Tag Archive: news

Aug 28

iPod Touch Tip #6: RSS Readers Still Missing The Mark

 Having quick and easy access to information is one of the strong points of the iPhone and the iPod Touch. With their online capabilities, the Internet is at your fingertips, and just about any piece of information is just a few taps away. One group of applications that provides news information is the “RSS Reader” category. These programs provide news feeds in a (typically) organized and concise manner, allowing you to catch up news from your favorite sites wherever you are. But what if you are not online? What if an iPhone user is on a subway or in an area that has marginal or no coverage. What about an iPod Touch user who is not within range of a WiFi connection? Providing offline access to RSS feeds is a worthy endeavor, and AppStore has a dozen or so RSS readers that may fit your needs, however they all currently miss the mark in providing a complete offline reading experience. Read on to find out why….

All of the RSS Reader apps in AppStore provide pretty much the same content, however their method of presentation and execution spans a wide spectrum. Some apps require a network connection to display anything. With these apps, news feeds are loaded in real-time so you are always up-to-date, however if you are offline, you simply will not see any content. (I personally question this approach as I may as well just use a decent WebApp.) Others provide excellent offline reading capabilities with articles organized by feed, folders, date, etc.

The feature set is growing in this line of apps. Some have lots of eye candy (at least one uses the CoverFlow concept in presenting the feed list) and some provide synchronization to online accounts such as Google Reader and NewsGator ensuring that regardless of how you access these accounts, they will always be up-to-date. But despite the host of features and ease-of-use, there’s still one key feature that is missing from every application in this category: The ability to pre-fetch and cache embedded images within articles.

As an iPod Touch user, I don’t always have network connectivity, so offline functionality is essential. AppStore applications like WeDict, Acro Bible, and Bookshelf, and Jailbreak applications like Wiki2Touch provide incredible acces to amazing content that is always available online or offline. As of this writing, every RSS reader in AppStore lacks the ability to provide full offline content–both article text and associated embedded images. There are excellent applications that provide an intuitive, fast, and comprehensive reading experience, but if you want to see embeded images in articles, you must be online, or you must have at least viewed the article once while online. Omitting the images removes a significant part of the reading experience.

Now I do realize that syncing dozens, if not hundreds of images could amount to a much longer sync session, but that’s a tradeoff I would welcome if I could have offline access to all of the content. So here is my plea to all developers of RSS Reader applications for the iPhone/iPod Touch: Please add the option to pre-fetch and cache embeded images for offline reading. And to stand out ahead of the competition, provide more granular control so that the user can really tailor what gets updated. For example, let the user toggle pre-fetching on a feed-by-feed basis. Have a setting to only pre-fetch images for the n-number of articles or articles received within the last n-days, etc.

Most of the current AppStore RSS Readers are very well thought-out, well executed, and provide great information both online and offline. Just don’t stop short when the user goes offline.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/ipod-touch-tips/ipod-touch-tip-6-rss-readers-still-missing-the-mark

Feb 26

iPod Touch News: Software Development Kit (SDK)

Apple announced that in February 2008, they would release a Software Development Kit (SDK) enabling third-party developers to create applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Many people are placing a lot of hope into this tool. As of this writing, it appears that its release will be delayed until March, 2008. Read on to see my take on what the SDK may or may not bring….

On one hand, I am very excited that the availability of the SDK could potentially provide some excellent and useful applications. Opening up application development to third-party developers could potentially rival the literally thousands of applications released for PalmOS PDA's.

But on the other hand, I have several concerns or questions:

1. Because the applications will be distributed exclusively through iTunes, it is currently unclear what applications will cost. My guess is that it will probably follow a pattern similar to PalmGear with free, shareware, and commercial offerings, but it is also likely that Apple will always want their cut, so we may not actually see any free applicaitons.

2. The SDK will obviously provide the ability to develop and distribute onboard applications, but it is unclear if the SDK will also allow syncing data with the new applications which, in my opinion, is essential. For example, I would like to see an eBook reader application be developed, but to work, you would need to be able to sync various file types through iTunes. Being able to sync data will open up many capabilities, but it depends on what Apple provides.

3. What will be the "approval" process to accept applications? Who or how will applications be approved for distribution through iTunes?

4. Finally, what will be the cost of the SDK? Will it be free, or will it cost? Amd what about the "digital signatures" required for control and distribution through iTunes? Will these be free as well? If it costs anything to develop applications, the pricing will need to be so as not to price out small, hobbyist developers. Unless, of course, that is Apple's intention.

Time will tell as to how this plays out.

In the mean time, I'm craving a number of software updates or additions, so here is my current wish list in no particular order:

  • Calendar application that syncs with Google Calendar over WiFi and through iTunes
  • Notes application that syncs with Google Notes over WiFi
  • ToDo application that integrates with Calendar
  • Bible Reader application
  • eBook Reader that syncs documents (.txt, .html, .pdf, Word, excel, and Palm DOC) through iTunes
  • Calculator that is more comperhensive
  • Offline RSS reader
  • Application to simply toggle WiFi on or off from the Dock
  • Ability in Safari to "save" pages for offline reading

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/ipod-touch-tips/ipod-touch-news-software-development-kit-sdk

Jun 15

Initiated as an Entered Apprentice!

On Tuesday evening, June 12, I was initiated as an Entered Apprentice into the Divver lodge #349 in Anderson, South Carolina. As I reflect back over the evening of my initiation, the one word that keeps popping into my mind is “impressive”. I was so impressed by the many events of the evening: From the friendliness of the members, to their devotion to the craft; from the seriousness and solemness of the ceremonies, to the memorization displayed by the team conducting the ceremony. It was certainly an impressive evening–one I’ll not forget.

As you have probably read in my earlier posts, as I waited on the process from petitioning to initiation, things seemed to be moving along at a slow pace. This, of course, was only a reflection of my impatience. But then, “Bam!” things started happening quickly. My initiation was scheduled for just two days after I spoke with the investigating committee!

On a side note, the night of the initiation was bitter-sweet. On the down side, I was disappointed because it turns out that several of my Mason friends who were very instrumental in my decision to join were unfortunately not informed of the night. They actually attend different lodges, so it’s completely understandable that the lodge I joined would not have informed them. And I simply neglected to let them know as I was all caught up in the moment. But the good news is that I met a group of guys that night who are sincere, friendly, and are certainly worth getting to know better. I will make sure that my friends are invited to my Second degree ceremony.

