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PalmFocus Newsletter - August 23, 2005

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 1:44 pm    Post subject: PalmFocus Newsletter - August 23, 2005 Reply with quote

PalmFocus Newsletter
First Edition
August 23, 2005

  1. Welcome to PalmFocus
  2. From Concept to Code - How Trip Boss was Born
  3. Editorial - Palm and Windows Mobile
  4. Jeff Hawkins - Pushing the Technological Envelope
  5. Software Discount at PalmFocus Software Store
  6. PalmFocus and Proporta Giveaway


Welcome to PalmFocus. My name is Lance Wehrung, and I am the founder of PalmFocus.com. I want to thank you for visiting the web site, and I hope you will enjoy the PalmFocus Newsletter. I started this newsletter with the primary purpose of connecting with my visitors on a more personal note. While I plan to offer some incentives, I cannot promise that every newsletter will contain discounts or free stuff. However, I will do what I can do make sure there is something that might save you some money or some time or both. I will also do what I can to make it enjoyable and informative.

Let's face it, we have a lot of other things we could be doing, and I want this newsletter to be worth your time. I really do not want it to be just entertaining. I want you to be able to take something from the newsletter and apply it to your life in such a way that it makes your life better. Whether an encouraging word or an informative insight, I want to be a part of your mobile experience. I really do not want to just focus on technology. I want to focus on life and how technology can help us live that life. This is the main reason for the phrase, "Mobility for Living". Mobility in life is about using mobile technology to help us live, not the other way around. Life is a precious gift we have all been given, and we need to make the most of it.

With that said, let's get on with it!


The following is a contributed article from one of the people behind Trip Boss, Justine Pratt, Creative Algorithms. I appreciate her time and contribution to PalmFocus.

Ever wonder how developers decide what applications to write? Here's an example of how Trip Boss started from a humble paper logbook.

When I was a kid, my family always kept a travel log when we went on road trips. The log was a spiral-bound, lined notebook. The book was divided into sections, with hand-drawn columns and headers, to collect various data. We tracked mileage and time for each leg of our trip, trip expenses, and fun travel things for us kids, like noting when we crossed state lines or entered new time zones. All calculations were done by hand, later with a calculator. We also kept a daily journal, noting weather, sights and thoughts. Each traveler noted their own impression of the "Things We Saw." My mom noted the places at which we stayed (hotel or campground) and ate. She made notes of cleanliness, types of sites (camping) and sometimes unique observations (like one campground was overrun with rabbits!). As we got older, we kids recorded the data and calculated the progress. Since my grandparents lived in Seattle, and we lived in Michigan, we made many repeat trips "Out West." Each time we went, we revisited our log books to plan the next vacation and places we would stay. When my husband and I made our first camping trip "Out West" together, we consulted the logs and stayed at the family high-rated places such as the "Crazy Woman Green Trees" campground in Wyoming. (BTW, "Crazy Woman" is the name of a creek.)

When selecting initial programming projects for Creative Algorithms, we used two criteria: "Write what you know" and "Modernize a task from paper to electronic." When we were brainstorming, the travel log came up. The log idea was ideal because it collected data that lent itself to the PDA, plus we had been personally frustrated because nothing really existed that comprehensively captured all trip info. (Once we had tried to journal a trip to Sweden using Memo, but Memo doesn't allow very many characters.)

To modernize the log book, we reviewed existing travel applications and reviews of them. Abstractly, users wanted flexibility. Content-wise, we added itinerary and currency, plus other international features, must haves for a complete travel application. We wanted the application to be useful for both business and leisure travel. We added a trip planning feature because when we planned trips, we spent time with a map, and a calculator, planning our route. A built in trip calculator made a lot of sense to include.

After the concept, Trip Boss took over six months to design, code, and debug. We used the old logbooks' data to test Trip Boss. We strive to continually improve the product, much from feedback from customers. I recently did a real world test of Trip Boss when I traveled to the PalmSource developer conference in May, 2005. (http://www.creativealgorithms.com/TripBossDiary.html). My experience proved we had succeeded in modernizing the paper travel log.


A lot of information has been flooding the Palm community about a prototype Treo 670 that is apparently running Windows Mobile. There are several pictures and even several videos being shared to convince skeptics that this device really does exist. Many sites have taken a stance one way or the other. Personally, I think it is a real device, and I think Palm will release it.

