Peter Thorstenson(known for tejpWriter and thumbboardDA) has provided us with yet another open-source tool. As usual, it is centered around text entry…and replaces Palm’s classic keyboard dialog with a significantly improved one offering a bigger clipboard, capitalization support and even macro support:
tapboard TamsPalm exclusive: tapBoardDA prerelease

Peter himself describes the application as following:

Release Notes
tapboardDA 1.00

This is the first release of tapboardDA. It’s an attempt to not only to give you “just a keyboard”, but a complete editor environment packed into a DA.

Features:

  • User configurable key layout.
  • 39 macros of max 45 characters each.
  • Enhanced mode.
  • Ergonomic key click on key down.
  • Display showing character position, words, field size, time, and battery.
  • Automatic field focus
  • Smart Word Select
  • 32kb Clipboard with Undo
  • Scrollbar
  • Toolbar with clipboard functions, case functions and exit.
  • Four Built-in fonts.

A quick test of tapBoardDA on a Treo 680 and a Palm TX showed no anomalies – the program seems to work well.

tapBoardDA can be downloaded here – please let us know about any issues you encounter!

Softick Cache is an application that is supposed to increase the speed of accessing/using your external memory card – was it able to perform as advertised?

Although I had high hopes for this application — mostly because I am constantly bothered by slow card access speeds — I’m afraid to say I wasn’t impressed with it’s performance. After installing, and turning on “Start cache”, the application will start keeping a “Disk” in your faster Dynamic RAM.

 Softick Cache   The Review

There are a few options that can be changed in the preferences, and since there currently doesn’t seem to be a user manual available, I really didn’t know which settings would be optimal for my device.

 Softick Cache   The Review

There is also a Statistics screen where you can view various stats about Softick Cache.

 Softick Cache   The Review

I extensively tested this, launching apps from the card, viewing pictures, documents, ect., and to tell you the truth, I didn’t notice any difference in speeds. I also ran speed tests with VFSMark, and the results are shown below.

Palm TX — 2GB SanDisk SD Card
(Without Softick Cache)
 Softick Cache   The Review

(With Softick Cache)
 Softick Cache   The Review

But this extra speed does come at a price, Softick Cache keeps a “disk” in the Dynamic Heap. If you don’t know what Dynamic Heap is, it is the part of RAM used by the actively running program, so this “Disk” will reduce the already small size of Dynamic Heap. This might adversely effect the performance of Heap hungry programs that require this space. One thing to point out, is that this review was taken on a Palm TX with a 2GB SanDisk SD Card, so different devices and expansion cards could perform differently. In fact while we were testing this, we found that some SD cards actually performed worse with Softick Cache enabled, so this application is very hardware dependent.

How did this work on your Device?

Dmitry Grinberg of PalmPowerUps fame has recently rewritten the Preferences application to support a number of new features.

 Preferences Rewrite by Dmitry Grinberg


Among these features are:

  • Icon support
  • Custom categories
  • Much more!

When it is complete, it is expected to be released under the GPLv3 license, so keep an eye open, both here and at 1src forums!

 I am very sorry I cannot provide more details at this point, but my T|X is at Palm’s Repair Center currently :-)

 Dmitry’s Prefs app can be found here: http://www.palmpowerups.com/file/Preferences.prc

However,  as PalmPowerUps is currently facing problems (Domain expiring, I assume), I have uploaded it to TamsPalm, here.  

