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What Are Desktop Accessories?

One of the biggest limitations of the Palm OS is you can run only one application at a time. For example, when I'm in the middle of an e-mail in MultiMail and want to check the Calendar app to find out what date next Tuesday is, when I switch back to MultiMail, my e-mail has been saved and I have to go dig it out of the right folder to start editing it again. This gets to be a pain after a while.

But all that is behind us with a class of mini-apps called Desktop Accessories.

Desktop Accessories, or DAs for short, are a type application that can run without closing the app you are already using. They are generally very small and do one simple task, like show you what time it is or let you look up a phone number. DAs were originally proposed by Yamada Tatsushi and have really caught on in Japan but aren't yet on the radar for most U.S. Palm users.

In order to use DAs, you will need a DA launcher, which is a hack, so you will also need to install HackMaster from DaggerWare, which is $5 shareware. There are several DA launchers available as freeware. I'm using one called App/DA Launcher. Like hacks, DAs don't show up when you view your list of applications; the only way to see which ones you have installed is through your DA launcher. However, if you can delete them through the built-in Palm Launcher. Almost all DAs are freeware, though a few are low-cost shareware.

There are a lots of DAs available that can do tasks like pop up a clock or calendar or let you set the volume for all three types of sounds. There is even a new one called ClockupDA that allows you to overclock/underclock your processor.

As I mentioned earlier, Japan is the home of the DA. This means the best DA sites are hosted in Japan but at least a few have English translations. One of the best is Cute and Funky DAs by H.Yamakado. PalmGear has a few but their collection is pretty small compared to Yamakado's.

This is a completely open standard. In fact, many of the DAs come with source code. If you are a developer who wants to learn more, you should check out this page, which has the DA specifications, programming tips, and a good collection of source codes for DAs.

I have to thank Mike Cane for pointing these out to me recently. Thanks Mike!

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desk accessories

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/7/2000 9:38:29 PM #
It's great to finally see some coveraage on DAs, one of the best additions to the PalmOS ever. I've been using DAs for the last year or more, and couldn't (and wouldnt want to) use my Palm without them.

...

Adam @ 10/7/2000 11:09:43 PM #
What exactly will this do? What are the features likely to be?

-A

RE: ...
Ed @ 10/8/2000 11:26:51 AM #
Adam, the best advice I can give is to go to Cute and Funky DAs (http://member.nifty.ne.jp/yamakado/da/) and look at all the DAs they have in their archive. There are more than a hundred of them in categories like Calculators, Clocks, Financial, Memo Pad, Sounds, System, Utlilies, and several more.

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Plenipotentiary
Palm InfoCenter

TealPoint DAs

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/7/2000 11:37:08 PM #
I have recently downloaded, tested and purchased a set of DAs from TealPoint (www.tealpoint.com). I have been very satisfied with all their software. The set of DAs included a clock/stopwatch; mini-memo pad with 8 available; calculator; preferences; file/backup manager; editing tools. Used with their TealLaunch program each tool is only a stylus stroke or a button press away. A great set of popup tools. Try their shareware!!

Hackmaster

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/8/2000 7:18:35 PM #
It's interesting that you mention the several FREEWARE DA launchers, but fail to mention that there is a FREEWARE alternative to Hackmaster, called EV Plugbase. Many would say that EV Plugbase is better than hackmaster in many ways.

RE: Hackmaster vs. EVPlugBase
Ed @ 10/8/2000 8:48:06 PM #
I haven't heard much about EVPlugBase since the beta was released back in 98. If EVSoft has released a final version, I can't find any evidence of it. Their site in in Japanese (I think) so I can't read it. While many people seem quite happy with EVPlugBase, it does seem to cause problems for others. Your milage may vary.

This could be be an example of the advantage of shareware over freeware. There is an economic incentive for Mr. Keyes from DaggerWare to keep updating HackMaster while the people from EVSoft don't get anything out of it besides a warm fuzzy feeling.

