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There are a lot of folks out there writing software for the Palm, and much of it should be of interest to busy lawyers — especially the Palm software that deals with word processing and spreadsheet documents. But first, for those who have somehow avoided any contact with these very addictive little machines, a description of what they are and what they can do. Palm platform PDAs come in a variety of capabilities from two different manufacturers. Palm, Inc. currently sells a variety of Palm III, V and VII models — there seem to be no even-number Palm series — while Handspring, under the aegis of some of the original Palm developers, is selling the Visor, a Palm III series workalike with a convenient expansion slot. The Visor, which uses a customized version of the Palm operating system, comes in a $180, two megabyte RAM (Random Access Memory) version, and a $250 version with eight megabytes of RAM. Visors and Palms have many more similarities than differences. Both, and likely all Palm-compatible devices, have screens that are six centimeters wide by a little more than eight centimeters high. The top six centimeters are devoted to a touch-screen computer display that permits the user to interact with the PDA by tapping spots on the screen with a stylus. The lower two centimeters are used for entering data, and four software “buttons” that are accessed by tapping. The button on the upper left moves the PDA from the currently running application to a menu from which other applications may be chosen by stylus tapping; the button on the lower left launches submenus for the currently running application. The top right button launches a built-in calculator, while the lower right button launches a “find” application. Both Palms and Visors have an infrared communications port that can be used to “beam” applications and data between PDAs, and even, we are told, to send information to a properly equipped printer. Hardware buttons below the screen turn on power, and the built-in calendar, address book, to-do list and memo applications, respectively. Finally, all Palm PDAs have some method of loading data, documents, and applications from a desktop or laptop computer to the PDA, and of synchronizing data between similar applications on the big computer and the handheld. The standard connection on the Palms is through the big computer’s serial port; the standard Visor sync connection is through a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. Place the PDA into the properly connected cradle, press the HotSync button on the cradle, and everything else happens automatically. Palms and Visors come with a big computer desktop application that includes contacts, calendar, memos, to-do items and HotSync Manager. The user wishing to place a new application on the PDA identifies that application to the HotSync Manager, which automatically downloads the application to the PDA the next time the big and handheld computers are “synced.” The usual way of using a Palm or Visor is to hold the machine in the palm of one hand and the stylus in the other, and tap or scribble to enter or view desired information. The letters on the screen are not as big as we would like to see them, but they are readable. THIRD PARTY SYNCHING: The HotSync Manager recognizes only certain Palm OS -compatible file types, particularly those with a “prc” or “doc” suffix. If the PDA is to deal with some other type of document created on or used by the big computer, that file must either be converted to a format that the HotSync Manager recognizes or some other program must be used to handle the transfer. These third-party HotSync programs which may have both the conversion and syncing functions are called “conduits.” PRETTY SMALL SPREADSHEET: Lawyers often create or review cash flow analyses, closing statements, structured settlement evaluations, and other transaction-related documents on electronic spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3. When going to a meeting we often take a printed version with us, but we find it the better practice to grab a laptop and take that to the meeting, so we can play with the parameters and recalculate as the circumstances change. We were rather surprised to find TinySheet, a Palm OS program that mimics the calculation functions of the standard electronic spreadsheet programs, all with about 100 kilobytes of space. TinySheet users can download a conduit that prepares spreadsheet files for transfer. We ran the conduit program, selected a Excel file and a 1-2-3 file that we wished transferred to our PDA, and received a message that the next time we did a HotSync, the requested files would be transferred. And the next time we did, they were. Once in the PDA, we ran TinySheet and loaded the transferred files. We could then read and manipulate them almost as easily as if they were in our desktop machine. Of course, difficulties did arise from the tiny screen size and the requirement to tap, instead of using a Mouse or arrow keys to move around. Further, the spreadsheet covers only 65,025 cells — 255 rows by 255 columns — but it does have a good group of built-in financial, trigonometric, arithmetic, logic, and series and statistics functions, including Round, NPV (for calculating Net Present Value), Average, Count, and Sum. We couldn’t think of a function not available that we’ve used in our practice in the last couple of years, and it even included functions we’ve only used in connection with assisting with high school homework. Although you can export spreadsheet files and the conduit will upload files altered in TinySheet back to the big computer, we did miss the ability to print a spreadsheet. It is easy, however, to beam a spreadsheet to another Palm-compatible PDA. As with other Palm applications, we wouldn’t wish to spend a lot of time creating spreadsheets with TinySheet and the Palm. But we do think that lawyers who rely on their electronic spreadsheet files away from the office will find TinySheet very useful. At a $20 download price, including the conduit, TinySheet is clearly a bargain. DOCS TO GO: If you merely want to read a spreadsheet or word processor file and are not interested in altering the file, Documents To Go (DTG) will transfer data files created by the last several years of Word for Windows, WordPerfect, Excel, Quattro Pro, Lotus 1-2-3, and Apple Macintosh files from your big computer to your Palm or Visor, and let your PDA read them. If a colleague or opposing counsel has DTG and the data file in his Palm PDA, he can beam it and a DTG reader to you, if necessary, so that you can read it. The spreadsheet reader is not nearly as good as TinySheet; a DTG user not only cannot change a spreadsheet value, DTG displays only the value of a cell and not the formulas that may be lurking in the cell. The DTG document reader works as well as many of the shareware and freeware document readers we’ve accumulated but does read considerably more file formats than the others. Both readers let the user add bookmarks so you can jump to a select portion of the document, and DTG has one other feature we haven’t seen before. The program keeps track of documents that have been downloaded to the PDA and sets new versions of a previously downloaded document as a download candidate the next time a HotSync is performed. HotSync your PDA just before you leave the office so that you leave with the latest version of the contract, brief, or financial analysis you have been revising. If you carry your Palm PDA with you all the time, DTG makes it possible to have important files in your pocket wherever you may need them. SUMMARY: A lot of good software is available for Palm PDAs. TinySheet is a surprisingly powerful electronic spreadsheet in a very small package. Documents To Go reads both spreadsheets and word processing files and keeps your PDA up- to-date with the current version. DETAILS: TinySheet 3.0. Price: $19.95. Requires Palm PDA with Palm OS 2.0 or higher, 104 kilobytes free storage. IBM PC or compatible running Microsoft Windows 95/98 or later, or Apple Macintosh computer. Iambic Software, 12 South First Street, San Jose CA 95113. Phone: (800) 730-5370. Fax:(408) 367-1606. Web: www.iambic.com. E-mail: [email protected] Phone: (800) 730 5370 Fax: (408) 367 1606 Documents To Go. Price: $39.95 for single user, with substantial discounts for multiple licenses. Requires: Palm PDA with Palm OS 2.0 or higher. IBM PC or compatible running Microsoft Windows 95/98 or later or Apple Macintosh. DataViz, Inc., 55 Corporate Drive, Trumbull, CT 06611. Phone: (800) 733-0030 or (203) 268-0300. Web: www.dataviz.com. E-mail: [email protected]

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