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Palm Tipsheet 37 - December 2002
Interested in a better way to manage your life with your Palm handheld? Guest writer Tim Parris shares how he's adapted his Palm for use with the Getting Things Done productivity system. In the Tipsheet Interview, Palm user Phil Christensen shares his experiences using a Palm in South Africa.


Editor's Welcome
Notable Links
  Getting Things Done, Palm-Style
  Tipsheet Interview: Phil Christensen
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 Tapio, Fred and Mark for your generous donations! :-) -- 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:

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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: -- Check out Handspring's line of PDA-phone communicators: the Treo 300, 270 or 180, or see the Treo 90, Handspring's new organizer: -- US and UK readers, get the best deals on PDAs, computer hardware and software, electronics, DVDs, music, books and more. -- BOOKS, DVDs, CDs & MORE! Stop by for great prices on the stuff that makes life fun. All purchases provide referral rewards!


He's Here!!

Nathan Michael Rohde has arrived two weeks early, on November 13th! He's an amazing little guy, arriving at 6 pounds 4 ounces (2.72 Kilos) and 19.75 inches (50.16 cm). If you're interested in a few photos, I have 'em:

I'm glad to report that after about 2.5 weeks, he's eating, sleeping, gaining weight like a champ. We're a little biased, but we think he's the cutest little thing we've ever seen. Special thanks to Jay, Dave, Laura, Larry, Karl, Helma, Ken and Brent for your excellent advice on raising kids -- your suggestions have been read and will go into our collection of kid info for current and future reference.

One of the events I'm looking forward to this month is the release of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on December 18th. This second part in the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy looks even more powerful than The Fellowship of the Ring! If you're interested in seeing a movie trailer, visit the LOTR site:

I've just been alerted by Will Lau of Little Mobile Creations of a $4 off deal on SnapperMail. Just buy a copy at the SnapperMail Store and enter code LX101SMB for your $4 discount. Hurry though, the deal expires 07-Dec-02!

I hope you enjoy Tim Parris' article on Getting Things Done Palm Style and learn a bit about South Africa in our interview with Phil Christensen.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Mike Rohde, Editor

Donate via PayPal!


Fossil Wrist PDA with Palm OS Announced -- Yes, that's right, a Palm OS watch! Fossil has been offering 'Wrist PDA' Palm and PocketPC companion watches which can IR sync a subset of your info for several months. However, this new Fossil product is an actual Palm OS device (Palm OS 4.1, 2MB RAM, IR port, Touchscreen & Stylus) that can be strapped on your arm. The watch should be available internationally in mid-2003:

Bluetooth Reference Info -- If you've just bought a Palm Tungsten T and need some help getting Bluetooth working with your new handheld, I've come across several helpful sites worth checking out:

Palm Tungsten T & Sony Ericsson T68i Setup Guide (Kontiki):

Bluetooth HotSync/Web Documents (PocketGoddess):

Bluetooth: is it here? (

New User Sites Update -- Last month I sent out a request for useful 'new user' sites to readers and I was sent nice links by Firdaus and Cliff. If you know of a great 'new user' oriented site, let me know.

Stowaway XT Ultra-Thin Keyboard Reviews -- If you're thinking about picking up the new Stowaway ultra-thin keyboard, check out the Gadgeteer and Palm Infocenter's reviews first to get detailed info and photos:

Palm Glitch Update -- The Palm Glitch site has been updated with new cures for your Palm OS. Quirks include: How to solve beaming troubles between a Clié or Handspring and your Palm, a possible solution for keyboard glitches, and why your unit may be slow after a reset. The site is handheld friendly for mobile and AvantGo viewing:

Launcher X Released -- Little Mobile Creations has just released Launcher X, the next generation version Launcher III. The new $20 app offers many improvements, including icons and/or text for category tabs, a configurable drag-n-drop Gadget Bar, memory and battery gauges, Active Skins, an integrated VFS file mover tool along with hi-res, multiple device and OS 5 support. Current Launcher III owners can get a cross-grade for $8:

Change Your HotSync Name with ChangeName -- If you've ever needed to change the HotSync name on your Palm handheld, you know how much of a hassle it can be. Collin Mulliner has saved us all alot of time with ChangeName, a freeware application he's created. Thanks Collin!


Getting Things Done, Palm-Style
by Tim Parris

I can't recall where I first heard about the 'Getting Things Done' methodology developed by David Allen, but when I learned more about the system it seemed a perfect fit for me. I've looked into a number of other efficiency methods, but most of them were based on a long-term goal-oriented view of work, rather than focusing on day-to-day aspects of work.

