In the days before the Palm Pilot, being a bleeding edge, hip kind of guy, I had a Psion organiser. And a Filofax. And to tell the truth, I used the Filofax much more than the Psion. It was easy to scribble in cramped places, using odd stumps of pencil. It was reasonably easy to find a phone number or a note because I could remember that I had written it in green ink in the top left of a page. My big concession to the computer was that once a year I would dump the Psion’s contacts to the big machine, go through the Filofax page by page synching the two, then re-upload to the Psion and print a copy on Filofax paper.

It was easy. Then I got given a Palm (a III, which shows how long ago this all took place) and that was even easier. I abandoned the trusty Filofax and even invested in a dinky little folding keyboard, and the combo was almost as useful as my TRS-80 had been.

On getting back from Malaysia, I discovered that the Palm’s screen was cracked and that it was essentially useless. But I felt good because I had backed it up before the trip. All I needed was to print out the contacts onto Filofax paper (I still had a stack) and go back to the old ways, possibly forever. How neatly un-nerdy I would be, using pen and paper in lieu of stylus and screen, at least until I had had time to thoroughly research the new offerings in the PDA marketplace.

Can’t do it. Not one of the programs I have — Outlook, Mail, Palm Desktop, Entourage — understands Filofax paper. Not that it is simple to understand; there are two sheets side by side, so for double-sided output there has to be quite a bit of jiggery-pokery in the imposition. I spent a fruitless hour or two searching for free solutions, without luck. Filofax seems to offer address book software, but despite a large red warning that it is available by download only, I couldn’t find a link to a download and nor was I prepared to spend $2.95 for delivery to a US address. So I’m currently stuck with an increasingly ragged ordinary print-out of my contacts and no time to decide which PDA I want. The M105 seems to be the only current model that still accepts the folding keyboard that the III had. It is cheap, and it will surely do the job. But it is monochrome. and demonstrably old. Such are the tribulations of being a bleeding edge, hip kind of guy.

The Psion was really good for when the trains were delayed, because it stored several e-books and the screen was easily good enough to read them comfortably. The Palm’s comparative advantage comes in dull meetings, when Dope Wars maintains sanity.

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