one more nail to the coffin ? - Palmtop

This is a discussion on one more nail to the coffin ? - Palmtop ; On Fri, 12 Oct 2007 13:49:02 +0100, Daniel James wrote: > In article news: , Thomas P Brisco > wrote: >> Again; Datebook5/6 is what really hooked me. > > The various Datebook N apps are really fancy pieces of ...

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Thread: one more nail to the coffin ?

  1. Re: one more nail to the coffin ?

    On Fri, 12 Oct 2007 13:49:02 +0100, Daniel James wrote:

    > In article news:, Thomas P Brisco
    > wrote:
    >> Again; Datebook5/6 is what really hooked me.

    >
    > The various Datebook N apps are really fancy pieces of software. They
    > look great but I must say I have never used them. I don't use much
    > 3rd-party software on my Palm and what I do use is all free stuff.
    > That's not because I mind paying, but because I have a sort of notion
    > that what's supplied with the unit *should* be good enough.


    I"m pretty much there with you. I had a Handspring Edge, which is
    probably the best PalmOS device I've ever owned (and probably ever will)
    -- when I got the T5, I noticed the P-III level functionality, did the
    research, and found out that _that_ was the "crippled" version of
    Datebk. I sprung for Datebk5 - it (the first time I'd ever paid for
    anything for a Palm), and am hooked. I love it, I hate it (because
    everything else is insufficient now ...). I got Datebk6 as a free
    upgrade (within a year of purchasing Datebk5).

    > I use HappyDays, too, which extracts birthdays from contact records and
    > puts them in the calendar. I like that. Again, it works without using
    > any data formats beyond the standard Palm ones (you have to put DoB in
    > the 4th "Custom" record in contacts), so everything syncs without a
    > problem.


    *That* is interesting. Sync'ing contacts seems to be a bit easier than
    syncing calendars. I'm thinking I can get HappyDays and Datebk6 together
    (DB6 uses standard Palm formats), and keep track of niece/nephew
    birthdays that way. This sounds like a great idea ...

    >> I've a T5, and support talking to my Samsung X820 is a nightmare. I
    >> strongly prefer different devices for voice and PIM -- holding a brick
    >> of a blackberry or treo against my head just seems ridiculous. If your
    >> phone isn't on Palm's aged list of compatible sets - you're SOL. With
    >> some /bizarre/ machinations (which, I pray to god, I never have to
    >> reproduce) I got the Palm to talk to the phone over bluetooth as a
    >> DUN-looking device for EDGE access. SMS? - forget it. Dial contact? -
    >> forget it.

    >
    > You have my sympathies there. Most phone manufacturers don't do enough
    > to document what's needed to get a device to talk to a PDA (or a PC)
    > over either ir or Bt ... and setting this sort of thing up has never
    > been one of Palm's strong suits. I'm lucky because my Nokia 6310i
    > (obsolete, but STILL the best business phone ever designed) is either
    > one of the phones supported by the ROM or is one that Palm released a
    > so-called driver (really just a configuration file) for (I forget
    > which). It works well, and I'm happy. The biggest problem I had getting
    > it to work was actually finding out the settings that my airtime
    > provider was using, not anything to do with Palm or Nokia.


    I hear you. I'm with T-Mobile, who (for unfathomable reasons) seems to
    make most of it easier. I got ahold of some contact entries via
    bluetooth to my laptop, read the standards, and fully understand why
    calendars are f*cked to ever interoperate. I can, however, blame Palm
    for making something as simple as DUN a bizarre acid-soaked experiment in
    associated memory. Blaegh. The Samsung mangles the hell out of contact
    info (heh, try getting it to rationally store a contact with no phone
    number), and has it's own (compliant) interpretation of ical/vcal
    messages. Again, though, blame Palm for supporting a way to "send" a
    contact, but no way to send /all/ contacts. Blame Palm for an obvious
    kludge - ever notice the difference between "send contact" and "beam
    contact"? Why the h*ll would sending a contact be different over IR vs.
    BT vs. 802.11? (I'm assuming 802.11 is different). BT is definitely a
    kludge added on ...

    > I agree about the 2-box solution being better ... but I'd consider a
    > 1-box solution if it actually worked. I was quite taken by the Treo 680
    > (especially when, just recently, they were giving away a GPS module for
    > it)


    I prefer similar approaches, myself. I often leave home the Palm or my
    cell phone when not necessary. I'd prefer to have everything inter-
    communicate via BT (or whatever) -- GPS, car hands-free, palm, phone. I
    like to minimize the _weight_ I carry...

    > but if Palm can't be bothered to produce a proper fixed car kit for
    > the thing, with power, aerial, and mic/speakers connections I can't take
    > it seriously. The hint that someone in Germany may make such a kit for
    > the Treo that may or may not be compatible with the 680 and may or may
    > not be available does NOT cut the mustard. Bluetooth solutions are not
    > acceptable because they don't provide the aerial connection (or charge
    > the phone, but that's less of an issue). It is against the law to use a
    > handheld mobile phone while driving in this country -- and probably in
    > many others -- and I expect to see the car kit up there on the Palm
    > Store page alongside the phone. I'm used to a Nokia ... Palm have to get
    > a *lot* better to meet my expectations.


