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The "Assistant" ... In Personal Digital Assistant - Part 3: Communication Tool. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mohd Nazley Mohd Fadhley   
Jul 28, 2002 at 05:55 PM
Palm and Communication.
Communication, in my opinion, involves the conveying of thoughts, information or expression of one's feelings to a third party, whether to one other person or to a group of people, by using words, speech, signs, pictures and for the visually impaired, touch. These forms of communication are conveyed using various "vehicles" like people (normally through speech) and books or other forms of literature. In today's modern world, electronics plays a vital role in communication ... from telegrams to telephone to fax machines to computers (that includes our best friend, the PDA)

I use my Palm as a communication tool to send electronic mail, SMS, fax and get connected to the internet.

Electronic Mail
I did a "teaser" last time ... about the Palm can send and retrieve email ... remember?

Well, Palm PDAs come with email program that synchronize with your desktop email client, like MS Outlook. Press the hotsync button, and new unread emails are copied into the Palm for you to read while on the move. New outgoing mails created on your Palm will be tranferred to the desktop email client ready to be sent out. It is a "cool" tool to have but I find the need to sync to a desktop first before sending out an email is a real downer.

I, use a repalcement email client, MultiMail pro by Actual Software Corporation, on my HandEra to overcome the shortfall in the built-in email program. With MultiMail I can still synchronise my desktop "inbox" into my Palm, plus I have the 'power' to download email directly from the email server. I can write a new mail and send it out as well. To get online to the internet I use my Siemens s45 mobile phone to get connected wirelessly, or my Xircom CF modem when I have access to landline.

At home, I have access to a phone line (who doesn't nowadays), I plug in my CF modem to routinely get online to retrieve mails. And also write/send mails to friends and family.

A Palm, paired with a desktop PC/Mac, a modem, or a cellphone can be an effective communication tool.

Other than email messaging, I use my Palm to manage short messages SMS (coupled with my mobile phone).

I know, my Siemens s45 cellphone can do SMS without the use of a PDA, but I have difficulty pressing the phone keypad to write messages ... even with T9 predictive text input. When writing (tapping??) in Bahasa Malaysia, T9 is more of a nuisance than help.

I normally use SMS to notify or update my mobile sales personnel of changes in the inventory status. For instance, when I have collected a deposit for a particular car, I just write one message like," ... Toyota Harrier, Black, Chas ACU10-123456 sold ...." and send it to all my sales people. They can then strike the car out of their list and not sell the same car to a another customer. It could save me a lot of trouble later on ... imagine selling one car to two different people....

I also sometimes chat with friends via SMS. It's expensive, but fun, especially when it is inapproriate to use the phone, like in a movie theatre. One time, I was in the cinema with my son ... it was "Gerak Khas - The Movie" (I was bored, but my son seems to enjoy it). I switch on my Palm, put my mobile on "quiet mode" and send an SMS to a friend. He replied, and an SMS conversation started. When we were done "talking", I checked the number of messages sent out ... 46 outgoing messages!! At 10 sen a message, it costs me RM4.60 to "cure" my boredom :-)

I use FunSMS (www.fum4palm.com) as my SMS manager. I can send one message to multiple recepients using this application and then file the messeges accordingly for future reference. Plus, the number of messages I can file (keep) is more than what I can store in my mobile phone.

It is a little troublesome to align the infra-red ports on my palm and my mobile phone when sending or retrieving SMSes, but I don't really mind it ... as I said .... only a "little" troblesome...:)

Fax, by Mark/Space Softworks (www.markspace.com) is another communication tool I have installed in my HandEra. I cannot receive faxes though, but being able to send one is good enough for me.

What kind of faxes do I send out?

Well, I don't normally send letters or quotations to customers from my handheld but I send out information to my office to prepare an "official" letter or quotation. Of course, I can read out the customer's address or other details to my staff, but I think faxing them the details is much easier (and less stressful) than spelling out every single thing through the phone.

At times, when I am not in the office, I send a fax to my office to inform (or remind) the staffs of tasks need to be done or what to prepare for me when I get back to office. Cool huh?

Surfing .... "Cow-a-bungga dudes"
Avantgo ....

This single word has an immediate association with PDAs. Its a good (if not the best) online and offline internet browser. I only use this as an online browser, to surf the net. I don't have a computer at home so, I use my Palm to go online and do some surfing. I admit it is not the best way to get connected to the net but, it is good enough for my purpose ... catching up on a little local news or world news or read forum postings from various "Palm User Groups" and replying to them.

I even use my Palm to upload news and events to palmx.org website (even this one).

Other than Avantgo, I have two other browsers in my Palm, Blazer and Pocket Link . The reason why I have more than one browser is that Avantgo and Blazer is "server dependant" which means, these two browsers requires a proxy server to convert normal webpages for viewing on a small Palm screen. Pocket Link on the other hand is a "true" web browser (in a limited way). Pocket Link uses the Palm itself to translate webpages for viewing, without going through a "special" server. So ... whenever Avantgo or Blazer server is down, I can still surf the world wide web.

"Don't Leave Home Without It"
Like the famous tagline "Don't Leave Home Without It", I rarely leave my HandEra behind. It's always clipped to my waist. I am so used to having this so called personal assistant that it becomes a part of my daily attire, withour it, I feel "naked"

My final words ... If you have a PDA make it work for you.

Last Updated ( Oct 29, 2005 at 05:08 PM )