Palm Notes

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I have a Palm T|X. Previously, I have used the m100, the m105, the m125, and the T3.

This page gives information about the hardware and software I have found useful. Please let me know if any of my links break, so I can fix them.

The m series

These were great. They did what they said they would do and crashed hardly ever. When I dropped the m100 one time too many, something went wrong with its battery, so that when I changed the batteries, I lost everything unless I did it immensely quickly. However, it was perfectly workable. The only problem was the lack of memory, which never became a huge problem, as I upgraded before I ran out each time. The colour screen on the m125 left me a bit cold, though. It was neither fish nor fowl: not good enough resolution to work well for photos and too battery-draining to be worth the miniscule benefit.

The T3

This was not too bad. It seemed to crash rather often, though. I did like the voice memo recorder. I thought I would never use it, but it turned out to be really handy to have a small recording device always handy. The screen size was excellent, although the slider was silly.

The T|X

Again, it crashes too often. Programs that came on the original bundle seem to cause each other to crash if I use them too close together (the web browser and the music player, especially, although Documents to Go does it a lot too). Graffiti II sucks, compared with Graffiti. Why on earth did they come up with so many two-stroke letters? And the punctuation is much harder to do well. However, the pictures are great, the sound is quite good, and the screen is about as good as they could do on a device this size, I guess. The fact that the manufacturer has once again changed from the connector they had advertised as universal is immensely frustrating and stupid. The fact that the new connector renders the only really good keyboard unusable is very frustrating indeed. Frankly, as soon as someone is able to sell me something that will give me the same functionality as is indicated by the programs listed below with a star (*), in a format that I can convert all my existing databases (plain text, calendar, and address book, basically) to, together with a decent keyboard, I will change at once. Palm have lost any of my loyalty they had, with their irritating chopping and changing that means I cannot use a good portable keyboard any more. If my T3 had not broken, or if I had been able to replace it with another T3, I would have. Sadly, this was the closest I could get.
The m Series
The T3
The T|X
Keyboards
Desktop software
Free PDA software
Other PDA software

Keyboards

I had a Palm Portable Keyboard. I happily bought new ones when I upgraded my PDA, actually. If Palm had kept releasing them each time they changed connector, I would not be looking for a new brand of PDA. They are brilliant. They are the best piece of design I think I have ever seen. They are robust, convenient, require no batteries, and fold up small enough for a largish pocket. They have dedicated number keys and a great key-feel. It is almost like having a full-size keyboard. In fact, it is rather better than the keyboard of the laptop I am using to type this now. I used to sit in cafes and write, spontaneously, just because I happened to feel like it and had the keyboard tucked in my (small) purse.

I now have a crappy Universal Wireless Keyboard. It folds into two, not four, so it is bigger, in terms of fitting into handbags, if not in terms of volume. It cannot hold the PDA firmly, so it is useless on a bus or in a car, as the PDA keeps sliding out of range of the (easy to break) infrared connector. It requires batteries, and the cover of the case for the batteries is on the outside when it is folded up, so it comes off and the batteries roll around my bag. It has a hinge in the middle of the space bar, right where my thumb hits. I am a touch-typist and I do not like having to relearn typing to suit an item I do not use all the time. It also has the delete key right where you hit it when you are trying to make question marks and use the arrow keys. It has no dedicated number keys. The driver seems to have a temperament too, as I keep having to reset things. And I never seem to have full batteries, so even when I do have it with me, it is often useless. I will try a Bluetooth keyboard at some point, but I am really pretty fed up.

Desktop Software

As well as the desktop software that came bundled with my Palm, I use OpenOffice to make .pdb files from text (using the Save As AportisDoc function). I also use the Adobe PDF software. It is okay, but nothing amazing: it works fine for text-heavy files, but not so well for things like sheet music. 

I used to use MkTlDoc (which is linked here, but you will have to look a long way down the page to find the file) to make text files into Palm-readable .pdb files, but OpenOffice does it just as well and has many other great functions too.

When I was on a Linux system, instead of my current Windows setup, I used JPilot. It worked. It was not as easy to use as Palm Desktop, but did give me easier access to things like the actual memos files.

Free PDA Software

At the moment, my T|X has the following freeware (or trial versions that I have never needed to upgrade or buy) running:

