Off the Top: Palm Entries
It used to be all love. It started in 1998 just after Christmas. It was a gift under the tree and it brought me wonderful joy. It was the Palm III by Palm. It allowed me to sync all of my address book info, my to do lists, and other "essentials" of a digital portable life. It was relatively easy to write applications for it and extend its usefulness. I learn the graffiti writing in three early mornings of waking-up on the West Coast on East Coast time.
That Palm lasted a few years and I then moved to the HandSpring Visor Deluxe, which had more internal memory, still based on the Palm operating system, and it had four times the memory. The device did most everything I needed. Just like my Palm III the HandSpring was reliable and always ready, it never failed me. I added a camera and some other tools for the plug-in slot and everything always worked.
Mobile Internet & Mobile E-mail
My big advancement was getting a Sidekick (Hiptop) that gave me web, chat, and e-mail all live and all in my pocket. I still kept the Visor as it still served a purpose (address book, notes, e-books). The Sidekick was not a great phone so I kept my Motorola 270C (a really great phone - did not much else). This was a stack of too many devices, particularly when an iPod came into my life.
Treo Moves In
Somewhere in the Spring of 2002 I got a Treo 600, which seemed like a great solution. I replaced my Sidekick, my Motorola, my Visor, and my watch (this was happenstance more than anything else). Things were good for the first 6 to 9 months, but the phone began to crash regularly after that. I had some hardware malfunctions and got a replacement. All was good again for 6 to 9 months then it started crashing when pulling e-mail and the phone rang. The hardware did not last that long on this either. By Fall (18 months after the first 600) the phone was in really poor state and I woke up one morning picked it up and it split (the day before traveling to the Bay Area). By this time the Treo 650 was out and I convinced my mobile provider to let me switch with out penalty. But the same story repeated at 6 to 9 months. After 10 months the keyboard stopped working and I got a replacement. I am 12 months into that replacement and life with this Treo is hell.
Treo Is Toiletware
The relationship with my Treo is so bad I constantly swear I am going to throw it in the toilet, but that would leave me with out a primary phone (I have an old Nokia I enjoy for international service and back-up but don't have many minutes with that carrier). The odd thing is I know quite a few people who used to work at Palm and none of them use a Palm device. All of them have had horrible problems with the Treo and it was their last device with a Palm operating system.
Palm seemed to have lost their love when they added the phone. The Treo is a really poor phone (horrible voice capability), but it also is short on memory and most useful applications were removed from the device as they needed more memory than was available or they crashed the device. Now my Treo is less useful than my Sidekick. It is a slow unreliable device. Palm went from being a company I utterly loved to one I hope dies a quick painful death. Everybody I know that has new devices say they are no better.
What is the Next Step
While I have interest in Blackberry devices, I like the open platform of Nokia and Nokia gets the phone part of the phone really well. The iPhone is interesting, but is missing the open platform, 3G, and proven platfor that Nokia has. I am still making up my mind, but I think the Nokia E61i is what I really want to replaced the horrible state the Treo has left me in.
I want a phone with decent camera, with e-mail, web, WiFi, touch keyboard, and ability to read e-books and docs easily. I want to be able to build and get solid applications that serve the purposes I need and do not crash the device.
Good bye Palm, I loved you deeply for a long time, but you betrayed me with your crap phones and lack of caring. It was not that I fell for another product, you did it to yourself.
Beginning in the Fall my Treo 600 would crash. It was at its worst in late January and early February. Today the hard crashes started again. I have learned not to put the phone in sleep mode while the browser is on. This seems to be one of the triggers when the phone rings. The other is phone calls when Snapfish (mail program) goes out to grab mail (every 30 minutes). The biggest hassle is it is a hard crash, which means everything is wiped from the device and I have to reinstall from backup.
Both instances seem to be related to the Palm device no being mutli-threaded. None-the-less it is rediculous that in 2005 we have a phone (not the bottom of the line mind you) that flat out crashes. It crashes when people call and crashes while you are on it. While in San Francisco in January not only did my phone crash, but my friend I was talking with, his phone crashed while we were talking to each other.