Obviously, I won’t go into any details of the initiation–what went on inside the walls of the lodge will stay inside the walls of the lodge. If you really want to know the details, go seek out a Mason, and ask him about joining. That’s really the only way you’ll get any accurate picture of what it’s all about. I will say, though, that I was thoroughly impressed by the members who conducted the initiation and lecture. Everything was done from memory, and it was done well. After all was said and done, several members commented about their mistakes and stumbles, but really, they are their own worst critics. From my vantage point, it was very well done. Did I say I was impressed?

Our lodge is very casual in appearance and attire, unlike the glitzy, expensive-looking lodges you see in many pictures. But it has a close, intimate feel, and the ceremony was taken very seriously. What was most amazing about the initiation (the entire evening, in fact) was that it was “all about me.” I was the only candidate, so the evening was devoted to my initiation. The meal, the initiation, the lecture, the social time–all prepared and conducted for me. That busy men would take time out of their lives to prepare and conduct an event spanning several hours specifically for me is truly amazing and very humbling. Yet the excitement, joy, and dedication that was evident in everyone present really spoke volumes to me about their devotion.

After having read numerous articles on the ‘Net, and reading the excellent book, “Freemasonry For Dummies”, I thought I may have spoiled some of the evening, but it turns out that I simply didn’t know what to expect. Though I probably did read more than most would, none of what I read spoiled anything. In many ways, some of my prior knowledge and information helped me to better understand the initiation. The prevailing mantra during the evening was, “Everyone here went through the exact same thing.” I wasn’t sure to be comforted or intimidated! The whole evening was at the same time solemn, exciting, humorous, friendly, unnerving, intriguing, educational, and informative. I can’t wait to go through the remaining two degrees.

So, the wait is over, and I am now an Entered Apprentice Mason. But like so many of the steps in life’s journeys, this is just the beginning. It is now time to work. My proficiency work will consist of lots of memorization. Based on my reading about how other lodges conduct the examinations, it appears that the South Carolina lodges don’t cut any corners. Much must be memorized. But it all seems manageable, and it’s exciting to learn. The Master of the lodge said that he will schedule my Fellowcraft degree in 28 days with two other people–if I can learn the required material.

I look forward to the coming weeks as I strive to learn what’s required, and hopefully earn my second degree. I’ll continue to post my thoughts as they come.

This is my tenth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/initiated-as-an-entered-apprentice

May 24

Gmail Tip #62: Enhancement: “Univeral Navigation Bar”

Google has recently enhanced some navigational features across most of
its offerings by providing a recognizable and (somewhat) consistent
"Universal Navigation Bar" at the top left of every page:
 
 
 
This feature
lets you quickly move to other Google applications with ease (and
without having to remember the URL!) Read on for a brief description of
the new interface…
A source at Google explains that the Universal Navigation Bar will show its "nearest neighbors". This means that, depending on what Google page you are on, the choice of links will differ, presenting you with "related" Google offerings. For example, on a Google search results page, you’d see links to "Images" and "News", because those are related search offerings. On the other hand, if you are in Gmail, you’ll see links to Google’s "Calendar" and "Documents" applications instead.
 
Here is an example of the Universal Navigator Bar as seen in Gmail:
 
 
 
Here it is as seen on the main Google search page:
 
 
 
It’s great to see that Google is continuing to enhance, tie together, and better integrate its products. 

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/gmail-tips/gmail-tip-62-enhancement-univeral-navigation-bar

Feb 22

SageTV Tip #9: HD Content With HDHomeRun

I purchased an HDHomeRun receiver, and I now have access to four "local broadcast" HD channels through SageTV! The channels seamlessly show up in SageTV’s Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and I can now view and record any show on those channels. And any HD content vews, records, and plays back in full HD glory! Read on to see my experience with this excellent product…

Some Background On HD In The PVR World
HD content is typically provided in one of three ways: Satellite, Cable, and Over-the-air (OTA). Unfortunately for PVR applications like SageTV, Satellite providers encrypt all channels, so a Set-Top-Box (STB) is required to receive HD content. And in almost all cases, there is no PC-compatible output on the STB to pass through the HD content to be able to record the (true) HD content. Cable providers also encrypt most channels and therefore also require a STB for decoding. But the good news is that most cable provides leave the "local broadcast" HD channels unencrypted. For OTA broadcast channels, you would need a suitable antenna and an HD decoder box to receive the HD content. For these last two cases, this is where HDHomeRun comes in.

For Cable, it’s a simple matter of connecting your cable directly to an input on the HDHomeRun box and running a configuration application to scan for digital channels. If digital channels are found, the application will tell you if they are "encrypted" or not. If a channel is encrypted, you cannot view it–no exceptions. But if it is not encrypted, then you should be able to view it. You can reasonably expect local broadcast channels (like NBC, FOX, PBS, etc.) to be available, but it all depends on how your cable company configures their channels. You may be able to view lots of HD channels, you may have just a few, or you may have none. In any case, "premium" HD channels will likely always be encrypted.

For OTA, again, it’s a matter of aiming the antenna, connecting the cable to the HDHomeRun box, and running the configuration application. I have not used this method, so I cannot speak to it. I can only describe my experience with a Cable source from Charter.

In either case, HDHomeRun provides two source input connections, so you can connect any combination of Cable or OTA sources.

Out Of The Box
OK, so I received my shiny new HDHomeRun, and like every review I’ve read states, it’s sparse packaging. But it includes everything you need to hook up. The only thing you may need to purchase is a good splitter to split your cable signal. The unit itself is completely unlabeled, and it would be nice to have some indication of what the LED’s mean and which input connection is which. They do include a printed "cheat sheet", but in reality, once you get things set up, labels are pretty irrelevant.

{mosimage} {mosimage}

Initial Setup
Setup of the HDHomeRUn was a snap. Instead of trying to get it to work with SageTV right away, I decided to just test it with my wireless laptop. As an aside, I do recommend using the DOS version of the configuration utility to generate a text file containing the complete scan results. It’s a LOT quicker than manually scanning using the GUI. Maybe the GUI could be updated to provide a full, automated scan.

I ran the DOS HdHomeRun_config tool and found lots of digital channels on Charter Cable in Anderson, SC (Greenville/Spartanburg/Anderson) but alas, most were marked "encrypted". Using the GUI application, I selected one of those non-encrypted channels, launched VLC, and voila…rystal-clear HD content! Very nice!

In all, I have 11 viewable channels and about 50+ music channels (I haven’t played with these yet.) Of the 11 channels, 4 are actual "HD" channels.