I especially saw the need for a new work system after attending a training course which included a peer-evaluation. I received comments about being organized from most of my colleagues in the course. Unfortunately, I felt I was just managing to keep myself up to speed, while daily details were getting lost in the shuffle. That's when I realized I needed to find another planning method that deals with the daily details of my work.

After further research on available systems, the 'Getting Things Done' method developed by David Allen stood out. And, oddly enough, the main focus allowed me to use my Palm's basic apps, rather than separate 3rd party add-on applications. One thing to remember about the Getting Things Done process is that it isn't just a system for which you must use a Palm. Rather it's a process in which a PDA can be useful as an accessory to the entire system -- not as a key to the system.

What is Getting Things Done? -- To start, Getting Things Done is a philosophy that was developed and written by David Allen, a productivity/efficiency guru. David's book, called 'Getting Things Done', is available through the Palm Tipsheet's Affiliate program with

Also, if you wish to have an assisted review of the book, you can sign-up for the Getting Things Done course, lead by an experienced associate of David Allen & Associates Co. at the Barnes & Noble University. Over a period of a few weeks, you'll read chapters with other students, complete exercises and discuss problems. Barnes and Noble University courses vary, but the Getting Things Done course is free:

David also operates a web site dedicated to the Getting Things Done system:

Here you will find a collection of tips on David's system, seminar sign-ups, and products. There's also an email newsletter available that shares David's tips and tricks about day to day use of the Getting Things Done system.

What's So Great about Getting Things Done? -- Haven't we enough productivity systems, such as Steven Covey's 7 Habits, Zig Ziglar's Goal Setting Series or Anthony Robins' Unleash The Power Within? Why are people so enthusiastic about David Allen's Getting Things Done?

Getting Things Done (or GtD as some shorten it) is really all about the mechanics of being efficient. Most other systems cover goal setting and creating vision. David Allen takes a step from 70,000 feet all the way down into the trenches, covering everything you need to do. This isn't rocket science -- most things are common sense. But sometimes when you're swamped, you can miss the big picture.

By following David Allen's process, you force yourself to focus on the individual 'next action' that needs doing, along with several other simple concepts anyone can follow. I'll briefly cover some of the concepts but you really should read the book to understand the full depth of what's covered.

The Process -- The first item of business: everything goes into your in-basket. Now, that sounds simple but really, everything means everything. And in-basket, if you notice, is singular. One person, one in-basket.

Why? Because this way, you know where everything is -- you don't have to worry about missing anything. David Allen's book has several pages listing every possible place you might have an in-basket and not know it. The list is very comprehensive, covering several pages in his book, so I won't detail it here. The book also details specific exceptions to the single in-basket rule and shares how exactly to get everything into a single in-basket.

Next, take each item out of the in-basket and handle it once. We've heard that before, but David covers how to do this.

What about future events?

David covers these too. There are two methods he suggests to keep track of the future. One is the Calendar (paper or Palm, they're both the same) and the other is the Tickler file. Most people know about the Calendar for scheduled events. A Tickler file is only 41 file folders; one for each day of the month and one for each month; to handle unscheduled events and To-Do items. Each day, you take out the items to be done from the appropriate Tickler file folder and handle them.

Another rule that David Allen covers is: One item to be done is written on one piece of paper. Do the item, throw the paper away. You've done it, why keep the reminder?

Using a Palm handheld with GtD -- David has indicated in some of his articles that he prefers the plain vanilla built-in Palm applications rather than 3rd party add-ons. This is a point of some dispute in the very active Yahoo! group 'GtD_Palm', where members discuss various approaches and methods of using a Palm handheld to apply GtD principles:

You're welcome to drop by and add your comments to the discussion. Indeed, one participant decided to drop out of the list and revert to the plain vanilla Palm app set-up as they felt the gadget/add-on/Desk Accessory approach was getting in the way.

It isn't surprising that people try to vary their approach to find solutions. We each try to customize solutions to fit out particular methods. One of the most popular variants is 'CyberPoche' developed by Jacques Turbé. The CyberPoche approach utilizes the built-in Palm Memo Pad application, but uses keywords and dates to permit flexible searching. Jacques uses the 3rd part app MemoLeaf, and MegaWiki (and associated Desk accessories like Piki) to categorize his memos on the fly.

CyberPoche Approach:



Some find CyberPoche a natural fit to their way of working, while I feel the CyberPoche method just adds overhead to the GtD process with code words, dates, and single character codes. I prefer keeping the GtD process simple. But this is the great thing about the GtD concept -- everyone can create an individual working system to suit their own needs, while still keeping the core concept of the GtD system intact.

