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Entries in Palm (128)


Calling DevCon Bloggers!

DevCon BlogHey, if like me you're attending the PalmSource DevCon next week and you intend to blog about it, Dave Garr at PalmSource's Blog would like to hear from you.

Stop by and leave a comment so Dave can keep track of and promote your blogging next week. I'm going to copy links to all of the bloggers mentioned there and post them here, so these sites get a little extra publicity:

Palm DevCon Bloggers
Ben Combee (Combee on Palm OS)
Bob Russell (
Neal Bridges (Quartus)
Mike Rowehl (This Is Mobility)
Tom Frauenhofer (Tom's Spin on Things)
Jen (PocketGoddess)
Andrew (Treonauts)
Lance (PalmFocus)
Michael Ashby (NPUG)
Ewan (All About Palm)

Be sure to have a visit by these bloggers and leave a comment!


LifeDrive Launched

amazon_lifedrive.jpgLast week I wrote on the LifeDrive being leaked; this week the LifeDrive has been launched. I thought I'd log a few first impressions:

It's a Brick
Man, this thing is a brick! at 4.76 tall x 2.87 wide x 0.75 thick. To put that in perspective, it's as wide as my Moleskine, a little taller and about twice as thick. I love my Moleskine but it's nowhere near as pocketable as my Zire.

My gut says this size issue going to be an issue for folks that intend to carry one of these in a pocket, because not only is it too wide for a pocket, it's a bit too thick. I think an iPod is about the maximum volume to be pocketable, trading off its thickness by its narrower width. Unfortunately, the LifeDrive seems too big in all directions. It does have a rounded back which may help, still, 3/4" is pretty thick.

OK, I'll give a little benefit of the doubt 'til I see one next week at DevCon. Maybe I can be convinced otherwise in person.

WiFi & Bluetooth
Good to see this, though wireless capability now seems like a basic requirement. Interesting that they've chosen 802.11b over 802.11g — probably for less battery draw and lower cost. I hope all future mid-level and upward palmOne devices have both wireless capabilities built in.

My friend Hal had a great idea today: what if the LifeDrive could be set to automatically mount on a your authorized computer via WiFi, just like a USB drive? That'd be very handy indeed. Hey Florent, can you make Sync Buddy do this? :-)

Hard Drive
I think this is inevitable with the size of stuff people want to carry along. Music, Podcasts, TV and movies, not to mention RSS feeds, email, documents, etc. For a Palm OS device a drive is a big step, even if the iPod mini has had one for quite a while now. I expect to see more drive-based devices, though with RAM at low prices, a 1GB RAM handheld seems quite normal in my opinion.

The spec sheet lists that the drive can hold 2.5 hours of video but there seems to be no mention anywhere of an expected battery life. You'd guess at least 2.5 hours of life to watch that 2.5 hours of video. Should be interesting to see what real-world battery life turns out to be. I hope it's longer than expected, but generally the one flaw of all mobile devices are their short battery lives.

Overall I think the LifeDrive is a nice device, though I have worries about its size and battery life. If the casing feels smaller than it looks in the specs and the battery life is a bit better than anticipated, I think it may do decently.

Once I have a peek at one at DevCon next week I'll be sure to post my thoughts.

Okay, thanks to Craig, here's a list of reviews:

The Gadgeteer
Palm Infocenter
PDA Geek

Have fun!


2 Weeks 'til PalmSource DevCon 2005!

devcon.gifI was just reminded today that PalmSource Mobile Summit & DevCon is coming up quickly — just 14 days from today (May 24-26th in San Jose, CA). I'll be attending once again, acting mainly as a member of the Palm OS User Council, but as a regular ol' Palm user too.

Over the years I've learned that while the event itself is good for information and comes with numerous, unavoidable, sugar-coated techno-PR spiels, the real value of DevCon are the networking opportunities which generally happen in the off-hours.

I've met many great folks through my several years attending DevCon: fellow Palm OS User Council members, developers like Bryan and George at Natara, and PalmSource folks like Michael Mace, and Chris Dunphy, to name but a few.

I'll be writing a travelogue of my DevCon experience, similar to the series featured here in 2003 and 2004. I enjoy journaling travel experiences and it would seem that my loyal readers enjoy them as well. I'll try to sneak a few more pictures into the blog posts this year, as I'll have the Zire 72 along for the ride.

