PDA Daily Use Article condensed from an article from 2000
by Tom Munch

(Author’s note - This is an article from the year 2000 that was originally a comparison between the Jornada Pocket PC and a Palm IIIc that was posted on Julie Strietelmeier’s the-gadgeteer.com.  I have condensed it just into the description of what I used the IIIc for in the year 2000.  I am posting this as an example of what could be done with a PDA in the year 2000, and hopefully it will also be a blast from the past for old users of PDA’s and smartphones and whatever comes after, and also a use case for what can be done in anyone’s life with digital devices – even if it seems dated in whatever year you read this. – Tom Munch)

I'm a musician & PDA user.  I make my living in music & depend on PDA's for all aspects of my business.  I've used handheld devices for over 10 years now, starting with a lowly Casio BOSS.  I used the BOSS to keep my schedule & contacts at the time.  I probably went through three BOSSes.  Meanwhile, I also picked up a Poqet PC for word processing & basic accounting.  The Poqet ran Word Perfect, which worked great for me then.  Eventually, I switched to a Sharp PC 1000.  The Sharp PC 1000 took over my contacts, calendar, & basic accounting, & I also began to compile all the lyrics I needed for performing.  I was tempted to switch to the Atari Portfolio or an HP 95, but the Sharp's large screen & keyboard (roughly the size of an LG Phenom or Toshiba Libretto) were just perfect for what I needed.  Everything ran in DOS, & I knew all the DOS commands well from my days at Tandy in the 80's. 

When the Sharp screen got crushed in the summer of 1996 I tested a Sharp Zaurus, an HP OmniGo, & a Pilot 1000 to take over everything from the crushed Sharp but the lyrics.  I did a "no manual" test with the Sharp, HP, & Pilot.  The Sharp screen & case were wonderful, the HP had a fold-over clamshell/pad design, but the Pilot was so much easier to use overall – even without a manual.  I returned the Sharp, kept the HP for my collection, & committed to the Pilot wholeheartedly.  For lyrics I went from a Kalidor 2000 to a Cassiopeia A11, then a Newton 2000, & finally an LG Phenom.  That first Pilot served very well.  I upgraded memory, bought cases, bought shareware, checked Stingersoft & Edward's site (I think it was Edward) daily for new shareware, & was generally impressed with the way the Pilot became indispensable to me.  The PalmPilot Professional was a great update.  A better case, backlight, more memory, & TCP/IP stack were a huge step forward. 

Then the Palm III came out & I was a little underwhelmed.  The case was only a slight improvement, & the only other thing I cared about was more memory.  I was beginning to dream beyond the capabilities of what Palm could do.  I wanted better hardware, a better screen, & more.  The road between 1998 & 2000 was filled with switches & flirtations with the Newton 2000, 2100, & eMate, the Psion Series 5, the Palm V, IIIx, Vx, IIIc, VII,  the DaVinci, the Avigo, the Cassiopeia E10, the Everex Freestyle, the Fuga Diary, the Oregon Scientific Pro, & the Visor Deluxe.  I always came back to the Palm.

Earlier this year I switched to color when the Palm IIIc came out.  I want to focus on the functionality of the core PIM applications as well as the third-party applications I use.  I use a PDA every day for almost everything I do.  I am committed to these devices because I know they make a difference in my business & my life.  It's taken me a couple months to finish this review.  In the meantime I have switched to a Palm m100, then a Palm VIIx, then a Visor Prism, & finally this month I am using a Sony CLIE.  I'll switch back to the Palm IIIc for this review, since that's where I started my article last summer.

I'll present a day of typical situations that I use a PDA for, & then show how I used a Palm IIIc to handle each situation.  Next I'll describe a typical instance from my day where I would need to use several apps in succession to field a phone call & make an appointment & all the notetaking along with that.  Lastly, I'll show some other apps & utilities that make everything come together to make the Palm an elegant solution for me.



Typical Situations


Wake Up

BugMe! works great for a wakeup.  I can set any alarm sound I want including alarms I've written myself.  I've tried other apps, but I usually come back to BugMe!.


