Tag Archives: Palm OS

Palm’s Lame ‘Solutions’

This is another one of those tips that won’t help you unless you happen to be in a very specific pickle. That said, it also carries a general health warning: The more complex you make your computer and gadget set-up, the more you’re on your own.

If you’re synchronizing your Palm OS–Treo with Microsoft Outlook, you’re asking for trouble. After a while you’re likely to get the following error:

Outlook Calendar
OLERR:03-005E (0xca470057)
– Recovery Sync
Outlook Calendar synchronization failed

where nothing in the calendar gets synced. Even Palm’s own help page on this isn’t very optimistic:

This issue is under investigation. Since OLERR errors can be caused by a wide range of factors, we have developed a number of solutions at this point.

This is techie speak for ‘no, we don’t know what’s going on either.’ And the ‘solutions’ they offer aren’t the kind of thing you could do while the kettle’s boiling. One includes a step 8:

Open each of these items and give them an and date. This can be far in the future, such as the year 2050.

Another way of saying: You could be up all night changing each calendar entry individually for entries that are going to be around longer than you are.

Needless to say, none of these options worked, though they might for you. But here’s what I suggest:

How to Fix Outlook/Treo Calendar Synchronization Problems

  • Find out whether the problem comes from your Palm/Treo or your Outlook first. To do that move all items from the Outlook Calendar into a new calendar and then trying syncing. If you’re still getting an error then the problem’s with your Palm. If you aren’t getting the error, then try restoring calendar items in chunks until you hit the problem. (More complete steps here; don’t forget to back up first.)
  • If the problem is with your Palm, delete the calendar data there (which you’ll lose, unfortunately.) Do this by installing a free program called FileZ from nosleep software and finding the Calendar database file, CalendarDB-PDat. (You might want to back up your Palm first using another free backup program called BackupMan. In fact, you should have this one anyway.)
  • Having deleted the database file, trying syncing. It worked for me.

This isn’t the only way to solve the problem, I’m sure, but it’s probably the quickest. Bottom line: These things are never easy, but should be. Shame on Palm, for example, for hinting their synchronization software just may not be good enough by concluding, after several ‘solutions’ to the problem, that:

If none of the solutions above resolves your OLERR problems, you may wish to use a third-party synchronization solution for your Outlook information.


The Failure of the Smartphone Interface

I still don’t understand why people think that a stylus is a good thing, or that mimicking a Windows environment — designed for navigation by mice and other pointy things — is regarded as a worthy goal for mobile devices.

Take what Walt Mossberg, who has emerged as something of an expert on the new Treos, has to say about them in his mailbag (the URL isn’t a permalink, so don’t know how long it’s good for):

I have reviewed both devices, and I find that the Windows Mobile software on the 700w is considerably inferior to the Palm operating system software on the 700p. Too many common actions in the Windows version take more steps than the same actions on the Palm OS version, and often require navigating menus. You are likely to use the stylus more often in the Windows version as well.

I think in the near future we’ll wonder what the hell we were doing with our mobile interfaces. Why is it harder to answer a smartphone than it is to answer a normal mobile phone? Stylii were designed for sitting in restaurants and at desks, not when you’re standing in heavy pedestrian traffic outside Leicester Square tube trying to find someone’s phone number. Windows was designed for laptops, desktops, more or less anything with a flat surface and a mouse nearby, not for navigating on crowded trains or in fast-moving cars (especially when you’re driving).

Palm still looks good because it’s relatively simple as an interface. But it’s still looking dated, even while we’re still waiting for something better to come along.

The Moleskine Report Part I

This week’s column, in tomorrow’s Asian Wall Street Journal and WSJ.com is about Moleskines and how they seem to command the respect of a lot of technorati/blogging elite members (known as BlEMs). Lots of stuff I wasn’t able to include the column, which I’ll feed into the blog over the next few days. Thanks to everyone for their help.

