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200LX: The Talent Amplifier

200LX: The Talent Amplifier

Electric drills, pneumatic hammers, and giant earth movers are power tools that amplify our physical efforts. Can we consider the 200LX as a power tool for our talents and our minds? This Palmtop user answers with a resounding "Yes!"

By David H. Fisher, Jr.

This article is about how one person has used pocket computers, including the HP Palmtop, to amplify his own talents as well the abilities and talents of others. The article won't teach you how to use a Palmtop but it may give you a new way to look at the power tool you carry in your pocket. Perhaps as you read it, an idea will jump out and help you discover a use that will change your world in a positive way.

An Insurance Sales Amplifier

 I received my teaching degree in Physical Education, coaching and nutrition, yet, when I graduated from college, I found work and income in the life insurance business.

I'd been selling life insurance for almost seventeen years before I got my first computer. It was a small pocket computer called the Tandy Radio Shack PC-1. I gave it to myself as a belated Christmas present in 1980. The TRS-80 PC-1 didn't have any built-in software. However, it did have a form of the BASIC language. To get it to do anything useful, I had to teach myself how to program. Once I had a middling grasp of programming, I could teach the pocket PC about life in the insurance business. Within a couple of months I had developed a program that would help my clients discover how much life insurance they needed. I called the program the "Personal Financial Plan." My sales volume increased so rapidly that my company's home office called to congratulate me. They wanted to know what I was doing differently that had caused my sales volume to increase so dramatically. What I was doing was letting my clients enter the requested information into the pocket computer as each question appeared on the one line screen. When they finished, their total insurance-need appeared as if by magic. They almost always bought that amount of life insurance. They were fascinated with this small pocket computer and how it could figure out how much life insurance they needed. Soon my company had me traveling around the country distributing pocket computers and putting on instructional seminars for our sales force. Within months, other life insurance companies heard about what I was doing with pocket computers and had me putting on seminars and distributing the computers to their agents. The pocket computer was amplifying the unique talents of insurance agents all over the country, enabling them to better serve their clients.

Predicting the HP Palmtop

 Before long was I publishing a Newsletter called "ONLINE" which was distributed quarterly to all the people who had purchased the pocket computer and insurance software. In the newsletter I described many of the features of the TRS-80 PC-1. From time to time I predicted what I thought pocket computers would be like within the next few years. One concept I predicted was a compact style pocket computer which opened up like my wife's compact. The top contained the screen and the bottom was the keyboard. In another "prediction" I described what I called a briefcase computer which was a larger version of the compact computer. Both of these computers are now a reality. The compact computer is the HP 200LX and the briefcase computer is the notebook/laptop computer. I also predicted that the compact computer would ultimately turn into a portable CPU. When its owner would get to their office or home they would close the compact computer and slide it into a docking station that was attached to a full-sized keyboard, monitor and printer. I called this a computer shell. The world would be full of these computer shells and people would carry their portable CPU with them and simply slide it into the docking station and have a complete PC. Of course, when on the go, the compact computer would work just like the 200LX. I still think this will ultimately be the way people will use computers. The portable CPU will have the ability to send and receive data without being hooked up to a telephone line. In fact, it will also serve as a mobile telephone.

 Amplifying My Other Talents

 I continued to develop programs for the TRS pocket computers. The new software grew out of my background in coaching and nutrition. Before long I had programs that could keep real-time basketball and volleyball statistics, track physical fitness testing, prescribe equine colic treatment, and aid in football scouting.

The University of Nebraska football team's coaching staff liked the football scouting software so much that they asked me to modify it for their MS-DOS PCs. I did so and the software became an important part of the Nebraska Cornhusker's scouting system. They used the software to scout the first half of the game by entering the downs, distances to a first down, field positions, hash marks, formations, plays and the results for each offensive play by the opponent. At the end of the first half they would press one key and the report would immediately be printed out for the defensive coordinator who would review it with the team in the locker room prior to the start of the second half. The program enabled them to predict what their opponent would do in given situations such as 2nd down, with 10 yards to a first down; on the 50 yard line, on the right side of the field, if they were in the I slot-left formation. This program runs nicely on the 200LX which is much easier to use than trying to balance a notebook computer on your lap. In fact, I much prefer using it on the 200LX because of the numeric keypad, the portability and the long battery life. In addition, when a coach calls with a question, I can quickly bring up the program on my 200LX and answer the question. The palmtop is also an excellent platform to use for demonstrating the program to a coach who is a prospective buyer.