Many thanks to Juggernaut #2 for sending me the file and BrentDC for the screenshot :-)

Resco has just updated Resco Explorer to version 3.10. The application now supports SMB file sharing(aka Windows Shares). TamsPalm had the opportunity to play around with the product a bit…here’s our verdict:

Accessing Windows Shares is possible via a graphical browser – there is no need to enter the path manually. However, accessing the browser is a bit difficult – it is hidden in the menu:
0a Resco Explorer 3.10 released   Windows Share access

The browser itself works very well. It scans the network for approximately 10 secs, and then shows a list of all workgroups and workstations in “range”. Each one of the workstations can then be “scanned” for its shares:
1a Resco Explorer 3.10 released   Windows Share access

Clicking on a share allows you to enter a user name and a password:
2a Resco Explorer 3.10 released   Windows Share access

After that, you are set to go. Resco Explorer integrates the share into the “directory tree” transparently – you can copy files to and from it, zip/encrypt files,.. like with files on a memory card:
3a Resco Explorer 3.10 released   Windows Share access

Overall, if you have a WIFI or bluetooth network at home, getting Resco Explorer is a must! Accessing files on your PC has never been so easy and convenient before. The program is currently on special offer in the TamsShop – the price of 25$ is more than justified!

Use the code READMYCARDS to get 20% off Card Reader in the TamsShop

Microsoft’s PocketPC devices allowed direct memory card access for ages via a program called ActiveSync. Palm users traditionally were limited to sending files somewhere onto the memory card via Hotsync. Mobile Stream’s Card Reader now tops the Microsoft solution by promising to transform a Palm OS handheld into a generic USB disk that can be accessed without any additional software – can it keep its promise?

Card Reader’s main interface is very tidy – the toggle button allows you to turn card reader functionality on and off:
reader Card Reader review   transform your Palm into an USB stick

MobileStream integrated a few power saving options that basically turn the Treo’s screen off when no access takes place.

CardReader’s background mode allows you to use the handheld while USB stick mode is enabled. Indeed, running programs in ‘parallel’ works well – if the programs don’t need to access the connected memory card(it gets unmounted). When a call is received, background mode shows its true strength. Taking a voice call is no problem for CardReader…

Last but not least, the program offers some sort of ‘Bluetooth FTP’ service…

I tested CardReader v1.06 on a Treo 680, The program needs approximately 150k of RAM and was exceptionally stable in the testing period. Various Windows 2000 and Windows XP machines accepted the virtual USB stick flawlessly…

Overall, MobileStream does it again – CardReader finally allows you to dismiss the ‘stupid’ USB stick and replace it with a smart one that allows you to edit data on the go. For me, the time saved is well worth the 12$ admission fee at the TamsPalm shop – a 14day trial is available to find out if the program suits you!

The Treo series has always had good phone interfaces. They never were too artsy, but always served their masters well…this was how a phone app for a smartphone should be. Phoney. The debut of Apple’s iPhone, however, shook up the rules given above. Suddenly, visuals were in and photos were cool – GX5′s DialByPhoto is such a GUI phone app for Palm OS. Can it stack up in everyday use?

DialByPhoto essentially has two modes of operation – contacts view mode and overview mode. The overview mode aims to ‘replace’ the phone home screen. It provides information about incoming email, appointments and also presents a few contacts. The possible styles are shown below:
0a DialByPhoto review 0b DialByPhoto review 0c DialByPhoto review 0d DialByPhoto review

Contacts view crams 9 contacts into view simultaneously, but omits some of the information found on the overview screen:
1a DialByPhoto review

Creating a photo contact from an existing contact is easy – all you need to do is select the correct contact and set a few options:
2a DialByPhoto review

Calling a contact works either by tapping the contact’s name or by clicking on it(this involves a confirmation screen). A dial pad is available, too! Placing a call opens Palm’s classic phone app….
3a DialByPhoto review 3b DialByPhoto review

DialByPhoto has its own contact list browser, too. Finding a contact there allows you to send an SMS directly – but it doesn’t allow the editing of contact info:
4a DialByPhoto review

The web integration is pretty nifty, as the app allows you to jump directly to search results. However, as of this review, the Google jumping didn’t work on my Treo…
5a DialByPhoto review 5b DialByPhoto review

The real zinger behind DialByPhoto is the customizeability. You can set a screen background of choice, and then add a color ‘overlay’ for even more styling options:
6a DialByPhoto review

Contacts can have images or vector icons as ‘picture tag’. Icons can be downloaded on the go right from the DialByPhoto UI – however, the app gets very slow when icon libraries are opened.
7a DialByPhoto review 7b DialByPhoto review 7c DialByPhoto review

The only real weakness I found is the preferences dialog. Finding the correct option is a bit difficult for a beginner though:
8a DialByPhoto review 8b DialByPhoto review

This review focussed on version 1.4005 of the program. It takes about 1.5MB of RAM, and worked stably on my Palm Treo 680.

