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User Profile "The HP Palmtop..." Sounds good to me!

This deaf subscriber uses the HP Palmtop to "talk" with friends and business associates, and to organize most aspects of his business and personal life.

By Bill Blohm

In the beginning there was The DayTimer. It taught me how to organize my days and provided me with a place to jot down notes and contact information. The DayTimer was great, but had some drawbacks. First of all, it wasn't easy to modify information. You had to use white-out to change notes, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Secondly, I used one of the larger DayTimers. I could enter more complete notes and contact information, but the DayTimer tended to stay on my desktop and wasn't with me when I needed it.

HP Palmtop: There when you need it

Then the HP 95LX came along. It fit in my back pocket and was with me wherever I went. It came with an appointment book, phone book, Lotus 123, memo capabilities, and a communications link to my PC. I was able to enter and revise appointments and contact information. I could write and revise document sections and transfer them into the complete document on my desktop PC. I could transfer small spreadsheets I was developing on to the 95LX. I could call them up into 1-2-3, and modify and test them on the spot, without having to wait until I got back to my desktop PC.

I also developed computer programs, and occasionally ran into problems for which I didn't have an immediate answer. The 95LX let me keep small pieces of C or C++ code on the Palmtop. When I thought of a solution, sitting at the dentist's office or walking through the mall with my wife and kids, I could whip out my Palmtop and type in my idea, or even write a little C code on the spot. When I got back to work I would transfer the C code to my PC or the HP Unix computer, import my solution into the main program I was working on, and compile and test it. The Palmtop made it possible to work on problems when I had an inspiration, instead of having to wait until I got back to the PC and possibly losing the train of thought in the process.

The Palmtop also let me track my ideas better, play with "what if" scenarios, and act on them better. For example, I'd be driving to or from work and have an idea about how we could eliminate some files from the system at work and make things more efficient. I'd pull over and write a small MEMO detailing the idea, how to implement it, what performance costs were involved and how the changes would impact my schedule. Throughout the day, whenever ideas came, I would modify the MEMO until I had what I thought was the best way to implement the idea.

I kept two 95LX phone books: one for phone numbers and another to hold the information on the various computers I was responsible for at work. The 95LX PHONE version of my computer database contained the names of the machines, their IP addresses (Internet Protocol, an ID number for each machine on the net), and my passwords into the systems. When I went to a system, I had the basic information I needed in my back pocket.

HP 100LX Database: more data, better display

I upgraded to the 100LX because of it's true 80x25 display and because I could better utilize a modem with it. When I got my 100LX, I was very pleased to see that I could set up my own databases.

I exported to my 100LX the 95LX phonebook containing computer information from work. The 100LX let me create a custom database for this information. I created specific fields (with the proper field names) for the system name, IP address, and password. I added fields for comments, name needed to log-on to the system, the domain of the system (i.e. what other computers it's associated with), the type of machine, operating system, and the system "alias." (Alias is a valid alternate nickname given to a machine so people don't have to worry about remembering names like "hpbs3523".)

Database Holds Computer Information: Graphic

 The beauty of this new setup was that I could now access all relevant data about the computers for which I was responsible. One thing I really like about the database is its ability to set up the display of the fields the way I want, in both the All Items and individual item views. For example, I set up the columns displayed in the opening view of the computer information database so that the machine name, alias, system use and IP number are shown (see above). The opening view does not display sensitive information. Log ons, passwords, and other information is displayed in the individual item view (below).

Database-Item View: Graphic

 The Log-on and Password shown above are fictitious for obvious reasons. The official name of the System is "hpbs1686." It has the Alias of "Thor" (my favorite Norse God, it's easier to remember a name than the number). The O/S or operating system is "HP-UX 9.03" (HP Unix version 9.03). The Machine is a Hewlett-Packard "9000/725" computer. There is no IP or Domain listed for this system.

Being able to set up and modify a database makes it easier to add data fields I think of later and to change the way I display the data.

Communications easier for the hearing impaired

One unusual use of the 100LX that I have stems from the fact I am deaf. Many deaf or hearing-impaired people have a device referred to as a "TTY" (also called "TTD"). TTY is an acronym for "Teletype." Originally, local phone companies donated obsolete teletypes to deaf people so they could talk to each other over phone lines. The TTY functioned as a kind of primitive word processor with a built-in modem. The original TTYs used a non-ASCII format and could not interface with a computer on the other end. The name of the device was eventually changed to "TTD" (Text Device for the Deaf).

There are two main problems with TTDs. First, you must have one device on each end of the phone line to communicate. If one person does not have a TTD it is possible to get around this limitation by calling The Idaho Relay Service, a voice/TTD relay service. This service involves an operator who has a TTD and who translates between the two parties. The second problem is that a TTD is not a portable device.

Fortunately, the HP 100LX is very portable, can connect to a modem, and comes with built-in terminal emulation or can use other third-party communications programs (I use an older copy of ProComm (version 2.0). In addition, the TTD relay service can be accessed by a computer like the HP Palmtop. I currently use an AT&T DataPort modem, which I connect to the 100LX via the HP Connectivity Cable and modem adapter from the HP Adapter Kit (HP F1023A). This compact, lightweight modem fits easily into a briefcase. Unfortunately, it's not battery powered and I'm still tied to a wall outlet for power. Eventually I'd like to get a PCMCIA card modem and an acoustic coupler so I can even use the modem in phone booths.

