Brent Chiodo

Have you ever gotten tired of the plain, boring, bland Google Search page? Doesn’t blue on white get old after a while? If so, then check out Google Colors: it spruces up Google with 5 different color combinations. You’ll never want to use the plain old Google again.

Below are five different links taking you to a whole new Google Search experience. Remember, same great Google Results and layout, just with a bit of style. Continue reading »

As some of you may know, mobile game producer PDAMill stopped developing and supporting their Palm OS games early last year and took them off the market. Recently though, they posted this on their website:

Several years ago, we developed many of our great titles for the Palm OS platform. However, in February of 2007 the decision to stop development for the Palm platform was made and our products were then discontinued.

Until now, all of these titles were only available to customers who had purchased the games in the past. Due to an incredibly high demand, we have now released all of our past Palm titles for FREE!

Catch the details and download the games for Free here on PDAMills website.

Thanks to Magellan at Brighthand for the tip.

As many of you may know, except for newer Treos and the Centro Smartphone, Palm OS devices are not able to use High Capacity SD expansion cards (referred to as SDHC cards). It is not that the hardware doesn’t support this newer standard, but that these older devices would need a new Driver to be able to use them. Over the years, there has been many complaints about this, but there has been little action to do anything about it. Recently though, Dmitry Grinberg (of PalmPowerUps) has agreed to try to write an SDHC driver for the TX, T5, and Lifedrive devices. There is one catch, he’ll only start the project if 100 people or more, in good faith, say they will purchase the driver for $20 once it is completed. In this thread at the 1src.com forums, you can vote for whether you would pay $20 to buy the Driver to use SDHC Cards.

What are you waiting for, head over to 1src!

Recently Astraware announced the release of a new game, Westward for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile, and it promises to bring the Wild West to your handheld device. Astraware is renown for its quality games and has many smash hits, but how would Westward stack up?

Gameplay

The gameplay is set in the old Wild West where you visit different places, talk to different people, and take part in interesting quests.

 Astraware Westward   The Review Astraware Westward   The Review

Right off the bat I could see Westward has great graphics, and since playing the game for a while, my opinion hasn’t changed. They are really top-notch, keeping with the rest of Astrawares games.

 Astraware Westward   The Review Astraware Westward   The Review

When you start a game for the first time, it guides you through an interactive tutorial. I was always a big fan of interactive tutorials, and this one is implemented perfectly. It doesn’t totally explain everything (like what all the buttons do), but it nudges you in the right direction.

 Astraware Westward   The Review Astraware Westward   The ReviewStory

Westward has a pretty good background story that is interthreaded throughout the game (but I won’t tell you what it is!) You land in your first town after the tutorial scene called “Hope River”. It is pretty easy to get established in this new town as raw resources are very abundant (Trees for Wood, Gold Veins, ect). After you get set up in this town, the game will present you with side-quests. In the beginning, these quests teach you how to do new things that you will need to know in the future (put out Fires, build Bridges, ect.). But I assure you, later in the game these side-quests become very interesting.

Soon you will leave this first town and travel to new ones. It seems that the further you get in the game the harder it is to succeed, and I really think Astraware did a great job with this aspect. It is not so hard where you put the game down in frustration, but not so easy as you walk right through it. You will find yourself saving the game at different intervals quite frequently as you progress further in Westward.

User Interaction

As with all Applications for the Palm OS, there are two ways to control Westward; Using the touchscreen or hard buttons. It seems that Astraware has really tried to have the game controlled totally with either method of input. And they’ve been pretty much successful. I prefer using the hard buttons to control games – even though there are only 4 buttons plus the 5-way navigator on my Palm TX. But with some things, I still had to pull out the stylus. For example, I could never get the hang of multi-selecting a group of people with the buttons, and I don’t think there is any way to reform a drunk with using just hard-buttons. I noticed Astraware makes no use of the other buttons, only the five-way, and I think they could be put to use to make the stylus totally unnecessary. All in all though, the interface is very nice, and once you understand what all the on-screen buttons do, it is very intuitive.

