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Using the Palmtop to Develop Intuition: The Palmtop as an Oracle Device
Hal describes how built-in software can be used to learn any new language or discipline. He concludes with a listing of DOS-based numerological, astrological, and tarot software.
By Hal GoldsteinLast week a doctoral student working on her dissertation on small business asked me how many of my day-to-day decisions are based on intuition. After thinking, I answered "about 100%." It's not that I don't try to gather as much information as possible. However, ultimately, after factoring in that collection of data, my decisions concerning marketing, hiring, firing, developing contacts, HP Palmtop Paper editorial content, business operations, and customer concerns are still based on some kind of "leap of faith," some kind of inner knowing. There are never enough hard facts to be certain of a decision.
Before modern society became dominated by scientific thinking, people more commonly cultured intuition, using methods ranging from studying mythological symbols and signs, to oracles and astrology, to meditation. In modern times many educated people dismiss these methods, but perhaps that's because we only see the tip of the iceberg and because much of the wisdom of these ancient traditions has been lost or distorted by time.
Personally, I have always been fascinated by ancient knowledge. In-depth study of oracle traditions, such as tarot or astrology, reveals much wisdom about the psychological, sociological, and spiritual foundations of being human. References to these traditions can be found in ancient Judaism, Christianity, and in Egypt, India, and Greece. If nothing else, astrology, tarot, I-Ching, numerology, and fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant are fun. Playing with numbers and cards, and trying to predict the future are natural pastimes.
The Western mind may see oracle systems as self-fulfilling prophecies, as meaningless aphorisms with wordings so vague and universal that anyone could say they are true. To my thinking, that is exactly how they stimulate intuition. Let's say, while sitting with a tarot card deck, we ask a question about our life and, at random, draw the Magician card from the deck. We read about the qualities of that card, and ask ourselves how increasing the Magician's qualities within ourselves, (specifically joy and ability to manifest objects), could improve our own situation. In other words, we use the universal attributes in the symbolic information to enliven our inner knowing and help us create the future we desire.
The palmtop as an oracle
How does this all relate to the palmtop? It turns out there is quite a collection of DOS-based oracle software that runs on the palmtop. On the palmtop, random number generation takes the place of picking a card, throwing the dice, or flipping coins. Laborious calculations on where the planets are in the heavens at a given latitude, longitude, and time zone can be instantly computed. Given the palmtop's instant availability, an oracle can be consulted any time, any place.
In addition to the palmtop's computing capability, the storage of information in databases makes it possible for even beginners to make use of these oracle systems. For example, DOS software or built-in palmtop applications could contain a listing of the 78 tarot cards and their basic meanings. The built-in WorldTime application lists the latitudes, longitudes, and time zones of major world cities, and is useful for astrological calculations. The meanings of planets, houses, and signs can be input to a database. In fact, with a little time to enter data, plus an understanding of how things are calculated, then the built-in applications of Lotus 1-2-3, WorldTime, HPCalc, and Database are all that one needs for making the palmtop an oracle machine.
Using the palmtop to learn something new
The palmtop is a great tool for learning a new language, a new discipline, a new vocabulary. The records in the Database application can be used like a set of flash cards. Once entered, that data can easily be transferred to 1-2-3 and, as we shall see, to Appointment Book, for different ways of viewing and learning.
In the Database example that follows, I will describe methods I used to learn the meanings of 78 tarot cards as defined by Dr. Wanless and his modern Voyager Tarot(TM) deck of universal symbols. These same methods can be used to study any discipline or language.
Database as reference
The built-in Database program is ideal to store the basics of any discipline or language. The palmtop becomes an always-available reference tool and learning device. At any moment, you can pull out your palmtop and quiz yourself, especially with the 200LX's DataCard capacity. Furthermore, the database's (F5) Smart Clip function makes it easy to output data to Lotus 1-2-3 and Appointment Book for different kinds of presentation and manipulation. In addition, the Database (F6) subset function lets you look at the data in different ways. The database is flexible enough so that you can continue to add content to, as well as modify, the structure of the database. A work-in-progress database lets you continually refine your information, making it a robust reference source.
As a learning and reference database, I created a record for each of the 78 cards of the Voyager Tarot(TM), including the meanings associated with each card. (Actually, there are many unique tarot decks and the same card may have a different meaning or name depending on the deck. That information could also be stored.)
A database record referring to one of 78 tarot cards.
Screen 1 shows an example of a tarot card record. Each tarot card has a suit that is associated with the mind, heart, body, or spirit, or is one of the "Major Arcana" cards referring to one of 22 fundamental human archetypes. Each card also has a number associated with it or is one of four royal family cards (like a modern card deck's jack, queen, and king. In fact, modern decks originated from the tarot.) Also, as you can see from Screen 1, I use Dr. Wanless's association of the cards with business attributes.
The (F6) Subset function lets me study my data in different ways I have many subset views. For self-quizzing and reference I have subsets that sort the cards by their title, suit and number. I also have smaller subsets such as the royal family, or all 7s. To create a subset with all records, but sorted a different way, I define a new Subset (F6) and leave all the fields blank. After naming the subset, I Sort it (F7) for this different view.