Here to start with is emailed answers by Marc Orchant to my questions about how he uses his Moleskine:

What do you use, exactly, in digital and paper terms?

My primary PC is a Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC. It has revolutionized my approach to everything else I use. My primary capture tools are a small NoteTaker wallet I bought at a David Allen Getting Things Done seminar years ago (small notepad and a collapsible Rotring pen) and a small Moleskine journal (actually it’s the sketchbook model – blank pages). I also have a Sony Clie UX50 (Palm OS) that is total overkill for my current PDA usage which is checking my schedule or looking up a phone number when I’m out and about.

How do you use them?

I almost always have the Tablet PC with me and capture as much into this primary system as I can – either with the pen or keyboard). In the less frequent situation where I don’t have access to the Tablet, I use the Moleskine for note-taking of any consequence and for creating and working action lists. The NoteTaker is for quick disposable notes (as in “Honey – can you pick a few things up at the store on the way home?”) or actions I want to get into my task management system on the Tablet as soon as I get back to it.

Why still use paper?

There is an immense amount of satisfaction in writing on paper – we tend to forget that in this digital-toy-crazed world we live in. The Moleskine has lovely paper – crisp, creamy, and smooth – that is a pleasure to write on. I use a four-nib Rotring pen that has a mechanical pencil (great for sketching), a roller ball pen, a bright orange dry-lighter, and a PDA stylus tip – all contained in a very precision-machined metal barrel.

I also enjoy flipping through my journal pages, reviewing sketches, diagrams, and ad hoc notes. With the Tablet PC, I get a near-paper experience but the best thing about paper is that it requires no batteries!

Are you alone, or does everyone you know follow the same practice?

Very few do, actually although, given my status as one of the resident gadget freaks at my office, I have made a lot of people *very* curious ;^)

Do you get odd looks for using paper?

See above. Yes – very definitely.

Do you see any broader significance in all this? Or is it a fad? The demise of PDAs?

I spend a good amount time in the Getting Things Done discussion forums and there seems to be cyclical pattern to the adoption of, tweaking of, and abandonment of electronics like PDAs. I’ve been using a PDA since the original Newton MessagePad and have probably owned at least a dozen different models over the years. Right now (at least), I’m at a stage in my personal cycle where I don’t want to put up with the hassles a PDA presents. Whether it’s battery life, readability in direct sunlight, a cramped and frustrating text entry UI, or the myriad other things that “suck” about PDAs, the Moleskine has none of these issues.

For me, what has killed the PDA is the Tablet PC – but that’s probably another article. It has completely transformed my approach to computing and, as the Storyteller (my actual title – translate in suit-speak to Marketing & PR Director) at a software company that does all of its business online, I *live* in my computer. It is my primary business tool – even more than the telephone in this day of VOIP and a ubiquitous public network.

Do you think paper and digital might merge, a la Logitech’s io Pen, or is that the wrong way of looking at things?

I hope that’s not how it goes. I hope the Tablet PC approach emerges as the winning form factor. I’ve used both. The Tablet (admittedly a more expensive proposition) is an infinitely better solution for students and business people.

Thanks, Marc. Here, fyi, are Marc’s blogs:
http://office.weblogsinc.com (a blog about Microsoft Office)
http://tabletpcs.weblogsinc.com (a blog about Tablet PCs)
http://blogs.officezealot.com/marc (Marc’s Outlook on Productivity)

Update: More Tungstens To Go

 Amazingly, Palm are releasing another batch of Tungstens. It seems only yesterday they were doing the same thing. (Actually it was two months ago.) Anyway, The Register got a scoop by scanning local stores’ websites, which mistakenly posted details of the products before their October 1 release date.
In short, we have two models, the Tungsten T3 and E: the E is a 32MB device containing a “fast” ARM processor. The accompanying photo reveals a Tungsten T-style metal case without that model’s familiar slide mechanism. The T3 contains a 400MHz Intel XScale CPU, 64MB of RAM, Palm OS 5.2.1, Bluetooth and the kind of software bundle you’d expect from such a PDA. It does have a slider mechanism, to cover the Graffiti area, but with this Tungsten T, the applications buttons are curved around the central, oval navigator button. Prices? About $550 for the T3 and the E for about $280, in the UK at least.

