This is not a full review, but an update of Brent’s excellent review of Iambic’s launcher.   I luckily did not encounter the crash that Brent did, but upon installation propel installed itself and then seemed to have some conflict, I believe with Uninstall Manager.  I was presented with a white screen which I was able to exit by pressing a hard key.  The rest of the install/registration process went very smoothly.

In preferences->programs to use I would have liked to be able to change the handling of avi and mpg files to TCPMP, but the choice was not available.  As a matter of fact there seemed to be no way to change it at all.  When I tapped on “Media” it stated that only Media could handle these type of files.  Instead I ended up using APT to redirect calls for MEDIA to TCPMP.  That being said, the implementation is very nice.  I particularly liked that programs were suggested that were not even on you device, so you would then know what applications to look for to handle those files (see image 2 below – note that the apps in paraenthesis are not resident on my device).

programstouse mediaonly Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambicprogramstouse suggestions Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic

Although it isn’t new, I liked the ability to set various backgrounds, especially the option to use a faster cached version of a jpg.  I didn’t like the fact that when the background is displayed, it only displays in 320×320 view instead of using my full 320×480 or 480×320 screen space.  Propel itself uses all screen space available, so I’m not sure why it limits the backgrounds, even the built in palm image I used in the first image below.  Backgrounds I took from my own jpgs were similarly limited and images I had sized to fit to my screen (320×480) also experienced shrinking side to side (image 2 below).  The only way I was able to get a full screen background is by choosing “solid colour” in the background choice and selecting a color (see image 3).

backproblem Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambicbackprob2 Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic baclsolid Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic

A welcome addition is the ability to Display icons or names or both on the category tabs.  You can only display up to 8 tabs at a time even with the view set to icons only (more if you go into landscape mode, but that’s another story).  Iambic should revisit this aspect of the launcher.  I use LauncherX and can get 11 tabs with icons only across the same screen.  This is important for anyone who wants to do some categorization of their apps.  I confess that I didn’t play around with the skins in propel and that I needed to find a skin in LX that would allow me to display that many tabs (not all do).

Propel vs LauncherX

icontabs8 Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambiclxsetup16 Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic

The Favorites and Hidden Items preferences section title bar came out garbled:

garbledtitlebar Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic

I think it was well thought out to provide navigation option for your hard keys while inside propel.  I found a major drawback to be no options for the 5 way toggle and the default implementation of its use was at best non-intuitive.  For instance moving between tabs is not possible as far as I can tell with the 5way or d-pad.  It is nice that I can use it to go up and down as well as sideways within a tab and go up to the tab bar and then down to the tools bar and navigate through that.

settinghk Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic

Like Resco, Iambic has put in an item that gets updates for the software.  Unlike the Resco update feature, the feature in Propel will get much more – bookmarks, skins, backgrounds, and plugins.

updates Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic

After messing around in all the preferences I found that it was starting to hang a bit.  it was only during certain operations (setting the preferences for the resco backup plugin made it hang for 15 minutes before I decided to stop it).

Categorizing using the tabs was a little difficult.  I would have liked something akin to a drop down of existing tabs during a tap and hold, instead of actions.  This is of course a setup impression, I would guess it is handier to have the actions drop down after setup.  But in the course of trying to drag and drop icons from one tab to another, the app ended up moving my SDHC driver file to the card instead of moving it to another tab.  I had to reinstall my driver in order to access my card.  This mistaken move happened more times than the app actually moved to the correct tab, until I got used to scrolling the app to the top of the tab tap and dragging correctly.  Also it seems it is easier to move icons between categories when in the list view – 1 column of apps per tab.

