Small & Home Office
66 Days with a New Palm V
By Theda C. Snyder
I love going to legal technology shows. This one is Legal Tech Los Angeles. I always want to know what's new. I save up all my questions for the vendors, and I really grill them, too. This time I'm specifically looking at data base management programs, but I have questions for Juris Inc., Corel Corp. (Word Perfect), Cybersettle.com, LEXIS Publishing, and West Group, too.
There are all the usual freebies: Golf stuff galore (I don't play); toys (I don't have little kids); and candy and snack food (I indulge and always regret it later, though I do enjoy the GooGoo Clusters). Several booths entice passersby to throw business cards in a bowl for further information by raffling off some goodie. Two booths are raffling off a Palm V and one a Palm VII. I don't give my card indiscriminately because there is no point in receiving solicitations I have no interest in. But I would like a Palm, so I leave my card at all three vendors' booths.
Oh my gosh, I won! Cybersettle has sent me a brand new shrink-wrapped Palm V. I tell everyone in my office --everybody is anxious for me to open it. But I delay. Now that I have the thing, what do I do with it? Is it any better than my small, lightweight daily diary? Years ago I won a Casio personal organizer, which was more trouble that it was worth, and I gave it to my son. Maybe I should give him this, too.
That night I call my software engineer son. "I won a Palm Pilot. What do I use it for?" He tells me about the calendar feature, which I already know about. He says I can take notes with it, but I should still carry a notepad because using the Palm is slow. "The box says it works with certain e-mail utilities. Can I e-mail from it?" I ask. "No, but you can prepare your e-mails in advance, and then zap them over to your regular computer for transmission. You can also download your e-mail and zap it to your Palm to read later. And, by the way Mom, if you decide not to use it, I would be happy to have it."
I call my friend Karl, a lawyer. "Karl, I know you love your Palm Pilot. What do you use it for?" He explains about the "Graffiti" note-taking feature that allows users to hand-write notes into the system. He says he gave a speech recently where one of the attendees took notes in his Palm and had no problem keeping up. He talks about the to-do list and memo features, making it all sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm hooked.
Dramatic moment: I open the box. There is a small fold-out paper with "Getting started" instructions. According to the box, the Palm supports several e-mail utilities, primarily Microsoft Outlook but also Eudora.
Hmm. Outlook? Eudora? Every virus I have read about has come into the victim's computer via Outlook. I've never had a virus problem, and I don't want to open the door to one now. I've been using Netscape e-mail utilities, and I'm happy with it.
I can purchase an add-on to make the Palm compatible with Netscape. But last Spring I attended the Mealey's Attorneys Fees Conference where attorney-speaker Larry Black of Austin, Texas sang the praises of Eudora. I've been interested in giving it a try ever since. I go to the Web site and download the free version of the program.
After backing up my entire system, I install several new applications today, including the Palm software. In the mail setup, I choose Eudora. I synchronize, and everything is up: the address book, the date book, the calculator, memo pad and more.
I put the sticker with the Graffiti shorthand system onto the (faux?) leather cover and practice. It's very intuitive and pretty easy. I'm not sure if it's faster than using the keyboard. The keyboard is pretty easy too, but beeps with every stylus poke -- could be annoying in a room of people.
Wow, this is cool. I've put all my personal engagements in the calendar. I'll do the business ones later. I've put some stuff in the to-do list, too. I can't get the e-mail synchronization to work, though. I looked at the www.palm.com Web site. There are some games there that look interesting, but I wonder how much I can install without slowing this thing down.
Mail: "Failed while trying to logon to the Desktop Mail System. Please check your Palm Mail settings. Launch Mail Setup through the Windows Start menu on your desktop. Select Programs, Palm Desktop program group, and choose the Mail Setup icon. Mail synchronization failed. Mail utility has failed." I open the manual for the first time.
It looks like I've done everything I'm supposed to, but obviously there is a problem. I'll have to try the mail set-up again when I have a second. Checked out the Palm Web site. It says there are free games. But I need WinZip. Don't I have that? When I check to see, all I see are my Iomega Zip Tools, which apparently don't do the trick.
Oops, left it in its cradle all night. This can't be good for the battery.
I want to follow up on those free games. The Palm URL leads me to buy Win Zip for $29. That's $29 I don't want to spend. I go to Tucows.com, where there are three kinds of freeware. I choose freezip.exe because 1) it is free 2) it takes up minimal space. It says its for Windows 95 and I have Windows 98, but at this price, if it doesn't work, so what? I download freezip. I download the games. After a few wrong steps to get the games in the add-on utility, It show that they will be installed the next time I synchronize. I synchronize. The log says mail utility has failed. I go to the hand-held to check out the games -- and they're not there.