If you're attending the DevCon this year, please get in touch with me, I'd love to meet over a coffee — I'm sure a shot of espresso and a bit of good chat can be wedged in somewhere or another. As far I know, I'm attending several 'sponsored' dinner gatherings in the evening but lunch breaks and other times are still open. Drop me a line with the subject DevCon, if you're interested in setting up a coffee.

I'm sure this year ought to be interesting. I'm looking forward to checking out the rumored palmOne LifeDrive device, and hopefully more details about Palm OS on Linux. PalmSource has a new blog this year, and blogging will be encouraged at the event (WiFi will be rampant). As I learn more about other people's DevCon blogs, I'll share the details here.

Still, even with the fun technical stuff to be experienced, I'm most fired up about seeing many good friends. It's going to be great to see the old crew again, and to meet new people. I can't wait!

I hope to see you there in 2 weeks!


LifeDrive Leaked

amazon_lifedrive.jpgIt seems yesterday's news is confirming the rumors of the new palmOne LifeDrive or Tungsten X (take your pick). CNET's has a detailed article about the new hard-drive equipped device, Gizmodo and Engadget both have tidbits, though I actually saw the LifeDrive image first over at Janet Tokerud's blog (you go Janet!).

The price is supposedly $500, which I wonder, is that a bit high? Ok, so you're getting an iPod mini and a Tungsten C plus bluetooth and a big screen in one package, but can those features be added up to reach $500?

You can pick up an iPod photo for around the same price, but you also get 60 gigs of space. The iPod mini's attraction is the moderately small size (compared to the iPod) and large drive for the size at $200. I dunno, I can see how they arrived at the price, but I'm still feeling it ought to be $399. Well, since it's not yet released, I guess we'll see in 11 days.

One interesting tidbit is the question of size. I'm not talking about the width and height, but the thickness of the LifeDrive. By packing a high-res color 320x480 screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, 4GB hard drive and a Palm OS device in a single package, I have to believe there must be one big honkin' battery to sustain it all. Will that mean the device is the size of a T3 but twice as thick? If so, how will that effect its portability?

Palm OS Garnet? What about Cobalt?
Another interesting tidbit — the LifeDrive will apparently on Palm OS Garnet (Palm OS 5) rather than Cobalt (Palm OS 6). I think it's coming up on 2 years since Cobalt was announced, yet no Palm OS licensee has actually produced a device. I keep hearing rumbles, but no devices.

PalmSource's announcement to move toward Linux with their purchase of China Mobile soft (CMS) is a potential disincentive to go Cobalt, though I have the feeling the larger reason device makers are sticking with Garnet is simple — Garnet costs less to license and they've invested tons of cash to tweak Garnet to suit their needs.

Will it Sell?
So, do I think the LifeDrive will sell? I think from the specs point of view it seems nearly everything a power-user could want (except maybe a 2nd SD card slot and Cobalt). Visually it seems within the Tungsten line (business like but not wild). I think $400 would be a better starting point than $500, though I do realize palmOne will still get a bunch of early-adopters to buy the thing at retail before they likely drop the price $100 in 6-9 months.

But mainly it depends on how well the LifeDrive performs. If it has dreadful battery life, well, then it will have some trouble (especially when compared to an iPod). I'm not sure compelling features will save it, if the battery life is short, because the primary uses — WiFi, MP3 and probably movies and TV — will demand that the device lasts long enough to watch a movie, a few TV shows or a few hours of web surfing. After all, great features can't be used if it poops out after 30 minutes.

If the LifeDrive is too thick (because of all the stuff crammed into the case) I think it might lose as well. Being pocketable is a key to a device like an iPod or Palm (at least is is for me and many others). If this thing is annoying to carry in a jeans pocket, it's going to have trouble as well. I'm hoping palmOne has already thought of these issues.

What do you all think?


The Right Tool For The Job

Zire72s.jpgI've been thinking quit a bit about productivity and the tools I use the past few months. This pondering and evaluating has brought me to the realization that my once critical PDA, a Palm handheld, has become a much less critical part of my life.

As a good chunk of my readers are fellow Palm and mobile device users, I thought it might be interesting to journal my thoughts on this change — to see if others are in the same place or have become even more reliant on their PDA or mobile device.

Once upon a time I was a pretty hard-core Palm enthusiast. I used my Palm all the time, even evangelizing others to try handhelds themselves. I created ran the Palm Tipsheet for several years of my life, helping others make the most of their own Palm handhelds. All of this led to deeper involvement in the wonderful Palm community, which I still enjoy being part of.

