Wednesday, March 31, 2004

BeyondContacts: fix for the "not responding" bug

One of the most annoying bugs in DataViz's BeyondContacts Palm application is the "not responding" bug. Periodically when one tries to sync Windows throws up an "application is not responding" notice. You can't make the notice go away and you can't get to outlook. You have to kill it.

Today, working around a different but, I accessed the BeyondContacts hidden expert menu. (bring up the Sync configuration for BeyondContacts, then type Ctrl-E). I enabled the option that meant I now see the outlook security warning. I thought it might help fix the above bug.

It does.

Now when I get the "not responding" notice I can click "switch to application" and I go to Outlook. Once I do that sync continues normally.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

DataViz BeyondContacts Tech Support: Does Catbert run their tech support?

DataViz Tech Web Home


DataViz provides email tech support -- but supposedly only after you view their knowledge base documents. Since they had NOTHING on my problem I tried paging through a half-dozen random documents -- the magical link never appeared.

When did all of our lives turn into Dilbert cartoons? This is a Catbert tech support program.

The problem I'm having is that whenever I sync after editing a contact in Outlook, BeyondContacts creates a duplicate entry in Outlook and on the PDA. BC "thinks" the contact has been modified on both the PDA and the desktop -- but it hasn't.

Very annoying, to put it mildly.

Their phone support, on the other hand, is good. The woman I spoke with was pressured but quickly moved to the appropriate level and told me how to enable the debug log (bring up the Sync configuration for BeyondContacts, then type Ctrl-E. The menu also allows one to see the outlook security warning, I'm hoping viewing that warning will help with another intermittent problem where BeyondContacts can't access Outlook). So I'll do a database refresh and watch for a dupe, then send the debug log. Of course to send the debug log, I have to view TWO tech support documents to get the #$@ magic link. I vented about that too, but I shouldn't have. I know she has no power to change that. Any company stupid enough to implement such a ridiculous ploy isn't going to be listening to input from their frontline support staff.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Microsoft: Enabling a Superior Client Experience with Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

The only document indexed by Google that explains how Outlook 2003's new sync works. (word document: 167k, Microsoft tech document).

The section on how Outlook tries to resolve sync issues with Exchange is interesting. I suspect Outlook/Exchange synchronization is a sometimes complex and combative procedure -- especially with older Exchange servers. Then through Outlook/Exchange/PDA sync into the mix and stand back ...

How To: Switch between Outlook and Palm Desktop synchronization on the T3 and Tungsten E (OutlookSwitcher.exe)

palmOne - Support - Knowledge Library: How To: Switch between Outlook and Palm Desktop synchronization


The T3/TE advice is just using the OutlookSwitcher.exe utility. In the PostInstall directory for the TE/T3 CD is a utility called OutlookSwitcher.exe. (Outlook Switcher)

It will swap conduits between Palm and Outlook. Good if you need to switch, much nicer than reinstall.

There are hints that people who are having problems with synchronizing task complete status with Outlook using the "new" conduits can resolve the problem by swapping conduits to Palm then back to Outlook.

I copied it to my local drive. It will swap the conduits.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

PocketMac - The Original Mac-to-Pocket PC Sync Solution(TM)

PocketMac - The Original Mac-to-Pocket PC Sync Solution(TM)


Since Palm is abandoning the Mac, and since I've become frustrated with Tungsten E sync, I'm looking at PocketPC. Nice to see some Mac solutions ...

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

PocketMirror Professional XT and my miserable history of Outlook synchronization


I used PocketMirror Pro 3.1.6. It was supposed to work on the Tungsten E, but I was synching on multiple machines and I use DateBk5. Also, our corporate Exchange server software is obsolete; that probably didn't help. I got LOTS of duplicate records. I'd had years of pain with PM Pro, so I tried BeyondContacts -- that meant I had two completely calendars, one for work and one for home.

