Wednesday, December 1, 1999

I believe!


By Kevin Quin
The following message was beamed to the North Pole from the PalmPilot of PalmPower's Technology Skeptic Kevin Quin. Unknown to him, however, it was also intercepted by an astute PalmPower reader in Washington, D.C., who forwarded it to PalmPower. What? You're surprised the North Pole has a receiver powerful enough to pick up an infrared beam from 3,000 miles away? Remember, Santa makes ALL the toys!

Dear Santa

I could be selfish and ask for more toys but it's the dawn of the new millennium, Santa, and I'm thinking about my fellow man. Please bring peace on earth, goodwill to men, and a silver bullet fix to the Y2K problem. After that, here are the things I'd like you to bring to our friends at Palm Computing to help them give the gift of organization to the world.

A new Memo Pad

Lots of Palm device users would like to use their Memo Pads to store and edit long documents (like this letter) but it can only handle memos of 4,000 characters or less. Anything longer gets broken up into multiple memos when it's downloaded into the Palm device. Editing these memos, uploading them back to the PC, and merging them back into a single document gets impossibly cumbersome. Oh, I'm sure there's a very good reason for the 4k limit, Santa, just like there was a very good reason that before Windows 95, file names could only be eight characters long and that reason was...well, I forget.

Anyway, although there are some third party software applications that allow editing of long documents, they are, at best, a lot less user friendly than the Memo Pad. Please bring Palm a new one.

And while you're at it, you could make the process of downloading a file into a Palm device a lot easier. Right now, the system starts asking me about things like "comma separated value" files. Huh? I'm just a regular guy, Santa. Why can't I just click the mouse button on the file I want to download?

A name

Santa, the name change thing isn't working. I could call it a Pilot, but both Palm Computing and Pilot Pen Corporation would hate me for that. I could call it a PalmPilot, but that's passe. But if I ask someone, "Do you have a Palm?" I'm going to get that special look my four-year old reserves for Daddy when he's being VERY SILLY. Of course they have a Palm, Santa! Two of them! "Palm OS family of devices" sounds more like a communicable skin disease than a brand of electronic organizers.

A real security application

Santa, you know that to say I'm not a "technology person" is a bit like saying that coal mines are dark. But even I can hack into the "private" files on someone else's Palm device. Wanna know how? All I have to do is load one of your Palm data files -- like address.dat -- into my word processor, and I can read all the information there, including the private records. I'd like to store all my info in my device, even passwords and credit card numbers, but right now that's just too risky. Fixing the security application would solve that.