Computers that are small enough to fit in your pocket — and in the palm of your hand — are called pocket computers or palm-size computers or handheld computers. Most of them use the Palm operating system (Palm OS).
The cheapest computer using the Palm OS is the Palm m100 computer, which lists for $99 but often comes with a $25 rebate coupon, bringing its effective price down to $74. Here’s how to use it. (Other palmtop computers are similar but more expensive.)
When you buy the Palm m100 computer, it comes in a cardboard box. Open the box and remove the contents, which are:
Flip the Palm m100 computer over, so you see its backside.
There you see the words “palm powered” on the cover of the battery compartment. Above those words you see a tab. Pull the tab towards the words “palm powered”, to pry off the battery compartment’s cover.
Insert the two AAA batteries (matching each battery’s + end with the diagram’s + end), and press the cover back on.
Turn the computer over, so you see the computer’s front. The front is temporarily covered. Flip up the cover, so you see the computer’s screen (a square that’s 2 inches on each side and made of the same the same LCD technology as the screen on a notebook computer or a digital watch.)
The screen says “Setup” and “Welcome”.
A stylus (inkless pen) hides in the top left corner of the computer’s backside. Pull the stylus out. Using it, tap anywhere on the screen.
You see a big X on the screen. Tap the X’s center.
You see another big X; tap its center. You see a third big X; tap its center. You see a fourth big X; tap its center.
In the Set Time box, you see a time. If the time is wrong, adjust it as follows:
In the Set Date box, you see a date. If the date is wrong, adjust it as follows:
Click “Next” then “Done”.
Above the screen is a black button (at the center of the computer’s top edge). That’s the power button. Tapping it makes writing on the screen appear or disappear. Tap it with your finger now, so the writing disappears.
Close the screen’s cover, to protect the screen. Put the stylus back in its holder.
Your computer can imitate a clock. Here’s how.
Make sure the computer is off and its front cover is closed. While the front cover is closed, a black button peeks through the cover. Tap that button with your finger. The time and date will flash in the front cover’s window.
Your computer can imitate a calculator. Here’s how.
If the computer is off, turn it on. (To do that, flip up the front cover, so you see the 2-inch-square screen. Then flip up the front cover even farther, so you see “palm” and “m100” and a black power button between them. Tap that button, using your finger. That turns the computer on.)
Get the stylus (inkless pen). Here’s how:
Find the Calculator button. It’s below the screen’s bottom right corner and looks like this:
Using the stylus, tap the Calculator button. Then the screen suddenly becomes a pocket calculator.
To compute 42+5, tap the calculator’s 4 key, then tap 2, then +, then 5, then =. The screen will show the answer, 47.
Try fancier calculations, by pressing these calculator buttons:
If you ignore the computer for 2 minutes (by not tapping it), the computer will turn itself off automatically. To turn the computer off manually, tap the power button with your finger.
When the computer is turned off (automatically or manually), your work is not lost. When you turn the computer back on (by tapping the power button with your finger), the screen show the same info as when the computer was being turned off.
Your work never disappears — unless you purposely erase it or the computer’s battery runs out.
Your computer lets you draw pictures and write notes in your own handwriting. Here’s how.
Look at the computer’s bottom right corner. You’ll see a black button that shows the stylus drawing a squiggle. That’s the Note Pad button. Press it with your finger.
That automatically turns on the computer and makes the computer start running the Note Pad program (instead of the Calculator program or other programs).
To write a new note, tap “New” by using the stylus. Then use the stylus to scribble, on the screen, whatever drawing or note you wish, in your own handwriting.
Change your stylus
At the screen’s bottom, to the right of the word “Delete”, you see a box showing the stylus drawing a line. Tap that box (by using the stylus). You see 4 choices:
While you’re writing your note onto the screen, you might discover that the screen isn’t tall enough to hold your note. To solve that problem, press the black button at the computer’s bottom, using your finger. (That button is called the scroll down button and has nothing written on it.) That moves all the screen’s writing up, so you can write more underneath. To see the top part of your writing again, press the scroll up button (which is above the scroll down button).
When you finish creating your note, tap “Done”.
Examine the list
You see a numbered list of notes and the time each was created.
To examine a note, tap its number. You see the note. When you finish examining the note, you have 4 choices:
Your computer can take your notes and store them neatly — more neatly than your handwriting! Here’s how.
If your computer is off turn it on (by pressing its power button).