BeyondContacts crashed on my PDA, so I bit my tongue and tried Chapura's KeySuite. That worked ok for a while, but when I went to Outlook 2003 it started producing duplicate records again -- even though DateBk5 and multi-machine sync was no longer in the picture.

Now I'm trying a newer version of BeyondContacts.

This is really awful.
MOBILE, Ala. (March 22, 2004) – Chapura®, Inc., an innovator of synchronization technology, today announced that PocketMirror® Professional XT 3.1.7 is available to synchronize Tungsten T3 and Tungsten E devices with Microsoft® Outlook® Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Notes for increased productivity on the go. Unlike all other palmOne devices available, the Tungsten T3 and E devices include customized personal information management (PIM) applications, which have been extended to include more fields than the PIM software in all other Palm Powered handhelds. PocketMirror Professional XT is the first third party software to meet the advanced needs of Tungsten T3 and E owners by synchronizing these additional fields with Outlook...

... available to owners of Tungsten T3 and E devices for $49.95 and is available on the Chapura Web site, www.chapura.com. PocketMirror Professional customers can purchase PocketMirror Professional XT from the Chapura Web site for the special price of $24.95 until April 30, 2004.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Wanted: lightweight desktop project management app and PDA companion

I'm reasonably sure this doesn't exist for the Palm, but not so sure about the PocketPC?

I'd like to see a lightweight desktop Project Mgt app (PMApp) that used a PDA's tasks as its atomic (base) items. I'm imagining only a desktop app, the PDA would see only the usual tasks and maybe a read-only view of projects. Milestones may appear as calendar appointments.

The desktop application would have:

1. "Container tasks" that held either basic tasks or other "container tasks". Completing a "container" would complete all sub-tasks. A task could belong to more than one container. (The "Container Tasks" would exist only in the PMApp.) Containers and tasks could belong to more than one Project.

2. Ability to view the project over time (Gaant and node/graph views and calendar views.)

3. Ability to edit containers, tasks, and container/task relationships using an outliner metaphor.

4 Ability to identify the critical path, allow multi-path items.

5. Identify goals, etc.

6. Native XML data file formats, export to tab delimited, etc.

7. Optional: project milestones are reflected as calendar items.

There's not a whole lot more to it than that. The idea is a basic Proj Mgt app that would be useful for both corporate and home users.

On launching the Desktop PM package it would:

1. Sync status with Outlook (for example), calling on user to resolve discrepancies.
2. Lock out Outlook (can't mess with both at once I think).
3. User edits project state.
4. Resync, updating Outlook
5. Outlook sync with PDA
6. PDF summaries of project sync to PDA.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

1. Quick Notes Blog entry: TealScript restoration of Graffiti One type functionality

1. Quick Notes Blog: "Restoring Graffiti One handwriting recognition to the Graffiti Two (Jot) Palm devices"


links in turn to a usenet discussion. Not a bad post if I say so myself ...

Thursday, March 18, 2004

List Software - for the "Society for the Preservation of the True PDA"

The Cult of the True PDA


Welcome to the mailing list of the "Society for the Preservation of the True PDA", sometimes known as the "Cult of the True PDA".

If you are on this list and want to get off, either follow the directions below or email me at jfaughnan@spamcop.net.

The blog http://onetruepda.blogspot.com/ includes this message and other messages related to SPTPDA (pronounced spit pda). In particular the first entry, at http://tinyurl.com/yslp3, should tell you all you need to know about this peculiar organization.

Here are the usual list directions:

How to SUBSCRIBE:
To subscribe to the list, send email to imailsrv@faughnan.com. In the body of the message enter:

subscribe SPTPDA 'Your_Name'

Replace 'Your_Name' with your first and last names. The list will send email to the return address from which you sent the subscribe message.

Example subscribe message:

subscribe SPTPDA Joe Smith

How to UNSUBSCRIBE:
To be removed from the list, send email to imailsrv@faughnan.com. In the body of the message enter:

unsubscribe SPTPDA 'Your_Name'

Replace 'Your_Name' with your first and last names. The list will send email to the return address from which you sent the subscribe message.

