LifeDrive and Pilot Giveaway Winners
The results are in on PalmInfocenter's LifeDrive and Pilot 1000 giveaways in honor of Palm's 10th anniversary. Congratulations to Jason Pascoe (LifeDrive) and Paul Ralph (Pilot 1000). Many thanks to everyone who participated there were some truly excellent stories sent in and it was very difficult to select a winner given the quality of great stories sent in. Read on to view the winning story and a number of great PDA collection photos...
The Winning LifeDrive entry story:
Helping (and occasionally running away from) the African Elephant
By: Jason Pascoe
Back in 1998/1999 when the first PalmPilots were released in England I was beginning a university research project that would lead me and 10 new PalmPilot units on an adventure across the African continent. We didn't come back quite as clean and shiny as we went out, but we all came back, and amazingly all in good working order.
Our goal: the sustainable preservation of the African wilderness. A big problem in Africa is that it is more and more the case that animals are constrained within relatively small game reserves and are unable to migrate the long distances they once did. For example, the African elephantís natural behaviour is somewhat destructive to the vegetation Ė tree felling is one of their favourite pastimes! No problem when they were able to migrate to another area and allow some years of regeneration to pass before returning. But when they are confined to the same reserve then things can quickly turn into a downward and destructive spiral. Of course, such game reserves are managed by ecology experts, but the problem is no-one really knows what population levels of elephants, giraffes, rhinos and other animal and plant species make for a sustainable environment. And the only way to find out would be to conduct a field study involving the collection of masses and masses of data on different animal and plant species' distribution, densities, and behaviours. Enter the PalmPilots!!
The PalmPilotís customisability and expandability was just the ticket: I wrote some special data collection software and also jury-rigged some RS232 cables (using some travel hotsync cables) that linked the PalmPilots to Garmin GPS receivers so that each observation we (Dr Alan Birkett, research student Kathy Pinkney, and myself) recorded was tagged with its latitude and longitude (invaluable in a place without any maps with which to ascertain oneís location). We walked hundreds of miles over every inch of Kenya's Sweetwaters Game Reserve with our trusty PalmPilots constantly in use recording everything from rhinoceros behavioural observations to detailed descriptions of elephant dung (youíd be surprised at just how many different types of elephant dung there are!). And the portable and light nature of the PalmPilots was much appreciated not just on our long treks but also when, on occasion, we had to make a run for it from a hostile rhino, buffalo herd, or elephant whom for some reason did not appreciate our environment-saving efforts!
The ease-of-use of the PalmPilots also meant we were able to expand our data collection efforts with groups of Earthwatch volunteers who, thanks to the simplicity of the PalmPilots, were out working in the reserve after just half an hour of Palm-specific training. The volunteers conducted many thousands of tree measurements and elephant dung recordings (we reserved the more glamorous giraffe and rhino behavioural observation work for ourselves!) which, thanks to the PalmPilots equipped with our special software, were all recorded in a rigorous, systematic and readable way (avoiding the creation of an unwieldy, and often unusable, paper mountains as is common in many such projects). The last task of the day before removing the parasitic ticks that had hopped onto us in the field (much more worrying than lion attacks I can tell you!) was to Hotsync the data collected directly into our rapidly growing GIS model of the reserve.
The end result: an accurate mathematical model of the reserve which has in the years since 2000 successfully predicted different animal and plant trends in the reserve. This culminated in the rather dire news that the reserve was dramatically over-populated with elephants which, if left unchecked, could lead to a devastating destruction of reserveís the habitat. Thankfully, the Kenyan Wildlife Service swiftly acted on this information and, backed up by our data model hard-won with many hours PalmPiloting in the field, embarked on a translocation of elephants to the Tsavo Game Reserve (where, handily, there was a shortage of elephants). And, to cut a long story short, to this day both game reserves, elephants, and PalmPilots are still doing extremely well.