Can somebody tell me if the Treo 650 has the same problem? I know it can not multi-task, so it has a strong chance of failing me just the same. I talked to a few folks with the 650 this past weekend and none of them had the crashing problems. This could also be my opportunity to switch to Nokia, but the phones I am interested from Nokia are not available in the US from the carriers.
My new phone has given me a lot of adventures, nearly all of them positive. The Treo 600 has been everything I had hoped and a lot more. I had thought there would be some sacrifice having all that the Treo offers in one device. I have collapsed my cellphone, mobile Internet, and Palm device all in one nice package. The phone is as good as my Motorola 270c ever was and that was my best phone up until the Treo. The mobile Internet is better than the Hiptop, mostly because my Sprint service has much better coverage than T-Moble (I am a fan of GSM as it provides me not only US coverage, but the rest of the Western world, although I have not needed that much coverage, yet). I do need to get a better e-mail application than what comes with the Sprint Treo, but that can be worked out. The Palm works very well and I have all my favorite applications functioning just as they always have, some were a little buggy at first, but downloading the updates to the applications to run under Palm v5(x) rather than v3 made the difference.
One thing I was not ready for was the constant attention the phone gets. It, in and of it self, is a conversation piece. I read news on it when on the Metro and I get stopped there and asked questions about it. I have been asked at the Apple Genius Bar, elevators at work, the street, in the bookstore (I use mobile Internet to check my Amazon Wishlist when in bookstores and compare prices as well as add new books to the list while in the store), at sporting events (checking live stats and news), in meetings (checking calendar and adding events as well as checking Google for updated information on new subjects that pop-up in the meeting - many conversations have been with CIOs who have Hiptop, Blackberry, or Pocket PC devices and are not perfectly happy and want smaller better functioning devices), and many other locations as it is also my watch for the time being. The attention much more than my TiBook received a couple years ago, mostly on flights as the screen was brighter and the battery lasted longer than anything else on the cross country flight.
I now think I have a fantastic troika of devices (Treo, TiBook, and iPod). I have been happier with my TiBook than any other computer I have ever owned. It has been more stable, secure, reliable, and friendly to letting me do my work without getting in the way than any other computer I have used since 1982, when I first started using computers. Any other laptop or computer is a waste of money.
My recent transition to my Treo 600, was rather smooth. Which was good since I not only collapsed three, if not four, devices into one. I had to switch cellular providers as well as my phone, but I kept my phone number. I really have been attached to my number, far more than I ever realized before. The transfer of the number from one carrier to another was very seamless and took less than 10 hours.
The number is big for me as it is the second longest phone number I have had in my life, the first being my landline phone number in Virginia, which I had for seven years plus. My cell phone number will be approaching the same and passing it later this year. I not only make it easy on myself and others by having one number that I really use for most everything (the phone at home is rarely ever for me, except for the calls from my parents on the usual night). Truthfully I am rather addicted to the pattern in the phone number, which is not as catchy as my number in college (another story for another time). The number makes it relatively to remember, so I keep it.
My mobile number is tied to a state, er make that Commonwealth, in which I no longer live and have not for nearly four years. I no longer really associate myself with that pre-fix and neither do my friends. This causes confusion when they see the number and try to think who they know in that area code. Oddly I have filled out four forms in the past few weeks that have asked for just the area code of my phone, which I consider to be my cell phone and in a couple cases the request was these digits for my cell phone.
I know New Yorkers who have kept their 202 mobile phone numbers even when they move away, just for the status. But, I am not my area code. How much longer will it be before all area codes are irrelevant?
Earlier this week Cory's Eastern Standard Tribe was released. I have been waiting for this for some time. Not only have I downloaded the version for Palm (then went and updated by reader), but I have beamed it to a co-worker (as well as the updated reader). Cory asks that you let him know how you acquired the book electronically and how you read it.