Example unsubscribe message:

unsubscribe SPTPDA Joe Smith

HOW TO POST A MESSAGE (after subscribing!)
Simply send your message to SPTPDA@faughnan.com. It will be sent out to each member of the list. If you reply to a list message, your reply will be posted to the list. If you want to reply only to the sender of a message, you'll have to send to his or her address.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Email to RSS

1. Quick Notes Blog

You can now freely generate an RSS feed for any YahooGroup or similar email discussion or distribution list (Topica, Listbuilder, Sparklist, Lyris, Majordomo IMN, etc.).
The process is very simple, it is free, and it may take at most three minutes. (I refer to Yahoogroups in my example but this can be done with any mailing/discussion/newsletter distribution list).

I may experiment with this for our palm blog...

Monday, March 15, 2004

QuickTopic: Should we add this to feature to the PDA blog?

QuickTopic: free bulletin boards (message boards) and collaborative document review groupware


I should have the companion email list operational shortly, but what do people think about adding QuickTopic links? It provides another channel for expanding on a communication.

My Pocket PC

My "brain" is like my old Franklin Planner, I'm dead without it. It was ran over in january and I actually went into a funk over the loss of my "brain".

I did get a better one for cheaper on Ebay. I'm a happy camper now.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Naming this group.

As you can see, we are in need of a name. The blog URL says "onetruepda", which in retrospect seems a bit exclusive. There might be more than one, though it feels at the moment that even ONE "true PDA" would be a near miracle. (Harumph.)

Some names:

1. Cult of the True PDA (CTPDA, pronounced cthpdthday)
or
2. Society for the Preservation of the True PDA (SPTPDA, pronounced spit-day)
or
3. PDAtopia (Bethel)

I have invited all our members to edit the blog and once they join up I've been making them administrators. So it's more like a restricted access WIKI, albeit one without the usual WIKI safeguards.

Aside from introductions, I'd like to learn what folks are living with now for PDAs and desktop software. What works and what doesn't. I'm hoping together we can cobble together a better solution that what each us can manage indepdently.

Starting the cult (or the society)

We've 10 founding members, including myself. I think it is an interesting group. Some prefer blogs and RSS feeds, others prefer lists. Everyone's familiar with Yahoo Groups but many dislike the ads (I don't think it's possible to turn them off any more. Likewise, blogspot no longer offers a subscription alternative to the ads, but I don't mind them.).

I'm going to try a combination of an email list and blogger. I'll see what works best between them. I'm considering techniques to fuse the two, of course increasingly email clients have RSS or Atom functionality -- which is really the way to go.

We are open to new members, just email me at jfaughnan@spamcop.net.

Members wanted: the Cult of the True PDA


Members wanted for (we're still working on the names here):

1. the Society for the Preservation of the True PDA (SPTPDA)
2. The Cult of the True PDA (CTPDA)
3. The Society for frustrated hard core PDAers (SFHCPDA)

Wanted -- hard core frustrated PDA users for a new "organization" -- the Cult of the True PDA. This "society" is not restricted by product use or favored vendor (eg. Palm, PocketPC, Newton, Apple, Windows, Linux, etc is fine) but is open to all who feel our pain.

Contact info is below.

The goal of CTPDA is to
1. Help navigate these rocky days when the vendors we rely on have left us for other markets. Are there any solutions?
2. Commiserate.
You may be a candidate if three or more of the following (or something similar) apply to you: (Please feel free to add more.)
0. Your PDA must be astoundingly reliable. No crashes, no data loss, no "drain battery, lose everything". The Palm III managed this.

1. You understand (deeply understand?) why one needs to have selective synchronization and be able to sync with multiple environments. (Eg. Sync all but tasks related to your new personal inventions with the corporate exchange server. Don't put your new job interview data on the corporate calendar, etc.)