There is still a problem if you want to hide the status bar.  On my TX the statusbar did disappear but it left a blank white area and propel reverted to 320×320 mode.  When I tapped to bring the statusbar back, it reappeared and propel came back to 320×480 mode.

hidestatusbarprob Propel launcher 2.3 from Iambic

Pros

  • Icon view in categories
  • integrated with Icon Manager to bring in new icons or edit existing ones
  • update feature is very encompassing
  • Type to search great for finding apps or files in advanced view
  • Backgrounds for different tabs
  • skinning
  • I liked that you could assign most file types to be handled by your own installed applications (and if you weren’t sure what to use there were even suggestions as to what application to get)

Cons

  • Iambic didn’t address the problem with setting different font sizes for different aspects of the app (categories, apps, etc)
  • Although there is now an icon view in the categories, there can only be 8 categories visible at any one time and there is no drop down to access categories not displayed (like the tabs in FireFox).
  • The tabbed interface is difficult to use (see my section on dragging and dropping)
  • For all intents and purposes, the statusbar still cannot be taken off the screen in propel
  • 5 way navigation is not implemented well
  • There was a garbled text error in one of the preferences screens
  • Backgrounds from images that should have filled the whole screen did not, the only thing that did was the solid color option
  • The program does not allow you to reassign which program handles avi and mpg files – it is set to use Media only

The game of weight gain/loss is an age-old one…some people weigh too much, while others (like yours truly) weigh too little. As body fat transfers have not been invented yet, sensible and strict dieting is the only thing one can do to regain control. iambic’s Health&Diet manager wants to make your life easier…but can it stack up?

Before the program can be used, a profile must be created. These contain diet goals, weight settings and other information, and allow multiple users to share one installation of HDM:
0a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review 0b Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review 0c Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

Once a profile has been activated, the program switches to “overview” mode. It lists your caloric balance for the day, among other things:
1a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

Calorie intakes have to be added – this is ideally accomplished via food already contained in the (well-filled) database:
2a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review 2b Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

Once your food of choice has been found, the exact amount must be entered:
3a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

Special activities (sports) deduct calories from your body. Thus, they must be entered, too:
4a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review 4b Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

Actual weight data can be added by hand to help the program determine your caloric needs:
0c Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

The program furthermore contains a lovely BMI calculator – stop fighting around with tables and start getting meaningful results:
6a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

Finally, ideal training pulse rates can be computed:
7a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

Even though metric units can be activated in the prefs, some settings always remain in US units:
8a Health&Diet manager for Palm OS   the review

This review looked at version 3.01 of the program on a Treo 680. The program was stable in the reviewing period and needs about 3 MB of RAM.

In the end, diet managers lve and die by their users discipline and the database quality. While no software in the world can affect the first, the database always was a neuralgic point for this kind of program. iambic’s HDM is no exception – while its database is useful and well-filled, a slight “american slant” can always be felt. As the program is well-done otherwise, I consider it best-of-breed…get the free trial before deciding if its worth the 20$ for you!

A while back I compared Resco’s IDGuard with SplashID (see “Resco idguard versus splashid: whats in your pocket“).  I’ve been beta testing the desktop component Resco has created for IDGuard.  The app is just about ready for release.  You can already get the latest beta directly from here, or go to this page to read about it and download from the beta section on the page.

Previously, my only real reservation about switching from SplashID to IDGuard was the lack of the desktop component, I have switched now.  Resco is honing the desktop component for release (there are still a few bugs, although not in the conduit).

More to come when I’ve more fully tested it!

Agendus Initial Screen I confess that I am not and have never been an Agendus user, so it’s all new to me. I’ve been very happy using the built-in PIMs since I started using a palm OS device over 10 years ago. Recently, I’ve become unenthusiastic with Blazer, Memos and Versamail and replaced the first two and deleted the third. So when the chance to review Agendus came along, I took it.

First a caveat. I started looking at this app and was taken aback by the plethora of features and options available. I almost decided against writing this review due to the immensity of the task.  So I have not reviewed every feature of this app.  I’ve picked some of the items I thought were significant and looked into them.

INSTALLATION:
First I needed to install the app. In most cases installing a palm application is relatively easy, just extract from a zip archive and install the appropriate prc/pdb files. In some cases there is an exe installer that does the job for you. Iambic gave Agendus a better installer. Put the agendus prc file onto your palm. The first time you run it, it is the installer that runs. When the installer finishes it erases itself. It installs 4 launchable apps: Agendus Pro, Agendus Tour, Iambic Store, and TinyChart (not an application itself but it is used by tinysheet to create the charts in some views in Agendus).