Customisable, expandable, portable, durable, simple, and easy-to-use. All vital characteristics of the little device that was essential in saving a little piece of Africa: the PalmPilot.
There are still many tough problems to be solved in Africaís natural environment. And the capabilities of the Palm devices have moved on considerably from those early PalmPilots. We were just thinking of new projects and imagining the exciting possibilities of what we could do for the African game reserves with a new PalmOne LifeDriveÖ But better not give it to us if you want it back without a few scrapes and scratches!! :)
Other notable stories sent in...
I started by poking fun at people with Pilots...
The year must have been 1996. Nobody called it a Palm. It was... a Pilot. Now some history about me... I've always been a techno-gadget person. My computers double or triple boot. I used to build heathkit projects. I've used computers since back when a 300 baud modem was considered fast.
At that time, there had been a bunch of elecronic organizers that all sucked. For anyone who had *any* sort of computer, most of the early organizers felt more like at best an HP programmable calculator, or at worst a giant Casio digital watch than a compute device. Some required difficult machinations to sync with your data on a computer. Some required entering data one letter at a time with back/forward/select for a data entry system.
So, aside from the Newton which was just too darned big and expensive, it was pretty much the case that any electronics devices smaller than an HP programmable calculator basically sucked and were more of a toy than a tool.
A people I worked with had Palm 500 and Palm 1000's. Of course, I assumed they were just another goofy electronic organizer.
It wasn't large, but it wasn't small either, and at the time I was carrying a lot of junk around already. I mean... heck I already had *TWO* (giant) cellphones (remember the 1st generation Nextel phones?), a wallet, a personal keychain, and a work keychain.
Oddly enough, I'm looking at a 3Com PalmPilot Personal next to my Lifedrive, and the old pilot is only marginally larger than the lifedrive -- a testament to Palm's love of their original form factor?
So, one week I'm in an all week training class... this guy next to me is playing with his Pilot 1000. Training class was boring. Next thing you know, I've asked this guy if I can take a look and hours have passed by.
My initial impressions were: "Hey, this is almost like a little Macintosh!" and "Hey, it's pretty cool - I can almost figure out this graffiti stuff"
Next day, I was at Circuit City and I bought one.
That night, I was out at a cool micro brewery on a date with a hot girl and... sadly, I was more interested in my new toy than my date. She had brought a friend along, and her friend thought the Pilot was cool. My date, on the other hand was just a bombshell recruiter for funded dot-coms and since I wasn't looking for a new job, I think she felt like she had better things to be doing.
But, I really didn't care too much. I was eager to get home and start logging my life in my Palm addressbook. It's still all there. Sometimes, I relive the events leading up to meeting my wife, my ..umm... bachelor party..., my wedding, my job interviews, my new house. All of these events and much more are carefully chronicled.
It's the best diary I've ever kept.
Life Driven Easier
Palm.. Sigh.. where do I start from. I am 24 now and to start off with my interest in PDA's I have to go back to my fascination with computers. Computers had always fascinated me back from when I was a little kid on an XT. As I grew up around computers I had always noticed them getting smaller and smaller but I didnít really imagine them to ever be small enough to fit into the palm of my hands someday Ė and this is exactly what Jeff Hawkins had in his mind when he started off the company. His vision for the future, for a future where, 'Not every palm would be on a Computer but every Computer would be on a Palm.' (just made that up) and we are almost there. The palm today does almost everything that our computers do for us and more.
Alright, How I ended up getting my first palm? I donít know about the rest of you, but I've always had brilliant ideas pop up in my head on the pot and I am sure there are lots out there who like me get quite inspired in there. Maybe itís the almost empty, stale room, being there all alone, having to sit there for those long minutes where your canít help but let your mind wonder, wander, imagine, wince (ahem), and wonder some more. Well I for one have come up with some of the most brilliant ideas ever in there. I would be in there with a pen and paper for hours on end much longer then I needed for my ablutions but I liked how my mind worked in there. And I always kept a scratch pad and a pen at the window for me to use in the bathroom. Iíd write down or draw out everything that I would come up with in great detail. Anyways done with penning down my ideas all Iíd have to do now was to keep the piece of paper safe. Keep it away in some diary or book of mine and then.. well maybe at times never find it again.