2. You loved the Palm III. Deeply. You thought the Palm Economy was exciting. You know it died.

3. Color screens are ok. But it's a mixed blessing due to power drains and lessened readability. You'd trade the color for twice the resolution.

4. You carry your PDA everywhere, but you'd like that not to be obvious. You are always doing data entry: jotting down notes, altering appointments, consulting contacts, etc.

5. You need at least 24 hours of battery life, preferably 48, with your usage patterns.

6. You love your iPod, but it's ok if the PDA doesn't play music. (Though if it COULD have a 20GB drive without compromising other functions ...)

7. You think video on a PDA is dumb.

8. Bluetooth sounds ok, but you wonder how it will work since IR communication failed. IR stuff was simpler and safer ...

9. You actually did beam things between PDAs. You thought it worked well.

10. Your PDA is an extension of your (aging) brain. It's part of your IQ.

11. You liked the idea of the shortlived desktop Palm that handled sync with multiple devices and promised an integrated calendar.

12. Your spouse carries a PDA. You'd like to easily share contacts and be able to flip between calendars.

13. You seriously thought about getting a Newton, but it was just too big. It's really what you still want.

14. You appreciate the genius of Grafitti One. Loathing Jot is not necessary, but it's a plus.

15. You can live with Outlook, but know there once were far better solutions (now gone). The limitations of Notes in Outlook really annoy you.

16. You used DateBk3, DateBk4, DateBk5, ....

17. You've experienced the problems with the new databases models on the Tungsten E. It's driven you to drink/tears/the SFHCPDA.

18. You've got databases running on your PDA with your passwords, reference data, etc.

19. You miss Lotus Agenda or any of the many, many information management packages that are now history.

20. You don't care about open source code so much as open data formats.

21. You would like to replace your phone, keys, wallet, iPod and PDA with one device. But you know the technology's not here yet.

22. You think the Treo 600 would be fine -- if they doubled the screen res, dumped the thumbboard, stretched out the display and used Graffiti One.

23. You never actually used a PDA, but you live by your paper Franklin Planner. If it's lost, you will change your name and move to Australia.

24. Email on a PDA is nice, but not essential. Web access is nice, but even less important. Wireless is nice -- if it worked and didn't drain the battery. It's really the information management and basic PIM functionality you need. Next after that would be reference access, password repository, calculators, spreadsheets, writing, etc.

25. You really need categories in your calendar. You'd like more than 16 categories!

26. If you could add new functionality to your PDA, it would be to integrate tasks with lightweight project management.

27. You think of your PDA as an extension of your brain and an extension of your full powered desktop. It's a two dimensional peripheral.

28. You were really bothered by the lack of security of the Palm III, Vx, etc. You ended up paying for an aftermarket security solution.

29. Two things you could never understand: why it took Palm so long to provide a view of today's tasks with today's calendar, and why it took an eternity for Palm to provide categories for appointments.

30. Your house catches fire. After accounting for children, pets and the family albums, you beg the fire department to rescue your PDA. (A charter member actually added this from her experience. Yes, it's extreme, but how many people really do offsite backup?)

IF you are a candidate member for SFHCPDA, send me an email at jfaughnan@spamcop.net. Tell me which of the following would work best for you:
1. a Yahoo Group with companion web site.
2. a Blog with multiple contributors and companion web site. (Blogger or other?)
3. a Wiki with companion web site (suggest which Wiki).
I'll keep your email and let you know what I do.

PS. If you're worried about spam, check me out via www.faughnan.com and www.faughnan.com/spam.html.

john faughnan
jfaughnan@spamcop.net

PPS. About 10 years ago I ran an internet list called PIM-L. It was pretty popular at the time. So this is a late continuation on a similar theme.

meta: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, PDA, Palm, PocketPC, personal information management, calendaring, personal digital assistant, Newton, synchronization, sync, OS X, Windows, Microsoft, Apple, Outlook, Exchange, Palm Desktop, Claris, Macintosh, PalmOne, Franklin, Planner, project management