    Palm seems much more oriented towards the "one ginormous brick that does
    it all" -- jumping on the blackberry/iphone bandwagon. I keep hearing
    that the "smart phone" is selling, but I don't see anything other than
    companies (and ghetto kids with 2yr contracts) buying them. I've not
    looked closely at the new palm-phone thingy -- I'll wait a few years and
    see if they abandon that, too.

    BTW: driving without a cell phone isn't just a law, it's a good idea,
    too :-) (One of the very few instances of where you see laws and "good
    ideas" intersecting)

    >> Sending contacts via BT is a bit wonky, but sending things like photos
    >> and music works just fine.

    >
    > Maybe ... I don't do those things. I occasionally send contacts via ir,
    > never by Bt, and I don't put pictures or music on my palm -- IMHO the
    > screen's too small to display pictures well and the battery life isn't
    > good enough to squander it on MP3s.


    I was just sync'ing my T5 to my old "craptop" (well, T42 + XP) via IR.
    The T5 USB cables break every 6 months - just tired of that. As I
    mentioned, sync'ing over BT is a pig. (Hmm.. why is IR so much faster
    than BT, I wonder ...).

    Dont get me wrong - the pictures are pretty much technical (handy way to
    carry some gifs of blueprints, while I'm doing some housework). The
    music on the Palm is purely a "ghetto prevention device" - if I'm stuck
    on the subway with some random crazy person screaming, I'll plug in a
    headset (hey, it's not like A2DP works on the Palm BT...) and listen to a
    few tracks of Diana Krall until said crazy-person wanders to the next car.

    >> When it comes to /tons/ of applications -- I've got to be honest and
    >> say that I've not seen anything that isn't circa-2002 for the Palm OS
    >> (excepting Datebk6).

    >
    > I don't think I've seen much that's actually new (rather than an update)
    > since that time frame ... but there is SO much that's available and
    > almost all of it works on the current machines that I don't see that as
    > a problem. There are very few "new" applications to code, after all (if
    > you think of one that'll make a million let me know!).


    Heh, I was part of a discussion (on this newsgroup, I think) explaining
    why I didn't need to update some of my software, and compatibility was an
    issue. I've been studying Japanese for a few years, and I've got some
    old alphabet-trainers that I still use to keep fresh. The Japanese
    haven't changed their alphabet(s) in a few hundred years, why should the
    application be updated?

    > I do think that Palm have rather put developers off writing for their
    > platform -- the acquisition of BeOS and all the talk of PalmOS 6 ... the
    > world held its breath ... and then NO machines that ran PalmOS 6. Nobody
    > wants to write form PalmOS 5 any more because they see it as an obsolete
    > platform, but PalmOS 6 is apparently dead and now they're talking about
    > linux ...? And some Treos now run Windows for Pocket PC -- that may be a
    > shrewd marketing move on the part of Palm the hardware maker, but it
    > does make it look to the world as though they have no confidence in
    > their own software.


    This is very, sadly, very true. "CESD" will let loose on the Datebook
    mailing lists occasionally about how Palm makes it a nightmare. They
    were closed, then they were open, then they closed again. Updates to
    "standards" without notification, etc etc. He does a champion job,
    frankly, of getting parity out of such a mish-mosh of semi-standards
    (really, event korganizer/evolution can make sense out of what gets sent
    over). False leads like BeOS and ALPS, plus announce/withdraw of
    products, then blind-siding stuff like the new phone -- I honestly don't
    know why he bothers (but I'm glad he does). He gets a _lot_ of pleading/
    begging for Blackberry/Windows (and linux, from me) ports - but I think a
    lot of the UI is tied into PalmOS.

    > You may gripe about the difficulty of doing "hard" things like setting
    > up Bluetooth sync with Palm, but I find it ironic that although W/PPC
    > can apparently do these things much more easily, it still has trouble
    > just running all day without a reset. Palms user interface is also still
    > much more intuitive and natural to operate that anything on the Windows
    > or Symbian platforms.


    I've not used Symbian devices, so really couldn't say -- and I wouldn't
    ever be mistaken as a Windows fan in any measure. However, I do take
    exception with obvious paste-ons of technology such as BT (see above
    about different means to transfer contacts via IR or BT? - very
    confusing). Its clear, painfully so, that PalmOS hasn't had real
    development or overhaul in years. Pasting on "new technologies" as such
    kludges is as good as Windows - which is pathetic. I'm more than willing
    to make trade-offs, maybe battery run-time, in exchange -- but arcane
    approaches are unforgivable (see also; windows). I charge most/all of my
    devices nightly - so things like "6 days of standby" are no-BFD to me.
    I'd rather see a standardized handoff (for example; a mini-USB connector
    instead of the Palm crap connector) for easy charging, than a uber-long
    battery life.

