Welcome to InterconnectNow - Interconnected Technologies' blog about technology and other items of interest to small businesses and individuals.

The topics here will usually deal with productivity-enhancing technologies of interest to small businesses and individuals, but are often of broader interest.  Productivity is the goal of all of this technology that we use. Enabling productivity through refining or adding technology-based capabilities is what we're obsessed with at Interconnected Technologies, and so this blog is dedicated to discussions of all things related to that.



Before you buy an iPhone . . .

This article mirrors my experience with iPhone users (since I have little experience with the iPhone).  Cool device, poor phone service.  That kills it for me.  You?



Managing a Palm Pre - documents, pictures, and, maybe music

Palm's historical affiliation with desktop computers was (rightly) thrown out the window with the Palm Pre.  The Pre is designed, as a PDA, to be affiliated (and sync'd) with either Gmail / Google Apps or Exchange (or both, as in my case).

This raises a question, and poses a problem:  how do I get "computer" stuff to the Pre?

Computer Stuff:

Documents, Pictures, and, maybe, Music:  Until or unless someone comes up with a robust (read: supported) wifi connection between the Pre and a computer, you need a microUSB cable to connect the two devices.  Once that's done, you choose (for the purposes of this and the next paragraph) to connect as a USB device.  Your Pre's internal memory shows up as a drive on the computer. 

To designate what should be sync'd between the two devices, and since I don't want ALL of my documents or pictures sync'd, I created a folder called Presync in my Documents folder, in which I put documents (Word, Excel, PDF) I want sync'd.  I have a folder called Contact Pictures and another called Photo Album in my Pictures folder that I want on the Pre.   I use a utility (have for years) called Second Copy, and I set up a profile in Second Copy to sync these two folders with the Pre.  I could also add a folder or folders in Music to this, but I chose not to.  More later.  Now, I hook up the Pre, select USB mode, double click the Presync profile in Second Copy, and in a few seconds the devices are in sync.  Easy!  It will be easier when/if someone comes up with a wifi connection that would serve in place of the USB cable.  Then, the Pre could sit on the Touchstone charger, and I could run the Second Copy profile automatically every so often, or manually whenever I want, without having to mess with the microUSB cable.

For music, I chose to use the other mode of connection the Pre offers:  Media Sync.  Right now, this causes the Pre to look like an iPod - pretty cool, actually, and I think Apple is NUTS not to support this, but in their usual style, Apple is bristling at this intrusion into their proprietary world.  I chose to use this method of syncing for one primary reason:  playlists.  I know iTunes isn't the best or most stable or functional Windows application - never has been - but it's easy to use, and so I choose to use it for its simplicity, and the fact that it can sync with the Pre.   iTunes also causes album art to be included with songs, and I like that on the Pre.  I know there are other ways to manage music (I've used them all) and all will work.  But I like the simplicity of this solution.

So there you have it!  Until something better comes along, this works pretty well.


I found a solution to the problem of not being able to access, and therefore back up, .prc and .pdb files from Classic (PalmOS) applications on the Pre.  My need was to have a backup of my HandyShopper backup.  This is my solution (with help from the folks on the Treo Yahoo group):

Following the advice here:


Download and install RFBackup from here:


When you run that tool, it puts the backup files (including my precious HandyShopper database) in a folder where Second Copy can get at it.

So, now I have two profiles in Second Copy: one to update things as described above, and another to copy the backup to my Pre folder on my laptop.  Not as easy as HotSync, but then again I don't HAVE to hotsync, and this works just fine.


FINALLY! A suitable way to manage todos electronically!

Some who know me know that since adopting an electronic format for my todo list (thereby giving up my old, paper, Covey-based way of doing todos), my todo lists have become "where I put things I need to remember to do and then forget all about them since I never look there".  There are many reasons for this (procrastination, awkward user interfaces, etc.), but suffice it to say that my todo lists were next to useless. 

The technology base for my useless todo lists was Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003 and now 2007.  I also wanted desperately for my portable device (Palm PDAs, Treo, Centro, Blackberry, Palm Pre) to be a successful part of the equation.   I tried GTD tools, Franklin-Covey tools, and multiple configurations of Outlook, using Due Dates, Priorities, Categories, Starts Dates, and so on as ways to organize things.

