Buy my Books!

The Sketchnote Workbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, showing how to use sketchnotes in new ways, along with advanced tips and techniques.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →
Watch a FREE video sample →

The Sketchnote Handbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, designed to teach regular people how to create sketchnotes.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →

Mike Rohde (Color - Square)

ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
Read more about Mike →

SIGN UP! Get the Rohdesign Newsletter.

Entries in Palm (128)


Palm Foleo: Hit or Doomed Thingamabob?

foleo.jpgJust saw today that Palm has released the Foleo, apparently that "other device category" Jeff Hawkins has been talking about for a few years now.

The Foleo (which is at this point an unreleased prototype) is a kind of pseudo sub-notebook thingamabob that enhances a Palm Treo.

Based on what scant technical info offered on the Palm site, the $499 Foleo has a 10" color screen and full-sized keyboard, which syncs via Bluetooth with a Treo for data (email, photos, files, etc.) and piggybacks off of the Treo's wireless connection for web surfing, or can do 802.11b WiFi. It's a full sized "companion" to a Treo and not much more — something like a prosthetic screen and keyboard. :-)

Some of my first questions about this device are:

• Does it operate without the Treo or other handheld? Can I do anything useful on this device without a Treo to get my net connection or to sync mail or photos?

• Who will buy this for $499? Notebooks and the iPhone are available or soon to be available for the same price. As far as I can tell, the Foleo can't stand alone — you must also have a Treo or other handheld device to make it fully useful.

My friend Hal reminded me that 3com produced a short-lived, co-dependent device called the Audrey. This stunted, home-focused thin client lasted all of 8 months before 3com pulled the plug. Is the Foleo the Audrey rehashed for a tiny niche of mobile device users?

If you already have a notebook computer, why would you need this pseudo-subnote-thingamabob? Are there really that many people who would do business travel with only a Treo and a Foleo?

I think the Foleo is going to be another short-lived niche of a niche product.

What do you think?

Michael Mace, a friend and a guy I highly respect, has weighed in on the Palm Foleo, and suggests it is a stealth mobile PC:

But I don't think the Foleo really is a "mobile companion." Back when I started to work at Palm (before the turn of the century) one of the old veterans of the company pulled me aside and passed along a little wisdom. "Michael," he told me, "Ya gotta think in terms of real estate. If you're in another device's real estate, you're competing with that device. Palm lives in your pocket; it competes with other things that go in your pocket. If you get bigger than the pocket, you're living in the briefcase, and you're competing with the notebook computer."

Foleo lives in the briefcase. It's displacing the notebook computer from your bag. I don't care what they call it, I don't care if Palm fully realizes it yet, but the fact is that Foleo's a notebook computer.

More to the point, Foleo is the most significant new consumer PC platform introduced in the US since the Macintosh. All you Linux heads who have been asking for a true consumer Linux PC, you finally got your wish.

I think if Foleo is truly a lightweight notebook that's open to developers, it has a chance. A chance. I'm still not sure if there is a place for a new device between a notebook and smartphone that feels like a stunted, limited, overpriced notebook. Feels like a 3rd wheel to me. But we'll see.

I wish Palm had spent all the time, money and effort refining the Treo or working on the next generation Treo, right now it seems to me they've squandered resources to release a device that's very 1999.


SOLD! AlphaSmart Dana Wireless Laptop Alternative

UPDATE 2006-03-06: Well that was quick! Thanks go to Paul T., who emailed at 11:30 CST and bought the Dana Wireless package! Hard to believe it was only posted around 7 this morning. :-)

If you are interested in a Dana or Dana Wireless device, feel free to email me here, as I know a few friends who might have one or two available for sale. I can't guarantee anything, but I can certainly see what my connections have in the way of gently used Dana and Dana Wireless devices.

It's spring cleaning at Rohdesign! Since my readership includes many tech people, I wanted to offer my extra gadgets here first.