    >> In an open-source community- driven environment, one looks for recent
    >> updates as a sign of active, living software - instead of some binary
    >> that'll disappear forever with the next server crash.

    >
    > A lot of the Palm stuff -- even the free stuff -- isn't Open Source. If
    > it were anyone could take over maintenance of the packages that are no
    > longer supported by their original authors. It's a pity that the authors
    > who lose interest don't just put their sourcecode up on SourceForge, or
    > somewhere like that, so others can have a go. At least the
    > better/more-interesting packages would survive, that way.


    Yes, I think that's true - I believe you are right here. There's a lot
    of free stuff I get that isn't open source. I agree with you -- a good
    "last gasp" would be to turn it loose on SourceForge.

    >> I have no end of headache with this kpilot/jpilot/gpilot. Kpilot is
    >> passable, but the crippled USB support in Linux is annoying (time it
    >> right and it works ...

    >
    > USB support has got a lot better in more recent kernels -- what are you
    > running?


    I'm probably having the opposite problem -- I'm running Fedora 7 with a
    2.6.22.7-57 kernel (check back tonight, there is a second-new-kernel-in-
    two-weeks update for tonight). At home I'm running Gnome, at work I had
    the good sense to go back to KDE - even if KDE is a pig, it works
    (evolution is a POS compared to the KDE stuff). I used to run Mandrake
    (which is very good), but the annual upgrades were killing me -- I much
    prefer the "update once a week" model; much easier for ancillary support
    issues (my PPP/BT, DNS, Sendmail, Apache, VPN is all on an ancient
    Mandrake release, my syncing, day-to-date apps, home device support is
    all on F7). I'm running into the USB approach of "when you hit the sync
    button, you get a new device different from the plug-in device" problem -
    the USB sub-device index increments by 1, and {j,g,k}pilot locks up or
    ****s itself. With BT, though a pig, there is less drama.

    > I must admit that I actually sync with Palm Desktop on Win2k, as that's
    > what my main everyday working machine runs ... as I type this I have one
    > PC (this one) running Win2k, one running XP64, one running Gentoo linux,
    > and my laptop is running Debian (though that usually runs Win2k) ... the
    > other box around here (that is still ever used) runs Gentoo.


    I'd like to be linux-only; but alas (as probably are you) I'm constrained
    to Windows for a specific driver (Vindigo has no Linux conduit). I do,
    however, prefer to keep my calendar there, as well as my email (though
    I've not a clue as whether sync'ing email works - POP/IMAP is a much
    better tool for that). As I mentioned above, Korganizer/Evolution deal
    with the /data/ in calendar updates well (evolution seems to botch
    complicated events, korganizer does better in this area) - syncing
    calendar, contacts works fine. You can even install PRC files pretty
    effortlessly.

    Vindigo, however, is not exactly the post-child of well-supported
    software. I don't believe that they have yet established a way of
    changing your password, nor is there a Linux agent. Their web page
    interface is clunky (at best). They are very focused on the business-app
    side (which must be traveling-salesman type of stuff). The content has
    definately gone downhill over the years, and no-one seems to be paying
    attention to the "suggest new ..." for new venues. The data is pretty
    dated, but the maps are still useful (as are the directions).

    My other app on the Palm is Mapopolis -- but since even they have
    abandoned PalmOS, it's pointless to struggle with that (I believe you can
    no longer buy it). I'd probably buy a dedicated device for that, or get
    it built in when I buy my next car (which is probably a ways off...).

    >> Ignoring the phone part, what is it outside of being a gussied-up
    >> calendar is that you use?

    >
    > I use it as a gussied-up calendar, I suppose (whatever one of those is)
    > ... I also use it as a calculator (with EasyCalc), as a password keeper
    > (with TopSecret), as an alarm clock and countdown timer (with BigClock),
    > and as a database (with a couple of apps ... but I think DB (pilot-db)
    > is the better). I've got a nice little periodic table program I
    > downloaded from somewhere, which can display some handy atomic data (I
    > wish I'd had that when I was a Chemistry student), I've got a freebie
    > card game I never play (but the score table tells me I have played it
    > over 800 times -- now I know where my life has gone!), I've got a J2ME
    > JVM that lets me run Java midlets on the Palm ... which was handy when I
    > was developing some proof-of-concept Java tools for a client, but is
    > never used now.


    I'm not a chemist - but understand the domain-specific application. I
    use the Calendar (ok; Datebk6...), Solitaire, and two other apps for
    hirigana/katakana and kanji practicing. I, as well, use it as a password
    keeper - the primary benefit here is that I can ship the file around via
    OBEX (BT file transfer) to keep it in my pre-ordained three places.
    Though I have a IBM's java engine on there (loaded for Opera - though I
    deleted Opera, I left the Java alone) -- I've never really found any
    compelling MIDP software (lots of sources for "bikini girl" junk, but
    nothing useful). I'd hoped to find something in java for, say,
    synchronizing calendars or contacts -- but no dice. In desperation, I
    tried using ScheduleWorld(.com) -- but the Palm agent only sync's
    contacts (which is nice, but ignores the other 80% of my problem...)

