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ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
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Friday
Apr042003

Email Carefully!

I've always tried to make the email messages I write "safe for public consumption", because I never know where an email message might end up. I was reminded of this guideline after reading the eye-opening story Misfired Messages Roil Businesses at Wired.com. The article is a cautionary tale filled with email horror stories like this one:

In a note intended for a few friends, marketing executive Alex Clark once mocked his company's CEO and his inability to properly attach a document to an e-mail message, only to discover he had sent the missive to the chief executive himself. "Working with the IT department and the CEO's personal secretary," said Clark, "I attempted to intercept the message before it reached his inbox -- to no avail. Later that night, I received the response. The CEO made his outrage abundantly clear in the most scathing e-mail I have ever received."

For me, the article makes obvious just how easy it is to send disastrous messages if you're not very careful. Because email is almost a blend between written notes and phone conversations, I think it's often treated a bit too casually.

Combine the relaxed nature of email with its immediacy and multiple recipient capability and you've got a recipe that could potentially cook up a batch of serious trouble.

The moral of the story? Be careful what you write. Consider it "safe for public consumption", because you never know where any email message might land.

If in doubt, don't send it out!

Enjoy your weekend! :-)

Thursday
Apr032003

Palm Tipsheet 2.0

Palm TipsheetWell, it's a done deal. The Palm Tipsheet, the free monthly e-zine that I started in 1997, as a newsletter of Palm tidbits for a few family and friends, has a new owner. And you know what? I feel great, because I know that the Tipsheet is in very capable hands.

Some of you who have come to my blog via the Palm Tipsheet are probably aware of the story behind its new ownership. If you're not a Tipsheet reader, here's a recap: I made the decision to halt producing the Palm Tipsheet because it had stopped being fun for me and instead had become a grind. Further, it was absorbing too much free time, (something I have very little of with a new 4 month old son).

I announced my intentions to halt the Tipsheet in issue 39. Following that announcement, I was contacted by several parties, including Brian Beeler of bargainPDA.com, who was very interested in carrying on the Palm Tipsheet. We came to terms and in issue 40, I announced the good news -- that the Tipsheet would live on.

So, the Palm Tipsheet is officially under new ownership and leadership and I couldn't be more pleased. I have full confidence in Brian's knowledge of Palm handhelds, PDAs and his experience running a PDA-oriented website. I believe he'll do the Tipsheet proud.

I'm pleased that something I began on a whim has gained over 11,000 regular subscribers and many more readers of the HTML, AvantGo, Mobile and Palm editions. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision I'd be publishing a newsletter with worldwide reach and so many loyal, friendly and gracious readers. I'm honored to have seen the Tipsheet grow into what it is today. I guess you could say I feel like a proud parent of an e-zine. :-)

Finally, I'm glad that long time readers of the Tipsheet will still get their monthly fix. I was showered with well-wishing emails when I announced I'd be stepping down. It was great to not only hear of readers' support for my focus on being a better dad, but also to hear their kind words about the Tipsheet. Seeing the Tipsheet continue getting to its readers is really like icing on the cake!

I wish Brian the very best as he takes over. I know he will do a superb job carrying on the tradition of the Palm Tipsheet.

Wednesday
Apr022003

Hello iBox!

iBoxWired is now featuring a new Cult of Mac story about John Fraser, a Minnesota guy who's developing the iBox(or whatever it might be called), a low-cost, pizza box Macintosh for $250-350. The final product is still 4 months away from production, and may face various legal problems.

The pizza box shape was last used by Apple in the 1990s, on their LC, Performa and Centris product lines. The low-profile shape works great for many users, because it takes so little vertical space on a desk and can be easily toted around by those who do not need something as ultra-portable as a PowerBook.

My guess is Fraser will be forced to sell just the basic box with RAM, hard drive and whatever else he can legally install, leaving buyers to locate, buy and drop in their own motherboard. Maybe Fraser can sell all the parts in a kit and provide easy-to-follow instructions. This might make the process a little less painful for the less technical.

