You probably wonder how you survived before you owned a Palm personal digital assistant (PDA). It makes your life easier by keeping you on schedule and connected to e-mail and the Internet.

Want to maximize the potential of your Palm or other PDA that uses the Palm OS? Subscribe to TechRepublic’s Palm TechMail to receive daily Palm tips delivered directly to your e-mail inbox. These tips are mini lessons designed to help you better understand your Palm’s capabilities. Palm TechMails will also provide information about utilities and resources to help pump up the performance of your Palm. Here are five tips from our TechMails newsletter service to give you a sample of the information you will receive:

All-around app: A must-have
Without a doubt, a good document (or Doc) reader is an essential application for Palm disciples. This tool lets you store and read the thousands of documents available for free on the Web—from technical manuals and important business papers to Shakespeare and sports schedules!

There are several document readers to choose from, which vary in price, user friendliness, and features. Some offer advanced search and bookmark features, while others provide a more simplified interface. Check out these links and familiarize yourself with these all-around, must-have apps.

  • AportisDoc by Aportis: One of the original doc readers. Good features. $30.
  • RichReader by Michael Arena: Offers many features that others don’t. Lets you view Adobe PDF files and HTML files with their original formatting. A good value at $14.95.
  • TealDoc by TealPoint Software: Another of the originals. Numerous features. Allows for graphics within documents. A good value at $16.95.

There are other readers to choose from, all available on the PalmGear H.Q. Web site. Happy reading!

Create your own shorthand
Even when you get used to Graffiti, it’s still a time soak in some respects. Say, for instance, you find yourself entering the same phrase or word over and over, such as your company name, the names of people, or products you use.

The Palm has a built-in feature that allows you to create a kind of shorthand. To access this feature:

  • On the Palm’s screen, tap the Preferences icon.
  • In the resulting dialog box, tap the pull-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of the monitor.
  • Select the ShortCuts tab.

Here, simply tap the New button to enter any frequently used word or phrase and assign a set of characters as its shortcut. Then, when you enter that shortcut, the Palm OS will replace it with the whole word or phrase.

This feature is similar to AutoCorrect in MS Word. You can also use it to correct common misspellings. Just enter the correctly spelled word, and then enter it the way you usually misspell it. When you misspell the word, your Palm will correct the spelling for you!

HotSync: A piece of the action
Think HotSyncing your Palm is about as easy as it gets? You’re right, for the most part. But there are a few advanced concepts you can learn that will make the continued use of your Palm device easier and less stressful. Here’s a prime example.

On your system tray, right-click the HotSync icon and select Custom from the menu. This brings up a dialog box containing a list of all the HotSync conduits used to synchronize your Palm to your desktop applications. Notice the Action column for each entry. For most of your conduits, the Action column will read Synchronize The Files. This setting controls how conduits deal with new, changed, or deleted items on the Palm and PC.

Now for the tip: If you make a mistake–say, for instance, you delete all your contacts on your Palm device–change the Action setting for the Address Book conduit. Why?

If you HotSync with Synchronize The Files as the setting, the conduit will delete all of the contacts in your desktop Address Book. To avoid this, change the setting to Desktop Overwrites Handheld. This will prompt the conduit to repopulate your Palm with the desktop contact info.

To change this setting, select the appropriate conduit, click the Change button, and then select the new setting. Use these settings if you have to do any disaster recovery work.

Beam me up, Scotty!
If you have a laptop or other computer with an infrared (IR) port, listen up.

If your PC is near your Palm device, it may suddenly go into Beam mode. This happens because on most PCs, the IR port “scans” for other IR devices about every 5 seconds. If your Palm picks up this scan, it will respond–even if it’s not close enough to actually beam anything. It’s more than likely that this won’t cause any damage, but it’s annoying, and it does use up the battery.

There are three workarounds for avoiding this:

  • Move your Palm device so that it’s not close enough to “hear” your PC. This might include blocking the signal by putting something in between your Palm and PC.
  • Disable your PC’s IR Port in the Control Panel. (In Windows 2000, this is in the Wireless Link section of the control panel.)
  • Turn off Beam Receive in the Palm Preferences dialog box. To find this option, click the Menu button, navigate to the Palm Preferences item, and then click it. This operation will be different on different devices, depending on which application launcher app you’re using. Once you’re in the Preferences dialog, select the General tab from the drop-down list in the upper right corner. The last option on this page is the Beam Receive option.

Project information in the palm of your hand
If you use Microsoft Project 98 or 2000, you might want to check out Project@Hand by Natara Software. This application shows you task, resource, and assignment information about your projects. It even has an optional Gantt Chart add-on.

In addition, the app features a conduit that ensures your Palm device is always in sync with your MS Project files. Your projects can be in .mpp format or the MS Project database format. Changes you make in the Palm device can be synchronized back to your project files—ideal for incorporating changes made during meetings into your plan.
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