The site doesn’t mention the Zire 21, the third PDA Palm is expected to launch next week. It’s possible the company’s UK wing is not releasing the 21 just yet, preferring to focus instead on the enterprise/executive-oriented products. Certainly details of next week’s local product announcement suggest such a high-end focus.

I know this is awful of me, but I can’t get excited about all this new stuff. I’m happy with my Tungsten T, and I can’t understand the need to sell new models every couple of months. Or am I missing something? Certainly the Pocket PC seems to be overshadowed by all this publicity. Perhaps that’s the point. Push out new models all the time so anyone who is thinking of swapping out their PDA has a brand new, just off the designer’s couch unit to go for. Are we that fickle? Probably.

Update: The Dana Wireless Is Out

 As I noted earlier, AlphaSmart are upgrading their Dana keyboard (a PDA? a laptop? a word-processor?) to include Wi-Fi. It’s now out. The Dana Wireless includes Wi-Fi (802.11b) connectivity and software applications for accessing the Internet. AlphaSmart are aiming at students and educators, professionals in healthcare, energy, social services, insurance, etc. which have Wi-Fi in their offices or campus. It may not be the best way to surf the net, but it would be great for sending emails and accessing basic data. Dana Wireless is a two-pound, highly durable laptop alternative powered by Palm OS® with a large screen and integrated full-size keyboard. It’s not cheap: it sells for $429.

Hardware: Palm Unveils the Tungsten T2

Palm, Inc. today introduced the Palm Tungsten T2 handheld, with the emphasis on multimedia features:

— 32MB SDRAM (29.5MB user available) of memory for twice the storage capacity of the original Tungsten T handheld
— Palm’s sharpest color screen — a high-resolution 320 x 320 transflective TFT display — for better indoor and outdoor viewing
— Built-in wireless communication suite — Bluetooth, feature-rich email client, SMS, and web browser
— The latest Palm OS(R), v5.2.1, with updated software features, including Graffiti(R) 2 and on-screen writing for input in the Tungsten T2 handheld’s compact mode
— MP3, video playback, and photo software for listening to music files, playing movie trailers, and storing photos(1)

The Palm Tungsten T2 handheld debuts at $399 (all prices estimated U.S. street price). Also effective today, Palm announced the price reduction of two current handhelds. The Palm m130 handheld is reduced from $199 to $179, and the Palm m515 handheld is reduced from $299 to $249.

Software: Calendarscope

 Bored with Outlook, Lotus Organizer and the Palm Desktop, I’ve spent the past month or so with Calendarscope, and have to say it’s excellent. It doesn’t stray too far from any of the above, but adds some features — or improves on existing ones — to make it a real treat to use.
You can synchronize your data with Palm OS handhelds, print out a calendar, save it in HTML to publish it to the Web or on a company intranet. What I like about it most is its colour-coded capabilities, however. You can assign colours to different kinds of appointments and tasks, customize the background, and, generally, make your day look a lot more interesting than it probably is. The program costs $30 but comes in a fully functional trial version. As with a lot of good software these days, it’s from Russia.

Column: AlphaSmarts

Loose Wire — Frustrated Writers, Take Note: This Palm-powered, plain-vanilla, word-producing machine has none of the bells and whistles of other computers and won’t break your back or the bank — meaning more time for haiku

By Jeremy Wagstaff from the 26 June 2003 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

I used to write a lot better before I got a computer. Really. The lethal combination of pen and paper ensured that I could write anywhere, anytime. Then, in 1986, I bought an Amstrad word processor and it’s been downhill ever since.