Check Morning Todos

Start TodoPLUS & see the todos for the day.  It might be nice to see the overdue items in red, but I can turn on or off the date due display, so that is a workaround.  Using Datebk4 also works pretty well for this except that it lists overdue items first.  I'd rather see them listed by priority instead of due date.  Action Names sorts them fine, so I sometimes use that app.  I prefer to see a separate list though, so that I can switch quickly between my todo list, address book, & calendar when making appointments & setting reminder todos.  The third-party apps I use on the Palm save the last view.


Action Names


Check Day's Schedule

I use Datebk4 right now (I switched from Action Names when Datebk4 was released.)  Datebk4 opens to a quick view of the day with icons for each appointment & color coding.  The icons include a graphic week view that is colored & that I customized to show 16 hours at a glance.  Each view has small icons for each view.  The next weekly view shows 1 or 2 weeks in a daytimer- style layout.  The monthly view either shows icons or graphic bars color-coded to my appointments so I can quickly see what category or type each appointment is.  The yearly view I have normally set to view all birthdays or holidays.  The yearly view can also be switched to quarterly.  The list view gives a brief & continuous view of appointments.  I have saved views to show my gigs by category & todos, memos, etc.  When I used Action Names it had its own benefits & views.


Action Names



Read Daily News & Jokes

AvantGo works great on the Palm.  Nothing runs off the screen unless the "Show Tables" option is checked.  I can even change the fonts from fixed to variable.  I wish AvantGo supported copying text so that I could save a quote or joke to a memo for reference.



Call Appointment to Confirm

The existing address book works pretty well, but I usually use  PopUp Names.  I used to use SuperNames.  It had additional fields like in Outlook, but I found it was sometimes buggy.  PopUp Names pops up over whatever app you're in.  You have to have HackMaster installed to use PopUp Names.  The cool thing is that you can assign it to the address button, select a name in an appointment or a todo & then tap the address button.  PopUp Names will go right to the selected name.  A preference lets you return to the last viewed contact.  In addition you can have custom text inserted into the current app such as - "Call 'name' at 'home #'.  Of course you can also have an A-Z letter bar & quick entry to jump to any name directly.  Recent names also can be had by tapping the title bar.  I have each category color-coded as well.  Either the built-in address book or PopUp Names let me tap on the note icon to quickly access the note & record a phone call & appointment.



Set Quick Reminder to Call Client

I quick find my client's name in PopUp Names.  I make a screen stroke with my stylus from the calculator button to the find button to activate PopMe (a HackMaster extension from PopUpNames) & capture the screen with her name & number & activate BugMe!.  I write "call" on the screen in BugMe! & set an alarm for 15 minutes.  Done.



Print & Record Invoice

I have settled on ThinkDB for database duties on my IIIc.  You can have plenty of fields, & the tabbed form entry fields are very easy to use.  A desktop program allows me to view & manipulate data on my PC, & import & export functions to Access & Excel make reports very simple to complete.  I use Pop! to give me context-sensitive popup lists to enter data quickly.  I sometimes use the system shortcuts to supplement.



Record Software Registration

I use BrainForest for simple registration data, and I like the way I can manipulate the hierarchy with quick Graffiti strokes (space for move right, backspace to move left, etc.)  I use BrainForest for other things such as album project planning, request lists, & archived todos as well.


Check List to Pack for Gig

I use ListMaker for lists.  It's quick & easy & also lets me save frequently used items to quick enter in a new list.  I like having several apps with each one having only one purpose.  This way I have quick access to any data I need without having to navigate a lot.


Record Purchase

I have now tried many different financial apps on the Palm, but I always come back to QMate.  Steve Dakin has spent hours making the UI spectacular in QMate.  Quick entry works great.  I can use a quick "return" stroke to scroll to the next memorized transaction.  Combining this with Pop! makes for super fast entry. 



