[nSLUG] Re: Rise & Fall of the PDA

Mike Spencer mspencer at tallships.ca
Wed Aug 26 15:01:12 ADT 2009

Dan MacKay wrote:

> A few years before that....I had something of a ... let's call
> politely call it, "distress" over organizing projects and my to-do
> list.

Despite the fact that in the summer my social calendar becomes crowded
with events, both of which require clean jeans, I can usually manage
without written reminders.

Not so on the fortnight-long trips I used to make to Boston.  They
were, y'know, sort of like going to a theme park based on the life of
up-scale urban techies, artists and academics.  So I really needed to
keep track.  I might actually have 3 appointed appearances in a single

So anyhow, you should note a couple of things about Hipster PDA
technology.  First, that big binder clip is bad design.  It makes the
PDA top-heavy so that it tends to zip out of your shirt or vest
pocket. [1] It might be secure in the deep inside pocket of a suit
coat or in a pocket closed with Velcro but if you're cool enough to
use a HPDA, you wouldn't have those.  Lose the clip and wrap it in a
rubber band (you *can* still buy rubber bands, can't you?).  That
increases friction against the pocket lining and reduces
PLOP. [2]  Okay, so much for quality details in *old* tech.

But those loose cards are also a potential problem.  Go with modern
tech.  I have a box of 3x5 file cards in fanfold, pin-feed format.
Before a trip, I build a file consisting of an ad hoc address-book
subset, to-do list, schedule insofar as known beforehand etc.,
formatted with Epson codes.  Print it on fan-fold cards with my Epson
dot matrix printer.  It's possible to leave blank cards in the series
where desired and lots of white space on printed cards for notes or

Tear off the perforated pin-feed strips, fold the cards into an
accordion, apply rubber band and I'm ready to go.  They open like a
book to a 6x5 format.  Flip it over and I have blank backs for notes.
No  having to re-collate when you inevitably drop the "deck".

> ...the Hipster is based on millenia-old hardware...

Did they have 3x5 cards in the 10th c.?

> ...and both systems on an organizational system in common use a half
> century ago.

*Half* a century?!  My father was using a HPDA in business school in
NYC in 1915 and continued to do so all his long life. (Well, they
didn't have fan-fold cards in 1915 so he was, of course, using HPDA

- Mike

[1] Gravity again. Gravity is a nuisance.  What we need around here is a
    little more *levity*.

[2] PLOP: Potential Loss Of PDA

Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^

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