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Jeff bought his first handheld, a PalmPilot Personal, in 1997 for a number of reasons. Of course, the gadget factor was pretty high. Plus, the PalmPilot was getting raves for its ability to store volumes of formerly paper-based contact and scheduling information in a device slightly larger than a deck of cards, as well as its capability of synchornizing with a desktop PC.

For Agen, the gadget factor was the top draw. But as he followed Jeff into the world of full-time freelancing, he soon discovered the same truth that Jeff found with this cool gadget: it helped provide a greater measure of control over a myriad of overlapping tasks and time commitments.

Excerpted from an interview with Bill Gates, CEO and Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, on the television show “Charlie Rose,” March 4, 1998 (used with permission).

Bill Gates: The future of the PC is to be a tablet-sized device or perhaps larger than a tablet…. But then you also have a lot of other devices, things like—I think I've got one in my pocket.

Charlie Rose: A Pilot is in his pocket.

Bill Gates: No, no, no, no. This is the competitor to the Pilot. Don't say “Pilot.” Geez. This is the—

Charlie Rose: Does that look like a Pilot? I rest my case.

This is part of the appeal of a Palm OS organizer. Yes, it's a cool gadget. Yes, you can accessorize it to your heart's content with styli, cases, and custom flipcovers. Yes, it piques people's curiosity and makes complete strangers walk up and ask, “What's that?” But it's also an efficient, well-thought-out organizational tool that performs its tasks exceptionally well. Instead of being a self-contained computer in a smaller container, it's an extension of the information that millions of people rely on every day.

Palm Organizers: Visual QuickStart Guide

This book is meant to be a compact, functional extension of a Palm OS organizer. Not just a how-to approach to using an electronic tool, this Visual QuickStart Guide is a primer on how to effectively get control of your schedule, contacts, and all the data that used to occupy reams of papers and Post-it notes.

Our aim for this book is to show you what's possible with Palm OS devices, from their basic features to tips and tricks for using them smarter and faster. At times we'll personally recommend a product or a technique because it's what we've found useful. As a result, and to keep this book from becoming ten times larger than the device it covers, we don't list every product on the market—we want you to have fun exploring what's available.

In fact, with millions of Palm OS devices in use today, it's impossible to cover every detail. For example, the Preferences screen on a Tungsten T is different than a Tungsten C, which differs from devices that came before them—but the preferences themselves are similar.

The Hand(held) of Progress

As we were finishing up this fourth edition, PalmOne was gearing up to release new models in the Fall 2004 timeframe. However, due to scheduling, we weren't able to incorporate those new models into the book. (At press time, the model names, operating systems, and release dates were still undisclosed.)

Since there wasn't time to incorporate the new information into this edition, we'll cover the changes in a new appendix, and post it as a PDF file at the companion Web site for this book: www.necoffee.com/palmvqs/. We'll also post news tidbits we come across and new software discoveries, so please check back from time to time.

Also in the name of generalization, you'll find that we'll often mention a shortcut Graffiti stroke (for example, -B), knowing full well that some devices such as the PalmOne Treo use a thumbpad keyboard instead of Graffiti. (Here's your first tip: use the Treo's Menu key, then the shortcut letter.)

People who swear by their handhelds also tend to integrate them into their lives, moving beyond business meetings to birthdays, home finances, electronic books, and the occasional game of solitaire. It continues to be an invaluable part of our everyday lives.

We'd love to know how your handheld helps (or hinders) your life. Feel free to email us with feedback at palmvqs@necoffee.com.

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