Today I'm offering my AlphaSmart Dana Wireless package for $300:

Dana Wireless: Package
(click the image to see the detailed Flickr notes)

This versatile and unique device is a great writing tool. Even better, it has super-long battery life. I've had about 16 hours use from the Dana when WiFi is deactivated (for writing). I did an IRC chat test, with the WiFi fully active, and got about 7 hours.

The Dana Wireless can send pages to printers with a dedicated USB port for this purpose (1 of 2 USB ports), act as a keyboard on a PC or Mac and sync as any good Palm OS device can. It even has dual SD card slots, so you can have more than one SD card in use at a time.

Features include:
• Palm OS 4.1.2
• Very nice full keyboard with special action function keys
• 560x160 pixel grayscale LCD widescreen with backlight
• Long-lasting rechargeable battery (can be replaced by 3 AAs in a jam)
• WiFi 802.11b wireless
• Dual USB ports
• Dual SD card slots
• IR port

Useful, Flexible and Mobile
I've found the Dana useful for mobile email, IRC, IM chat, and especially for writing. It comes with AlphaWord, a variant of Wordsmith, that takes advantage of the wide screen and has a special "Send" function that can fire your written text via USB cable to any text editor window on your PC or Mac.

Condition & Added Items
The Dana Wireless is in great shape, as I've sparingly and lovingly used it for writing, email, chat and even a little web browsing. It comes with original CDs, power supply, USB cable, and manuals. I'm throwing in a 64MB SD card and a Wetsuit 2.0 case for easy carrying to the cafe.

Reviews of the Dana Wireless
Greg Gaub (The Gadgeteer)
Shawn Barnett (Pen Computing Magazine)
Vern Seward (Mac Observer)
Catherine Roseberry ( Mobile Office Technology)
Vikki Lipset (WiFiPlanet)
IT Reviews

I'm asking $300 for the Dana Wireless and all of the extra gear; retail for the Dana Wireless is $429. If you're interested, drop me a line with "Dana Wireless" in the subject line to work out the details.

I'd love to see the Dana go where it can find many years of productive use. :-)


My long-lost PDA was Found: do I really want it back?

Zire72s.jpgWell, will wonders never cease.

Today I found my lost Zire 72 in an obscure place — under the cushion of our living room chair! I was looking for my dad's lost mobile phone, which I found behind the back cushion. So, naturally, I lifted the seat cushion, and lo and behold, there was my Zire 72 in its pretty Vaja case.

I lost my Zire almost one year ago, which eventually led me to ditch electronic PDAs altogether in favor of a custom Moleskine planner I created myself.

I laughed hard when I saw the Zire sitting there dead after 11 months under a seat cushion. I don't know why we never checked there, since it's a popular place to rest things when leaving through the front door.

I charged and restored from the SD card backup within minutes and there were all of my apps, files and documents captured in early 2006. Question is: what to do with my Zire, now that my life centers around the Moleskine planner?

Care & Feeding Kicking In Quick
I was amazed how quickly I was sucked into fiddling with and and tweaking the Zire. I started considering how I might use my new-found PDA for reading blogs, e-books, the Bible, managing passwords and maybe handling my contacts.

This evening, I spent 30 minutes trying to get the Zire Syncing, then trying to sort out a Bluetooth sync connection with the PowerMac with no luck on either attempt.

Then it hit me — the discovery of my long-lost gadget carried with it a subtle demand on my time and energy to care for and feed it. I remembered the reasons why my PDA had become a burden last March — the demands of my time to charge, tune, sync, backup and generally care for it every day.

I began to recall the complexities of the applications I'd setup, and how some required manual tweaking, how if I wanted to integrate the Zire into my life again, I'd need to work out just what I'd want to use it for.

Would I need the WiFi drivers again? Syncing iSilo or AvantGo, or would I sync my contacts too? What state was the Mac sync package Missing Sync in? Where was my sync cable? On and on it goes — the list of requirements and things to think about seemed to compound and expand the more I thought about them!

