Monday, January 08, 2007

So I bought a Palm...

I've had a PSION for maybe a decade. Started with a Series 3 and upgraded to a Series 5 (B/W).
The '5' uses batteries faster than I'd like. It's got lots of great things standard - including external buttons to use as a voice 'note taker', standard "CF" (Compact Flash) cards, sound (play & record), infrared and a touch screen. For most people the price (~A$1,000) was *not* right.

As a 'consultant' for a company, I ran my life from the Psion. It allowed me to separate my work and personal lives, capture critical information (like billing times, tasks, notes) and was pretty much small enough to go with me everywhere. I never did it working with my Nokia 7110. Shoulda, but the replacement handset had old firmware and I baulked at shelling out ~A$100 for the upgrade. I'd rigged up a battery pack for an old land-line modem (Maestro 28.8kbps) and with a few adaptors, actually *did* check my e-mail once or twice when travelling...

My data was well organised and I knew where things were. But I'd stopped using the '5' - it churns 'AA' batteries compared to the '3'
Psion provides an actual operating system - so you have multiple programs (and different instances of them) open at the one time - and you can just put the thing to sleep. I have a standard set of programs open - it's quick to zip around and do regular things. On the '3' I pretty much wore the writing off the 'command' key used for most keyboard shortcuts.

And you need MS-Windows to run the Nokia phone suite *or* the Psion.
Having a serial interface, it's possible to backup & upload/download 'stuff' to the Psion - *iff* you have a serial or IR interface on your box.

This year I moved my working desktop to Mac OS/X (a mac-mini, so I can share KBD/Screen with other computers). I bought an IR-USB interface. Works like a charm on Windows :-) Mac doesn't seem to understand serial over USB. Google-ing didn't show an answer :-(

Early 2006 I started some projects at home, including formal study at the ANU (university). After realising that I don't have the personality/character structure to be an accountant, I found I missed *two* important deadlines. My organisation/processes failed me...

Never happened with the Psion - time to get a new PDA. Rechargable, small & light, 802.11.
Couldn't get another Psion, no longer produced. But the code lives on in Symbian.

Looked at PDA-phones - permium pricing, compromise user interface and poor keyboard.

Wasn't interested in a Windows-CE device. Just don't trust MSFT code to absolutely not let me down.

So it was a Palm...

Generally happy with it - but.

Doesn't provide a real O/S, but 'fast start' applications - and just *one* is running at a time.
The 802.11 is sorta integrated into the applicaitons, but not uniformly.
Bluetook 'works' with the Mac - but is so much slower (10 or more times) than USB, it's painful.

Bought a fold-out keyboard - bit bulky & uses batteries. Billed as 'universal wireless keyboard' - sorta. It's infrared, and you need to download the driver to the Palm, and if your mobile phone has no driver, tough... Have used it to sit and write notes/document. Not entirely a dud :-) Not nearly as effective as the Psion, but close enough.

All the address lists and calendar docs from the Psion - tried to download them...
Mixed success. The Psion program exports in CSV format. It's seen by the Palm Desktop on Mac as Excel files - and the Palm itself says they are Excel, but barfs when opening one. From memory, it requires a hard-reset to recover.

Too many times for my liking, I've found myself being forced to do hard resets...

'palmsource' (?) have announced a Linux for Palms - and it seems to be opensource. No idea on how to convert my T|X :-(
My major concern is giving up the 'graffiti' touch screen input. And 'bricking' it.

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