Saturday, January 24, 2009

Palm Pilot problems

So among the assignments I have in distance learning is to submit study notes for review, sort of as proof that the wheels in my head really are turning. So any notes that I take have to end up in electronic format one way or another. Since I've been studying while on break at work the easiest way to do this has been to use the keyboard/palm pilot combination. Its been working great, until just yesterday evening.

The problem is actually getting any of these documents onto my computer. I figured, no big deal just install the sync software onto the new computer and you'll be in business. But then I find out, the special palm pilot word processor I've been using is no longer compatible with the latest version of Mac OS X. It literally won't even install. So I thought, no big deal I'll just boot my computer in windows and install the software on that side. It installs just fine, but then I find out that for some strange reason even though BootCamp can use the USB ports it can't make the USB port act as a "COM1" port and therefore I cannot syncronize the palm through my windows side. Then, after a serious bout of frustration I give in an just figure I'll sync it to my wife's computer. All the software is already there I should just have to push the button... right?

Wrong. The M515 is specially known for having a problem where if a static shock is delivered to the sync port (if I recall this exactly) it will permanently stop being able to syncronize with a computer until the battery is drained all the way down and up again, a process that takes 10 hours to complete. On my old computer dat a corruption during hotsyncing was so common that I never bothered to perform them anyways and so this wasn't a problem. But now that I'm trying to hotsync my study notes over to my computer its a very large one. As far as I knew at that time I was going to be meeting with the teacher the very next day and if they don't get study notes within 24 hours notice they are allowed to cancel on you. So 10 hours isn't good enough, I need these files now.

So, I install a demo copy of my word processor on my wife's palm, beam her ever document that I need transferd, sync her palm and lo and behold I have documents.

In the process of this I discover the windows version of this palm word processor is much fuller featured than the mac version. Grrrrrrrr...

This is starting to be a problem. As mentioned before I don't syncronize often, and I think the last 3 times I have I had to run that 10 hour routine first. But when I do sync I'd like to do it to my own computer. Unfortunately the word processor stopped being developed about 5-6 years ago so there's no hope of an update fixing that problem. I took a look at documents-to-go, one of the major palm word processors, and find that my handheld is old enough that I can only get version 8 instead of version 11 and lose who knows how many features (documents to go used to only allow you to view, not edit or create documents so an old version isn't necissarily any good). Not to mention I'd still have to pay them 50$ just for an old version. Granted it would allow me to sync excel docmuments, which I've been wanting for a long time now, but that's a limited benefit. It just doesn't feel right to pay money to get outdated software to install on an outdated palm pilot because my outdated palm word processor doesn't work on mac anymore. To top it off running this 10 hour routine to restore syncronizing ability seems almost a normal part of the device's use now in days. Perhaps that's because I only sync about once every 3 months but still, this is getting crazy. I couldn't even remember if the 10 hour thing had fixed it last time I tried, it had been so long. I'd take a look at a new palm, but they only make them with phone combos right now. Given that I'd need the palm on me at all times, that would force us to get a second phone line that we don't need just to start with, so this is a major problem. And palm doesn't make keyboards anymore so I can't even tell if my current palmpilot keyboard would work. My wife suggested I get an Ipaq. My first reaction was no, Windows Mobile won't sync to mac. But, surprise surprise, there's software that will make it work for 40$. With a keyboard purchase, the sync software, device, and possibly a carry case it would cost me over $400. With a price tag like that, replacing my palm pilot setup goes back down to the bottom of the priority list. Especially since the 10 hour routine for fixing the syncing actually worked this time.

This wasn't the end of my fun yesterday either. All documents submitted for school need a certain cover letter that includes a picture of the school logo. When you copy paste this coversheet which is only an 86kb document and add a few pages of formatted text, Word 2003 magically transforms the 86kb school logo file into a 20MB file. Took me probably 15 minutes to figure out what was going wrong before I compressed the picture in the file down to 96 DPI which dropped the file size down to 193 kb. I just couldn't believe word would come up with 19.8MB of data out of nowhere just for the privilege of performing a copy paste. Can't you tell I love computers?

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