Drive to Gig

I use VehicleLog for vehicle data.  It's not perfect but it is fairly quick.  All I have to do is click on the "business" checkbox, the start mileage is inserted from the previous finish.  I make a quick stroke to activatePop!, which knows what app I am in, & it pops up the appropriate list of entry items. Pop! is a HackMaster extension.  I tap on "Pueblo work" to insert the destination & purpose & click "okay".  I have just left my driveway. 



Sell CD's

I use ThinkDB for sales.  There is no quick entry, but the filtering capabilities make it easy to analyze sales & determine who to make the next mailer to.  I can use Pop! for quick entry if I have frequently-used entries.  I can also create popup lists or lookup lists.



Make Deposit

I switched from Quicksheet to TinySheet for color.  TinySheet was a little buggy for a while, but it works now.  This is my simple deposit sheet.


Check Sunset Time

I use either Sol! II or CityTime for a quick sunset check before I walk the dog.  CityTime has a cool world map that lets you check the time around the world.



Work on Article

I can use Documents to Go Professional or Quick Office to create & edit a Word document, but I'm more interested in organizing my thoughts so I put my sections in a hierarchy in Hi-Note.


Work on Music

I'm not the best music reader, so I like to program my music into an app & let it play back so that I can hear what it should sound like.  Noter is a great app for this.  True, the Palm is limited to playing one note at a time (overdue for improvement), but developers have worked around this to make some great software.  Sometimes I use Noter to make my own little ditties to export out to the system to use as alarms.



Read Chapter in Book

Doc or TealDoc are my usual choices.  I have recently been using iSilo since it reads Doc files & also quickly converts web pages with graphics so I can download books with several pages & links directly from the Gutenberg site. 



Play a Quick Game

I have several card games that work great!  I always come back to solitaire.  The game I use, Patience, includes 10 different solitaire games & is freeware.  The cool difference from Pocket PC solitaire is unlimited undos & one tap card movement.  Dragging cards around the screen is an invitation for screen scratches.  I also have Cribbage, Milles Bornes (Rally 1000), Mahjongg (PalmJongg), HMaki, & PalmShisensho loaded on my Palm.




Typical Instance


Let me show you a typical instance from a typical day, & then I'll wrap up with some other third-party software I get a lot of use out of, along with some great utilities & navigational aids for the Palm OS.

It's mid-morning when my phone rings.  On the line is a client who wants to make an appointment for next month with me.  During the call, the client asks me to check several different dates & then winds up scheduling two different meetings in two successive months.  I make a todo to send posters to the client two weeks ahead of the date.  I also need to make a record of the call in my contact book for reference.  During the call I check on my accounts receivable to make sure the client is not behind on any payments.  The client asks if we met in August.  I'm reminded I need to call the sister facility to my client during the call, so I make a quick note to do that also.  A joke I read in AvantGo would fit my client well, so I quick look it up & tell it during the call.  I also need to make sure while my client is on the phone that I'm not missing a birthday or important event at my client's office, so I look that up too.  We wrap up the call & I finish up the contact notes in the address book.

Here’s out it works out on my device:

I push the Datebook button to launch Datebk4.  I tap the month view & push the down scroll button to go to next month.

I pick a free afternoon & double tap to go to that day entry.  I meet with this client pretty regularly, so I have a template already set up for this client.  I tap on the 2:00 line to make the appointment at 2:00.

I tap the "T" button for the templates & write a "J" to scroll the list to templates beginning with "J."  I tap on  "John Smith" to insert the template into the 2:00 time slot.

The new appointment already has an icon for a meeting with John Smith, a color-coded category, & the time of 45 minutes (how long we usually meet).

To write in the note I make a "Command" stroke & write an "A" to attach a quick note to the appointment.

To make the next month appointment I tap on the month view & scroll to the next month.

I pick another free afternoon & tap three times to insert the template with the entire appointment.

To make the todo to send posters I push the todo button to launch TodoPLUS & start writing to send posters to John.  A new todo pops up with the default of priority 1.

I tap on the "Details" icon  & tap five times to choose the date & close the "Details" box.