In addition, the 200LX data card view serves as a flash card. I can work my way down a list of card titles and guess the next title's number, suit, and characteristics. I then move the cursor down one record to check my guess with the data card. (See Screen 2.)
Using the data card like a flash card in this example I guess at the content of "Negativity." I move the cursor down one to check.
There are two fields in my record structure that deserve explanation. I scanned in some of the tarot cards, converted them to a PCX file, and used iPeX = freeware to install them in my Database. I then created the Image field so that iPeX could associate the PCX file with the record. (See Screen 3.)
My attempt to include the scanned in image of a card within my Data- base record.
Unfortunately, early experimentation has yielded PCX images that aren't of good enough quality given the detailed full-color imagery of the Voyager deck. Other tarot decks would be better suited. Storing the card's image in the database is valuable because of the importance of what the visual symbology and imagery evoke. The use of 6K PCX graphic files associated with databases has much promise in other reference and learning material.
The second field, "No.", I have hidden on a second page in each record. (See Screen 4.)
A single field, "No.", resides on the second page in each record.
Each card has a value in the No. field from "001=" through "078=". To enter these numbers with a minimum of keystrokes, I modified the database ((Menu) File, Modify Database) and made No. the first field for immediate data entry. When I finished entering the 78 values, I once again modified the data base ((Menu) File, Modify Database). This time I changed the record structure by cutting (Fn) (.) the No. field, paging down to the second database page, and pasting the result at the bottom of the screen. I did so to hide the No. field, since it has no reference value. I used this No. field to create an APPTS.INI file, as described in "Exporting from Database to Appointment Book Greeting Card" below.
Meaningful messages in the Appointment screen
An undocumented feature of the HP 200LX allows you to create a random message for the appointment Greeting Card screen that pops up when you first open Appointment Book each day. This way, every morning you can view a new affirmation, joke, Biblical phrase, or language vocabulary word, which appears automatically. (See Screen 5.) For this effect you can manually create the APPTS.INI file, or import material from Database.
An Appointment Book Greeting Card that displays a tarot card definition at the bottom. (The top lines display the first items of the day's Appointment Book events repeated daily which contain personal affirmations. ABDMOON = was used to generate the phases of the moon.)
To see a sample APPTS.INI file in action, if it isn't there already, copy D:\_DAT\APPTS.INI to C:\_DAT\APPTS.INI (using the copy command in Filer).
To create your own custom messages, open MEMO, open APPTS.INI as a MEMO file ((Menu) File, Open and then locate the APPTS.INI file in C:\_DAT). Edit the file by deleting each of the numbered lines which follow after the "[FORTUNECOOKIE]" and tildas at the start of the file. Save the result as a separate template file. (Note: it appears that lines in the APPTS.INI file beginning with "; " are comments and can probably be eliminated, but to be safe, I've left them.) (See Screen 6.)
My APPT.INI template ready to add material for Appointment Book Greeting Card display.
To create a custom APPTS.INI file, add single lines to the template (the single lines shouldn't contain hard carriage returns within the line). The first such line should start with "001=", the second "002=" and so forth. Then save the file, making sure it is in the C:\_DAT directory. The Appointment Book will use this modified file when creating the Greeting Card screen.
Exporting from Database to Appointment Book Greeting Card
The Smart Clip feature of the Database program facilitates creating and updating APPTS.INI files in a more automatic way. In my case, using the database export facility described below, I generated 78 lines, one for each card. I appropriately changed the "COUNT=" line to "COUNT=78".
Note that, when displayed, the Appointment Book Greeting Card can contain up to two lines of about 45 characters. However, the APPTS.INI allows only single lines for each message. A tilde (~) embedded in the line forces a line break on the Greeting Card screen. (If you read D:\_DAT\APPTS.INI in MEMO, the single lines starting with "001=" appear to be two lines, but MEMO just wraps them automatically; they contain no hard carriage return.)
One way to learn tarot is to pick a new random card each day and pause to reflect on how the content of that card relates to the challenges and opportunities of the day. Appointment Book randomly picks one of the "[FORTUNECOOKIE]" lines in APPTS.INI to display at the start of each day on the Appointment Book Greeting Card. By filling APPTS.INI with tarot definitions, the palmtop picks the tarot card for the day. If you wanted to learn a language or discipline, this method would cause a reminder of one word or definition to pop up each day.
In order to create this APPTS.INI, I created several similar Smart Clip definitions with Database. (See Screens 7 and 8.)
One of my Smart Clips used to create APPT.INI file all one line
which continues off the screen.
I created this file for APPT.INI using the above Smart Clip.
The cumbersome parts of creating the APPTS.INI are entering "001=" through "078=", placing tildes (~), and entering the content of the messages. Using Smart Clip, this information gets automatically generated from information already contained in the Database or embedded in the Smart Clip definition.
I created two Smart Clips because I wanted slightly different information to be displayed in the suit (minor arcana) cards than what I wanted displayed in archetype (major arcana) cards. Similarly, if you wanted to create a language vocabulary APPTS.INI file, you might want nouns to have different fields show up on the Appointment Book Greeting Card then verbs.