On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't argue this point because I don't get a red cent for all the work I do on the Palm Infocenter Any more talk about greed winning out over altruism and I might quit. ;-)

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Plenipotentiary
Palm InfoCenter

RE: Hackmaster
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2000 9:19:58 AM #
Only that Ed hasn't updated Hackmaster at all during the last year(s). Look at Hackmaster on a Palm IIIc or a Palm M-100 and you'll know what I mean...


RE: Hackmaster Latest EVPlugBase at...
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2000 9:28:34 AM #
I don't have much success getting on the evplug site but the latest version (1.1b1) updated 12/99 can be downloaded from the support page of the folks who make JackFlash at http://www.brayder.com/support/

It is freeware and has NEVER caused a problem on my IIIx with at least 8 hacks enabled.

JackFlash rocks too.

Matt

RE: Hackmaster
TRGPro_Users_Group @ 10/10/2000 2:37:33 AM #
People that use EVPlugBase know it is a much better hack controller than Hackmaster. The fact that Hackmaster is more widely used has little to do with the relative merits of each program.
I would be amazed to see anyone try EVPlugBase and then go back to Hackmaster.
EVPlugBase 1.1b1 (the most recent version) can be obtained from many sites, including the files section of our TRGPro e-group http://www.egroups.com/group/TRGPro_Users_Group and
http://www.brayder.com/downloads/evplugbase.zip

By the way, Hackmaster is not updated any more frequently than EVPlugbase, so for your registration fee you are essentially getting an unsupported, less stable app. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

RE: Hackmaster
Clymmer @ 10/13/2000 4:43:38 PM #
Hmmm, does the latest version of EvPlugBase handle Hacks with multiple setup screens (i.e. CorrectHack, App/DA Launcher, and the like)? The original problem that steered me away from EvPlugBase is that it couldn't handle these without crashing. The author of HackMaster pointed out that the HM "standard" manner of handling these sorts of hacks wasn't implemented in EvPlugBase.

Is that still true?

C.


Sounds like MagicText

GregGaub @ 10/9/2000 12:46:06 AM #
I saw DA's a few months ago, but couldn't figure out what to even try, since most of them are in Japanese. Is there some kind of categorized archive that separates the Japanese ones from the English? If not, can anyone recommend SPECIFIC DAs that they think are must-have's?

I also would like to note that MagicText is a sweet hack that allows plug ins, and there are a TON of official and 3rd party plug ins for it, covering most of what I saw in the DA thing.



Recommended DA's
Clymmer @ 10/9/2000 9:12:20 AM #
Well, I've loaded many of these over the last year or two and here are the one's I find myself using the most:

CallLookUpDA - great one. It allows you to have a Address Book lookup in any application that has a field that accepts text. The cool thing is that it not only searches your address db for matches, it allows you to choose what number/email address to paste into the text field. Very nice.

daMemoPad - another great one - it allows you to open up a slightly smaller view/edit window to your memo db. You can do just about everything here that you can from the stock memo app. It's great for taking notes (I used to use it in conjunction with the Scripture program for taking notes on bible passages . . . until I loaded MarkMyScriptures, that is.) The other nice feature is that you can use it as a clipboard/cut/paste utility for apps that don't allow cut/pasting. It works pretty well.

Calra - a nice, miniscule popup calculator that allows you to do your calculations and then paste the output wherever you have your cursor.

Calendra - It's small, popup calender. The neat thing is that it's transparent (i.e. you can see stuff behind the popup window - that can be a plus or a minus depending on the app you're popping up over).

Two new ones I'm checking out now are CipherDA - which is a sort of like a freeware version of ReadThis!. It allows you to encode any text with a 128-bit IDEA encryption key and paste the output into any app. Kinda cool, but I don't normally need that much security . . . but who knows? The other one I'm checking out is ClockupDA - it's an overclock utility and a wait-states remover. It replaced my need for CruiseControl and let me gain a freeware overclocker . . . cool!

I use the App/DA launcher in conjunction with HackMaster. I have it configured so that if I slide my stylus from the home silkscreen button to the main screen, the DA picker pops up. This launcher has some other nice configuration features too, so it's worth the load/look.

Hope this helps!

C.


