A Random Broad Gives Up Her PDA for a Week

Posted August 11, 2006 by a random broad
Categories: Analog PDA, BlackBerry, DIY Planner, Hipster PDA, Lo-Fi, Low-Tech, PDA, Random Thoughts

So after penning The Low-tech, Lo-fi Approach to Daily Organization, I decided to see what life would be like if I downgraded from a digital PDA (BlackBerry) to an analog one (Hipster PDA) for a week. . .sort of.

To get started, I downloaded the Hipster PDA template kit from D*I*Y Planner, selected the pages I thought I’d need in my daily life, printed them onto 3″ x 5 index cards and clipped them together.  Printing them was a little tricky because Acrobat’s page scaling was set to print to printer margins.  Once I turned off page scaling, I was in business.  My printer still cut off a small portion of the left and top edges of the images.  As a result, my 2006 calendar is missing a few Sundays, and some of my other daily calendar pages are missing their hourly time delineations; not a huge problem in the grand scheme of things.

Back to my plan.  Next week, I plan to pretty much ditch my BlackBerry and use the Hipster PDA.  I’ll still use my BlackBerry to generate, reply to and forward mission-critical email items, but I’ll abandon its Calendar, Address Book and Tasks features in lieu of the Hipster PDA’s pages.  During the day, I’ll only take my analog PDA with me.  I see a lot of people, sit through a bunch of meetings and make plenty of appointments.  I rely heavily on my BlackBerry device’s Calendar (especially the reminders), Tasks and Address Book.  To make matters worse, I’ll be working on a project that will put me in front of some pretty high-level people in my company.  Timing will be everything.  Yesterday, I seriously considered postponing my plan (which one co-worker dubbed Office Survivalist) for a week.  Steeling my resolve, however, I decided to stick to my guns and, for reasons still not quite clear to me, turn my life over to, what amounts to be, a stack of index cards clipped together with a small binder clip.  Hmmm…  When it’s spelled out like that. . .right there in front of me. . .suddenly, I feel a little afraid.

So I need to think of the best way to make this work for me.  Already I can see some potential pitfalls.  What will I use for a stylus and where will I keep it?  Palm and iPac devices have convenient, built-in compartments for their styluses (styli?).  Also, the stylus is typically slightly shorter than the length of the device.  Because the fields on the Hipster PDA cards are so tiny, and because my handwriting isn’t exactly the neatest, I’ve opted for a mechanical pencil.  My pencil of choice–the PaperMate Synchro 5.0, if you’re interested–is a little bulky.  I may have to upgrade my binder clip to a larger size so that I can clip the pencil to the PDA.  Even then, it will extend nearly 2″ beyond the length of my analog PDA.  I’ll have to locate a shorter stylus; one with a thinner barrel would be a ideal.

Another issue will be keying data into, er, make that writing stuff onto my PDA.  One of the great thing about the BlackBerry is when I need to key something in, I simply remove it from its holster, scroll to the desired module or folder, click on it, key in whatever I need to and replace the device in its holster. Fun!  When I need to write something onto the Hipster PDA, I’ll need to unclip it, flip to the appropriate card, find some place to put other the cards, preferably locate a writing surface (I’ve never been good at using the palm of my hand as a writing surface), write into the teeny-tiny field(s), reassemble the cards (I’m pretty anal, so it has to be neat) and clip them back together, hopefully remembering to clip the stylus back in, too.  Not so fun.

Finally, my biggest worry will be how on earth I’ll remember to keep all of my appointments and meetings.  I pretty much keep my brain clear of when and where I need to be at any given time because I check my BlackBerry device’s calendar religiously.  I probably open it a dozen times a day to make sure I’m not about to make a conflicting appointment or see how long I can work on a task before I have to be somewhere.  Also, it’s calendar synchs wirelessly with my Outlook calendar.  This means if I make an appointment, I only need to key it in once–either in my BlackBerry device’s calendar or Outlook’s.  The analog PDA system will require me to write down appointments that are in my Outlook calendar onto one of its calendar pages–I still haven’t decided which one(s) I’m going to use–and/or key into Outlook any appointments I set while out and about.  I’m not so sure I’m disciplined enough to do so.

