Re: A PDA in every pocket?

Subject: Re: A PDA in every pocket?
From: TekEDIT / Judy Stitt <jstitt -at- tekedit -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2005 23:09:08 -0400

I've been a PDA addict since 1994, or perhaps a bit before. The Psion 3a (clamshell) was literally a dream come true for me -- eliminated many small scraps of paper scribbled with my notes and also my bulky "pocket" calendar; I've not missed them, and my home has felt more orderly. Before-Psion, I would make to-do lists organized by time or location, but was always running out of space between the lines and close to the margins, and my lists would become unreadable with all my insertions and scratchings-out; I also was very much tiring of writing -- and erasing and moving, as needed -- entries for meetings, and to-do's I had not finished on any given day so would need to push back to the following day or week ... so I found myself dreaming of having a little hand-held word processor and electronic calendar that I could take with me wherever I went. Seeing the Psion 3a sitting up so smartly like a charming Baby computer in the electronics department at the Harvard Coop (when there was still an electronics department at the Coop) was Love at First Sight. The clerks amazingly allowed me to take one out on trial for a few days (I think I could have returned it with a money-back guarantee if I'd been dissatisfied) -- and I never looked back.

I very much have appreciated the fact that my Psion Calendar "talks back to me" in the form of alarms of different sorts: an urgent phone-like bbrrriinnng for critical events, church bell for religious events, bell chime for personal/family-related events, soft bells for just-nice-to-be-reminded-about events, and trumpet fanfare for early-morning wake-ups, for example. And the Repeat Entry feature for events in the Calendar (e.g., by either date or day of the week or month) has saved me so much time. I've also been able to check on which day of the week a certain date was or will be -- even years ago (as needed for an editing project just last month) or in years to come (e.g., doctor's appointments).

The Data function has been a lifesaver; I've been able to find so much information within seconds, including many more phone numbers for various departments of my bank and investment companies, and various account numbers with their codes (for ATM, phone, and online access) than I would have been able to keep in my old pocket calendar. And when I have limited time to shop and do other errands before businesses start to close, I check their closing times that I've entered in my Psion, to know which places to visit first, then visit the later-closing ones afterward.

I often use the calculator with its percentage function for financial questions, including restaurant bills.

I used to use the Word processor much more than I do now ... I still use it to log my medical history, e.g., blood pressure / pulse (a nurse told me it's essentially that of a teenager -- I'm 50 ... and one hospital attendant, after taking my pulse, asked if I run marathons. I don't). My PDA also keeps many different sorts of passwords and codes in one handy file.

Psion Tech Support acknowledged me a few times as being a "power user" when they learned how many kilobytes I had used in my Psion, and my dentist told me once (when I was busily planning the rest of my day on my Psion when he walked in for my appointment) that I'm the only one he knows who actually knows how to get the good out of a PDA.

And if I had left my pocket calendar on the airplane instead of my Psion one memorable night four years ago, I would have been very worried indeed that someone might be privy to LOTS of information about me ... but all that information was password-protected in my Psion. Also, its alarm alerted the stewardesses to the fact that it had been left behind, even though it was hiding under a seat ... I called the airport and learned it had been found that night while the cabin was being cleaned between trips, so I returned to the airport and found it waiting for me under the desk attendant's counter after having traveled to New York and back to Boston again, chiming plaintively all the while because (the desk attendant said) nobody knew how to turn it off.

I was so delighted with my Psion ten years ago, I bought one for my mother; but we learned after just a few weeks that she was past the time of life when she could be patient enough to learn how to do many things with it, so it ended up being a very expensive alarm clock to wake her each morning (she often mentioned to me how nice it was to wake to its soft chimes) ... until I dropped my Psion too hard, at which point she kindly offered me hers.

Now I'm steeling myself to "bite the bullet" and buy a replacement -- probably a Palm Treo 650 -- because I'll need a speaker phone soon to conference in my home between a roomful of graduate students and a client out West ... also because my cell phone contract ends within a few days, so I need to decide on a new wireless plan anyway -- and I've been thinking for awhile that it may be advantageous to go with a service that also happens to include the Treo in its phone offerings. My computer consultant loves his Treo. I'm just hoping it can live up to my trusty and much loved old Psion.

By the way, does anyone happen to know if/how to transfer data from a Psion 3a to a Treo...? I usually use a Mac, but I also have a Dell Latitude. Offlist replies would be fine: I doubt such info would be useful to others since the Psion 3a is obsolete, but if it might be helpful to you, too, just let me know.

-- Judy in Cambridge, MA

I don't just have a PDA and a cellphone. I have a *smart* phone. I got
tired of lugging around two pieces of equipment and having to sync two

A PDA is essential to me for daily organizational tasks, such as
reminders to pay bills and call clients, keeping track of addresses,
and directions to locations (God bless Memo Pad!). I do all of my
personal and business calls through my mobile phone these days, so
that's essential as well. I also check my e-mail several times daily,
so having Web functionality is killer.

I'm actually having serious angst over choosing a new phone because
they all have doodads and apps I don't need, like video streaming,
game playing, etc. The only phones that have the true features of a
Palm OS organizer seem to be the Treos, and not only are they insanely
expensive, they're also clunky and prone to crashes.

I may have to bite the bullet and switch to Windows Mobile, or perhaps Symbian.

Yes, when it comes to PDAs and phones, I am an addict. I admit it. ;)



Judy Stitt
Cambridge, MA


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