Down But Not Out

Plucker Puts Web on Your Palm for Free

Dirk Pilat - 2002.11.18

Very good day everybody!

Today's text was generated in Germany, 18,600 km (or ca 10,000 miles) away from New Zealand, so the title of the column really doesn't make a lot of sense, but hey, what does in my editorials?

Anyway, as I and my significant other don't see each other a lot, I thought it would be nice to actually devote two months of my time to her, stay at her place, and do all the things a good man does for his working girlfriend: clean the place, cook, do the laundry, and have the place sparkling and a bottle of wine opened when the weary woman comes home at night from work.

As her place is not Buckingham Palace, the household chores can be sorted pretty quickly, leaving me with my technology park (which poor Air New Zealand and I had to carry all the way from New Zealand to Germany), a rather slow modem connection, and plenty of time to improve my Java and Unix skills (as they are nonexistent). So far this arrangement is working out fine, and the S.O. is so far rather pleased having me around for some time.

As I couldn't take my car as well as my iBook and associated gadgets with me from NZ, this leaves me dependent on Germany's excellent public transport system, in effect giving me plenty of opportunity to read while I am being taken from A to B at 300 km per hour (German trains +++).

As I like my Slashdot, Low End Mac, and the Independent with me, and there are unfortunately no print versions yet globally available (that would kill too many trees anyway), I thought it was finally time to utilize my Palm m500, so I checked out the market leader in Web-to-palm communication, AvantGo - but alas, they do not support Max OS X. Well, to be correct, they don't support the new Palm Desktop for OS X, so my dreams of reading Low End Mac on the train were quickly shattered.

I was actually quite surprised, as this really was the first major inconvenience I had encountered since running OS X, so I was obviously not very pleased about AvantGo's decision not to support us. Fortunately I found a little reference to Plucker, a little freeware program (free as in beer - AvantGo would have taken plenty of money for the channels I wanted) that was available for most POSIX compatible OS's, including OS X. They even have a little installer script for the command line-challenged that places the documentation, a Java library, and an executable on your hard drive.

After placing all files in the appropriate directories, installing the Plucker-reader onto your Palm, and studying the help files, it is quite straightforward to get the content you want onto your Palm, and as this is Unix (well, Free BSD, I know) you can easily setup a script that cron can execute before you get up in the morning, sucking all the content off the Net so all you have to do is hotsync your Palm before you go, and then it's Low End Mac or The Pilum all the way to work.

As I fortunately don't have these constraints at the moment (2-1/2 months holidays anyone? Unpaid, though. That's the beauty [and curse] of being self employed), I just set up a little shell script that I can start from the Finder, and fump! - all the nerdy stuff I so dearly crave travels with me in one of my jacket pockets.

I would be interested what kind of functionality you, my dear readers, achieve with OS X and your Palms and invite you over to the Pilum to share it with the rest of us.

This is Dirk Pilat in Germany, signing out. LEM

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