Overview:
I have to admit to being wowed when I first launched the Agendus Pro application. This application should have come as part of the Palm OS. The interface is easy to use, navigation is intuitive and the initial screen brings together everything you might want to see onto one screen. Some things I didn’t even expect to see in this PIM replacement app and was pleasantly surprised. Having the weather is handy, the quote of the day and “this day in History” are nice additions, and if you follow your own stocks, having a mini ticker there is nice (although they do take up screen space and any of the items can be deselected in the slots preferences screen). Each item is collapsible and you can configure how many items (e.g., meetings) you want displayed at a time – the default is 3. I also liked the advertised ability to plan trips and track projects, unfortunately, initially I couldn’t try either of these because each time I tried to create a new project or new trip, my device reset. Note that when I test software I restore a backup set that was created after a hard reset and some fiddling around with deleting and adding certain applications. This is a stable configuration and should not cause a reset. With a little help from Iambic, I was up and running again. It turned out that somehow the files used to store the trip and project information had become corrupted, I deleted these 2 files and they were recreated the next time I tried to create a trip and a project. (thank you to Michael from Iambic quality assurance for setting me straight).

The Agendus Tour which installs with the application is worth taking. For an Agendus newbie like myself, it was very helpful to be shown the meaning of all the various icons. As well as some features that would’ve taken me some time to discover otherwise. Here are some screenshots from the tour.

Agendus toolbarAgendus Hyperlinks

I found Page 8 to be very helpful since I didn’t know what any of the icons meant. Page 3 was informative. I find the fact that you can link to your web browser call a phone number or send an email all from this screen a great feature. Unfortunately I have a TX, so I couldn’t test the phone call link, but otherwise I really liked this ability.

Agendus TripsAgendus Directions

The ability to get driving directions worked seamlessly and came in very handy. Once you use it you won’t want to get directions any other way.  You do need to install the free Google Maps app for it to work.

As you probably already have guessed there are 14 pages of info in the tour. I found all of it helpful.

Agendus uses the databases on your device to populate it’s views. This has it’s ups and downs. When I started Agendus no sort view was selected for the contacts. Which was no big deal, but when I started the built in contacts app again the names were all jumbled up – unsorted. If I sorted them by name in the Agendus Contact view, they are correctly sorted in the built-in contacts view. On the other hand you don’t have to reenter or import any of your data.

On the down side the app is no lightweight – it takes up a couple of MBs of space. According to Memory Info when Agendus is running it takes up about 4mb of DBCache (out of a total of 13mb of usable DBCache on a TX is significant).

No matter how you slice it, Agendus has so many features, both new and from previous versions, that there is something for everyone. I personally found the free time finder extremely helpful. I needed to find four hours to meet with a colleague and so I started Agendus, tapped the title bar and chose the tools menu. I selected Free time Finder and this screen came up:

Agendus Free Time Finder initial screen

Then I tapped Advanced to get this screen (which allowed me to set some more restrictions on how I wanted the search to proceed):

Agendus Free Time Finder Advanced options

I tapped okay and set the time to 4 hours and then tapped okay again. the result was the first screen below. When I tapped the down arrow on the 18th I got the second screen below:

Agendus Free Time Finder - found time monthly viewAgendus Free Time Finder - found time down arrow

Tapping the time designated above (8:00 am – 2:00 pm) brought me to a screen to schedule the meeting.
Agendus Free Time Finder - schedule meeting view

The busier your schedule, the more useful you will find this feature.

This is definitely a program you should try out. And this is also one of those programs you need to read the manual for or you are likely to get lost, even with the tour. Agendus 12.05 is feature rich, and after my first installation problems were solved, it has run like a charm. I tend to look at my files using a file manager quite a bit, so the fact that there was no application named Agendus was slightly confusing. The actual file name of the app is ActNames.prc. Before trying you might even want to go to Agendus’ home page to read about it or to the Agendus page on this website.

vfsusage root graphicalI was scrolling through some freeware apps and came upon this gem. Have you ever wondered what was taking up all that space on your card? This app creates a graphical representation of your card which is dynamic (in that you can tap on any section and it zooms in (give it a few seconds to redraw the screen).

