A Day In The Life Of Mobile Handheld Computing

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I’m not known to be a frequent flyer, however I do tend to be a frequent driver. I returned late last night from a several days long trip that went fairly well in general, however it ended up being a tragic event for my Palm Vx and OmniSky Modem.

My Palm is loaded with database information, documents in progress, bank account balances, usernames, passwords and pin numbers, web sites that I use for order processing, email, news, agenda and contact information. In short – my life is in this thing.

My Palm and OmniSky modem are my constant companions, and they are even more important when I’m on the road. This trip was no different than any others in the beginning. I took inventory of my Palm and made sure I had everything I needed, I packed both the car chargers and wall chargers for the hotel room – I was good to go.

Now I have occasionally considered putting Velcro on the back of my modem so that I could mount it on the dash of my truck, however I haven’t been able to bring myself to do this because Velcro seemed very inappropriate for such a sleek and expensive piece of equipment. So instead I’ve gotten in the habit of putting the combination in the passenger seat, or on the carpeted hump between the two front seats.

On this trip, I had the unit between the seats as I stopped to get gas. Being a huge coffee lover I of course got a great big cup of coffee as well. I sat the coffee in between the seats and walked away for a minute. When I came back I was horrified to find a full 20 ounces of coffee pouring all over my Palm and OmniSky!

The units were literally soaked. The OmniSky modem actually had coffee running out of the electrical outlet hole *and* the serial port connecter. The Palm seemed to be much better sealed, however the coffee left it very sticky and it was as dead as my OmniSky. I did my best to quickly drain and towel off both of them, then I laid them on the dash amidst paper towels in the hopes that they would “air out”.

Several hours later I had both units dried out and charging, apparently successfully, so I decided to test for damages. I found the Palm had completely reset itself and all of my data was lost – thus it was next to useless. The modem was very confused as it displayed all lights at once, and they weren’t even the correct indicator light colors. Things were not looking good.

The trip was very disconcerting without full use of my Palm. I hadn’t realized just how much I depend on it to keep track of everything and even when I didn’t need it, I still felt naked without it. Once I returned home I was able to restore all of my databases and information, and so far the Palm seems to be doing well. The buttons are a bit sticky and non responsive at times, but it appears to be working properly. The OmniSky wasn’t so lucky unfortunately. The lights work somewhat properly, but it cannot connect to the network and access anything. It will have to be replaced.

This experience has taught me a few things and readers here might benefit from them as well:

1. Don’t sit coffee or any other liquid next to your Palm. (Yes I hear many of you yelling “no kidding!” ;) For further precaution, consider using a watertight carrying case.

2. Create or buy some sort of holster, or mount, for keeping your Palm up out of the way in a vehicle. There are commercial products that can be bought for mounting your Palm, however even a cheap slipper case would work. Putting Velcro on the back of a cheap slipper case (or the free case sent with the OmniSky modem) is much more acceptable in my mind than putting it on the Palm or modem themselves, and doing so will allow you to “mount” the slipper case then slide the Palm and/or Modem combination into it while driving.

3. If possible, carry a backup wireline or wireless modem. Keep it tucked away in a safe place *just in case*.

4. If possible, carry a backup Palm unit loaded with your most important data. The backup unit does not have to be the exact model of your main Palm – A used or lower end unit will work just fine. The purpose of this is to have access to your most important materials if something should happen to your main unit, so this should also be tucked away in a safe place. Before leaving on a trip be sure to sync *both* units to ensure you’re carrying current material on both of them.

5. If you carry a laptop in addition to your Palm, be sure you carry installation files or CDs with it for your primary Palm software. This option could be more viable than the fourth option above if you tend to carry a laptop with you most of the time anyway.

In general, carrying a Palm while traveling gives me access to everything I’ll need, so a laptop is not necessary. When I combine my Palm with the OmniSky wireless modem I feel completely untethered and I enjoy trips immensely. For everyone that feels the same way about their Palm, or uses it for access while traveling, taking just a few precautions will save you a lot of headaches and stress (Not to mention money) in the long run.

Ready for the rest? Get the full booklet — Don’t Put Into Email Today What You Do Not Want to See on Headline News Tomorrow — right now for just $6.95! Visit Kathy’s website and get it now! http://electronicperceptions.com/ebooks/effective_email.shtml

A Day In The Life Of Mobile Handheld Computing
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About Kathy Burns
Ready for the rest? Get the full booklet -- Don't Put Into Email Today What You Do Not Want to See on Headline News Tomorrow -- right now for just $6.95! Visit Kathy's website and get it now! http://electronicperceptions.com/ebooks/effective_email.shtml WebProNews Writer
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