Keep it simple stupid.

Device collection

One reason I have to charge a small fee for this software (other than to compensate for my time) is to be able to afford to keep up with the ever changing hardware and operating system combinations that are found in PDA's. To make sure a program will operate on a device, there is no substitute for having one in hand. My desktop is currently littered with 5 PalmOS devices and 9 Windows CE devices (one is not pictured - I've lost it).


NEC Mobile Pro 770
(CE 2.1)
NEC Mobile Pro 790
(CE 3.0)
NEC Mobile Pro 900
(CE.NET 4.2)
Samsung SPH i500
(PalmOS 4.1)
Palm Tungsten E
(PalmOS 5.2.1)
Jornada 430
(CE 2.1)
iPAQ 3135
(CE 3.0)
Toshiba e310
(CE 3.01)
Toshiba e405
(CE 4.02)
Dell Axim X5
(CE 4.20)
Dell Axim X51v
(Mobile 5.0)
Handspring Visor Pro
(Palm OS 3.5)
Palm Zire 21
(OS 5.2.1)
Palm m125 (not pictured)
(OS 4.0)

Palm OS vs Pocket PC, an opinion

I am often asked, "Which is better, PalmOS or Windows CE (or Mobile or PocketPC ... they keep changing the name)? What do you recommend?". Having used both PalmOS and Windows CE devices for several years, I favor PalmOS for these reasons:

  1. Complete, automatic backup and restore
    If your Palm batteries die, no big deal. Just put new batteries in, then HotSync, and everything is restored. HotSync quickly and automatically saves your data and programs onto your hard drive each time you HotSync. Not so with Windows Mobile's ActiveSync. If you kill your Windows Mobile, and you haven't taken the extra step of backing up, you are screwed. And ActiveSync backup is neither quick or automatic, instead it is an excruciatingly tedious process. Depending on the amount of memory and number of programs installed on your device, a full ActiveSync USB backup can take up to an hour. Is it little wonder that most people never backup their Windows Mobile? And from my personal experience, I have yet to completely restore a Windows Mobile device after a complete backup.

  2. Graffiti area
    IMHO, having a dedicated graffiti area for data input is the single best advantage of a Palm device. PalmOS graffiti is simple and easy to use. I've never had much luck with Windows Mobile's handwriting recognition, and that goofy little popup keyboard on the Windows Mobile is such a time waster. You have to tap to show it, then enter your data, then tap to hide it, very annoying. Imagine using your PC and having the keyboard cover up half your screen each time you used it!

  3. Program launch screen(s)
    Microsoft has never understood the importance of "simplicity," a fundamental design concept it has always swept aside to make room for "feature rich" (i.e., bloated and complex). The PalmOS launch screen is the epitomy of the K-I-S-S school of utilitarian design: big icons on a plain background, easy to find what you are looking for. And you can easily group similar icons onto their own launch screens. Windows Mobile tries to be different by putting the Windows "Start" button on the main screen against a pretty color background picture. I suppose this is meant to provide some comfort to folks who are familiar with the Windows desktop. So you click "Start", and it looks real familiar, one expects to see the full Windows menu tree. But then you click "Programs", and.. tada.. you get a clone of the Palm OS launch screen. But you can't group similar tasks onto their own folders. Typical Microsoft: "borrowing" an idea from someone else, and then half-way implementing it. Why hide the launch screen in the menu tree unless you are trying to hide the fact that you stole the idea from Palm?

  4. Simpler software
    No registry hassles, no Active-X hassles, no DLL hell. Less hassle for the developer, heaven for the user.

  5. Cheaper and more plentiful software
    A direct result of the preceeding reason.

A touted advantage of Windows Mobile is multi-threading, or being able to run more than one program at a time. To that I say, big deal, I don't get it. That tiny screen can only show one running program anyway. Who cares if something else is running in the background? A properly designed PalmOS program will provide the same benefit to the user, by returning you to the program in the same state before you left it. Otherwise, I am sure that multi-threading is important for some applications, but I don't know what those applications are, certainly none that I use in my pharmacy practice.

It's not that I don't like Windows Mobile's, because I do. They are just so pretty, with such wonderful sharp graphics. But if you are a practical person, looking for a reliable tool, one with the most bang for the buck, then don't be deceived by the pretty colors. Underneath the flashy surface, Windows Mobile's are of an inferior design, making for a less practical handheld computer than PalmOS. That is my opinion, and remember, you asked for it! . . . Rick

The Nightmare After Christmas

Pharmacists must have been good girls and boys in 2005, as it appears a whole slew of us received new PDA's or the new PDA/Cell Phone combinations ("Convergent devices"). Unfortunately many of you chose a Windows OS, and to make matters worse, most of these new devices are running Windows Mobile 5.0.

The nightmare began for me shortly after the first reports trickled in and I realized that Micro$oft's new PDA operating system broke my Windows Mobile applications. With 20/20 hindsight I should not have been surprised, I am continually having to rewrite my software to keep abreast of Micro$oft's constant changes. I spend more time on maintaining than on improving my software simply because Micro$oft has a habit of issuing new operating systems and patches of older OS's which break previously stable applications.

Sweeping changes like this, issued with no regard for legacy applications, drive up the cost of software and drive out small developers like me. When you are monopoly, you can do things like this, and crap all over the little guy. Thanks again Micro$oft for ruining my Christmas.

Regardless of how I feel about Windows Mobile, I am working on updating my software to run under the new operating system. Links will be posted on the What's New page when available. . . . Rick

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