My punch list from now until Monday:

  •  locate a more suitable stylus
  •  possibly reprint the PDA onto larger cards to eliminate trimmed edges of images
  •  develop better handwriting
  •  get disciplined
  •  do something about the waves of nausea, panic and fear that hit every now and again as D-Day draws near

**Update**  I got around the trimmed edges by rotating the page 180 degrees and printing it on the same sized card.  This way, the image was still trimmed, but because it was rotated, the bottom and right edges were trimmed instead of the top and left ones. 

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The Low-Tech, Lo-Fi Approach to Daily Organization

Posted August 7, 2006 by a random broad
Categories: DIY Planner, Hipster PDA, Notes on the Run, Organization, Paper, PDA, PDF, Planners, PocketMod, Random Thoughts, Sudoku

With every Tom, Dick and Harry reaching for their Palm, iPaq or BlackBerry, why not take the road less digitally traveled and use an analog PDA?  Between PocketMod, the Hipster PDA and D*I*Y Planner, keeping your life organized sans electronic devices has never been easier. . .or more fun.

PocketMod

A PocketMod is a piece of paper cleverly divided into eight sections.  You can select what module appears in each section by dragging and dropping the ones you want onto one of eight pages.  The modules include a shopping list, a food diary, a tip table, SuDoku, a check register; there are more than two dozen from which to choose.  Once you print the paper, follow the handy folding guide or even watch a video on how to fold your PocketMod.

You can also download a PDF to PocketMod converter.  It will convert your PDF to the PocketMod template.  The possibilities are limited only to your imagination when you use the converter in conjunction with the your PDF files.

Hipster PDA

The Hipster PDA (Parietal Disgorgement Aid) is a data management system whose components are, quite simply, a stack of index cards, a small binder clip and a pen.  You write your notes, calendar appointments, contact information, to-do lists, etc. on the cards.  To transfer data to other users, simply write it down, unclip the card and give it to the other person.  Try using colored cards as separators to create instant directories, er, sections.

D*I*Y Planner

A collection of official D*I*Y Planner templates and user-submitted templates await you at this site.  You can modify, assemble and print planner pages in various sizes at the site.  All you need to get started is—in addition to a computer and printer, of course—a planner, heavy-stock paper, a hole punch and a paper trimmer.  The site even has templates for the aforementioned Hipster PDA.

Is the paper-and-pen revolution afoot?  I wouldn’t go that far, but I was intrigued by the idea.  I configured a PocketMod with the following pages:

1. Cover page

2. Appointment timesheet

3. Appointment timesheet

4. Full Year 2006 calendar

5. Simple list

6. Simple list

7. SuDoku

8. Blank

img_08761.jpg           

img_08751.jpg

My PDA of choice is the BlackBerry.  I’ve been using one for years and have no intention on giving it up.  I did supplement my device with paper and pen last year, though.  I purchased a pack of Notes on the Run from Planner Pads, Co.  The notes are very handy; one side has a Things-to-do list on the top half and a Reminder section, subtitled Who should I see, call, write or thank today?, on the bottom.  The other side is a list titled Thoughts/Ideas.  The cards are 3″ x 5, so they’re very easy to carry around.  Even though I have a BlackBerry device, and three computers at my disposal, I still find a little piece of paper comes in handy for check lists, notes, reminders, etc.  I used to rely heavily on Post-it notes for these items.  I still do, but the Notes on the Run cards make it easier to keep tasks that may span multiple days more accessible. 

notes.jpg

I do use Outlook and I’m aware that it has many printing options which can include Calendar and Tasks items.  They can be configured and printed so that they can be planner pages, too.  None of the options are configured to print like the PocketMod, though.  I did download the PDF to PocketMod converter and will toy around with printing Calendar and Tasks pages to a file, converting the file to a PDF, converting the PDF to PocketMod pages and incorporating them into my existing configuration.

So if you’re looking to organize your daily life, consider a few low-tech options.  Happy printing. . .and folding from a random broad.

Good luck and happy taking care of things from a random broad.

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Windows XP Wallpaper Fun

Posted August 1, 2006 by a random broad
Categories: Artchive, deviantART, Digital Pictures, DJ Designs, Random Thoughts, rpeterclark.com, Wallpaper, Windows XP

Are you tired of cycling through XP’s limited selection of wallpaper images?  Check out these links:

DJ-Designs =-= This site features a collection of tranquil, computer generated wallpaper.  Be sure to view the 4 Elements; Wind and 4 Elements; Earth selections.

RPETERCLARK.COM =-= While there isn’t a huge selection here, what’s available is pretty cool.  XP Glossy is slick and super shiny looking.

deviantART =-= This site has an extensive selection of user-submitted wallpaper images.  The categories range from Fantasy to Minimalistic; from Science Fiction to Photo Manipulated.

