, I strongly suggest you check out this powerful email client:

Glow In The Dark Graffiti -- If you use your Palm handheld in the dark, you know the Graffiti area remains dark even with the backlight on. The Lumitector solves this problem: it's a $9 stick-on Graffiti area cover for 8 popular Palm devices, which glows in the dark after exposure to light:

VFS Update -- I missed adding a few resources and software tools to Bill Shadish's VFS article last month; here are those links, after the fact:

Battle lines drawn in expansion war (Vladimir Campos):


FilePoint & FilePoint Pro

Palm Tipsheet Gear is Here! Now you can get cool, colorful Palm Tipsheet branded mugs, t-shirts, stickers and more, and help support the Palm Tipsheet at the same time. More details...


The Future of Palm Handhelds in Education
by Topher Macintosh

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:

The Current State of Palms in Education -- Palms are quite popular in education. They are used by students, teachers and administrators alike. Indeed, some teachers have centered their classroom on the Palm technology, such as Eminence Middle School's Paperless Classroom project, Millar Public School's Planet 5th Learning In Hand project and the University of Texas-Austin's PDA Utilization Group:

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:

The Future of Palms in Education -- Palm technology is almost ideally suited to the education industry. The question then is: What role it will play in the future? For some students and educators Palms have all but replaced the paperback book, allowing users to carry a library in their pocket and to read whenever and wherever they choose.

*PalmGear: Doc Readers:

*Palm Reader:

*Books for the Palm:

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!



Why The Excitement about Palms? -- Schools are usually quite quick to adopt new technologies for use in the classroom. Many readers will remember the large format VCRs teachers wrestled with through the 70's. Similarly, most will remember the introduction of early personal computers, with their very limited use and mysterious appeal.

*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:

The Limits to Palms in Education -- Will we one day see the classroom where every student holds a web-connected Palm and no paper, pens or books? The case for Palms in schools is an easy one to make, but it remains true that few schools have done more than allow them in the building -- indeed some have not. If they are so well suited to the classroom, why are more schools not rushing out to buy them?

*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.

AlphaSmart to the Rescue! -- Perhaps anticipating this problem, Palm has recently linked-up with the AlphaSmart company. For a number of years this company has made inexpensive, featherweight, robust laptops specifically designed for use in schools. Until this school year they have only been capable of very basic word processing; however, last spring Palm licensed AlphaSmart to include the Palm operating system with their latest model the AlphaSmart Dana ($400, $360-375 in quantities).

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.

Conclusion -- I'm excited about all that Palm handhelds can offer to students and educators. I believe the simplicity and power of the Palm OS combined with advances in low cost hardware like the Zire and innovative laptop replacements like the Dana can open doors for technology-keen teachers and students. I encourage PalmSource and its licensees to maintain and increase their focus on education. If so, I do see a day when Palms in the classroom become the standard and paper and pencils are special request items, gathering dust in desk drawers and storerooms.

Topher Macintosh is a teacher in Victoria, British Columbia, who recently completed his master's degree in education (MEd.). He spends his off-hours keeping his home and garden in order and trying to make his Palm do the next great thing.

Changing of the Guard Follow-Up
by Mike Rohde

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.

RAM Baby, RAM! -- It didn't take me long to run into the 8MB RAM barrier on the Clié; I thought the 8 megs would be quite enough but have discovered more and more apps were landing on my Memory Stick while my RAM filled up with data and other apps. To remedy this, I sent the Clié to STNE Corporation in Utah, for a 16MB upgrade ($100):

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.

Reference Software -- As for software, one area that's been great with the Clié have been language reference apps with honkin' big databases kept on the Memory Stick. In particular, I've started using Ars Lexis' Noah Pro ($20) and the large dictionary file nicely stored on the Memory Stick:

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.

Bible Software -- As you may recall, I'd initially switched from Scripture to BibleReader (Free-$45)... well, I finally broke down and got a copy of MyBible ($30-40) with Revised Standard and New Literal Translation modules. I had a very hard time adapting to BibleReader's user interface after years using Scripture which became MyBible (there's an upgrade discount for Scripture users). The return to MyBible has been wonderful.

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.

Security Software -- I've also made a switch with secure databases, moving from Web Confidential ($15-35) to Splash ID ($20). Both have Mac and Windows clients and conduits, but I found Splash ID's features, interface, simpler HotSync procedure and implementation better suited me.

Photo Viewing Software -- I don't look at images on my Clié terribly often, but when I need them, the 610's hi-res screen does a great job. I've chosen use JPEGWatch ($20) and SplashPhoto ($10) for different reasons. JPEGWatch is great for viewing very large JPEGs on MemoryStick with many image sizing and panning options. SplashPhoto is great for storing smaller fixed-sized snapshots I want to view in hi-res at 320x320 pixels without magnification tools. SplashPhoto also offers a Mac desktop app and conduit.

Connectivity Utilities -- While HotSync is certainly my most common way of getting files onto the Clié, I also have found SyncBuddy for Mac/Windows ($25) an invaluable tool for getting single files on/off of the handheld or Memory Stick when a HotSync process is a hassle. SyncWizard ($25), a competitor to SyncBuddy which offers similar functionality (Windows only).

Conclusion -- Overall, I am very pleased with my switch to a Sony Clié after nearly 6 months of hard daily use. The 16MB RAM update has helped the most, however, the various software tools mentioned above have also contributed to very positive experiences with my Clié N610C.

Tipsheet Interview: Pascal Zander
This month's Tipsheet Interview features Belgian Palm user Pascal Zander, a sound engineer for Belgian National Public TV, owner of a booking agency and rock-n-roll drummer. Pascal uses his Visor Edge to manage his daily work and personal life, to help mix sound for his TV documentary work, to keep tabs on musical artists he manages, to note tempos while drumming, to play games on the train and to read the Bible at church and on the go.

*PT: Pascal, thank you for taking the time to share your Palm experience with the Palm Tipsheet.

It's a pleasure for me to share my use of this wonderful little piece of technology so helpful in many ways.

*PT: You live in Belgium -- 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?

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.

*PT: Does your Palm use a French, Dutch, German or English 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 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.

*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?

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.

*PT: How does the Palm help you in your everyday life?

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.

*PT: Are there any programs which you use daily and couldn't live without?

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:

*PT: Are there any hardware or software items that you plan to buy in the near future? What functions will you use these for?

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.

*PT: Thank you for taking time to share your Palm using experience in Belgium with the Palm Tipsheet. Are there any final comments you'd like to share with the readers?

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.

Interview Slots Still Available! -- If you're a Palm user outside 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.

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.

Check out the list of past interviews. If you're from a country not represented on either list, feel free to apply via e-mail.


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.

Want more? Check out the Palm Tipsheet website for archived issues, article and interview listings, Tipsheet FAQ, the 'About the Tipsheet' area, our mobile edition and the handy search tool:

Feel free share the Palm Tipsheet website with new Palm users. If this issue was forwarded by a Palm friend, you too can get the Palm Tipsheet sent to your e-mailbox free each month. Follow the subscription instructions below, or use the subscription tool on the website to join the mailing list.


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, Palm doc, iSilo or Plucker formats.

"If everything you try works, you are not trying hard enough."
-- Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel


To subscribe, send an email to

Comments or Questions

Press Submissions

Back to Top | Issue Archives | Home Page