I have worked with the GtD system since reading the book and taking the Barnes & Noble University course on using a single in-basket. Overall, I think this one point -- the single in-basket -- is the hardest step in the entire process. My Palm has work entered directly into the To-Do List as soon as I spot the activities. Keeping the horizon in view is important and I use DateBk5's advanced features heavily.

Next actions are important to GtD process. If you are wondering where to start, I would suggest the following:

+ Read the book. If you can't get the book from a bookstore, check out the public library or inter-library loans.

+ After reading the book, collect your To-Dos in a single in-basket.

+ Outstanding items can include steps to get or purchase file folders, etc.

+ Process your in-basket.

+ Set up your review process.

Conclusion -- I hope this helps you in determining if the Getting Things Done system might work for you. As with any new system, make sure to give GtD time if you decide to give it a try. Often you will need a week or two to let any system settle in. If you wish to discuss this article further, feel free to email me at with your comments.

Tim Parris is a scatter-brained individual who fakes being organized and is constantly amazed when things actually seem to get done. He works with a To-Do List of over 200 items tracked with his Palm IIIc and DateBk5. Having worked in the IT industry for over 12 years, he looks for work in odd locations (i.e. presently unemployed!) His experience runs to project management work, supervisory skills, methodology consulting, income tax preparation, web design work, presentation and communications, system analysis, design, and programming including older languages such as COBOL. Visit Tim's website at:

Tipsheet Interview: Phil Christensen
This month's Tipsheet Interview is with Phil Christensen, a Palm user and the director of the South African Office of the Academy for Educational Development (a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to improving people's lives though projects in education, health, youth development, and the environment). Phil uses his Palm Vx to manage his schedule, contacts, to-dos and memos, to track expenses, to take notes with Wordsmith and his Stowaway keyboard, and reading texts with iSilo.

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

Thanks, Mike. I really appreciate your newsletter, so I'm particularly happy to have a chance to talk with you this month.

*PT: You live in South Africa -- 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?

Mike, just in case you have never been to South Africa, let me start with a little background information. Some say that South Africa offers "the world in one country," and that's a pretty good description. This is a beautiful country, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, with 44 million people from 11 major cultural and linguistic groupings -- a rainbow nation. Of course we face some major challenges, too -- the legacy of the apartheid years as well as Africa's economic isolation.

While South Africa's per capita income places it among the middle-income countries, its income disparities are among the most extreme in the world. 13% of the population lives in "first world" conditions, while at the other extreme, 53% live in "third world" conditions. In this second group only one quarter of households have access to electricity and running water; only half have a primary school education; and over a third of the children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Right now we have the fastest growing rate of HIV infection in world.

Compared to the rest of Africa, South Africa has a sophisticated IT infrastructure. You'll see cell phones everywhere you go, and computers in all offices as well as in the homes of the economically better off. In fact, walking around Johannesburg and Pretoria -- the area where I live -- you might think that you were in an American or European city in terms of visible technology. But handheld computing is still not very common here, and Palm was a relative late-comer to the scene.

Five years ago most of the palmtops here were Psions -- in part a reflection of the close links between South Africa and Britain. The good news is that Palms are definitely on the upswing now. Some of the biggest computer stores sell them, and I meet more and more people who know about them -- whether or not they actually own one.

The bad news is that Palms still seem to be a niche product here -- limited to IT professionals, younger and more affluent South Africans, and American expatriates. So I don't get many chances to beam my address card to someone else. But that is slowly beginning to change. In fact, I have one colleague in particular who delights in pointing out to me that he has the latest colour-screen Palm while I'm still working on my Vx. Of course, my Vx still works just fine for me!

*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?

People are fascinated by my Palm, Mike! From professional colleagues to cashiers in grocery store checkout lines, almost everyone who sees me using my Vx wants to know what it is (or to tell me that they are hoping to buy one some day). And if I pull out my Portable Keyboard, the "gee-whiz" factor escalates by a factor of ten.

For example, I've just returned from a trip to the Congo (formerly Zaire) where I spent more than a week up country in a mission station that doesn't even have electricity. (We were planning for a computer-based learning resource center with internet connectivity to help compensate for the collapse of the education system because of the war.) I have a picture of a group of villagers and hospital professionals at a meeting in the local church, crowded around my Vx and keyboard. And people in South Africa are absolutely amazed at what I can do with the system. Evangelize? You can't stop people from asking about it!

