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Entries in Palm (128)

Thursday
Sep152005

Analog vs. Digital PDA Thoughts

Hipster-CoverEver since coming across the original HipsterPDA idea several months ago, I've been experimenting with integration of analog and digital methods of idea capture, task management and information storage. While I've not quite settled all of the details of the system, I thought it might be interesting to record my thoughts and share details — in case it might be helpful to others.

Moleskines

I still use and love my Moleskines, mainly for capturing sketches and more permanent, thought-through ideas. I use a pocket sketchbook for sketches, pocket grid book for recording fleshed out ideas, and a pocket lined book for book notes.

For a few weeks I even played with a pocket 2005 daily diary, but the combination of size (it's 3/4“ thick) and worries about data loss of personal and work info leaned me back toward my Palm Zire. However, I am again pondering a pocket 2006 weekly diary just for managing my personal appointments, which are really quite simple.

HispterPDA

Hipster-SpreadAs for 3x5 cards and the HipsterPDA, I've been slowly using this method for personal use and am enjoying the experience immensely. I find myself capturing more ideas and tasks with pen and cards than ever with the Palm — maybe this is due to my long history with pen and paper before integrating a PalmPilot into my life.

I happened across an old Day-Timer pocket leather case that fits 3x5 cards perfectly, and have taken to carrying 2 3x5 stacks and a G2 pen inside of it (see the detailed pics below). I keep a stack of blank cards on the right, for capturing ideas and my ordered stack of cards on the left (to-dos, notes, etc.). The tiny pen holder fits the clip of a G2 perfectly!

While this setup works for personal info, I do occasionally capture ideas for work — those are integrated into the Mac-based system I have going which uses OmniOutliner Pro for tasks and iCal for tracking my billable time.

Palm Zire 72

What about the Palm? Well, I still use and like my Zire 72 — but it has become much less of a critical tool lately. The main uses of my Zire are as an contact list, mobile secured info manager (SplashID) e-book, iSilo-ed website and Bible reading, a little WiFi surfing and email, MP3 music playing, recipe storage and occasional photo and movie captures. For these tasks it works well, but as these are not critical, it's sometimes left at home in favor of the HipsterPDA or even just my pre-pay phone.

I've found that I rarely managed work data with the Palm, because I can do so directly on the Mac (which I am at 98% of the time). I've even reduced my personal PIM use of the Zire to the address book and keeping a few recipes handy. Most of my other Palm uses are reading, listening, reference or photo/movie capture activities.

Obviously paper and pen can't replace many of these features, so I do intend to keep using the Palm — just not as fully as I once had. I'm just finding the maintenance of the sync and backup more of a burden than they are worth for personal use... hence my thought to move to a Moleskine weekly journal for my basic activity management.

General Thoughts

I've not fully adapted the system just yet — it's still in flux as I figure it out. I'm not giving up digital tools — just being realistic about the places where analog and digital options fit best. If I come to a more settled point I may post about that and share additional ideas that I've noted along the way.

What I am finding is a craving for simplicity, and the Palm has lost a little of this for me. I can write pretty quickly in Graffiti classic, but it's still no match for pen on paper. There is just the slightest mental drag involved in Palm data entry, which I don't feel with pen and paper. Maybe that's the reason for my decreased use of the Palm for data entry.

Whatever it is, I can look back and see a definite reduction in my use and interest in digital PDAs. I do still like these devices, and use them, but am coming to the point where their required care and feeding seems more a burden than ever before.

If you have suggestions, ideas, thoughts or want to share your own experiences blending analog and digital tools into your own life, please leave a comment. It's always great to learn from the readers and visitors to this blog. :-)


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Friday
Aug122005

Palm Like Mercury

Palm Logos This week as I've discussed the recent events in the Palm and mobile device world (Treo 670, Tapwave going bye-bye, etc.) I kept coming back to an interesting theme — that Palm, Inc. seems to be very much like a ball of mercury. Let me explain.

In the old days you had Palm, Inc. who brought the Pilot PDAs to the masses. It was headed by visionary Jeff Hawkins, with support from guys like Ed Colligan (Business/Marketing) and Rob Haitani (User Interface). They built very hot mobile devices that everyone wanted.

But then things started to splinter. Hawkins broke off to do Handspring and Palm spun out PalmSource so the Palm OS would have a neutral space to operate and gather licensees. Pretty soon, the unified Palm we once knew was separated into many smaller pieces, like little balls of mercury.

Fast forward to 2004/2005. Handspring is scooped up by palmOne, Hawkins is back. Colligan comes back and so do many key people from the original Palm Pilot days, including guys like Rob Haitani. Palm is riding the very hot Treo wave, and enjoys the popularity of several other mobile devices. Meanwhile, Palm OS licensees seem to be falling off the wagon left and right. It seems palmOne is the only one left standing.

