PalmOS

Howdy doody! Welcome to my very own PalmOS page.

And… NO! I will not get into a mud-slinging debate whether PocketPCs (ex-WinCE) devices are better. It’s a no-contest. Palms win, hands down… *grin*

Contrary to popular misconception, a “PalmPilot” is not really every handheld device that exist. It was the original name of the original handheld device produced by US Robotics-Palm joint venture, called the Pilot (“the first”, as in “the pilot episode of a new series”). Hence, the name at the time (1996) was “USR Palm Pilot”, because the Pilot was made by the company, Palm Inc, and was funded and backed by an even bigger company, US Robotics.

As a quick aside, USR was bought out by 3COM some years later. Those of us old fogeys who started playing with modems back in the mid-80’s still remember that USR Modems were considered the best and the most innovative in the world… at the time, that is. So, for a while, these handheld devices were under the 3COM brand, and hence were called 3COM Palms.

So there you have it. Since 1996, people have been referring to the range of devices produced by Palm as “Palm Pilots” after the original device. Kinda like in the West, people say “hey man I just xeroxed this article” when they wanted to say that they have made a photocopy of the article (Here in Singapore we just say “hey man I just zapped that article”). So, if you ever see a friend holding one of these things and you casually ask “Hey, is that a Palm Pilot?”, expect the answer to be “NO” since not many people still have an original Pilot that is still working anymore. It has too little RAM (256K I think, I’m rusty on Palm’s history right now), no Infra-Red beaming capabilites, and most newer software out there cannot run on the old OS versions. Chances are that they will be using a very modern model, like an m500 or a Vx. Then again, he might really not have a Palm device at all. and may own one of those PocketPC devices like iPaq, Journada and a whole host of others. Not everyone likes the look and feel of Palms, sad to say. Some are just too tied to Windows and hence, their preference for PocketPC devices.

My History with Palm devices

I first got my Palm device on 5th Sept 1999. I had been putting myself off getting one for a long time, because before that time, PDAs (this should be the generic term used to refer to handheld devices, not “Palm Pilots”) or “Personal Digital Assistants”, were still somewhere up there in terms of price. In other words, not everyone can justify to themselves to get one. Casio and Sharp “Digital Organisers” were much cheaper, about S$100, compared to PDAs which typically go for $600 or more

The one fine day, my Casio decided to die on me. Getting new batteries did not revive it, so I thought to myself “It’s time to check out the Palm Pilots” (See, even back then I was like you guys, errorneously referring to a PDA as a Palm Pilot). So I did. I found out that the prices had fallen alot, and now it was within reasonable budget. A 2MB model, the Palm IIIe was only S$369.00, which was okay for me. So I went out and got that (see the pic on the right).

After mucking around with it, I remember hearing people telling me that I can go out on the web and download lots of cool software for it, something which I could not have done with my old Casio and Sharp Organisers. So off I went. Pretty soon, I stumbled across the Singapore Palm Users Group. SPUG is what they call the organisation, and SPUGGIES the members. Personally I prefer it if it was SPUGGERS, but then again I am not the one running the show 🙂 You should check it out, and join it. They gather periodically at Coffee Bean or Starbucks etc and just talk about Palms and stuff. Old birds will teach newbies how to work the Palms. It’s a very nice and relaxed bunch of people. Try it… you won’t regret it! It was also at one of these that I learnt that I can hook up my Palm to my handphone via Infra-Red and surf the web and retrieve emails. Technically, you can say that we were doing “WAP” way before WAP-enabled phones started appearing in Singapore 🙂

Oh good… there you are. You haven’t given up on me eh?

