the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.

Error Message of the week

in Palm , Thursday, August 30, 2007

QuickNews for PalmOS makes it quite clear that it is profoundly upset about something... DSC00107.JPG Exactly what is not entirely obvious. Naturally, "OK" and "Change Now" have precisely the same effect.

Mini-Keyboard for PalmOS

in Palm , Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Entering text on Palm devices has always been a bit clumsy. Graffiti, whilst simple and effective, is not a patch on the handwriting recognition in the Newton 2100 (for example), and the screens are just a little too small to comfortably write on. Third party text recognition tools such as MobileWrite are not much bettr in practice, even if the technology is impressive. Of course, one can always pick away using the built in keyboards, but these are not particularly pleasant to use either. Enter miniKeyboard by ANIMATORsoft, which in a nice bit of lateral thinking, eschews hitech solutions in favour of rethinking the onscreen keyboard.I've been using the demo on my Palm Lifedrive for the past few days, and I'm impressed.. The screenshot below shows the basic idea. The keyboard can easily be accessed in any application requiring text input by placing the cursor in a text field and clicking on an assigned hard key (Navigator-right by default on the Lifedrive). A few applications are not fully compatible with miniKeyboard, most significantly DocsToGo, but a "compatibility mode" provides a workaround where input is buffered and then "injected" into the active document, a bit like a very fast ghostwriter. There is also an issue with mo:Blog, where it does not properly take control back after exiting from miniKeyboard. However, mo:Blog is in beta (forever it seems) and I have not encountered this issue anywhere else. In any case, switching to another application and then re-entering mo:Blog restores eveything. Mini-keyboard is fast and intuitive. It is actually much more effective than you might imagine, and enables writing speeds that easily compete with Graffiti or MobileWrite. I can almost match typing speds now on the Palm, and also write in situations that up until now have been frustrating (caveat: I am a strong candidate for World's Worst Typist). At $20, Mini-Keyboard might seem a bit pricey, but it is worth it, and anyway the price of PalmOS apps has been tending to rise recently, probably as a result of falling demand. Mini-Keyboard is a highly recommended productivity enhancer. The amazing thing is that nobody seems to have thought of it before. Get the demo from ANIMATORsoft.

LifeDrive sunk by EU

in Palm , Monday, July 17, 2006

LifeDrive No Longer Shipping to Europe: "Recently, Palm, Inc. announced it was no longer shipping the Treo 650 to Europe because this smartphone doesn't comply with new rules regarding hazardous substances in electronic devices. What wasn't announced was that this also applies to the LifeDrive Mobile Manager."

(Via PalmAddicts.)

This is crazy. These EU directives have been published for ages. It is understandable when old, very limited market cameras like the Hasselblad XPan or Pentax 645 cannot be economically updated, but I'm sure these rules must have been known before the LifeDrive even went into design. Sounds like total incompetence to me. Or another manufacturer gratefully grabbing a chance to save face, stuck with a failed product...

Free gift!

in Palm , Friday, June 23, 2006

UPDATE - 5:55pm CET - ok, the WiFi card has been claimed - Power2Go still waiting, for any power-mad T3 users out there... I really don't know if anybody reads this stuff, but maybe this will flush a few people out... Since I am now using a LifeDrive, I have no further need for my Tungsten T3 accessories. So, the first persons to send me an email in response to this entry will receive a prize: Either a Palm WiFi SD Card (suitable for T3, T5, and some Treos I believe) or a Power2Go T3 battery pack. Just post a reply, and tell me which you want. Rules & conditions:
  • First come, first served
  • You must include a photo of you and your Palm (hardware device, not human appendage). The Palm must be recognisable. You give me the right to post the photo here
  • You can only choose one prize
  • The prize will be sent by mail. I will pay the costs, but any customs duties or other delivery charges are your responsibility
  • Everything was working last I looked (a few weeks ago) but there are no guarantees...
  • It's my blog and my decision is final
The first challenge is finding my email address on this site, but it isn't so difficult... So, anybody out there ?

Photogather for Palm

I have been looking for ages for a program which would allow me to resize photos on my Palm, so that I can post photos taken with my camera phone, adjusted to fit my blog format. There are countless (well, lots anyway) of programs which allow you to view, categorise, display and zoom photos - Palm's built-in software on the LifeDrive isn't bad, and SplashPhoto and RescoView (my favourite) are both fully featured alternatives. However, although many of these allow you to rename and move photos, to adjust the contrast and colours, none, as far as I know, allow you to resize. Photogather does. However, Photogather is one weird piece of software. To be absolutely fair, it seems it was written mainly for Sony Clie devices with built-in cameras, but even so... First, Photgather does not let you browse photos in the conventional way. You have to import them, although exactly where to is not 100% clear. But it seems it makes a copy of a photo in a database within the internal memory, which is absurd, especially on the LifeDrive. So, before you can do anything, you have to import the photo(s) you want to work with, using this dialog: The amazing thing about this dialog is the "DELETE" button. What the hell is that doing there ? I want to load photos, or cancel. I most certainly do not want to delete friom this dialog. Ok, so Windows lets you do something like this. But Windows is (a) crap, and (b) not intended for handhelds with stylus entry where tapping the wrong place is all too easy, especially when sitting on a Zurich tram. Unfortunately things don't get better... Actually, they didn't start off terribly well. When you start Photogather, you are presented with a row of extremely inscrutable icons along the top of the screen. Since they're not documented anywhere, all you can do is tap & pray. This is how I discovered the import feature. You can see this in the screenshot below, which also shows the icon for the image I have loaded, and towards the top right, two drop-downs. The rightmost is a standard category selector, but the other one is the ultimate in Photogather's GUI weirdness. Here, you select an action, such as "Edit", "Delete", "Save", and THEN click on the icon to apply the action. So, to edit a photo, select Edit, then click on the icon. The photo loads in the edit window, and here things are relatively straightforward. One thing to note is that in these drop-down actions, the Delete action, unlike in the Import dialog, deletes the image from Photogather's "worklist", rather than the original. It might appear from this that I don't like Photogather. Actually I do, and I will resgister it. It solves a problem for me, which is what good software is supposed to do. It does have a weird GUI and even weirder interaction design, but you soon get used to it. I suspect that Photogather is no longer actively developed, but this would be a shame. The LifeDrive, and its successors (if it has any) needs software which takes it a stage further, where it can be used completely independently of a desktop machine. The other photo applications for Palm are essentially viewers and organisers with a few adjustment features added on. Photogather is more like an editor, with limited organisation features. It would be nice to see it develop this concept further. UPDATE: sadly I have to add that the edit mode is very unstable, and crashed my LifeDrive several times. So far, I have quite a lot of 3rd party applications installed, some quite obscure, but only Photogather behaves so badly.
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