    > I also use it for EMail (via the phone part I was supposed to be
    > ignoring) with the bundled VersaMail (not great, but good enough) and
    > have occasionally tried to use it to access the web (via Palm's own
    > WebPro -- which is what was bundled with my Tungsten|T(1)) ... despite
    > the voice of experience telling me that it will crash just before I get
    > to the page I want.


    I had enough flakiness with VersaMail that I didn't even use it for local
    home ("admin" email on my workstation and server) email - by the time I'd
    work through the drama, I could fire up the laptop and deal with it.
    When I first saw you mention WebPro, I thought maybe I'd give it a try --
    but you don't sound encouraging :-). I had problems with Blazer talking
    to MT-DAAPD (aka firefly) and SlimServer - both use auto-updating and
    cache directives; apparently Blazer isn't that good with cache directives
    (which makes it frustrating to try and control your music ...). While it
    was spiffy to skip a song on my palm, it is generally quicker to get up
    and go to the next room to hit the IR remote ... Opera would generally
    run fine for a bit, then have a seizure (requiring a reset ...), so I
    eventually just deleted it.

    > I keep wondering what I would replace this T|T with if it failed on me
    > ... I have an old Palm IIIc that will keep me running while I buy
    > something new .. and I really don't know. Maybe a T|X ... maybe a Treo
    > 680 (despite my comments above, and despite its being a 1-box solution)
    > ... maybe a Nokia 9300i ... or the new Nokia E90 (but look at the
    > price!). None of them is ideal for my needs. At least the Nokias would
    > let me program in python from the commandline.


    I think I'm starting to lean towards keeping the T5 for a few years as
    the proverbial gussied-up calendar and solitaire app. Maybe I'll buy
    myself an (expensive) present of an N800, and use it as a controller for
    domestic apps (music server and stereo for now, the HTC would benefit
    from it ... maybe the fridge?) and gmail/email on the terrace?

    The N90 is nice, but a bit on the $$ for me as well. I like my X820 -
    but it lacks 802.11, and BT reach to outside is limited (even if I could
    find a MIDP app to do it).

    I'd hoped to get to the point where I could utilize the Palm and X820 as
    cached calendar/contact resources from a central point - that is; forever
    avoid manual "sync"s of my cell phone, palm and online (gmail, evolution/
    kmail) databases. I use the Palm as my primary Calendar and Contact list
    -- but it'd be nice to squirt that data onto my phone and desktop
    (particularly as I use my desktop more and more for voice/video
    communications). I just don't see that happening, though. The X820
    calendar is a little broken (ok, that'd just be for showing off), and the
    Palm makes it painful to shoot data to anything outside of a PC. But I
    like the ubiquity of access to gmail/gcal for general access.

    I don't really want to lug around an N800 as a PIM - but it'd be
    convenient when moving around town (802.11 preferred, but EDGE is
    tolerable).

    Maybe I'll head over to the local big-box store and try the N800. The
    N770 wasn't great (a bit slow) and see if it is tolerable. Otherwise I
    may just wind up backing off and living off of GMail/GCal as a central
    point of focus....

  2. Re: one more nail to the coffin ?

    On Fri, 12 Oct 2007 16:48:30 +0100, David Cantrell wrote:

    > On Thu, Oct 11, 2007 at 07:59:46PM -0500, Thomas P Brisco wrote:
    >
    >> Heh. You guys got me re-thinking this a bit. I'm a loving slave to
    >> Datebook6

    >
    > What's so special about it? And if I try it out, is it going to
    > irretrievably **** my existing calendar data?


    Not at all. It is 100% compatible with the standard calendar function --
    one of the great benefits of it. Even with standard iCal/vCal exports,
    you get a "note" field with hex encoded data for what isn't understood
    (this is what I see under Korganizer and Evolution - just a superfluous
    hex string in the "note" field).

    Occasionally, I use the standard calendar function to transfer multiple
    items via IR or BT. Everything is usable and readable from there. You
    could rip out DB6 and not fudge up Calendar.

    >> The N800 still looks good -- but I'm
    >> wondering if I'm not going to have similar problems... (as the
    >> OpenZaurus, I mean).

    >
    > The first version of Nokia's tablet was terribly buggy. And yes, I
    > expect it to fail at being a PIM.


    It definitely lacks the "fits in the back pocket" feel, and battery life
    is much shorter. The tradeoff would be for standard 802.11 and BT, and a
    platform that is getting updates. I'm keeping that in mind - as part of
    the overall tradeoffs (but, that being said, I normally plug in my
    devices every night).

    > but because it's a pain in the arse to talk to someone on the phone
    > while also looking in your diary to see when you're both free to go to
    > that fantastic exhibition at $museum, or whatever. Yes, I know, the
    > Treo has a speaker, but it doesn't work well like that.
    >
    > But for me, easy GPRS so I can use pssh is more important.


