Palm Tungsten Blog

Monday, September 30, 2002

A screen protector for the SL10 arrived from Brando in Hong Kong today - pretty quick service and not a bad price (7.91 including shipping). I have made a mess of installing it though, since my spectacle cleaning cloth was not lint-free enough and I got some dust on the sticky side. Fortunately, you can wash it under the tap and start again, assuming you have a hair-dryer handy!

Saturday, September 28, 2002

External Memory

OK, if you are a busy medic in a busy hospital, you might be carrying around 60mb of pharmaceutical data on your Palm, but does the average user really need external memory?

The two main uses of external memory are to back-up internal memory and to carry large data files. If you Hotsync every day, the chance of serious data loss is small. Only if the data entered since the last Hotsync is critical and hard to duplicate does the possibility of on-board back-ups become essential. And if you have flash ROM, these may be possible without resorting to external memory. I often write down notes or thoughts on my Palm, and feel that it would be disastrous if I lost them, but I am sure I overestimate the loss and underestimate my ability to remember and reconstruct.

So what about large data files? A quick review of the applications I use which support VFS is revealing:

1. Various ebook readers: I carry about 6 books on the memory card, but in fact only ever have one on the go at a time, so I could easily keep that one in RAM and change it when I finish it.
2. HandBase: I only have a few databases here and none is big enough to warrant keeping on a memory card.
3. iSilo: Now I must admit that I keep a copy of the latest Foxpop upload on my Palm and at 1.6mb highly compressed, that has to live on a memory card. But that is a luxury, and the other websites I read offline (The Guardian and the Met Office five day forecasts for York and London, plus my own Blogs) come to less than 250k.

None of my other data heavy apps have VFS support (Avantgo does not, nor the Radio Times, nor pedit, nor Life Balance), but I still seem to be getting on OK with 1.8mb free on an 8mb unit.

So if I am honest, external memory is a luxury, and not essential for my PDA to do its job.

Friday, September 27, 2002

I am thinking of re-launching this Blog (What? Already?) as 'Low End Palm'. In the world of desktop computers we often find ourselves with a machine powerful enough to run the economy of a small country or edit the latest Spielberg film, while all we want to do is check e-mail, write a letter and read the news. Sadly, the same seems to be happening in the PDA market, or at least starting to happen, as the Palm OS manufacturers try to compete with the PPC manufacturers for the longest list of gadgets and gizmos.

Fortunately, there are still entry-level devices about, but not many and maybe not for long. If you are reading this you have almost certainly at some point been tempted to buy some item of mobile technology because it can do amazing things, only to be brought up sharp by the realization that you have no need and little desire to do those things. So I would like to dedicate this Blog to the thought that everything worth doing on a PDA can be done on a basic model.

I don't want to 'dis' the latest hi-end technology coming out from Palm or Sony, merely to point out how much you can do with an older or more basic device. Do you prefer a B&W screen or AAA batteries? Send me comments or stories, please.

Well, I have discovered that if you are having a hard enough time with dud Palms (see below), they will no an on-the-doorstep exchange. That is teh courier brings a new one and takes away the dud. That speeds things up a bit. And this one works.

Monday, September 23, 2002

HO-HUM. The replacement Palm is a dud! I did as asked, charged it for 4 hours without touching it, but it will not switch on or reboot (either a hard or a soft reset). I had a few minutes where it was displaying 7 vertical lines on the screen, which is my greatest success to date. Another one to send back. Thank goodness for my 'back-up' SL10. I think I has better buy a Pocketop keyboard asap.

I dispatched my faulty m505 on Thursday and the replacement has arrived this morning. That is pretty good service. And the replacement looks in really good condition. It is on the cradle having its 4 hour charge right now, so I have not had a look for dust in the digitizer, but the screen is unmarked.

I was planning to sell it and save up for a Tungsten T, but when I have it back in my hand, I cannot make up my mind.

Friday, September 20, 2002

My six-year-old daughter has become inreasingly interested in my PDAs, so I let her play a bit with an old Vx. She loves Vexed and Bubblet, and likes having alarms go off with hand-written messages (I use Geeksounds to get Scooby-doo etc as the alarms), Anyway, it did not seem to me that the Vx was the right device for her, and today I swapped it for an m100 with PalmPix camera.