Okay so where was I? Oh yes.. SPUG. Nice bunch of people. It was also here that I learnt that I could easily upgrade my Palm IIIe from the normal 2MB to a full-blown 8MB, even though Palm Inc expressedly forbids it. Cost me $100, but it was worth it. After the upgrade my Palm IIIe (remember, it was supposed to be the low-end model!) was equal to any other Palm device out there. I had oodles of memory to load software and do some experimental “software development” on. By the way, my experiments didn’t really take off 🙂 I’m still a rank novice at writing software for the Palm, but I’m in no hurry…

So anyway, tragedy struck on 19 Dec 2000 (1 year and 4 months later). My Palm died, and I had to get a new one (See pic on the left). I committed my Palm to the memory of the Palm Graveyard. My particular obitury is listed here. When my Palm committed suicide, I had no choice but to go out and get another one. “Upgrading” wasn’t even in my mind. I just wanted the same thing I had been using all along. When you get your own PDA, you will find yourself getting very attached to it, trust me 🙂

By this time, the Palm IIIe was already “obsolete”. They were not sold anymore. The next closest thing was the Palm IIIxe, a newer version with 8MB already onboard. Okay okay I know what some of you are saying … “8MB only? Where got enough?!”. Well, remember, this is a device NOT made by Microsoft, and so it’s not running any “bloatware”. The stuff on it are small and fast, and each software does its own job very fast and very well (Unix philosophy). 8MB is definitely more than enough. PocketPCs, on the other hand, need faster processors (100Mhz or so) compared to the Palm (16Mhz), and need 32MB or more RAM too. No prizes for guessing WHY though 🙂

Once I got home, I just plopped that little guy into the cradle, pressed the sync button and viola! All my stuff were back in the new Palm, just like the old one. Good thing I had the backup software called BackupBuddy! Without it, I would have had to reinstall every software from scratch, but since BackupBuddy was working as advertised, it was as if nothing happened! While you’re there, check out the other stuff made by them.

The Palm IIIxe served me well. In December 2001, I decided to finally upgrade to a Zire 71. At the time it was THE multimedia Palm. It has a VGA Camera, able to play MP3, has a colour screen that finally could be read under bright sunlight (one of the reasons I didn’t get a colour screen Palm before was they all used TFT and you can’t read anything under the sun), and with a movie-player software, you can even watch movies on it.

Yes, today, I am still using the Zire 71. The only thing I am missing right now with it is that it doesn’t have FM Radio. Carrying around MP3s (or OGGs or WAVs etc) is fine but sometimes I just want to listen to the radio for the news you know? So I bought a MP3 player. Yeah I joked with my friends that I have a brand new thumbdrive that could play music, but then again it’s not far from the truth – an MP3 player essentially is a thumbdrive that could play music on its own. Yes you can use your MP3 player to save other kinds of files too! If your MP3 player appears as a drive on a computer, it is a “thumbdrive that plays music” heheheh!

 

Update – 7 Oct 2006

PalmTXMy Zire 71 finally took its last breath, and died on me. Actually, it didn’t 🙂 Age and wear and tear must be catching up to it, because for some reason the writing recognition started to fail and I keep writing the wrong letters. No amount of fiddling with it the digitizer could fix the problem, so I thought I may as well go get a new one. 4 years of service from the Zire 71 is pretty good.

So yeah I went and bought the Palm TX. This is probably the last Palm PDA that Palm will ever make, since their business strategy appears to be headed in the direction of smartphones (Treo650s, Treo700s etc). This TX better serve me for the next 4 years till 2010!

 

Update – 3 November 2007

So it’s been a year since I got the PalmTX. So far it’s been working like a champ, although there must be some conflicts between the apps. When it’s totally empty, like when you first take it out of the box, all the default apps run fine. However when I load my stuff into it, the default WebPro (web browser) would crash upon startup. I’m lazy to figure it out so I guess I’ll live without it.

Anyway, the hardcase I bought for it looks battered and worn. Truly worth the 50 bucks. My PalmTX inside is almost unscratched. The screen protector was changed once some time this year, cos somehow the writing area of the protector developed a HOLE. Well, this new protector hasn’t seen any holes yet.

Busy friend
As you can see in the above pic, even my friend (face blurred intentionally. I don’t wanna get scolding for putting her face up on the Internet) can’t resist poking at her PalmTX during drinking session. She’s just sooooo busy!