Using the stylus, tap the Home button (which is below the screen’s bottom left corner and looks like a house). Then tap Memo Pad.
To write a new memo, tap “New”. (If you don’t see “New” yet, tap “Done” then “New”.)
How to type
Now you can type a new memo, in two ways.
Simple way: on-screen keyboard Below the screen, you see a dot labeled “abc”. Tap that dot (by using the stylus). Then the screen shows a picture of a typewriter keyboard. To type, just tap the letters you wish (by using the stylus), as if you were a one-fingered hunt-and-peck typist holding a pen.
The computer will automatically capitalize the first letter you type and make the other letters be small. To force another letter to be capitalized, tap the SHIFT key before tapping the letter. To force a whole phrase to be capitalized, tap the CAP key before tapping the phrase; after you’ve typed the phrase, tap the CAP key again to resume normal small typing.
To leave a blank space, tap the SPACE bar. To backspace and delete the last letter you typed, tap the BACKSPACE key (which has a left-arrow on it).
If you type more words than can fit on a line, the computer will automatically move the excess words to the next line.
If you want to end a line or paragraph immediately and begin another, tap the ENTER key (which has a bent arrow on it).
If you notice a mistake that was several words ago, drag across the mistake (by using the stylus), then retype it correctly.
Normally, the keyboard shows just letters (no numbers, no accents).
When you finish using the keyboard, click “Done”.
Nifty way: Graffiti writing The niftiest way to type is to use a technique called Graffiti writing. It lets you type without looking at a keyboard, so you can type while still staring at your colleague’s eyes, or even while the room needs to be totally dark! But this nifty way works just after you train yourself to do Graffiti writing. Training takes about half an hour and consists of just practicing the following technique.…
Below the screen, you see a big box, whose bottom left corner says “abc” and bottom right corner says “123”.
The box is divided into two parts (a left part and a right part), separated from each other by the symbols ut. To write a letter of the alphabet, write in the box’s left part; to write a digit, write in the box’s right part.
You must write the letters and digits using a special handwriting style, called Graffiti. Here are the 26 letters and 10 digits, written in Graffiti:
Try to write your letters and digits so they look just like that.
These hints help you memorize those Graffiti writing shapes:
If you memorize those hints, writing Graffiti becomes easy!
If you write a Graffiti letter or digit correctly, the computer will copy it to the screen above and make it look perfectly typed there.
The computer will automatically capitalize the first character of each sentence and make the other letters be lowercase.
To write punctuation, begin with a tap then do this:
When you finish typing and editing your memo, tap “Done”.
Examine the list
You see a numbered list of memos and the first few words of each.
To examine a memo, tap its number. You see the memo.
When you finish examining the memo, you have 2 choices:
Your computer lets you make a list of things to do. Here’s how.
Look at the computer’s bottom edge. Between the scroll buttons and the Note Pad button, you see the To Do List button (which has 3 lines on it and a check mark). Press it with your finger.
That automatically turns on the computer and makes the computer start running the To Do List program.
You see a list of things to do. (The first time you use the computer, that list has just one item, saying “Don’t forget to register!”)
To add a new item to that list, tap “New” (by using the stylus). Then type an item, such as “Get flowers for Mary”, by using the on-screen keyboard or Graffiti writing.
In the to-do list, each item has a square box at its left side. When you’ve accomplished one of the tasks in your do-to list (for example, you’ve finally gotten flowers for Mary), mark that task as completed by putting a check mark in the square box. (To put the check mark there, just tap the box.)
The items that have check marks are the ones you’ve completed. You can leave them in the list, checked, so you can brag to your boss about how many things you’ve accomplished today.
When you no longer have any use to brag about your accomplishments, delete the completed items from the list, by doing this: tap “To Do” (which is in the screen’s top left corner) then “Record” then “Purge” then “OK”. That erases all the completed items, so your to-do list becomes shorter.
In the to-do list, each item normally has the number 1 at its left side. The 1 means “high priority”.
To change the 1 to a different number, tap the 1 then tap a number from 1 to 5.
A “priority 1” item means “very important to do soon”. A “priority 2” item is slightly less important. A “priority 5” item is the least important and can wait until you have spare time later this year or next.
If life overwhelms you, and you feel so overloaded that you can’t cope, just make a to-do list of what you must do and give each item a priority. (That’s what they tell you to do in business school. The countercultural approach is to just say “fuck it all”, go to the beach, throw the computer into the ocean, and have a good time.)