I have played with the m1xx series in shops, but never in the privacy of my own home, and I must say that I am impressed. They are light (126 grams with batteries) and very comfortable in the hand. The screen is a bit smaller, but you don't notice that after a while. In terms of 'feel in the hand', it compares rather well with my state-of-the-art-in-entry-level-devices SL10. I think less techie people would prefer the Palm. It bodes well for the Zire.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Another day, another sig:

"All opinions posted are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled."

"My opinions are entirely my own - you can't have them!"

(from different people - I think there is going to be a run of these).

Looking for DiddleBug to install on the Clie (the 'NotePad' application belongs to Palm not PalmSource, so is not available on non-Palm devices) I discovered that Geeksounds has been updated. I love it!

Well, the m505 is in the post to Palm and I am back with the Clie. I love the form factor and, despite what people always say, there is no problem with the switch from colour to b&w. But it takes some fine tuning to get everything running on a Clie - 2 spontaneous hard resets already.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

I am in 'communication' with Palm Tech Support over my m505 (which is a replacement as it is). The battery will not take a full chrage and what it gets disappears depressingly quickly. Even more worrying, the charge level sometimes goes down while it is in the cradle. They suggested a hard reset etc. etc. but that has not cured it. However, losing LauncherIII and returning to the standard Palm Launcher revealed a new symptom: the on screen charging indicator is 'erratic'. Ho hum - I reckon I will get an exchange before long. If only they would answer e-mails a bit more quickly ...

Hmmm ... Blogging has rather slipped my mind recently. Been working with Elisabeth to get a really compact offline version of Foxpop. You can now download the September edition as an iSilo file which is a trifling 1.6mb.

Monday, September 09, 2002

There was an eerie absence of spam in my mailbox this morning. It couldn't be, could it, that even the spammers are holding back from 'advertising' on September 11th??? That would be a really weird combination of values.

I tend not to keep up with games software, but my mother-in-law is staying and Palm games allow one to be slightly sociable by staying in the same room but still tune-out from the conversation/soap-operas. So I found Vexed this weekend and it is great. Highly recommended and free -BRILL.

Friday, September 06, 2002

When I swap between different Palm devices, I take the same Hotsync username with me, because much of my software is registered under that name only. But not every device needs the same set-up: for example, hi-res Clies need ThinFontFix, but that crashes Palms, and colour devices need Khroma but B&W ones do not, and so on. So I like to make a complete back-up to external memory before doing the switch, so when I go back to that unit, any little gadgets I had installed are only a 'Copy' command away.

Now, MSBackup on the Clie allows you to hold several different back-ups on your Memory Stick, but BackupBuddyVFSFree, which I use on the Palm, automatically deletes a previous back-up when you make a new one. So the simplest way to create an archive is to rename the backup folder on the SD card to 'Archive' or whatever. Unfortunately, my trusty Filez file-manager does not seem able to do this, but the surprisingly speedy TealMover has no problem with the operation. Well done Tealpoint Software (again!).

Thursday, September 05, 2002

I used the SL10 for 3 weeks before going back to my m505. I find it hard to believe, but the Palm now feels large in my hand and heavy in my pocket!

What made me change back was not the screen in itself, though the 'snap' of the m505 screen redrawing is much nicer, but how it affected my use of the PDA. On the Clie I found myself reading more eBooks than I ever did on the Palm, but I almost totally ceased taking notes/memos. Since becoming a pedit junkie, I use my Palm to do all my 'pen and paper' thinking. So I have no notebooks. So while using the Clie as my main squeeze I simply stopped thinking ...

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Another sig, probably from the same guy:

(This program has performed an illegal operation and needs to close) "But I only went to! Oh..."

I think this sort of teasing is healthy when the target is a company like Microsoft - it is not going to affect their 'market position', but it might spur them on to improve their products *before* releasing them.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Have you ever noticed how many Bloggings begin with 'I'? Is it an intrinsically self-centred activity?

I am back from a totally internet-free holiday in the country. I took a Palm of course, but only used it for reading eBooks. I have read some novels on a Palm, but find it much more suited to reading short-stories, which is nice, since I so rarely read books of short-stories. I have been using MobiPocket, which has good VFS support but takes forever to start up.