RE: Sounds like MagicText
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/13/2000 11:17:55 PM #
I'm a IIIx with TRG xtra xtra pro board user for over a year, have resisted Hackmaster and hacks, till now. I have installed EVPlugBase and AppDAlauncher, but find documentation on using these limited to info in readme files. Is there anywhere I can go to be stepped through using EVPlugBase, DAlauncher and hacks? I can't seem to even download the Calra or Calendra .zip files to try out: clicking on download brings me to a screen with a computer-gibberish logo with no hot-spots to even start the download. Thanks for any help you can give this newbie. By the way, I use numerous 3rd-party apps. But so far I'm drawing a blank at using EVPlugBase, etc. Thanks again.

RE: Help with EVPlugBase, etc.
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/13/2000 11:28:27 PM #
I'm a IIIx with TRG xtra xtra pro board user for over a year, have resisted Hackmaster and hacks, till now. I have installed EVPlugBase and AppDAlauncher, but find documentation on using these limited to info in readme files. Is there anywhere I can go to be stepped through using EVPlugBase, DAlauncher and hacks? I can't seem to even download the Calra or Calendra .zip files to try out: clicking on download brings me to a screen with a computer-gibberish logo with no hot-spots to even start the download. Thanks for any help you can give this newbie. By the way, I use numerous 3rd-party apps. But so far I'm drawing a blank at using EVPlugBase, etc. Thanks again.


Do we need DA's?

ardiri @ 10/9/2000 5:47:30 PM #
One of the biggest limitations of the Palm OS is you can run only one application at a time. For example, when I'm in the middle of an e-mail in MultiMail and want to check the Calendar app to find out what date next Tuesday is, when I switch back to MultiMail, my e-mail has been saved and I have to go dig it out of the right folder to start editing it again. This gets to be a pain after a while.

where is the fault, really?

i dont believe there is a need for DA's, if the applications you are using are designed correctly. In your example here, the fault is with the developer who wrote the "mail" program. If you leave the program during the middle of writing your email, why didn't the application just save its state? when you come back, it should have reloaded your email, and allowed you to continue editing.

simplicity is what got me into the Palm.

although, based on the number of applications out there, maybe you need DA's - otherwise you will be frustrated :)) just stop to think who's fault it is that you need to start asking for DA's.

cheers

// az
aaron@ardiri.com
http://www.ardiri.com/

// az

aaron@ardiri.com

http://www.ardiri.com/

RE: Do we need DA's?
Clymmer @ 10/9/2000 11:06:20 PM #
Aaron,

From a purely logical standpoint, I can see where you're coming from . . . however, try a couple of da's and you'll see they fill in some functionality gaps quite nicely and unobtrusively. For instance, the calRA calculator DA stays out of your way until you realize, in the middle of an email/note to self/entry in journal/whatever text app entry you want, that you can't remember what x*y/z=?. You don't feel like breaking out of your app, so you just pop up a mini calculator and auto-paste the answer in your entry and move on.

I've just noticed that in real-life, these things come in handy at times.

C.


Me?

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/10/2000 10:48:35 AM #
How ironic, Ed, that you thank me for showing you these. I myself use the PopUp series -- PopUp Calc and PopUp Memo, specifically.

But what is this someone has said about HackMaster not running on the M100 or IIIc? That is the first I have heard of it! What about the Sony CLIE? And what about the upcoming Visor Platinum and Prism?

mikecane@wildmail.com

Who needs Hackmaster?

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/10/2000 12:54:17 PM #
I think its strange that you mentioned these freeware DAs and left out the DA Launcher (pref type) which does not require Hackmaster. People who don't want to use hackmaster because it causes instability on their palm (my friends IIIc had to be hard reset after he installed Hackmaster) should try this DA Launcher out.

Note: I have yet to try this program but it sounds like a good alternative and should have been mentioned.

Matt

RE: Who needs Hackmaster?
Ed @ 10/10/2000 2:25:52 PM #
There reason why I didn't mention it isn't strange; I didn't notice it. Thanks for pointing it out. If anyone gives this a try, please let us know how it goes.

---
Plenipotentiary
Palm Infocenter
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