Wednesday, November 1, 2000

The best of the PQAs

WEB CLIPPING

By Kathy Burns

The wirelessly enabled Palm VII and new Palm VIIx are two valuable tools for any mobile professional, as they're equipped with an internal transmitter and antenna that allow you to connect to the Internet and pull down information in the form of Web clippings. Web clipping involves a process of query-and-response, whereby you submit a request for information from the Internet, and the information is retrieved for you by a PQA (Palm Query Application).

A PQA is a Palm application designed specifically for wireless Palm devices by third-party developers. Each PQA is designed to let you query the Internet for a specific kind of information. Palm.net boasts over 400 PQAs in its library, and I've found many others in various online locations. With so many available, it's tough to decide which ones to choose. I've attempted to make this job easier for you by highlighting some of the best available in six different categories.

Financial tools

Financial PQAs range from stock trading utilities, to investment news, to account management. The Fidelity PQA was my top financial PQA pick. As shown in Figure A, the main Fidelity screen is attractively and coherently laid out.

FIGURE A

The main Fidelity screen is attractively and coherently laid out.

Everything is just a tap away and can be used immediately upon entering the application. Stock searches offer Basic, Detail, Chart, or News information, and you can get Market news and real-time quotes. What I like the most about the Fidelity PQA is that it allows you to configure up to five customized portfolio watch lists, even without a Fidelity account. For more information on Fidelity, visit http://www100.fidelity.com.

News PQAs

News PQAs are also very popular. Some try to cover everything while others offer specialized news. My favorite of this bunch is definitely the Daily Learner. This PQA has a great interface, as you can see in Figure B, but that's not the best part.

FIGURE B

Daily Learner has a great interface and adapts to your preferences.

The Daily Learner uses an artificial intelligence engine that adapts to your liking based on the stories you either read or ignore. After a short while, it will only feed headlines to your Palm device that match your usage preferences.

This application adapts to the point of providing smart searches as well. For instance, if you've been reading about the Microsoft antitrust trial but passing by articles regarding Microsoft mergers, The Daily Learner will remember this. If you then search on the term "Microsoft," the application will display just those search matches pertaining to the antitrust trial.

Another nice feature of The Daily Learner is the way it delivers the articles. If you tap a headline to read further, you are presented with a summary page and the option to continue. If you choose to continue, the application will send you one page of the article at a time. You don't have to wait for the whole story to download just to skim the first paragraph or two. For more information on Daily Learner, visit http://dailylearner.ics.uci.edu/palm/.