Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Utter Frustration of Computers and technology, part II

As I chronicled in part I of my rant, I did eventually get the palm zire 71 to play nicely in the sandbox with my computer.  A few days later, the conduits mysteriously urped again, then started working again.  While it is syncing now, I am living in abject terror of the day when this lovely device will no longer work.

The perils of using an ancient (in technology terms) device is that there's not a lot of resources available to troubleshooting problems when they occur.  And while the 'net can be a font of informational goodness, wading through pages and pages of posts about other users' experiences and frustrations is a little like being in a massive game of blind man's bluff. 

I *love* my palm.

It is a simple device that does *exactly* what I need it to do.  And then some.  It functions as:
      ~a calendar in an easy to see, easy to use format
      ~a to do list
      ~a contact's list
      ~an alarm clock/world clock
      ~a memo pad and document reader (and writer, using the external keyboard*)
      ~a password safe
      ~a repository for custom databases via handbase (the best money I ever spent on a program)
      ~for fun, it also takes and stores photos, can play music, read books in pdb format, and has games (solitaire!)

It does all this and seamlessly (at least until a few weeks ago) synchronizes with my computer as well as can back up to an SD card, for on the go security.

What it does NOT do (nor do I need it to) is get on the internet, fetch or send email, or use or require wifi.

But a few years back, Palm took a turn away from simpler, stand alone devices running the very robust palm OS and has morphed into a smart phone company.

I don't want a smart phone.  I'm quite happy with my 'dumb' phone.  I'm quite happy to carry around a small phone AND a palm. The problems with convergence devices are that if one part of your device stops working, you lose all functionality in all aspects until it's fixed or replaced AND the form factor can't easily match all its functions.  The ideal shape of a phone is quite different than the ideal shape of a calendar, for example.

Judging by internet postings, I'm not alone in bemoaning the predominance of convergence devices (smart phones/ipod touch, etc) in the PDA marketplace.

More complex isn't always more better.

Still looking for a solution and a replacement for my beloved Zire 71.

*I've used WordSmith for years on the palm platforms.  It allows for seamless sharing of word or rtf documents between the computer and the palm.  Several of my novels were either partially written or edited on the palm.  Talk about having a word processor in your pocket.

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