Palm Tungsten Blog
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
The US Palm site has now got downloads for Windows and Mac versions of Palm Desktop which will work with all Palms (thanks to Aaron for the tip). While the UK site has been advertising Desktop 4.1 for a week now, they mention nothing about VoiceMemos, hi-res Notepad support, or as on the US site, Quick Install and Palm Photos.
Setting aside the inability to keep the UK website properly up to date, it seems like Palm's thinking is: the only reason for having a download available is when there is a newer version of the software available for a Palm than that which was distributed with it. Apart from this being simply false (people lose CDs, forget to take them to remote sites etc), it conflicts with one of the big selling points of Palms: Palm produces a good-quality, regularly updated desktop PIM for free. If you use a PPC, you need to use, and keep paying for, the latest versions of Outlook. Take a look at Elisabeth Liddell's rant here.
Monday, April 28, 2003
As you know, I prefer to use PocketTunes for music on the TT, and Craig has just pointed me to the perfect skin for it: iTunes!
Saturday, April 26, 2003
I have recently gone back to using ThoughtManager for keeping lists. Thus I distinguish between (i) ToDos, which are dated reminders (or sometimes suggestions) to do specific tasks, (ii) Lists, which are undated and either breakdown major tasks into their components or keep track of future contingencies such as films to watch and books to read, and (iii) Memos, which are all those scraps of information about the world and about my thoughts which need to be kept on hand or at the least not assigned to oblivion.
Software-wise, ToDos go into DateBk5, which is getting more and more TT-friendly with each release, lists are kept in ThoughtManager, and Memos are handled by pedit. These are all excellent poducts but I find one thing about ThoughtManager irritating: it keeps each list in a separate database. This does not affect the functionality, but it is unnecessary and out of keeping with the Palm approach to computing.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Well, I was underawed by the response to my offer of a Piel Frama case. One tip, and that was a software recommendation. But a pretty good one, so Joe gets the case.
He recommended a little utilitity which gives you much greater control over the power-consuming behaviour of your TT, called Energy Dimmer. Basically, it allows you to create a series of profiles corresponding to your different Palm using environments, and within each profile set the auto-off time, the screen brightness, and here is the best bit, a time after which the screen will dim, but the TT stay on. Very neat.
Personally I miss the good old EPOC days when this sort of utility was freeware, but at $8 it is pretty affordable.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Hard Reset Update
Five points from PalmSource. I settled down to listen to some tunes today and was struck by how terrible they sounded. A quick check with Filez revealed that after the Hard Reset last week, the PalmAudioUpdate had not been restored. This is odd, since the Digitizer patch had been restored. A well, work of a few minutes to sort it out and return to my Sunday afternoon easy listening.
Friday, April 11, 2003
E-mail Address Change
Just in case any readers have added my address to their addressbook, please be warned that I am dropping ‘email@example.com’ in favour of ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Why? Because the former is a spam magnet. Pick a domain, any domain you like, you can be sure that ‘email@example.com’ will be a valid e-mail address. It makes you a sitting duck.
I had a nice reminder today of why Palms are so great. - I had been messing around trying to set up a PPP over bluetooth connection last night. When I went to bed I noticed my TT was doing something funny, but assumed it would just power down and I could sort it out in the morning when I was more awake. WRONG. It must have got itself into an infinite loop and by this morning the battery was dead.
This could have been a real disaster. But all I did was pop the TT in the cradle, do a hard reset to get it going again, then Hotsync (twice) and everything was completely back to last night. Doing regular Hotsyncs is essential for this to work, and I also do a daily back-up to SD card, but the point was that recovering from a total failure involved no knowledge or skills (except how to do a hard reset). No data was lost, nothing needed to be re-installed, and it only took a few minutes.
The only problem I did encounter was due to the fact that I use Launcher X with automatic refresh turned OFF. Until I did a manual refresh, every time I tried to change 'tab', the TT reset itself.
I did not restore from the back-up to SD card for two reasons. (1) I use BackupBuddyVFS, which I bought in OS4 days, and it does not handle restores very well on the TT. One can get around this by using Filez to copy everything over. (2) The main function of having the back-up on the SD card for me is to recover individual databases which I have messed up by a bad decision or a weird experiment.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
A comparative case review
For me there are just three important considerations in choosing a case for my Palm:
1: Form - can I carry my Palm comfortably in a trouser pocket while walking moderate distances, i.e. 1 - 3 miles (any further and I am likely to take a backpack)?
2: Function - can I do everything I want without taking the Palm out of the case? In particular, can I do everything while standing up?
3: Protection - does it provide adequate protection when the Palm is in my pocket (protecting the Palm while it is in a bag is a different matter)?
