Home / Issue Archives / Palm Tipsheet 16.0 Palm Tipsheet 16.0 / March 2001
If you're a writer looking for the ultimate text editing tool for your Palm handheld, check out this month's review of WordSmith, a powerful new word processor for Palm handhelds. In the Tipsheet Interview we'll travel to Turkey and chat with Selcuk Demiray, an avid Palm handheld user, information technology team leader and founder of the Turkish Palm User Group (TPUG).
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Gear Up for Outdoor Adventure at REI! It's time to prepare for spring and summer camping, hiking, climbing, running and cycling at REI.
Great Traveling Gear at eTravelPack! If you're a traveler, check out luggage, power adapters, travel guides and more at eTravelPack.com.
Early in March Visor Central reported Matchbook Products have now lowered the price of their MatchBookDrive (MD-001) to $25 and an updated $45 version of the module called the MD-100 will be offered in mid-March with a flush fitting module and FAFileMover software bundled in the package.
PalmPower also has an article about Palm Desktop 4.0 and Visors:
As a writer, I'm always on the lookout for tools to improve the time I spend writing, whether it's a Stowaway foldable keyboard, a Hackmaster extension like MagicText or a powerful word processor like WordSmith. In this month's feature article I'll explore WordSmith's features, capabilities and explain why I think it has established a new standard for Palm OS word processors.
However, since adopting SmartDoc as my writing tool of choice in 1999, no other application has piqued my interest as much as WordSmith. This new word processor combines text editing and formatting, HotSync connectivity and foldable keyboard access into a revolutionary Palm OS application.
It doesn't stop there. WordSmith also allows users to seamlessly sync Word or Rich Text files between the Palm handheld and a Windows PC via an included conduit (a Mac conduit is in the works). WordSmith's installation package even integrates with MS Word and the Palm Desktop application.
Finally, WordSmith was built around Palm Foldable and Targus Stowaway keyboards. This is significant, since WordSmith can be controlled by key commands, keeping your hands on the keyboard while writing.
WordSmith is also able to work with WordPad and other word processors capable of saving RTF formatted files, such as Word Perfect, so you don't have to use MS Word to take advantage of document synchronization. In this case, the WordSmith desktop application is used to mark documents for synchronization. Documents converted to WordSmith format are kept in the default 'My Documents' folder, though the location of a default folder is optional and is designated at installation time.
Mac and Linux users can use the simple conversion tools included with their installation packages to convert Word and RTF files into WordSmith documents for the Palm. I also understand from Blue Nomad that a Macintosh conduit is currently in the works to synchronize WordSmith with Word for Macintosh.
The Memo tab displays all of the memo pad documents stored on your Palm, while the Doc tab displays Doc, Word and RTF files. Word and RTF files are distinct as they are marked with 'W' icons to the left of the document title, while Doc files have no icon and memos are numbered. Clicking on either the icon or space next to any document pops up a menu to quickly edit, beam, delete, duplicate, rename, categorize or get info on it, saving multiple trips to the menu bar.
At the bottom of this screen, you'll find a 'New' button for creating new documents, a 'Filter' field to enter characters and quickly drill through a list of documents and a indicator displaying your Palm's free RAM space.
These formatting functions can be easily accessed by WordSmith's menus or in the toolbar which resides at the bottom of the screen. To display more lines of text the entire toolbar can be toggled off by clicking the small arrow icon on the lower right corner of the screen, or you can view the full screen by selecting 'Full Screen' mode under the 'Options' menu bar.
WordSmith also provides a very nice Multi-Paste feature which stores the last 10 bits of clipboard text and can display them in a floating menu. A quick tap on a clip pastes it into your document wherever the cursor is.
WordSmith's cursor is especially smart, staying in sync with the up and down scroll buttons. This feature is especially useful for scanning a document and never having to 'find' your cursor before adding new text. The cursor is always where you want it!
Find/replace functionality is provided under the 'Edit' menu. Search your document matching the text case, whole words and even inside other applications. Automated find/replace is promised in the next release.
The 'Go To Paragraph...' feature lists the first line of each paragraph in a menu form, letting you quickly jump to specific areas of large documents. This is also important as a substitute for bookmarks (which are being added to an upcoming version of WordSmith).
The 'Go To / Count...' feature provides a dialog box listing how many paragraphs, characters and words are contained in the document, along with the document location represented as a percentage. This dialog also includes two buttons for 'top' and 'bottom' for quick navigation.
If you own a Palm Foldable or Targus Stowaway keyboard, then WordSmith has even more features for you. Not only can you activate formatting functions like bold, italic and underline, WordSmith's menus can be entirely controlled via key commands. Key commands can also be used for scrolling, navigating line by line or even for selecting characters, words or paragraphs. It's a great way to stay focused, since you never need to switch between stylus and keyboard.
The first contains a stylus and lines of text and advances text a line at a time. The second contains up & down arrows and advances text one screen at a time. The third contains eyeglasses and auto-scrolls text based on tap location. The menu and toolbar can also be hidden as in the editing mode.
* No Bookmark Support -- for hard core Doc editing and navigation of files on a Palm, bookmarks are essential. While 'Go To Paragraph...' offers a similar functionality, bookmarks are needed and are coming in the next release.
* Closed Access to Text -- MagicText, my favorite text editing hack won't work with WordSmith and I really miss drag and drop editing with a stylus. Closed access to text also limits third party dictionaries and thesaurus tools from interacting properly with WordSmith documents.
* Support for Tables -- Tables are quite common in Word documents, especially in business settings so WordSmith's inability to view these types of documents limits the applications usefulness for heavy table users.