Digital but not HD channels
77-3 An unknown Spanish channel
77-4 GAC Great American Country
78-2 WYFFDT2 Weather
78-7 WHNSDT2 Weather
78-8 WSPADT2 Weather
86-8 SC
90-1-54 Music channels
91-1 BET

HD channels

103-1 WYFFDT NBC
103-2 WSPADT CMS
103-3 WNTVDT3 PBS
104-1 WHNSDT FOX

So the bad news is that I only get 4 HD channels.

But the great news is that I now get 4 HD channels! And that’s EXACTLY what I wanted! They are viewable and recordable through SageTV. Of course, I would love to have more channels such as HDNet, DiscoveryHD, etc., but my wife and I are perfectly happy with this current lineup.

Sagetv Setup
I logged the viewable channel/program numbers and began the SageTV setup process. If you follow the instructions, it actually isn’t that difficult. It took me a couple tries, because I was unsure if I had to stop the SageTV services or not, so I just did, and it worked. The HDHomeRun tuner showed up as a selection in SageTV’s "Video Sources" setup screen. Things were looking good.

Next came the challenge of how to configure the channels in SageTV’s EPG. In retrospect, it’s not difficult, but your setup can dictate how it’ll work. I managed to mess a couple things up, but fixing things was easy.

A Brief Explanation Of My Source Setup
I have two Hauppauge PVR-150 cards. One is connected to raw analog cable providing channnels 2-99, and the other to a digital STB providing channels 2-799. Charter Cable provides several EPG selections for my area, so when I did my original SageTV setup, I had to choose two separate EPG selections to accommodate the channel overlap. Adding the HDHomeRun to the mix now complicated things because I had four channels to add. I was a bit confused by what I should choose. After some trial-and-error, I discovered that Charter has a "Local Broadcast" EPG selection, so I just used that for the HD channels, and it worked perfectly.

My EPG selections are:

Basic Cable – assigned to the Analog PVR0150
Extended Basic Cable – assigned to the STB PVR-150
Local Broadcast – assigned to the HDHomeRun

At that point, it was just a matter of enabling the channels and mapping the physical numbers using the channel/program info that I logged from the channel scan. To make things easier, I also mapped the new HD channels to different virtual channel numbers in SageTV. I chose 801, 802, 803 & 804 since those channels aren’t used in my SD lineups. This makes finding the new HD channels in the EPG a snap.

I now have a nice, clean EPG with Channels 2-99 seamlessly shared by the analog and STB connections, digital channels 100-799 services by the STB connection only, and channels 801-804 serviced by HDHomeRun.

A Small Nitpick
The HDHomeRun’s audio is soft on most HD shows–not all, but most. I have to turn it way up. We just have to remember to turn the volume down when we switch to SD channels.

A Quick Tip
Now that I have access to HD content (whough it is limited) I wanted a way to quickly find HD-only content. I use malore’s excellent "customizable menus plugin" for SageTV, so I simply modified two of his custom menus (Menu2 & Menu3) and configured them to only show HDTV content. I then configured one menu to group and sort by date, and the other to group by title and sort by date. So I now have a quick & easy way to see what HD content I can record. VERY nice!

Conclusion
I now have a SageTV setup that provides full DVR capabilities to analog and digital SD content, and limited HD content. And because the stuttering issue is behind us, we can now really enjoy SageTV, on our HDTV as it was intended! And frankly, some of the PBS shows are simply visually stunning. And it is completely seamless in the EPG. There’s nothing "special" we have to do to record or watch anything. It just simply works!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/sagetv-tips/sagetv-tip-9-hd-content-with-hdhomerun

Feb 08

Gmail Tip #58: Gmail Now Opened to Everyone!

Gmail, Google’s free Web-based email service, has swept the world, and has become very, very popular. Unfortunately, access to Gmail (and Google Mail in the UK) has always been by by invitation only. But no more! Anyone can now get a Gmail account. Just go to Gmail.com and click the "Sign up for Gmail" link. It’s that simple!

But having a Gmail account means more than just Web-based email. A Gmail account opens the door to many other excellent  Google-related applications and services. By creating a Gmail account, you will gain access to personalize other Google-based applications including Google Maps, Google News, Picasa 2, Google Pages, Google Reader, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and lots of other goodies.

Admittedly, getting a Gmail invitation has not been a problem for most, but this should open up Gmail to a much larger audience. Oh, and as always, come here for your Gmail tips!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/gmail-tips/gmail-tip-58-gmail-now-opened-to-everyone

Jan 03

SageTV Tip #6: STV Import Modules

The second type of SageTV customization is the STV Import Module, or "STVi". These plugins get imported into the default STV to provide additional features and functions. By simply installing a couple of these plugins, you can really improve upon SageTV’s already amazing core features. Read on to learn about some of the best SageTV STVi’s available….

For me, this is where SageTV really shines. By letting third-party developers create innovative plugins, SageTV has enabled the user to tailor his SageTV experience in ways that SageTV probably never dreamed of.

Below is the current list of Plugins. The descriptions should be pretty self-explanatory, but I did provide links for you to see the details if you want. Note that the STVi’s marked with an "*" are the ones that I have installed on my SageTV system. I find these to be the best mix for my needs.

Some of these STVi’s are very simple, and some are ambitiously sophisticated. Ii all cases, they provide you, the viewer, with enhanced functions that you can tailor to your needs.

The best place to learn about these STVi’s and other SageTV customizations is to visit "SageTV Customizations" forum, and notably, the "List of available customizations" page in that forum.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/sagetv-tips/sagetv-tip-6-stv-import-modules

Nov 07

SageTV Tip #3: All About My SageTV HTPC

I decided to build a Home Theater PC (HTPC), and with SageTV at its core, it is proving to be an excellent choice. Read on to learn why I decided to build a HTPC, what componets I chose, the issues I had, and my plans for the future….