  • Adobe Reader
    Mildly useful. I do not use it often, but there are occasional PDFs I want to read on the tiny screen.
  • ChordDB
    This one is fantastic. It has all the chords I am ever likely to want, shows how to play them in several positions, and even plays them as arpeggios.
  • Converter
    Handy. It converts things from one unit to another.
  • Dali Clock
    Cute, basically. Not very useful, but very cute.
  • EasyPulse
    I do like access to information, and this helps me calculate my pulse. I am sure it may be handy one day.
  • PalmReader
    I use this practically every day. I pull stories I feel like reading off places like Gutenberg or Livejournal, convert them with OpenOffice, and pop them on my SD card to read on the bus, while I wait for people, and in bed at night.
  • BDicty
    Who wouldn’t want a free Anglo-Saxon to English dictionary, I ask you? Beiks sell a lot of useful dictionaries and give away a lot of cool ones.
  • Chem Table
    I like this. It has all the elements shown in a little periodic table. If you click on one, you get lots of information about it.
  • DALauncher
    This lets you add little handy things (called Desk Accessories) to the pop-up menu that comes up when you make a slash mark on the screen. Sadly, I have only found two handy things that I wanted: the clock and the Expense Summary. I must see if more have come out sometime.
  • Earth & Sun
    This shows which bits of the earth are in shadow. I would like a better, bigger, atlas program sometime, but this is still useful. The site it is from is cool too. It has stuff about making Palm apps.
  • Guitar Tuner
    Simple. It plays the note until you tell it to stop. You use the note to tune the guitar. Useful.
  • MayaDate
    I love this. I have never needed it, and I doubt I will, but it was cool figuring out a bit about Mayan number symbols and it is just kind of cool. 
  • Pleiad Atlas
    I do not really use this. Maybe at some point I will give it more of a go, but not yet. I think I need a human teacher for a bit first.
  • Strip
    A friend gave me this. It is very handy for storing log-ins for websites and suchlike. The website says If you are a citizen of one Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, or Sudan you are prohibited by US Export laws from downloading Strip. I am in New Zealand, so I am assuming this is not relevant to me.
  • SuLite
    Sudoku. Good for when someone is running late and I am too tired to think or read. I have found I do not tend to use it much.
  • TealMover
    Lets me move files around. Nagware, not freeware, but very nice nagware. I may even pay them some money one day. I think about it every time I do serious tidying up of files.
  • UkeChords
    For if I ever get the ukelele I was given on my sixth birthday restrung.
  • Violin Tuner
    Very like the guitar tuner. Useful.
  • Tarot Info
    This would be much better if it came with a program that dealt the cards onscreen, but it is still good, since I lost my Rider-Waite tarot handbook years ago.
  • TCPMP
    Much better in some ways than pTunes or Media, and certainly less crashy, but the lack of playlists puts me off using it. I still do use it at times.
  • Tide Tool
    Some day I will want to know the tide. I did once, about six years ago, when visiting a tombolo under time pressure, so it may happen again.
  • Wordbook
    Lets you download quizzes and flashcards. I occasionally check out some French verbs. Why not? Same maker as my very, very good Concise Oxford.

Other PDA Software

Paid for separately or bundled with extra accessories

  • MSDict
    The eleventh edition of the Concise Oxford. True happiness.
  • Keyboard
    Keyboard driver for the stupid keyboard described above. Not very good, as it seems to forget my preferences quite often.

I have also used Addition (a spreadsheet), which I found very useful and much less crash-prone than Documents to Go. I changed to Documents to Go purely because it came bundled with my Palm and does many other useful things. Also, Addition did have an annoying habit of forgetting that I had already registered and demanding my registration number occasionally. I may swap back sometime soon anyway.

Bundled with device

  • Quick Tour
  • Addit
    I would get rid of this, but the Knowledge Tree (seems to be the featured Wikipedia article of the day and a couple of similar bits) is good if I run out of stuff to do in an inconvenient location. I may get rid of it anyway. I do not like my possessions trying to advertise stuff to me.
  • Calc
    A perfectly okay wee calculator.
  • Calendar
    Brilliant. This and the Contacts are just really, really good. I like them. I use them all the time. I would like it if the desktop and the PDA were identical though, rather than the one storing more than the other, even if it meant both had the smaller number of fields.
  • Card Info
    This would be better if it let me actually see the files on the card and delete them if I chose.
  • Contacts
    Just good.
  • Dialer
    Completely useless without a linked phone, so I do not use it.
  • Documents to Go
    Word and Excel clone. Crashes a lot. Sometimes needs reinstalling. Not that good at managing files, as if it crashes while one is open, the only solution is sometimes to delete the file and start again, or renew it from the synchronised version on the desktop machine, if one has one. Still quite handy, so I keep it, but it is not good enough by a long shot, and I would not have paid for it. The PowerPoint clone part of it just crashed all the time till I deleted it.
  • Expense
    Not easy enough to put information into, so I never seem to use it.
  • Favourites
    Not useful for me.
  • HotSync
  • Knowledge Tree
    See Addit, above.
  • Media
    Not too bad, but the file management is irritating. I like being able to annotate pictures then save them as new pictures.
  • Memos
    This, the Contacts, the Calendar, and PalmReader are what I really have the PDA for. They are all fantastically useful and well done.
  • Note Pad
    Why bother? If you want a drawing program, buy one. I keep meaning to, actually, but have yet to find one good for drawing house and garden plans, which is what I would want to do. This one is handy for scribbling maps on, when explaining to a friend how to get somewhere, but not that good for much else, for me.
  • Prefs
  • PrintMe
    I would need a printer that could hear my PDA somehow to use this, and I do not have one.
  • pTunes
    Seems to make the Web browser and Documents to Go crash. File management could be better, as I would like more of a ‘now playing’ list, that I could add songs to or delete them from, instead of having to formally set up playlists.
  • Solitaire
    Hard to see, so I hardly use it.
  • SMS
    No phone; no SMS.
  • Tasks
    Not something I use. I tried, but it is just not me.
  • VersaMail
    I have still never managed to get this going. I want to, but I do not use Outlook, and it seems to be quite picky.
  • Web
    Crashes on startup about one time out of two, requiring a soft reset. I still use it most days to read Livejournal and the Dictionary.com forum. I must find a better web-browser and delete this one.
  • World Clock
    I do like being able to see the time in Noumea, even if I am not likely to go there again for a few more years, what with new babies and so on.

This website is copyright © Maire K. C. Smith 2006. All rights reserved. For all enquiries contact Maire K. C. Smith.