Issues

One of the things I noticed was that the game takes a very long time to load on my Palm TX. Although the seemingly endless amount of tips that are displayed during loading help to offset this, it was still a little bothersome. I’m usually the type of game player that plays for 10 minutes, then comes back to it in a little while, so this was especially noticeable.

One of my other little issues with Westward, was it is a little hard to see some of the intricate details at times. I often found myself squinting to see it in bright lighting conditions. I had no trouble with subdued lighting, but it might be something to consider and make sure is fine for you (there is a free trial available).

Conclusion

All in all I really enjoyed Westward, and this coming from a person who usually doesn’t play games on my handheld device – or anywhere else for that matter. I felt that the great gameplay, graphics, subject, and overall experience certainly outweighed the couple issues I found with it. Credit to Astraware for another quality game.

Westward retails for $20, and can be purchased at the TamsPalm Shop. A free trial is also available.

Last time we talked about converting files between different formats on your computer with the excellent Zamzar, but what about opening archives directly on board your device? There is nothing more frustrating, in my opinion, than not being able to open certain archives on your device. For the most common archive format – ZIP – I recommend the versatile Resco Explorer, which handles these with ease. But what if you need to open one of the less common archive formats, like RAR for example? Well until now you were out of luck; your only option was to use the MobileRAR Java Midlet that could run inside the IBM JVM which Palm no longer offers for download, and even then it was horribly unreliable. Any file over 5KB it would either spit out and not unpack at all, or it would corrupt it – not something I would want to rely on.

But once again we turn to an online source to help us out. Just the other day I came across a website called WobZip and it claims to allow you to decompress a whole host files online, including 7z, ZIP, GZIP, TAR, RAR, and CAB, just to name a few. It clearly said that it is still under development and may not be the most reliable, but it performed flawlessly in my tests. But the best part is that it can be used directly from within Blazer (you need either PalmOne Files installed or maybe TreoOfflineViewer), NetFront and most other Palm Browsers (obviously, if you were on a PC, you could just use something like 7ZIP…). I may not trust it with really important stuff, but for normal things, it has worked great.

What do you think?

In my opinion, one of the biggest hassles in the computer world is all of the different file formats for everything. Something we always have to consider when taking files with us from our computer on our mobile device is “does my mobile device support this format”? As it goes, mobile devices usually don’t support nearly the amount of formats our desktop computers do, so to accomplish compatibility, we often have to do file conversions. Depending on the original format and your target format, conversion can be as easy as re-saving something off or much more complicated. And sometimes our computers can’t even convert the files without the help of third party software, that yes, you must install. Fortunately there are other options. A while back I found an online file converter at Zamzar.com that I’ve been extremely pleased with. It supports a wide variety of formats, including the ever elusive flv one (Yes, you can convert YouTUBE videos), and works quite nicely. Although you do have to input your Email address so they can email you the link to your converted document when it is finished, I’ve never had any problems with SPAM or such. For me, Zamzar has been a valuable tool in combating format incompatibilities, and I highly recommend it.

Tell us what you think!

Today I’m pleased to announce that I am able to release Version 1 of my OpenMoko Theme Project based on the look of the Open Source OpenMoko Project. As some of you may know by reading this post here at TamsPalm or by following my threads at both 1src and Brighthand, I’ve been working on this project for over three months. There may well be bugs/glitches, as this is my first project of this magnitude, but I can assure you all the skins/themes are working perfectly on my Palm TX. Included in this package are skins for:

  • AppIcon
  • AppShelf
  • IconPlus
  • MySkin/Kbd
  • PalmRevolt
  • PictureLogin

Present OpenMoko Theme Project for Palm OS   Released!

This theme is 100% free to use, distribute and modify. Looking back this was a huge project which entailed a great deal of work, but in the end was a labor of love. If you enjoy using this theme package and wish to make a small donation to offset its development costs, please refer to the ReadMe! document contained within the ZIP archive for more information. You can download the package either at 1src’s Freeware Section or via this direct link!

Thank you.

