Writing on My Visor
I've caught the bug. I've started to learn to write and think within a new medium. It's also an exercise in nostalgia because it reminds me a lot of the experience of using my first computer, an Osborne, almost 20 years ago.
I originally got a Handspring Visor because my agenda was falling apart and I either had to get a replacement or switch over to an electronic medium. The thought of writing in my contact list again turned me off completely so I invested the extra $150 to get a PDA. It took me six months to get beyond using the Visor as just a glorified addressbook and agenda.
You have to overcome the initial hope that the handheld (or computer) will write by itself. Unfortunately, fingers -- and a brain -- are necessary. There is something liberating and spontaneous about writing on a PDA. I went through the same experience with my Osborne, my first IBM compatible, and when I first got a laptop. True the rush wears off, but you still have that burst that gets you back in contact with words. But because I carry my handhelp with me, I can be much more responsive to my inspiration.
The appeal of the handheld is its simplicity, its uncluttered interface and its ease of use. You are not tempted to fiddle with fonts and other fancy formating. There is no mail merge or forms or other tricks. You don't have to take classes to get started.
To contradict myself, it's still important to have a good wordprocessor and an outliner, just as it's useful to have a legal pad and a good pen or a notebook. Each draws on the creativity of different parts of the brain.
Just as with the Osborne, PDAs come with a minimal set of software that can get you up and running. Once you acquire the bug, you want to get enhanced software. Most programs are small in size and inexpensive.
- WordSmith - a great word processor that strikes the right balance. The files can be transferred to your desktop and edited there with Word.
- Shadow is interesting because it is meant as a writing tool, rather than a to-do list or project manager. It now has a desktop application, but it's still limited in functionality.
- Progect is an open source project that is promising, but incomplete.
- Natura Bonsai- has a Windows desktop application that allows you to edit on your PC.
- Avantgo - I use this program everyday to read news and feature articles on the Metro, especially Salon.
PDAs are less expandable than a PC, but that's changing since Handspring introduced the expansion slot and other manufacturers are following their example.
- Keyboard: Stowaway - the one shortcoming is that the keyboard draws its power from the PDA's batteries so your battery life will be shorter. If you do add a keyboard, Paul Narvai's LapTopHack is essential because it allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard, not tapping through menus.
- I bought a HandSpring Visor because I liked the idea of being able to use insert expansion cards for memory, modems and other purposes. I have yet to buy one, though.
- Vaja case
- WriteRight protective covers
- Styli - I found that I need a good selection because my hand tends to tire using the standard stylus that comes with the Visor because it is thinner than a pen.
I tend to like personal sites that led you through an individual's experience.