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Palm Tipsheet 40 - March 2003
This month's feature article 'The First Two Weeks With Your New Palm' is geared for new Palm users and veterans alike. In it, guest writer John Bowen shares a variety of tips and ideas to improve your Palm using experience. The Tipsheet Interview features Bahraini Yousif Rahman, who shares his many experiences as a Palm user.


Editor's Welcome
Notable Links
  The First Two Weeks With Your New Palm
  Tipsheet Interview: Yousif Rahman
End Note

Palm Doc Edition (20k):

iSilo Edition (20k):


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Greetings friends,

Well, it's been quite a month! As you may know, I announced in the February issue that I'll be stepping down as editor and publisher of the Palm Tipsheet. A week later, I hinted at promising news about the Tipsheet continuing. Today, I am very pleased to announce that the Palm Tipsheet will indeed have a new owner!

This is excellent news, because it means as of April 2003, the Palm Tipsheet will continue monthly publication, just as it has these past 3 years. The website, the mobile edition and various Palm editions will all continue to be published. In fact, the only difference will be a new editor writing this column and putting together each issue for your reading pleasure. :-)

The new owner and editor will be Brian Beeler, founder and director of Brian is a veteran Palm user and technical writer. He's written many reviews and articles and has his finger on the pulse of the Palm community. I'm quite pleased to have Brian taking over, because I think he'll do an excellent job carrying the Tipsheet forward. I know he's excited about continuing to serve you and the Palm community.

I'm at peace about my decision to step down, particularly since everything is working out so well for all parties involved. I'll get the time I need for my family and work, The Tipsheet will continue under Brian's leadership and you'll keep getting the Palm Tipsheet each month.

So, what will happen to me? Well, I'll be a consultant to Brian during and after the transition of ownership. I'll assume the role of 'Editor Emeritus', writing occasional guest articles as my time allows.

I've also launched a new weblog, where you can keep up with me and my family. A weblog is a perfect fit for my schedule as a daddy, since I'm free to cover a wide range of topics (mobile computing, PDAs, design, Macs, travel, music, film and more) and can post quick tidbits when I have a free moment. I've been posting tidbits just over a week now, so feel free to go and see what's already there and bookmark the site for future visits:

Finally, as this is my final Editor's Welcome, I'd like to close by saying thank you for your faithful readership. You've helped make the Tipsheet what is is today. Many thanks to the guest writers who kept things rolling while I adjusted to fatherhood, benefactors who donated funds, readers who shared feedback, sponsors who provided support, cheerleaders at Palm and PalmSource for their encouragement and most of all, my wife and family, who supported my vision for the Palm Tipsheet all these years. You are much appreciated.

So, here's to many more prosperous years of the Palm Tipsheet... :-)

Warm regards,

Mike Rohde, Editor


Tungsten W Released -- The long-awaited Tungsten W officially arrived at the Palm website. The $550 PDA-phone combo device requires activiation with AT&T's GSM/GPRS network in the US (not sure how the W will be handled internationally). The Tungsten W has a 33MHz Dragonball VZ processor that runs Palm OS 4.1.1; the W has16MB RAM, a 320 x 320 hi-res display, 5-way nav pad, thumbboard, microphone and headset jack, SD card slot, audible, LED and vibration notifications and more:

Tungsten T Digitizer Update -- Having troubles with your Tungsten T digitizer? If so, check out this updater from Palm, Inc:

NZ90 Review Posted -- PDABuyer's Guide has a great review of the new Clié NZ90 (a.k.a the multimedia 'brick') with lots of photos and details:

Native MS Office File Support Has Arrived! -- Cutting Edge Software has just released a public beta of Quickoffice Premiere 7, which can read and write native Office files on VFS cards:


DataViz also announced it's working on native support for their Documents To Go suite which should appear in an upcoming version:

SnapperMail Standard Edition Launched -- SnapperMail, the powerful and popular Palm OS email application that's been in public beta for several months has been officially launched. SnapperMail costs $35 and based in the word I've heard about it, is worth every last penny!