You can toggle between the graphical view and a files listing that shows the size of each file and the percent of the card taken up by the file.

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vfsusage root-palm-programs listThe toggle changes from a list graphic in the graphical view to a pie graphic in the list view. When you are in the graphical view and tap a section you zoom into that section and percentages change to be of that section only (instead of a percent of the whole card), while the section percent changes to 100%.

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For example if you change from the root directory view in the first screenshot to the root->palm view to the palm->programs view and then to the palm->programs->powerrun view, the screenshots from my card look like this:

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vfsusage root graphicalvfsusage root-palm graphicalvfsusage root-palm-programs graphicalvfsusage root-palm-programs-powerrun graphical

You can also display the freespace you have on your card by going to preferences and asking it to show free space:

vfsusage with freespace graphical

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VFSUsage is a handy tool to see where the clutter is and clean up your card. It is very similar to the PC utility Sequoia, but is more versatile. You can get it from the freeware section of www.1src.com, or the direct URL is:

http://www.1src.com/freeware/fileinfo.php?id=1720

I often post screenshots to help explain what I’m talking about or to illustrate a point I’m trying to make. More than a few times people have asked me how I produced the screenshot to begin with. Either they were unsatisfied with what they were using or they didn’t know what to use at all.

I’ve found a couple of very good utilities and tried many more. The 2 I like best are HRCaptDA 1.85E (freeware) and Screenshot5 (shareware). These are the easiest to use in my opinion, and provide the best functionality. Both take full screen screenshots (including the DIA and the statusbar).

hrcaptdm initial screenHRCaptDA 1.85E is, you guessed it, a Desk Accessory. It can be launched from within any application using a DA launcher, like DALauncher, myKbd, MultiLaunch, MetaDA, ZLauncher, McPhling or anything else that can either assign a DA to a hard key or act as a DA launcher. It has a companion app called HRCaptDM. The DM app supposedly lets you manage the images captured using the DA. Unfortunately, this app crashes my TX if I try to open more than one image with it. You must set the preferences for HRCaptDA with it, but beyond that you can forget about it. I have it setup so it saves all it’s screenshots to my card in .bmp format. This is not great since most forums and the like require either jpg or gif format. To set up storing the images on your card, in the file manager part of this – HrCaptDM – use the drop down menu in the upper right corner to select MS (Memory Stick, but this works for an SD card) instead of CLIE (which puts the file in main memory).

hrcaptdm prefshrcaptdm prefs ms settingsThen use the menu option “Saves to MS Setting…” to choose the format of the image file, ie BMP or BMP 24BIT. After you do this, images will be stored in /Palm/PROGRAMS/HrCapt on the SD card. Now you are good to go! Other than the image viewing causing crashes on my TX , it works very well. I just don’t use the DM app to do anything other than set the preferences.

You can get HRCapt from this Japanese URL, just click on the link at the top of the page – it downloads the english version:

http://www.excite.co.jp/world/english/web/(…)&wb_lp=JAEN&wb_dis=2&wb_co=excitejapan

screenshot initial screenScreenShot5 is a shareware app from LinkeSoft. You can configure it to launch from any hard button and you can configure a delay time as well. One can also set it to auto repeat every set number of seconds , beep on taking a screenshot, take fullscreen or not (DIA and statusbar included or not). You can easily view your captures from within the app and export them to your card with a base name. You can also choose the format you wish to export in (jpg, bmp, gif), and the directory on your card to which you wish to export. For instance, if you have 3 images and use the base name “test” and export as jpg, your card will contain test.jpg, test0000.jpg, test0002.jpg. If you have already used that base name, it starts numbering from where it left off.

