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Think, Let the PDA Do the Rest

The post is addressed to readers who are not using a PDA yet. I would like to briefly describe the advantages of life management that is assisted by pocket-sized computing.

The acquisition of a first PDA, may it be a Palm, a Pocket PC or a Zaurus (there are many more), involves transformation of long-standing habits. It is an evolving process — an adaptation if you like — of what you have become accustomed to since childhood. Tasks are being managed and flagged by a machines rather than the brain. Then again, many of us use notes to manage and organise our lives, so the transition may be primarily a ‘digitisation’ of existing information management.

The key idea of using a PDA properly is this: program your tasks as you see fit, then obey in accordance with reminders from the PDA. It is as if the PDA commands its user what to do and when, relying on and benefiting from cyclic events and ensuring that nothing is ever forgotten or becomes a mental burden. The mind is left available to think and expand its horizons rather than record information. Let us face it, machines do a better job at registering without ever ‘forgetting’. It has been their very basic nature, since the early days of computers.

SD Card

All your knowledge (and far more) in less than 1 gram

I can think of many advantages of using a PDA when compared with paper-based ‘life organisation’:

  • Automatic archival
  • Easy search
  • Easier re-use of data
  • Natural hierarchical abilities (not linear lists)
  • Less clutter (e.g. no crossed-out items)
  • Cyclic behaviour simplified, e.g. annual birthday notifications
  • Vocal reminders/alarms
  • Simple backups and duplication to prevent data loss
  • Collaborative exchange of data, e.g. Wi-Fi, synchronisation, IR port

I could think of a few more, but these should be enough to convince you why the popular Hipster PDA (famous paper-based equivalent) can never be matched. It better fits technology paranoids.

Linux Tablet

Nokia 770

As a sequel to my previous reference to Linux-powered tablets, it is worth mentioning the Nokia 770.

When the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet hits the streets in the coming weeks, it will mark a technological milestone for the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer. The tablet not only is Nokia’s first non-voice Wi-Fi device, but it also runs on the Linux operating system (OS).

To me, this seems like an excellent (yet more expensive) replacement to Palm handhelds. Palm have recently lost their direction and their commitment to Linux appears to have been crippled.

Palm Endow Microsoft with Unjustifiable Flattery

AS Palm form an alliance for their smart phone with their former rival Microsoft, many perceive the step as a damaging one to the Open Source community or advocates of open standards and inter-operability. Microsoft are already strutting about, showing off in their front page a Palm device while labelling it “Windows-powered” (a segment of the image is shown below). This image looks rather offensive since they go a rather long way in order to pass across the message: “the enemy is ours”. Sadly, Palm do similarly in their front page; maybe a reciprocal exchange?

This aggressive attitude is by all means nothing new. It comes after a great deal of trouble and distress at Microsoft. Windows Vista, for example, needed to be-built from scratch and there was recent loss of government support and trust, which in turn opted to move to OpenDocument. So, that “incompetent-at-best” move from Palm gives Microsoft a small victory among the many recent losses, ‘Google threat’ being the most prominent one.

Palm on Windows
How can Palm live with the shame? (from Microsoft’s front page)

In UseNet, several threads come up with misleading subject lines insinuating a complete Palm migration to Windows, which is evidently false. Then again, when will Palm complete their promised move to Linux? Is the recent Access-Palm takeover going to have an effect on strategic alliances? What if Palm carried on with Windows for their smart phones, as well as Linux in tandem, primarily for older-generation devices?

Looking at the users’ side, how would smart phone owners, whose data has been stored in line with Palm’s conventions, synchronise their data with a Mac or a Linux machine? Are they supposed to be swayed to change their desktop environments because of a PDA?

This move by Palm left me bitter and I am not alone in feeling somewhat betrayed. I came to witness a platform which I voluntarily supported (assisting many hundreds, if not thousands, of Palm users in UseNet) as it gave strength to an opponent — an opponent whose purpose is to destroy and cripple anything that is not Microsoft. I am beginning to investigate a migration to the Zaurus after many years of sticking and evangelising Palm. I truly hope that Palm prove that their commitment to Linux is true, thus keeping me ‘on board’. They will need to do that soon enough, or else rumours will grow wings and suggest that Palm(One) have become merely a hardware vendor and that PalmSource are history.

