Randall Newton responds:
Like you, I attended COFES this year (I'm 5 for 5), and received the HP iPAQ 4155. Your blog posting on how you use your iPAQ hit home because I just got synchronizing to work with my desktop PC a few days ago. It wasn't the fault of the iPAQ. I never needed my USB ports until I received the iPAQ, only to discover my USB ports didn't work.
Over the weekend I was reading a book on repairing PCs, and discovered that my USB ports were shut off intentionally at the BIOS level when the unit shipped. (My PC shipped with Windows NT, which never supported USB, and my updates to Windows 2000 and Windows XP never notified me of this.) So, I went to BIOS setup, made one change, and voila!
You make the statement, "So if I'm not using the iPAQ as a PDA ..." and then go on to define how you are using it. To me, you ARE using it as a PDA, a next-generation PDA compared to what your Palm offers. Too bad you don't like the desktop apps. But, I know your desire to minimize your use of Microsoft products.
Now that I can sync with my desktop, I'm using Pocket PC Outlook on the PDA to sync with my copy of Microsoft Outlook on the desktop. That's a nice feature, and will get even better when I get my wireless network up and running (now that I have USB ports, it's like a whole new world has opened up!). I am also taking advantage of the copy of AvantGo that was pre-installed. It's a chance to read Internet news sources away from the PC. (Still looking for a good RSS reader for the iPAQ; if you've found one you like, let me know.)
I agree with your lack of respect for the version of Microsoft Internet Explorer on the iPAQ. It hasn't crashed on me, but it is a pain using it to read most web sites. While surfing the web in the Seattle airport on my last business trip, I found a replacement from a company you will recognize. Bitstream (we remember it as an early producer of fonts and related publishing technology) has a Pocket PC browser called ThunderHawk. It reformats every page specifically for the Pocket PC. I played with it for about an hour last week, and it never failed to make a page readable. The download is a fully-functioning demo for 30 days, then it costs either $49.95 for an annual subscription or $5.95 for a monthly subscription.
Here's a tip you might find handy. I need to read a lot of documents that come in PDF format. When moved to the iPAQ, some reflow well for the PDA screen, and some don't. There's a way to fix that if you have Adobe Acrobat Professional 6. Quoting from Acrobat Help: "To view an Adobe PDF file on the screen of a handheld device appropriately, it must have a tagged structure. PDF files that you create from Adobe FrameMaker or Microsoft Office documents are automatically tagged. However, if a file is untagged, adding a tagged structure is a one-click process.
Step 1: Choose View > Navigation Tabs > Tags to open the Tags tab.
Step 2: In the Tags tab, do one of the following: If No Tags appear, go to Step 3; If Tags appear, you do not need to do Step 3.
Step 3: Choose Advanced > Accessibility > Add Tags to Document.
Step 4: Choose File > Save.