The 89th Regional Support Command (the Army Reserve located in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa) found out about the work I did with pocket computers and asked me to develop software for the Army's physical fitness test on a SHARP pocket computer. Soon I was in Wichita, Kansas entering the results into the pocket computer as the soldiers completed each part of the physical fitness test. Following the testing, each individual's results were printed out and placed in their file folder. This was a tremendous time saver for Army Reserve personnel.

 Soon I was modifying and expanding the program I designed for the Army Reserve into the "FAT STATS Personalized Body Profile" which I now use to help people take control of their weight. Using the program, I have produced "FAT STATS Personalized Body Profiles" for thousands of people throughout the United States and in many other countries. The program uses the DOS Q&A database program (hard to find). I travel all over the country putting on weight management seminars for branches of the military, police & fire departments, health organizations and corporations. Participants receive a copy of a book I wrote called "FAT STATS: A Guide to Weight Control" and a "FAT STATS Personalized Body Profile". To save a lot of wasted time while traveling, I have loaded Q&A on my 200LX. I now feed the data for about 300-500 seminar participants into the 200LX while in my motel room, at the airport and in the airplane. When I arrive home, all I need to do is import the data into the office computer and print out the "Profiles". I used to do this with my laptop but it was too bulky. In addition it is easier to enter the data into the 200LX since it has a numeric keypad. With my handy 200LX, when I return home, the bulk of my work is already completed. The 200LX has truly amplified my productivity.

 Recently I started writing monthly weight management columns called "THINK & Lose Weight". Most places where I have given my "FAT STATS Weight Management Course" now print my monthly columns in their newsletter. I write the column using PalEdit. I really like this editor as it includes a spell checker. I have all of my column points of contact addresses in acCIS and e-mail them a column each month. And, whenever I have a few idle minutes, I pull out my 200LX and work on the next column.

I now have a weight management website: www.cjnetworks. com/~fatstats. Soon I plan to purchase WWW/LX so I can monitor how many people have visited the site as well as surf the Internet.

 I use the 200LX to keep track all of my scheduled seminars and appointments. I keep a record of all past seminars and results in the DataBase. I have all of my contacts in the phone database. And I track three checking accounts in Pocket Quicken.

 I use the 200LX and acCIS 4.0 to log on to the HPHAND forum where I continue to learn about the amazing features and functions of, what I consider, the world's most useful computer. In addition, for three years, I have been a participant on the CIS GOODDIET weight management forum. About a year ago I was appointed a staff member. I head the "Use Your Head" Section of the forum. With the 200LX I participate on the forum daily regardless of whether I am at my office, in my home or traveling. The 200LX has amplified my ability to help people LEARN how to take control of their weight.

 The 200LX helps me remember birthdays & anniversaries. I enter them as an appointment and log information in the note field such as the year of birth or marriage and a record of gifts that were exchanged, etc. For family members I include when they graduated from high school and college and other special occasions. This often results in some interesting conversations, as people are amazed at my memory. When the birthday/event is over I save it after increasing the year by one. This saves memory over logging it as a repeated appointment for several years.

 The 200LX also reminds me when it is time for a flu or tetanus shot. It helps my wife and I keep up with our children and friends who live out of town through e-mail. Because the 200LX plays such an important role in my life I back it up to my notebook computer every weekday before I leave my office. Twice a month I back it up to my office file server and this file server is backed up overnight via a tape backup which is then stored in a safe deposit box.

 The computer world has just begun to scratch the surface of the potential of the 200LX. Perhaps you will come up with the next idea that will cause everyone to want to own this wonderful little computer. The 200LX truly is a "Talent Amplifier."

iPhone Life magazine


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