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« The Sketch Kit Sketchtoon | Main | Back to the Future: from Zire to Clié »
Wednesday
Apr192006

Notes on Going Retro with a Clié N610C

I've successfully made the move from a "Modern" Zire 72s back to a "Retro" Clié N610CS this week, and through this process have observed some interesting things I wanted to record and share.

Good Memories
Wow, I wasn't prepared for the pleasant memories of the "good old days" of using a Clié for almost 1.5 years (June 2002 through October 2003). It's been quite fun setting up the same old reliable system I loved back then: looking through my old archives and on the net for software and hacks, and scrounging old cables and cradles from old boxes of stuff, digging into the recesses of my brain for setup steps and tricks.

Font Issues
One of my pet peeves about with the Sony Clié are the thin, cheesy-looking hi-res fonts, built into the system. The first thing I installed after syncing my data and apps was X-Master and FontHack 123. I was happy to improve the fonts at low-res, but at high res the bad Arial-clone fonts wouldn't go away.

49540.gifI tried locating a high-res OS5 font clone created by developer Lubomir 'lubak' Veselovsky that I'd loved so much called "OS5 Fonts" which included HrStandard, HrBold, HrLarge, and HrLargeBold in a file named OS5.pdb. I found references and links to the file, but all of the links to Lubak's old site were dead. So, I emailed Lubak directly to request these 4 hi-res fonts, which he graciously emailed back to me, and has given me permission to host them on my site:

Download Lubak's OS5 Hi-Res fonts (16k Zip file)

In the process of font-replacement searches, I came across a nice little $8 app Lubak has created for Sony Cliés that eliminates the need for FontHack123 and his OS5 font set, called Fonts4OS4. This nifty utility lets you select 1 of 7 fonts, which are replaced (after soft reset) to the entire system. Lubak also offers a more extensive $12.90 tool called Fonts4OS5, which applies up to 26 different font sets to most Palm OS 5 devices. Thanks Lubak!

Datebook Tweaks
ksdatebook.gifI also wanted to try and retrieve the week view I've lost from the Moleskine. First I installed an old copy of Agendus v5, but found it a little too large and slow for my liking on the Clié. I considered Datebk 3 or 4, but felt those too would be overkill for my agenda needs and the 8MB of RAM I have available.

So I started checking out FreewarePalm.com, and found a pretty amazing, free Datebook replacement called KsDatebook. It can do much more than just show a week view, including displaying of datebook and to-do items and access to categories. I like that the application is small, yet reasonably powerful for my needs.

VFS Issues
I'd forgotten how much of a hassle using external Memory Sticks was just 4 years ago. When I fired up the Clié I couldn't access my Memory Stick at all, which was important for storing MyBible and Noah Pro databases on the stick. I dug up a copy of the free MSMount utility at PalmGear, set it up, and was good to go. MSMount adds a drop-down item for setup and activation in the built-in Prefs tool and can even restart itself on reset and shut itself off during HotSync.

Great Graffiti
Wow! After fighting to get Graffiti "Classic" installed on my Tungsten E and then Zire 72, coming back to a native Graffiti 1 device is like heaven. I make very few mistakes now, and often when I half-expect an error on a correctly drawn letter (the Zire and TE did that all the time) I find the Clié has interpreted my strokes perfectly. For someone like me, who has invested serious time learning Graffiti 1, the Clié is wonderful. This feature alone makes me want to use the Clié.

Lots of Dead Links
One thing I've discovered in my searching this week has been the number of dead links and discontinued applications on the web. I was able to find references to all of the apps I was looking for, yet in several cases the referring websites were either completely gone, and none of the Palm software sites seemed to have old copies of those files.

This is to be expected, I suppose, yet it reminded me that with the web we so often assume sites and the files they offer will be out there for ever, when the reality is, they may not. Word to the wise: keep copies of the apps, files and information you use locally, because there is no guarantee that the web will offer them forever.

Final Observations
Overall, my experience moving back to a retro Clié has been very positive. I've successfully setup a nice little system which suits my needs quite well. I'm very pleased to learn that in a world of PDAs with 200MHz processors, blindingly-bright screens and 30 minute battery lives, retro PDAs are still a very usable and reasonably-priced alternative.

Reader Comments (3)

Welcome back to the fold!

Seriously though, it's good to see you excited again about Palm OS devices. I recently had a client move back to his Palm V the other day and it brought back a ton of fond memories and so did your article.

Please keep us posted!
April 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermashby
Thanks Mashby! It's good to feel excited about the Palm again, even if it's about retro tech. but then retro tech is kinda cool. :-)
April 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Mike,

It might not be strictly legal, but it's often easy to find copies of old software on the other Palm forums. If it was freeware to begin with, or if you can find your old registration number, it should be okay to get a copy of the program or its installer from someone else.

TMann
April 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTMann

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