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The Pleasures and Pitfalls of PalmIII - getting to know your new PDA is never easy

by Jill White Downey

I was the lucky recipient of a Palm III in early December. Although I have dabbled in technology (we have just about every Macintosh ever released) this was a new challenge. I was sure I needed a Palm III. Was it the possibility of Hot Sync? Was it the concept of a much smaller date book or any date book at all? Surrounded by many scraps of paper with unintelligible notes, I wondered, was I becoming a technogeek?

With the addition of a MacPac, installation was theoretically no problem. Followed directions, actually read manuals, nothing on hot sync, read Windows manual (sorry), no hot sync, cussed this very small machine.

First we called 3Com. Gosh, I have my very own case number. I think I am filed under oh no, it's her again.

Turn hot sync off, turn computer off. Turn hot sync on, turn computer on. Turn one on, one off. Turn one off, one on. Look at telephone receiver and wonder who is more confused, the guy with the answers, or the woman with the questions.

The one question which I did not think to ask was, "Excuse me, but have you ever seen or operated a Macintosh?"

We then called MacTell to ask them what type of demon was residing in our machine and refusing to let the data transfer. They were unsure, and wrote it off to the vagaries of the beige box.

Fortunately, I was able to try hotsyncing on my father's PowerMac. No problem. Data flew and records were created. We became so brave, that downloading version 2 seemed like Jack and Jill's Excellent Adventure. No jokes, they are our real names. Blame him. (the names, not the download).

Bad idea (the download, not the names).

Unfortunately, the term Beta is not one that I was familiar with. I did not realize that Beta means to "devour all your files that you have painstakingly entered one little tap or scrawl at a time". Beta means big surprise, as in "we are no longer sure what program it is that is showing up on the Palm III".

Beta means calling up the guys who have my number. And I don't think I am talking cases here. Toodle-oo version two, off to the trash bin with you and do not darken our desktop again...until you are the final version.

For a day or so, using the "father's computer" was a great idea. Then the inconvenience of having a program that I could not access became apparent. "The father" resides in front of his computer. On the internet. Others do not touch the computer. This is why we have six of them, in various functioning states.

I began setting up the daughter's Performa to use for records and hotsyncing.

Loud screech. "Mother, you have been in my room."

Bad idea. Dangerous idea.

Tried to pry son away from what he assured me were educational games. Ridiculous idea.

Glared at SE for being antique.

Sighed and cooed at iMac for its beautiful, but useless USB connections.

Although the Bondi Blue beckoned, it was not to be, until...Santa arrived with a Keyspan serial adapter and Imation SuperDisk. Once I figured out that the proper download for USB devices was included with the SuperDisk, but not the serial adapter, it was all downhill.

Or uphill.

Or serial.

It is no longer a beige box. It is Bondi Blue, and it is now working. Until... Did I mention that I tried emailing 3Com to find out why my data was being entered in a mystery file?

They have yet to respond beyond a list of automated voice mail kind of advice over the internet. It must be a mystery to them too; let's face it, my frequently asked questions are not frequently asked.

The usual reinstall did nothing. I managed to circumvent the whole thing by trashing the appropriate file and claiming the mystery file as mine.

Neophyte gains confidence and maintains momentary mastery of PalmIII.

I visited every Palm site imaginable and discovered worlds beyond Hardball, Puzzle, SubHunt and MineHunt. Husband, who Santa brought a Palm III, refuses to leave SubHunt land. "Beep" "Beep."

I don't know why anyone needs one of these. Beep.

Games, hundreds of them, were waiting to be downloaded onto the desktop and into the Palm.

Solitaire for me, Missile Command for you. Shopping List for me,Global Annihilation for you.

Wondering if the cost of shareware will exceed the cost of Pilot.

Small confusion when files do not appear in Macintosh format.

This is where the copy of The Ultimate Palm Pilot Guide by David Pogue came in. What a gem, which even comes with a CD of even more programs ("for the Mac", she squeals!) to download. Although not your usual bedtime reading, this one kept me captivated for a number of nights.

Our final conquest was to succeed at Beaming.

Download games twenty at a time. Figure out that half will open on iMac.

Husband and Pilot B come home. Pilot A sidles up to Pilot B, but not closer than two inches. Pick program. Hit "beam". Searching. Beaming. Accepting.

A convert is born. But then again, I knew I needed this from the beginning, I just wasn't sure why.

Jill white Downey is a former drycleaner attendant, shoesalesperson, Peace Corps volunteer and present flight attendant, Jill White Downey lives in Wisconsin. Although she does have a master's degree in English, she is currently prouder of the fact that her imac matches her car.

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