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Entries in Palm (128)


Excellent Tungsten C Review in TidBITS

Tungsten CI'm an avid reader of TidBITS, the excellent weekly Macintosh e-zine started by Adam and Tonya Engst eons ago (in Internet time). In fact, TidBITS was the inspiration for founding my own Palm e-zine, the Palm Tipsheet back in 1997 (which was sold in April 2003).

In the latest issue (680) Geoffrey V. Bronner, the webmaster for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College offers an excellent in-depth review of the Palm Tungsten C.

I really like that Bronner's review includes real field tests of the Tungsten C in a Wi-Fi environment at Dartmouth. When I did the Palm Tipsheet, I always felt writing practical articles like this helped people see how a device or piece of software could help them in a practical way.

Bronner found the Tungsten C a hands down winner over his previous Palm & Wi-Fi solution -- the Xircom Palm Wireless Ethernet Module for the Palm m515. He found that the Tungsten C had much better battery life, a better screen and better reception since it was designed to work with Wi-Fi networks rather than hacked via the modem connection as the Xircom was.

I'm going to email Geoffrey about SnapperMail as an email alternative to VersaMail, especially if SnapperMail manages to add IMAP capabilities before too long.

The best quote comes at the end of the piece:

"The demo unit went back the day after I finished this review, but I've already ordered one of my own. That's the greatest praise I can give."

'Nuff said. ;-)


Palm DevCon: Day Three

Another early start Wednesday, but like Tuesday, our meetings were well worth the time spent. We learned quite a bit about the state of wireless carriers and how Palm handhelds integrate with them among other things.

I was also able to have a look at the new Aceeca device in the expo area between meetings. Aceeca is the second of two licensees to the Palm OS platform. The Meazura device was interesting -- I can imagine even more interesting to industrial clients looking for an inexpensive, reliable device for testing and gathering information. I even had a chance to meet the CEO, Alex Topschij, a good bloke from down under in New Zealand. :-)

Lunch was a short grab and stuff affair, followed by more excellent internal meetings in the afternoon. Near 4:30 we wrapped up. I enjoyed note taking once again, though after another day of mind-to-finger processing, I was glad for the break from note writing. Amazingly, in two days I managed to write about 15,000 words and about 100k worth of notes -- yikes!

Okay, now for something a little off topic and curious. I observed over the past two days a very strange habit of people at the seminars starting sentaces with "so...". To give you a better idea of what I mean, here's an example:

Q: Why did the Tungsten C have a mono headset rather than stereo headset?

A: So... We asked people if they had to choose between a stereo jack or a mono jack with potential Voice Over IP features, what would you choose? They overwhelmingly said "give us the mono headset and VOIP".

This sentance starter just seemed to me a very odd way to begin a statement. I noticed the abundance of "So" statement-starters because of how commonly it was used among speakers. I suppose this could equate to an "Ummm..." often used for buying a little time while organizing thoughts. See what two days of note-taking does to me? :-)

The seminar sessions ended with an interesting session with David Fedor on details of Palm OS 6. Most of the stuff he spoke about was several atmospheres above my head (I'm no developer), however some tidbits I did comprehend and liked the sound of. One in particular is the structure of new built-in core app databases being based on "schemas" which meant XML to me. Very cool.

The essence of David Fedor's message on this point was extensibility of stock databasess, allowing 3rd party developers to add fields to the built-in app DBs without screwing them up. So, a product like Beyond Contacts, used for full sync to Outlook could theoretically extend the standard Datebook and other stock DBs without ruining the underlying database structure. (Developers, feel free to correct any errors I may be spouting here)

Fedor also mentioned an evolutionary transition to OS 6 rather than revolutionary, so the changes will not be so shocking. He phrased it as "Changing Everything and Nothing." I suppose this should make developers a little happier knowing their apps will not have to change unless they choose to take advantage of new OS 6 system features. I was happy to hear old Palm OS apps should still run on OS 6 under PACE (Palm Application Compatibility Environment), assuming they've followed the Palm OS guidelines properly.

After the David Fedor OS 6 preview and a break I attended the Silicon Valley Palm User Group PUG meeting, featuring David Nagel and speakers from Palm SG, Fossil, PalmGear, and Handango. I put my card into the bucket to win one of 3 handhelds, but no such luck.

That evening the PUC group and a few others had a final dinner together in the overpriced California Grill, inside the hotel. It was a great time of discussion and banter about the past few days, Palm devices and many other topics. Will and Matt from SnapperMail dropped in a bit later to hang with us -- I had a great time chatting with these friendly New Zealanders while enjoying my Spicy Thai Chicken bowl.