Back to the desktop. Actually read the manual this time. It looks like I did everything right. Try to synchronize again. The log says that the games are installed in the "install directory." Is that the problem? I look in the "Games" directory again, and they're still not there, go to display "all." There they are!
7/4/00 -- Later in the Day.
All the games are in the main directory, and none are in the games directory. How do I move them? I'm getting carried away. I was getting my briefcase ready for tomorrow, and decided to look at the games. Giraffe -- which teaches the graffiti system-- is too educational for fun. Puzzle is pretty lame. Mine Station is like MineSweeper on my PC, but at first I don't see how to reveal the bombs, as opposed to just tapping around them. I am playing Hard Ball, which comes in three versions. It reminds me of some early, early computer game I think we played through the television, or maybe on a Game Boy. I think it was called "Wall." I like the game -- too much. I sit there playing for probably 20 minutes.
I look in the Preferences Detail. Oh look, the default setting provides for it to automatically turn off after two minutes in the cradle. That could be a real lifesaver. But it doesn't show me how to move the Games into the Games directory. I do notice that the sound levels are set for "high."
I give the Sub Station game a try. Although this also is reminiscent of some earlier generation game, I like it. Am I going to use up all my battery juice this way?
I leave for the A.B.A. Annual meeting in New York tomorrow, hoping to pick the brains of the tech gurus there. Will there be a Palm booth at the Expo? And how will I keep the battery fresh? The Palm people have a travel kit for sale which apparently plugs in to an AC outlet, but I haven't gotten around to getting it yet.
Before I Hot Synch, I'm going to open Eudora and see if that makes a difference. I push the Hot Synch button.
My computer crashes. Well, no not exactly. It's gone to sleep! I try again with the same result.
I close Eudora and notice that Netscape was also open (though the modem was not on line.) I close everything on the PC desktop and try to Hot Synch again.
"The connection between your handheld computer and the desktop was lost. Some of your data was NOT backed up."
I try again with the same result.
Off to New York.
I'm back from New York and hopeful. I talked to several people I consider tech gurus. One suggested a fix for my e-mail block. I will try it tonight. He also suggested buying Intellisync.
I don't even see my guru's suggested keystrokes. I check out Intellisync on the Web. It isn't apparent to me that it does anything more than the standard synchronization. It doesn't support Netscape mail, so I decide to save my pennies.
The Palm has given me instructions on how to reset my mail utility. Unfortunately, they don't work. "Start. Programs. Palm Desktop. Mail Setup."
I do this several times, but nothing happens. I try clicking on the Desktop icon and going in that way. In the help menus for Palm Desktop I look at and print out "Setting Mail Options," "Eudora 3.01 and Higher." In Eudora, I similarly study the topic "MAPI Options Window." I reset the MAPI options.
Yay, Yay, Yay! I got a complete synchronization. My test e-mail message zapped over to Eudora. Now if I could only get Eudora to work. It says it can't find my network address. Sigh.
As Scarlett O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day."
I've been regularly using the date book, to-do list, and memo pad. Today I set the alarm to go off to remind me to break away from work to get to the dentist on time. It was great. As it happened, I hadn't forgotten, and actually was away from my office when my purse started beeping. I had to laugh. It worked great.
Got home, though, and tried to synchronize: "The connection between your handheld computer and the desktop could not be established. Please check your setup and try again." Tried a second time with Eudora running with the same result.
Initially I was Hotsynching with no problem. It's only since I tried to get e-mail going that I'm having this problem. It's really only e-mail that I need to synchronize since I'm doing everything else exclusively on the handheld. I'm frustrated.
This morning's newspaper had an ad for Omnisky which would let me get e-mail on my Palm. It costs about $150 for the wireless modem and $40 a month It would be great if it works, but not if I'm having these problems. The promotion ends 8/31/00, so I have some time to make a decision.
Can I synchronize without the cradle? It appears I can using an Infrared driver. The Palm manual (yes, I'm actually reading it now) says I can download a Win95 driver from the Microsoft site. I check out the site; there doesn't appear to be an infrared driver for Windows 98, so I guess I'll download the one for Windows 95. Oops. "NOTE: This download is not intended for use on computers running Windows 98."
Numerous people have told me that Outlook is the e-mail way I ought to go, but I'm afraid of it because of the virus angle. Confession: I'm not running an anti-virus. I have had Norton Utilities in the past, but not currently. I buy Norton Suite 2000, including Utilities and anti-virus at a Wal-Mart near my office for $60. That night I stop in at a computer mega-store on the way home. I buy a book to help me learn Outlook and note that Norton Suite 2000 is priced at $100. That night I check out www.softsaver.com and see I could have gotten Norton 2000 suite on sale for $40. I put in a bid for Intellisync. Not having done this before, I'm not sure how I will know what I have bought and for how much.