You might notice that I mentioned the Pre - the Palm Pre - above.  That new mobile device, combined with a little discovery from Mark Forster, a time/life management guru whose work I've followed, may finally have delivered to me the holy grail - a working, efficient, effective electronic todo list!!  Yey!

I haven't quite finished this yet, since I haven't quite mastered the concepts of dismissal, and some of the other finer points of the system, but it's already helping me keep on top of todos better!

Here's how it works, so far.


  1. You read Mark Forster's information about his AutoFocus technique for managing todos.  His focus is on a paper-based system, but I adapted it to the tools I use:  Outlook, Exchange and the Palm Pre!   Autofocus is here:  http://www.markforster.net/autofocus-system/  Autofocus 2, an update, is here:  http://www.markforster.net/blog/2009/6/27/autofocus-2-time-management-system-af2.html.
  2. You set up a new view in the Outlook Todo/Task list (and/or the To-Do Bar), that shows these fields: Icon, Complete, Created, Task Subject (and, as a crutch, Due Date, although I think I'll be getting rid of that).  You set up the view to sort by creation date.
  3. You use the Palm Pre's task list, synchronized with Outlook through Microsoft Exchange (corporate, or hosted).  The reason the Pre works when no other mobile todo list I know about will work is that the Pre sorts todos by date created!   N.B. I hope desperately that when/if Palm adds the ability to sort on other fields (not there yet), they won't remove the ability to sort by creation date, or the Pre drops out of the equation, just like all my prior mobile devices. 


  1. Your todo list in Outlook, and on the Pre are sorted by creation date. 
  2. You add todos immediately as you think of them, so you don't forget anything.
  3. You review and act on your list like the Autofocus system suggests - starting with the newest and working your way back.
  4. The rest of the Autofocus system, and how I'll end up using it, will have to wait - too much to do!! (yes, I should remember to sharpen the saw . . . Thank you Dr. Covey!).

That's it!  There are some specific tools required to do this the way I do it:  Outlook <-> Exchange <-> Palm Pre.  You might be able to adapt to other/lesser tools, or just use paper, or Outlook or other electronic todo list that can sort by creation date and NOT use a mobile device. 

For now, I'm just happy to have an efficient, effective way to use electronic todo lists!

More soon.


Don's Pre-orities

Herewith, my first assessment of the Palm Pre.  It's not very detailed, and it's not complete, but it focuses the discussion: starting with what's most important, and working its way down from there!

I preface this by saying that with a background of using every device Palm ever made (and a couple by Sony, too), starting with a Pilot 1000 and going through the Centro, and having then jumped ship for a Blackberry Curve for about a year, I LOVE the Pre.  My Curve is in the drawer, and I haven't looked back, other than to see what the BB can do that the Pre can't, yet, and to capture some of that, here, along with some things from the Treo/Centro that Palm should put back in!

Did I mention that I LOVE the Pre?

You can read more here:




Palm Pre-orities


Priority 1: Reliable device

This is the highest priority - the thing without which all the rest is meaningless. This is where Windows Mobile fell down again and again, where the Storm 1 was deficient, and where PalmOS increasingly showed cracks. I've had the Pre for almost a month and don't even know how to reset it. No resets, no locking up, no performance lags. Synchronization with Exchange is quick and so far without errors. Media sync with iTunes is the same – it just works. Sync with Google Apps, to the limited extent to which I’ve used it, also works flawlessly.

