Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Lost Bits - Palm Tungsten E

Another year, another Palm and another group of bits have managed to vanish.

I traded my Palm m105 in for a Tungsten E over a year ago. I was amazed at the increased capabilities of the Tungsten E. As with every other computer, I managed to load it up with various apps and data. One app in particular, I had used with the m105 was Documents to Go. It's the app that allows you to view and create MS Office documents on your Palm.

Before I get into DTG, let me explain why I switched from the m105. The m105 uses two AAA batteries and frequently I would run out of juice. At this point, and many times when inserting new batteries I had on hand the m105 lost all of it's data. I would have to wait until I got home to resync and get all of my data and apps back. This became annoying and I needed something that could use a charger. The Tungsten E seemed to be a well-deserved update that allowed for charging, rather than using batteries.

Soon after buying the Tungsten E, I loaded it with DTG. Over the past year I've been adding new passwords and various other documents into it. I used the spreadsheet feature to calculate the gas mileage for the Isuzu Rodeo versus the Honda Nighthawk, etc.

I also utilized the Palm calendar alarm feature to remind me of various cable programs when they came on. This would prove to be my downfall. While it was very efficient to get a beep to remind my one of my programs was getting ready to start, and also remind me what channel I needed to tune to, I became very dependent on this feature. I loaded it up with cable listings, radio listings, along with various meeting reminders and what not.

When the Palm wants to notify its owner that they have a reminder or scheduled event, it powers itself on and then beeps. If the notification goes unnoticed, then it shuts off and repeats again in another five minutes. This repeated effort utilizes battery power. And you probably see where I'm going with this. You have to be present, or in close proximity to the Palm device to be reminded, otherwise the battery will drain. And so it went.

One Saturday afternoon I had stayed in bed nursing cedar fever. I didn't want to watch anything, listen to anything or talk about anything. I just wanted to stay under the sheets and suffer. My Tungsten E thought differently. It repeatedly reminded me to listen to the classical music station for the piano program, the guitar program. 60 Minutes on CBS, Boston Legal on ABC, and a few more. It spent all weekend beeping, but I never acknowledged its presence or its reminders.

I was revived by Monday morning and ready, bright and early, to take a look at my day's schedule. Nothing. A black reflective screen that had no life. Only my reflection could be seen. It dawned on me I had let all of the reminders go unnoticed. I quickly plugged it into the charger to give it enough juice to boot up. After about thirty minutes I checked it again and there was nothing but the basic data and apps present. OK, I'll do a hotsync when I get to the office I thought.

When I synced at the office everything came back, except for Documents to Go files and my personal photos. Those items had vanished. Even when I resynced on the mac, which operates as my paranoid backup syncing station. Nothing. Again, everything was there except DTG docs and my photos. Gone. Vanished.

Lessons learned...again.

The Palm is very good at what it does. I couldn't live without mine. I do daily brain-dumps of everything I don't want to carry around in my head. And I still want it to remind of the things I need to watch or listen to or people to talk to or meet with. However, I will pay more attention to the needs of the Palm. Just as the dog needs a walk, the cat needs me giving her water, the bunny needs a daily scratch on the nose, the Palm needs it's juice, if utilized as my personal assistant, beeping me when I can't remind myself. It has become another pet.

I've reworked my habits so that it gets plugged into the charger when I get home and taken off when I leave. So far is just the amount of attention it needs and is satisfied.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Atoms disguised as Bits - Kodak Kiosk

Let me start by saying I had certain expectations taking my SD card to Randall's grocery store, where a Kodak Photo Kiosk was located.

1. I would be able to walk up the kiosk and plug my SD card into the kiosk.
2. I would be able to navigate through the process.
3. That it would need no other intervention, other than paying for my photos.
4. that it would be fairly quick and the photos would be better than my old inkjet printer (currently sitting at the local Goodwill).

Expectation number one was pretty straightforward. I was able to also get through number two as well. However, I then got to number three. The woman behind the counter knew I'd need some help as the screen changed and asked for a password. Since this was my first time, I knew I didn' have one. She came around to the fron of the kiosk and started typing. I was confused, so I asked why she did that.

"I have to do that for everybody".

I mentioned that it sort of defeats the purpose of having a kiosk pointed to the front of the counter doesn't it...that she has to stop what she's doing and enter a bloody password for everyone using the device.

"It prevents unnecessary prints being sent to the printer", said the woman.

I said, "OK, I've chosen my prints and it's ready to go."

She then pulled a paper film bag from the other side of the counter along with a pen and wanted me to fill out my information. A paper trail for my prints?

I said, "No, you don't understand, I'm not dropping off any film today, I just want the prints from the kiosk here."

"But sir, you have to fill out an order so I can print them out".

"What? I thought the order is in the kiosk. I entered my last name and first name".

"Yes, but I also need the paper and since I'm in the middle of processing another roll of prints, you'll have to wait for about thirty minutes for your prints".

I was really confused at this point, "I thought the prints came out of the kiosk?"

"No sir, they come out of the same printer as the rolls of film".

By this time I was annoyed and confused and feeling misled, so I filled out the paper, took my paper stub and went next door to shop for some XBox games. I returned about twenty minutes later and handed the new clerk my paper stub and paid for my two prints, which were included in an envelope, the same type as photographs from film.

I really thought I could go in, slip in my SD card, punch a couple of buttons and then have a brief interaction with the clerk to pay for the photos.