I am not going to even bother trying to synchronize tonight. There's nothing new on the desktop machine anyway. Instead I check out a couple URLs I've heard about. First, I go to www.pdajd.com, a site for lawyer palm users. The stuff here looks really helpful, and I bookmark it to return to later. I saw a magazine reference to yadayada.com as a site for "free mobile Internet access for PDAs." I go there, but one has to be a pre-registered user, and there is no front door through which to register. Too bad. I wonder if I can find another URL through a search engine. I go to Tucows and download infrared freeware, but it's late and I don't have time to install it tonight.
Forgot to charge the Palm over the weekend, charged it for a few minutes Monday, but Tuesday I had no power. Well, it turns out the darn thing's frozen. I turn to the manual, and learn how to do a "soft reset," like a hot re-boot apparently. I had found a freeware solitaire game I hadn't noticed before and when I called it up, it froze. Coincidence? I'm taking no chances and delete the game. Everything else is status quo: using memo pad, to-do list and date book, but unable to use e-mail.
My paralegal, a techie for sure, comes in and asks to see my Palm and how am I doing with it. I demonstrate the date book, to-do list, and memo features, and explain that I still can't get e-mail working. As I explain all this, I realize that I really am using it a lot and have gotten pretty facile.
It's a red letter day. I haven't hot synched in a while, because I'm really not using this on my desktop at all, but today I opened the Palm software on the desktop, opened Eudora and gave it a whirl -- and it worked! Only one problem now I use Netscape for e-mail, not Eudora. I think I'm giving up on Eudora. Because I downloaded the free application I don't have a manual, though today for the first time I figured out how to access help within the program. In the interim I have purchased Norton Utilities, including anti-virus, and I am planning on switching to Microsoft Outlook I have a handbook for Outlook.
For the first time, I telephone tech support. I have accumulated several questions and shoot several of them at Brandon, a nice fellow who tells me, by the way, that even though this toll call is to the Chicago suburbs, it's being forwarded to Cheeseland, or, Wisconsin. Most importantly, he tells me that if I go to the Netscape Web page I ought to be able to download a conduit to Netscape and not have to change my e-mail utility at all. He also tells me that it's "impossible" to get and receive e-mail directly to and from my Palm. I tell him I have seen ads that say I can. He says this is "Star Wars stuff." Also, I express my frustration that once called up, the cut and paste menu only stays on the screen for a second. He doesn't know how to call up the cut and paste menu. Even after I explain how to do it, he still can't get the cut and paste dialog box to come up on his Palm. I give up on that issue.
I go to the Netscape site and realize it is the site that comes up every time I go on line nothing different. Contrary to what Brandon said, there is no link to "conduit," but eventually I find a shareware download link for the e-mail update. I download, saving to the Palm directory. I see this is a zip file. I go off line.
I try to open the file, but it now displays an ".lzh" extension. Freezip doesn't recognize it as a zip file to unzip it, and when I try to open the file, the Palm desktop front page comes up. Brandon had suggested that I try the Palm on-line chat support to save money. That's next.
I go on line and link to the chat assistant. I am number two in the queue. After about eight minutes, the following happens:
Stephanie: Thank you for contacting Palm Incorporated. My name is Stephanie. In order for me to best support you, it would be helpful if you would provide your first and last name, your preferred phone number starting with the area code first, the palm model type you have, and the serial number from the back of the unit. I would like to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.
* I do.
Stephanie: Thank you. What can I help you with tonight?
* I am trying to continue using Netscape e-mail utility now that I have a Palm. I called support, talked to Brandon. He told me to download the conduit from the Netscape Web site. I downloaded emailupd.zip. It's now in the Palm directory as an lzh file. When I right click and "open," the Palm desktop software comes up. The e-mail utility choices haven't changed.
Stephanie: I don't know what to tell you. Netscape is a third party software. If you installed the file according to instructions, I assume it should just work.
Stephanie: The Mail Setup tool for the Palm Desktop won't change.
* Brandon told me that I need to get the conduit to get more choices beyond Eudora, Lotus and Outlook. What is your suggestion for a conduit to Netscape e-mail?
Stephanie: I don't know. It may be that Brandon has done more research into third party software on his own. I don't own a palm, and we are not supposed to support third party software.
* You don't own a Palm? How do you know how to give advice?
Stephanie: I've had the training and I have extensive PC experience.
* OK, well then: how does one get additional e-mail options?
Stephanie: We also usually have emulator software, I just don't happen to have it available on this machine.