Why did I build an HTPC?
I’ve been a long-time DVR user, having used several ReplayTV models and a Moxi HD DVR. Each of these "standalone" DVR’s have excellent features, are very capable, and have stood the test of time (I purchased the first ReplayTV box very shortly after its initial release.) That said, there are three issues that were bugging me that caused me to decide to build an HTPC to replace them:

1. None of my ReplayTV boxes could reliably control our Motorola DCT-2000 Cable box. Unfortunately, cable companies don’t give you a lot of choice in Digital Cable boxes, so the DCT-2000 is what I have. My ReplayTV 2xxx series boxes worked fairly well, but my 5xxx box wouldn’t control reliably. Yes, I read the workarounds. Yes, I searched Google and the AVS Forum, and followed countless instructions on getting it to work, but it was never unstable. The setup required an IR blaster, and the remote control codes were repeatably unreliable. Despite the fact that both ReplayTV and the DCT-2000 had serial connectors, ReplayTV couldn’t control the Cable box via the serial port. It could control several DirecTV Satellite receivers just fine, but not the DCT-2000. Apparantly, it wasn’t a priority to ReplayTV. So, we ended up switching to a Moxi DVR through our Cable company–which leads me to my next gripe….

2. Moxi is an EXCELLENT DVR offering many great features. I loved it. My wife loved it. My in-laws all loved it enough that they got them too. But the problem was that Moxi was becoming cost-prohibitive. Like most cable companies, initially, we had a great subscription package, but after the homeymoon as a new cable customer was over, the overall price of cable went up…way up. Every month, we had to shell out multiple fees that included such things as "Digital Receiver", "Digital Access", and "Moxi PVR service", all of which added up to just under $20.00 per month just for the privilege of using a Moxi DVR that we did not own. And that was before any actual programming was added it. My brother-in-law has two Moxi boxes, so for him, the Moxi-specific cost was doubled.

3. Both ReplayTV and Moxi imposed limitations that they simply wouldn’t lift. I was very active on several ReplayTV and Moxi forums, and I even did beta testing for both, so I was intimately familiar with the functions and features available. I feel that I could also objectively reveal excellent features as will as the shortcomings and lacking features of both. Specific to ReplayTV, users asked and asked for various features, but more often than not, it fell on deaf ears. Specific to Moxi, while it is an amazingly feature-rich product, the entire Moxi feature set is completely controlled by the cable company. Though Moxi itself offers excellent features and functions, the availability and configuration of these features and functions is controlled exclusively by the Cable company. If they decide it’s not profitable for them to enable existing functionality, or to configure a certain function in a specific way, then they won’t. The user is at the mercy of the cable company’s decisions.

So, determined that I wanted reliability, extendable features, and full control, I decided to roll my own.

The components
I worked with an experienced colleague at work who helped me pick out the components best suited for the task and within my price range, and settled on the following setup:

ASUS M2N-E Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 570 Ultra MCP ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Orleans 2.0GHz Socket AM2 Processor
1GB Kingston RAM
NEC ND-3550A 16X DVD±R DVD Burner
Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
Antec Overture II Piano-black/Silver Steel ATX Desktop Computer Case
2 x Hauppauge WINTV-PVR-150
Windows XP Pro SP2
SageTV v6 Beta

I purchased everything through NewEgg.com. Unfortunatly, the Seagate Hard Drive was damaged with lots of bad sector errors, and the front of the Antec case had three broken clips, but RMA’s to both Antec and NewEgg.com yielded quick replacements. Both Newegg and Antec provided great customer service, and I highly recommend them both.

While waiting for the new hard drive, I decided to install an older IDE Hard Drive to serve as the "OS Drive". I later added the 320GB Sata drive as a "media storage" drive. I did this to physically separate out the application from the data, improving performance and reliability. I’ll probably replace the IDE OS drive with a small SATA drive in the future.

Setup was pretty straight forward. I installed Windows XP Pro, installed all the required drivers, and connected to the Internet to update to the latest drivers and download the latest apps. Next, I installed the two Hauppauge PVR-150 tuner cards, and the installed SageTV following the setup instructions. In short order, I was watching live TV and scheduling recordings.

OK, I have admit that it wasn’t really that easy. I did have to content with a hard disk crash, and I messed things up in SageTV’s configuration way beyond repair, so I did end up re-installing a couple times, but the truth is that setting up a SageTV system really is not a difficult process. It’s not a newbie task, but you certainly don’t need to be a computer expert.

Video quality
One thing that bugged me was that I was quite disappointed with the S-video output quality on my TV. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked my nVIDIA and SageTV settings, and it just wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. Watching shows like Fox News or CNN Headline News seemed jerky and choppy. It was mostly noticable while watching the "crawl" at the bottom of both of these shows. After some advice from the SageTV forums, I purchased nVIDIA’s PureVideo drivers, and the results on my S-video TV were worth every penny. It’s still not as quality a picture as our Moxi DVR, but it does look good. Down the road, I’m planning on purchasing a new LCD tv, so that should significantly improve the picture quality over my old tube TV.

Plugins
I next visited the SageTV Customizations forum and found several excellent "plugins" that extended and improved some of SageTV’s core functions. For example, I can now search the Internet Movie Database right from within SageTV with the results integrated very nicely. I next installed an enhancement to the "Stop" button function that adds much needed features. I also installed a Plugin that lets you customize all of the menus letting you order them as you wish, and add and remove entries. Finally, I installed a plugin that provides remote Web access that lets me manage SageTV’s recording functions from anywhere I have Web access. It’s so nice to be able to schedule a recording without having to be sitting in fornt of the TV. These plugins are excellent examples of how SageTV lets users tailor things to their specific needs.

Clients
I next installed the Hauppauge MediaMVP box. This is a small hardware device that connects to the network and any TV. It looks on the network for a SageTV server, and if it finds one, it downloads and runs a SageTV client application. It comes with a remote, so you can control all SageTV functions frmo another TV in your house. It was really cool to be able to start watching a recording in our living room, and then stop it and resume watching where we left off in our bedroom. And the MVP lets you also listen to MP3′s and watch ripped DVD’s.

I then installed the PlaceShifter client on my laptop. This client lets me remotely access SageTV from anywhere I have an Internet connection. We went on a vacation, and I was able to watch both live TV and recorded shows remotely. The quality was not great, but it was watchable.

What I now have
So I now have a Home Theater PC that provides two tuners (one analog cable, and one digital cable) for programming content, and I can add more tuners later if needed. We view everything through an older 27" tube TV, and it looks pretty good. The user interface is clean, and I have tweaked it to make it more intuitive for us. we can listen to my MP3 collection, and we can watch favorite DVD’s. Every morning, we can check the latest weather conditions through SageTV. I was able to (fairly) easily burn to DVD a show that my parents had missed.