Your computer has a built-in calendar, which shows your appointments, like an appointment book. Here’s how to use it.
At the computer’s bottom left corner, you see a black button that shows a calendar layout with a check mark. That’s the Date Book button. Press it with your finger.
That automatically turns on the computer and makes the computer start running the Date Book program.
You see today’s date. You also see the days of the week (S, M, T, W, T, F, S), with today’s day highlighted. You should also see times of the business day, from 8:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening. (If you don’t see any times, tap the Date Book button again.)
If an appointment is simple (starts on the hour of the business day and lasts 1 hour), do this: tap the space to the right of the appointment’s beginning time, then type a description of the appointment (by using the on-screen keyboard or Graffiti writing).
If an appointment is weird (starts at a weird time or has a weird length), do this instead.…
Then choose one of these timings:
Then type a description of the appointment (by using the on-screen keyboard or Graffiti writing).
When you’re examining the list of appointments, here’s what you see.
To the left of an appointment, you see the appointment’s starting time. To the left of the starting time, you see a line going down to the appointment’s ending time.
If you said an appointment is “All Day”, the list shows it going from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. If you said an appointment has “No Time”, that appointment appears at the list’s top and shows a diamond instead of a time.
You can edit an appointment in many ways:
At the screen’s top right corner, you see all the days of the week (S, M, T, W, T, F, S). To see the details for one of those days, tap that day. To see a week later, tap “4”.
At the screen’s bottom left corner, you see 4 squares.
After you’ve had an appointment, you should keep its record in your Date Book awhile, so you can brag to your boss about how much you accomplished during the past week — or remind yourself how your appointments wasted your time and how you’d have been better off quitting and going to the beach.
But eventually, you should erase those old records, to make room in your computer’s memory for new ones. To erase appointments that happened more than a week ago, tap the date (in the screen’s top left corner) then “Record” then “Purge” then “OK”.
Your computer has a built-in address book, which can also store phone numbers. Here’s how to use it.
At the computer’s bottom edge, you see the Address Book button (which has a picture of a phone on it). Press it with your finger.
That automatically turns on the computer makes the computer start running the Address Book program.
You see an alphabetized list of names and phone numbers. (The first time you use the computer, that list has just two items, giving the phone numbers for buying Palm Computer accessories and getting Palm Computer technical support.)
To add a new person (or item) to that list, tap “New” (by using the stylus).
You see a form to fill in. The form contains these fields: last name, first name, title, company, work phone, home phone, fax number, other phone number (such as cell phone), e-mail address, street address, city, state, ZIP code, country, and 4 extra fields. (You see the first few fields; to see the rest, press the scroll-down button with your finger.)
To enter data into a field, tap the field’s blank space, then type whatever data you wish (by using the on-screen keyboard or Graffiti writing). You don’t have to fill in all the fields: fill in just the ones you care about. (If you wish to add some personal comments about the person, tap “Note” then type a note then tap “Done”.)
When you’ve finished entering data about that person or item, tap “Done”.
You see the alphabetized list of names and phone numbers again.
While looking at the alphabetized list of names and phone numbers, tap whichever name interests you. You see details about that person (or item). If you want to edit those details, tap “Edit” then do your editing.
When you finish looking at that person’s data, tap “Done”, which makes you see the alphabetized list of names and phone numbers again.
If the alphabetized list of names and phone numbers is too long to fit on the screen, here’s how to see the rest of the list: either press the scroll-down button (with your finger) or else start typing a name you want to hop to.
While looking at the alphabetized list of names and phone numbers, if you see a name that you want to delete from your list, tap the name then “Edit” then “Details” then “Delete” then “OK”. The name will disappear from the list.
Here are tricks to make your computer more useful.
Here’s how to adjust the screen’s contrast:
If you press the power button for at least 1 second, the backlight will turn on.
It’s a special light that shines through the screen and makes it easier to read at night. It makes black become glowing green (and white become black).
It works well just if you’re a dark place. For example, it works well outside on a moonless night — or while you’re entering a darkened house or attic — or while you’re watching a movie or slide show in a darkened auditorium.
(If the place is brightly lit, the backlight isn’t noticeable. If the place is half-lit, the backlight wrecks the contrast and makes the screen harder to read.)
