Palm Tungsten Blog

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

BT Hotsync

A reader called Gido suggested that I might deal with my slow bluetooth hotsyncs by changing the connection speed settings. This reminded me of those good ol' Geofox days: the Geofox often had trouble making a serial connection to a PC running Win95, and the solution was to set the baud rates as low as they would go (9600), then build them up until it was all working at a bearable speed.

So I changed the setting from 'Fastest possible' and made sure that both the Mac and the TT were trying to connect at 115k. I still have a problem with the PocketMoney transactions database, which is only 151kb but has 1881 records and takes 150 secods to back-up, but if I hotsync three times in a row without changing anything on the TT (1st one transfers data, 2nd one backs-up changed databases, 3rd one has nothing to do), I can get the hotsync time down to 90 seconds now, which is a great improvement.

Thanks Gido.

Saturday, August 23, 2003


Whenever the subject of backing up a Tingsten appears on a discussion list or message board, everyone recommends BackUpMan. Now I use BackUpBuddyVFS simply because I already owned it when I bought my TT. There are some issues with OS5 in the Advanced mode, but I do not use that mode, and when I wrote to BlueNomad's support they sent me a beta of the new release.

Since I had half an hour to wait while my daughter had a riding lesson today, I decided to try out BackUpMan. It is not noticeably faster than BBVFS, though it does save a few seconds by not backing up things which do not need to or cannot be restored after a hard reset. It also lacks the option to encrypt the backed up files. But the main difference is one of concept. BBVFS does the simple and obvious thing: it copies every databases from RAM into a directory on the SD card. BackUpMan does the Microsoft thing: it cretaes a huge .set file on the SD card which contains a copy of the RAM. Not a big difference but (a) only BackUp Man can read the set file, (b) if the set file is corrupted while writing to the card, you lose the whole of your backup, whereas if there is corruption with BBVFS, you only lose some files, (c) the only way to access the databases stored in teh set file is by restoring them to RAM and thus wiping ut the file in RAM.

These are sufficient reasons for me to stick with BBVFS. I rarely have a hard reset away from a desktop computer, and I Hotsync several times a day, so the SD card backup is only one extra line of security. But I have found it helpful to have a copy of my RAM to hand. Sometimes I mess around with some settings or databases and and later realize I want to reserve the option to restore them to the original at a later date. With BBVFS, I just need to make a safe copy of the backedup databases somewhere else on my SD card.

Weather forecasts for iSilo

Thinking about iSilo, I ought to share something I noticed recently: the BBC 5-day Weather forecasts by city now has a 'printer-friendly' version, e.g.:

This page makes a really easy to use iSilo file, so now I have both the BBC and the Met Office 5 day forecasts always to hand. They usually agree about the next 24 hours, but the Met Office seems more optimistic about the following days!

Bluetooth Hotsync

Normally I Hotsync to my work computer and update all the changing content (iSilo, RadioTimes etc.) there. If I want to install something at home, I use bluetooth file transfer. However, my work computer has had to go to the doctor, so I am doing the big Hotsyncs at home via bluetooth (with the TT plugged into the travel charger).

It works fine, but boy is it slooooow. The first Hotsync with the machine (i.e. when absolutely every record has to be checked) takes over 30 minutes, and subsequent ones regularly take 15-20 minutes. For some reason the transactions database for PocketMoney takes an especially long time, but even just straighforward back-ups of databases without conduits seem to take forever.

Does anyone know if this is just a feature of bluetooth or whether I need to tweak a setting somewhere or other?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003


I have been using Tomeraider for more than 5 years now. It was initially an EPOC product, then there was a Windows version, and now there is Palm and PPC. The main virtues of Tomeraider are that it has a very good cmpression algorithm and an incredibly fast search routine which allows me to home in on an entry in an 17mb database as quickly as I can enter the subject line.

Now one of the things which made the original Palms such a success as organizers has also made them less good as pocketable computers - they do not have a proper file system, in fact they do not really have files at all, only databases constructed to a fairly rigid format. This means that files need to be converted to Palm databases before they can be read on the Palm (there are some apps out there which can read unconverted files stored on an SD card, but the principle remains that there is a standard 'Palm format'), and Tomeraider files are no exception.

The conversion functionality is built into the Windows version of Tomeraider (and does not need registration), but that leaves us Mac users feel rather unloved. I have to do the conversions on a borrowed windows PC and install them direct to my SD card with a USB card reader. But there is good news on the horizon, for today I had an e-mail from Proporta saying:

We are actually close to getting a Mac version [of Tomeraider] done, which we have commissioned from a 3rd party. They have had some setbacks but it should be out in 8 weeks.

I will let you know as soon as I get hold of a copy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


When I gt my T|T I sold my Stowaway in a bundle with my old m505. This was partly because I thought it was more saleable that way, and partly because there was no OS5 driver for the Stowaway at that time. When funds allowed I bought a Palm Ultra Thin keyboard to replace it. But I never got along with that: it was great folded but I tend to use a lot of punctuationa nd numbers, so the green and blue FN keys were very fiddly. Furthermore, I type badly and rest my left little finger on the edge of the keyboard, which made the Ultra Thin unstable. So to-morrow I swap the Ultra Thin for a traditional Stowaway. Is that a crazy, nostalgic decision? Or an admission that often the classic designs are the best?

Monday, August 04, 2003


Yesterday I went to Whitby with my family and inadvertently took my T|T onto the beach (it was in a rucksack in teh car which was commandeered for picnic purposes). This reminded me of the following story.

What a bad idea! When you are on a beach the most salient feature is SAND. And the thing about sand on beaches is it gets everywhere. There is no escape, no safe sand-free place to put your precious equipment while you help dig a Sand(!)castle or whatever. And it is equally impossible to get rid of it completely without taking a shower. So everything you touch also gets sand on it and so on ...

Saturday, August 02, 2003

A brave individual has made for himself the perfect T|T cover:

I don't think I would be prepared to do that myself, but I have often thought about salvaging the plastic clip from my useless 'Scuba' case, and attaching a leather flap to it. But I hope a case manufacturer finds this link and tries something similar themselves. With thr T2 out and the T3 rumoured to be on the way, it seems like the T|T form factor is here to stay for a year or two. SO how about it Vaja or E&B?

Thanks to Leon for the link