All of this was very seamless (except the DVD burning, but that’s for another article) and all from a single box. For me, SageTV is what ReplayTV could have been…

The future
Our setup works very will, but like everything else, I have to look to the future. I am considering the following additions and upgrades:

  • Add additional storage to accommodate more ripped DVD’s. We have a sizable collection of DVD’s, but it’s s much easier to manage them and watch them if they are ripped.
  • Move lots of other digital pictures over to SageTV.
  • Organize and move lots of other MP3′s over to SageTV.
  • Upgrade our old tube TV to an LCD TV. I have been looking at a Westinghouse 42" LCD HD monitor, and it looks very, very nice for the money.
  • Add a UPS to the mix for protection.
  • Improve and simplify the DVD burning process.
  • Investigate RAID or other backup method.
  • Look into a Universal Remote to consolidate remotes.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/sagetv-tips/sagetv-tip-3-all-about-my-sagetv-htpc

Apr 19

PDAs: Palm Z22 Review

I’ve been trying to simplify my life, and one area is in my use of PDAs. I realized that my PDA use tends to have more to do with tweaking and trying to make the device work better than actually using it as a productivity tool. (See my article "PDAs: Back To The Basics".)

So, after some pondering and research, I decided to "step down" to a Palm Z22 PDA. After a couple weeks of use, I have to say that I just love it! No, it’s not feature-packed like other high-end PDAs on the market–in fact, it’s much simpler in design and function. But that was my goal: to simplify. Read on for a review of this fine PDA….

In my "PDAs: Back To The Basics" article, I explained the benefits of the slimmed-down Z22 PDA, but here, I’m going to get into more of the technical details, including features (or lack thereof), what I dislike, and what I like about the Z22. I’m also going to detail the applications that I have installed. Hopefully, you will come to appreciate its simplicity.

The Palm Z22 is Palm’s latest entry-level PDA offering targeted at those who have never used PDAs. But I contend that its usefulness is not limited to the PDA novice. While it is definitely not feature-packed like Palm’s latest Tungsten TX, or LifeDrive, it captures the simplicity of Palm’s original PDA concepts with some nice 21st century enhancements. And at under $100.00, you get decent features that won’t break the bank.

OK, let’s get to some specifics….

{mosimage} 

Construction

The Z22′s case construction is all plastic. Most recent PDAs tend to be mostly metal-cased, so I was a bit unsure about this. It does, however, appear to be very sturdy. After flexing and squeezing it a bit, it seems to be solid. In looks, it looks somewhat like an iPOD from the front with a sleek, smooth white face. giving it a very modern look. The back is a semi-clear blue plastic reminiscent of the iMac. Its design is very curvy, and it fits in the hand nicely. It’s sturdier than I expected for such a low-priced PDA.

On the top is a sub-mini USB connector for HotSyncing, and a holder for the stylus.

On the back is a reset button that is flush to the back surface that is large enough for the stylus tip–no more bent paperclips!

Buttons

The buttons are large and flush to the face of the Z22 with small depressions making it easy to feel. The 5-way navigator pad is a round ring with a select button in the middle. Overall, the buttons feels very good, and there are responsive.

Of significant note is that Palm reduced the number of buttons on the Z22 from most other models. There is a power button, 2 hard application buttons (set to launch the Calendar and Contacts apps, but user-configurable) and the 5-way nav pad…that’s it. If you rely on more buttons, you will be disappointed. However, I did find an excellent workaround in the Hi-Launcher application. See below for details. The limited number of buttons actually simplifies use.

Screen Protection

Like many seasoned PDA users, I’m always concerned with the screen becoming scratched or broken, so some sort of case is definitely needed. The Z22 comes with no case or cover. I have always been partial to Belg Designs’ Leather Flip Case with Belt Clip, but it does boost the geek-rating a bit, requiring you to hang your PDA on your belt. It’s an excellent case, though. I am also partial to Proporta’s Crystal Case for the Palm T3–I simply love it, and I recommend that case in a heartbeat. UnfUnfortunatelyroporta does not offer a Crystal Case for the Z22, and I really don’t want a PDA hanging on my belt.

I discovered that Palm offers a hard, clear "Air Case" that reminds me of Proporta’s Crystal Case offerings. (See my review of the Air Case here.) The Air Case is not as robust as Proporta’s Crystal Cases, but it is still a decent case for the price of under $15.00. The combination of the Palm Z22 and the Palm Air Case really makes for a sleek, pocketable PDA that provides excellent, simple features.

Palm Air Case  Z22 in the Air Case 
 {mosimage}  {mosimage}

Palm does include a thin screen protector that will help prevent scratching. It sticks to the screen, and is easily removable and replaceable.

Size

Wow…this sucker is small! The Z22 makes other Palm PDAs seem huge by comparison, yet it fits my hand nicely, and is easy to hold. For a size comparison (at least the screen anyway) a look at the included Screen Protector: compare the outline of the Z22 to the rest, and yes, it is Palm’s smallest yet. This kind of takes me back to the Palm V days with its sleek lines, slim form factor, and small size. The size of the Z22 certainly doesn’t disappoint–in fact, it’s one of its assets.

But what did palm pack into the minuscule Z22? Surprisingly, a lot….

Memory

Compared to most other PDAs, the Z22′s 20MB of memory seems minuscule. While it has been a challenge to decide which applications are "necessary" and which are not, it turns out that 20MB really provides lots of space with room to spare. It is so easy to fill it up, (especially if you have amassed hundreds of Palm applications over a decade!) but the challenge was to decide what’s important and what’s not, so eventually, I installed those applications and data files that I really needed. It left me with over 3.5MB of free space! (I’ll detail this later on in this article.)

Screen

OK, this could be the Achilles heel of the Z22 for some people. First, understand that I’m VERY used to Hi-resolution devices, so "stepping back" to a 160×160 screen was very difficult at first. But you know, it really isn’t that bad. Most PalmOS applications are written to accommodate a standard 160×160 screen, so most applications run and look just fine.

That said, there are some notable incompatibilities. The big ones for me is Mobi-Systems’ Mobile Office Pro and AstraWare’s Bejeweled 2. They are designed for high-resolution screens only, and that’s that. So I’m back to using Documents To Go and Bejeweled. While it is disappointing given my investment in both, this is not a major issue considering my stated goal of simplicity.

The next issue is "color bleeding". Colors have a tendency to bleed a bit displaying visible lines of color extending down the screen. I guess the good news is that this is only really noticeable on screens that have lots of color elements. Most productivity applications where the majority of screen information is text, it’s notnoticeablee. It would be nice however, if the screen did not do this. Sure, I would really like to see a high-resolution screen on the Z22 form factor, but given my simplicity goals, it’s turning out to be not really necessary.