Typically, I call the relay service from my 100LX (or desktop PC) and "talk" to the operator via my Palmtop display and keyboard. The operator phones the person I want to communicate with and relays our conversation back and forth. The text of the conversation (laughter and even background noises) is displayed on my Palmtop display.

The Palmtop, ProComm, and the modem provide me with a fully portable telephone setup, one of the few things that I envied the hearing people for.

[Editor's Note: During the editing of this article Bill and I needed to discuss some points about the article, so I got to experience TTY/Idaho Relay Service communications first hand. The process is slower and more deliberate than I'm used to. When I am talking with a hearing person over the phone, I communicate a lot with voice inflection. If I'm not exactly sure what I want to say, I'll take a stab at it. The person I'm communicating with and I usually throw a lot of short, incomplete sentences back and forth until we understand each other.

TTY communications cannot rely on verbal cues, and because of the translation process, quick back-and-forth conversations don't work well. Even though I was speaking, the process was more like writing to me. I had to think things through more, making sure the ideas I expressed and the questions I asked were complete and understandable -- Rich.]

Personal Use: Good Books, The "Fish & Game" Department, and more!

The Palmtop's portability means that it goes with me camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, to the store, to the dentist and doctors. Among other things, the Palmtop helps me catch up on my reading.

I use a program called Vertical Reader (VR ) that lets me display and enjoy the works of Shakespeare (SEL_SHAK.ZIP ), Edgar Rice Burroghs (PMARS10.ZIP ), and other classic authors on my HP Palmtop. A great variety of these literary classics are available in E-TEXT format through Project Gutenberg (see article on Vertical Reader and Project Gutenberg, page 14 this issue). The Palmtop and these programs make it easy for me to enjoy these classics wherever I am, whenever I can grab a small moment of time. [Note: This issue of The HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK will contain an extra disk of Project Gutenberg E-TEXT files. These files can be read with VR, MEMO, or any text editor. VR is on the Fall 94/ Summer 95 Subscriber PowerDisk.]

Many of the ETEXTs provided by Project Gutenberg are entered by volunteers. In addition to reading my favorite books on the 100LX, I use my Palmtop to input ETEXTs for the project (my way of saying "Thanks" for the service they provide).

I use a drawing program (Color Paint & Print, by Expert Software) on my HP 100LX to draw flow diagrams, Gantt charts, top cards, and to keep the kids amused on trips. The program is adequate, but I'm still getting used to it. I have to exit System Manager completely to run the program. If I could hook up a mouse to the 100LX, it would be great.

I keep some games on the 100LX for me and the kids (Tetris for the wife). I also use the 100LX to track my fly fishing. I enter information on which flies worked well on what rivers or lakes. I enter the time of the day as well as the size and type of fish caught.

I use MEMO to track the rolls of film I shoot, entering exposure, picture number, and special notes to myself about the picture.

I found a DOS astronomy packages called The Sky in the sale bin in the local Shopko store for under $10. I tried it and wonder of wonders, it works on the 100LX. I no longer have to use a print-out of the night sky to find a celestial object. I pull out a penlight flashlight with a red filter and consult the display of my oh-supportable-and-versatile 100LX. I'm switching to a program called SkyGlobe . It's more easily available and apparently has better support. [Note: We could not find The Sky, but have successfully loaded SkyGlobe on the HP 100LX -- Rich.]

In addition to all that, I keep an outdoors diary of my hiking, camping, canoeing, and general outdoors explorations. I later transfer these notes from the 100LX to my PC, or print out a hardcopy of the notes to include in a binder I keep. I use MEMO to take miscellaneous notes, track books for my research, taking notes and movies the family wants to see. I use Appointment Book's ToDo feature to track home-related items like meetings I have to attend, home improvements and repairs I need to accomplish, and other such jobs that come with work, a house and two teenagers.

The Appointment Book helps me schedule a wide variety of home/ family related items. APPT reminds me when it's time to check the oil in the vehicles, change the filter in the air conditioner, see the dentist or doctor, and plan for a birthday.

I am interested in navigation and am developing a 1-2-3 spreadsheet for use in the 100LX, for sight reduction use with a sextant.

All the things I used to do with the 95LX I can now do more comfortably on the 100LX, mostly due to the 100LX's full 80x25 screen. I am evaluating a couple of C compilers for possible use on the 100LX, so I will even be able to check out my coding snippets now.

The 100LX is excellent for typing up replies to e-mail and letters. When I get to the office, I simply transfer them to my other computers and send them on their merry way. If I'm on a trip, I can log in on my main computer directly from the 100LX via phone, transfer any messages I've composed to the main computer and use it's e-mail capabilities to send the messages out right away. No more waiting until I get back from a trip. I can get any incoming e-mail at the same time.

The 100LX easily provides all the entertainment, computing and document capability I require when I require it and where I require it.

iPhone Life magazine


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