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HandStory Suite 2.0 Adds Offline Web Browsing

HandStory Suite 2.0 is now available. The most important new feature is it allows users to copy websites onto their handhelds to be read later, similar to AvantGo. These are called Clips and are downloaded onto the handheld during each HotSync. Users can choose from a list of suggested websites or pick any site they like. The suite includes a desktop application that allows users to reformat clips after being downloaded so they look better on a handheld screen.

There are actually two kinds of Clips: "direct" clips are pre-formatted for handhelds and are straightforwardly converted to PDB format, while "script" clips are regular websites that are converted with the help of a small script that runs on Handstory Converter (the Windows part of the software); the script tells Converter how to reformat the site for handhelds. The two kinds of clips are distinguished on the handstory site by the color of the icon next to their names.

Handstory can display both text and color images from websites. It also supports the hi-res screens found on most Sony models, allowing users to display over 2,000 characters on a single screen. It also supports the Jog Dial. HandEra users can't view the app at 320 by 240.

Handstory does not use a proxy service, like AvantGo. Sites are downloaded directly from the desktop and converted for display on the handheld. Therefore the service doesn't charge websites to have their content listed.

However, Handstory offers "Fast Clips" which are downloaded in PDB form from a HandStory server rather than directly from the sites themselves. These are pre-converted to compact PDBs on the Handstory server, so the download to the desktop is very fast.

The suite offers numerous other functions too, including a Memo Pad replacement, a Doc Reader, an Image Viewer, and an eBook Reader.

Using the desktop application, text from Windows-based programs and Internet Explorer can be converted to Doc format, ready to be synced and read on the handheld. Also, Images can be cropped and then downloaded onto the handheld to be viewed at any time.

There is no Macintosh version of the desktop app, though the company is working on one.

It supports reading Docs, images, and ebooks from expansion memory cards.

HandStory Suite 2.0 is available now for $20. There is a $5 charge to upgrade from previous versions. There is no service charge to use the company's Clip Service.

Thanks to HandStory for picking us as one of their Featured Clips. -Ed

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Down

NO MAC OS...Yet.

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/1/2002 9:35:48 AM #
But according to their website, they are currently working on this as well. :)

Did I Get This Right?

Ed @ 3/1/2002 9:33:45 AM #
I did the best I could figuring out how the Clip Service works but I'm not 100% sure I got it right. Handstory's website is a little bit confusing and this is a Windows-only app so I can't download it and test it for myself. Handstory didn't respond to my email questions so I'm hoping I got this correct.

If you have used the new version and can tell me whether or not that's really how it works, let me know.

---
News Editor

RE: Did I Get This Right?
Ronin @ 3/1/2002 9:54:00 AM #
I am a registered user of HandStory 2.0 and have been using it for the past week (it was actually released over this last weekend).

I am also a registered user of iSilo and HandStory has (at least for the time being) replaced it on my Palm. I mention iSilo because the clipping function in HandStory does much the same thing. In addition to the clip service on the web site you can also create custom clips. I cannot say how well the custom clips work with none handheld formatted pages as I have not tried it yet but with handheld formatted websites it works very well. Although I am having some problems with a couple of my regular sites it has work with aplomb for most, for example, Newsday's mobile pages will not download properly but the NY Times, CNet and SciFi.com's do (and the Newsday pages contain no graphics0. Also the Windows component of HandStory 2.0 allows you to set channels to update automatically or manually and with or without graphics. My sole beef with this set up is that the time for the automatic update is not customizable, it is done when the software is notified of a date change (so if your computer is always on it will update right after midnight). Also all documents downloaded to the Palm can be save to expansion media. Handstory takes an interesting approach to card management, in that it works in conjunction with the Palm install tool yet uses its own directory on the card. To the best that I can tell, after the install to the default directory, when you run HandStory it scans the default directory and moves its documents to the HandStory directory on the card. This approach requires waiting at the intial launch of the program after a hotsync of HandStory documents but thereafter the files load quickly. I actually don't have a problem with this method as doc files created by HandStory are not picked up by PeanutReader once this transfer is complete.

If you have any other questions regarding this software let me know.

BTW, I recommend the program highly, with this clipping feature and the integration with IE to pull text from web pages this is a great combo reader.

RE: Did I Get This Right?
wilco @ 3/1/2002 10:32:18 AM #
Trying out the trial version of Handstory 2.0. IsiloX seems to be more customizable at the moment. Isilo can render background colors and multicolored text. It can prevent the download of external links as well. Handstory 2.0, at the moment, do not have these features. Downloading external links could lead to huge files if the link depth is high. On the way it moves files to it's own folder: It work the same way as iSilo does, which is a big plus, and seems to be the logical way to handle them.

RE: Did I Get This Right?
Ronin @ 3/1/2002 10:42:14 AM #
Wilco,

I don't think the way HandStory handles the card is the same as iSilo does. iSilo has it own HotSync conduit which installs the documents directly to the iSilo directory on the expansion card. HandStory does not have an independent conduit and utilizes the Palm install tool as well as the HandStory Palm program to place the files in the HandStory directory. iSilo's process is a one step process for the user and HandStory's is more like one and a half steps.

I agree that iSilo is much more customizable but for my purposes HandStory fits the bill so far. While I can certainly live without color background to pages, I would like links that are a different color from the rest of the text.