Finally, the Z22′s screen is virtually unreadable in sunlight. I really wish it had a screen that would be more visible in sunlight (and South Carolina sun is b-r-i-g-h-t!) Of course, the Z22 isn’t the only LCD-equipped consumer device that’s unreadable in the sun.

Speed

The Z22′s 200MHz processor is pretty peppy. I only notice "lag" when moving from one application to another, and mostly when launching an application that hasn’t been launched in a while. This is a departure from Palm’s very typically snappy application switching. My guess is that the Z22 is caching applications, and if the application you want to run isn’t cached, then there’s a slight "load lag". This, no doubt, likely has more to do with the Z22′s use of NVRAM than with the processor itself.

It is a bit unnerving just seeing a blank white screen for several seconds before app displays, but for most
people, this won’t be that noticeable. The Z22 ran all applications I have thrown at it quickly. After using other high-end Palm PDAs, the Z22 isnoticeablyy slower on some counts, but overall, it doesn’t make you wait.

Installed Applications:

Below is a list of the applications that I currently have installed. This provides me with the "essential" applications and data I need, along with some minor superfluous applications, (I know, I know, simplicity, Jim….) All that leaves me with just over 3MB of free memory space. I had to really strip things down to get to this point, but then again, that was my goal. I simply kept asking myself, "Do I truly need this application"? I could still remove some, but for now, I’m satisfied.

Stock PIM apps
I decided to forgo all third-party PIM replacements (with one exception), specifically Pimlico Software’s DateBK5. This is an excellent application, and its features are rich, but I want to give the stock PIM applications a chance, hoping that they will work well for me. So far, I’m finding them to be robust and effective, especially the Calendar app.

LifeBalance
This is the one exception as a third-party PIM replacement app that I’m demoing. LifeBalance is a very interesting application. When I first tried it, I simply didn’t get it, so I dismissed it. But since understanding David Allen’s "Getting Things Done" concepts, I get it, and I find it to be invaluable. LifeBalance’s design is, in my opinion, how Palm’s Tasks app should be. LifeBalance is a simple, yet effective way of managing lots of "Next Actions" and "Contexts". Its implementation is very well thought-out, and I think I’ll put this to good use.

{mosimage}

mNotes
This is an essential application for syncing my Palm with Lotus Notes at work.

ZLauncher
ZLauncher has a large footprint, but it’s what I’m used to, and I have always loved this launcher. Zlauncher is a complex application launcher, but it can be configured down to a quite minimal, simple form. It’s also nice to know that there are a number of features (like a File Manager) under the hood should I need them.
{mosimage} 

 

Hi-Launcher
Hi-Launcher is an application that I purchased long, long ago, and until recently really had no use for. But after installing it on my Z22, I find it to be completely invaluable! Hi-Launcher easily makes up for the reduced number of hard buttons on the Z22. I configured it to "trigger" when I press the hard Contacts button. It pops up a concise list of my favorite and recent applications. It’s fully navigable with the 5-way nav pad, so no stylus is ever needed. I highly recommend this application for Z22 all users!
{mosimage} 

 

Palm’s Calculator
This simple included calculator has a lot of nice, hidden functions…if you know how to find them. I had no idea that you could enable an Advanced mode through the Options menu! The advanced mode adds decent math, finance, statistics, and conversion functions that most people should find very usable. Unless you have specialized needs, there’s really no need for any third-party calculators.
{mosimage} 

 

MyBible
MyBible is an excellent Bible reference application that works very well on the Z22. I installed the KJV and Life Application Notes files. This took up a HUGE amount of space–over 9MB–but it is important to me to have this. Book access is quick, especially with the 5-way nav pad, and searches are as fast as any Palm PDA model.
{mosimage} 

 

HandStory
I find HandStory to be the easiest and quickest way to get text data into my Palm. My method may be a kludge, but it works very well and very quickly for me: Copy any text from any source, paste it into the UltraEdit text editor, clean it up as needed, copy the text, and convert using HandStory to a Palm DOC file which auto-installs on next HotSync. It’s fast & simple, and the reader app is top-notch. (One caveat: Handstory is not 100% 5-way nav compatible in its list screen.)
{mosimage} 

 

Frotz
OK, this is completely superfluous, but I admit it: I love to poke around in Zork 1, 2, and 3! Frotz lets you play old Infocom text adventure games. Yes, this really dates me, but sometimes, gamies in the mind are more exciting than gamies seen with the eyes.
{mosimage} 

 

Klondike
Everyone has to have a portable card game, and this version of Klondike has been my favorite for many years. This version of Klondike is rock solid, and is very configurable. Yes, there are other card programs with many more gamies, but this is simple and fun!
{mosimage} 

 

Monopoly
Capitalism on a Zen device! What more can I say? Well, I can say that Monopoly plays well on the Z22. The colors are great, game play is quick, and it’s lots of fun.
{mosimage} 

 

SuLite One
Yes, I too caught the Sudoku bug. SuLite One is a great, free Sudoku implementation that is surprisingly configurable. It’s great for burning time (when it’s appropriate, of course!) and it’s very playable on a 160×160 screen.
{mosimage} 

 

PixMarker
I love to doodle, and PixMakrer is my favorite doodling app for the Palm. Though I have to admit that I really miss the larger, hi-resolution screen for this one.
{mosimage} 

 

Things I Don’t Like

OK, those are the technical points about the Z22. Here are some things that I do not like about the Z22. None are deal-breakers for me, but they may be for some.

Brightness/Contrast Setting
When you reset the Z22 (either by selecting a software reset from an app like ZLauncher or pressing the reset button on the back) the screen brightness and contrast revert to factory defaults. This might be desirable for some, but I find it annoying. Of course, the reality is that we shouldn’t have to reset that often…

Sound Volume
Sound on the Z22 is not as loud as I would like it to be. Its alarm is not that loud, though I can hear it–probably due to a decade of familiarity with the standard Palm alarm sound. I really wish it would be louder. Aren’t alarms supposed to be annoying–enough to
actually get your attention?

Older Security Screens
Come on, Palm. You’ve produced countless incarnations of the PalmOS, and yet the Z22 doesn’t have the nice PIN-pad security screen that the Tungsten T3′s security update provides. The Z22′s security screen is a big step backward requiring a stylus for entry. How tough could it have been to implement something a bit more modern?

I’m demoing the AppLock program, and it looks really slick, yet simple to at least provide application locking with easy key entry. Yes, there are other Palm security suites out there, but for simplicity, AppLock seems to be just what I need. Check it out!