Overall, DialByPhoto is an interesting take on the ever-constant business phone app market. DialByPhoto isn’t the most efficient app on the market – but that’s not what it should be. Instead, it is a cool-looking and customizable app that is fun to use and look at! If you like a cool-looking phone app, definitely make use of the free trial period!

Use the discount code DIALME to get 20% off at the TamsShop!

Many of you own or at least have trialed Resco Explorer. One of the more overlooked features of Explorer is the backup function. Yes, it has a backup function: Menu->Options->Backup RAM. Altogether, the backup itself is almost identical to Resco’s similar product, aptly named Resco Backup, though it lacks the major features such as scheduling and the ability to create backup projects. Projects allow you to define special settings for the backups. You could have projects set up for a full nightly backup, a weekly application only backup and a Documents backup on Saturdays, for example. you may want to seek an alternative. (such as RB!)

After rigorous and painstaking research and testing, Resco Explorer outperformed Backup in compression but fell short when the speed of the backups were brought into question. Explorer restored much faster, though.

My first test was a full RAM backup of my T|X(approximately 68MB used) measuring the compression of the backups. The percentage is the backup size compared to the size of my used RAM. Explorer eeked out a win here, but the difference is almost insignificant:
– 38514/68579K for Backup (56.1% of original RAM size)
– 37301/68579K for Explorer (54.3% of original RAM size)

My second test was also a full RAM backup, but this time measuring the rate of compression, in MB per minute.
– 859 seconds/38514KB (2.62MB per minute) for Backup
– 1023 seconds/37301KB (2.31MB per minute) for Explorer

I did a third test, measuring the time for a full restore, after a hard reset. The apps quite nearly restored the device to the original state, except they didn’t delete that pesky Quick Tour. Here are the times and the rate of restore in MB per minute:
– 767 seconds for Backup (2.84MB per minute)
– 605 seconds for Explorer (3.72MB per minute)

As for UI:

Both app’s interfaces are confusing, IMHO(this review focussed on backup v1 – v2 improves the UI considerably). They are mostly in tiny little design ways that can confuse or frustrate a new user. Granted, Explorer isn’t a backup oriented software so I can understand hiding backup away in the menu and will cut it some slack. But I found that Backup’s idea for projects was confusing to a new user and that the new project option was hidden away in either the dropdown on the left or in the menu, which seemed counter-intuitive, given the large button style the rest of the form carried.

I noticed that RB didn’t put itself on the card automatically. That makes things mighty difficult after a hard reset if it isn’t possible to restore! Also, RB had a habit of confusing me when I tried to restore. The concept of filters confused me (don’t laugh please…) and the tips dialog didn’t help much. Explorer, however, was pretty cool about restoring the set without much trouble.

Other than those little nags though, RB is basically a set and forget solution: just schedule it by day, time, and whether to update or rebackup and your off. My suggestions to the folks down at Resco: When RB first starts, help the user create a project with a wizard like Neeews! does for new feeds.

Resco Explorer:
 Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer  Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer  Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer  Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer

Resco Backup:
 Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer  Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer  Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer  Resco Backup v. Resco Explorer

I’m starting to run out of things to say, so let’s end it. Altogether they are both stellar backup apps and worth their weight in pie. The folks at Resco did good jobs on these apps, IMHO, and both apps are definitely worth the 15 dollars each it takes to register them. Explorer can do almost anything except my homework (feature request ;-) ), but without scheduling, it may not be the one app to rule them all.