    I see your point on managing a calendar while talking to a person. Hell,
    my tiny X820 suffers from that - but I don't pretend that my phone is a
    PIM :-). I have TuSSH on my T5 and (excepting the obviously tougher
    model of input) find it rather acceptable - particularly in landscape
    mode. Emacs is a little tougher, but vi works fine :-)

    >> In an open-source community-
    >> driven environment, one looks for recent updates as a sign of active,
    >> living software - instead of some binary that'll disappear forever with
    >> the next server crash.

    >
    > If you're worried about your next server crash, then you're doing two
    > things wrong. You're using a crashy server, and you've not got backups.
    >
    > Provided it works, I don't care how old software is. That the authors
    > haven't made any changes often indicates that it doesn't *need* any
    > changes.


    Touche' regarding old apps. I was talking about _their_ servers, not
    mine. *My* servers don't crash :-) And when the impossible happens, I
    have backups :-) I just meant to imply that a lot of the freeware apps
    seem to be sub-professional, as compared to a lot of packages which are
    stored on SourceForge, or other similar archives - supporting multiple
    contributors, etc.

    My favorite applications are fairly ancient; Solitaire, Plucker, Learn
    Alpha, KanjiGym, Notepad (which is pretty much all I use). I wish Notepad
    had a search function -- which kind of strikes to the heart of "stale
    software". I toy around with bluejacker, opera, etc for a while, but get
    bored and abandon or delete them.

    >> Ignoring the phone part, what is it outside of being a gussied-up
    >> calendar is that you use?

    >
    > reading ebooks; ssh client; route planner and streetmap; secure password
    > store; calculator; chess clock; database of all my books so I don't buy
    > the same thing twice; go game recorder; wikipedia client (using my
    > http://wikiproxy.cantrell.org.uk to make wikipedia readable)


    Agreed. I use Plucker to download books from gutenberg.org -- but
    (frankly) Plucker runs on most everything I use. I like it's offline
    mode (whizzo web access is less than thrilling on a NYC subway ...). I
    rarely use the calculator -- almost everything I own comes with a dumb
    "world clock" and calculator today.

    What do you use for your database? I own quite a lot of books, and have
    challenges remembering my "current favorite" authors. This is an
    interesting application. Do you have a matching database on your laptop
    or desktop system? (Nice for backups, or whatever is handy).

  3. Re: one more nail to the coffin ?

    In article news:, Thomas P Brisco
    wrote:
    > I had a Handspring Edge, which is probably the best PalmOS device I've
    > ever owned (and probably ever will) -- when I got the T5, I noticed the
    > P-III level functionality, did the research, and found out that _that_
    > was the "crippled" version of Datebk.


    Well, Palms ship with DateBk, Handsprings shipped with DateBk+ which has
    more functionality. I'm not sure of the details of the ownership, licensing,
    etc., of the two programs but I wouldn't say that DateBk was a "crippled"
    version. AIUI Palm have just not chosen to license the "plus" version for
    their devices.

    I get your point, though. A much more functional application than the
    built-in one is available, and could have been made the standard had Palm
    had the will to do so. They might have sold more units if they had.

    My first PDA was a Psion Series 3. Psion had made two ranges of "organiser"
    handheld devices before the Series 3, but both were rather clunky devices
    with ABC (rather than QWERTY) keyboards and 2-line LCD displays (there are
    pictures at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_Organiser). In 1991 they
    produced their Series 3, which was a complete change -- it had a multi-line
    LCD display and a usable QWERTY keyboard in a device smaller than a filofax.
    It had very good PIM apps and usable word processor, and a built-in
    "basic-like" programming language. This was at about the same time that HP
    produced the HP95 (a handheld DOS PC with limited PIM capability) and about
    five years before the first Palm. I made a trip to a local department store
    on Saturday afternoon to take a look at the new Series 3, with no real
    intention of buying one, and couldn't resist when I saw it. My main interest
    was in writing software to run on it, but having "evaluated" it for a couple
    of weeks I came to two conclusions: (1) there was nothing much that I could
    think of that I might write to run on it that it didn't already have, and
    (2) I wasn't going back to a paper diary.

    Over the years I upgraded to a Series 3a (which had a bigger screen and a
    built-in spreadsheet) and to a 3c (which was faster and had an infrared
    port). These devices were rather large, compared with Palms (about 50%
    larger than the Palm III models of their day) but had much better software
    out-of-the-box and the larger screen area made them much more usable.

