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Internet World, Part 2 Update
Mike Cane (mikecane@email.com)
October 8, 1999

These are additional observations and insights gleaned from Internet World. Please note that I have never endeavored to report about *every* Springboard (two physical-data sensor Springboards, two voice recording Springboards, and a GPS Springboard are among the ones I have chosen to skip); I will leave such comprehensiveness to other writers.

CORRECTION: Due to a misunderstanding or miscommunication or buffer collision (on my part, no doubt), I mistakenly reported that a Bluetooth-enabled Visor can communicate with another Bluetooth-enabled Visor up to 150 feet away. NOT SO! It is a maximum of THIRTY FEET! Apologies to Widcomm and to every PalmOS fanatic who was looking forward to something that probably won't be available until the next century!

RED ALERT! Something is not being told to us in VisorLand! I spoke to The Man Himself, Jeff Hawkins no less!, and even *he* equivocated about the possibility of PalmOS 3.1 being upgraded to PalmOS 3.3 in the Visor! When I put it to him straight, whether or not it could be upgraded even via a .PRC file, he was uncomfortable and could not supply a simple Yes or No. Analysis: Perhaps he truly doesn't know, or perhaps he already knows that *Palm* only intends 3.3 to be in Flash. What this means to you: Do not expect PalmOS 3.3 to ever be in your Visor. Should you be overly concerned? I don't think so. I still intend to get the "Batman Black" model.

COLORS: A Handspring rep told me that Blue and "Ice" are the most popular colors so far. Seems to me that iMac owners are stuffing the ballot box.

PEANUT PRESS: The next edition of their Reader will support graphics! In fact, they intend to publish books on Springboard modules that will contain graphics. Depending on the graphic, it will either be inline or scrollable -- and when it is scrollable, there will be a Zoom Out feature for an overall view, and tapping on a location will Zoom In to that area. Note that all materials published on Springboard modules by Peanut Press cannot be copied or moved into the Visor internal RAM. Not only that, there is no way to print them out, either (probably not a problem for those who are already used to "Palm reading.")

MESAVIEW: They have published electronic books for the two dedicated readers out there and are now moving into VisorLand. Their Springboard modules will be 2-megs worth of collections of Classics from authors such as Shakespeare, Jack London, Plato, H.G. Wells, and others. They have licensed AportisDoc as their ebook reader program. In addition, they are moving into publishing original manuscripts (interested authors should contact publisher@mesaview.com).

STYLUS UPDATE: I asked for and was given a second Visor stylus -- this time, it came with a strong warning from the Handspring rep: "Don't try to put it in your Palm unit!" Huh! I wonder where they heard that from?

INNOGEAR: The InfoMitt Springboard Pager will only function when it is *inside* the Visor. It does not contain its own power source. When I mentioned to Innogear's Chief Engineer that people wanted it to work outside the unit, he said with -- warranted! -- exasperation, "It's just a $49 pager!" (I don't understand why the Paging Fanatics just don't keep their regular pager. But then, I am prejudiced against pagers, cellphones, and still cannot see why I would want or need Bluetooth!) Then Marcus, Innogear's Chief Engineer, nearly caused me to pass out in response to my non-serious comment about the "Six Pack." I said that he should have tried to get the MP3 player into it too -- and he replied that he had actually thought about doing just that! Bob Fullerton, Innogear's CEO & President, would have told me about some of their upcoming products, but he caught himself when he realized he was talking to the person who had just spread word of their "Six Pack" all over the web! I expect Innogear to create Springboard modules that will inspire lust in us.

OS ALERT! When I was giving Hawkins the third degree about PalmOS 3.3, he let slip that a Springboard module can be used to override the PalmOS within the Visor. Next to me, a true codehead piped up with "Linux!" Putting this together with Linus Torvalds' statement yesterday that Linux will soon be on a handheld, I think we can look forward to a vendor putting out a Linux Springboard module. Let's hope that Bill Gates doesn't get the idea to put WinCE on a Springboard! On the other hand, didn't Jean Paul Gassee's Be company say that the BeOS also would be available for handhelds?

SPRINGBOARDS: Another thing I mentioned to Jeff Hawkins (ah, to have had a half hour to gripe at him!) was the inability to enter physics equations into the PalmOS. Einstein's famous "E equals Em Cee squared" must be entered as "E=mc^2" due to the lack of superscript functionality. Hawkins said he did not create a machine for physicists, just the general public. It came to me later that perhaps this is where a Springboard module would fit in. Perhaps the market for people to enter physics equations into their Palms/Visors really is a small one (could it be thus?). Even a small amount of piracy would render creating a "physics writer" program a wasted effort. But not if the software is ensured of being copy protected by being on a Springboard module! If, say, just 2,000-5,000 copies are sold (I am being pessimistic here; doesn't everyone else want to enter quantum physics equations into their Palms?), that is *definitely* 2,000-5,000 copies that have been *sold*; not 20 copies sold with 1,980-4,980 copies passed around for free! The Springboard could make "niche software" publishing for PalmOS possible.

THE OCR CAUSE: This is my personal lust. I want to be able to scan materials from books, magazines, and newspapers at home, the public library (especially there -- the copy machines seem to be leftovers from the USSR!), research libraries, and at offices (not to mention trade shows!). And I want to be able to do this with a PalmOS unit (be it a Palm or a Visor or a TRG). I am not alone in this need, for I have come across a newspaper columnist who raved about Hewlett Packard's portable CapShare OCR device, and other Palm owners on the web who have expressed the same desire. There are no longer handheld scanners being produced for desktops or notebooks; even the single-sheet Visioneer unit seems to have disappeared. But think of it -- college students have to go through books (often books that cannot be removed on loan, from research libraries) for thesis materials, businesspeople often come across interesting printed information they just *know* they should carry with them, and all of us sooner or later come across some paragraph or short item we'd like to keep (often we clip it out on paper!). It is my belief that the Visor's Springboard slot makes the market for palmheld OCR a reality. I spoke to Innogear's Chief Engineer about this and he was intrigued by it. If *you* have an interest in a Springboard OCR module, do The OCR Cause a favor and drop an email to Innogear! Let them know there is a market for such a thing. If they don't listen, someone will! (If I was either an electronics engineer or a codehead, you can bet your life I'd be out there right now schmoozing Vulture Capitalists to raise money for such a device!)

FINAL NOTE: Something to think about is the possibility of a color-enabled PalmOS unit within a year or two. Something for Visor owners to ponder is that all of the Springboard modules produced before that time will have only "black and white" software on them! Lesson? If you bought it today, expect to buy it *again* later. (Even with that in mind, I will buy a "Batman Black" Visor Deluxe!)

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