Saturday, September 27, 2003

Takin' a break

Techno Files is taking a much-needed break from technology (specifically computers, applications and the people who use them).

Thursday, September 25, 2003

A color Palm

Then the Palm M505 went on sale at CompUSA for $219 after rebates.
Pricewise, both the Sony and the Handspring color handhelds were $400 and up.
I did some research. Although the M505 had its faults (and had been replaced by the Palm M515), for that price I couldn't get any other new color Palm.
The user groups seemed divided, but I knew someone who had bought a Palm M505 when they first came out, and he was still very happy with it.
It was cheaper than the first Palm-powered handheld I had bought (the Sony Clie S300), so I
went for it...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Back to the exciting :) Handheld saga...

Back to the exciting :) Handheld saga...
One thing a did look at was a Palm Emulator for the PocketPC. I was hoping to be able to run DayNotez in the Palm Emulator on the PocketPC.
Unfortunately it did not support loading any applications according to
Geek News, so I did not bother loading it.

So I started thinking about (read: entered hunt mode) a color Palm...

Monday, September 22, 2003

More RSS Feed Links

From the website which had the definition of RSS syndication, an "Explanation of RSS, How You Can Use it, and Finding RSS Feeds" - Fagan Finder
Evolution of RSS and an overview of RSS, along with other technical info at WebReference

Definition of RSS syndication

Here is a definiton of RSS syndication:
All About RSS - Fagan Finder: "When a website has an RSS feed, it is said to be "syndicated""

Saturday, September 20, 2003

RSS Feeds

I have to interrupt my exciting series "Handhelds I have owned, loved and hated" to delve into some other technology I have recently got into - RSS Feeds. Don't worry, handhelds will be back!

I first read about RSS Feeds in the print edition of PC Magazine. (Yeah, that's where I keep up to date on bleeding edge technology!)

Anyway, I tried SharpReader, but was not overly impressed by it. Then in a web search I found Syndirella, another RSS Feed Reader which also runs on the MS .NET Framework. I assume the name Syndirella has something to do with RSS Feeds being syndicated - like television shows or newspaper columns? One neat thing about Syndirella is that it is quite like a Web Browser, in that hitting a "Back" button gets you out of the built-in Browser and back to the list of News feeds. Also, it can be used to get information from normal webpages, based on keywords, which seems like a really useful feature.

Friday, September 19, 2003


One of my first experiences with the Compaq iPaq 3765 was the Compaq Dashboard software, which I loaded before really becoming familiar with the default interface. As a result, I loaded a Dashboard theme which I couldn't figure out how to unload, and had to hard-reset the iPaq!

Apart from not finding a decent replacement for DayNotez, I kept finding useful freeware Palm programs, so I used the Clie as much as before.
Then on a trip overseas, I took the Clie (along with an evaluation copy of WorldMate, an excellent program). The only thing I really missed about the iPaq was the color screen.
I also dabbled in some programming. First for the PocketPC - embedded Visual Basic was a disaster (even though I've written a number of Client-Server Apps in Visual Basic for Windows). Palm development tools were much more mature, and there was much more of a choice. There was a a pattern here : limited choices on the PocketPC versus a myriad of choices on the Palm.

Eventually I got tired of carrying both the Clie and the iPaq.
It was one or the other, I had to choose...
I liked the iPaq's color screen, but the battery life sucked. Although this could be remedied, I still could not find a replacement for DayNotez. On top of that, there were (and still are) a lot less third-party apps for the PocketPC, and freeware apps were even more scarce.
On FreewarePalm there at a rough guess there are 4 times more
titles than FreewarePocketPC
After the iPaqs color screen, the Clies mono screen just did not cut it anymore.
So I started looking for handheld number four...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Pondering things bigger than handhelds

Even without all the media hype, a hurricane can really get your attention.
I only experienced the "Tropical Storm" part of Hurricane Isabel.
These pictures show the best view - from a distance.

Click here or here.
Warning - these are > 500Kb JPG files, so they may take a while to load from a Dial-up connection.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

More Gripes

The iPaq was advertised as having Microsoft Money 2003 software on the CD. One of my mistaken assumptions was that this was the Windows version of Money. Unfortunately it was just the "Pocket" version of Money, and would not sync with the old version of Money which I had (Money 1999). So I went out and bought Money 2002 when it was on special. The two Moneys worked great (as the should) at first, but on one occasion some transactions were lost, and on another the money file on the PocketPC went missing. Well, that's why Microsoft gives away The Pocket version on MS Money with PocketPCs.

Another gripe was Pocket Streets. It supposedly came with the iPaq, but there was a lot of confusion about it. To get it, you had to buy Microsoft MapPoint or Microsoft Streets and Trips. Then there were Pocket Streets 2001 Maps which were not compatible with 2002 maps (or was that vice versa).
Now I see Microsoft says you can buy Pocket Streets from Handango
for $24.95. A bit of a cheek when it was supposed to be included with the iPaq (or was it the link which was included, not the software?)