Whatever Apple does legally, it's still a very slick idea: build a basic flat pizza box that can house a standard Apple Macintosh G3 or G4 motherboard, hard drive, RAM and other parts, letting buyers provide their own operating system. For a few hundred bucks, it should offer many budget-conscious users a perfect desktop Mac, now that the CRT-based iMac is no longer sold by Apple.

Go iBox! :-)

Monday
Mar312003

Palm OS on Pocket PC

Pal OS 5.5According to some of my sources in the PDA industry, I've learned that PalmSource is planning on releasing Palm OS 5.5 late in 2003, though they will show a demo at the PalmSource Developer Seminar, May 6-7 in San Mateo, CA. What makes the new OS release groundbreaking is that it upgrades current OS 5 devices like the Palm Tungsten T, and XScale based Pocket PC devices!

The 5.5 upgrade should be available in retail stores in both CD, and SD formats (no Memory Stick version has yet been announced) and for direct secure purchase and download from PalmSource's website. The $59.95 SD version will be an especially a good deal, as the 128MB cards the upgrade will come on can be erased after installation of the upgrade and used as normal removable media. The CD version and web download are to be priced at $29.95.

As for other details, I'm told Palm OS 5.5 will run on any Pocket PC that uses an XScale processor but unfortunately there will be no StrongARM processor support for various technical reasons. The upgrade is said to use only 8MB of ROM and includes a new memory management utility to add other applications to ROM (similar to JackFlash).

From what I've learned, the Palm OS 5.5 Flasher will check the device you own and upgrade Palm ARM devices directly. Pocket PC devices on which the update is run have two options: completely removing the Pocket PC 2002 OS or a dual boot feature. However, it's made clear before choosing dual-boot option that the Pocket PC 2002 OS takes approximately 32MB ROM which could be used for other applications bundled with the update.

Aside from the ROM image and special Flasher Utility, the rest of the card includes a variety of applications, including the latest versions of QuickOffice Premier with native file support and SnapperMail along with the latest Palm Desktop installers for both Macintosh and Windows.

As for performance -- I'm told that OS 5.5 runs incredibly quickly on Pocket PC XScale devices, providing tangible proof of just how lethargic Pocket PC 2002 is in comparison to Palm OS 5.5 on the very same chips. Pocket PC devices are said to run the new OS "Amazingly fast" and my sources call the visible difference in performance compared to Pocket PC 2002 OS "A real eye-opener".

It should be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts to PalmSource's alternate OS option on their own PocketPC devices. To even mention the upgrade would give it added notice, while not mentioning the alternate OS option might indicate Microsoft greatly fears what Palm OS on Pocket PCs represents.

Get more info here...

Monday
Mar312003

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

I've found a great little science fiction ebook to recommend called Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It's written by Cory Doctorow, a writer, blogger and Outreach Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The story is interesting because it combines recent technological breakthroughs and potential technological discoveries, then extrapolates how they might find practical application in the future. The story's setting is a future where cloning and brain backup are commonplace, direct wireless connections to the Internet are installed in people's brains and where ad-hoc groups working for Whuffie, a type of peer recognition, have supplanted corporations.

Disneyworld (The Magic Kingdom) is the backdrop in which we find two ad-hoc groups battling for control of the park. The narrator tells the story of this epic battle from his own perspective, revealing the history of the world he's in bit by bit. To me it seemed to have the humor and feel of writing by Douglas Coupland (Microserfs) and Carl Hiassen (Lucky You), two of my favorite writers.

Even cooler, Doctorow has decided to offer his ebook as a free download in a multitude of formats for desktops (ASCII text, PDF, HTML, etc.) and for PDAs too (Palm Doc, PalmReader, iSilo, Mobipocket, etc.). Apparently this idea of sharing his work electronically has been a very popular option. Of course, the paperback book is available for purchase if you prefer that format.