USER PROFILE: HP 95LX: a Road Warrior's Catch-All Organizer

When you're on the road for over 200 days a year, it's nice to travel light. This road warrior keeps his office in his pocket with the HP 95LX!

By Lanny Staton

I have for some time maintained an "A to Z" file/day planner with a daily diary with spaces to write plans for each day of the year. The physical size of this business tool amounted to at least 1/2 inch of paper in a notebook already crowded with numerous price sheets and related selling material.

Last year, my company expanded my job requirements through the merger of another company and it became obvious to me that I needed to become more organized. I sought the advice of a friend with a Casio PIM, and purchased a Casio B.O.S.S. with 128K of memory. I was simply amazed at the amount of paper this little device relieved me of hauling around in a briefcase.

I quickly decided that I did not like the feel of the keys on the B.O.S.S. and upgraded to a 256K Wizard. Not satisfied with its lack of a numeric keypad, I finally migrated to the HP 95LX.

Shy of the 95LX at First

I was a reluctant convert at first. The HP Palmtop had the appearance of a real computer and I was not computer literate. Even so, the salespeople selling the Palmtop seemed to know less than I did. I felt the 95LX would better suit my needs, but I wasn't sure. Fortunately, the Office Depot I had been dealing with saw my frustration and allowed me to buy the 95LX and then return either the 95LX or the Wizard within 30 days. This sounded great to me so I took the HP home and started wading through the 95LX User's Guide.

I immediately realized that I was out of the PIM area and had entered the computer age. I discovered the HP help line and The HP Palmtop Paper. Over a period of six months, I became convinced that the purchase of the HP unit was the smartest business-related purchase I had ever made.

PHONE a Catch All for Important Information

My PHONE data file is named APHONE.PBK so that whenever I press (MENU) File Open, it's the first PBK file to appear. APHONE lists about 200 distributor and customer names, numbers, etc. It also includes notes on key salesmen names, fax information, last years figures, etc. These are listed alphabetically using last names. I have some general internal company information listed in the first card. (I start the name of this card with a blank space so this card is always the first entry in the Phone list.) I include internal company personnel in the list, and have a separate entry, PM-PHONE MAIL, where I list my most important internal contacts and their phone mail extensions. I need only press two keys in the Phone application (PM) in order to call up these most often used numbers.

PhoneMail Card View:  Graphic

 My Phone Book also includes contact information for distributors of our products. I place a period after the state abbreviation in the Address field, for distributors only! When I need a list of distributors in a specific state, say Texas, I press (F6) (Only), key in tx. and press (ENTER).

My Phone Book has an entry for "MOVIES" where I note down videos recommended by friends. I have listings for car rental companies, motels, and airlines (with club membership numbers in the note portion of the card). I have general listings such as FLOORING or TOPSOIL, containing information on those topics. I have entries for different equipment models we sell, containing product information. I even have an entry named PRINTER/95LX, giving connection and configuration instructions for the printer I use with the Palmtop.

I originally opened a separate PBK file for personal names and numbers, but found that I had plenty of room in APHONE.PBK. Keeping everything in one phone book eliminates the need of transferring between my business and personal Phone files, and the hassle of remembering where the name is located.

A Dieters Phone Book

A PHONE file named DIET.PBK (ON DISK ICON) lists all types of food that I normally eat, and includes calorie and fat gram information for each entry. I simply used one of those small diet information books you find at the grocery store check out counter. I then listed foods, such as "Beans, baked" in the name field, listed the portion size, 1/2 C., at the left margin of the number field, and then listed the calorie/fat gram information (e.g. 132/2) in the number field starting with column 13.

PhoneBook Used for Dieting:  Graphic

 Of course, everything was automatically alphabetized and the index view that automatically displays when you open my "DIET.PBK" shows the food with all portion and calorie/fat gram information in an easy to use listing. This certainly simplifies my constant attempts to control my weight.

MEMO As a Message Pad and To-do List

I get a lot of phone calls each day and before the 95LX, I always had a pocket full of post-its, or whatever. I'd always end up losing some messages and failing to answer some phone calls.

I now use MEMO to keep track of phone messages and things I need to do. As I receive phone messages, I enter them directly into my MEMO (in my AMEMO.TXT file). I also list business and personal tasks in this file. As each call is answered or task completed, I simply erase the item.

MEMO Used as Note File: Graphic

 The key to this system is to enter all information, never use written notes, and constantly update the listing by erasing completed tasks so your list doesn't become cluttered. Leave your word wrap set at 40 so you don't have to scroll around to see text. Also, I find it easier to read capital letters, so I enter all text and other data in CAPS, except letters and other memos I plan to print out.