One fine day I found this ad for the Palm IIIx on a mag. As i read on I realized I found the answer to my problem. Thatís pretty much when I knew I needed, wanted, desired a palm, a hand held device. This was back when my dad was working in Bahrain (a small island in the Persian gulf) and there werenít any Palm stores around people didnít even know about Palms when I went around asking for them. Finally about a few months of looking around I found someone who knew someone who knew someone who had a Palm device and wanted to sell it. It was a Palm III. The guy had got it as a compliment on one of his trips to the States. His wife was the one who was actually trying to sell it to me. I had already started to save up for one and had borrowed the rest from dad. I couldnít really afford the price she was asking but it was evident from the first time we met and I laid eyes on the device. I wanted it and quite badly at that. Well to cut a long story short, I paid quite a bit for it. But frankly I didnít regret it one bit. Maybe it was also partly 'cause I was still pretty much a kid.
Even with its 2MB of memory which at time was more than enough on the device. I made sure I made the most of it. It was also for the guilt of paying so much for it. And my dad constantly asking me, if it was coming of any real use to me. This was about 6 years back. I remember actually practicing the graffiti out on paper till I got it right. I really missed a keyboard on it for the amount I used it. It became my diary, my accounts were on it, my home work in school (only in the beginning for a short while that too). My brother would constantly tell me that the novelty would eventually ware off and Iíd give up on it considering I would never part with it. It went with me everywhere. Well not for my baths but almost everywhere.
Its been 6 years now and its still in mint condition. About a year back when i graduated out of college with an undergrad degree in software engineering. My brother gifted me a Zire 72. Itís a great little device and the only problem I have with it is the battery life. It gets exhausted really soon. So I carry my charger with me in my bag where ever i go. It came with a 1 GB SD card so I use it to hold a few of my mp3's which I listen to when Iím traveling. And in a city like Bombay travelling takes up most of your time. I cant really get up early in the morning so on days when i get really late I just download all my mails on the device and read them on the way out in the bus. I'm addicted to it. Life simply wont ever be the same again without a hand held.
Palm Entry Poem
There once was a rabbi named Zach
Who needed to get things on track,
His Palm III was so nifty
And now it's the 650
And he never wants a "Berry" that's black!
I still use my Pilot 5000 every day
Iím a research engineer at a major chemical company. Our company switched to using Microsoft Outlook in 1995, but was still only providing Franklin Day Planners to the employees. Needless to say I found it very frustrating to continually keep the two of them in synchronization. In the Day Planner course they teach you to only keep one calendar and they were right. I spend a lot of time keeping things in sync and I was always making errors. When the Pilots were released I decided that it was the ideal solution to my problem. It was smaller than my Day Planner, would store everything my Day Planner did and it gave me audible alarms. I purchased a USRobotics Pilot 5000 with my own money to use at work. A year or two later the company decided they werenít evil and officially allowed people to use them.
Since then, Iíve upgraded my 5000 first with the 1MB memory module, and then with the 2MB Palm III memory module. That is what I use today, a Pilot5000 with 2MB and the Palm III OS. Although like pretty much everyone, the plastic tab around the stylus port is broken. I gave up screen protectors about five years ago and havenít had any problems. It still does what I bought it for, holding my calendar, contact list, and static information in Memos & Secret!. Itís my calculator (RPN), drawing pad (DiddleBug), and note pad. The addition of AvantGo and then Plucker is the only reason I got the upgrades, otherwise Iíd probably be still using it in the original 512K size. This is just a small sample of some of the stories sent in, click here to browse the entire list.
Notable PDA Photos from the giveaway
Thanks to everyone who participated, stay tuned for another giveaway on PalmInfocenter very soon.