Artchive.com =-= This one’s my personal fave.  Mark Harden’s Artchive isn’t just a collection of scans of the world’s most famous paintings, drawings, etc., it’s also educational.  Like Caillebotte’s Fruit Displayed on a Stand?  Take a few moments to read about the man behind the painting.  If you find yourself visiting this site often, make a donation, please.  They need your help and, let’s face it, you were only going to spend that money on a Yanni CD anyway.

Finally, you might want to download and install Microsoft’s Wallpaper Changer for Windows XP.  This handy little application, which only works with XP, will change your background for you as often as you’d like it to.  While this program comes with a selection of winter-themed photographs, you can easily use your own digital pictures by dropping a folder with your images in a subfolder of the My Pictures directory.  You can also have the Wallpaper Changer display the digital photos of your choice on special days such as your pet gerbil’s birthday or the anniversary of your first Yanni concert.  The Wallpaper Changer is included in Microsoft’s Winter Fun Pack.  You can download the Pack (6.73 MB .msi) by clicking here.

Enjoy.

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AMD to Acquire ATI

Posted July 25, 2006 by a random broad
Categories: AMD, ATI, BetaNews, Business News, BusinessWeek, Dave Orton, Forbes, Hector Ruiz, Intel, Nvidia, Tech, Technology, Technology News, Techtree.com

Forbes.com reports AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) will purchase graphics chipmaker ATI Technologies for $5.4 billion.  The deal is expected to close fourth quarter this year.

Even though the takeover looks fairly valued, RBC analyst Steve Arthur said there is limited upside to the offer unless competing bids are made for ATI.

For now, Arthur said AMD’s takeover deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, effectively offers his one-year price target of $21 now.

Will the merger strengthen AMD’s position against rival processor maker Intel?  BetaNews reports the merger will allow the company to bring integrated products to the market:

The merger will allow AMD to offer integrated processor and graphics solutions to its customers. By 2008, AMD plans to introduce new processor configurations that would integrate the CPU and graphics processor into a single unit. The end result will be smaller, more powerful computers.

In a conference call to analysts, AMD’s Chief Executive, Hector Ruiz (as reported by Techtree.com) hopes the acquisition will result in more innovative products:

Hector Ruiz, chairman and chief executive officer, AMD, said, “Bringing the two great companies together will allow us to transcend what we have accomplished as individual businesses, and reinvent our industry as the technology leader and partner of choice. We believe AMD and ATI will drive growth and innovation for the entire industry, enabling our partners to create differentiated solutions, and empowering our customers to choose what is best for them.”

Dave Orton, ATI’s current president and CEO, is also optimistic about the acquisition:

[He] said, “This combination means accelerated growth for ATI, and will benefit all our product lines. Joining with AMD will enable us to innovate aggressively on the PC platform, and continue to invest significantly in our consumer business to stay in front of our markets.”

According to BusinessWeek online, Nvidia’s CEO couldn’t be any happier with the impending merger:

“I thought it was just impossible to get a gift like this,” crowed Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, in an interview with BusinessWeek.com. ATI is “basically throwing in the towel, leaving us as the only stand-alone (graphics chip) company in the world.”

AMD is aware it has its work cut out for itself.  The officers at both companies, however, are prepared to do what it takes to prove that both product lines will benefit from the merger.  From the Press Release at AMD.com:

The combination will create a processing powerhouse by bringing AMD’s technology leadership in microprocessors together with ATI’s strengths in graphics, chipsets and consumer electronics. The result: A new and more formidable company, determined to drive growth, innovation and choice for its customers, particularly in the commercial and mobile computing segments and in the rapidly-growing consumer electronics market. Combining technologies, people, and complementary strengths, AMD plans to deliver in 2007 customer-centric platforms for the benefit of customers who want to collaborate in the development of differentiated solutions.

Good luck, guys.                                

Microsoft’s Answer to the iPod? The Zune.

Posted July 20, 2006 by a random broad
Categories: Apple, Argo, BetaNews, Engadget, Gizmodo, iPod, iPod nano, Microsoft, Portable Media Player, Random Thoughts, Zune

It looks like Microsoft’s so-called iPod-killer will be called the Zune.  BetaNews is reporting it may be released as early as this October.  The Zune seems to be the software giant’s flagship product; there may be another, smaller, more scaled-down device called the Pyxis.  It will rival Apple’s iPod nano.

