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« PalmSource DevCon: Day Three | Main | PalmSource DevCon: Day One »
Tuesday
Feb102004

PalmSource DevCon: Day Two

From my room on the 17th floor I was treated to a gorgeous sunrise over San Jose this morning. That's one advantage to being from a time zone two hours ahead: waking at 6 but feeling like it's 8. Problem is, being set artificially behind 2 hours eventually catches up with you.

After enjoying my sunset, I placed a call home to talk with my wife Gail and to talk at Nathan. I say "talk at" because Nathan doesn't quite get how phones work yet and much prefers playing with the buttons on the phone to listening to this voice that sounds like daddy. One day he'll get it.

Prior to the first keynote of the day, I was privileged to meet with Bryan and George from Natara Software (makers of Day Notes, Bonsai, Project@Hand, etc.) over breakfast. I had hoped to take them to the 1950s diner Mashby and I discovered last night, right behind the Fairmont hotel, but alas, it was closed. Breakfast in the hotel restaurant was just fine though, and so was the conversation.

Bryan and George are great guys, creating wonderful software for many happy Palm users. It was nice to hear about how Natara was started and what they've been up to (it's all good stuff). Turns out that Bryan is a reader of my weblog, so it was fitting that our breakfast get together came about through that. (Thanks Bryan and George; I had a great time!)

After breakfast it was off to find my fellow User Council colleagues. I found them congregating outside the PalmOne store, set to open at 9. Craig and Greg both picked up handhelds, and I was sorely tempted by a T3 for $199. In the end my practical side won out, especially since I really do like my TE, and that Gail and I can share peripherals and cables with each other.

David Nagel's keynote was good, and in it he announced the official names for Palm OS 5 (Garnet) and Palm OS 6 (Cobalt). Not too bad actually. I like the elemental approach for naming, though Starsky and Hutch would have been much more fun.

Highlights included information and some brief screenshots and demos of Cobalt, which look quite good. I was excited to hear that the PIM apps will be tabbed, have more than 15 categories and no 4k limit on text. Apparently the PalmSource PIM apps will offer many of the features already introduced in the PalmOne PIM apps, for other licensees.

Also interesting were Sliplets, which are more or less pop-up applets. Basically a Sliplet can do things like check stock prices or control things on the device. I can imagine these being very useful in the hands of creative developer.

There was also a toolbar along the base of the screen, somewhat similar to the PalmOne toolbar on the T3 and the Zodiac's toolbar. We only saw brief snippets of this in action, but again this looks good. However, I do imagine the icons in the toolbar will be highly regulated since space is still at a premium.

Palm Powered Awards were handed out and I was happy to see C.E. Stuart Dewar win for Datebk5 and NormSoft win for Pocket Tunes. All of the apps represented were great choices but I was particularly happy to see these two great developers honored.

In both David Nagel and Larry Slotnick's talks, there was mention of Nokia buying Psion's share in Symbian yesterday as great news for PalmSource. The big reason being, Nokia is now going to face challenges selling Symbian to handhset makers like Motorola and Siemens when they as the OS owners are also the chief competitors. Pretty ironic that the situation in which Nokia and Symbian find themselves now, is the very one that PalmSource has spent several years digging themselves out of.

Unfortunately, I am no developer, so once Larry Slotnick got deeply into abstraction layers and protected memory spaces, I was a deer in the headlights. I decided to take a bathroom break and stretch my legs until the session was nearly over. I had a second reason for the walk too -- it was cold as a meat locker in the hotel! I had to get some blood pumping and hot coffee to my extremities before they started turning blue! ;-)

Our group of User Council members headed up to our private meeting room to prepare for visits from PalmSource and their licensees, setting up the projector and our laptops. My OS X Powerbook actually came in handy, as I was able to setup an ad hoc WiFi access point for my Windows-using buddies, using the room's broadband connection. Mac OS X saves the day!

It was then off to lunch downstairs. I'd touched base with Lonnie Foster, and crossed paths with him as we waited in line, working out a lunch meeting. We had a nice discussion about his Palm OS Programming Bible work, his personal life and day job. Quite nice to finally meet a fellow blogger! (Thanks for your time Lonnie!)

I also crossed paths with R. Zane Rutledge, on the way up to the meeting room. We promised to meet up later that day, somewhere, someplace.

Our meetings went very well with PalmSource and their Palm OS licensees. We presented our findings from a recent survey we completed with the community of online Palm and non-Palm users. Our findings were well received, as was our feedback to them on questions they had for us.

After our meetings, it was downstairs to the big PUG meeting and party. Several high profile Palm folks spoke, including David Nagel of PalmSource, Kenny West of PalmGear and many others. Got to see the new Sony devices from afar and also a demo of the TH55 calendaring application, which was intriguing. Handwritten writing on the new Clie calendar looked to be vector based, but i can't verify this. Have to see if I can manage a close up demo on Wednesday.

At the end of the meeting a drawing was held (I didn't win a thing) but R. Zane Rutledge did and after the meeting I approached him to take him up on our promise to chat. We followed the crowd to the Cobalt launch party in the nearby ballroom and had a great discussion about Palm gaming, film, creativity and many other topics. It was again fun to meet a fellow blogger and discuss ideas we both had been mulling. (Thanks for the great discussion Zane!)

I'm now very pleased to have met all three people I'd intended to meet before leaving Milwaukee. I had been worried that time would be too tight, but in the end, all three contacts fit right into my schedule, all on the same day. Incredible! :-)

So, as my time zone begins to catch up with me again, I find my will to write is waning. Looks like the Mobile Whack Dispatch will have to wait until morning now.

Until Wednesday...

Update 2004-02-15: MobileWhack.com Dispatch Day Two has been posted.

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