Originally published on 27 March 2007.
When I first saw a PDA, I was impressed. Here was my entire planner, in a compact format! Yet I didn’t subscribe to what I saw as a new fad because the PDA seemed too heavy. I would be carrying this thing around with me everywhere, and I didn’t want to have the added weight. It is ironic that the weight and bulkiness of my paper planner never occurred to me.
I finally gave in to the PDA craze when the Handsprings came out. I researched carefully, and I chose the the Palm OS for a variety of reasons:
- I was currently using the Daytimer planning software, and Windows CE devices couldn’t support this. I did not want to switch to Outlook, which is the only scheduling software available at the time on CE devices.
- Palm-powered devices were much cheaper than Windows CE.
- I already had a work-issued laptop, and there are two computers at home. I didn’t really need to have full Windows functionality on a mobile device.
- The Palm devices were smaller than the Windows CE devices. I was looking to get away from carrying lots of extra bulk (which is why I considered leaving my beloved planner in the first place).
I decided on the Handspring over Palm branded devices for the following reasons:
- Handspring devices were significantly cheaper than Palm devices.
- Handspring devices came with an expansion slot that allowed you to slide in modules to expand functionality.
- Handspring devices came standard with a USB cable to connect to the desktop PC; Palm devices were serial connections. My serial connection was already taken by another device, and USB connections are much faster than serial.
What the Handspring PDA Offered
This PDA gave me everything I had on the DayTimer software: calendar, address book, and to-do list, as well as a notebook. It was about this time that I started downloading everything I could get my hands on to extend the functionality of the PDA into areas I had never considered needing functionality.
How I Use My PDA
I could go on for hours on how I use my PDA. That’s part of the purpose of this blog. But mostly I use it as a portable brain, and most everything I need information-wise can be found in it.
What I Have Learned from the Using My PDA
Having things with me is a good thing
I can’t tell you the number of times having my PDA with me has been helpful. For example, when my partner was stricken with appendicitis, it was good to have all the phone numbers I needed with me. When being questioned by a client’s lawyer regarding remarks made by one of their staff, I was able to determine that I could not have heard the remarks because I was out sick that day. When I am scheduling an appointment, I am able to say up front if I can make it or not.
Data Entry Is Best Done on the PC
I have come to realize that my years in programming make me very proficient at using the keyboard. Although I have switched back to Graffiti original on my Palm (a necessity, being left-handed) and I have many helps for doing data entry on the PDA, I still do most of the major work on the PC. This then gets synced to my PDA so I can use it. I am writing the draft of this article on my PC, which will sync to my PDA and I can do further editing there.
A PDA is a Good Solution for Me
There are people out there who prefer paper, and I do prefer paper for some aspects of what I do. But for pure availability and portability of information, the PDA is miles above my old planner. The only thing I miss is the ability to have bright colors, pictures and doodles incorporated in. But it’s not important enough for me to scrap the PDA and go back to paper.