Real Life PDA Stories -- If you like reading about real-world Palm users and how they make their PDAs work for them, check out the newly launched PDA Story website. Better yet, submit your own PDA story to the site, to share just how useful your PDA is to you:

Palm Bloggers Unite -- Blogging (short for weblogging) is becoming a popular pastime for all sorts of people, Palm users included. I've come across several Palm-related weblogs on the net to make you aware of. If you're considering a Blog, check out the PalmBlogger Yahoo Group:

Top 10 Things to Get for Your Tungsten T -- Blogger Andy Woo (Wookie) has listed 10 great things that are must-haves for any Tungsten T owner:

Turic's iSilo Channels -- iSilo users, this excellent site offers the 'Web Channel Collection' a pack of downloadable iSilo formatted .ixl info files for popular sites, prepped for conversion! Be sure to say thanks to Turic if you grab and make use of a copy. :-)

Uninstall Manager -- Ever wonder what the heck that orphan file on your Palm is for? Uninstall manager ($15) wants to help, by cleanly removing apps and sets of files from your Palm handheld. Be sure to check out the review on CliePlnet for more information.

TweakUser -- This freeware utility is simple -- it lets your Palm handheld operate one user name for your apps and one for HotSync. Very handy for anyone managing two Palm user names or two different devices:


The First Two Weeks With Your New Palm
by John Bowen

If you're a typical new owner of a Palm OS handheld, you've quickly realized that your device is more useful, powerful and user-friendly than you might have expected. During the first week you probably had fun becoming familiar with the basic built-in applications, loaded the desktop software, and began entering contacts, appointments, and reminders. Maybe you're getting a bit more comfortable with Graffiti. You may have even learned some shortcuts contained in the documentation or those found waiting for you in Memo Pad.

Now it's week two and you might be wondering what else you can do with your Palm handheld. To help you along I'd like to share some helpful tips and shortcuts that you may not have discovered yet, as well as some potential uses for your new electronic friend.

Datebook -- The Datebook button gets you into Datebook, but it also has other uses once you're there. Pressing it repeatedly cycles through today's Day, Week, Month, and Agenda Views. If you're looking at another day (or week, or month), pressing the Datebook button will take you back to the Today view. Further, the up and down scroll keys will move you ahead and backwards in time, in all of the Views.

Address Book -- Did you know you can skip quickly to any contact by writing the first letter(s) of the last name in the 'Look Up' space at the bottom left of the screen?

Also, be sure to check out the category function in the Address Book, which lets you organize your contacts into up to 16 different logical groupings.

Another useful Address Book feature to have a look at is Custom Categories, which allows you to create 4 different custom fields such as Birthday, Anniversary, Website across your entire contact list. To modify these fields look under the Options menu for 'Rename Custom Fields'.

Memo Pad -- The Memo Pad is one of your most powerful tools, because you can paste text into it using the Palm Desktop software. Use your mouse to highlight text from an e-mail or from a word processing document, then click on Edit, Copy (or right-click, Copy). Open the Palm Desktop software, open the Memo Pad module, and create a new memo. Paste the text into the memo, and click on Apply to save it.

When you do your next HotSync, the info will appear in your Palm handheld as a memo in Memo Pad. (The first line of the memo becomes its title.) Do this for all sort of non-sensitive information -- e.g. trip reservations (such as that confirmation e-mail from the airline), opening/closing times, auto maintenance records, gift ideas, and all the other things you normally write on slips of paper that you might later misplace.

However, Memo Pad has some limitations. It's like Note Pad in Windows -- it doesn't do fancy formatting (bold, italics, etc.) and each memo has a size limit of 4k. There are a lot of longer documents (and books!) available on the Web in Palm's 'Doc' format (which, confusingly, is not the same as Word for Windows' .doc format). In order to read those, you need a program to read Palm Doc files.

