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Promises, A Partnership and The HP Palmtop

Promises, A Partnership and The HP Palmtop

We know that the HP Palmtop can merge several appointment books. Who would have suspected that the Palmtop could help merge two lives and two families? Two new partners tell how they did it.

By Chuck Sutherland and Marilyn Kodish-Sutherland

CHUCK: Marilyn and I first met through our volunteer work in an organization called RESULTS. We were both lobbying for legislation to save children's lives and eliminate the worst aspects of poverty.

We already had many interests in common but when we discovered that each of us had HP 200LX's we knew it was fate.

We were married on August 30, 1998. In our wedding vows we promised each other Partnership, Joy, Love, and Intimacy,

Planning Two Weddings

If you've ever tried to plan a wedding you know how complicated things can get: complicated enough that many people hire professional wedding consultants to plan it for them.

Instead, we used our HP Palmtops to plan our wedding. It was doubly complicated because we actually had two weddings: one in Pittsburgh and one in Dallas a week later. The HP allowed us to stay on top of the details of both weddings. At any given moment we could track wedding invitations, maintain to do lists and manage multiple budgets.

For example, I created the list of invitees for my friends by marking names in my PhoneBook file to create a list of invitations.

Basic Pims

MARILYN: I use my Palmtop's built-in PIMs to manage everything.

Whenever I meet someone and they hand me a business card I enter the info directly in the Phone database. When someone gives me directions to their business or home address I enter it in the Notes field. I've apparently gained a reputation for having contact information and directions. People call me to find a phone number or get directions rather than access a locator site on the World Wide Web or call the phone company.

CHUCK: I use Lotus 123 to track my construction and development projects, including Pro-Forma Operating Statements, Cost Projections, and on-going project budgets. I transfer data back and forth to Excel on my laptop.

MARILYN: I copied the format of my Phone Book when I moved to Dallas and wanted to create a new phone book for the people who would become my new community. I keep personal and business phone numbers in one book but have a different book for each city that I've lived in. When I moved to a new city I merged active numbers to the new directory but kept the old one for reference..

Keeping Notes

MARILYN: We each use the NoteTaker application as a "grabbag" collection of items which cross our consciousness. Chuck keeps grocery lists, movies to watch, gift ideas for our families. I keep long-term information such as passwords for all my accounts, family social security numbers and health benefits for easy reference.

CHUCK: Both of us are taking a year long course on partnership and one of the assignments is to keep a daily journal for the year. We created a new database using NoteTaker. Each day we insert the date using FN-DATE in the Title Field and write our daily journal entry in the Notes field. The course meets every other month and we use the Category to indicate the course weekend -- so we only need to print the entries that are new since the last weekend.


CHUCK: We use the HP Database PIM to track credit card and account information in one database, while Internet Addresses are in another. Various DOS and other software compatible for the HP are tracked in another database so I can remember where to find it or how to properly configure it for use on the HP.

For work, I track real estate sites on the HP as well to avoid confusion as to the price or status of properties I'm interested in buying.

MARILYN: I use separate databases to track books, movies and CDs I own or want to own. For example, when someone recommends a book I enter it in my Books database by author, book title, category (such as General Business, Organizational Development, Communication, Spiritual) and who referred it to me. If and when I buy it I make a note in the "OWN?" field so I don't accidentally buy a second copy. I do the same for CDs and movies. I sometimes forget which movies I've seen. This ensures I don't rent a movie more than once.

Both of us read extensively and plan to write business books together in the future. I use the memo file to take notes on books when I'm browsing at the bookstore. What we really want is a good bibliography program. Chuck created one in Database but we really want something we could import to PROCITE, a desktop bibliography program I used while working on an MS degree in organizational learning. We currently have PAPYRUS Version 7.0.16a. Its primary feature is its ability to export data into PROCITE on our desktop systems. The demo version of PAPYRUS can be downloaded free from www.rsd.com.

Chuck loves to experiment with both the built-in programs and DOS software. He's always on the search for another DOS program that will run on the Palmtop..

Memo and Word Processing

MARILYN: I use Memo to record longer notes I want to keep and refer to, such as lecture notes from a course, or an important business meeting.

In our volunteer work with RESULTS, it's important that we know the latest status of legislation. To accomplish this, we keep legislative info in Memo and update the file as necessary. This has been extremely valuable in talking to people about the issues.

CHUCK: I use WordPerfect 5.1 on the Palmtop. It promises to be the most important program that we use. Being able to write, edit, format, and print full-scale documents will reduce the time we spend using Microsoft Word on the desktop.

Since I was accustomed to using a mouse with WordPerfect, I bought an EasyCat serial "glide" mouse by Cirque. It plugs into the Palmtop's serial port with a special adapter and uses a mouse.com driver that I scrounged from an old Intelitech disk. While the mouse doesn't work with the Palmtop's built-in software, it works quite nicely in WP 5.1 and many other DOS programs.

Project Management Software

CHUCK: While I have experimented and continue to experiment with many DOS based project management programs (CA Project, Protracs, Mainline, Timeline, Easy Project, Microsoft Project, and Project Vision), I wanted an easy-to-use system. Finally, I invented a simple database program called PROMISES.GDB.

It's based upon the idea that every component of any project is actually a promise from one person to one or more people. Consequently you manage a project by managing your promises and the promises of others. Each Category is a different project. Each item has a Promise (What), Promise Made To (Who), Resources, Start Date, By When Date, Done, and Notes Field.

By using the Column Display (F8), I can view "By When" for all projects or create a filter (F6) and view the data based upon subsets such as Project, Promise Made To (Whom). It's easy to use and simply requires daily updating.


MARILYN: We both use TRANSFILE200 to back up our HP Palmtops to our respective desktops. While it seems to take forever it does have the advantage of virtually foolproof operation. ZIP.COM has the advantage of faster file transfer rates but does require more skill and slightly more keystrokes. Chuck uses this for larger program transfers.


The Partnership course we're currently taking emphasizes the value of communication. We're learning to listen all over again. However, we've taken this one step further. We've taught our Palmtops to listen to each other.

We have exchanged programs and data through the infrared port on our HPs. It's much easier than going through a desktop and relatively error-free.

Sometimes infrared communication is faster than trying to listen and write down numbers and addresses.

When I'm on the road and too far away to use infrared, I use a Wireless Modem connected to Wynd Communications to send and receive quick e-mail or a "fax-note". Marilyn's Palmtop has the same setup. Before she moved to Dallas this was our primary method of keeping in touch. Talk about being "wired together!"

An Absorbing Diversion

CHUCK: There is only one game we play on the Palmtop and its name is FREECELL. We play it frequently and often have FreeCell Contests. Our "best bad habit" is that we play the game too much.

Marilyn teased me about playing too much until I showed her how to win: now she plays it all the time, too.


MARILYN: The HP 200LX is still the best solution to our hectic travel, work, and play schedules. When we married we promised partnership, joy, love and intimacy. Our HP 200LXs allow us to share information, keep track of all our concerns and promises in our partnership, and that brings us joy.

Love and intimacy you can't track in a computer!

iPhone Life magazine

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