When the backlight comes on, you can take your finger off the power button. The backlight will stay on until the computer is turned off (or until you turn off the backlight manually, by pressing the power button for 1 second again).
If you turn the backlight on, turn it off soon, since it uses a lot of electricity and runs down your battery.
If you’re in a dark place and your computer is off (with its cover closed), here’s how to find out the time: press the black button (which peeks through the cover) for at least one second. That makes the computer flash the time and date and makes them backlit.
Switch to clock
While you’re using the computer, here’s how to make the time & date flash on the screen easily.
If you stored info the computer but can’t remember which program you stored it in, here’s how to find it.…
Turn on the computer. Tap the Find button (which is next to the “123” and looks like a magnifying glass). The computer will say “Find”.
Type a word, or a person’s first name or last name, or a company, or the first few letters of one of those things, or anything else you want to find. (Do the typing by using the on-screen keyboard or Graffiti writing.) Then tap “OK”.
The computer will search through all files stored by popular programs (the To Do List, the Address Book, the Date Book, the Memo Pad, and the Note Pad). The computer will tell you every item that matches what you’re looking for.
Then tap whichever item you want more details about.
Normally, the computer shuts itself off if you don’t touch it for 2 minutes. Here’s how to change “2 minutes” to a different interval.…
Turn on the computer. Tap the Home button (which is below the screen’s bottom left corner and looks like a house) then “Prefs”.
Make sure the screen’s top right corner says “General”. (If it says something else instead, tap it then tap “General”.)
You see a shutoff interval (such as “2 minutes”). To change it, tap it. Then you see this menu:
Tap whichever choice you wish.
What if your enemy grabs your computer and peeks at your private files, including the phone numbers of all your friends, your appointments, and your notes? What if a mischievous practical joker alters your files, so you phone the wrong people and go to appointments at the wrong times?
Create a password To prevent people from peeking at what’s in your computer and altering it, create a secret password. Here’s how:
Lock the computer After you’ve created a password, do this lock procedure each time you want to turn the computer off:
That turns the computer off and locks it.
When a human tries to turn the computer back on, the computer will say “Enter password”. To reply, the human must type the password then tap “OK”.
For security, you must do that lock procedure each time you turn off the computer. If the computer gets turned off in some other way (such as by tapping the power button or abandoning the computer for 2 minutes), the computer is unlocked and can be restarted without the password.
Change password Here’s how to change a password.
Tap the Home button then “Security” then “Assigned”.
Type the old password. Tap “OK”.
If you want no password, tap “Delete”. If you want a different password, do this:
On the computer’s backside, you see a hole marked RESET.
If your computer doesn’t respond to buttons, unfold a paper clip and tap it into the RESET hole once gently. (That’s called “shoving the paper clip up the computer’s ass”. It’s also called “giving a soft reset”.) That gives the computer a jolt that should wake the computer up, make the screen say “palm”, and make the computer listen to your commands again.
If that doesn’t solve your problems, try this stronger method:
The Palm computer comes with CD-ROM software to connect to your desktop computer.
Installing the desktop software Connect the Palm’s cable to your desktop computer (but not to the Palm computer yet).
Turn on your desktop computer using Windows Me, so you see “Start” at the bottom right corner. Insert the Palm CD-ROM disk into the desktop computer’s CD-ROM drive. The desktop computer will say “Installing Palm Desktop”. Press ENTER, four times. Type your name (and press ENTER).
Attach the Palm’s cable to the Palm computer (so the cable’s button is face up). Press ENTER on your desktop computer.
If the desktop computer says “Setup was unable to detect your HotSync cable”, click a COM port and then press ENTER.
The computer will say “Palm Inc. Product Registration”. For now, click “Cancel” then “Remind Me in Two Weeks”.
Press the CD-ROM disk’s eject button. The computer will say “An EJECT request was received”. Press ENTER twice. The computer will reboot.
How to HotSync Make sure your desktop computer is turned on, so you see “Start” at the bottom right corner. Make sure the Palm’s cable is attached to the desktop computer and the Palm computer. Press the cable’s button.
(If the desktop computer asks you to select a user, press the desktop computer’s ENTER key.)
That makes your Palm computer and your desktop computer synchronize (HotSync): they’ll update each other’s data, so your Palm computer and your desktop computer will contain the same data as each other.
Then your Palm computer’s screen will say “HotSync operation complete.” Remove the cable from the Palm computer.
Why HotSync? You’ll want to HotSync, for two reasons.