I stopped by Michael Ashby's place to get a fix of his high-speed hotel network connection -- I was too cheap to activate mine at $10 per 24 hours. Back at my room I spent the remaining hours before bed, organizing and packing my gear for the journey home. The incredibly nice backpack by PalmSource on Tuesday ended up packed to the gills with t-shirts and promo swag, and would have to be checked as baggage since I brought my own backpack for the PowerBook and other stuff.

And so the seminar ended. All in all a great time to meet other Palm people, learn about what's new and to make a difference for the future. It all seemed to go by so quickly though. Ah well, that's what makes "see you next time" so attractive.

Until my next post...


Palm DevCon: Day Two

First day of the DevCon and it was off to David Nagel's (PalmSource CEO) opening keynote speech. It was an upbeat and positive presentation, covering the current state and future aims of PalmSource. David mentioned two staggering stats: there are now about 260,000 Palm OS developers and 17,000 Palm OS applications out there. Pretty significant and important for PalmSource and Palm OS users alike.

Nagel also suggested the coming availability of ubiquitous wireless in the next few years and PalmSource's desire to have an impact in this area with the Palm OS. I'm all for that!

Following David Nagel's keynote intro, the group I'm a member of -- Palm OS User Council (PUC) -- departed to prep for our day-long meetings. In a nutshell, our group of 10 Palm community leaders distill and share feedback from the Palm community with both PalmSource and Palm OS licensees, to help improve Palm handheld devices and the Palm OS.

The PUC represents the voice of Palm handheld users, making sure the user perspective is heard clearly. While details of our meetings are all under NDA, I'm pleased to report we had very productive meetings with PalmSource and several licensees.

At lunch, one of the PUC members, Dan Royea, did a Bluetooth test at the Sony booth. While holding a Clié TG-50 he walked nearly 30 feet from a Bluetooth controlled DV video camera and was able to activate panning, zooming and other functions -- all from the Clié. Impressive!

Lunch itself was eaten in the hotel courtyard under overcast skies. I was surprised at how chilly San Mateo was in May. However, I did remember I was in the San Francisco area, which has the reputation as a cool and foggy place.

Our PUC meetings continued productively after lunch break. I was grateful when our meetings finally ended at 5pm, mainly because I'm the group secretary. My tired fingers and brain needed the break after hours of processing and typing.

On my call home, I learned my wife and 6 month old son were both battling terrible colds. l felt a bit guilty for having such a great day. But we both felt badly for our little boy's sickness, even though we know colds help build his immune system.

Next, it was off to the seminar reception for great Chinese dim-sum and conversation with Palm developers. I met Brian Oldham and Dale Walker of, who help small companies integrate Palm devices into Mac networks. We actually talked more about Macs than Palms, as we were all Mac fans.

The reception was interrupted by a power outage in the hotel, lasting over an hour. It's apparently become a tradition at PalmSource events (February '02 conference in San Jose had a power cut too). The hotel staff even broke out the green light sticks as night fell.

A small group of people, including the PUC group and others escaped the hotel for the Prince of Wales Pub in downtown San Mateo. The pub was quite unique, with a comfortably shabby ambiance one member of the group described as "The kind of atmosphere you can't buy". We managed to acquire the private upper room of the place, complete with recently patched kick-holes in the wall, legless, gaudy and torn couch, a table and mixed chairs.

Four of us began a game of Cricket with darts and a board we found while the rest of the group chatted. For the record, Hal and I beat Craig and Dan by a single bulls eye. Greg from the PUC tried the pub's famous Habenero Burger, which helped warm the room. I think Greg's ears were smoking, but he ate it all.

Back at the hotel, I posted my first DevCon entry on the blog. It was good to test out my WordSmith blogging solution and to see how well remote posting to a blog is. Most definitely easier than manually editing and posting files via FTP.

I can also tell you that using a broadband cable connection has a way of amplifying the pain of using a 56k dialup connection in a hotel room. It works, but I fear cable has spoiled me.

So that's the story for Tuesday. Look for the remaining DevCon entries to appear here in the next few days.

Until my next post...


Palm DevCon: Day One

Sorry I've been mostly quiet this past week -- I'd been preparing for my trip to California for the PalmSource Developer's Conference. I left today (Monday) on my journey. Yes, I know it's Tuesday... more on that later.

It was hard to say goodbye to Gail and Nathan this morning. I'm going to miss them the next few days. But traveling is in my blood and I know this little getaway will be very good for me. Time to venture out and explore. The good thing about travel, in my opinion, is knowing I have someone and somewhere I can return to. As enjoyable as travel is to me, coming back home is always the sweetest feeling.