Hotsync…To some it is a glorious process filled with love and happiness and pink flowers. Others cringe at hearing the word, thinking of the slow transfer speeds and various hotsync oddnesses, and blood comes out of their eyes when they are forced to do it. For that second group a nice backup utility is a must have, since we all know the pains of a hard reset with an old backup on the PC.

There are many backup titles out on the market, and today we’ll look at Resco Backup. If you have never heard of the company before, be sure to check out their products! Resco creates a variety of other quality Palm OS titles that scored rave reviews on TamsPalm(Resco Explorer, Resco PhotoView, Resco Neews)!

This review is based on a preview release of the just-released version 2.01, which adds a number of new features including:

  • Basic interface for novice users
  • New options in Restore
  • Easy predefined projects (Images, Contacts, phone, preferences)
  • More possibilities in the scheduler

When you fire it up you have the choice between two interfaces: advanced mode (the default mode), and the new Basic Mode, which is designed for ease of use. Below are advanced mode (Left) and Basic Mode (Right)
advanced Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed basic Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed

The restore interface has also received a nice facelift. One of the cooler features is a new per app restoration, useful for rolling back to an old version in case of a bad installation. The main restore screen allows you to choose how you would like to restore (all databases, per app, or by choosing exactly which databases to restore)
restore Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed appRestore1 Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed appRestore2 Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed

There are also new scheduling options. A nice one is the option to backup on power-off. You could use this to keep your preferences up to date or save important documents just by turning off your device for a moment.
scheduling Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed schedulingAdvanced Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed

Another new feature is the option to create Template backups. These are predefined projects that can allow a new user to easily set up new projects.
templates Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed

Resco Backup was designed with the new NVFS devices in mind. It has many options to keep your device from crashing. During the backup or restore it is likely that your DbCache can become fragmented. This absolutely kills your device’s performance, but Resco Backup can keep this fragmentation to a minimum and can completely clear your DbCache. However, this can lead to other icky problems when apps that were coded before NVFS’s release was put into use get cleared from the cache. RB solves this by allowing you to lock apps that could cause trouble into the DbCache.
lock Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed projectAdvanced.gif Resco Backup 2.01 Reviewed

The backup and restore themselves are hard to beat. They have superior speed, and great compression rates to boot. A detailed review of the speed is coming soon…

So, to wrap it up, Resco Backup is no longer an app just for freaks anymore: now it can easily picked up by someone new to the Palm and easily used. And it’s a must have at just $15!

The TamsShop runs a promotion on popular Resco titles. Use the discount code RESCO4ME to get 20% off Explorer, PhotoView, Neews and Backup for the next week or so…

On the Access site, you can download an Garnet OS Emulator. The emulator is called Janeiro, which was announced by PalmSource already two years ago and emulates both ARM and 68k. Finally, it has now been published. But it doesn’t include Garnet and Cobalt ROMs, but a Linux kernel on which runs Garnet OS 5.5 (in the launcher it says Palm OS Garnet 5.50).

You can download a TAR GZ archive (20 MB) which includes a Linux and a Windows version. The emulator is slower than other Palm simulators (the simulator runs Palm OS native on your x86 computer, whereas Janeiro is a true ARM emulator). The interface is similar to Palm OS 5.2 or 5.4, but it has other fonts and uses the untypical display resolution of 240×320. I couldn’t install Palm applications (at least not by Drag & Drop), and it only contained the standard PIM applications, preferences and one test application.

 ACCESS publishes Garnet VM Emulator

 ACCESS publishes Garnet VM Emulator  ACCESS publishes Garnet VM Emulator  ACCESS publishes Garnet VM Emulator

Other tests and information will follow soon.

Palm’s OS5 Treos have had digital cameras for ages – but Palm didn’t manage to include a self timer into the camera software so far. RNS:: has stepped up to fix this omission – is their ‘patch’ operation successful?