Other Uses for MEMO

Occasionally I have to give a customer some business-related information (product spec. sheet, etc.). Instead of carrying around a briefcase full of brochures and photocopies, I now carry around a few MEMO files that contain this information. All I have to do is print them out.

I have a MEMO file that lists all my credit card numbers and phone numbers for reporting theft or loss of one.

I have a file that contains an outline of a monthly report that I need to write and submit by the 5th of each month.

I have a file that contains the previous monthly reports. This allows me to view the prior month report as I compose the current report, allowing me to simply change date, delete obsolete information, and add new items.

I have a file where I back up important messages and notes from the main AMEMO.TXT file. When I clean out completed items in AMEMO.TXT, I'll copy special price quotes and other information I want to save to this file.

I have a file where I keep social security numbers, date of birth, etc on my wife and four sons. This information comes in handy several times a year while I am out traveling.

I also maintain a running list of my golf scores as well as the courses I've played and range times.

Finally, I use MEMO to write letters and memos and then print them out each night on the road and either fax them on the motel fax machine or put them in the mail.

APPT Tracks Appointments Accomplishments, and Expenses

The built-in Appointment Book not only lists all my appointments, I use it to keep track of what I actually accomplished each day. This is useful for future appointments and assists me in writing my monthly and annual reports.

I list on every Friday's Daily view the dollar amount of money owed me based on that week's expense report. I will mark that entry "Paid" as my company reimburses me.

I also list departure and arrival times for airline reservations as well as noting down reservation confirmation numbers.

HP CALC Tracks Commissions

Of course I use the Calculator Arithmetic function, but I find some of the other functions are even more useful.

I use the List function to track my invoices on a monthly basis to make sure mistakes aren't made in figuring my commissions.

I use the Conversion function to translate not only currencies, but length and mass, since some of my business involves customers in Mexico.

I keep often used formulas in Solve. For instance, the formula below gives the feet per cwt of metal products.

feet/cwt= 1/(width x gauge x .034)

Rather than having to do all the math on the calculator each time, I simply go to Solve, select the desired formula and enter the variables.

Lotus 1-2-3 as Information Database

I use Lotus primarily as a information database. I currently have down loaded about 30 pages of price sheets as well as a number of product comparison charts. I no longer need a briefcase.

Printing on the Road

I do still carry a briefcase on an airplane, but use it to safely transport my 95LX and the latest addition to my portable office -my Diconix 180si printer from Kodak.

I decided on this model printer after reading the Palmtop Paper article on printers -- the Kodak was small and came with a serial port.

I carry company letterhead, envelopes, and continuous feed computer paper in my suitcase. I do all my printing at night in the motel room. Although the Diconix can be operated from batteries, I never use it outside my home or motel room, so I don't weigh myself down with them. I carry my AC adapter for my 95LX, an AC adapter for my printer, an HP connectivity cable, and an additional RAM memory card in two old zippered bank bags in my suitcase.

Backing Up Is Essential

I have a RAM card loaded in my 95LX at all times and back up my C: drive to it at least once a day in case of a crash. Once I accidentally left my 95LX and RAM card at a motel. I retrieved it, but since then I also keep another RAM card at home and back-up my files to it every weekend. If I ever misplace my 95LX and RAM card, the most I'll lose is a weeks worth of information. I'll pick up another 95LX, slip the backup RAM card in, and be set to go.

It's better, of course, to never lose your Palmtop. If you do, it's better to have it returned. To that end, I have set up my Owner information "business card" with my name on the first line, "REWARD FOR RETURN" on the second line, and my (800) number on the third line.

HP Palmtop a Light-Weight `Must' for Business Travelers

I'm using only a small part of the abilities of this great business tool but constantly wonder how I got along in business without it.

Sure, there are other "portable" computers out there. Almost every day I see business travelers lugging around large laptop computers. However, the 95LX is 1/10th the size and weight of a laptop and has batteries that last weeks instead of a few hours.

Price is also a consideration. A decent laptop and portable printer could run you over $3,000. My 95LX with cards, printer, cables, and adapters cost slightly over $1,000.00. The choice seems simple for people with my business travel needs.

I finally settled on a 1MB 95LX because I did not want to outgrow it in the future.

I wrote the User Profile on my 95LX, spell checked it with my HP Dictionary/Thesaurus card, and printed it out on my Kodak Diconix 180si printer. Thanks goes to The HP Palmtop Paper for helping someone with limited computer knowledge get the most out of his HP Palmtop.

Finally, I have one macro to quickly save an existing file, whether I made changes to that file or not. The Mar/April '92 issue taught me how to set this up. To start recording the macro, press (<Shift>)-(CHAR) and the F-key to activate the macro. Then press (MENU) Quit Yes (ENTER) Yes. Finally, press (<Shift>)-(CHAR) and the F-key again to stop recording the macro.