ARRRGGGG! I don't need this right now.

I'm Enjoying Simplicity, Why Complicate Things?
Now I'm fully reminded of why I so appreciate the simplicity of a customized Moleskine planner and a small gel pen in my pocket. It has minimal requirements: spend a little time setting up the dates and task pages to cover 6 months, which oddly enough is relaxing and enjoyable to do, even though it is tedious work.

Each day I add a little more with my pen, throw in notes or tasks as I think of them. No worries about charging or syncing, what apps I need or how to solve the lack of sync, since it's not required. In fact, syncing is not even an option.

What to do with the Zire?
I'm not sure exactly what I will do. I should probably sell the Zire to someone who would love and enjoy this nice little PDA. I may use it for e-books and some blogs away from the Mac after all, to keep it as a focused reading device that frees me from the computer for a while in the evenings.

I think I need to leave it sit on my desk and brew on what to do with it for a while. I want to make sure I'm not so easily sucked back into the care and feeding trap without contemplation on the ultimate purposes of a PDA in my life.

It's funny how much my mind and heart has changed about a PDA. Just one year ago I was distressed by the loss of my device. Now I'm almost feeling this PDA, which was so important to me in 2006, has invaded my tranquility.

Funny how things change.


iPhone Rockin' the World

iphone.jpgI'm right now spending my lunch break watching the live Macworld Keynote blogging at Engadget, chatting with my good pal Michael Ashby about the iPhone. We are both in shock (in a good way).

The iPhone is a smartphone running some version of Mac OS X, complete with a full web browser (Safari) what look like Widgets, and apps on the device far beyond any mobile phone apps out there.

Watching the Steve Jobs keynote unfold, we both agree that this announcement of the iPhone is big — really big. So big that it could impact nearly every aspect the tech world — mobile phones, smartphones, phone service carriers, PDAs, MP3 players, computers, Mac software developers, and web-based software developers... and probably others I haven't thought of.

From the Engadget live blog:

We've been pushing the state of the art in every facet of this design. We've got the multi-touch screen, miniaturization, OS X in a mobile device, precision enclosures, three advanced sensors, desktop class applications, and the widescreen video iPod. We filed for over 200 patents for all the inventions in iPhone and we intend to protect them."

This is the kind of device I would be compelled to carry, and I've more or less stepped off the PDA bandwagon last year. It's looking that cool and useful.

This is going to be very, very big.

Amazing! Conan O'Brien gives us a sneak peek of everything the iPhone can do! :-)

Related Links:
The Ultimate iPhone FAQ (David Pogue, NYT)
Cingular's iPhone Signup Page
Apple Unveils iPhone (Macworld)
iPhone a 'wake-up call' for the industry (Macworld)
Does the iPhone hit the spot? (CNET)
Investors dump RIM as Apple launches iPhone (Washington Post)
First iPhone Pics (engadget)
Raw commentary on the iPhone announcement (Michael Mace)
Apple's iPhone: That isn't a phone, it's a PDA done right (Michael Mace)
Impact of the Apple iPhone (Michael Mace)
Apple aims to shake up cell phone industry (San Jose Mercury News)
Top 5 Worst Things About The iPhone (Wired Gadget Lab)
iPhone: The Newton's Revenge (Wired Cult of Mac)
The Apple iPhone (
Apple's New Calling: The iPhone (Time)
iPhone: The Most Revolutionary Device Since 1984 (
iPhone Not Touchy Feely (37signals)
iPhone and the End of PC Era (Om Malik)
The iWipe
You could call iPhone perfect (Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun-Times)

Image via Apple.


PDA 24/7's Shaun McGill Goes Back to Paper

It was nearly 5 months ago I gave up my Palm PDA for a custom Moleskine planner, and shared the experience and my approach on this blog.

shauns-moleskine.jpgSo, it was a nice surprise to hear from my friend Davy McDonald, that PDA 24/7 founder Shaun McGill just traded his PDA for a paper planner. Shaun embarked on a week-long experiment using only a paper calendar and a mobile phone, while intentionally avoiding his PDA.

