Abandoned technology

As my readers know, I was a big PDA user. Mostly Palm devices, several of which I still have in good working order, including a Palm i705 and a Palm LifeDrive.  The LifeDrive was a really slick bit of technology with a three Gig hard drive, a SD slot, and both WiFi and Bluetooth support.   I still use it now and then and have a lot of legacy data still stored on it.   All that data is synced to my desktop running XP, and I have some desktop apps to get at the data stored in third party software.  BrainForest for example, a good data organizational tool that was developed for the Palm platform.

Recently I upgraded my laptop to Window 7 (32bit).  This was full, format the drive install. So I started the process of installing the applications on the freshly wiped and loaded system.  Everything went fine until I loaded the Palm Desktop software and tried to synch the LifeDrive.

Windows 7, has been really good at recognizing stuff that gets plugged into it, turned up its nose at my LifeDrive.  I visited the Palm site and it’s seems that they have written off their PDA line.  Not a bad business decision, since the future is in Smart Phones, but I need to get that data exported and accessible before I upgrade my desktop to Windows 7.

Palm’s story is that the software for the desktop and the PDA drivers are now owned by a separate company and it up to them to provide support for Windows 7.   Next step would be to try synching with my LINUX system.  I know there is Palm PDA support in multiple LINUX apps.

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The Palm Pre

Palm has announced their new smartphone, the Pre.   It’s not out yet, but it does look interesting.  Big color screen, a slide out physical keyboard, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, calendar/email synch, accelerometer, 3 Megapixil camera, 8 Gig RAM, USB connector and support for additional add on memory.  

It looks like Palm is stepping up the plate in challenging the iPhone and phones using Google’s Android OS.   It will be interesting to see how the OS holds up under actual use and the application support.  Palm has a very deep application pool to draw from.  How compatible this OS is with the API for the old OS will effect how much of that application pool the Pre can draw from.

Keeping Palm in the game

Palm, the PDA inovator, now considered a “smarphone” company, has received $100 Million investment.  It’s from the venture-capital firm Elevation Partners.

Palm’s Centro smart phone has done well, but they need something to compete with the iPhone and the upcoming gPhones.

HP Palmtop 200LX

When I speak of PDA tech, I know of what I speak. 🙂 This is a picture of my first PDA. Before that I was a DayPlanner geek. This is actually a nifty bit of technology for the early 1990s. It has a 186 chip and I can get to a DOS prompt with it.

Palm Treo Pro is out.

The Palm Treo Pro has been announced. Currently only with the overly complex WinCE decended Microsoft OS.

Previous thought on etext

From a post on another blog originally made November 27, 2007.

Here is my geek punditry for the day. The Amazon Kindle etext reader is going to sell well. It will succeed for the same reason the iPod did. The iPod did not dominate the mp3 player market by creating a better mp3 player, they did it by greatly expanding the market through its iTunes service. People who had no idea of what an mp3 was or how to create/find them now had a way to purchase digital music easily and for less money than they paid for to get the music on CD.

The Kindle has Amazon shopping built in and thus a way to purchase etext at a reasonable cost. Amazon is attempting to follow the highly successful model Apple used, and it will probably work.

I’ve been doing the etext thing for years on my Palm based PDAs. There is an amazing amount of material available, including Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Beam Piper, and a good chunk of the Baen Books catalog. I am, however, a lot more geeky than the general public. I was not part of the Apple model because I knew about mp3s and the problems with overly restrictive copy protection.

Apple’s “Kindle format” is an encrypted version of the Mobipocket format common on PDAs such a Palm OS based devices. It does support non-encrypted Mobipocket, as well as text files and a few other open formats.

The Kindle’s biggest competitor will be the iPhone, once decent reader format is available (and either iTunes supports loading it or there is some third party software you could use without having Apple brick your phone), but I think the Kindle will hold its own, for the reasons stated.

More on PDAs and Smart Phones

First off, I do see a difference between a PDA and Smart Phone. I haven’t seen a decent Smart Phone have decent PDA functionality, or a good PDA that has decent Smart Phone capabilities. To be honest, I haven’t tried the Palm Centro, but the small screen has two strikes against it. One, it makes it a sub-optimal e-text reader, and second, it limits the web browsing experience too much.

The WinCE (yet another example of poor MS marketing) OS was a kludge from the start. Ask anyone who has developed software for it for their opinion of it. Odds are it won’t be favorable. So any of the “Windows Mobile” OS based Smart Phones is a non-starter. Too much OS overhead and they all have tiny screens.

The Palm OS has stood up well over the years because of it’s clean design. It’s not trying to replicate a desktop OS. It was designed for data retrieval. That’s its primary function. Data entry on that platform was secondary (and the original graffiti is still my favorite). The device was designed to work with a less portable computer (either a desktop or a laptop), but with a full sized keyboard and a larger screen. It’s easier to update my calender or contacts on my PC and then sync that data on my PDA. Yes, I can enter that data directly on the PDA, but it is easier on the the PC.

A decent PDA must be easy to use, be easy to read, and fairly easy to enter data into independently. Most WinCE boxes strike out on option 1, and the small screens on most Smart Phones take them out of the running. After that, they need excellent contact and calendar management. This is one of the key things that kills the iPhone as a PDA.