TreoCameraTimer positions itself as a Prefs panel like most other RNS:: applications. The prefs panel allows you to enable or disable the program, it also allows you to choose the delay time:
0a RNS::TreoCameraTimer   a self timer for the Treos camera 0b RNS::TreoCameraTimer   a self timer for the Treos camera

Once RNS::TCT has been enabled, a small timer icon pops up in the bottom of the camera application. Clicking it makes the timer ‘tick’ – the red ring begins to flash to indicate activity. Once the time has expired, a photograph is produced:
1 RNS::TreoCameraTimer   a self timer for the Treos camera

This review looked at version 1.0 of the product on a Palm Treo 680 – the manufacturer claims compatibility with all OS5 Treos except for the Treo 600. RNS::TCT requires 11k of RAM, the product worked well in the testing period.

Overall, RNS’s patch operation was successful – the Treo now has a self-timer option. The program costs 10$ at the TamsPalm shop – if you want a self timer, get this by all means!
Use the code TIMERFORME at checkout in the TamsPalm store to get 20% off the program!

Ever since the Palm Tungsten T3 hit my hands a few years ago, I wondered myself about why no one ever had the idea of creating a full-screen input solution. A few (long-discontinued) attempts were launched when the Zodiac was at its height…and now, Peter Thorstenson(of tejpWriter fame) brings us thumbboardDA.

As its name already says, thumbboardDA is a desk accessory – it doesn’t appear in the launcher and can’t be accessed without a so-called DA launcher. I used TealLaunch in this review, but various other DA Launchers are available in the TamsPalm store(use the discount code DALAUNCHER to get 20% off a DA launcher of choice until the 13th).

I assigned the program to the rightmost button of my TX – and indeed, pressing it in most apps brought up the beautiful keyboard shown below:
da thumbboardDA   the on screen thumbboard for HiRes+ Palm PDAs
The thumbboard worked well in Memos, VersaMail and SheetToGo9. WordToGo provided the program with text, but refused to accept the changes back into the document. SrcEdit blocked thumbboardDA access altogether – no thumbboardDA support here.

The only nuissance I found in everyday use was that on-screen writing does not get disabled automatically as the thumbboard opens – this makes typing unneccecarily difficult…

This review focussed on version 1.0 of the program. It was tested on a TX and needed 22k of RAM. thumbboardDA was very stable in the testing period – no crashes here!

Overall, thumbboardDA is a great tool for everyone who wants a thumbboard on his HiRes+ Palm. The program can be downloaded freely from Peter Thorstenson’s web site – so go ahead and get it. Congratulations go to Peter Thorstenson for yet another great app…I start to see a pattern here!

Palm’s Treo smartphones all have a backlighted keyboard. With some, it’s brighter and with some its darker, but the backlight is there on all of them, eating up precious energy. Since my Treo’s battery isn’t exactly strong, killing useless power eaters is important…enter KB LightsOff.

Starting up LightsOff yields the screen shown below. The toggle on top controls activity(enable or disable the program). Auto mode will be explained later. The three selectors below enable/disable shortcuts that control the backlight settings(KBLights means as much as toggle). Last but not least, the toggle at the bottom allows you to modify the current backlight state.
main KB LightsOff   the Treo key backlight manager

The setting below allows you to turn on or off the backlight by pressing and holding Options, then pressing Alt. The toggle state remains stored even after a poweroff cycle…
config KB LightsOff   the Treo key backlight manager

The menu allows you to customize the ‘auto’ mode in a variety of fashions. I prefer the toggle mode, and didn’t quite figure it out either…so this is just fyi:
auto KB LightsOff   the Treo key backlight manager

The only problem I encountered was that changing the backlight intensity automatically reenabled the screen backlight. Here is a little video showing the program in action:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3575750257991550290&hl=en

This review covered KB LightsOff version 1.2.1 on a Treo 680. The program needs about 25k of RAM and worked well during the testing period.

Use the code TURNTHELIGHTSOFF at checkout in the TamsPalm store to get 20% off your order!

Overall, if you want to save the power wasted by your keyboard backlight, this is the program of choice. The UI is slightly confusing, but the price of just 5$ makes this a must-have!

