Palm Tungsten Blog

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

StyriteUSA Combo Pack

Soon after receiving it I wrote about the Styrite P-arno 661 stylus - and it has been my constant companion ever since. It is small enough to be unnoticeable in a shirt pocket, so I find that I am using it instead of my T|E stylus and instead of my pen. A perfect piece of design.

Though you can buy it separately for $9.95, mine came as part of the Styrite Combo Pack, and I have not written about the rest of this. It comes in a plastic box about the size of a pencil case, and includes the P-arno 661, a screen protector, a screen cleaning cloth, and a retractable sync'n'charge cable. The screen protector is very similar to, but appears to be slightly better quality (i.e. longer lasting) than Palm's own brand one which comes with the T|E. One nice feature is that Styrite provide a 'squeeze card' and instructions to help you achieve a bubble free finish.

The cleaning cloth is microfibre, which is what I use all the time for cleaning both my Palm and my glasses. Unlike the microfibre cloths I am used to, it has a textured finish. But it seems to work fine. My only gripe here is that the way it was packaged - wrapped tightly around a piece of cardboard - has actually marked the cloth.

The sync'n'charge cable is of a familiar design. Since Styrite do not do one for the T|E yet, I go one for my T|T. I have a very similar cable from Brando, but this is better, in that it fits the T|T more securely. The Brando one tends to pop off if you are not careful.

All-in-all, the Combo Pack would make an excellent Christmas present for a PDA user (they do one for most models). Like all the best presents, it continue to be used long after Christmas.

Styrite also do a 4-way multi-function stylus (the P-arno 641) for $14.99, which is much better quality than any similar products I have tried, and two USB based power solutions, a car charger and wall charger, which are used in conjunction with a sync'n'charge cable.

I rather like the thinking behind this company: they have gone for a limited range of really good quality products. The P-arno 661 is the only truly innovative product in their line-up, but the others are all useful, well-made, and worth looking into.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Audible v.2

In my excitement at the improved sound quality, I failed to notice that Audible can now play in the background !! (though you still have to navigate back to it to use the controls), and you can customize the time elapse before the screen blanks (which only works if Audible is in the foreground).

BAD POINT: if you choose 'Delete Programme' it deletes not only the current programme but also all others you have 'finished', and that WITHOUT ASKING. So if you like to go back and listen again to bits of books you have finished, be very careful to 'wind back' before you try to delete anything.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Audible Update

Via a posting on PDA 24/7, I discovered that the PalmAudiblePlayer has been updated to version 2. I borrowed a Windows PC and went to where it is only a 330kb download. I had to use a Windows PC, since it is an exe file.

The main 'feature' improvement is direct connection to the Palm which allows transfer of content without a Hotsync, but since I always transfer to my SD card via a card reader for speed, that does not make any difference. However, the audio quality problems I have been having on the T|E have all been resolved. Which is a great relief, since I expected Audible to take months, not weeks, to get them sorted out.

Sunday, November 09, 2003


Two days running my T|E discharged itself overnight. It was in the Proporta book-style leather case in my work bag. Since we had a guest staying, I had just slung the back down in the study and not looked at it until the morning.

The obvious culprit is the case, but every case I get, I test by pressing hard on various points to see if I can switch the PDA on. And the Proporta case passed with flying colours: I cannot switch on the T|E by pressing on the front of the case. The only other culprit I can think of is BackUpBuddyVFS, which is set to do an automated back-up every evening. But that has been working fine for months.

Whatever the cause, I decided I might try out the built-in Keylock function on the T|E. It is basic but effective. You can either have it on all the time, or triggered by a 2 second press on the power button. Once activated, the hard buttons on the front of the device are totally dead (compare Peter Easton's power-saving products - when they are activated, pressing a hard key switches the Palm on and then off again immediately). To switch on the T|E, you must use the power button, but even that does not simply switch it on, but displays a splash screen requiring a screen tap to dismiss it. So it is a great function if you want to prevent accidental power up, but a bit of a pain if you like to access your Palm without using the stylus.

One improvement I can imagine would be integration with the security feature, so that if Keylock was active, you only saw the password screen, not both.

Monday, November 03, 2003

New vs. Old Palm apps

One thing I have worried about since moving to the T|E is backwards compatibility: now that Datebook, Address, ToDo, and Memopad have been replaced by Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Memos, and the databases on the Palm have been renamed, it seemed to me that there was a danger that one would not be able to go back to using a Palm OS PDA with the old style databases.

I have not tried that yet, but yesterday I had to Hotsync my T|E to a Windows PC I sometimes use which has the pre-T|E version of Palm Desktop. When you install the new version, you get conduits for both Calendar and Datebook (etc.), but this version only had the Datebook conduit. To my surprise the Hotsync seemed to work perfectly: all my data entered into the Calendar database on the Palm appeared on the Desktop having been converted by the Datebook conduit. When I have more time, I will do some more experimenting, but it looks to me as if PalmOne have put aliases on the T|E so that conduits and apps like Datebk5 which look for the old databases get pointed to the new ones. Very clever.

More on Notetaker

I set up the OSX conduit for Notetaker this morning and it seems to work fine. The Palm app organizes your notes into folders on a desktop, and this folder structure is reproduced in your user folder on the Mac. Set up an alias to this and you are away.

One nice thing is that the OSX preview facility makes it very easy to browse through these short text files to find the one you want, or even to read them. The author of Notetaker, Bill Sellers, says that his motives for writing it were two: the limitation of 16 categories in Memopad, and the inability of Palm Desktop to have more than one memo open at once.

Sunday, November 02, 2003


I found an interesting blog called Brian's PDA. Brian does not give an e-mail address, so I can only correspond with him through the blogosphere. Weird, eh?

Anyway, Brian uses Notetaker, which is a Palm Memopad replacement designed with two things in mind: ability to organize very large numbers of notes, and to import/export text from a Mac. It is freeware written by a British academic called Bill Sellers - you can get it from his website. Brian says that Notetaker does not work with OS5, but it seems fine on my T|E. I have not tried the MAc OSX conduit yet, but I do not expect any problems: each 'file' on the Palm is a 32kb text field which is simply dumped into a plain text file on the Mac. Going the other way, if the input file is more than 32k, some division is needed, but that seems to be the only difficult bit.

And for those of you who think that they would like to try this, but they have so much accumulated data in Memopad/pedit, Notetaker does have an 'Import Memo' function. But no option to export to Memopad or to DOC format, so that would have to be done via the desktop.