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

When my son first introduced me to the Palm in '99, I wasn't at all interested. I must have sounded just like my own grandfather, telling him that I had used a Day-Timer for 30 years and that it was still good enough for me. But now, I just don't know how I could live without Vx. I use the Microsoft Outlook conduit so that I can carry virtually my entire Outlook file anywhere I go. That means that I'm always using the calendar, contacts directory, to-do list and notes. The only thing I don't usually sync is my email -- it's too much of a hassle to manage it on my Palm.

I also frequently use my Vx for note-taking at meetings (with Wordsmith and the Palm Portable Keyboard) and for tracking my expenses (with Pocket Quicken). I use AvantGo to keep up-to-date with world and industry news. Last, but not least, I use iSilo as a reader so that I can carry a library of important books with me, particularly a set of titles from the Baha'i Faith (of which I am a member).

One other important use for my Palm is to keep MS Outlook synced on my office and home computers. I'm not certain whether or not this is a common use for a PDA, and it sure took me a while to figure out how to make this work. But now I can sync my Palm with Outlook at the office, take it home, and synch again. Presto -- all of my contacts, to-do items, appointments, and notes are the same on both machines. It's magic! (I don't bother with my 2,000+ email messages, though. )

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

Besides the standard Palm suite, almost every day I count on:

*PocketQuicken -- to track expenses:

*AvantGo -- to "carry" news from the Web with me;

*WordSmith -- for note-taking with my Palm Portable Keyboard:

*Documents To Go -- for access to key Word and Excel files:

*iSilo -- to read text files;

My two favorite utilities are:

*Convert-It -- which converts almost any measurement to some other scale:

*BigClock -- especially useful when travelling internationally because of its dual time zone feature:

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

Well, I'd love to get one of the new, colour Palms, but for now I'll stick with what I have.

*PT: Would you share a funny story that relates to your Palm with us? :-)

I was at a meeting one day in Pretoria at USAID, the American foreign aid agency. I pulled out my Palm and Palm Keyboard to take some notes, and the official I was seeing almost jumped out of his seat he was so excited. He had never seen anything like that before -- and he is an American! He started calling colleagues into his office to see my setup. All of them, American as well as South African, were practically falling over themselves trying to figure out how they could get their own Palms. In the end, that whole section of USAID ordered Palms for its professional staff.

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

The New York Times' David Pogue wrote a Circuits column a few months ago, in which he mentioned a book that he's helped to write called "Piloting Palm." It tells the backstage story of Palm, Handspring and the palmtop craze. His co-author, Andrea Butter, was one of the original employees of Palm Computing. Pogue wrote, "She saw the tiny Pilot became a smash success, despite the fact that it had far fewer features than the hand-held flops that had come before it (such as the Newton, Envoy, Zoomer and so on). In the chapter about designing the original palmtop, Andrea suggested that I pay more attention to a Palm mantra from the early days, a favorite saying of Ed Colligan, who was then Palm's vice president of marketing: 'Delight the customer.'"

When Pogue told Butter that "delight the customer" sounded not just obvious, but hackneyed, she replied, "In the technology industry, you'd be surprised how much 'delight the customer' ISN'T the point. The alternative isn't 'disappoint the customer,' but 'what can we do with this neat technology?' The customer doesn't even come up in the product designers' thoughts... When you think of delighting the customer as the guiding light in making choices, it explains a lot why the PalmPilot ended up being a product people loved, and are so emotionally attached to."

That sure explains why I love my Palm as much as I loved my first Apple computers - my Apple ][ Plus and my Macintosh SE. Like the Mac, the Palm is truly delightful. Frankly, I haven't been very impressed with Palm as a company. They sure made it hard for me to buy my Palm Vx, and they were both arrogant and unresponsive when I asked them to keep their promises. But the Palm itself is truly a delightful product in an industry noted as much for frustration as for fascination. Ed Colligan should be proud!

Thank you, Mike. It was nice chatting with you. Drop in next time you're in my neighborhood!

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, Bahrain, Barbados, Russia, Romania, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Guatemala, Portugal, Slovenia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Kenya, Croatia, Denmark, South Korea, Indonesia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Austria, Tanzania and Syria.

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 Tim Parris' Getting Things Done article has opened the door to this interesting new productivity system you can apply using a Palm handheld. My thanks to Phil Christensen on his very informative Tipsheet Interview.

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.

Happy holidays!

Mike Rohde, Editor

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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.

This issue is dedicated in loving memory to our cat Snickers 1992-2002.
We miss you, fuzzy bunny kitty!


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