__________________

Best Regards,

Brent Chiodo

 

I’ve been a long time user of TeikeiDA, FreePadDA’s sister application, but recently I downloaded FreePadDA in the hope it would be better than TeikeiDA. When I first starting using Teikei, I used it mostly for Web Logins in Blazer and unimportant passwords, but more recently I started using it for Web Development. I could keep it preprogrammed with common HTML tags, then just invoke them into the doc I’m creating/editing. Here is a screenshot of my Teikei memo entry (if you want to find how to input different commands in Teikei or FreePad, there are many tutorials available online).

 FreePadDA   A cool use I found for it

I soon found the number of categories (or columns) to few, and really wondered why the developer didn’t extend the form all the way to the left of the screen.

 FreePadDA   A cool use I found for it

I was pleasantly surprised to see FreePad utilize the whole screen, and thus add two more columns. I was also intrigued by the new interface, where instead of tapping on the screen to paste that text into the underlying text field, you can tap on multiple entries, and it’ll paste it into its own text field, then you have to manually paste it in. This can save launching the DA more than you have to, because you can combine two or more entries before you have to exit i.e. if I want to center align something in an HTML document I can use the <div align=center>This is center aligned</div> tag by first clicking the Div command then the align tag without exiting FreePadDA. But the problem with FreePad, is the interface is not set up for for this kind of use.

 FreePadDA   A cool use I found for it

With long tag names, the end of the names are cut off and this is very undesirable , there are buttons you don’t need, and a vertical layout is much harder to use than a horizontal one. So to accommodate my seemingly rare use, I totally redesigned the UI to look like this.

 FreePadDA   A cool use I found for it

It was maybe a one hour job (I did it in between watching football on Sunday night ;-) ), and it has allowed me to web develop much faster than I could otherwise.

What do you think?

As we mentioned here, the TamsPalm team is going to be taking on the task of reviewing most of the popular launchers available. This is Part I, where we take a test drive with Propel.

Propel by Iambic, is an alternate launcher for Applications, Memos, Documents, Files and Contacts on your handheld device. After you download and run the installer, you can choose wether to use Standard or Professional version. (This review focuses on the Professional Version).

screen1 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

Clicking the “Yes, let’s go!” button will launch Propel, where it will refresh your data. Unfortunately my device crashed during this process. Upon reboot, Propel says it has crashed, and the problem was with my Memos database, and to check it to make sure there are no problems.

screen2 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

I checked my Memos, and everything seemed to be fine. I even deleted many of the Memos I really didn’t need, hoping that I might delete the one(s) that caused the problem, but that did not fix anything. This was very frustrating, not being able to even get Propel to launch, but we did like that it at least specified where the problem was, instead of just crashing without any error logging (although, we wished it wouldn’t of crashed at all!).

Finally I was able to have a crash-less refresh, so I was able to actually use Propel (I changed the Application that handles Memos from Memo Pad to PsMemo, and that seemed to solve the problem, but I have no idea why)

screen3 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

Launching Applications was a little harder than I would’ve liked, as Propel uses a nonstandard scroll bar, but maybe it was something I just need to get used to. The real killer feature for Treo users is the ability to launch applications by pressing the letter of the app you want to launch. Propel will then show you a list of apps that start with that letter, where you can either navigate to what you want to open with the five-way, or further specify your search by typing in more letters.

screen4 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

Although technically you can also do this by using the on-screen keyboard with your 320×480 Palm PDA, it certainly is not as easy because the keyboard is not always on-screen.