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The iPaq in daily use

The Compaq iPaq 3765 really does have a bright screen, although I tend to run it at medium brightness or less. Compared to the Clie, it is a real power hog, needing to be recharged at least every second day. That's the price you pay for the great screen and the full multi-tasking Operating System. It's just like Windows, but on a handheld, with all the power, and futzing with settings that comes with Windows.

There was one program I just could not find a decent PocketPC equivalent for - DayNotez. The programs I tried were usually nowhere nearly as fully featured as DayNotez (or just plain sucked), and were double the cost.

So I carried both the iPaq and the Clie with me.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Moving to the iPaq

Converting my PIM Data (Addressbook, Datebook, Memos etc) was really easy, using Starfish
TrueSync which had come with the Clie: just a sync from the Clie to Outlook, then from
Outlook to the iPaq. I could write notes in either one, and beam between them with the help
of PeaceMaker Conduits which had come with the iPaq.

Then I set about replacing the programs on the Clie with equivalents on the iPaq.
Many programs, hacks and utilities did not need replacements, like JackFlash, which the
iPaq File Store effectively replaced. Pocket Word replaced the Memopad. The Dictionary that
came with Microsoft Reader was excellent.

One gripe though:
Since Windows 95, users have become used to the fact that the "X" on the top right of a
window closes that window, so which idiotic software engineer at Microsoft
decided that the "X" on the top right of windows on the PocketPC platform would minimize
a window?

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Palm defector?

Well, I finally did it. I was going to hang on until
my birthday and buy a color Sony Clie Handheld.
Instead, I've just bought a Compaq iPaq 3765 PocketPC
(with Micro$oft PocketPC 2002 OS). The DBA here at
work, who is probably on his third Palm, a M505, keeps
on saying "Defector, defector!"

In true M$ fashion, Outlook 2002 (which comes packaged
with the iPaq) crashed on install, and I had to search
the web for a fix from M$'s knowledge-base. After
playing with it for a while, I figure it may take some
time before I can consider replacing my Sony Clie S300
with the iPaq. Otherwise, there is a CD-load of
software to install on the PPC, which I need to set
aside a weekend to do.

A PocketPC!

Quest for a color handheld continued...

The newest HP Jornado was well out of my price range. Then RadioShack had a special on the
Compaq iPaq 3765, payable over 12 months interest free! I did some research. This iPaq had
the latest and greatest Windows CE Operating system "PocketPC 2002". It also was touted as
having one of the brightest color screens on the market.

The specs were incredible:
64Mb of RAM
32Mb Flash ROM
206Mhz Intel StrongArm 32-bit RISC processor
Voice recorder
Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet Explorer, Windows Media player for MP3 or WMA
music files, File Explorer, Picture Viewer, Microsoft Reader, Microsoft Money 2002, Pocket
Streets, Pocket Outlook, AvantGo, Outlook 2002 and many more...

I could hardly wait to get it out of the box and charged up. The design was really cool,
with the stylus cleverly stored in the unit, released by pressing a button. In so many
ways it seemed superior to the Sony Clie. The iPaq File Store is an ingenious idea - 6Mb of
ROM to store important info or programs - which would survive a hard reset. The Block
character input mode was just like graffiti, so there was hardly any learning curve there.

The one thing it didn't have was a memory card slot, but I was able to buy an "expansion
pack" which would allow me to use Compact Flash cards. Unfortunately the Expansion sleeve
turned the sleek iPaq from a handheld to a chunky computer which needed a BIG pocket.

Reviews -
And a lengthy review on Overclockedcafe

Friday, September 12, 2003

Want color!

My Sony Clie PEG-S300 never gave me any problems. It was a great little handheld, and I don't remember ever
having to do a hard reset.

Then someone put the idea of a HP Jornado 340-something in my mind. They could get hold of
one, at a good price. Problem was, it was from a friend of a friend, no questions asked,
nudge-nudge wink-wink. The dubious source put me off - I did not want anything to do with a
possibly stolen handheld. But the idea of a Windows powered device would not go away,
especially one with a color screen.

My little Clie started looking dull with its black and green screen.

At that stage you couldn't get a new Palm with a color screen for less than $500.
Since I worked on Windows everyday, a PDA with a Windows Operating system seemed to make
perfect sense.

to be continued...

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

My second Handheld

My second Handheld was the Sony Clie PEG-S300.

Since price was my main criteria, I was quite limited in my choices.
Someone at work had the Clie S300 (the only Sony handheld at that stage!), and allowed me to
play with it for a while. That was enough. It was miles better than the VTech Helio.