I have been excited about this because I loved Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which the only way I got around to reading it was on my Palm on the train. I now have a new device to read from and I am hoping Cory shares how his book changes hands.
A handful of Treo resources: Treo Central (info & store); Treo 600 World (news & store); Handango - Palm Software (software review and purchase); MobileWhack Palm (reviews and links); and TreoMB (news, reviews, & message boards).
I took the plunge and ordered a Treo 600 with Sprint PCS service. Since adding a solid portable music player to my menagerie of gadgets, I was having to attend to four devices each morning. Yes, four. My normal cell phone with very good connectivity, but horrible customer service (a the customer is always wrong mentality). My HipTop, which got me hooked on mobile e-mail, Web, and IM, but did not have great connectivity and the PIM applications did not synch (only import and overwrite). My Palm which was my true PDA/mobile PIM and all information on it truly synched, but it did not have mobile connectivity. Lastly my iPod, which has been a great addition to the daily workweek commute and will soon be nice on longer drives and with great expanse of mobile memory.
The only things that may bug me are the smaller screen and the lack of bluetooth. The bluetooth may bug me the most as I have also had it with wires running every where. I chose Sprint for two reasons, great rebates when purchasing from Amazon and the faster connectivity.
One device will now replace three (Palm, cellphone, and HipTop) devices. I have already added the AOL IM (using the UK version as it is free, thanks to Real's tip on MobileWhack). I am feeling lighter already. I will be keeping this topic running for a while, I do believe.
The customer service from Sprint has been a little slow, but insanely courteous and helpful when you do get somebody on the phone (even "Kevin" who had a hint of an Indian accent).
I am now able to synch my Palm with AvantGo from my Mac. AvantGo USB Sync for Mac OS X is the key to getting this working. AvantGo has not supplied a Mac OS X interface. This worked exceptionally well. This was one of my last tethers to my PC. The PC has been very flakey with Palm hot synchs the past month or two, which is bad as one leaves for work with out of date info. Yes, in one day things can be horribly out of date.
Kevin Werbach reviews the Handspring Treo 600 in The Triumph of Good Enough
Three times the past week I have run across folks mentioning Hand/RSS for Palm. This seems to fill the hole that AvantGo does not completely fill. Many of the information resources I find to be helpful/insightful have RSS feeds, but do not have a "mobile" version (more importantly the content is not made with standard (X)HTML validating markup with a malleable page layout that will work for desktop/laptop web browsers and smaller mobile screens).
I currently pull to scan then read content from 125 RSS feeds. Having these some of these feeds pulled and stored in my PDA would be a great help.
Content, make that information in general, stored and presented in a format that is only usable in one device type or application is very short sighted. Information should be reusable to be more useful. Users copy and paste information into documents, todo lists, calendars, PDAs, e-mail, weblogs, text searchable data stores (databases, XML respositories, etc.), etc. Digital information from the early creation was about reusing the information. Putting text only in a graphic is foolish (AIGA websites need to learn this lesson) as is locking the information in a proprietary application or proprietary format.
The whole of the Personal Information Cloud, the rough cloud of information that the user has chosen to follow them so that it is available when they need that information is only usable if information is in an open format.
MacOSXHints offers AvantGo-Palm sync using a basic AppleScript, which actually uses malsynch. This has been one last gem I have struggled to get working. This could be a project for later in the week.
A possible wishlist item could be Sony CLIE PEG-UX50, which has most of what I am looking for in a PDA and more, with one exception a lack of a phone for data when out of WiFi range. I have been eyeing the HandSpring Treo 600, which comes out in the Fall.
Don't get me wrong I greatly enjoy my Hiptop and the functionality it has given me that no other device has done so far. But, I am now tied to three devices (and I do not have an iPod yet -- you are more than welcome to correct this malady buying it for me from my Amazon wishlist) my regular cellphone (nearly ubiquitous connectivity in area, vibrate function is strong enough to get my attention, speakerphone is outstanding, and clear auditory capabilities), Hiptop (for mobile e-mail, Internet, photos), and my Palm powered Handspring Platnium (synched calendar, addressbook, Strip, JungleSoft (city maps), and document readers (for books like Cory's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
No this is not optimal. I am seeking a Palm-based device that can pull pop e-mail and Internet using the phone, possibly through Bluetooth connection, while giving me the Palm apps that can be synched with my laptop and desktop address books and calendar. It would be nice to have the phone synch the addresses and calendar too.