    The Series 3 used a Nec V30 (x86 series) CPU and ran Psion's own 16-bit OS
    called SIBO (for "SIxteen Bit Organiser") which was very stable and fully
    multi-tasking, but all applications were coded in small model real mode x86
    code and that brought limitations (such as a ~48kB maximum file size for the
    wordprocessor). Psion superseded it with a new range called the Series 5
    which was Arm-based and ran a new 32-bit OS they called EPOC. The Series 5
    was a bit bulkier than the Series 3 (not actually bigger, but less rounded
    at the edges which made it fit the pocket less well) and the screen contrast
    was never as good as that of the Series 3 because the screen was fitted with
    a touch-sensitive membrane. I have a Series 5, but I never really took to
    it. I used my Series 3c until I eventually replaced it with a Palm, after
    trying and discarding an HP WinCE machine and a Zaurus. The Series 5 was
    then joined by the Revo, which was essentially a slightly cut-down Series 5
    without expansion slots in a smaller case. The Revo was a joy to use, but
    the non-replaceable NiMH battery was a disaster. While I could run my Series
    3c for more than 6 months with my light to moderate usage on a pair of AA
    Duracells the Revo's charge lasted only a few days and it had a tendency to
    lose all its information when the battery failed.

    There was talk of a replacement Revo model with Bluetooth, but it never
    appeared. Psion spun off their software division to form Symbian as a joint
    venture with Nokia and others and pulled out of the consumer handheld
    computer business altogether. Very very sad, as their devices were, in some
    ways, better than anything on the market today.

    > Palm seems much more oriented towards the "one ginormous brick that does
    > it all" -- jumping on the blackberry/iphone bandwagon. I keep hearing
    > that the "smart phone" is selling, but I don't see anything other than
    > companies (and ghetto kids with 2yr contracts) buying them. I've not
    > looked closely at the new palm-phone thingy -- I'll wait a few years and
    > see if they abandon that, too.


    Most phones are not smartphones, and I don't think they ever will be.
    Smartphones will inevitable cost more than 'normal' phones and most people
    just don't need the extra facilities (and wouldn't know what to do with
    them).

    However, more and more people who want a PDA also want a phone, and for most
    of them a 1-box solution makes sense. You don't like them, and I don't like
    them, but most people would rather have only one box rather than two ... and
    the science of miniaturization has now passed the point at which the one box
    need be any bigger than either of the two. I think the days on the non-phone
    PDA are sadly numbered.

    OTOH I do see an emerging market for semi-smart phones. That is, phones that
    do some very smart things but in very limited applications. Phones with
    built-in MP3 players are a case in point: it takes quite a bit of smarts to
    decode an MP3 stream and convert it to audio -- so these devices must have
    quite a bit of computing power, but it is only used for a specific purpose.
    Airtime companies like these devices because they have mass-market appeal
    and may lead to users downloading 'tunes' with their phones and so
    generating revenue for the airtime providers. Satnav solutions with
    real-time download of local maps are another example.

    When Psion announced their 32-bit platform (about 1996/7) they kept
    stressing that they saw the future devices as communicators, not just
    computers. Most people at the event said "Yeah, right!", but history seems
    to have shown that their vision was true.

    > BTW: driving without a cell phone isn't just a law, it's a good idea,
    > too :-) (One of the very few instances of where you see laws and "good
    > ideas" intersecting)


    Yep. We have a new law (as of a couple of years ago) explicitly banning
    driving while using a phone, but prosecutions were successfully made under
    the laws covering "driving without due care and attention" before that came
    in ... nevertheless. it's surprising how many people one STILL sees who
    phone while driving. Maybe not so surprising ... most people are stupid.

    > Dont get me wrong - the pictures are pretty much technical (handy way to
    > carry some gifs of blueprints, while I'm doing some housework).


    I didn't mean to suggest that your pictures were trivial ... just that the
    screen of a Palm isn't big enough to display them usefully.

    Of course, if you carry pictures on your Palm, you may be able to transfer
    them to something with a bigger screen when you need. The devices'
    usefulness as storage media exceeds their usefulness as displays.

    > I've not used Symbian devices, so really couldn't say -- and I wouldn't
    > ever be mistaken as a Windows fan in any measure.


    Symbian, as I said, was developed from Psion's EPOC (it's essentially a
    Unicode version of the same thing), and EPOC was a great OS. Symbian is
    slightly spoilt for me by the fact that way the OS is licensed and
    distributed means that the top GUI layer can be replaced or altered beyond
    all recognition by the licensee ... so Nokia Symbian phones don't look quite
    like Sony/Erisson phones, etc.. Worse, applications have to be built for the
    right model of phone -- and app that runs on Nokia System 60 (one of their
    Symbian-based products) won't necessarily run on a different licensee's
    phone. My wife has a Symbian smartphone, and despite being a technophobe of
    the first water manages to use it quite effectively. We both agree that its
    user interface is needlessly complex compared with the Treo 270 she had
    before.

    One of the main reasons (apart from client work) that I still run Windows on
    the desktop is that I use an application called "Memory Map". That's nothing
    to do with memory maps, it is a package that displays detailed geographical
    maps from the UK Ordinance Survey (the government department that is
    responsible for all the official maps of the country). This is hobby stuff
    for me, I do some hill walking and it's nice to be able to plan routes in
    advance on the PC and print off detailed maps of the area (without a join
    between two map sheets half-way through), and also interesting to be able to
    bring home a GPS log and display the route I /actually/ took superimposed on
    the map. One thing that tempts me terribly is the idea of getting a Pocket
    PC device (with built-in or Bluetooth GPS) and downloading the maps of the
    area of my walks into that. Memory map supports Pocket PC, of course, but
    not Palm or Symbian.