Stephanie: That's third party software. There's no way to add options to the mail setup.
* Maybe you should check with Brandon at support in Wisconsin. He says there is.
Stephanie: That was kind of Brandon to offer you that advice. We are really not supposed to, however, and this is one of the reasons.
This is support? "We don't have it, and we won't tell you how to get it, nyah, nyah." Puh-leeze.
Anyway, I don't believe old Stephanie knows what she has and doesn't have. How can she help me if she doesn't even have a machine or an emulator? Can she solve anyone's problem? Are other people's problems so elementary it doesn't matter that she doesn't even have a machine in front of her? Brandon in Wisconsin clearly had a Palm to do the same keystrokes I was doing. In fact, I gathered he had all the models there. Why does Palm bother to pretend to have on-line support when the support people 1) don't have the proper equipment 2) are not knowledgeable and 3) are clearly disinclined to make the machine work optimally for the user?
The e-mail quest will have to wait for another day.
I never paid attention to articles for Palm users, but now that I have one, I see them everywhere. The Indiana State Bar Association's publication, Res Gestae has an interesting article about useful Palm Web sites. Www.palmgear.com looks good, with some helpful-looking links. I see there is a traditional modem. Money says, "Despite what providers, including Palm, will have you believe, PDA wireless modems are prohibitively slow." Law Practice Management talks about using the Palm for marketing, praises wireless Web access and discusses how great the "find" feature is. Now if I can just find "find." Where did I put that manual?
What a ninny I am. I don't need the latest wireless modem. Why don't I just explore a standard modem? I drive over to Comp USA to check it out. 3Com makes a standard plug-in 33K modem for the Palm. CompuUSA has it priced at $169. Back home later I check prices on the Web. I can buy the modem for $155 and presumably would not have to pay sales tax. I decide to think about it some more.
The longer I think about it, the better and cheaper the technology is likely to get. However, that means I am depriving myself of the full use of the technology in the interim. This is the classic technology buyer's dilemma, and I know the general rule is "Buy it now." However, this was a windfall, not something I felt I needed in the first place. The only application which I can really, really use is e-mail. As I write this, I think I am talking myself into purchasing the modem as soon as I find the time.
Tomorrow I am leaving for a week-long trip, and I am leaving my Palm at home how would I charge it on the road?
I know there is a peripheral available for this, but I don't have it. I am using my Palm primarily for its date book function and also for memos. Previously I carried a small paper calendar which weighed about an ounce. Now I carry a four ounce Palm. Besides, I never accidentally left my pocket calendar at home because I forgot to take it out of the charger.
I know the Palm has way more capabilities, such as for reading documents by using Advantgo, available free on the Web, but I really can't see myself reading books on an airplane on a Palm. I think I pretty much personify the gender split approach to technology: I see it as a tool rather than a toy. Pulling out a Palm at office calendar meetings is impressive. I have played the games in the dentist's waiting room and other boring venues. But I have not come to embrace Palm technology as several of my friends have.
I think I will probably get the modem and keep working on making e-mail by Palm a viable option. How long will this technology remain current? Well, whatever happened to that Casio PIM?
I haven't switched e-mail utilities. I won't switch to Outlook without a working anti-virus, and mine isn't. Turns out I can't download Norton Anti-Virus updates, which pretty much makes the software obsolete. I keep getting a message that my new software is more than a year old. The Norton help page informs me that this is a common problem. All I have to do is uninstall NAV, reset my Windows settings and reinstall. I don't have time for this. I'll stick with Netscape until I get some time.
I've been keeping my eyes and ears open. I saw a universal charger for sale in a flight magazine. I am already schlepping a charger for the cell phone, so I would get a double bang for the same schlep if I used one that would charge the Palm too.
One friend pointed out that even if I am not really using the Palm software on my desktop, I should still synchronize to back up. Oh yeah, back up. I guess that would be a good idea.
Apparently there are three ways to go on Palm e-mail. First, a product called "Pocket Mail BackFlip" lets you download information about your e-mail, including the first 80 characters of the message and send two messages of up to 500 characters. I get long attachments so this isn't for me. Second, there is the 3Com wired modem. Lastly, in this morning's paper, I see Omnisky is again offering the $149 wireless modem with $40 per month service through up to six existing mailboxes.
Where will I go from here with my Palm? I'm still using it for dates, memos and the to-do list feature. I will definitely order the universal charger, probably get the wired modem, and maybe a keyboard-- as soon as I get the time.
Theda C. Snyder is in-house counsel at a major insurance company in Simi Valley, Calif. She is the author of Running a Law Practice on a Shoestring and Women Rainmakers 101+ Best Marketing Tips, both published by the ABA Law Practice Management section.