Acoustic Mac

Using Palm Desktop Without a PDA

Beverly Woods - 2001.11.23 - Tip Jar

Recently, prompted by a work schedule too complex for the boundaries of pocket calendars, my partner bought a Handspring Visor. I don't need a PDA yet, since my schedule is not as complicated, and I'm at home when I find out about most changes. But my pocket calendar was feeling the strain as well, so I went into my list of programs to find one that I could make a computer-based calendar with. I was playing with AppleWorks to see what I could come up with, when Seth came in and asked what I was doing.

"Trying to make a calendar," I replied.

"Why make a calendar from scratch? Why not use Palm?"

I am not generally fond of sentiments like "Well, duh!" or "How dense I've been!" but they certainly seem to fit here. The truth is, I had completely ignored the Palm Desktop software that came with my computer simply because I didn't have a PDA. Lest anyone else suffer the same blind spot, let me announce: You do not need a PDA to use this software!

Palm Desktop is great if you want to keep one calendar (or several) on your computer. My life is a patchwork of little pieces: freelance work, part time jobs, giving music lessons, writing projects, music projects, home schooling, and all the little things that attach themselves to to-do lists everywhere.

I opened Palm Desktop and entered various appointments and commitments. Especially convenient is the ability to attach contact information to an appointment. I also like the ability to enter tasks that simply tag along through the days until they get done. "Write Acoustic Mac!" has been following me through a busy time for some weeks. Now I can check the little box, and it will stay put. Appointments can be set to repeat on a schedule, and if something is postponed, you can simply drag the entry to the new date.

If your schedule is complex, you might want to set up several "users" to isolate different aspects of it. Recently I began teaching for a community music school. This organization has a calendar of semesters, breaks, holidays, makeup weeks, community events, faculty meetings, and the like, easily taking up much of the space on an average monthly calendar view. I want them all available for reference, but I don't need it all in my personal calendar for daily use. So I made the school a "user" and put all its scheduling in that version of the calendar. If I need to see the details of the school's schedule, I call up that user.

Perhaps I want to schedule something a few months away and want to see how that will fit into the general flow of any existing commitments for that time. I made another user called "everything." I imported both my personal calendar and the school calendar into that. "Import" is easy to do, although you may end up with duplicate items. "Everything" has more information than I want to look at every day, but it certainly does provide an overview. ("Have mid-life crisis" will have to tag along from month to month; there's no time for it in the schedule.)

Palm comes with different "Decor" files. I chose different decor for each of my users, so it's easy to see which calendar I'm in. An Internet search turned up some additional freeware decor files, as well as instructions for making your own. Sounds like fun; let's see, when might I have time.... LEM

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