Nowadays I can’t focus on one program for more than five minutes, what with all the distractions: software notifying me of incoming e-mail, software notifying me that my incoming e-mail-to-spam ratio is 96.23%, software notifying me my last e-mail to Auntie Mildred has been read 12 hours and 46 minutes after it was sent, a chat message from an insomniac Australian friend, an alarm alerting me I need to pay rent, my firewall alerting me of yet another assault on my Internet defences. No wonder I never write haiku any more.

Computers are designed to do lots of things, and with graphical interfaces like Microsoft Windows and the Mac, they’re designed to do them at the same time, jostling for room on your screen. That’s great if you’ve got tunnel vision, or are crashing up against deadline [like me right now]. Otherwise, all this extra processing power isn’t matched by any great multitasking ability in our brains. My message this week, therefore, is this: If you’re planning to write seriously, don’t use a computer. Use a Dana.

OK, for e-mails and memos to your vocabulary-challenged boss, you may not need monastic calm and a minimum of distractions. But computers, even notebooks, may not be your friend if you’re trying to compose something masterful and meaningful. Instead, you may want to check out AlphaSmart, a U.S.-based company, which realized early on that there was a market for something to write on without all the extra hullabaloo to distract you. The decade-old AlphaSmart series, now into its third generation with the 3000, has been popular with students, teachers and anyone else needing a decent keyboard and a usable screen that don’t break their back or the bank. They’re robust too: One reader describes on the company Web site [www.alphasmart.com] how her unit — stuck to the floor, and slightly melted — was the only electronic gadget still working after her house burned down.

The 3000 is about the size of a notebook, but looks more like a keyboard with a small LCD display on the top. Powered by three AA batteries, it delivers you to whatever you were writing before you turned it off [or had to flee the licking flames]. The four-line display is simple but shows just enough of what you’re doing without feeling cramped. The keyboard is full sized and there’s a USB socket for uploading files to your computer, and a socket to connect to a printer [or external keyboard, if you wish]. Grey keys line the top of the keyboard, allowing you to store and recall up to eight separate files. It’s the sort of thing a student would love, which is the market AlphaSmart has focused on, but it could just as easily work for you if you’re sick of sitting at a computer all day, or tired of firing up a laptop on a flight and watching the power die just as the Muse kicks in.

Late last year AlphaSmart took the concept one stage further with the Dana. The Dana does everything the 3000 does, only better. The screen is bigger at 10 lines to the 3000’s four, the keyboard’s nicer and the whole thing is a tad sleeker than its forbears. It also runs the Palm operating system, which brings with it plenty of advantages: For one thing, if you’re familiar with Palm, you’ll know your way around; for another, you can do everything a Palm device can do, such as swap Office documents with your computer, store contacts, calendars and whatnot. In fact, to some it could be just a bigger Palm device — most of the software is redesigned to fit a screen far wider than your hand-held — with a first-class keyboard attached. But that’s missing the point: The Dana is a word processor that uses the best Palm has to offer — compact, useful software, immediate access, configurable fonts, low power consumption — without trying to be too much else.

If you’re looking for something to write on during a trip to the country, the dentist or the restroom, and can’t be bothered to bring a laptop [or can’t afford one] then the Dana is an option. If you’re a writer and sick of the distractions of modern computing, the Dana is worth a look.

Gripes? A few. The monochrome screen is nice but looks a bit dated, especially the backlight. With a list price of $400 it’s substantially cheaper than a laptop or notebook, but not that much cheaper than a state of the art, full-colour hand-held device. [Shell out another $75 and you have a foldable keyboard which fits in your pocket.] And without a cover or clamshell, some reviewers have rightly suggested the screen might easily get scratched.

But these are minor niggles. I’m seriously thinking about getting one for my inspirational visits to the hills where a laptop is too much, and the miserly screen of my Palm Tungsten not quite enough. Might even try some haiku.