My new IPAQ 111 – Woo Hoo!

I waited… and waited… one day… two days… three days… Finally, in the wee hours Monday morning, I threw in the towel and ordered my iPAQ.  I ordered from, wanting the reliability – and returnability if something went wrong.  I used Amazon Free Shipping.  Cynically, I notice that for most of the year, Free Shipping means items needlessly sit around in the “wait” queue at Amazon for a week or two before they ship them.  November and December must qualify as the Christmas Season, because I notice that they skip the wait and just ship the – darn – thing.  The very next day, or even that same afternoon, I received an e-mail saying my item had shipped.  No shipping information was available – from their website, it seems that UPS skips some of the bulk item tagging in the busy season.  I had made up my mind that I was NOT going to fret about it for at least a few days when Tom, our shipping/receiving/packing/nicest guy in the world, walked into my office “a package for you -from AMAZON!”  Wow.  I wanted to rip into that thing, BUT I HAD WORK TO DO!  Darn it!  But I eventually broke into that box anyway. 

My first discovery:  I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO USE THIS THING!  What can I do with it?  What can it do for me?

 What are my goals?

  • I want to know more about what is going on with Mobile Technology.  How good is the screen?  How good is the handwriting recognition?  Any voice to text ability?
  • I have been studying and reading on the web quite a bit.  Why do I need to power up an entire laptop to do it?  Can’t I read documents on my PDA?
  • Can I write things – notes – how long? – with reasonable effort?

First impressions:

  • Calendar – The calendar implementation looks pretty good.  But I’m already hooked on Google Calendar!  Can I detach myself?  Should I?  I like having my information “in the cloud” – that way it is available forever from anyplace – or until a power disruption brings that cloud down…
  • PDF documents – I have a copy of Charles Petzold’s DotNetBookZero that I want to read.  Buuuuuuuut – the PDF document is formatted for a full size page.  I can zoom out to page width – but then the characters are like little dots on the page – cute, but not readable.  I can zoom in to readability – but then I have to scroooooolllll painfully across each line.  I don’t think so.  My first idea – okay, I’ll convert the PDF to a .doc file – that seems to wordwrap to fit the screen.  I try out a couple of free versions of PDF to doc converters – they work okay, but what a pain to have to convert everything.  But wait!  Adobe Reader Mobile 2.0 will tag documents to allow “reflow”.  But how does that work?  I don’t see any helpful explanations anywhere.  Turns out that you install the reader on your PC; on the PC, you use ActiveSync to install the reader on your PDA.  When you copy a pdf file from the PC to the PDA, it converts it into a reflowable format that you can actually read.  Works pretty well.  A little cumbersome, but cool.  I wonder how non-technical people ever figure this out – but I suppose by this day and age, every one under the age of 30 is technical.  Now Adobe Reader is fighting with the preinstalled ClearVue reader for control of my PDF files.  I can live with this.  In fact, maybe I can figure out how to uninstall ClearVue… 
  • Writing – There is NO explanation in the HP documentation on the different methods of inputting text.  Nor a clear explanation in Windows Mobile.  I’m sure if I keep looking around, I can find stuff, but I’m pretty shocked that it is not more obvious.  How do other PDA owners know what to do?  The options are:
    • Keyboard – A cute little keyboard is displayed. You can laboriously tap at the minikeys with the stylus.  Functional but painfully slow.
    • Block Recognizer – This is “old” technology, I think.  What people used before handwriting recognition really worked.
    • Letter Recognizer – I’m not sure what this is yet.
    • Transcriber – I think this is the newest way.  It even seems to work.  You can write, print, and draw.  It recognizes your writing and reprints it with varying degrees of success.  We have to spend some time training each other, I think.
  • Internet Access – I haven’t figured out an easy way to enter website names.  Where are favorites?  The back button?  Refresh?  The progress bar?

My goal is to see if I can make the PDA my main form of electronic connection at home.  I shouldn’t need a laptop unless I am writing something intensive.

 We’ll see………..


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