It all began with he post The pen is mightier than the stylus, where Shaun shared his move from a Nokia E61 to a Moleskine planner for his calendar:

Over the past two years I have at times suffered from stress which is not due to work or family and it is still something I have not worked out but I am 100% convinced that my obsessive reliance on PDAs is a part of the problem. It is not the devices issue, it is mine but a longing to carry so much data and have every appointment and task noted and alarmed has not been healthy for me.

Shaun extended his experiment and began to see how things changed when using paper in The experiment (part one):

All bills continue to be paid on time, all tasks completed as needed and strangely no stresses with regard to remembering things. What has really surprised me is how much more time I have without using a PDA.

It has become apparent that I spend ages tweaking it and checking records when I don't need to, I play games on it if I am sat at home rather than just relaxing in front of the TV to watch a good film and I keep referring to it for no real reason.

The amount of time I have spent in the past freeing up memory and recovering from resets is just silly and took away any efficiencies the PDA gives. For a man who lives and dies by his PDA this is a truly strange experience but a good one.

In The experiment (part two), Shaun writes:

The experiment is going well and avoiding my PDA has become surprisingly easy. As the days have passed I am starting to realise just how much my life seems to revolve around my PDA rather than how it should be- my PDA should be helping me manage my life.

So well said! I always like to say you should choose the right tool for your needs, and this falls into place in Shaun's situation. He's found that the PDA had become his "hammer" and that every situation began to look like a nail.

In his third post, The experiment (part three) Shaun writes:

I was going to make this a series of five articles looking at life without a PDA but this will be the final part. I will revisit this subject at a later date but safe to say that at this time I am going to try living without the majority of PDA functions for a while to come.

Wow. I think it's safe to say Shaun has gone analog.

Shaun's conclusions after a week without his PDA:

• I do not miss it at all

• I have a lot more free time (due to not recovering from errors and tweaking it constantly)

• I appear to have more control- writing things down makes the information stay in my head and I remember what needs to be done. After so long just typing away and forgetting the entry until the alarm pops up I had lost that ability

• I am surprisingly a lot more relaxed about things. I do not try to do too much and just refer to my notebook on occasion to check some details

• Paper does as good a job for personal information management as a PDA

Excellent observations — I agree! After almost 5 months of using a paper planner for my personal schedule, I'm much more relaxed. I capture more of my ideas. Now my schedule lays on the desk before me, always on and ready for viewing or additions.

I don't feel compelled to "keep up" with the latest mobile technology. Emails for the "latest and greatest" software for the Palm doesn't entice me. In moving to paper I no longer need to maintain my PDA knowledge edge.

When my wife's Zire 72 battery konked out and I had to try and restore from backups, I was reminded just how much I DO NOT MISS fixing, restoring, tweaking, caring for and feeding a PDA.

I want to end on this final insightful comment by Shaun, which has had me thinking ever since:

The PDA made sure I forgot nothing and subsequently turned me into an organic version of itself. That may sound ridiculous but it is how I feel and for the moment at least I will do my best to avoid mine.

Oh how often we allow our tools, toys and gadgets to rule us. it's often subtle, but quite real. I felt the same way about the "care and feeding" needed to maintain a my PDA. When I was in the PDA "care and feeding" mode I didn't realize how much mental energy I expended just keeping up. But when I stepped away from maintaining a PDA, I immediately saw how much energy I was saving.

I hope that if anything is passed on from our switches from PDAs to analog tools, it would be to now and then, step away from your treasured tools and see what life is like without them.

You may switch away — or you may find that your treasured tool is treasured for good reason — because it really suits your needs better than anything else.

Related Links:
Another Analog Convert (satorimedia)
PDA 24/7's Shaun McGill Goes Back to Paper (Moleskinerie)