The View From Here: Life With Palmtop

    The View From Here: Life With Palmtop

    Long-time readers of this column won’t be at all surprized to hear that l’m going to write about things mobile. Most of my articles have been about portable computing, or have been written with untethered hardware. Some of you may know that I wrote part of (my book) on my ( MessagePad 110). (That was due to some really ugly (hardware failure) caused by poor electrical grounding.) Right now I’m at 10110 meters, closing in on Salt Lake City at 942 kph, writing on my newest Newton, my (130). So the trend continues.

    This month’s column? I’m going to show you how I use my PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants). This column will especially be of interest if you’re not already mobile. PDAs extend the reach of the desktop into unexpected places.

    Please allow me to tell you what a PDA isn’t. It isn’t a replacement for your desktop or laptop, in spite of what the Marketing droids say. It’s an adjunct, making other things faster and better than they were before. It’s not your primary computer; it is your schedule, your contacts, your notes, your finances, your to-do’s, and if your PDA is a general-purpose computer, many other things all rolled into one (because your PDAs capabilities can can be expanded by taking advantage of the commercial, shareware, and freeware software that’s out there).

    “The network is the computer,” said Scott McNealy of

    Microsystems. Networking computers, having them provide information where you need it, is at the heart of the PDA matter. Sophisticated software synchronizes; you can always make changes to your data on the computing platform at hand and the other platforms will be updated automagically. You can concentrate on the task at hand.

    And what sorts of tasks are those? Keeping track of thc people and events in my life is first and foremost. On the Macintosh side I use “Now Software”‘s Up-to-Date & Contact bundle. Now Synchronize provides the synchronization with the Newton. On the Newton side I use “Stand-Alone Software”‘s DateMan.

    I use the Newton’s built-in note manager coupled with Stand-Alone Software’s Super Notepad enhancer to keep track of the data over which I stumble each day. Less bits of paper in my pocket each day. More Information at hand (unless I lose my Newton, which is why I back up 0n a semi-weekly basis).

    Lastly, I use my Newton to keep track of the many, many to-do items which must be done for me to have happy clients. “Llamagraphics”‘ Life Balance provides an outliner-based to-do manager which uses a fuzzy logic to suggest which items are most deserving of your attention. (It doesn’t yet take into account partially completed tasks, but I’m working with them.)

    These, then, are the ways I use the PDA in my life. Why should you care? Because a new crop of note-worthy PDAs is coming to market, each with powerful cross-platform sharing capabilities that make it easy to leverage your investment in the desktop. On the low end is the Pilot, on the high end are two new Apple Newton MessagePads: the US$800 EMate (a complete-with-keyboard rugged clamshell designed for the educational market) and the $1000 Newton 2000 (a super-charged pen. based PDA).

    Now the ball is in your court.

    (Topical note: a few days ago

    CEO Gil Amelio suggested that the

    technologies might be on the chopping block. The resultant firestorm of public opinion seems to have knocked a bit of sense into Apple’s management. You can have your voice be heard by sending email to .)

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