Propel has a bunch of different views that can be used to launch anything from Music to Memos to Contacts, and this worked well.

screen5 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel screen6 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

(Blacked out by me)

screen7 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

Propel has many different options, and this seems sort of overwhelming when you first start using it.

screen8 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel screen9 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

screen10 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel screen11 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

One option that doesn’t seem to be available, is adjusting the font size on a area by area basis, i.e. I personally like the font for the Applications quite small, but everything else larger. When I set the font small, it makes the top tabs really small and hard to press.

screen12 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

Another thing we disliked, was the way to select Application tabs. If you have more categories than one screen width can “fit”, then the only way to get to these other categories is to press the little arrow buttons to the left or right side of the tabs.

screen13 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

The problem is that the arrows change the categories one by one, so I had to press that button about six times to get to my last category. Maybe instead of this, there can be a drop down menu or have the tab area support icons so you don’t overflow one screen, but whatever it is, this needs a little work. Propel also has a nifty little feature called Favorites that allows you to specify Favorites for stuff you access often. For example, you can select some Applications as Favorites and also some Memos, and when you select Favorite Mode everything else will be filtered out, except what you have preselected.

screen14 Launcher Review Series Part I   Propel

Pros

  • Ability to not only launch Applications, but most types of other data too.
  • Favorites feature
  • Type to search (esp. for Smartphone users)

Cons

  • Instability
  • Hard-to-use tabbed interface
  • Overcomplicated
  • Font Size only adjustable on a whole view basis
  • Statusbar cannot be taken off-screen in Propel (I know some people like to do this)
  • No double column list view to maximize space

In Conclusion

The idea and attempted functionality of Propel is great, make it a “one stop shop” for most of your data on your device, if you will, but the implementation is a little weak. This software attempts to do a lot of things, and some things it does well (like the Favorites), but it really needs a serious overhaul to do them all right. If you’d like to try out Propel, and see if it fits your needs, a free trial can be downloaded here. Unfortunately a TamsPalm Shop discount was not possible for this review, as we normally do, but Propel Professional Edition can still be purchased at full retail price here.

One of the most popular replacement software items people get for their Palm OS device, is a replacement launcher. But the real problem is which one do you get? I mean, there are so many options, each one offering different functionality, different features, ect., it is often hard to choose. This is why we are going to be reviewing some of the more popular launchers, giving you our opinions, and just try to make finding the launcher to fit your needs easier. The first launcher we will be reviewing is Propel – so stay tuned!

LineUp by PDA Performance, is an application for the Palm OS that displays “Widgets”. What exactly is a Widget? It is a small almost “plugin like” interface that displays online or offline information (more about these Widgets in Part II of this review). LineUp is based on the code of Saguaro, the multitasking interface that PDA Performance is supposed to be coming out with in the future. LineUp comes in a 2.1MB PRC file, that you can install to either internal memory, or an expansion card. Upon launching LineUp, I was mildly surprised by how fast it launched considering its size. After launching it, you are presented with a empty screen.

 LineUp   The Review Part I

Pressing the plus button brings up a list of currently installed Widgets (Widgets can be downloaded from here).

 LineUp   The Review Part I

Selecting the Widget you want, then tapping Ok will open that Widget. One thing to note, is that most of the Widgets currently available pull news from websites, and thus require an Internet connection. You can also open another Widget, and scroll through them with the arrow buttons. When scrolling through them, LineUp displays some cool visual effects, which starts with a “zoom and fade in”, then the selected Widget kind of “slides in” from the right. Even though these effects are cool, I would really like to see them take a little less time, but maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Tapping the Gear button will open a popup list that will give all the options for the current Widget, and also some application-wide options (this pop-up is also available by tapping the Menu button on your device).

 LineUp   The Review Part I

The interface of LineUp is rather cool, and we clearly see Saguaro’s roots in it. If you click a pop-up like the About ones, you can drag it around wherever you want, and as opposed the rest of the Palm OS, you can open a window, and still use what’s under that window, in this case the Widget.

 LineUp   The Review Part I

At this time, it seems LineUp cannot be switched to Landscape view while you are in the application. If you do so, you get a distorted screen like this:

 LineUp   The Review Part I

But when we switched to Landscape view before we launched LineUp, it displays as expected. We don’t know if it is a bug, or just an oversight, but we do hope that it gets fixed in future releases.

 LineUp   The Review Part I

There are currently 23 Widgets available, and most of them are news-based. Meaning that, they are almost like little RSS readers that display news content from various websites (CNN, CNET, FOX, Digg, ESPN, ect.).