* No Way to Save RTF/Word Documents back to Plain Text -- One feature I'd love to see is the ability to save a formatted Word or RTF file back to native Doc. This would be useful for quickly stripping formatting or converting files to Doc format so they can be beamed to other Doc readers.
* Color Support -- Color Palm handheld users are likely to increase as the platform matures. This is also being addressed in the next release.
Judging by what this app was able to accomplish, I have no doubts these limitations and many others will soon be addressed. In fact, I expect many more features will be added in future versions of WordSmith, pushing its power and capabilities even further.
Alexander Hinds of Blue Nomad and Scott Maxwell of Quick Sense should be highly praised for pushing the boundaries of the Palm platform further than ever before with this excellent tool. What they have managed to do with a 1.0 product excites me about what's in store for WordSmith 1.1 and beyond.
It is my pleasure to access thousands of Palm users with your excellent 'Palm Tipsheet' e-zine .
Until this year the Palm was not known very much. But I think the number of palm owners doubled in 2000. Our statistics at TPUG (Turkish Palm Users Group) shows that 70% of all members bought their device last year. Recently we saw a few television programs explaining what a Palm is and how it helps people organize their lives, etc. Also, a local bank has just introduced 'Palm Banking' and a local ISP created a PDA News Channel in AvantGo.
Turkish people love using technological gadgets. Perhaps the most important reason for this is Turkey has a very young average population -- half of the total population is under the age of 30! We have about 16 million GSM phone users (25% of all population) and it should increase dramatically. I hope the same thing will happen to handhelds.
It is English version, but recently a Handspring distributor here announced a free localization software which converts standard Palm OS applications, dialog texts, menus etc. to Turkish. I think this will help to increase sales tremendously.
The Turkish alphabet has only a few accented characters over the English alphabet. Three solutions exists (2 commercial, 1 freeware) for writing and reading these special characters.
Yes and no. I've influenced a few friends to buy a Palm OS device as a handheld choice, but could not change my chief's mind -- he is an MS lover and bought a WinCE device. However, in general most of the people here are intrigued when they see the capabilities of a Palm handheld.
I do almost everything with it. Schedule meetings, take quick notes, read docs and news, arrange things to do, track my stocks, read/write SMS messages, etc. I also use it to check my e-mailbox and to write e-mail while on vacation.
Yes, I have many. Here is my list of a few favorites:
JFile -- A database in which I have almost 30 customized databases for my needs.
Probably I will buy a Thin Modem Plus (TM+) springboard module before my next holiday. The built in 8 MB Flash memory will be an advantage compared to a separate memory module. Perhaps in the future I can buy a VisorPhone, and thus eliminate the need to carry a separate GSM phone.
Well, here is a story of Odul Kanberoglu, a TPUG member, directly translated to English from his mouth:
Perhaps there are many stories of Palm handhelds forgotten or dropped in a taxi. In fact, my first encounter with a Palm was thanks to a Palm left in a taxi! One day a taxi driver suddenly asked me whether I had any knowledge about computers, organizers etc. or not. When I replied 'yes, I have' he showed me a Palm V.
At first I did not realize a customer had dropped it. The driver said he reported the device at the lost & found bureau but could not find the owner. Anyway, I removed the stylus and tried to find its owner. Since I was unaware of the owner setting in the prefs application, I searched through possible records in the address book. I think I finally found the owner (and hope the unit was delivered to him).
Anyhow, as frequently said, this experience was enough to set my mind on purchasing a Palm unit. At the first opportunity, I got a Palm m100. More interestingly though, I myself forgot my m100 in a taxi after using it one month. I thought everything was over. My only hope was Padlock Hack, since I had entered my phone number in the owner setting. The next day after I lost my Palm taxi driver called me and I got it back :-)
Well, in my opinion there was a need to form such a group among Turkish speaking users. I was reading comp.sys.palmtops.pilot newsgroup and saw a few posts from other Turkish users. I decided to found a group and started to collect email addresses. When it reached to 10 (end of December 1999), I created an email list called 'Turkpilot' and announced it through email. The number of members reached to 50 in less than 3 months.
Then we approached a local Palm distributor for sponsorship (Thanks Biltur!). They gave us a PC, shared their internet connection and bought our domain name for the web server. Now we have over 900 members and it is increasing day by day. Not a bad number for only 10 months!
We have started many new services on our site and this helps to keep traffic high. For example, local newspapers here in Turkey do not have 'Palm OS compatible' pages yet. Our solution gives our members the option to download 8 newspapers, 4 different last minute news services and at least 15 selected column writers in Palm OS compatible format daily. My colleague wrote several Perl scripts which use the magnificent SiteScooper to do this.
We have set up 3 working groups (or committees) at our site, including 'e-books' to increase awareness of Palm OS community among publishers, 'Turkish committee' to convert popular Palm OS applications to Turkish and 'Palm OS programming' to increase knowledge sharing among the members who are interested in programming.
Besides all of these activities, sometimes we set up lotteries for product giveaways. Many thanks go to participating software vendors here. We invite all other software vendors, shareware owners to support our user group. We list them in a special page called 'product sponsors'. If you are interested in sponsorship of the TPUG, just send a mail to [email protected].
If Tipsheet readers want to know more about Turkey and Turks, I advise them to read a travelogue written by an American who spent his 3 week holiday in Turkey in 1998. I have converted his travel diary (by permission from author) into various Palm formats including Doc, iSilo, Mobibook and they are available for download at TPUG site:
If you want to read other travelogues or film reviews by the same author, they are available at his site in plain text, so you can easily convert them to your favorite reader format:
Currently the list of confirmed Palm users includes: Australia, Germany, Ireland, Costa Rica, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Switzerland, Canada, Argentina, Mexico and Thailand. If you're from a country not represented in this list, feel free to apply for consideration. Thanks!
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