Your handheld may come with one installed (Palm Reader), or there may be one on your installation CD. If not, there are several you can download, ranging from fancy expensive ones to some free simple ones. Perfectly adequate (though bare-bones) free readers include RichReader and CSpotRun.

If you have long documents of your own that you would like to move to your handheld, you will need to convert them to the Palm Doc (or other Palm-readable) format. If your handheld didn't come with a desktop program to create Palm Doc files, you can find several on the internet. Free document converters include MakeDocW for the PC, MakeDocDD for Mac OS 9, PorDBle for Mac OS X and Pyrite Publisher for Linux.

To Do List -- You can schedule task reminders for different days by entering the date you want to do something under 'Details' and 'Due Date'. Tap 'Show', and choose 'Show Only Due Items', and your handheld will show you any task that needs completion or is overdue for completion.

Unfortunately, To Do doesn't allow you to schedule repeating tasks or to set audible alarm reminders; but you can upgrade To Do's capabilities by purchasing ToDo PLUS or other third-party enhancements like ReDo.

Look Up -- If you're in Datebook or Memo Pad, you can quickly add a reference to a contact of yours by entering the first letter(s) of the contact's last name, followed by an upward slash (lower left to upper right) then 'L' (for Look Up) in the Graffiti area. For example, in To Do List write 'Call Br/L' and your device will insert the name and phone number of your friend Joe Brown. (If you have more than one contact whose last name begins with Br, your handheld will display those contacts and ask you to choose one.)

Shortcuts -- Don't forget the built-in shortcuts, which are listed in the Prefs application. For example, writing a cursive lower-case 'L' followed by 'me' displays the word 'meeting'. You can also create your own shortcuts for long words, domain names, or other phrases that you need to enter frequently.

Calculator -- Not sure that you entered all the data correctly in the calculation you just performed? Tap the menu icon (in the lower left), then 'Options' and 'Recent Calculations'.

Also, remember that you don't have to use the Calculator's onscreen buttons to enter numbers -- Graffiti works fine too!

Menus -- Don't neglect menus! In most applications menus will open up several options and choices to you. For instance, while you're in the home screen of the applications launcher, you can see a list of your applications, and your available memory, by tapping the menu icon and then 'Info...'

Copy and Paste -- Some users overlook the fact that they can easily copy highlighted text within and between applications by writing an upward slash (lower left to upper right) and tapping the Copy or Cut icon or writing a Graffiti C or X character, then repeating the procedure and tapping on the clipboard icon to paste it with the Paste Icon or a Graffiti P.

Further, you can highlight text in your handheld by dragging the stylus across it or by tapping once for a letter, twice for a word, or three times to select a line. Many things can be copied on the desktop using the standard Windows or Mac procedures for selecting and copying.

Find -- The Find icon is one of your handheld's most powerful features. Include appropriate notes for your contacts, for example, and Find can quickly extract the list of contacts sharing that characteristic (golf, Scouts, church, etc.). You can enter a word or phrase into the 'Find' blank by highlighting it in an application as well as by using Graffiti or the built-in keyboard.

You can optimize your search by remembering that Find starts its search in the application that is currently open. Therefore, if you're searching for a contact contained in your address book, you should open the address book before tapping on the Find icon.

Graffiti Tips -- Remember that an upward stroke straight up the center of the screen (bottom to very top) will bring up the Graffiti cheat sheet by default. You may already know that you'll have better luck writing 'v' if you do it backwards. Other graffiti tips include:

  j - straight down then straight right-to-left, no curves;
  p- be sure to complete the loop;
  y - do a cursive lower-case L upside-down (starting in the upper left)
  d - start at the bottom and make a clockwise circle
  ? - a tap followed by the Graffiti stroke for 't'
  3 - make sure the bottom stroke is long

Downloading and Installing Files -- If you haven't yet tried to download and install new programs, you will find that, like most things with the Palm operating system, it's relatively simple. To get programs off the internet you just download the program and save it to disk (generally somewhere on your hard drive such as a folder named 'Downloads'). A few of the more popular places to get Palm OS programs are listed below:

These sites have THOUSANDS of programs in their libraries. Many are free, while others have free trial versions that are programmed to function for a few days or weeks. Go to any of these sites, and type a keyword into the software search box, such as "cooking", "football", "Bible," you name it...