 LineUp   The Review Part I

 LineUp   The Review Part I

 LineUp   The Review Part I

The font displayed can be changed on a per-Widget basis, and supports a wide range of sizes, we really liked this feature.

 LineUp   The Review Part I

 LineUp   The Review Part I

At this point in time, the fact that most of the Widgets are news-based, limits LineUps functionality, but PDA Performance promises us that more Widgets are going to be coming out soon, including a Weather and World Clock one. They have even said that there will be a Software Development Kit made available, so that 3rd party developers can make their own Widgets. We hope that this happens, because we would really like to see LineUps functionality increase, as we definitely think it has potential.

Pros
Cool interface (even if it is a little slow!)
Possibility of almost unlimited expandability with the addition of Widgets
Multitasking feel

Cons
You cannot specify which browser LineUp opens links in (We hope that this functionality is added to LineUp, because it opened the Universe browser on my device, and I would’ve preferred it opened Blazer.)
Landscape orientation didn’t quite work
Mostly news-based Widgets (we’d like to see more selection of available Widgets)
Flipping through Widgets was a little to slow for me (am I to impatient?)

In Conclusion
Even though the Con list was longer than the Pro one, this is to be expected as this is a very new Application. I felt that the potential of LineUp is only limited by the amount of Widgets available for it, and overall I liked this product.

LineUp costs $30, and can be purchased from the PDA Performance Store.

Ryan Rix will be covering Part II of this review, which will go into greater detail about the Widgets available and their functions, including a soon-to-be-released Weather one, so stay tuned!

PalmOne Files is an application that debuted on the Tungsten T5 and has been included since then on the Lifedrive and newer Treos. One of the most useful features was the Open File menu option it created in Blazer seen here.

 PalmOne Files 2.1   What Happened to the Open File Option?

Selecting “Open File” will allow you to browse to the local file you want to open.

 PalmOne Files 2.1   What Happened to the Open File Option?

Now when we delete PalmOne Files 2.0 from the Lifedrive, and install version 2.1 from the newest Palm smartphone – the Centro – this menu option mysteriously disappears on my TX.

 PalmOne Files 2.1   What Happened to the Open File Option?

Palm, what happened to it?

If you are like me, then you are spelling impaired, but are there any solutions for this problem on a Palm device? Most of you probably know Documents To Go Premium Edition has a spell checker, but how about something else that is easily accessible in all applications? I use a little-known, not in active development spell checker called Spell5. It is totally Free, and works great. But no, it does not automatically underline every misspelled word like on your desktop, but it does work with the Clipboard in kind of a cool way. It automatically Copies/Pastes to and from the Clipboard (and the Cutpaste5 Clipboard if you have that installed) when you start Spell5, and when you exit it. So to check the spelling of of a word or block of text you would have to do something like this:

Copy to the Clipboard whatever you want to spell check.

 Spelling Solutions For Your Palm

Exit your currently running application and launch Spell5. Spell5 will then automatically paste the text from the Clipboard into its text field.

 Spelling Solutions For Your Palm

Where you can then hit the “Check” button to check the spelling. It will then check the spelling by showing the misspelled word with a list of correct choices (much like when you right-click a misspelled word in Windows).

 Spelling Solutions For Your Palm

Where you can either Replace/Skip/Learn/Cancel the current operation. Once you exit Spell5, it will copy the contents of its text field (the one that you just corrected the spelling of) back to the Clipboard, where you can then paste the correctly spelled text to wherever you need. You may be asking, that I stated a spell checker that was “easily accessible from all applications”, and this didn’t fit those guidelines. Well I myself use a great Shareware Application from Alex Pruss called OnTop that will allow you to launch Applications on top of others, instead of having to exit the currently running program. This works beautifully in conjunction with Spell5 to make spell checking text very easy, but this does not mean you have to have OnTop to use Spell5, it just makes it more convenient.

What do you think?

Well today when I was checking my Gmail account, I happen to notice Gmail’s storage is now over 5 Gigabytes.

gmail Gmail Now Over 5GB

I’m so glad Google gives this much storage, because at the rate I’m using it, I need it ;-)

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