Palm, what is it good for?

Approximately 70% of all users only use the applications included in a Palm, that is, the address book and the agenda. Be part of the other 30%. Be productive.

The most frequently asked question for me regarding my Palm is “What’s it good for?” Well, there are many more applications that I would love to install, but I simply don’t have room for them. For now, I keep a limited number of high-use applications.

The beauty of a Palm device is that it serves as a mobile data entry point. The nature of a Palm is not a number-crunching, graphics-manipulating super-computer- that’s left to Apple’s QuickSilver G4. Rather, simply entering data and later uploading to your PC and using it there.

Here is one example of what I mean: I use Quicken 2001 to manage my household finances. It is a wonderful program that lets me analyze spending based on categories (like groceries, travel or utilities) or time periods; it provides pie graphs of spending- showing percentages of spending; it helps you plan a budget, etc. It covers a lot of ground.

Now, I also use Pocket Quicken ( http://www.landware.com ) on my PDA. It does none of the above. It does one thing only- it allows me to enter every transaction or purchase I make easily.

By using a series of drop-down menus for Accounts, Categories (groceries, dining, etc.) and using “Smart Fill”, which remembers your frequent transactions, it takes a few seconds to enter detailed information.

For example, say I buy a coffee and a croissant. I enter Cash (drop- down), 425ptas, Bar (Smart Fill) and Dining (drop-down). I actually have to write “4 2 5”. And for a newspaper? Cash, 125ptas, Kiosk, Cash, Newspapers & Magazines. Everything is drop-down and Smart Fill. I write “1 2 5”. This provides fast data entry that easily syncs to my Mac to be analyzed and added to the graphs.

My PDA provides added functionality that a piece of paper cannot provide. Sure, I could write all of that information down and then enter it into the PC version of Quicken, but it would take far too much time.

The beauty of a PDA is its simplicity and timesaving aspect. Some companies seem to forget this. Even Palm itself is pushing word-editing software. That seems like over-kill, personally. Do you really want to edit a document on a screen that small? Palm was built to be a simple, easy-to-use device- and that is what it excels at.

In closing, here are a few of my favorites. Download them and start using them this summer- be part of the other 30%.

Avantgo, http://www.avantgo.com , which lets you keep Fast Company ,The Economist , the movie times in Barcelona (Cartelera LaNetro Barcelona), Important Numbers for Barcelona from the Yellow Pages (Teléfonos de Interés de Barcelona), among others, on your Palm.

Metro, http://surf.to/metro ; Metro lets you search for the fastest way between two metro stops. It includes most European cities.

Vindigo, http://www.vindigo.com (U.S. and London only): It provides a nice city guide to help find a restaurant or cinema- I’ll be testing it on vacation.

Maybe you have other applications that you find useful. Feel free to write, and I’ll pass them along in the next Double-think .

Until next time- Happy PDAing and have a nice, productive summer!

Jason Ball

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