When I received my Palm Treo 600, I was very annoyed because Palm omitted its handy shortcut feature from it. Yes, a keyboard speeds up data entry…but shortcuts can still be handy. RNS:: promises to restore shortcuts to your Treo – let’s see if the restoration will work out.

The application integrates itself into the control panel(prefs application) as an additional panel:
0a RNS:: TreoShortcut review   shortcuts for your Treo 0b RNS:: TreoShortcut review   shortcuts for your Treo

Clicking the shortcut mode toggle let’s you choose how to enter a shortcut symbol. On my Treo 600, pressing Alt key for a long time did the trick easily – here’s a screenshot of a shortcut symbol in the Memo Pad:
1a RNS:: TreoShortcut review   shortcuts for your Treo 1b RNS:: TreoShortcut review   shortcuts for your Treo

The configuration itself happens in the classic Palm OS shortcut Prefs panel, which RNS::’s application enables automatically:
2a RNS:: TreoShortcut review   shortcuts for your Treo 2b RNS:: TreoShortcut review   shortcuts for your Treo

Treo Shortcuts works really well – the shortcuts act just like they would on a classic Palm powered handheld like a Palm Tungsten E2. Here’s a video showing a shortcut in action on a Treo 600:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3860449433030209565

This review covered version 1.0 of the product on a Treo 600. The program needs about 30k of RAM. RNS:: claims compatibility with Treo 600 and 650(no info on 680 as of now) – and the program really worked well on my Treo 600.

Overall, if you want your shortcut function back, don’t hesitate to buy Treo ShortCuts. The price of about 5$ at the TamsPalm shop really is worth it…

Use the code IWANTASHORTCUT to get 20% off the program at the TamsPalm shop. And hurry up – the code expires on the 10th!

Many people know Resco Explorer as one of the best file management utilities for Palm OS. Resco sent us their most recent version 2.72.2, so let’s have a look at it:

The file browser supports two views which you probably know from the Windows explorer: a list and big icons. In the list view, also several columns with additional information (size, date, …) can be shown and files can be ordered by name, size and so on. You can also set a filter, which shows only some files (depends on size, date, name, etc.):
rescoexpl01 Resco Explorer review rescoexpl02 Resco Explorer review rescoexpl03 Resco Explorer review rescoexpl16 Resco Explorer review

Of course standard file operations are supported, Resco Explorer deletes, renames, copies and moves files (selecting multiple files is possible). But it also can pack and extract .ZIP files (which works very fast) and open many files using the built-in viewer or external applications. For example, the built-in viewer shows images or other files in hex format. External applications mean, it opens DOC and XLS (Word / Excel) files in Documents To Go, MobiSystems Office or Picsel Browser, HTML files in NetFront and MP3 files in PocketTunes. Resco Explorer is able to access ROM, RAM and cards.
rescoexpl07 Resco Explorer review

It also is a backup app, launcher and control panel: The launcher can show all apps together or order them into the standard launcher’s categories. The control panel allows you to view and edit safed and unsafed preferences, alarms, file associations. Safed Preferences on Palm OS is what you probably know as the registry on Microsoft Windows. Using the file associations feature, you can decide which file type is connected to which application – not only in Resco Explorer but also in the whole Palm OS.
rescoexpl08 Resco Explorer review rescoexpl18 Resco Explorer review rescoexpl19 Resco Explorer review rescoexpl20 Resco Explorer review

Backups can be stored, restored and deleted. You also can choose which files you don’t want to (re)store. The backup feature is good for people who don’t often create backups, because it lacks a schedule feature. Many people will prefer backup programs which create backups automatically (at night when the Palm isn’t used).

In my opinion, Resco Explorer should be installed on every Palm. Almost everyone who does a little bit more with his Palm than viewing contacts and notes will need a file manager or preferences editor sometime. “Power users” will use it to keep their card + RAM clean, organize their documents and open them. Opening files in external apps is what I miss in many other file managers although it is one of the most important jobs of a file manager. You see, Resco Explorer can do almost everything you need for your Palm OS administration.

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