BTW, I forgot to mention above, that with HandStory custom channel I think you can convert web pages stored on your hard drive as well (have not tried this yet but I seem to recall the literature saying this was possible).

RE: Did I Get This Right?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/1/2002 11:19:15 AM #
I don't have a conduit for iSiloX. I don't think there is one for MacOS - but there is indeed an application that you use to convert web content to iSilo pdb files.
These websites are saved in a .ixl file.

When you want to update, crack open the .ixl file with iSiloX, convert all of the sites [or just individual ones] and you're good to go.

It just converts the documents, and then places them in the Install folder, and .pdbs for each site you have configured.

Then, when you synch, the .pdbs are installed, and the iSilo content is updated.

Currently there is just a beta of iSiloX [the convertor to make things into iSilo format] and its for MacOS 9 [Classic]. I tried to use iSiloX in Classic mode while I am booted in OS X and it doesn't work.

So, unfortunately, you need to boot in OS 9 to convert things with iSiloX... This is just a beta though, hopefully they will address that issue, and perhaps make an OSX-native version.

There is a command-line version of iSiloX for MacOS X - but the documentation is VERY sparse, and I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get it working...

RE: Did I Get This Right?
wilco @ 3/1/2002 11:29:15 AM #
Ronin, You are right about iSilo's conduit. I stand corrected.

RE: Did I Get This Right?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/1/2002 3:21:07 PM #
Indeed iSilo is more customizable at the moment. Especially I like the flexibility that iSilo gives you how the spider try to crawl across the website, and also I find the 'customizable bottom' and fast page rendering nice, too. So, I'll probably stick with iSilo right now.

RE: Did I Get This Right?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/1/2002 5:48:29 PM #
One thing to think about... iSilo needs 300 kb on Palm only for program, Handstory needs only 90 kb. Of course you have more features in iSilo, but it's way too big...

If money are a problem, look at plucker (www.plkr.org) It's great, does a similar thing like handstory and isilo and it's free!

Cheers,
Dan.

RE: Did I Get This Right?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/2/2002 2:11:53 PM #
I went to the Plucher version. But, what is it that I have to download for my Clie? RPM Version? Binary version? Palm install only? Windows version? I'm sorry, but I'm not well-versed with this type of details? Help, please..



Graphics look great, but SLOW

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/1/2002 11:24:48 AM #
Has anyone else noticed that hires graphics bog down the scrolling of pages? It is slow to load a large clip, and scrolling (esp from memory stick) takes forever.

RE: Graphics look great, but SLOW
jackie_bebe @ 3/1/2002 1:47:51 PM #
yup. horribly slow.

i'd wish that it had a tap and drag feature like avantgo, where you could tap on the screen and drag it to move the page up or down. it does this in the picture viewer part of the program, but not the clip part.

Some clarifications

HandStory @ 3/1/2002 4:49:32 PM #
Hello,

I'm the PR manager for HandStory. I just wanted to clarify some items in the news story about HandStory Suite 2.0.

- Not all of the sites listed in our Clip Service are formatted for handhelds. Thanks to our scripted conversion technology, HandStory Converter is able to reformat non-optimized web sites before syncing to Palm.

- You can already load any arbitrary web site with HandStory 2.0, not just the ones listed on our web site. Simply use the Add Custom button in HandStory Converter. Of course, if the site is not optimized for handhelds, it may not look great on your PDA. To address that, we'll be releasing a Script Editor in the near future that will let users write their own scripts to tell the Converter how to reformat particular sites. These scripts will be shareable among users.

- The sites that are featured on our Clip Service site are enabled for "Fast Clip". If you select the Fast Clip option for a particular site in the Converter, that site will be downloaded as a preconverted PDB file from HandStory's server. This is *much* faster than downloading the site itself.

Thanks,
Chulsung Kim
PR Manager
HandStory

RE: Some clarifications
Scott @ 3/1/2002 8:00:23 PM #
"To address that, we'll be releasing a Script Editor in the near future that will let users write their own scripts to tell the Converter how to reformat particular sites. These scripts will be shareable among users."

This sounds like a very interesting concept. I'll be interested to hear how well this works. The thought of a non-PDA-friendly website looking significantly better on a high-res Palm than on a PPC is intriguing.

Scott

RE: Some clarifications
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/1/2002 9:44:08 PM #
sounds like something similar to PHP (Php: Hypertext Pre-processor)

Browsing

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/2/2002 6:51:04 AM #
Since the "old days" ;-) with my Palm III I've always gone online directly from my pilot using a GSM phone. Nowadays I use a SONY Clie N760 with an Ericsson T39 connected via GPRS. With a bluetooth Infostick it would be even easier than with Ir.

..so I never liked clips, channels and whatever. I want to browse my news-sites "real-time".
Does this browser also do "direct" browsing? I have e.g. Slashdot configured so it displays well on the Clie, but I have not yet found a browser that use the higher resolution on the device - something that would really make a difference.
BTW: My old PSion Revo+ has a full blown Opera browser, but the screen on it is shows age and is not so nice and clear compared to the Clie.


RE: Browsing
dwarchbold @ 3/3/2002 5:15:33 PM #
Handstory isn't a web-browser. It's more or less a document reader. The desktop app converts the web-pages to a document that the reader can display.

So no, it doesn't provide "real-time" web browsing like the Avantgo app.


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