To export Smart Clipped data to a file simply tag with the space key all items you want Smart Clipped. (Tagging isn't necessary if you want to export the whole file.) Then press (Menu), File, Print and fill in appropriate boxes. Be sure to tag the Custom button in Style and select the appropriate Smart Clip. You want to print to a file. (You can leave the title blank.) When you press (F10) OK, you are prompted for a file name. (See Screen 9.) Then in MEMO, by pressing (Menu), File, Insert, and selecting the file you just named, your Database Print File output will merge with the APPTS.INI template. Make sure COUNT= has the correct number of lines. Save this new APPTS.INI in your C:\_DAT directory so that the Appointment Book will automatically draw from it when the Greeting Card is created.
The Database Print File screen that lets you output records to a Memo file according to the selected Smart Clip.
The beauty of this method is that as the database gets refined, it is a simple matter of updating the APPTS.INI file.
Fortunately, to see if APPTS.INI is working properly you don't have to wait a day for each single test, if you use a freeware utility GREET100 =. GREET100 contains two programs that will let you set the time for the daily greeting and force the daily greeting to appear upon demand.
Smart Clip to Lotus 1-2-3
Similarly, it is easy to move data from Database to Lotus 1-2-3. To begin, I wanted a 1-2-3 spreadsheet with the name of the card, its number, and suit. I created the following Smart Clip. (See Screens 10 and 11.)
This Database Smart Clip generates a comma delimited file that
can be directly imported into Lotus 1-2-3.
This spreadsheet was created by importing the file generated from the above Database Smart Clip.
I generated the file using the same method described above, using a .PRN extension in the name of the output file. In Lotus 1-2-3 I issued a (Menu) File Import Numbers command and imported the tabular listing of the 78 tarot cards in a few seconds.
Using the power of 1-2-3
Importing the data into 1-2-3 allowed me to view the data in a tabular spreadsheet format. I actually created several Smart Clips which allowed me to import and study the information from several views.
However, the real power of using 1-2-3 for tarot cards is its random number generation ability using its table look up facility. Using formulas I set up, I can randomly select a card from a subset of cards (from the fives or the "wands" suit for example) and place them on traditional tarot layouts. This random generation can also be used for self-quizzing. For example, if I used this same method to learn a language, I could randomly pick a noun or verb and hide in a nearby cell its meaning or conjugation to test myself.
This approach requires a generous use of the @vlookup and @rand functions. (See Screen 12)
This table contains randomly generated cards from various subsets of the deck.
The purpose of the above table is to randomly generate a card in each of a number of subcategories. The first column contains a description of the category. Using the (Menu) Range, Name, Label, Right functions, these descriptions also became the name of the randomly generated card name in the next column. The next columns are filled with the number and suit of the randomly selected card if the information is not redundant. The results from this table are used in tarot spreads - one to ten card configurations located in patterns of cells within the spreadsheet.
As you may be able to see from Screen 12, the formula to randomly generate a card from the entire deck is as follows: @vlookup(@int
A portion of the table of the 78 cards named DECK from which all
random cards are generated.
I can jump to any of these defined-range names. This screen was generated by pressing (F5) (F3) (F3).
(78*@rand)+1,$deck,1). Previously, I used (Menu) Range, Name, Create to name the cell range, $deck, consisting of the table containing the 78 cards. Note that I added a new column of ascending numbers, 1 through 78, using the (Menu), Data, Fill command. The Vertical Lookup (@vlookup) function requires a column of increasing or decreasing values. (See Screen 13.)
The @rand function in @vlookup(@int(78*@rand)+1,$deck,1) creates a random number between 0 and 1. Taking the integer part of that number after multiplying by 78 and then adding 1 creates a random number between 1 and 78. The Vertical Lookup, @vlookup function searches for that number in the above table. The last argument "1" in the @vlookup function says to use the contents of the cell 1 column over as the resultant value. In the example in Screens 12 and 13, the random number was 51 and "PURITY" was the value.
To generate a new set of random cards, I simply press the (F9) Calc key and in about a second a new set of cards is generated. If you are studying language, you could set up a similar method for generating nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions.
My spreadsheet with different charts and tarot spreads has become a little unwieldy. To navigate I simply press (F5) (goto) (F3) (name) (F3) (list). A list of range names such as "deck" and "anycard" appears, and I point to the one I want to jump to. (See Screen 14.)
My TAROT.ZIP = (TAROT. GDB, APPTS.INI, and TAROT.WK1) are included in this issue's The HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK.
DOS oracle software on the palmtop
The value of the palmtop as an oracle device is probably not its ability to predict or interpret. Some of the software listed below does provide interpretation. However, human intelligence is needed to make meaningful sense of the billions of possible horoscopes or tarot layouts. What the palmtop does is effortlessly create the starting point, for example, the calculated horoscope or the randomly generated tarot layout. It also can provide reference material useful both for the beginner and for the experienced practitioner from which to interpret.
If you take the time and use the information to trigger your intuition, it can have some practical value. Studying the interpretations can teach you about the symbolic and metaphorical language of a given oracle and at times can be surprisingly specific in their prediction or description.
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