Re: A PDA in every pocket?

Subject: Re: A PDA in every pocket?
From: Barry Campbell <barry -dot- campbell -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2005 09:19:11 -0400

I was a Palm user for years and years... I still have an original Palm
Pilot stuffed away in a desk drawer somewhere, and I went through two
or three hardware upgrades, taking all of my data with me whenever I
moved to a new appliance because Palm's excellent sync software made
that so easy.

About four years ago, when my last Palm PDA died, and I wasn't
traveling on business very much any longer, I stopped using PDAs.

I transferred all of my Palm data (via Intellisync) to Yahoo Mail's
contacts, calendar, and notepad tools; since I was rarely far away
from a Web-enabled computer, this was a perfectly satisfactory way of
doing things, and I maintained my address book and calendar on the

I recently took the plunge back into the PDA market; I am traveling
again pretty frequently, I have a hectic schedule that requires
aggressive management, and about a year ago I started rigorously
implementing David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD) system (yes,
the one that there's so much hype about on the Web.)

Since I now work in a place that uses Outlook for just about
everything, and does most "knowledge work" in Microsoft Office
applications, I bought a Pocket PC (a Hewlett Packard iPAQ) last
month, slapped a 1GB storage card in it, and have been enjoying it

I use the PDA mainly to:

- Manage my to-do list
- Track my schedule and store travel information (the "alarm" feature
for meetings and conference calls is now something I absolutely rely
- Tote around a library of Microsoft Word and Excel documents, and
Adobe PDF files, on the storage card; the "Pocket" versions of Word
and Excel even enable me to do some light editing and revision on
works in progress.
- Track my passwords for various resources, in a secure database.

The PDA has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth networking, so when I'm in a
hotspot I can surf the Web or check my mail. This has been
occasionally useful.

I will freely admit to enjoying some of its other "toy" features,
however, like the ability to view pictures, play MP3s, serve as a
universal remote control for everything in the house, show me
restaurant reviews (Vindigo), read Web sites offline (AvantGo) and
emulate an old-school HP RPN Scientific Calculator (Calc98.) PDAs
have advanced quite a bit since I last used one.

I still rely heavily on paper notebooks for doing things like taking
notes in meetings... neither PDAs nor Tablet PCs are really "there"
yet, and probably won't be any time soon. But the PDA is a very
useful brain-dump-and-retrieval device, and I've found it extremely
helpful in implementing the GTD methods.

- bc

(P.S. I have contact and calendar data on my new toy that I've been
toting around since I entered it with a stylus on my original Palm
Pilot in the early 1990s. I synced up Yahoo Mail with Outlook at
work, and then synced up the new PocketPC with Outlook. Genius -
everybody's address, phone, e-mail and birthday made the trip.)

Barry Campbell <barry -dot- campbell -at- gmail -dot- com>
AOL IM: bcampbellnyc


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