The entire initiative falls under the name “Project Argo,” and insiders believe Microsoft is working on at least two portable players. Zune, which first surfaced in June, is believed to be the iPod-like device that would include wireless connectivity in a design very reminiscent of the Apple iPod.

Sources have confirmed to BetaNews that a second player exists, known by the code-name “Pyxis.” While details are scant on the player’s features, it is being billed as a competitor to the iPod nano in both size and functionality, with the addition of video support. Talk of a third device has not been verified.

As posted to this blog July 14, the Zune will offer Wi-Fi capabilities.  Gizmodo reports Internet radio streaming may be a feature Microsoft will offer:

Microsoft’s concentrating on features the iPod doesn’thave, instead of trying to beat Apple at their own game. The tipmeister reiterates that ad-hoc networkingfeature will be there, as well as a possible buffered internet radio streaming feature. If you’re within range of a WiFi signal and you’re listening to a station, the device will snatch as much of the feed as it can so when you wander out of WiFi signal, it’ll keep playing the stream as if you were in range. This might not make its way into the final product, so don’t get your hopes up too high.

The folks over at Engadget posted a picture of the device:

The Zune?

The device sports a clean design.  Will its OS be a sleek as its outside?  This random broad sure hopes so!

AOL Releases AIM Pro for Free

Posted July 19, 2006 by a random broad
Categories: AIM, AIM Pro, AOL, BetaNews, Business News, Podcasts, Random Thoughts, Tech, Technology, Technology News, Videoconference, WebEx

AOL announced today they have concluded their beta testing for AIM Pro and it is available for general download at no charge.  The company partnered with WebEx to develop the product, which is aimed at corporate users.  BetaNews reports the new IM client dropped the advertising found in its consumer client, AIM, and added tools such as a people-search service, Wall Street Journal headlines and podcasts with a business angle. 

In addition to the facelift, AOL and WebEx beefed up the backend of the product, too:

But AIM Pro’s biggest improvements have been made under the hood, Brian Curry, vice president of Business Services at AOL, told BetaNews. Security has been bolstered with SSL encryption when sending messages between two AIM Pro users. AOL is also offering an automatic virus scanning service, which routes file transfers through the company’s network.

AOL is now supporting e-mail addresses as screen names in AIM Pro, a feature requested by business customers. Users can validate their e-mail address and use it in lieu of picking an AOL username.

AIM Pro will also allow users to:

  • Participate in a 10-user voice chat
  • Videoconference with another user
  • Share their desktop with another user for collaboration sessions or presentations
  • Schedule meetings via Outlook integration

The product also offers interoperability with AIM, ICQ and Apple’s iChat.  Click here to download AIM Pro.

Microsoft to Release PowerPoint Patch by August 8, 2006

Posted July 18, 2006 by a random broad
Categories: bug, Excel, InformationWeek, Microsoft, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Security Advisory, Office 2003, Patch, PowerPoint, Random Thoughts, Trojan horse, Word

InformationWeek is reporting Microsoft is slated to release a patch in response to an zero-day bug discovered in PowerPoint recently.  The bug has been exploited by a Trojan horse called PPDDropper.b:

The attack is carried out by a Trojan horse with the moniker “PPDDropper.b,” which hides inside a malicious PowerPoint file attached to an e-mail with a Google Gmail return address. PPDDropper.b, in turn, drops a backdoor component, dubbed “Bifrose.e”by Symantec. Bifrose.e then injects a malicious routine into Windows’ EXLORER.EXE process, and overwrites the malformed PowerPoint file with a new, clean presentation document.

Microsoft has had to issue patches for both Word 2003 and Excel 2003 in response to dangerous vulnerabilities.  The Excel bug was very similar in nature to the PowerPoint bug, and was even exploited by the same type of Trojan horse.  The PowerPoint bug, however, is present in versions 2000, 2002 and 2003.

In an advisory published July 17, 2006, Microsoft warns users not open Office files unless you’re expecting them:

Do not open or save Microsoft Office files that you receive from un-trusted sources or that you received unexpectedly from trusted sources.

The InformationWeek article suggests using PowerPoint Viewer to view presentations you may need to open.  You can download PowerPoint Viewer 2003 from Microsoft by following this link.

**Update** Click here to learn more about the security update that patches this exploit and downloading options on microsoft.com.

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