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screenshot5 export format dropdownscreenshot5 export dialog

Previous screen shots were all taken with Screenshot in fullscreen mode, the one on the right was

screenshot5 not fullscreen

taken with the fullscreen box unchecked (Notice that it doesn’t show the DIA and statusbar):

You can get ScreenShot5 from LinkeSoft for $15 USD here:

http://linkesoft.com/screenshot/order.html

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Recently, I was the beneficiary of a “sweet” deal from Resco. Resco Suite is comprised of many of the company’s apps for PalmOS (See Tam’s review). Since I already owned Resco Explorer 2007, Resco Viewer, and Resco Backup Pro, the suite didn’t really interest me until they decided that users who owned 3 or more Resco products could get a 70% discount on Resco Suite! I was sold so I now own the lot. My first idea was to use IDGuard instead of SplashID to keep all that information protected on my palm.

What about a desktop conduit? I should get this out of the way right at the beginning. SplashID has a desktop conduit and IDGuard doesn’t. I spoke to Jan Slodicka at Resco about what he thought the timetable for getting a desktop component for IDGuard would be. He thought that there could be a conduit in about 6 weeks. In my opinion, this is the major benefit of SplashID over IDGuard. Once IDGuard has a conduit, it will be hands down the best PalmOS Identity protection app out there.  IDGuard NOW has a backup conduit!

Importing records: The first hurdle was getting the data from SplashID into IDGuard. At first I had problems, the import feature in IDGuard choked when importing a vID export file from SplashID – it imported just 29 of over 300 records I had. On the Other hand the import of the SplashID pdb went fine (once I took the password off the SplashID database). Resco was great when it came to troubleshooting this and now the import works perfectly, vID or pdb file. For your own protection IDGuard can’t decrypt the SplashID database, you must know the password and remove it first.

Some benefits of IDGuard over SplashID:

  • Documents: Safe storage, safe processing
  • Audio/image attachments
  • Reminders

You can attach documents to a record. These documents can be in most formats you find on your device – doc/xls/ppt/pdf/images/html/zip/txt/audio/etc. When you attach a file IDGuard asks if you wish to delete the original. In this way you encrypt a file and delete the unencrypted version. You can open the document directly from IDGuard, with 2 caveats – 1) you need a reader for the type of document you are opening (e.g., Documents 2 Go for .doc files) and 2) the reader needs to be in RAM. By default I keep all my D2G applications on my card (you can move applications to the card from within D2G). When I tried to open a .doc file the screen blanked for a second then returned to the login screen of IDGuard. After I moved the application into RAM it opened beautifully. Depending on the application, IDGuard will either make a temporary file that is opened, then deleted when it is finished (as with images viewed with Resco Viewer), or the app will warn you that a file will be made in a certain directory on your card and you will be responsible for deleting it (if you view an image with Media).

I played an audio file (mp3) directly from IDGuard without any problems whatsoever. If you have a mic on your device you can also record your own audio attachments.

Another great feature is the reminders. You can set a reminder on records.

I found when I was recategorizing my records in IDGuard that it had so many fewer choices of icons than SplashID had. This can be somewhat frustrating in that I like to be able to quickly look at records and know what they are from their icon (especially if I’m in the icon view). When I imported my database over to IDGuard all my SplashID entries that had been marked with an icon of a PDA were now marked with a CD icon or a question mark. I prefer distinguishing my software serial number entries between PC software and PDA software. It is categorized that way and should be “iconized” that way. There is a smartphone icon, so I decided that was how I would differentiate. There should be a book icon, in my opinion. I guess I’d just like to see more of a selection.