No, I do not like the Hiptop apps for calendar and addressbook. One, they do not synch only have bulk over write capabilities, or at least that I have found. Two, I personally find the Hiptop calandar to be almost completely unusable. I can not move about the calendar easily, nor change and drill into the events from various views. When sitting in meetings and trying to assess my availability for follow-up meetings or deliverables the Hiptop calendar does is not easily usable for that purpose. I am also bugged by the lack of copy and paste. I do like the keyboard and the form factor for typing and surfing, much more than any other handheld I have tried.
I am thinking Sony Clie and a Sony Ericsson phone may be part of the solution. I have read many reports on the location services tied to cellphones, which use triangulation from cell phone towers and their extreme inaccuracy, I may be interested in having GPS on the one of the devices to better use location based services.
Cory discusses the problem with the Danger Hiptop development plan, which is a controlled development society. I liked the sound of the Hiptop because it not only had much of the mobile functionality I was desiring, but also it had an open development environment. Well, that is not exactly the case. One of the fantastic things about Palm OS is it was made wide open and any schmo could scratch their own itch and create software that worked for them selves and then offer it to others. The Palm platform has a gazillion software apps that will work for anybody. This is too bad the Hiptop folks do not understand this. I really hope they will change their mind. I would happily dig back into Java to knock out some of the apps I need and add functionality to the Hiptop. I really like the Hiptop device, but I would love it if it had certain features and apps, which come from open development.
I am already enjoying my Hiptop for much of the reason that I picked it up. I wanted access to information. More importantly I wanted information to be able to follow me. I found information or thought of information I really have been wanting to have access to that information from where ever I am. I wanted the ability to share the information from where I was and have others be able to use that information to better their understanding.
Yes, I have had cellphones and have called others, but the information is not that useable in voice form. The information needed to be convered to data elements that could easily be used and reused. Voice only (at the current time) allows us to hear then act upon the information and not store that information in a searchable repository or to easily share that information back out.
Yes, I have PDAs (Palm-based handhelds), but they need to synch with other devices to share information and the e-mail capabilities were not the best around. The 3rd party applications on the Palm and the fantastic operating system that is fast and small are great features that will be hard to beat by anybody.
I have been looking for a solution to have the information I wanted when I want or need it in my hands. The Hiptop gets me much closer to that goal. I tend to use e-mail to share ideas with myself and others. This weblog is another method of doing the same. Being able to search for an address and get a map is a solid tool to have at all times.
This is a personal quest to have the Model of Attraction (MoA) extend back to myself. The MoA not only helps us think about the attration between the user and information during the finding tasks, to help improve findability, but in phase where the user wants information to stay attracted to them. My Hiptop is my information attraction device. I can push an e-mail to myself that has the name, address, time, and phone number needed to do to a party with friends that have come in from out of town. I can access my Amazon Wishlist when I am in a store to help remember the author or title of a book, CD, or DVD I have been seeking. This bookstore amnesia (or musicstore amnesia) can be a thing of the past. The Hiptop provides me the information in my hand and gives me the access to the information I do not have at hand wirelessly.
There will be some experiments to see if I can improve on the information attraction to keep the information closer to me. Am I getting rid of my Palm? No, as there is information in it that I prefer in the format it is in. I will be keeping my cell phone as it has great reception and is CDMA (I found having a non-dominant cell phone technology is an advantage during emergency times, like being in San Francisco during September 11, 2001, which is a TDMA and GSM dominant city. I was one of a few that had no problem getting a signal to call out). It is rather awkward having three devices with through out the day. We will see how it goes.