What clinched it was that they were on special at Circuit City, and around my birthday too!
The Clie came with a 8Mb Memory Stick, a very useful leather wrap-around case, which could
merely be opened for the Clie to be ready for use.

For the PDASupport review click here

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

My first PDA

My first PDA/Handheld computer was a charcoal Vtech Helio.
Anyone remember those?

I bought it on special for $50 after rebates at CompUSA.

For fifty bucks it had impressive features:
8 Mb memory
Record/Playback voice
Standard PIM apps
Serial Sync to PC

Of course it was on special because VTech had just discontinued its foray into the handheld
computer business.

Despite this, and the other problems (occasional crashes, needed screen/stylus recalibration often),
I was soon using it daily.

See Dave's Review here

However, the OS was proprietary. All that RAM and only a few 3rd party Apps available.

So I eyed the Palm platform, with thousands of 3rd party apps just waiting to be

Monday, September 08, 2003

Latest Toy

This weekend I tried out my latest toy, a Navman GPS 3450.
It's the sleeve version for the Compaq iPaq, and has a slot for a CompactFlash card -
very handy because the map I used was at least 30Mb.

Anyway, I used it to drive to a beach over 20 miles away. The turn-by-turn voice
directions are good, although you sometimes need to glance at a map for where the road
splits. The Windshield mounting bracket worked surprisingly well, and I was able to have
the PocketPC screen just under the rearview mirror, although much lower, so I could glance
at it every now and then. The re-routing worked well to, getting me back on track when I
deliberately made a wrong turn.

More information on the GPS sleeve is available from:
Navman Mobile

A good website with reviews and a lot of links is:
Pocket GPS

Friday, September 05, 2003

Thinking of buying a handheld computer?

No, this is not a sales pitch, just some hopefully useful links.

Look at Tanker Bob's Page for some good information to get you started.
I wish I had :(

There's also a free ebook "Writing On Your Palm" here

In case I may seem biased, for the latest new on both Palm and Windows powered handhelds:

Thursday, September 04, 2003

More Freeware Sites

For Palm OS based handhelds (PDAs) - FreewarePalm
Lots of freeware Palm programs (including one of my own!). Just have your pop-up blocker set when you go to this site.

Free Programmers' Resources
Free Programming Language Compilers, Source Code and Programming Libraries, Programming Tools and Utilities, Free Webmasters' Resources and Free Security Resources

Another freeware site out of the blue - As long as you don't mind a banner ad on the websote, and a massive picture.
Only Freeware

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Favorite Freeware sites.

I used to get most of my Freeware from the ZDNet/CNET/ sites, which are all affiliated now - CNET and take you to the same website.

Although they show both Shareware and Freeware, there is an easy option to filter by freeware only:
At the bottom of the list of titles select Filter by License - then choose "Free".

On CNET, software like Kazaa has a warning (from CNET) that it contains adware, and a description of what adware is.
There are usually also User Ratings, but these can be very subjective.
Another thing in favor of these sites is that you are not likely to download software containing viruses or trojans.

However, I have gone off them a bit after finding that they charge a "basic processing fee" of $79 to list a product in ", ZDNet Downloads, and MSN Downloads".
If someone pays that much to list a freeware product, have they got other software they are selling, or is this a "Lite" version?

Some better, freeware only sites are:

Although there are a few broken links on this site, they try to list the "best of breed" under various categories.

Son of Spy Freeware.
The webmaster declares that it hates spyware, and has a link for reporting any spyware found in files downloaded from the site. The webmaster also reviews the software, and indicates which software he uses. has what looks like a
well-researched categorized list of freeware. freeware - I've only downloaded one or two files from here.

Another site with a collection of DOS and Windows freeware is
Listing of useful freewares (by daonlyfreez)

The dmoz open directory project also lists freeware, but the site can be hard to reach

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Bannerware Rant/Review

While trying out some of the freeware archiving programs, I ran into a bannerware archive

The program is ZipWrangler (version 1.2). It looks like another freeware archiver program
which may be worth downloading to give it a try. Don't even bother. If the weird looking
setup program does not put you off, running ZipWrangler certainly will (an where did they
dig up that color scheme?).

When you run the program, at the top of the wacky interface is a banner which advertises the
companies other programs, presumably all bannerware. To get rid of the advertising banners,
you need to pay "under $12", and there's a link to a webpage, but when you get there, no mention of
the price of ZipWrangler, just their other high-priced products.

Just to add to it all, after uninstalling ZipWrangler it leaves a file ltwain.ini in the
Windows directory (why?), does not remove the ZipWrnagler directory, and of course leaves
the entries it added to the Windows registry. Admittedly, most programs don't delete the registry
entries they have added.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Labor Day
While technology rapidly forges ahead, this technophile is taking a break.

History of Labor Day