I'd still call myself a Palm handheld and PDA fan, though I'm not as hard-core as I once was. Of course I still use my Zire 72, though I've found it occupies a much different space in my daily life management plan. Rather than being a central device for managing personal and work data, it's become a mostly read-only device.

My work and personal schedule and tasks are handled in Apple iCal, contacts stored in Address Book and honestly, I hardly use Memos any more. I'd rather add a note to a task or contact, or enter comments in a text file or paper notebook. I may alter my calendar or tasks in the Zire now and then, but my PDA has definitely become a secondary device.

My other main activities with the Zire are reading blogs, websites and e-books with iSilo, reading e-books with eReader Pro, reading the Bible with MyBible and listening to MP3s with RealOne player. I sync e-mail to the Zire but very seldom read mail or even reply to e-mail, even though I have a system which works pretty well with my Mac and Entourage.

What Changed?
I think there have been two significant changes in my PDA usage. First was the change from Graffiti 1 (Classic) to Graffiti 2 — the second was my re-discovery of paper and notebooks (Miquelrius, Moleskine and 3x5 cards).

The death of Graffiti Classic had a large impact on my interest in inputting text via handwriting recognition. My Sony Clié was the last device that could natively capture my writing at a reasonable speed and accuracy rate.

When I moved to the Tungsten E, I already knew that Graffiti 2 was not for me — I'd invested years in mastering Graffiti Classic. I hacked in the Graffiti 1 libraries and this seemed to work OK but not great. Over time, the lower quality recognition on my TE had a chilling effect on my Graffiti input. Eventually, I dreaded entering anything into my Palm.

I began to realize that it made much more sense to input information directly into the Mac (where I work most of the day) rather than fight with the TE's lousy handwriting recognition. This moved me to Palm Desktop and eventually iCal for calendar and task management, which I find very effective for my needs.

By the time I replaced the Tungsten E with a Zire 72 that has decent handwriting recognition, it was too late. I occasionally use the Zire to capture data, but have found my pocket Moleskine or a 3x5 card and a good pen provides a much more immediate and adaptable place for data capture. With paper, I feel it's OK to doodle or scribble visual ideas along with the text — something I never did with my PDA.

Finally, with a Moleskine or 3x5 card, I never have to worry that my battery might be low. As my PDAs have improved in features over the years, their battery lives have decreased, and it's inevitable that when I need my Zire the most, the battery is low.

What about a Treo or Smartphone?
I have many friends who use and love Treo 600s and 650s or similar smartphones. In fact Marc Orchant, a fellow Moleskine user just bought a Treo 650 for himself. I've considered the idea, but I'm just not mobile enough to justify the costs involved.

I work at my home office 97% of the time and when I do go mobile, my Mac or my pre-pay Virgin Mobile phone is along for the ride. The Virgin Mobile account works better for me than a highly-priced voice and data plan from a mainline carrier. I mean, if I'm mobile for 2 hours in a week, do I really need high-speed 3G service to read the latest scoop about the rumored PalmOne LifeDrive while I'm pumping gas?

The Right Tool for the Job
My dad always taught me to use the right tool for the job. If he caught me banging a nail in with a crescent wrench, he'd always repeat that line "Mike, use the right tool for the job!" What a realistic, practical way to approach how I manage my life. Sure, I could "make" my Zire 72 or a new Treo 650 to do almost everything, from full-on PIM management, web surfing, sketching and e-mail, but if I have a Mac, paper notebooks, pens and other tools which excel at each task, why?

The real question for me was this — am I simply making "busywork" for my Palm simply because it could potentially be done? Just because I can cook a roast on the engine of my Saturn, does it mean I should sell off our stove and use the car to cook dinner? Of course not.

For my lifestyle, I don't need a fully-integrated smartphone. I have a speedy broadband connection for most of my work, notebooks and paper to capture ideas and sketches and a PDA for mobile reading and music play. For the kind of life I lead, this balance of tools to fit their best function just makes sense.

For more mobile people, they can truly see a smartphone or PDA being a more critical part of their work and personal lives — that's great! My decision to put PDA use into proper context is not a call for Treo users to abandon them for 3x5 cards. Each person needs to decide what works best for their own lifestyle.

Hopefully my experience and observations will challenge you to consider what tools are truly best for your own needs — rather than doing things with one device "just because it can."

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