Overall IDGuard is a superior piece of software. The ability to encrypt so many different kinds of documents/files and view them straight from within IDGuard is a tremendous advantage. Once the desktop component for IDGuard is out I’ll be taking SplashID off my device. Jan as Resco said they will be incorporating the encryption technology used in IDGuard into Explorer 2008 – I can’t wait! I also spoke to Nikolai Filipov at SplashData. Nikolai hadn’t even realized that Resco had released their IDGuard product until I had contacted him. Nikolai said in his email, “… it appears that their application is based on SplashID. SplashID has been the best-selling password manager for Palm OS for over 6 years.” SplashData even provided me with a reviewers guide and a serial number to help with my review. In going through both apps, I became more and more impressed with IDGuard’s abilities. At the same time It is evident that the SplashID interface /GUI has had more time to mature and has slightly more flexibility. Some graphical components are the same on both apps, lending some credence to the assertion by SplashData (for instance, the font selection dialogues are very similar in both apps – note that all skinning in these screen shots was done by SkinUI).

idg font view no datasid font view no data

A nice ability that SplashID has is to be able to change the background colors in the list view. Although this seems minor, it is extremely useful when you change to hires mode. In IDGuard, I can barely discern the background colors, which makes it easier for my eye to accidently slip from one row to the next. In SplashID I changed the color of the colorized rows in hires to a darker color, and that made all the difference in the world.

IDG list view no dataSplashID list view no data

The below screenshot show the SplashID choose color dialog:

SplashID color picker

To wrap it up I’ve made a chart showing the differences and similarities (I’ve highlighted in red the items I believe are the most important differences):

Feature SplashID IDGuard
GUI Customizable in different views – generally more flexible Customizable in different views
Encryption 256-bit Blowfish Industrial standard AES
Desktop Component Yes – Vista compatible Yes (edited)
Document processing No Yes – encryption of all types of documents
Attachments No (except notes) Yes – Attachments can be created also with built-in camera or audio recorder
Reminders No Yes
Customizable record templates and categories Yes Yes
Secure memos No Yes
Special data editors for address/ phone number/ e-mail No Yes
Data Sources (Databases) Yes – Synchronize multiple SplashID databases single data source on palm Yes – Multiple data sources on Palm
Backup/Restore Yes Yes
Export/Import/Send Yes Yes
Password generator Yes Yes
password strength meter Yes Yes
Auto-locking Yes – auto lockout after 10 failed attempts, Time to Auto Lock after exit is configurable at immediately, 1,2,3,4,5,10,15,20,25,30 minutes Yes – wait time gets longer after each failed attempt, Time to Auto Lock after exit is configurable at immediately, 1, 2, 5 minutes
Hint for Password Yes Yes
Web Auto Fill – one click to open a website on the desktop and login automatically Yes Yes
Custom icon support Yes No

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.

In the beginnings of mobile computing, password databases were utilitarian, light and bare-bones(e.g.). Eventually, companies added features like desktop synchronization and fancier user interfaces in order to differentiate themselves from their competition. SPB Software then set a new standard with SPB Wallet, a program that combined a “real” database(aka more than one field) with secure encryption and beautiful looks(review at our sister site TamsPPC). Resco’s IDGuard is set to trump them all – can it stack up?

While most password managers are limited to a single database, this one can use more than one database. This can be useful for “sharing” passwords with others on the same handheld – just create a private and a shared database, and keep the private database’s password to yourself:
0 Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

0a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

0b Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

A database’s contents can be displayed in various forms – the images below show a few of the hundreds of variations the flexible rendering engine can generate:
1a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

1b Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

1c Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

1d Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

1e Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

Text entered while the application is running acts as a filter – this initially confused me a bit, as the area at the bottom is not a text field and can not be focussed. Tapping around doesn’t help one bit – type blindly and the “field” shall accept your input:
2a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

IDGuard continues the database mantra pioneered by SPB. Data is stored in “objects” containing various data fields – each object has an associated “template” that determines what fields it contains. Our evaluation version contained a few templates:
3a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

Creating new templates is very easy:
4a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

The program can lock itself when idle; and can import existing data from various data sources; data can be exported to HTML, XML and CVS formats.
5a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

5b Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

Essentially, we now have a fully-functional password manager. But IDGuard wouldn’t be a Resco app if it didn’t have a zinger feature…let’s all welcome binary attachments. Binary attachments is an incredibly useful feature that allows you to protect files found on your memory card by attaching them to an object(which takes a bit of timer as the files must be compressed):
6a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

