Thursday, June 1, 2000

Palm power for parents


By Denise Watkins

One of the things Palm, Inc. could do a little better is to show the masses why they need a Palm device and how it has the potential to make their lives easier. The ads I've seen, featuring the Date Book entries of the lawyer, the detective, and the naked dancer, don't strike a chord in me. Actually, that's not quite true, I despise the naked dancer.

Where are the ads that speak to someone like me? I play three roles, a wife, a mother, and a librarian. Anyone who juggles multiple roles knows how easy it can be to forget an appointment or an important task. That's where Palm organizers save the day. Use your imagination, folks, and visualize a Palm unit with a little red superhero cape. That's how my Palm device fits into my life.

What I'm going to share with you in this article is how my Palm device helps me to keep the aspects of my life straight and organized. If you are a parent or a caregiver to a child or an elderly person while simultaneously trying to hold down a full-time job, a Palm device can no doubt make your life a little easier, too.

At home with your Palm device

I've heard far too many people say their lives aren't high-powered or complicated enough for them to need a Palm device. If you use any type of planner you're a candidate for a Palm organizer. I've heard my daughter say that in the event of a fire in our house, the most important thing to save is Mom's Palm unit. This is true. It's second only to the family itself.

I could reconstruct our entire household from the information in my Palm device. Having said that, the most import advice I give any Palm device user is to HotSync and HotSync regularly.

To demonstrate how I use my Palm device to run and manage my home, let's start by looking at the four basic Palm applications, Date Book, Address Book, To Do List, and Memo Pad.

Date Book

In every household, there is one person who functions as the director of operations. In my house, that would be me. I maintain the schedules for my husband and my family and expect them to inform me of their activities so that our family functions smoothly. While many folks find the basic Palm Date Book application suits them, I prefer the enhancements offered by DateBk4 and its predecessor DateBk3. I use DateBk4 to keep track of our schedules. For a comprehensive review of DateBk4, see Jeff Carlson's article, "DateBk4 improves on a powerhouse" in the March 2000 issue of PalmPower at

Since, I'm a Palm IIIc user, the ability to display entries in different colors and fonts is a godsend. I use different color and font combinations to differentiate appointments for work, personal activities, my husband's schedule, my daughter's schedule, and events such as birthdays and anniversaries. You can see an example of what I mean in Figure A.