Next thing you know, palmOne buys the Palm name back from PalmSource, making the unification of the mercury balls nearly complete. The only ball missing is ownership of the Palm OS (or more correctly, Palm OS 5) which Palm has modified heavily to suit their needs. It's almost a big ball of mercury again.

I don't know what the significance of this observation holds, other than there seems to be a cycle happening with Palm, of separation and reconnection. Judging by how successful the original Palm was with Pilots, this seems a good omen for today's version of Palm, with a very popular Treo, LifeDrive, TE2, Zire.


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Monday
Aug082005

I Love the ZireCam

I can still remember the discussions about cameras being added to Palm devices and how many complained about quality. Well, I've been very pleased with the Zire cam this year, even though the picture quality is pretty lousy.

I love it because it lets me capture moments that I'd never capture, as I don't bring a separate camera along with me. For instance the great photo above of my son Nathan and his buddy Ryan in Pennsylvania:

nate-ryan.jpg

I saw them running, laughing and holding hands — out came the Zire 72 Cam and zoop, I captured the moment.

Cool, eh? :-)


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Saturday
Aug062005

Treo 670 and Palm OS Observations

Yesterday, my good buddy and fellow Palm OS fan Michael Ashby broke the news of a pretty real-looking sighting of a Treo 670 running... Windows Mobile. Uh oh.

This has been a rumor on the net for months now, after several unsubstantiated leaks from various sources, but these latest photos and movie clips seem to indicate this is probably the real deal. Obviously, until it's announced or a product is released, nothing is a sure thing — but this surely seems like a done deal to me.

The larger question is, what does it mean? Well, it's not a great sign for Palm OS in my opinion, when Palm Inc., the largest, most visible (and some might argue most significant) licensee of the Palm OS appears to be on the verge of licensing Windows Mobile.

Yes, Palm, Inc. has also agreed to license Palm OS, and if a Treo 670 really appears, it would only expand the market share of Palm, Inc. However on a deeper level, for Palm, the pioneer of Palm OS to add its arch-rival's OS as an option, it's got to be perceived as a big psychological and PR hit against Palm OS.

Factor in the lack of any Palm OS 6 (Cobalt) device from Palm, Inc. or anyone else for that matter, and Palm Inc's insistence on sticking with a heavily modified Palm OS 5 (Garnet), this is a disturbing trend for Palm OS. Until some kind of device appears running Palm OS 6 on Linux, I sense a fading of Palm OS.

With the fading of Palm OS, I sense an ascendency of Windows Mobile. Palm OS may still have followers, but at what point to buyers choose the package that most resembles their Windows box? Do most consumers even know or care what OS a Treo runs, besides hard-core geeks?

As a Palm OS fan, it seems there has been a stream of negative news following PalmSource DevCon. First, Tapwave announces the end of the Zodiac, followed by The Great Purge of PalmSource, a quiet end to Euro DevCon this fall, Tapwave seeming to totally collapse and now a pretty convincing sighting of a Windows Mobile Treo 670.

The Palm OS of old is changing fast. PDAs are stagnant and the mobile phone, both smartphone and semi-smartphone are rising. Unconnected PDAs are a niche item, getting even nicheier, wireless phones are replacing them.

I'm going to guess that Palm OS's future lies in smartphones and semi-smart phones and the shrinking niche of the old-style PDA, but that it will not look anything like it has 'til now. Times are changing...

Wednesday
Jul202005

IYHY.com: Website De-Gunkifier for Mobiles

Got a great tip today from Matt Henderson about the conversion tool IYHY.com that I just had to share here. The site, by B. Adam Howell is pretty simple — it strips extraneous images and gunk from websites so they work better in small-screen and low-bandwidth situations (like on a mobile device).

The tool can also create a bookmarked list of your favorite converted sites, if you choose to create a username and password, though this is an added bonus. Here's Howell's description of the tool:


IYHY is an attempt to fix the mobile web today instead of one or five years from now. If you sign-up IYHY will keep a running, editable list of your “mobile bookmarks”. If you don't sign-up, that's cool too, IYHY will just strip all the crap from a web page and give you the good stuff when you're on the go -- the content.

So, if you use a Treo, or another wireless mobile device with minimal bandwidth, or you just want the content, check out IYHY.com or the founder's blog.

Update 2005-08-22

Dennis Hettema wote in recently to tell me about PHONifier — a tool similar to IYHY.com, but is open source. The advantage being, you could install this tool on your own server and never worry if IYHY.com or other services will be around in the future to serve you.


PHONifier was initially developed to optimize webpages automatically. You set PHONifier.com to be your mobile homepage and then surf the web through the PHONifier proxy. Alternatively, you could install the PHONifier script on your server to have it automatically update your webpages when a mobile device tries to access them. Other uses we're working on are: as an RSS/Atom reader (Already implemented! Give it a try with your favorite RSS feed) and as a proofing/testing tool.

Looks useful, especially for DIY folks that have access to servers and don't mind doing a little installation. Dennis, thanks for the tip! :-)


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