6b Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

Once the files are attached to a card, they are stored in an encrypted form. Tapping on them “beams” them into the application that’s set up as their default handler – this, unfortunately, could become a security issue if the viewer application isn’t as secure:
7a Resco IDGuard beta reviewed   looking at Rescos password manager

This review looked at a beta version of IDGuard on a Treo 680. The version was designated as IDGuard 1.00 and needs approximately 400k of RAM. The application was perfectly stable in my tests; however, Resco advises customers not to save important data in it yet as the database formats may change once more before release, making all stored data unreadable…

In the end, IDGuard calms my paranoia…data theft experiences like the one I had a few days ago should now be a matter of the past. Our friends ship an excellent password manager; and then proceed to completely 0wn all competitors with its binary attachment feature. If you are willing to accept the slightly steep learning curve, get this as soon as it ships!

Previous versions of DocumentsToGo 10 supported reading/displaying received Office 2007 files. DocsToGo 10.002 is a free upgrade for all owners of any 10.x version…and it can now SAVE files in the format of Microsoft’s new office suite….

The file manager makes no difference between classic and new files – the selected file in the image below is a “new” one, all others are classic:
0a DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm

Unfortunately, the most important switch is well-hidden in a Prefs menu. It controls the ‘working mode’ of DocsToGo:
1a DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm

If the program is in Office 2007 mode, all newly created files can be saved ONLY in the new format. If the program is in ‘compatibility mode’, no Office 2007 files can be created. As an example, the images below show SheetToGo’s Save File dialog – once in Office 2007 mode, once in ‘compatibility’ mode:
2a DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm 2b DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm

Last but not least, here are a few short sample files created on the go and saved as Office 2007 documents:
Excel 2007
SheetToGo managed my test sheet consisting of a sine and a cosine plot and an XY chart excellently – here’s the xlsx file for your viewing pleasure:
3a DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm 3b DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm

PowerPoint 2007
SlideshowToGo has always been a tool for “text editing” rather than tackling images and styles – my small test presentation was managed well(pptx file here):
4a DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm

Word 2007
Word 2007 has disappointed me a bit, as the add table function was “disabled” while in Office 2007 mode. I kept tapping the menu – but nothing happened. However, the rest has worked well as usual(docx file here):
5a DocumentsToGo 10.002   create Office 2007 files with your Palm

Cutting a long story short: Palm users can now create Office 2007 files on the go. However, I don’t see myself using this much – all major Office suites(including Ribbon Office…ah, sorry, 2007) can read Microsoft’s classic file formats…so why isolate the millions and millions of people who chose not to update to Office 2007…

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?

For me, MSN has always served as a communication vector between me and important contacts. Mundu IM has made an excellent job of keeping me connected so far…so my excitement for Gizmo was pretty low. Can it make me a Gizmo freak?

When starting up Gizmo for the first time, it requires a so-called “Gizmo account”. A Gizmo account is an account that acts as a ‘wrapper’ around your other accounts – creating one is easy via the web interface:
0a Gizmo Project for Treo   the review

Once the account is set up, you need to link the account with other services. This happens via a command line client available as a contact:
1a Gizmo Project for Treo   the review 1b Gizmo Project for Treo   the review

After that, contacts start to trickle in with weird characters mixed in for a stranger taste:
2a Gizmo Project for Treo   the review

Whenever you message an MSN contact that’s offline, Gizmo mirrors the message at you. Since this is bundled with an Attention Manager notification(one per message!!!)…chaos will soon take over on your Treo’s screen:
3a Gizmo Project for Treo   the review 3b Gizmo Project for Treo   the review

Once a contact is online, the situation becomes drastically better – communication is possible without message duplication. However, user names are not shown:
4a Gizmo Project for Treo   the review

Another very cool feature is the suppression of ‘emoticon crap’. The image below shows a few emoticons sent by a German MSN crapware…instead of rendering the HTML, the program just shows the smiley. Well done!
5 Gizmo Project for Treo   the review

Most messaging programs for Palm OS have problems with keepalive or background mode. I am glad to say that Gizmo has neither – background mode just works, and connection losses are ‘covered up’!

