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January 5, 2004

No More PDA for Me

I'm trying something . . . an expirement. I've been using a Palm for 4+ years now and am putting it back in it's box for awhile. I've been debating/deliberating (with myself) on what to do about personal organization for some time and decided to revert for awhile and see if I can be more satisfied. I think the original idea to have a Palm was driven more by love for technology than how well a PDA would suit my needs.

Saturday I purchased a nice looking, 5.5"x8", week-at-a-glance, bound journal (not one of those cheapo spiral bound ones).

What's the Problem with the Palm?
First, I'll make it clear that I'm not willing to spend a lot of time customizing the Palm. When I first got it I put PDF reader on it and synced some PDFs up (reading on the Palm screen stinks), a document editor etc. The Palm stinks as a tool for reading or editing documents, especially when my laptop is usually nearby. I had AvantGo installed for awhile but again, reading documents (even short articles) on that small screen wasn't acceptable. Same story for maps, games, etc. After the novelty wore off my Palm usage boiled down to contacts, appointments, some meeting notes, and lists (wish list, todo etc). I think I used the calculator once or twice.

Contacts and lists work quite well. Easy to get to and change, but not needed nearly as much as the calendaring and meeting notes.

The core problem I had with the current Palm interface is in calendaring and difficulty in referencing past or future events and organizing notes for these events (I guess it might just be the Palm OS, but I suspect they apply across all PDAs).

The Palm was great at showing today, the appointments, reminders etc. When it came to the past or the future the interface makes quick navigation difficult. For example, two months ago I had a meeting and took a few notes. I remember very little about it but know there was some key information I should reference for an upcoming project. A search doesn't help because I don't remember the details. I go into the "month" view and see each month with tiny indications on each day that I have something entered. I click through each month, clicking on all the days with events trying to track down the note I'm looking for. When I find a possible match I click on the meeting, click on "details" and then click on "notes" to see what is there. If not it's back out to the calendar view and back onto the next day.

Yea, maybe it's me, maybe I need a brief course on using the Palm OS in the most efficient manner, but I anticipate leafing through my pages will be a better experience.

I also am looking forward to the year on paper because I like writing (in controlled quantities) as well as being able to flip through the months and remember the events, something I've never done on my Palm.

This change has shaken a few people, I still believe in and love technology, just not for every single thing I do.

Posted by mike at January 5, 2004 5:59 PM