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Power Training For The Palm OS
Posted March 2004 by By Tanker Bob

Find that new Palm OS device a bit daunting? New operating systems make your palms sweat (pun intended)? Use your manuals to adjust your sitting height? Well, Power By Hand rides to the rescue. They have captured key parts of the handheld manual content, spiced it with a lively and interesting presentation, and made it a piece of cake to access.

Simply insert the CD into your PC and follow the prompts. If the current version of QuickTime isn't installed, Power Training asks to install it. That would be a wise thing to do. After that, the screen resolution changes to 800x600 if not currently set at that value and Power Training starts.

Overall

Power by Hand owns PalmGear and PalmDigitalMedia, and also has a strategic partnership with PalmSource. This apparently results in numerous sales pitches for PalmGear rolled into the presentations. On the other hand, by the time you hear the end of your training, you'll feel great about your Palm device purchase. The instructor refers to the Palm device as a "powerful mobile computer" and then shows the user the truth of that assertion.

The CD sports good video quality and an excellent presenter - Danny Chambers. As a long-time power user, I thought that I'd be bored going through the basic presentations. Danny's style proved engaging and held my interest throughout. Tanker Bob even learned something new!

The lessons use the PalmTungsten|T3 almost exclusively throughout for examples. There are cameo appearances by a Treo and a Zire 71 when discussing smart phones and photos respectively. All OS discussions cover OS 5, though are generally applicable to earlier OS versions. The presenter does provide translations between the renamed Personal Information Manager applications on the T3 and TE and the older versions.

Level 1

Topics in this basic session include: Your Handheld, Alerts & Sounds, Using the Launcher, Learning Graffiti, Menus, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Memos, Notepad, HotSync, Resetting Your Handheld, The Desktop, Installing 3rd Party Applications, Document Management, Reading eBooks, Expansion Cards, Photos, MP3 & Music Players, and Video.

These lessons provide excellent coverage of the basic Palm operation. The training takes the new user through the device features that are most likely to be used early in ownership. The step-by-step setup instructions would walk even the most novice user through the process with confidence. Again, although geared to Palm OS 5, the lessons are generally applicable to OS version 4.x. The Graffiti instruction covers Graffiti 2, the new version recently introduced. Everything was demonstrated on-screen. Lessons include well-timed pauses to practice—very important for new users.

Coverage of the PIM applications provides a thorough overview interspersed with handy tips. What could be dry lessons carry some spice with the inclusion of tasteful humor. However, it also included some over-dramatization. For example, I seriously doubt that anyone but the most sensitive soul feels “devalued” by having their birthday forgotten. The Palm emphasis showed again in the explanation of World Clock, whereas Sony Cliés come with World Alarm Clock, an entirely different application. Desktop discussions included Mac considerations and examples, something you don't always see.

The reset discussion included an explanation of all three primary resets: soft, warm, and hard. One rarely sees warm resets discussed in basic courses, but it provides a critical recovery tool from software conflicts. The warnings accompanying the discussion of hard resets amply prepare even the most naïve user for the consequences. Advice on the appropriate use of all three resets proved very sound and should be well-heeded by all.

The material thinned considerably when covering third-party applications and on to the end of Level 1. The video pushed selected software without mentioning quality alternatives. At this point, it seemed that the user had paid for advertisements in addition to lessons. For example, document management briefly covered QuickOffice and the music section covered only Pocket Tunes. This seemed odd since many new Palms, including the T3 they used for the demos, come with Documents to Go and Real Player, neither of which apparently warranted mention. PalmDigitalMedia came across as the vendor's preferred source of eBooks—big surprise, eh? The video discussion of Kinoma Player was particularly thin.

Level 2

Topics in this more advanced session include: Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Memos, Notepad, Smartphones, Multimedia, Voice Recorder, Bluetooth, Internet & Web Browser, eMail, HotSync Manager, Changing Icons, StreamLync, and FAQs.

This section mainly covered the Palm Desktop for PC and Mac for the Palm PIM apps. The discussion seemed somewhat basic relative to the PIMs on the desktop and could have been covered in Level 1. The Calendar section mentioned DualDate, the excellent and free add-on from PalmSource that allows users to keep two independent calendars on their device. While one calendar is read-only, this utility can be quite handy for busy families to stay synchronized. Again some feel-good philosophy crept in here in the Contacts lesson, with "life consists of relationships" seeping out. The Notepad discussion taught me that the new version on my T3 has an alarm feature! Don't laugh—the two Sony's I had prior to my T3 didn't have any Notepad-like capability. :-(

The Smartphone discussion proved brief and consisted of a Treo sales pitch, but did cover the strengths of a combination device. The excellent connectivity portion showed step-by-step how to connect to a cell phone using Bluetooth—very nicely done. However, in their networking example, they talked about a BT connection but showed a connection to an IR phone in the demonstration. Still, the procedure got the process across. Connectivity covered VersaMail, but didn't discuss or demonstrate attachments.

The lessons on conduits and Hotsync manager were outstanding. Conduits furnish much of the extensible third-party power for Palm handhelds, yet often receive short-shrift in training and manuals. Not so here. Not only were conduits explained, but they treated the user to a tour of a typical conduit's settings. The lesson included pauses to encourage the user to explore their conduits—nicely done.

The CD closed with an explanation of PalmGear's StreamLync download system. The FAQs section merely consisted of a mention of PalmGear's knowledge page.

Applications

The applications section amounted to a discount offer on a bundle of selected software: DataShield, HandyShopper, Jibe, Jumble, NoviiRemote trial, NoviiAnimator trial, Palmreader, PDA Defense Standard, 2 ebooks, and StreamLync. For $29.95, the user gained access to these applications on the CD. Note that two are just demos and that HandyShopper, Palmreader, and StreamLync are freeware. The value of the rest exceeds $80, assuming that they are full versions.

Conclusion

Power Training For The Palm OS sells for $19.99 at PalmGear, with Level II accessible for an additional $9.99. Danny Chambers made the training flow easily with clear explanations, copious on-screen demonstrations, and appropriate humor. If your shelves hold an impressive collection of shrink-wrapped manuals, this CD could be your ticket to getting more effective use out of your Palm investment.

 

 

 

 

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