    > I charge most/all of my devices nightly - so things like "6 days of
    > standby" are no-BFD to me.


    That's easy to say ... but I'm a great one for forgetting to put things on
    charge (and for forgetting to pack travel adaptors). If a device can't last
    a week -- at least when limited to light usage -- it's no use to me.

    Maybe I'm just spoilt by my Series 3 and its months-long battery life and
    ability to use standard AA cells.

    > I'd rather see a standardized handoff (for example; a mini-USB connector
    > instead of the Palm crap connector) for easy charging, than a uber-long
    > battery life.


    I'd rather have both ... but battery life is limited by physics, ease of
    charging and connectivity only by bad design.

    > > USB support has got a lot better in more recent kernels -- what are you
    > > running?

    >
    > I'm probably having the opposite problem -- I'm running Fedora 7 with a
    > 2.6.22.7-57 kernel


    Should be OK ... I used a much older kernel when I tried kpilot. Maybe I
    should try again. I'm using Gentoo with 2.6.22 on the desktop (Debian on the
    laptop, because I can't bear to think how long it would take to build a
    Gentoo system!)

    Maybe I should retest kpilot ...

    > I'm running into the USB approach of "when you hit the sync
    > button, you get a new device different from the plug-in device" problem -
    > the USB sub-device index increments by 1, and {j,g,k}pilot locks up or
    > ****s itself.


    Isn't that a UDEV issue (nowadays, at least)? I think that if you configure
    UDEV to recognize the Palm it will always present it as the same device. Not
    tried that, though.

    > I'd probably buy a dedicated device for that, or get
    > it built in when I buy my next car (which is probably a ways off...).


    When you talk about buying new cars it seems to make all the agonizing over
    the purchase of a PDA, costing only a hundredth of the amount, seem somewhat
    churlish ...

    > I've never really found any compelling MIDP software ...


    No, nobody found the stuff I wrote compelling either, so never did get to
    develop it further into a commercial product. MIDP is a horrid little
    platform to write for ... it's Java with all the GUI stuff that's not
    appropriate to the handheld format removed, but only the roughest of
    skeletons of an alternative supplied in its stead. the stuff I was working
    on was all data-security related (things like dynamic password generators)
    and it was a real nuisance that none of the Java crypto apis are standard in
    mobile Java devices ... by the time I'd put Java implementations of some of
    the standard crypto algorithms into my MIDlets I'd already used up half of
    the available memory of the target device without a single line of my own
    code. J2ME was designed for games, not for business apps.

    > I had enough flakiness with VersaMail that I didn't even use it for local
    > home ("admin" email on my workstation and server) email - by the time I'd
    > work through the drama, I could fire up the laptop and deal with it.


    I use VersaMail in those cases when I don't have my laptop with me. It's
    nice to leave it behind, sometimes! I chose VersaMail because it was
    supplied on the palm CD and seemed to support at least the basics of what I
    needed to do ... but I'm not sure I wouldn't have been better off with a
    free download of Eudora.

    The Psion Revo had a lovely little mail app ... but only linked to the phone
    with i/r, and had a crappy battery. On balance I prefer the Palm, if only
    for its Bluetooth.

    > When I first saw you mention WebPro, I thought maybe I'd give it a try --
    > but you don't sound encouraging :-).


    WebPro was the web app that palm bundled with the T|T. That was before Palm
    re-absorbed Handspring, and started shipping Handspring's Blazer with all
    their products instead. Blazer may be crap, but it's better than WebPro.

    > Maybe I'll buy myself an (expensive) present of an N800, ...


    The N800 is surprisingly cheap for what it is ... but it isn't a PDA. It
    doesn't have any PIM applications, AFAICT, and I don't think you can add
    arbitrary apps to it (or can you?) I suppose you could put your diary on a
    website and use the N800 to access it ...

    The Nokia E61i looks quite nice, and not too pricey ... but it's really just
    another blackberry wannabe. I would prefer NOT to have a camera (some of my
    clients don't like cameras to be brought into the office), but the biggest
    put-off for me is that the screen is only 240x320 and I'm used to 320x320 on
    my T|T. The 320x480 of a T|X is more appealing.

    Thanks, anyway, for a long and interesting post.
    --
    Cheers,
    Daniel.




  4. Re: one more nail to the coffin ?

    On Fri, Oct 12, 2007 at 08:22:18PM -0500, Thomas P Brisco wrote:
    > On Fri, 12 Oct 2007 16:48:30 +0100, David Cantrell wrote:
    > > On Thu, Oct 11, 2007 at 07:59:46PM -0500, Thomas P Brisco wrote:
    > >> Heh. You guys got me re-thinking this a bit. I'm a loving slave to
    > >> Datebook6

    > > What's so special about it? And if I try it out, is it going to
    > > irretrievably **** my existing calendar data?