Screen
As mentioned above, the screen could be better. Some have complained about getting headaches after looking at it for a long time, but fortunately this hasn’t been an issue for me. A crisper, high-resolution screen that is viewable in the sunlight would be an nice upgrade.

Things I like about the Z22

Now for the good stuff. There are lots of things about the Z22 that i really like.

Battery life
So far, battery life is excellent. It very well might be measured in weeks as opposed to hours. In agreement with another review that I read, the short time connected to my PC via its USB cable during a HotSync (maybe 10-15 minutes) seems to be more than enough to "top off" the battery to full charge. This is a huge boon in that I no longer have to worry about battery life. With regular use, it looks like the batter will last much longer than most modern models.

Brightness/Contrast Setting
While I listed this as a negative, one positive point is that the brightness setting has a simple 2-level setting: Low and High. I find the High setting to be perfect for normal daytime use, and the Low setting great at night in low light conditions. Do we really need the granular brightness control of other models?

Calendar
The Calendar application now has a nice Agenda view. It’s not as configurable as say, DateBk6, but it certainly works well, presenting upcoming appointments and tasks. It’s uncluttered, and very effective fitting in with my simplicity goals.

One-Handed Navigation
Being able to navigate an application without having to pull out a stylus is very nice. Either I never really noticed it, or it just wasn’t as robust, but no other PalmOS PDA I have ever owned had the depth of really decent 5-way navigator integration like the Z22 has. I can navigate almost any application with just the 5-way navigator pad, and it’s intuitive. It works very well with all the stock apps, and most third-party apps I have tried. Major kudos to Palm for getting this right!

USB HotSync Cable
My first reaction to this was "Oh great, yet another HotSync connector that’s again incompatible with every other one Palm has introduced in the past." While this may be technically true, the fact that it’s a standard sub-mini USB connector means that I can HotSync with any standard sub-mini USB cable (most geeks have several lying around.) HotSyncing is quick and effortless like most Palm models. No, there isn’t a nice cradle to put it into, but then again, my Z22 should either be in my hand being used, or in my pocket so I don’t forget to take it with me. I have left other Palms in their cradles too often.

Stability
So far, the Z22 has been very solid. The only reason I’ve had to reset has been when I try to push it too far with less-than-stable applications. I did have to do a hard reset at one point, but it was my fault. I tried to install the above mentioned Security patch from the T3, and the Z22 simply didn’t like it. No file manager I tried would delete it, so I had to resort to doing a hard reset. But a simple HotSync after the hard reset restored everything back to where I needed it to be.

Conclusion

For my stated purpose of simplicity, the Z22 really can’t be beat. It is powerful enough to handle essential applications, yet it’s limitations force you to make important decisions as to just what applications are really essential. No, it’s not feature-packed, and it won’t win any awards for advanced designs, but it is what it is, and it does it well. The sleek, pocketable design, really shines.

For people who have never tried out PDAs, the Z22 is an inexpensive way to jump into the PDA world without breaking the bank. For power users who are expecting a power PDA, you will be disappointed–look elsewhere. But I believe that any user, power or otherwise, who wants to have a decent PDA while maintaining a level of simplicity, may find the Z22 to be the answer.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/pdas-palm-z22-review

Apr 17

PDAs: Back To The Basics

A recent article on Palm247.com discussed moving to the Palm Z22 as a method of simplifying things got me thinking about just how I use my PDA. I have been reading David Allan’s book "Getting Things Done" (GTD), and it has prompted some serious pondering about the fact that so many things in my life are simply way too complicated. I’m trying to make "simplicity" my new mantra, and one area of complexity that I have noticed is my use of my Palm PDA. Read on to see how I have simplified by PDA use by embracing a more simple PDA

I am a long-time user and proponent of PDAs with my first being a Casio "Zoomer" PDA way back in 1993.

{mosimage}

The Casio Zoomer was an amazing PDA that was unfortunatly overshadowed by the Apple Newton’s popularity. Interestingly, the Zoomer had an optional version of the Graffiti handwriting recognition software which was later incorporated into all PalmOS devices.

In 1996, I next purchased Palm’s original Pilot 1000 sold by US Robotics:

{mosimage}

"In the day" the Pilot 1000 was a stunning, amazing device. Its power through simplicity reigned through quite a number of succeeding Palm’s models. But then something happened: feature overload. Along came color screens, expansion slots, MP3 playback, photo and video capture, video playback, Bluetooth, WiFi, phone integration, internal hard drives…the list goes on.

I then progressed through these PDA’s:

Palm iii Palm Vx Sony NX70V
{mosimage} {mosimage} {mosimage}
Palm Tungsten T3 Palm Tungsten C
{mosimage} {mosimage}

While the added features are certainly high on the cool scale, I consistently find that I’m simply not using most of these extended features. Some features are certainly quite useful, (I find a nice color screen to be nuch more readable than the original monochrome screens) but I find that most are simply not "essentials", and I never use them.

So this got me thinking about what features do I really need, and what features are just "fluff" that serve as nothing but distractions? And that’s important to me, because I find myself very easily distracted "by the device" instead of actually productively "using the device." In trying to achieve more simplicity, I decided to choose a device that would provide the functions I need while providing few extras so as not to be distracted from real productivity. So, I decided to take the plunge and convert from the gee-wiz, feature-laden Palm Tungsten T3 to Palm’s latest "entry level model", the Z22.

{mosimage}

So far, I have no regrets!

I’m not going to review the Z22 here–I’m covering that in greater depth in another article–but I am going to explain how some of the Z22′s features (or lack thereof!) are turning out to be very useful and productive.

Size

The first item of note is the Z22′s size. Wow! This is the smallest PalmOS PDA (save the wristwatch version) and I really find it stunning. Everything is proportioned nicely, and it looks very slick (kind of "iPod-ish".) It fits in my hands very well, and it is very front-pocketable. The simple fact that I can easily pocket the Z22 means that I’m more likely to have it with me, and I’ll be more likely to use it productively. While I was never ashamed of proudly sporting a large, belt-clipped PDA, being able to comfortably pocket the Z22 certainly draws less attention, and really reduces the overall Geek Factor.

Memory

The next item of note is the Z22′s limited memory. While 20MB can certainly hold a lot of data, coming down from a T3 with 58MB of space and my added 256MB SD card was difficult. The Z22′s 20MB seemed, at first glance, paltry. But let’s remember my goal: Simplicity. Over the last decade, I have amassed a large collection of PalmOS applications, so this presented an excellent opportunity to re-assess just what applications would be useful, productive, and non-distracting. The end result is that I now have all of the applications and data that I need with over 3MB free space to spare! I’ll detail my setup below….