To install files you will need to locate the new Palm program or file you've just downloaded onto your hard drive, or from a floppy or CD.

On a PC, use My Computer or Windows Explorer to locate the program and double-click it. On the Mac just double-click any Palm-related file anywhere on your hard drive, CD or floppy. The HotSync application will magically put a copy of the file into the queue to be installed to your handheld at next HotSync. Files suitable for downloading to your handheld will have a .prc (executable program) or .pdb (data or document) extension.

Installing e-Books -- Eventually you'll find yourself putting books on your handheld. Maybe you think you would never read a book on that small screen, but it can be handy when you're stuck waiting somewhere with nothing good to read. Besides, with 320 x 320 pixel, high-res screens becoming more and more common, e-books can actually look pretty good!

You can find a lot of books in Palm Doc format on Palm's website (mentioned above) as well as at MemoWare, which specializes in user contributed reference texts and even many classic texts in the public domain for PDAs:

The most extensive library of commercial e-books books is found at Palm Digital Media:

Palm Digital Media (PDM) has all the best sellers available for download. Though these are not free, they are often a bit cheaper than bookstore prices, especially with coupons PDM e-newsletter subscribers receive. There are some older public domain selections available as free downloads.

Their books are in their own unique 'Palm Reader' format which you can only read with their program, Palm Reader. However, you can download this reader for free from their site and as mentioned above, it can also read Palm Doc files . It's quite possible Palm Reader is already on your handheld or on the CD that came with it. You can use the program's Options or Preferences to choose the font size that suits you best, or pick up the Pro version ($10-20) which adds many more hi-res fonts and an integrated dictionary.

Another great site is FictionWise, specializing in short sci-fi stories, though their selection has greatly expanded lately to include novellas and novels and many different genres of books. Since these stories are small, they tend to be less expensive than full commercial e-books and are often available in many different e-book formats.

Conclusion -- Be sure to read your manual and speak to other users to pick up other tips. If your handheld did not come with a detailed 100-page manual, it's probably on your installation CD or can be found downloaded in PDF format from the support section of the Palm website:

You may also enjoy visiting and, of course, The Palm Tipsheet, two free on-line magazines for Palm users. If you go to Palm Tipsheets archive of past issues, you can find some nifty tips & tricks in issues 14 and 24:

Finally, if you find you're spending all your time downloading and trying out new programs and e-books, use your handheld's alarm features to remind you to eat, sleep, and go to work! :-)

After a career as an economic specialist in the U.S. Foreign Service, John Bowen has been dabbling in finance and technical writing. He can often be found riding his bicycle or playing with his Palm handheld -- but never simultaneously. Contact him at

Tipsheet Interview: Yousif Rahman
This month's interview is with Yousif Rahman, an IT department head from Bahrain. Yousif uses his Clié T615C to keep in touch with his work schedule when away from his desktop PC and uses AvantGo to read daily world and tech news and to follow Liverpool and UK football League stats and standings.

*PT: Yousif, thanks for taking the time to share your Palm experience with the Palm Tipsheet.

The pleasure is mine Mike. Your Palm Tipsheet (or should I say OURS --all the subscribers) has become one of the things I wait for eagerly at the beginning of each month. I like it because it's informative, down to earth and has this personal touch you have added to each issue; it feels like you are writing each one of us personally. Thanks for the chance to share my experience with the rest of us all over the world.

*PT: You live in Bahrain. 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?