    > Not at all. It is 100% compatible with the standard calendar function --
    > one of the great benefits of it.


    I'll take a look then - thanks!

    > I have TuSSH on my T5


    I wasn't aware of that. I might take a look even though pssh works
    anyway.

    > Touche' regarding old apps. I was talking about _their_ servers, not
    > mine. *My* servers don't crash :-) And when the impossible happens, I
    > have backups :-)


    Ahh, fair enough.

    > I just meant to imply that a lot of the freeware apps
    > seem to be sub-professional, as compared to a lot of packages which are
    > stored on SourceForge, or other similar archives - supporting multiple
    > contributors, etc.


    Heh. There's a lot on sourceforge that is a load of rubbish. I use it
    for my own one-man projects too, mostly because I'm too lazy to set up
    my own CVS server.

    > > database of all my books so I don't buy the same thing twice

    > What do you use for your database? I own quite a lot of books, and have
    > challenges remembering my "current favorite" authors. This is an
    > interesting application. Do you have a matching database on your laptop
    > or desktop system? (Nice for backups, or whatever is handy).


    I use Readerware on my laptop. It's payware,
    but IMO well worth it, especially if they're still throwing in a free
    USB barcode scanner. I also use the audio and video versions. The Palm
    version of the software just gives you a read-only subset of the data -
    author, title, not a lot else.

    Readerware is written in Java, so should work just about everywhere.
    And it can export to CSV, so no worrying about locking all your precious
    data away in a proprietary format.

    --
    David Cantrell | Minister for Arbitrary Justice

    Irregular English:
    you have anecdotes; they have data; I have proof

  5. Re: one more nail to the coffin ?

    On Mon, 15 Oct 2007 14:45:13 +0100, David Cantrell
    wrote:

    >On Fri, Oct 12, 2007 at 08:22:18PM -0500, Thomas P Brisco wrote:
    >> On Fri, 12 Oct 2007 16:48:30 +0100, David Cantrell wrote:
    >> > On Thu, Oct 11, 2007 at 07:59:46PM -0500, Thomas P Brisco wrote:
    >> >> Heh. You guys got me re-thinking this a bit. I'm a loving slave to
    >> >> Datebook6
    >> > What's so special about it? And if I try it out, is it going to
    >> > irretrievably **** my existing calendar data?

    >> Not at all. It is 100% compatible with the standard calendar function --
    >> one of the great benefits of it.

    >
    >I'll take a look then - thanks!
    >
    >> I have TuSSH on my T5

    >
    >I wasn't aware of that. I might take a look even though pssh works
    >anyway.
    >
    >> Touche' regarding old apps. I was talking about _their_ servers, not
    >> mine. *My* servers don't crash :-) And when the impossible happens, I
    >> have backups :-)

    >
    >Ahh, fair enough.
    >
    >> I just meant to imply that a lot of the freeware apps
    >> seem to be sub-professional, as compared to a lot of packages which are
    >> stored on SourceForge, or other similar archives - supporting multiple
    >> contributors, etc.

    >
    >Heh. There's a lot on sourceforge that is a load of rubbish. I use it
    >for my own one-man projects too, mostly because I'm too lazy to set up
    >my own CVS server.
    >
    >> > database of all my books so I don't buy the same thing twice

    >> What do you use for your database? I own quite a lot of books, and have
    >> challenges remembering my "current favorite" authors. This is an
    >> interesting application. Do you have a matching database on your laptop
    >> or desktop system? (Nice for backups, or whatever is handy).

    >
    >I use Readerware on my laptop. It's payware,
    >but IMO well worth it, especially if they're still throwing in a free
    >USB barcode scanner. I also use the audio and video versions. The Palm
    >version of the software just gives you a read-only subset of the data -
    >author, title, not a lot else.
    >
    >Readerware is written in Java, so should work just about everywhere.
    >And it can export to CSV, so no worrying about locking all your precious
    >data away in a proprietary format.


    This is coming a bit late, but I will also stand up for Readerware.

    It's a great app.

    I bought the 3 apps - for books, music and video.

    They sent me a "Cue Cat" barcode reader that made little work of
    scanning in my signed/1st editions. I run the app on my laptop so it
    made things a bit easier to scan the books in place without dragging
    (hundreds) of them to my desktop.

    After I was done, I ported data and app to my primary (desktop)
    machine.

    Then you can simply export the entire db to your Palm - the Palm app I
    think is free if you own the PC product (check to be sure).

    I spoke to them some time back and they told me they were developing a
    new Palm app, but this was a while ago.

    It was also before Palm decided to screw their customers and
    developers by totally ****ing up any plans to have out a Vista
    compatible desktop product that actually works.

    If I was a developer, I wouldn't be developing for Palm.

    They are circling the drain and anyone who stays in bed with them will
    be doing the same if they aren't already.

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