Areas for improvement

1. Battery life not great. Good news is that I can have a spare - take that iPhone!


Addenda regarding usability:

I had to get a replacement device.  It was a trivial thing - a vertical stripe down the middle of the "viewfinder" when using the camera - but not something that one should have to deal with in a new device.  The Verity Sprint store replaced the device, and here's what happened:

  1. At my computer:  Copied my pictures off the old device.
  2. At the store:  Full wipe of the old device (one command, that could have been done remotely).
  3. At the store: Let the new device start up.   Put in my Palm Profile email address and password.
  4. Nearly everything then came flooding down onto the device: Apps, my Exchange profile (which immediately began syncing), my Google profile (which immediately began syncing.
  5. Put my photos back on the device, and sync'd again with iTunes.
  6. What was missing:  launcher configuration reverted to the default placement of icons; launcher shortcuts to contacts were gone; Classic reverted to Trial mode (MotionApps says it can take up to 48 hours to activate), and HandyShopper (and its databases) vanished (I have a trouble ticket open with MotionApps on this); pictures associated with contacts reverted to poor quality thumbnails that come from the sync with Exchange (which themselves came from setting them up on the Pre); web bookmarks are gone; SMS threads are gone; keyboard shortcuts are gone.  None of this is vital.   

The Pre was functional in about 30 seconds, and everything that was going to be on it was on it before I left the store (about 10 minutes).  There is nothing else like this (even with the issues in #6, above) in my experience of moving from one device to another (and as my frequent readers know, I do move from one device to another!!).  I guess it will be nice to fully understand how to backup/restore the items missing in #6.  With a Treo or BB one would back up (most of) that stuff to a computer and then restore (most of) it.  With the Pre there seems to be no way to do that, so it's an area they need to address.


Palm Pre-orities


Priority 2: Great phone

Clarity and signal reception are at least as good as any other device I've used on Sprint - Treo, Centro, Pearl, Curve. Sprint performs better in my area (60 mile radius around Denver) than the other three carriers. The Pre's design makes it very easy to use, and the real keyboard makes all text-based functions easy to do accurately. While the keyboard can be a bit off-putting initially, it actually gives me fewer double-key-presses than the Curve did! The vertical keyboard makes one-handed use easy. Putting contacts directly on a launcher page is fun! One can put “t” for one second delay and “p” for hard pause inline in a phone number to control after-dialing entry of digits.

Areas for improvement

1. Many will miss the Treo/Centro “Favorites” pages. Putting shortcuts to contacts on a launcher page mitigates this somewhat, but it’s still a two-step process to dial a favorite phone number, and there are only 3 pages in the launcher, which limits space to put them compared to the Treo/Centro.

2. Need more than three launcher pages.

3. Little button on the bottom front is totally useless, but it's pretty and doesn't get in the way. Maybe somebody has plans for it?

4. Phone really needs call log function - just the ability to know how LONG a call was, and the exact time, would be great!

5. Need separate sounds for all events - ringer, alarm, notification, SMS, etc.  A full implementation of profiles, like the Blackberry, would be nice, but something short of that would be OK.

6. Bluetooth device speed dial and voice command functions don’t work. It would be nice if this were brought up at least to the level of the Curve.

7. The far right button on the main row of applications should be assigned to something else, since the same function can be had by just swiping up!



Palm Pre-orities


Priority 3: Great PIM

Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes. The visual aspects of these are great. The Calendar is very intuitive and easy to use. Contacts are easy to manipulate, although with the global search one won't need to open the Contacts app very often. Having multiple task lists is nice, unless you rely on syncing with Exchange, where having one task list is the norm.

Areas for improvement

1. The task list is rudimentary - needs sorting, filtering, categorization. In particular, the task list should maintain its current ability to sort by creation date (VERY USEFUL and nobody else has it!!) (See Mark Forster's Autofocus system), and the search as you go narrowing the list (which is wonderful!), but add the ability to sort by other dates, priority, category, etc.

2. Notes app needs something to sync with - a desktop component - Hey! Outlook has notes - let's sync with that!

3. Multiple task lists need a PC-based SOMETHING to sync with. Syncing with multiple task lists in Exchange or multiple task lists in Google Apps would be nice!

4. Contacts should allow one to move a contact from one source to another, like the calendar does. This would allow one to look up and add a business in Where, and then move it to the "real" address book, sync'd with either Exchange or Google Apps.

5. Need to be able to exit a text field without saving, in case of error.

6. Scrolling from day to day in the calendar needs to be MUCH faster. Right now one has to wait 2-3 times as long as one would want to in order to just flick through the days to get to a given day.