This review looked at Gizmo v1.0b4 on a Treo 680 running on T-Mobile Austria’s GPRS network. The program needs approx 250k od RAM and can be downloaded from here.

Overall, Gizmo Project for Treo definitely still lacks the optical polish of its competitors. However, the freeware already makes a decent MSN communication tool – if you don’t already have Mundu, give it a whirl!

P.s. Tune in soon for a look at Gizmo’s voice features!

myKbd by Alex Pruss sports many cool features including an alternate text input system, a way to totally change the look of your statusbar/DIA, and hard-key macros just to name a few, but how did it perform in the real world? I’m not going to keep you in suspense any longer than I have to, this software totally impressed me. It is not the easiest thing to set up, but it is loaded with features. It allows you to “skin” your statusbar and Dynamic Input Area quite easily. Here is a screenshot of my setup.

 myKbd   The Review

Keep in mind there are loads of skins available on the internet (you can even make your own), so you can pretty much make your device look like anything. Also if you like a certain element of one skin, you can merge that element into an underlying layer. This in effect can allow you to have a base skin then mesh certain components of others, a very useful feature. In addition, you can incorporate your own images into your DIA on certain devices (T5, Lifedrive, TX, ect.), so this is also a possibility. myKbd can also allow you to use keyboards other than the QWERTY style that comes standard on palm devices. This is a HUGE feature, as it allows me to input data significantly faster than I could otherwise. These new keyboards also differ in the fact that you can slide your stylus along multiple letters, and it will input them all! Meaning, if I use a keyboard layout that has the letters T H E bordering each other, then I can just slide my stylus across those, and it will input the word “THE”! This can speed up data entry considerable, as keyboard layouts often have commonly used letters adjacent to one another. As you may have guessed, these keyboards are also skinable, here are a few examples (found in the 1src.com Freeware section).

 myKbd   The Review myKbd   The Review

 myKbd   The Review myKbd   The Review

As I mentioned earlier, the program can also let hard button presses or holds execute macro commands. Macros can be something as simple as going to your launcher, then turning the device off, or as complicated as fetching email, refreshing RSS feeds, or anything else your can imagine. A significant improvement over the built-in hard key system. The program can even let you set macro commands to on-screen keys. For Palm TX owners, myKbd also can remap the “Find” button on the statusbar to the “home button” found on most other Palm PDA’s. The find command can be accessed by either tapping-and-holding the on-screen home button, or doing the same to the menu button. Along with the possibility to bring up the find command with a tap-and-hold of the on-screen home button, doing this can also bring up a list of recently used applications, and preselected favorites. This can be done within any application, making it easy to switch from program to program.

Conclusion

myKbd is one of the most useful applications on my device, and I would recommend it to anyone. It is available with a free 15 day trial, and costs a reasonable $15. If you are willing to forgo the replacement keyboard options, you might want to take a look at mySkin, it is slightly less expensive, and retails at $10.

On the German site TamsPalm.de.vu, we wrote a review about DiddleBug. DiddleBug is an application for handwritten notes on a Palm. It is already a few years old, but as Palm Treos miss the Note Pad application, it could be an interesting app for all Treo users. And even if you have a regular Palm PDA, you could give it a try because it’s an improvement, compared to the Note Pad application.

dbug011 Diddle Bug   a free note pad for your Treo & other Palms  Diddle Bug   a free note pad for your Treo & other Palms

You can draw with a regular pen, but also forms and texts. Two colors can be defined (paper and pen), just like in Palm’s Note Pad. There are three list views. Alarms can be defined (either a regular time or a countdown). Using plugins, you can export notes to other applications or file formats

 Diddle Bug   a free note pad for your Treo & other Palms  Diddle Bug   a free note pad for your Treo & other Palms

The application is freeware, you can download it from here. If you would like to see more screenshots, please visit or German site (see link above).

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