Bahrain is a little island in the middle of the Persian Gulf (area 712 square Kilometers and total population of 650,000) but by no means it is isolated from the rest of the world. It's economy is based on light industry spun around the oil business, banking and tourism. The population is technology aware and it is not uncommon to see young professionals with PDAs. In the past 1 to 2 years PDAs have gained a lot of popularity.

I must say, though, that PocketPC are more in use than Palm OS devices. It is usually techies who choose Palm OS driven devices -- techies and those who appreciate the fine things in life :-). My first PDA was a an Win-CE Everex FreeStyle, 4-5 years back, this was dumped (it actually broke down) for a Casio E105 and then came the encounter with the ultimate truth in the shape of the Palm Vx :-) What a device, what an OS!! No comparison to WinCE toys.It was love at first sight. Now I have a Sony Clie T615C and I am happy. I've been using it for over a year now.

*PT: Does your Palm use an Arabic or an 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?

Most of my work is in English so I have not ventured into loading any Arabization tools. But I have once tried, on my Palm Vx, a product called APOS from a company called Information Appliances International, Inc. (IAI)..They have done some excellent work -- only thing I find they are a bit pricey.


*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?

Most think that it is an organizer. Those who listen to my 'sermon' realize that it's a miniaturized computer but still wonder why I'd need to carry one in my pocket if it can't connect to the internet or make a phone call!!;-)

People here expect that because the Nokia Communicator 9210i (Phone-PDA) has raised their expectation. Can't win, can you!!

Still, long live Palm OS PDA's ;-)

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

Oh can't live without it -- I really mean it. First it organize what little money left of my salary once I pay all my monthly bills. Second it tries to organize my work schedule, to-do's, meetings, etc. I have bought iambic's Agendus (formerly ActionNames) and have managed to put in the whole of my company's contacts directory. It's great when I am away from office and want to get in contact with work mates.


I like to carry info around with me on configuration of equipment systems and components on my departments networking infrastructure. I use several readers for this purpose: Acrobat reader for Palm OS for PDF documents, CryptoPad for docs that need to be encrypted and Wordsmith for MS Word documents. I also use DataViz's SheetToGo for MS Excel sheets. When I am off work I use my Clié to read news offline. I use both AvantGo which I have subscribed to in order to get passed the 2MB limit free content.

*Acrobat Reader:



*DataViz's SheetToGo:

*My AvantGo:

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

I can't live without My AvantGo but really if we are talking about a program then I would say BugMe -- a scribbling notepad reminder.

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

I have always admired the Stowaway portable keyboard from Think Outside.In my view it is an elegantly designed keyboard. When I first saw it I thought it is too good to use and expose to wear -- rather it should set on a mantel for display only. I want one but I will wait 'til Sony or some one else produce a palm PDA-phone light enough to slip in your shirt pocket with memory expandability.

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

A couple of years back when I first had my Palm Vx, I was sitting in a local coffee-shop when a somewhat humble looking clientele approached and asked what I was doing scribbling on this gizmo.

I thought right time for 'evangelizing' so I did 5 minutes of explaining how good life with a PDA can be. At the end he tells me that a relative of his got him a similar device as a gift; he wanted to bring it the down next day for me to set it up as he was not sure how it all work.

Again I thought to myself he is probably going to bring along one of those first generation non-programmable digital organizers that he thinks is similar to my Vx (hah ..hah..!!) Next day the guy comes with, believe it or not, a Palm m505 color device!! Faster and more colorful than what I own and had bragged about! It was the first Palm m505 I saw... I asked him if he wanted to swap... he declined my offer :-)

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

I have just bought a book on developing Palm applications, Palm OS Programming Bible, and for those who like to spend the weekend programming, I tell you should try it. I haven't done much yet but there are a lot of sites that can help you out -- good luck.


Well, thanks again for joining me on my final issue as the editor of the Palm Tipsheet. I do hope you enjoyed John Bowen's excellent article for Palm beginners and our interview with Yousif Rahman.

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:

So long friends!

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.

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