7. Deleting things from the calendar takes too many steps.



Palm Pre-orities


Priority 4: Other

Replacement device:


Pre can replace a Calculator, Navigation system, Music player, camera, Alarm Clock, and Laptop broadband – WOOPS!! That last one isn’t there yet.


For laptop users, the Pre can reduce the need to refer to the laptop for email. Web browsing and map lookup. With higher screen resolution one can get a tolerably good experience using the Pre instead of a laptop for some functions. Some web sites are built in such a way that they don't work very well on a small screen, and there are some technologies that aren't yet implemented (Flash? Ajax?)


Text functions:


Email, SMS and MMS work very well. How nice to have REAL MMS!! Not that I use it all the time, but I can, the pictures are good enough to send, and I no longer have to mess with (or pay for) stupid stupid stupid Picturemail. The threaded SMS is lovely, as it was on the Treo/Centro.

It breaks long SMS messages into multiple outbound messages – w00t!

Email should be more configurable - number, date range, filtering


Areas for improvement

1. NEED TETHERING!! Bluetooth would be OK. Ad Hoc Wifi would be cooler!

2. Email should switch to landscape mode when rotated. There is a "hack" for this., but it should just do it!

3. Google Maps should be able to copy name, address, phone, etc. to the address book like it can on the Treo/Centro

4. Quicktext should be added back in as on the Treo/Centro

5. Emoticons should be added back in as with the Treo/Centro

6. Need more apps in the App Catalog!!

7. iHeartRadio

8. Nobex Radio Companion

9. Basically every app out there for the iPhone


Palm Pre-orities


Priority 5: Tips and tricks

One of the great things about PalmOS was that there were tricks and third party software to accomplish almost anything. I’m accumulating some tricks that are important to me, here.

Email in Landscape, until Palm turns this feature on for real

Gennadiy sends in a tip that's in the same vein as the now-famous Konami Code developer mode trick, but is much more useful to your average user: viewing email in Landscape mode! Here's how: when in your mailbox listing view (i.e. the top of the email app), type in RocknRollHax. It helps if you hold down Shift+ the key for the capitalized letters instead of hitting them in sequence. As Gennadiy writes, type as follows:


Hold Shift + R


Hold Shift + R


Hold Shift + H


Screen capture

You can take a screenshot of whatever is on screen by pressing orange key + shift + P all at the same time. It creates a screenshots folder in Photos and saves the image. Also you find the image in the USB partition when you hook up Pre as a USB drive."










Addenda regarding tips and tricks:


Tethering:  I do not include this above, since Sprint/Palm have still not enabled this officially.  I got a pretty good inside view of the fact that one can not only hack the Pre to enable tethering via bluetooth, but, even better, that one can enable "tethering" by turning on ad-hoc wifi networking, and enabling internet sharing through that mechanism.  Bluetooth is a poor protocol for many reasons.  As long as wifi doesn't drain the battery faster than Bluetooth, wifi tethering would be the way to go! 


Quick, efficient meeting scheduling

A minor holy grail:  the ability to quickly come to a group consensus about when to hold a meeting.  Yes, if everyone has Exchange or everyone uses Google Calendar you can accomplish something like this.  And, there are many, many tools like www.meetingwizard.com that faciliate this, but most of these tools are quite cumbersome to use, requiring that the user pre-enter the names and email addresses of the rest of the group being scheduled. 

Enter www.doodle.com.  Now, I have no idea the pedigree, longevity, etc. associated with this tool/site, but from a usability point of view, it's top notch!  To create a "survey" as they call it, you click on the days on a calendar grid to select the choices, enter the possible choices of times on those days (in a remarkably free-form way), and you're done.  You receive an email with a link to the survey.  You can forward that email to anyone you want, but presumably to the people with whom you want to meet, but ANYONE who receives the email can chime in on their availability, making it possible for one of the attendees to themselves ask someone to join the meeting.

OH!  And as people enter their availability, you, as the instigator of the meeting, get status updates with links back to a very visual grid showing, and tabulating, everyone's availability.

I'm just trying it out, but so far it's a very simple, very powerful, VERY efficient tool to accomplish the dreaded "when should we meet?"