Cited by: PalmAddict

Platforms Dilution

Computer lab
How much diversity can the industry handle?

THERE has been a recent shakeup in the O/S battlescene. Many factors led to the narrow existence of Linux, Windows and the Mac in that conceptual picture which contains significant platforms. Other platforms are no longer catered for; support for them becomes a rarity.

Companies are beginning to leave aside Palm OS as we know it (e.g. Skype who changed their minds) while gaming systems like Nintendo approach their misfortunate end. The future of the Sony playstation appears uncertain as Sony issue warnings and are headed into some financial trouble.

Likewise, phones running Symbian OS will soon be suffering from so-called “smart phones”. We do not hear much about Solaris anymore, UNIX (not Linux) is seeing its demise, as well as OS/2 which had nails hammered to its coffin as IBM recently called it quits. Meanwhile, Apple ‘feed’ on their music players the most.

The Palm Treo 700 is going to run Windows — that is — Palm negotiate with their former sworn enemy of Palm OS. Later on in the future, Palm should complete their promised move to Linux, but one would have to express doubt as they were recently bought by Access. As it currently stands nonetheless:

Palm Inc. is teaming up with Microsoft Corp. to launch a Windows-based version of the Treo smart phone, marking the first time the handheld computer pioneer will sell a device based on its former rival’s software.

Related items:

Cited by: PalmAddict

Linux Pocket-sized Console


I recently came across a fantastic Linux-based, pocket-sized machine which boasts several desireable features. The name of the device is the GP2X. It has a dual CPU and a 720×480 pixels display. It is capable of running games such as Quake, play music, and store photos, among other things. Overall, it sounds very promising and goes for the price of 125 British pounds (approximately $190).

As Palm have decided to migrate to Linux, I can’t wait to see what they have in store.

PDA’s and Security

Three major risks are involved with the ownership of a handheld device. Below is a brief overview on fragility points to watch out for.

1. Vandalism

From Insecure Magazine comes a comprehensive document on Pocket PC security (PDF) which states:

These devices (PDA‘s) are easy to smuggle into a business and can be used to propagate an attack against network devices. Don’t make the mistake of assuming is a PDA is a simple data keeper. As the cliche’ goes… it is how you use it that matters.

2. Viruses

TreoPalm viruses were created as “proof of concept”, but haven’t been found “in the wild” frequently, if ever. The Treos, however, might make the exception. Either way, AV software for the Palm seems unnecessary and you are advised to spend your money where it makes a greater difference and does not cripple your CPU. Data gets backed up during the frequent synchronisations in any case.

3. Privacy Invasion

Lastly, as more handheld devices incorporate Wi-Fi, it is worth mentioning how penetrable data packets actually are. To convince yourself that Wi-Fi is not secure at present, simply follow the links below:

Cited by: PalmAddict

40 GB per Platter

External hard driveIt’s coming! The perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) hard-drive has been released by Toshiba for the first time. This 1.8 inch hard-drive takes us closer to the vision of huge capacity concentrated within a tiny space. As storage barriers are breached, not only laptops, but also handheld devices begin to challenge the desktop. This condensation of storage is particularly valuable for miniscule devices such as PDA‘s.

The disk stores 40GB in a single platter, and there are plans to release a 80GB version later this year

Toshiba is currently shipping the 40GB MK4007GAL to OEM and channel partners. The company plans to apply PMR technology to its 0.85-inch HDD in 2006, increasing capacity to 6GB-8GB per platter.

With many modern machines, the large numbers of platters relies on physical space being available. This enables manufacturers to sell hard-drive that reach hundreds of gigabytes (soon terabytes) in capacity. Expect PDA’s to contain a much greater amount of space soon, which is a pre-requisite to using them as hard-drives on full-sized PC‘s. Portable devices such as the Palm LifeDrive should be able to increase ten-fold in terms of capacity. This will probably happen some time in the near future when they equate to the capacity of the iPod (up to 60GB), for instance.

Cited by: PalmAddict

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