To lay down the ground rules: belt clips are out. I get far to self-conscious about the whole Batman thing. So the solution must be a very slim case or protective cover. I did use the aluminium flip-cover from Pocket Solutions (http://www.thepocketsolution.com/) for quite a while, and have made my own changes to its design, but two accidents led me to search for something more protective. In this reveiw, I am going to compare three: the $120 i-volution Natu from Vaja (http://www.vajacases.com/), the $35 Slipper from E&B (http://www.ebcases.com/), and the $29 flip-top from Digital Express (http://shop.brando.com.hk/).
These three cases are very different solutions to the same design problem: to get the slimmest possible leather case for a TT. The Natu and E&B apply signature designs, whereas the Digital Express case is a problem-specific solution (which I guess is fairly obvious, since Covertec came up with an almost identical solution). They have one thing in common: they flip open with the 'hinge' at the top.
I have expanded my three criteria to seven to make the assessment less idiosyncratic. I have added 'cost' (not value), 'quality', 'style', and divided functionality into 'functions' for such things as ease of access to hard buttons, and 'compatibility' for how easy it is to use peripherals such as the cradle or a keyboard. 'Form' has become 'bulk' to give it a clear separation from 'style'. The first number is a ranking, the second a mark out of 5. The same score out of 5 is necessary but not sufficient for the same ranking.
As you can see, an analysis like this shows the cases to be pretty evenly matched. The E&B and Digital Express come out exactly equal on rankings aggregate and almost equal on scorings, but for different reasons. The E&B only gets one 1st and one 3rd whereas the Digital Express gets three of each. In other words, the E&B does most things competently. The Natu is seriously compromised on compatibility and price, but excels in many areas. This gives it a good rankings aggregate, but since the areas where it is bad it is VERY bad, it comes a poor 3rd on points. I tried not to double-count weaknesses. For example, the E&B is a rather loose fit, which comprises protection and also functionality, since the force required to open the slider often removes it from the case completely.
Now how do I choose? Well, to tell you the truth I have gone back to using the Cover-up and adapted a Proporta neoprene case for when I need extra protection.
[It is the neoprene case designed for a PPC machine. I took out the very thick ABS rear stiffener, and now I can get my TT with Cover-up, my ear-bud headphones, 2 SD cards, 2 credit cards and a driving licence into it quite comfortably. I left the slightly thinner front stiffener in place, becaus eit gives shape to the case and protection to my credit and SD cards. The neoprene gives some impact resistance and some water-resistance.]
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Looking at the webstats for this page, I discover that 9.02% of visitors (i.e. more than 4 per day) do not use Windows, Mac or a flavour of Unix. That suggests that some people are browsing with their Palms. Oddly, however, only 5.44% are not using some flavour of MSIE, Netscape or Opera. I guess that just goes to show how little you can really tell from webstats.
This blog has been a bit quiet of late, so I thought I would run a 'competition' to liven things up. I have a Piel Frama black and tan leather case with belt-clip to give away in return for the best Tungsten T tip or trick I get sent by 5th April. 'Best' here is totally subjective, i.e. it means the one I like the most!
Quasi-Legal stuff: this is not really a competition in any legal sense of the word. I make no promises. I am just inviting you guys to send me your favourite tips and tricks and if any of them are any good, I will probably publish them on this Blog. And I do have a brand new unused Piel Frama case surplus to requirements, which I will give away to a reader of this Blog, probably on the basis of the tip or trick s/he sends me before the 5th April.
Natu to Scuba
I have been using the Vaja 'Natu' case for the last few days and was really quite taken by it: it is like a protective glove around your TT. I felt really confident that the TT would be protected from bumps and grazes. You have to take the TT out to use the Hotsync cradle, and that is a fiddly, so I Hotsync by bluetooth to my Mac and have ordered a really cool sync'n'charge cable from Brando. Having the hard buttons covered up is not that bad. I quickly became used to how best to press them, and found that using the stylus on them was very efficient. More irritating is that you cannot use the XT keyboard with the TT in the Natu case.
But it was not these gripes which led me yesterday to put the Natu back in my drawer and start using the Scuba case again! Yes, the much maligned Scuba case. Because I had to take the TT out of the Natu to Hotsync at work, I found myself using the naked TT, and it felt so good in my hand. I realized that the Natu case was adding enough bulk to change the ergonomics of teh Palm. But why the Scuba? Well, because it uses the same side-clip attachment as the standard plastic screen cover, it is really easy to pop the TT in and out. So it goes in the Scuba case when in my pocket or bag, and comes out when I am in my office or at home.
However, when ordering the cable from Brando, my mouse slipped and I 'accidentally' ordered one of these as well: http://shop.brando.com.hk/dettclipcase.php