Deutsche Version Other things - Palm Pilot

Palm IIIeSince October 2000 I'm addicted, too. Addicted to PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant) especially the Palm. Therefore I decided to get one, not the best (and most expensive) but still a good model - at that time - the Palm IIIe.

As I like those little handhelds that much, I dedicate a small site to them here. If you are thinking about buying such a PDA or would just like to know what a Palm is, I recommend to keep on reading. I will try to write about my experiences with this handheld.

The hardware

Some basic data on my Palm:

As I've already mentioned my Palm hasn't been the most expensive and therefore only has the most basic features. At the time I bought it one could have those extras, too:

Nowadays those specs may sound funny because modern PDAs are small multimedia machines with all kinds of network access.

The software

You don't buy a handheld because it looks cool (well...), you want to get your work done and have some benefit. This shouldn't be a problem with a Palm OS based system as there are thousands of applications available and quite a lot of them don't cost anything, too.

The default programs that have been shipped with my Palm included everything one would expect from a good organizer: a calendar, of course, to keep track of your appointments, a notebook to write down anything that seems important, a todo list, an application to keep track of your expenses, a small mail program and a calculator.

With the above software one can organize a day quite easily, but this is only one aspect of what can be done with a PDA. With further software you can install your own killer app. There are: drawing software, better calculators, databases, games, electronic books and much more. Another nice thing is that you can connect to the Internet wherever you happen to be. Just connect your Palm via IR (or bluetooth for the newer models) to your mobile and start reading your latest mails.
If you are a programmer you can, of course, create your own software, too. All needed software like a C compiler is freely available. Especially Linux users shouldn't have a problem to set up a development environment.

The usage

PalmOS is an operating system designed especially for PDAs. It is very intuitive to use, everyone I gave my Palm only for a short time could use it almost at once. System stability could be better but the worst thing that happens is that you have to push the reset button (no loss of data). Most of the better programs run without a problem, but some quick hacks tend to have errors which might lead to such a reset.
The way one inputs text is called "Graffiti" by Palm. You use your stylus to write on a special "silk pad", the characters are simplified block letters. It isn't really that difficult to learn, after some time (I needed about three weeks) one can input longer texts quite easily. Of course, a "normal" keyboard which is then displayed on the screen can be used, too. However, this has some drawbacks: It doesn't look as cool ;-), the display area is occupied by the pseudo keyboard and you need to look at your palm all the time.

What is left to be said

If you use the silk pad a lot, you may wish to protect it from wearing out. This can be done quite easily with "Scotch removable" (#11269). It is a tape that can be pasted above the silk pad. In addition to protecting you Palm it also changes the slick surface to be rougher which gives you, in my opinion, a more realistic writing feeling.

Though batteries keep the Palm running for about 20 hours, using them can become expensive. Therefore I decided to use accumulators instead. Right now I use two 700 mAh NiMH-accumulators with give me about 12 hours of usage which translates into about a full month in everyday life.

I needed some time to get a working PPP connection between my Linux PC and the Palm handheld via infrared. To make things easier for you I will try to describe the necessary steps here. As all the menus on my Palm are in German I cannot exactly say how the English terms will be, but it shouldn't be too difficult to find them on your Palm.

  1. Compile IR-support into your kernel, install and start the irmanager (which comes with the irda-utils package for Redhat systems)
  2. execute "mknod /dev/irnine c 161 0" as root
  3. Select on your Palm: Settings - Connection - IR to PC/Handheld
  4. Configure: Method to IrCOMM to PC
  5. Details: Speed to 115.200 and flow control to automatic
  6. On your Palm: Settings - Network - Service: Unix
  7. Username and password are not important
  8. Connection: IR to PC/Handheld
  9. Details: Type to PPP and choose an arbitrary IP-address, such as 192.168.1.2 (it mustn't be already used in your home network)
  10. Script: Select "End" in the first field (this kind of disables the whole script)
  11. as root: "pppd /dev/irnine 115200 192.168.1.1:192.168.1.2 passive silent noauth local nodetach", where 192.168.1.1 should be replaced with the IP of your Linux machine and 192.168.1.2 with the IP of your Palm
  12. On your Palm: Settings - Network - Connect

This should do the trick. If you want to access the Internet through your Palm now, you may need to enable forwarding on your PC and set up corresponding routes. This should be pretty easy to do.

You can find and download some software for the Palm that I use myself in my download area.

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Last change of this page: Aug 20, 2003