Whatever your stance, how will this device affect our lives? On the surface, it might believe it really does not matter. For one reason, it is not even be released. Even when it is release (which I think we will), it really only gives consumers a choice to own a Palm Treo device that runs Windows Mobile OS instead of the Palm OS. However, if you look a little deeper, I would like to make the argument that it does matter.

I think it matters because people are constantly being led to believe that more is better. The more features, the better the product. Right? Wrong! Features only give us more choices. More choices give us more decisions. More decisions give us more to think about. More thinking takes more time. Basically, the more features you have, the less time you have to do other things.

Important Note: I understand technology is responsible for a lot of improvements in productivity. However, this comes from automating things, not adding more features available to the user. More features increase the complexity of the interface and require more education in order to use them. Now, when things are automated, it takes work out of the system. Thus, I am referring to features in this discussion and not automation.

With this being said, Windows Mobile gives users more features. There is a lot more you can customize and change about your device. There are a lot more settings that can be tweaked and modified. Basically, the experience with Windows Mobile devices provides a pretty similar experience to that of a Windows desktop computer. For me, I am not really sure why people what to take the same experience they have with a Windows desktop computer and put it in their pocket. There has got to be a better way.

Do I think Palm is the answer? I am really not sure. I really thought so in 1996 when the Palm device was released. Since then, they have been adding feature upon feature without really automating anything for the user. This procession of adding features has increased the complexity of the device while decreasing the reliability of the device. With the first Palm devices, reliability was inherent in the device, and you only had to interface with the Palm Desktop software to do everything you needed to do. Now, over 9 years later, we have more features, but it has come with a price. Reliability is an issue with the more complex devices, and there are more interfaces necessary to take advantage of these additional features. In fact, the number of interfaces can be overwhelming for many people, so then what happens? More often than not, those new features are never used. In the end, they pretty much have the same functionality they had 9 years ago, but now the devices are not as reliable and not as easy to use.

In the end, having a Palm Treo Windows Mobile device really does not help us. We need a powerful device that automates things for us, that makes life easier. We do not need another device with more features and more to learn. We have a life to lead, and we would like to get on with it. Can someone please help? A Palm Treo running Windows Mobile is definitely not it!


Another popular topic of conversion on the Internet has been related to Jeff Hawkins and the new mobile computing platform that he alluded to in an interview. While I agree that the new Palm LifeDrive has something to do with the platform, I believe it is just a very small step in the creation of the platform he alludes to in the interview.

First, Jeff Hawkins does not think small. He is a visionary that looks beyond the realms of possibilities. He thinks outside the box, and he does not bog himself down with the constraints of reality as we know them now. He looks into the future to see the possibilities. If you do not believe me, just read many of the things he has accomplished in additional to the current list of active projects. For those unsure, feel free to click on and read the content of the following links that I have provided.

Not only is Jeff Hawkins a visionary, he makes those visions a reality by motivating others. Again, I will refer to the links provided to make your own conclusions. Whatever he has up his sleeves, we will see the benefits from you in one way or another.

Personally, I am really intrigued in his work understanding how the mind works. By understanding the way we think, we will be able to come up with a user experience that best aligns with our thinking. Most user experiences force us into a specific way of thinking where we adapt to the device. What if we had a device that adapted to us and not the other way around? I think this is where Jeff Hawkins and his supporters are taking this. They want to take us to a place where we no longer have to adapt to the device we use, but they want to provide such an intuitive user experience that it becomes a natural extension of ourselves.

Sound a little far fetched? Maybe, but I really believe we will benefit from the efforts of Jeff Hawkins and the vision he has for mobile computing. He has a proven track record in making visions a reality, and I think we would be foolish to discount his efforts this time around. I am excited about what the future holds, and I look forward to seeing it evolve.

Background and Other Information about Jeff Hawkins

Jeff Hawkins is the chief technology officer of Palm, the founder of Numenta, and the founder/director of Redwood Neuroscience Institute. In addition, he has written a book called On Intelligence. You can read more about Jeff Hawkins by clicking on the links below.

Redwood Neuroscience Institute
On Intelligence
About the Book: On Intelligence
San Jose Business Journal Interview in 2005
Internetnews.com Interview in October 2004
PalmPower Interview in August 1998
PalmPower Interview in January 1998


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