RIP, Palm device.

I’ve been using Palm organizers of one model or another for about twelve years. The Palm was just what I wanted: all of the information I needed, at my fingertips, “instant-on”, backed up on (at least one) PC (and, since the data was on the PC it was copy-and-paste-able into other programs). It had a few games, and I kept about twenty books on it, so I always had then with me. It didn’t depend on network connectivity, and, once I had paid the initial price, there were no further costs.

I had tried paper calendars and address books, but I always lost them, or sent them through the laundry, or something. My Palm, though, was my guide and companion for over a decade.

Imagine my distress when I saw that Palm was no longer making desktop-connected devices. And my further distress when I found that Windows 7 (our Home version) doesn’t support the Palm desktop. My Linux box still supports the Palm, of course… but it’s a matter of time before I’m going to have to find another way to keep my information handy (a few words on this below).

Careful readers will note that Palm is still producing devices… but these depend on either Outlook (not an option for those of us who don’t use Windows operating systems, and/or don’t control the software on our computers, like the ones I use at my job), or they depend on access to the web, which requires a monthly contract (I’m a fossil who clings to his land line – I give NOBODY my cell phone number, and I have NO extra services on it other than phone calls; I use a pay-as-you-go phone, and I use about six minutes per month). Further, they require access to sites that may not be available. In the state offices at which I work, access to many sites – including, for example, a Google address book – is blocked by the state server.

I’ve found a “pretty close” solution in Essential PIM Portable, a Windows-based program that runs off my USB stick. All of the required files and libraries live on the stick, so the program itself runs well on Linux under WINE (although I haven’t gotten the Help system to work yet). The “Pro” version includes the basic personal information manager functions, and includes an email program (although I’m not using that). The Pro version syncs with Palm (more or less; the contacts manager needed a LOT of tweaking after the sync, and I had a problem with disappearing appointment descriptions that I suspect was linked to the Palm sync. But I didn’t expect that I’d have a seamless transition.

What I can’t do, now, is pull my Palm out of my pocket and add an appointment when I’ve bumped into someone unexpectedly. Or pull over when I’m in the car, and give my wife a phone number that she’s asking for (or get the number of the next person on the snow phone chain, when I’m already on my way to work and they’re calling around to tell us not to come in). Or kill some time at a dreadful meeting playing solitaire, when I appear to be taking some notes.

Good-bye, Palm. It was just what I wanted. Soon it will be gone.

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