Screen

The final item of note is the Z22′s screen. After owning several high-resolution PalmOS PDAs, I thought that reverting back to a 160×160 screen would be huge step backward. It turns out that I was dead wrong. The colors render just fine, and I can very easily view all the information I need to view in any of the installed applications without any problems. No, I won’t be showing off high-resolution photos or videos, but remember the goal of simplicity. I simply don’t a high-resolution screen to be productive with it. My only real complaint is that there is some "bleeding" on the screen, and text is definitely not as sharp as a high-resolution screen, but it is very functional, and surprisingly pleasing to look at.

As a side note, I do want to address PDA "protection". Out of the box, the Z22 comes with no case or screen cover. I’ve always been a proponent of PDA cases, so I purchased Palm’s Air Case. The Air Case is a clear plastic case that completely covers the Z22, and has a "flip" cover on the front. It’s made of the same material from which they make safety glasses, so it offers great protection, especially when in your pocket. You can read a more detailed review of the Air Case <>. This combination really can’t be beat for form and function.

Applications

So what do I have installed? Remember that my goal was to strip back all of the superfluous stuff that caused me distractions and prevented me from being really productive with my PDA. So, I assessed that I had, and came up with the following list of applications that I find to be functional and useful:

ZLauncher
(Zhangzhe Technology)
While this application could go somewhat against the "simplicity" concept because of its actual complexity, it provides form and function that I really like, and it integrates some essential tools that I find indispensible (notably, file management.) Its rich feature set, though complex, can be tailored down to a fairly minimal view that is functional, pleasing, and doesn’t distract.

Hi-Launcher
(RNS::)
I purchased this popup launcher long, long ago and haven’t used in a while, but on the Z22, I’m finding it to be invaluable! I assigned it to "trigger" when pressing the Contacts (right) hard button, so I now have one-touch access to my most-used apps. No more fumbling with the stylus to launch a quickly-needed app. This really more than makes up for the limited number of hard buttons on the Z22. Regardless of what launcher app you use, I highly recommend this one! UPDATE: This is an essential. I use it daily, and it has proven to be a true gem of an application!

PIM
(Palm)
Surprisingly, I find the native PIM applocations to be exceptionally useful. I have been a long-time user and proponent of Pimlico Software’s DateBk, but I find that the installed PIM applications have evolved into surprisingly robust applications that do almost all I need. For example, the Calendar’s "Agenda" view provides an at-a-glance list of upcoming appointments and pending Tasks which, though concise, looks great on the 160×160 screen.

LifeBalance
(LlamaGraphics)
This is a very interesting application that I am demoing. When I first looked at this program, it was confusing and not very useful to me–I just didn’t get it. But after finally understanding the GTD methods, this application makes total sense. In fact, its execution is really how Palm’s Tasks application should work. I’m still demoing it, so we’ll see where I go with it long-term….UPDATE: I find that though LifeBalance is an excellent application (and I really wish some of its functionality could be rolled into Palm’s PIM) I I reverted to using Tasks and Memos to handle things. The main reason is synchronizing: Having everything sync with Lotus Notes or Outlook keeps things consolidated and simple. Having to maintain data in yet another Windows application reduces my productivity.
.

MyBible
(Laridian)
I installed the KJV and Life Application Notes files, and they take up a HUGE amount of space–over 9MB! But, it is important to me to have this, so I’m willing to devote the space.

mNotes
(Common Time)
mNotes is essential for syncing the Z22 with Lotus Notes at work. For Outlook users, other excellent solutions exist.

Note Studio
(Dogmelon)
I am demoing this application to see if it will be useful for me for taking and maintaining notes. It provides a simple interface with a Wiki-like structure that could me manage notes efficiently. It’s kinda pricy, but its power through simplicity might prove very userful. UPDATE: I decided that maintaining memos works just fine. Though I do Wish that Memos had wiki-like links, in trying to simplify, it’s a level of complexity that I simply don’t find useful at this time.

Other Applications
I also have several other useful applications and some small games to kill time when I’m waiting in a line or trying to fall asleep. (Come on, you have to have some diversion!)

The Benefits

I find two main "features" that will benefit me in moving to the Z22: Design limitiations and size. Accepting the imposed design limitations has made me re-think how I use a PDA. It’s no longer the photo-displaying, video-playing, information grabbing, gameing, wireless data repository behemoth that I used to have. It’s now a lean productivity device that I can use and trust. And because the Z22 is so easily pocketable and easy to use, I’ll have it with me all the time, and I’ll be more likely to use it.

I am hoping that combining these benefits will give me a device that I can truely consider to be my "trusted place" to keep my thoughts, ideas, tasks, actions, etc. You see, one of the key GTD concepts is to get all of that "stuff" you constantly think about, dwell on, and juggle around in your head, out of your head and into a "trusted place" so that you don’t have to waste time and effort keeping track of it all. For me, a solid, simple PDA just might be the technical solution I have been looking for. Of course, being successful with GTD concepts means understanding that the solution is never in the divice or method itself, but how you implement and actually use it.

Conclusion

While I cannot say that the Z22 is the solution to simplification, I can say that in moving to the Z22, my PDA use has become simpler and easier–and I like it. I believe that "power users" should take a step back from time to time to assess just what they really use in their PDAs. I think they would be surprised at what is useful and what is not. And at under $100.00, it’s not that steep a price to pay to try out a Z22.

Update: 2006-04-18

I received an email from Mike Rohde of rohdesign.com , and it seems that moving back to more simpler PDAs just may be a new trend! Check out Mike’s article about how he transitioned from a lost Zire 72 to a Sony Clie N610C.

If anyone has any stories of their own about intentionally moving to simpler PDAs, let em know, and I’ll add a link here to your article!

Update: 2006-12-11

I’m really liking the Z22, and I find that I’m simply not craving the bells and whistles I used to have. Yes, there are times when I miss my Clie’s camera. Yes, I sometimes miss the Tungsten C’s keyboard. Yes, I miss the SD card memory expansion. And yes, I do wish it had a high-resolution screen. But you know, the Z22 really gives me what I need, and I don’t find its simplicity limiting. And I’m still amazed by its excellent pocketablilty.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/pdas-back-to-the-basics

Page 1 of 41234