I just witnessed a sadly funny scene here at the terminal. An older, cranky lady who looked a bit like Georgia O'Keefe was sitting near the departure door, hassling the United woman at the desk about getting on her flight to Denver waiting just outside. She needed a wheelchair to board and had apparently been waiting a while. "I'm frustrated! Been here an hour and a half! Arggh!" At one point an Asian man walked past her, with a wheelchair and she snapped at him with a gruff "Hey you!" The guy threw her a dismissive wave and said "Not for you! Another one coming. You wait! " and kept rolling down the terminal.

Finally Georgia's ride arrived, but not before she had a little verbal tussle with the United attendant. It wasn't pretty.

Whew, almost missed the flight! Sitting in terminal D at gate 35... Realized nobody else was sitting around me. Took a brief walk, and found the flight had moved to gate 33. That was close.

Saw that our pilot was scribbling in an old Palm III, which I spotted while embarking. There is still hope for old tech! :-)

In Chicago, I heard a funny announcement in the men's room between flights: "Please present all electronic devices to security personnel before entering the magnometer..." This announcement made me wonder just what would happen if electronic devices were accidentally or intentionally run through the magnometer? Would the offending bag launch itself against the magnometer's wall and stick like a wet jello square? Funny how seeing a film like X-Men 2 with a bad guy like Magneto, alters the imagination.

Spent time after a little lunch scoping out power outlets, so I could use my Powerbook without killing off the battery. found several, but always in awkward locations or next to occupied seats. At the moment I'm contemplating stringing my power cable from my seat to the outlet across from me or sitting against the wall. Pretty pathetic, eh? Maybe I'm better off reading my paperback book or listening to music than becoming an electro-vampire geekazoid.

Amazing how many people are on mobile phones at the airport. There was a guy in Milwaukee making call after call, like the president lining up votes. Here in Chicago there's a woman to my right, stretched across three seats, working the phone. This struck me as both admirable and disturbing. Admirable in that these two business people were utterly dedicated to not wasting a precious moment of down time. Disturbing for the very same reason.

I mean, isn't travel stressful enough? I just want to relax. However, I see this tendancy popping up in myself as well, as I seek to plug in my laptop to read email or write this account on my handheld. The question is, why are we so driven to fill every second of our lives with activity? Are we modern people unable to be loafers once and a while?

Which reminds me of a valuable lesson I've learned from several of my European friends: the art of doing nothing. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean doing nothing all the time, but occasionally and intentionally. Martin, Matthias, Andreas, Mysan and Andy all taught me the art of finding a nice spot to let the world pass by. Normally it was a cafe (accompanied by a tasty coffee) but was often a roadside or park. Hmmm... in light of my observations today, I think I need to practice the art of doing nothing a bit more often.

The rest of my trip was uneventful. Waited a long time for the free hotel shuttle, but it was such a nice cool spring afternoon, I didn't mind at all.

Met my fellow Palm-friends at the hotel and we trekked over to the Metreon, a Sony-sponsored store inside the Moscone center in San Francisco. It was a little underwhelming and overpriced, though some of the tech they showcased was very cool, like tiny Vaio notebooks and large flat screens.

We settled on dinner at the Moscone, which for me consisted of a pudd thai-like noodle dish at a noodle joint. Not bad.

Our final destination for the evening was the launch of a new Palm OS product from Tapwave, a new Palm OS licensee. The event was held in a snowboard club in the industrial part of San Francisco. After 30 minutes of mingling, the presentation began with heads of the company sharing their process of developing a new multi-purpose gaming/multimedia device, culminating with an actual viewing of prototype devices. Can't say much more than this device they're developing is very, very cool. Good industrial design and top-notch specs to match. Keep your eye on Tapwave.

The remainder of the evening was spent back at the hotel, settling into my room and calling my wife. Not a bad first day in California.

So, as you can see it's actually Tuesday and I've had another full day here. I'm going to be a bit delayed in posting here because Wednesday is going to be jam-packed full too. I'll probably be writing posts on the flight home, so keep popping back here for more entries.

Until next time...


Tungsten C Reviews Surface

Tungsten CThe Pam Tungsten C has gained two very good in-depth reviews online.

First, we have a great in-depth review from Kenneth Rhee, a long time Sony Cli� user and contributor to his own Palm Corner column at MemoWare. Ken seems to really like the T|C, giving it a 4.8 of 5, with a 0.2% off mainly because of the mono headset jack and lack of built-in microphone.

The other review of note is by Judie Hughes at The Gadgeteer, an always a trusted source for hard-core, well-informed and unbiased reviews. Judie likes the T|C as well, calling the screen one of the best she's seen on a PDA. She also mentions the mono headset, lack of built-in mic and lacking support for Mac users.

I'm really quite excited about the Tungsten C and hope to check one out in person next week, as I travel out to the Palm Developer's Conference in San Francisco, CA. If I'm able to wrangle one and test it out, I'll be sure to post some kind of commentary or review of it here.