Palm PDA Stuff

This page documents some aspects of my PDA which others may find interesting.


I have a Handspring Visor Deluxe. This was a competitor to the Palm V when it came out, and has similar specs:

  • 8 MB RAM
  • grayscale screen
  • PalmOS 3.1

I've had it since 2000. Actually, I'm on my third one since 2000. I dropped one and broke the screen. Handspring replaced it for free. The second one eventually went on the fritz for no apparent reason, and I received another used one as a gift.

I also have the Visor backup module. This I consider essential to ensure I don't have a catastrophic data loss. I believe backups are essential for digital data. If you aren't backing up your important data, you run a huge risk of losing it.


I use the following packages on a daily or frequent basis:

  • Datebook 5: this is an amazing piece of software. I probably only use about 15% of its functionality, but that is still a lot.
  • Todo+: an upgraded Todo list manager. I don't use the upgraded features of this quite as much anymore, but since I purchased it a long time ago I still use it.
  • Memopad: I just use the builtin app.
  • STRIP (Secure Tool for Recalling Important Passwords): this is a password manager. I put nearly all my passwords in here. It encrypts everything with top-of-the-line AES encryption. Because of that, I also put my bank account numbers in it too. If I ever lose my palm I don't have to worry about someone getting that data off of it.
  • McPhling: this is a hack which allows for fast switching to frequently used apps. I find it useful.
  • ClearHack: this hack removes the little dotted underlines from most input screens in the PalmOS. It makes memopad and Datebook so much easier to read.
  • NoClick hack: disables the little click noise when a character is entered. I like silence when taking notes.
  • MiddleCapsHack: allows you to enter capital letters in a much easier way with graffiti.
  • LeftHack: moves most of the scrollbars to the left side of the screen. This makes it easier for left-handers like me to use, otherwise my hand is covering the screen while I'm trying to scroll.
  • X-Master: this is a freeware clone of hackmaster, for running hacks. I think it also has more features than hackmaster.

The following programs I use less frequently, but still enough that I consider them useful:

  • AddressBook: the standard address book application. For some reason I don't use this too much on my palm, mainly because my cell phone has most numbers I need.
  • MyBible: an excellent electronic Bible.
  • FuelLog: gas mileage tracking program. Every time I get gas I enter the mileage, gallons, and price in this app. It then computes statistics and plots graphs of my gas mileage.
  • HandyShopper: designed for shopping lists, but I mainly use it for packing lists before going on trips.
  • Progect: a free project manager program. Sort of like a heirarchical todo list. However, in addition to "done/not done" for items, you can fill in percentages too. Now and then I find it useful for planning larger projects or jotting down goals.
  • SuperMemo: a flashcard program. I got into this for a while, but haven't used it much lately. It's great for learning vocabulary, but can help with many learning tasks. The beauty of doing it on the palm is that you can practice your flashcards while waiting in line, etc.
  • BeamWare: this allows you to beam anything between palms, including hacks and other stuff. Useful for sharing stuff with your friends.
  • TikTok: a stopwatch app for the palm. Every now and then this is useful for me. It can time multiple things at once.
  • MegaWiki: this interesting hack allows wiki functionality on your palm. With it, you can create links to memopad, todo, datebook, and address entries. I mostly use it to link to memopad entries, but I don't use it that often.


My favorite PalmOS websites are:

  • Palmgear: the first and still best place to get palm software
  • FreewarePalm: a site with only free Palm software. Has a surprising amount of stuff.

I believe that all the software I mentioned above can be found at one of those two sites. Most of those packages are free. The ones I remember now that are shareware or commercial are:

  • Datebook5
  • Todo+
  • NoClick hack
  • MyBible
  • Supermemo

I believe there is a freeware clone of NoClick hack called Keyclick hack but I haven't tried it since NoClick hack works fine for me and I already ponied up for it long ago.

Getting Things Done

I use David Allen's Getting Things Done method, which is more fully described in the paperback book of the same name. There's a popular blog called 43Folders which also explores these ideas. The low-tech "Hipster PDA" on that website is quite interesting too.

In my todo app, I have the following categories:

  • @agendas
  • @anywhere
  • @call
  • @errands
  • @home
  • @office
  • @online
  • @waiting for
  • someday/maybe

Unlike David's recommendations in his book, I use both the priorities and due dates in my todo lists. I sort each list first by priority, and then by due date. I always display tasks at all priorities and all due dates. I find the priorities useful for shortening my "scan time" on long lists. That way I'm not constantly looking at all 20 items on the list when I need to concentrate on the first 5. My main use of the due dates is in the Waiting For list, but sometimes I use them in the action lists too. In the Waiting For list I always set the date that I should start to "wonder" about the item. Once that date arrives, then I will start investigating why I haven't received what I'm waiting for.

I keep my projects list in memopad under a Projects category. Each project has its own memopad entry. Typically I name the project with a WikiWord, which means that MegaWiki can link to it from anywhere else on the palm. These days I don't use this feature very much.

I of course put my appointments and "hard landscape" items in Datebook5. For tickler entries I create a floating event with "no time" in Datebook5. I could create an appt event, but then if for some reason I don't go to my palm on that day, I would miss the tickler entry. Using a floating event means it will just keep advancing forward until I deal with it. If I don't do the tickler entry immediately but I want it to stop "nagging" me by showing up every day on my calendar, I use the "Convert Float <-> Todo" function in Datebook5 to put the item on the appropriate list in my todo list.

I have some of these tickler entries set up to automatically recur. For example, I have an entry to "backup visor & laptop" which automatically recurs every three days. Others, like changing the oil in my car, I will manually setup after each time I complete them.


Like David recommends, I keep separate action lists for email. For my personal email, I have the following action folders:

  • @action
  • @someday_maybe
  • @waiting_for

These help me keep my inbox empty and track what I need to do. Occasionally I will make an entry in one of my Palm action lists instead of leaving it in email, but this is the exception to the rule.