To make a record of the call I can get to John's name three different ways.  I can push the Address Book button to launch PopUp Names & then write in "smi" to jump to John's name.

I can push the button & then push "S" in the letter bar & scroll with the scroll button or screen bar to John's name.  I can also re-launch Datebk4, select John's last name, & push the Address Book button to go directly to "Smith" in the address book.


Once I am there I just tap the note icon to go to the note field.  I make a stroke from the "Find" button to the Graffiti area to launch Pop! & choose the bulleted date to insert in the note & write a quick note about the call & the two appointments made.


To check my accounts receivable I hold down the Date Book button two seconds to launch QMate, tap the account pull down to choose Accounts Receivable, & scroll with the scroll button down a couple pages to check the last couple months.

Checking if we met in August, I can look in the contact information in the address book, but instead I launch Datebk4 again & tap on the month view.  I choose the Icon View & tap "Go" & then tap August in the calendar picker.  I see the icon for the date we met in August.

To make the todo to call the sister facility I push the todo button & write in the Graffiti area which automatically starts a new priority 1 todo.

To launch AvantGo & tell the joke I push the Date Book button & the up scroll button which I have configured in TealLaunch to launch AvantGo.  I tap on the "Joke of the Day" & scroll down & read the joke.


To check the important events & birthdays I launch PopUp Names again & check my custom fields of  "Birthdays" & "Details" for any events this month.

I finally tap on the note field to make a quick closing note as I wrap up the call.



Apps & Utilities


Power Navigation

I have several great navigational aids to speed up my Palm.  I use Launch 'Em as a launcher.  It is very configurable & the developer is great at updating & communicating.  (Thanks, Alan!)

I use LaunchMenu to launch my favorite apps & DA's.  Requires HackMaster.

I use App/DA Launcher to launch a complete list of apps & a complete list of DA's.  It also lets me quick switch between the last two apps with a single stroke & popup a list of the last 10 apps I used.  Requires HackMaster.


I use TealLaunch to customize strokes for cut, copy, paste, undo.  I also have combinations of buttons & push & hold to launch some apps.  Requires HackMaster.


I use Pop! to add quick text & phrases from a popup list.  It can be configured to launch different lists for different apps.  Requires HackMaster.


I use PopUp Calculator to do quick calculations in any app.  Requires HackMaster.

I use MultiClip Hack to keep the last 16 items on the clipboard handy for pasting into fields.  This is so much quicker than having to switch back & forth between applications when you have several items to cut & paste.  Requires HackMaster.

I use FindHack to do specific & repetitive finds.  Requires HackMaster.

I use Linker to put links to anything in any app.  In addition I can have a link in a Pop! popup to launch anything I have linked to.  Requires HackMaster.

I use EVEdit Hack for drag & drop, Graffiti echo, multi undo, & a host of other text operations.  Requires HackMaster.

I use several Desktop Accessories (DA's).  Here is my most-used.  Requires HackMaster & a DA launcher.  LaunchMenu & App/DA Launcher work great.


More Palm Apps

More examples of what PopUp Names can do.  Here showing the split screen & the Lookup Templates to paste a quick todo to call Zelda & include her number.


If my fonts look a little different on the Palm, it is because I use FontHack123.  Requires HackMaster.

Chrome lets you change all the system colors on the Palm IIIc.

Here is yet another great app for musicians - guitar players in this instance.

I have my todo button configured with TealLaunch to launch Cesium when I hold it for more than two seconds.  This gives me a quick time check like the m100.

StarPilot is a great app for the summertime when I'm out stargazing.


This is how I have the silkscreen buttons & Graffiti area of my Palm configured for launching different apps & utilities.  Each diagram shows a different quadrant of the Graffiti & silkscreen button area & what strokes do what in each quadrant.  For instance, a stroke from the Apps button to the screen launches LaunchMenu, A stroke from the Menu button to the lower left Graffiti area copies the selected text on the screen, & so on.  Most of these require HackMaster.