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Three apps we liked

These babies belong in your arsenal

by David MacNeill

November 2001, Pen Computing 42


Memory card-based backup

Palms are so reliable that most users rarely, if ever, think about backing up. After all, you sync your data every day, so why worry?

I found out the hard way. Switching from a Sony CLI 710C to a 610C, I inadvertently synced a couple of older files pertaining to the high-resolution enhancement feature of the older machine, which of course conflicted with the version on the new machine's flash ROM. I installed BackupBuddyVFS (virtual file system) and used the advanced settings to selectively restore all but the offending files. Problem solved.

While the original BackupBuddy copies all your files to your desktop Mac or PC, the VFS version uses whatever storage card you use on the newer Palm OS devices. I use it with my CLIs with flawless results. It can even be set to automatically backup all your files once a day. BackupBuddyVFS is a must-have utility for the Palm. US$10.


Quick, write this down...

Yeah, okay, multimillionaire PalmPilot inventor Jeff Hawkins is a genius and probably a good dancer, too. But if he's so smart, how come he forgot that people frequently need to rapidly scribble down a phone number or PIN code while simultaneously holding a phone? Sometimes, life is just too crazy to fiddle around with handwriting recognition, even a unistroke system as easy to learn as Graffiti. Besides, how do you make a quick sketch or an off-the-cuff map? MemoPad can't do it (Palm's NotePad can, but that's only on Palm m-series units).

Find a need and fill it, they say, and that's just what the bright coders at Electric Pocket did when they created BugMe!, a bone-simple sketchpad that can also pop-up a reminder if you need it to. Now that's smart. US$20.

The Missing Sync 2.0

CLIE and Mac, together at last

I cannot figure out what it is between Sony and Apple. They seem to hate each other. I think it is not only because the two are direct competitors in the computer market, but that they are so similar in their philosophies of product design: powerful technology of durable value, artfully packaged and easy to use.

So it's just criminal that Sony does not include CLIE synchronization software conduits for Macs. To their credit, Sony does direct Mac users from their website to MarkSpace Softworks, makers of The Missing Sync, an almost perfect USB conduit connecting CLIEs to all USB-equipped Macs. Why almost perfect? It does not yet work natively under Mac OS X. Under OS 9, it works flawlessly.

Mac users are already very familiar with Palm Desktop for Macintosh, available as a free download from the Palm website. Entourage, a component of Microsoft Office 2001 for Macintosh, can sync its PIM data with Palm devices, but those devices must come with their own device-specific USB drivers. If you use a CLIE N610C or the new N760C, you can even mount your Memory Stick as a drive on the Mac desktop and copy files quicker and easier than using HotSync. Maybe they should call it CoolSync. US$30.

-David MacNeill

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