Sunday, March 29, 2009

Can iPhone Replace a Palm?

Don has been using Palm organizers for about ten years. First it was his Palm III, followed by a Handspring Visor, and then a Palm Zire 71. Recently, when his Zire died, Don got a used replacement from eBay But recently, the handwriting has been on the wall (graffiti, of course). Even if Palm survives, the company is moving away from the venerable Palm OS.

Meanwhile, Don has been very happy with his iPhone. As iPhone's capabilities increased, it made less and less sense to carry two devices. Even before his Zire died, Don was exploring the possibility of transitioning to iPhone as his only PDA.

It's all about the apps. Over the last decade, Don has built up a stable of Palm programs that fill his needs: some built-in, others add-ons. Finding iPhone replacements has been a challenge, but at last Don has put together a suite of iPhone apps that allow him to move beyond Palm. As a public service, he presents here his list.

Of course, your mileage may vary, everyone's needs are different, blah blah blah.

Palm: Contacts iPhone app: Contacts (native): Syncs with Address Book via MobileMe

Palm: Calendar iPhone app: Calendar (native): Syncs with iCalc via MobileMe

Palm: Tasks iPhone app: Todo (Appigo): iPhone doesn't have a native to-do app, but Appigo's Todo fills the bill nicely. It syncs with the free online service Toodledo, which has a web component

Palm: Memos iPhone: Notebook (Appigo): iPhone has a native Notes app, but it pales in comparison with Palm memos. Appigo's Notebook not only allows categories, but it syncs with Toodledo.

Palm: Calc iPhone: Calculator (native) Good basic calculator; turn it sideways and get a scientific calculator with a fair array of features

Palm: VersaMail iPhone: Mail (native): Mail has VersaMail beat hands down

Palm: WebPro or Blazer iPhone: Safari (native): In its time, Blazer was a wonder. Wow, a web browser on a Palm! But Safari on iPhone is lightyears ahead

Palm: Camera iPhone: Camera (native): Again, the Palm camera app was a wonder in its time. But compared to the iPhone camera, Palm's is slow almost to the point of unusability. One thing, though: the Palm camera allows one to take video; iPhone's does not

Palm: Media and RealOne iPhone: Photos and iPod (both native): Media let you view photos and videos (but only Palm videos); RealOne let you listen to mp3 files. The Photo and iPod apps are so far superior that there's almost no comparison. Sync to desktop via iTunes

Palm: Voice Memo iPhone: coming in iPhone 3.0: Advantage to the Palm. There are non-native iPhone apps for voice memos, and that capability will apparently be native in 3.0. I don't use voice memos, so it's not a lack I've felt in iPhone

Palm: Expenses iPhone: PocketMoney (Catamount): iPhone does not come with a native expense app. For more on PocketMoney, see PocketQuicken below

Palm: Prefs iPhone: Settings (native): Settings has a cooler icon

Palm: HotSync iPhone: Sync Settings (not a separate app): There's no global sync app for iPhone; sync is very much an app-by-app thing. It's worth noting that native apps like Contacts, Calendar, and Mail sync over-the-air via MobileMe, which is too cool for school. Other apps require iTunes, or have their own sync/backup solutions

Palm: DateBk6 iPhone: Calendar (native) and Todo (Appigo): I confess, iPhone doesn't have anything as cool and useful as DateBk6. Calendar needs a lot of work (at least search is coming in 3.0), while Todo does a pretty good job -- but after years of having my schedule and to-dos displayed on the same screen, it took a paradigm shift to accept using two different apps

Palm: HanDBase iPhone: HanDBase: Without a good database app, switching to iPhone was unthinkable. Once the people at HanDBase announced that they had an iPhone version, then I started to contemplate switching. HanDBase syncs to the desktop, and easily reads Palm HanDBase databases

Palm: GlucoTools iPhone: Diabetes Pilot: I have diabetes and need an app to record and manage carbs and insulin injections. GlucoTools is a very simple insulin dose calculator; Diabetes Pilot is a full-featured recording, calculating, and reporting app. As the name implies, it's a port of the Palm program with the same name

Palm: Palm Reader iPhone: Stanza and Kindle: Stanza can read pretty much anything I throw at it, and can load files from the desktop. Reading books on iPhone is a much better experience than reading them on the Palm

Palm: YAPS iPhone: 1Password: YAPS stands for Yet Another Password Saver. 1Password is a perfectly acceptable replacement. I had to manually move all my account names and passwords, but that was a one-time-only inconvenience. 1Password backs up to the desktop but doesn't sync -- but YAPS was the same way

Palm: AIM iPhone: AIM and Twitterific: I never Twittered on the Palm. A while ago we went searching for a dedicated Twitter app for Thomas's Treo, but couldn't find one that was satisfactory. He just goes to the Twitter website with his browser. Meanwhile, Twitterific on iPhone is a joy. AIM on iPhone works pretty much the same way as AIM everywhere

Palm: PocketQuicken iPhone: PocketMoney: Neither Landware or Intuit seem inclined to do a version for iPhone. PocketMoney is a perfectly acceptable replacement, and it imports Quicken files. Caveat: I always used PocketQuicken exclusively, not messing with the desktop program. If syncing with desktop Quicken is important to you, that could be a problem

Palm: BigClock iPhone: Clock (native): Every Palm user I know has BigClock. I use it primarily as an alarm clock while traveling, but it also has world time, stopwatch, etc. The iPhone Clock app has the same capabilities built in

Palm: HandyShopper iPhone: GroceryIQ (you'd think they'd have the company name somewhere in the app): HandyShopper is the premiere shopping list program for the Palm. It has legions of devoted fans. And the folks who produce it have made it clear that they're not going to do an iPhone port (more the fools they: thousands of people would pay through the nose for an iPhone version of HandyShopper). GroceryIQ is not a total replacement for HandyShopper, but it does allow you to sort by aisles (as well as making your own custom aisles; put the two together and you can approximate HandyShopper's aisle sort). At the moment GroceryIQ is set up for only one store -- but they say they're working on it. (Oddly, one big concern of iPhone shopping list apps is to have a huge database of pre-entered items, in order to reduce typing. Maybe so; I can type the complete name of a product far faster than GroceryIQ can find the same product in its database.) With effort, one can massage GroceryIQ into about 80% of a HandyShopper replacement -- until some enterprising programmer decides to clone HandyShopper, that's the best we're going to get

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Time Magazine Catches Up to Dance for the Ivory Madonna

The cover story in the current issue of Time magazine is "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now." One of those ideas is "Africa: Business Destination." Suddenly, Time has discovered Africa's vast potential for becoming a world economic player.

Don Sakers totally called this in his 2002 novel Dance for the Ivory Madonna. In that book, set in the year 2042, Africa was mostly unified under a government called Umoja (the Kiswahili word for "Community"), and Umoja was the economic and technological powerhouse of the world.

Here's a brief snippet talking about the fictional history of Umoja, and you can read more about Dance for the Ivory Madonna here.

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