Showing posts from 2005

Yam Technology?

I had briefly considered naming my company Yam Technology (Yam is my last name), but quickly realized how mistakenly popular I could become during Thanksgiving.

"Can you send over a 50lb bag?" "Do you mash?" "Do you have recipes?"

Yam Technology could also be mistaken for a large and serious agri-genetic concern, and it disturbed me that I could be thought of as growing mutant potatoes. So I settled for the more playful Y Technology.

I spend a good deal of time with computer people and our collective sense of humor leans unambiguously on the dry side. Here's hoping your turkey isn't and your bottle of red is. Cheers!

Why Technology?

It's the name of my company -- Y Technology -- and also a good question to pose now and then.

I worked briefly at a company that used a hand scanner, partly for security, but chiefly as a time card. The technology worked well enough, identifying me correctly on the first attempt almost every time. The implementation, however, was flawed: the hand scanner stood between our desks and the restroom. It was company policy to scan in and out when you arrived in the morning and left in the evening, and also for lunch. This policy was later changed to include bathroom and cigarette breaks(!).

It's no secret that some people don't wash their hands after using the restroom, which made slapping your palm on the scanning surface a good way to spread all sorts of germs. It was also a good reason not to eat lunch at your desk.

The solution to this problem was decidedly low-tech. I carried around a small bottle of Purell Hand Sanitizer.

Rotate 1.4 Available

What's new in version 1.4:
Added support for the new Palm TXImproved error handling for unknown devicesNow you can power on your device by pressing the rotate button without rotating the screenWhen installing a new version of Rotate, the button would become disabled even though the "Enable Button" was checked. This has been fixed for hotsync installs. Beaming or over-the-air installations still requires you to disable and re-enable the rotate button. Download it at:

Rotate 1.3 Available

Here's what's available in version 1.3:

Long Press Option. Hold the rotate button down for half a second and the underlying application will be launched. This is especially convenient for T5 users who don't have an "extra" voice recorder button.Online help.Download it at:

Note that Rotate doesn't work on the new Palm TX, but I'm working on it.

Think Outside Bluetooth Keyboard

My previous musings on coffee did have a Palm related point; they were composed using Think Outside's Bluetooth Keyboard. Folded closed, it's a slim attractive package. Fully open, it's a full sized keyboard -- the kind you usually find on a laptop. It is, however, missing the top row of number keys and that fakes me out. My fingers have "memory muscle" and since the keys feel like a full sized keyboard, I find myself off by one row when I type. Reaching for the "Tab" key, I hit "Caps Lock". Reaching for the numeric key "1", I enter "q". It took a little retraining and I still make typos, but it is still far far better than Grafitti 2, Grafitti 1, or a thumb board for writing anything more than a paragraph.

I connect the keyboard to my T3 via bluetooth. I use "secure" mode, which requires a little more fuss to setup, but in today's times of eavesdropping, I see no other alternative. An infrared keyboard would b…

Second Cup

I don't always have time in the morning to make my own coffee. Sometimes, I go to Starbucks, although their naming convention for cup sizes -- tall, grande, venti -- is a bit pretentious. I also discovered that they have an unadvertised "short" or "small" size. Regardless, the cup is less important than the coffee inside, which happens to be quite good.

But if you're ever in New York City, you can get an equally good (or better) cup – small, medium, or large -- at Oren's.In addition, you can buy coffee beans there; for those special occasions, they sell rarities such as JamaicanBlueMountain, Hawaiian Kona, or Aged Sumatra.For your every day morning coffee, the Oren’s Special Blend makes a fine cup.

While StarBucks offers a pleasant unhurried rest stop, often with WiFi, Oren’s is really coffee to go. Tip: For drinking at your final destination, ask for a flat top.For drinking while walking, ask for a sip top.

Coffee Break

I started drinking coffee in college. It was more of a study aid than a beverage. Dark, aromatic, slightly bitter, I took it with half and half, along with a donut, or a cookie, or a piece of chocolate. The caffeine and sugar got me through the late hours.Today, I enjoy my coffee black. I care enough to grind the beans each morning and am rewarded with its sweet aroma. During brewing, I watch the first few pale brown drops drip into the carafe. I leave, but I am never really gone as the bouquet continues to flirt with me. Shortly, upon my return, I behold a full pot of liquid – hot, rich, and dark. When it sits in my mug, I observe wisps of rising steam.Looking closer, I note faint patches of oil on the surface. I contemplate the day ahead and take a sip. Within moments, anything seems possible.

Rotate 1.2 Available

Here's what's new in version 1.2:
180 degree screen rotationOption to autohide the grafitti area after rotationA soft reset used to disable rotation. This has been fixed. The 180 degree turn isn't as goofy as it sounds. It was useful to me when I had to show info to someone who sat across the table.

Download it at:

More details are written up in the readme.txt file. And remember, this is shareware. If you find Rotate useful, $5 will buy you a clear conscience. :-)

Rotate 1.1 Available

Rotate 1.1 is a minor update, but it addresses the number one request: allow the T3's voice recorder button to rotate the screen. You can download it here:


A Rotation Button for your T3 and T5

On my T3, whether Avantgo, VersaMail, Plucker, or an eBook, I usually read in landscape mode. When writing in Graffiti, I typically do so in portrait mode. And when I view my photos, well... that depends on the way the images were taken, and I end up switching between landscape and portrait modes more often than I like. The rotation icon on the blue bar is small, so frequent switching is awkward. Also, rotation moves the position of the rotation icon, and I need to make a small, but real, mental effort to find the icon in order to rotate back.

What the T3 and the T5 needed was a dedicated hardware rotation button. A good alternative would be software that mapped rotation to a hardware button, but a cursory search of the web turned up nothing. I had planned to write the utility myself, but just never got around to it. Then I learned that PalmOne's new LifeDrive had just such a button and I was green with envy.

Okay, I'm overstating my state of envy. But it did push me enough to …

And the screen cracked

Back in September 2004, I was happily using the WiFi enabled Palm T|C. Then I dropped it. While the T|C survived many falls, this was the one that cracked the screen.

I've owned several Palm devices and dropped them too, although not as often as I dropped the T|C, and more importantly, none of those falls were fatal. I suspect it was the T|C's relative bulkiness that brought out the klutz in me. I was annoyed with myself, but this was a good excuse to upgrade. Back then, my choices were:
Repair the T|C for $125Wait a few weeks for the upcoming Tungsten T5 for $399Buy the soon-to-be discontinued T3 for about $325
While repairing the T|C was the cheapest option, I felt I would eventually drop it again. I also discovered that WiFi wasn't all that important to me. I do have a wireless router for my home office, and it was cool, if not addictive, to get email and browse the web within a 200+ foot radius. But beyond that, WiFi wasn't useful to me; I'm simply not a regular …