[nSLUG] Goodbye Palm, hello iPhone

Daniel MacKay daniel at bonmot.ca
Mon May 31 12:18:26 ADT 2010

I've had a Palm Pilot since they were new - my boss bought a Palm Pilot in early 1996, and he gave it to me as soon as the next model came out very shortly afterwards.  I had been using a "Monarch" size DayTimer style organizers ("TimeText") previous to that -- it's the 3- (or more) ring zippered binder that holds 8.5 x 11" sheets --  for what is now called Getting Things Done ("GTD") for a few years, and was pretty happy with it, but the Palm was much smaller and did *almost* everything the DayTimer did. The exceptions were, storing real pieces of paper (DayTimer has two small filing cabinets built in - A-Z and chronological) and letting you do drawings.  In theory you could do drawings on the Palm but the resolution is miserable -- how many pixels do you get out of a 0.5 mechanical pencil on an 8.5 x 11" sheet?

One of the pieces of the DayTimer / GTD religion (and, it *is* a kind of religion; it promises, and delivers serenity if you follow it) is, that the system must be used for your personal, your work, your hobby life - everything that has to be remembered.  I bought into it hook, line and sinker and so, for the last fifteen years, every element of my life has been planned, tracked, recorded, and supported by the Palm - people, places, events, everything.

The hardware has changed over fifteen years, the software has not.  The Palm I just retired is Number Six;  one was destroyed after falling out of a shopping cart and being run over by another shopping cart, some just wore out (no matter how careful you were, the screens would get scuffed in the Graffiti area) but most, I upgraded just for the sake of it, including ones that got dropped into water and dehydrated, lost and returned, and fell off the motorcycle at speed.

I've had a company Blackberry phone for a couple of years, but its GTD functionality is almost nil.

Two months ago, my company offered the employees a choice of replacement Blackberries, or iPhones; almost everyone chose the latter.  I knew that the iPhone could do everything my Palm had been doing, and more, and that the conversion would be painful.  (A substantial amount of the pain was due, a year or so previously, to a bad interaction of the Palm, Microsoft Exchange, and Blackberry software which resulted in scrambling of information on all the people I've interacted with over 15 years, in the Address Book - I knew it would take me dozens of hours to merge a restore of the data and verify everything.)

So, a month ago, I started the process. Last fall, I warned my new man, that at some point I would have to spend several whole days getting the address book fixed, and when I got the iPhone I warned him that for a while it would be getting a LOT more attention than him.

Well, the process is over. 

I've probably spent at least thirty, and probably more like fifty, hours, switching over, and it is done.  One of the more enjoyable parts of the process was finding replacement applications (the least enjoyable was the days and days of repairing the fucking address book.)

In case anyone else is going through it, here's the mapping of old to new: it also gives you a glimpse of how I use the device:


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