Saturday, April 01, 2000

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BOOK Reviews

Discussions of the Palm Pilot.


Begin with whether you need a keyboard.

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I've got plenty of people advising me to buy a Newton keyboard for my Palm Pilot (soon to be a Palm III assuming the upgrade comes) but all my attempts to FIND a Newton keyboard have failed. I found one page that was supposedly a bunch of sources, but all the links were either broken or to that company itself and its phone lines were a voicemail that shunted me off to wait forever. If there were a way to order on line I didn't find it.

I'll buy one of the darned things if someone will tell me how to find one.

I tried BUYCOMP and after filling out all the stupid forms, I was told my credt card isn't valid. I called American Express in a bit of horror ro find it is fine. Since BuyComp has not the courtesy to tell me any specific information on what is wrong other than 'go back and try again" they can go to the devil. I wish I had the half hour I wasted with them back. I will have to find a store or a mail order place with a telephone to buy the silly keyboard. How a company that takes FOREVER with its fancy stuff to download anything, and forever to give you error messages of no value, can stay in business is fascinating. It confirms my theory that part of the purpose of the net is to see how many grown people can be made to stare at a screen on which nothing interesting is happening. In any event, if you know of a place other than that horror where I can buy a Newton keyboard, preferably by phone with an 800 number, I'd appreciate the advice.

On that,

Credit card parity check failures

Last time it happened to me it was because I entered the expires date as nn/nn which was the onscreen model. Expires date of course is parity check for the account number. Turned out the parity check routine required the date be entered as a straight four digit number (no slash or dash) Perfectly simple to implement parity check by dropping non-numerical or dropping the center character or whatever but that was not what was done. I was most irate that the on screen model for entry showed the slash (technically a virgule which is another confusing term French for comma not slash) and there was no way to ask them to correct the implementation - wonder if they know their hits on the secure site to successful sales ratio is.

Clark E. Myers
e-mail at:
I wouldn't Spam filter you!

It may be that. Whatever it is, it's not my job to fix things for them. And they make me spend a half hour entering stuff, then have no way for me to call to ask what is wrong. They can go to the devil.

But then Bob Thompson says:

Robert Bruce Thompson []

<<I'm also still looking for a convenient way to get a Newton keyboard>>

Why? I wouldn't take one if you gave it to me, let alone pay $100 for it. The whole point of the Pilot is that it's portable and small enough to carry anywhere. If you start loading it down with unnecessary accessories, that portability goes away and you won't be as inclined to carry it with you all the time. Any heavy keyboarding you need to do, you can do at your desktop and then sync. Graffiti works just fine for entering stuff when you're on the go. I don't consider myself to be a Graffiti "expert", but I find using it to be about as fast as ordinary printing. It's certainly good enough for entering a quick to-do, appointment, email, or whatever.

And on reflection he has a point. I almost always take my laptop on trips; if I am carrying something large wouldn't I take that? When might I USE the keyboard with the Palm Pilot? I think I want to think on this some more. I hear there are other third party keyboards also, and enough that maybe I'll just wait and see. I'm learning grafiti, and that needs ore practice anyway. I confess that O'Reilly book has a LOT about the pilot that fascinates me. I also have several software packages that came in the mail.

But then:

If you *always* travel with a laptop, you don’t need a keyboard for your Palm.

The reason I love my Newton keyboard is that I can travel with just the Palm and the keyboard, which together are small and light. Most laptops weigh substantially more. If I want to go to a library or something, the Newton keyboard is all I need or want.

Also, I bought a Toshiba Libretto model 50 (cheap, on closeout). The Libretto itself weighs under 2 pounds (the web site claims 1.85 pounds). But the keyboard is too small to be usable, and you need the giant, heavy, expensive desktop port replicator to hook up an external keyboard. (There is a mini traveling port replicator that is included; it gives you VGA out, one serial, and one parallel port.) Anyway, I can touch-type at full speed with a Newton keyboard, so I still bring the Newton keyboard even though I now have the Libretto. (In fact, I daydream about writing a driver that would let me use the Newton keyboard with the Libretto!)

P.S. Sorry you had trouble with BuyComp. I swear I never had even a moment’s trouble with them.


Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"


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