Saturday, December 30, 2006

I've been tagged

This is rather excellent idea that's spreading through the tech world at the moment - blog tag!

I was tagged by
Alison of Astraware who was tagged by MayC of Palm Discovery. She in turn, was tagged by Matthew Miller of The Mobile Gadgeteer. I'll be passing this tag along to 4 really nice people to share some info about themselves, but in the meantime, here's 5 things you may not know about me:

1. I'm a huge U2 fan. I have all of their CD's of which are played over and over. As I've gotten older I've attended fewer concerts as the crowds have been a bit crazy but still think they are fantastic live.

2. I must be close the ocean. I grew up on sailboats and surfed as a teenager. I now live on Puget Sound which is not the ocean but fulfills the need to be near the water. At my new house I am near some prime Kayak spots and hope to find time to give it a try in 2007.

3. As a teenager I worked at Robinson's selling China and Crystal. Too this day I can recognize a Wedgwood pattern or Waterford from across the room.

4. I love Canada and try to visit Vancouver as much as I can. There is something about that city with it's international flavor that keeps calling to me.

5. I grew up in a large family, two brothers, two sisters, and two dogs. We only had three bedrooms for 7 people, it was crowded but fun. Well more fun for me than my older teen aged brothers who shared a room with me, the youngest of all the kids.

I will be tagging

Shaun McGill of PDA247, an excellent Palm Site
Adam Steinberg who writes great songs
Kevin Agot who writes for Palm Addicts and has a great blog
Darren Adams who writes about his family and technology

Win A Copy of Smart Box Design Palm or Pocket PC Game

Palm Addict Christmas / New Year Contest

Welcome to the Palm Addict Christmas / New Year Contest running between now and the 5th January. Here are a list of the prizes as donated by the relevant hardware and software companies for which we thank them.

Here are the prizes which you can choose from:
• 5 winners can choose any Smart Box Design titles including WordPop, Farkle from SmartBox Design.- 1 unlocked Palm Treo 680 grey colour.
• 1 Extended 2400 mah battery for Treo 680 from SeidioOnline
• 1 Enfora WiFi Sled
• 1 bottle of "Comte Audoin de Dampierre Champagne"
• Brando from Shop Brando has come forward to offer 5 Palm Addict Readers $100 Gift Vouchers as part of the Palm Addict Christmas / New Year Contest
• $50 Voucher for Borders
• 3 copies of Trip Boss and 3 copies of Date Wheel from Creative Algorithms
• Benoit HERVIER has donated copies of kLauncher
• 3 copies of the game My Little Tank for the runners up again from Astraware
• 1 case, 1 screen protector, & 1 cable of the winners choice from Boxwave
• Accessories, Charger, Cases donated by Proporta
• TreoTastic Bundles from Hobbyist Software
• Copies of mRSS and mRing from Motion Apps
• 1 copy of Agendus for Palm OS Professional Edition from Iambic
• 1 copy of Agendus Mail for Palm OS SSL Edition from Iambic
• 1 copy of Agendus for Windows Outlook or Palm Desktop Edition from Iambic
• 1 copy of YourCall for Palm OS from Iambic
• 1 copy of TravelTalk for Windows Mobile (PPC or Smarthpone depending on the winner's device) from Iambic
• 1 copy of EzQuote for Windows Mobile (PPC or Smarthpone dependingon the winner's device) from Iambic
• 1 copy of Propel for Palm OS Standard Edition from Iambic
• 5 copies of any title from

How to enter: Everyone can enter [including Associate Writers who can just post directly], let me know how you have been using your Palm / Treo device. Give me a line give me a paragraph it's up to you how long your user thought is. Simple that's all there is to it.

Choose your preferred prize and a secondary prize, IMPORTANT put XMAS in the subject and give your entry a title [please do not use how I use my Palm device].

Failure to enter the correct subject line and give your thought a title will mean we cannot enter you as your entry will fall into our spam folder. Send to Palm Addict -

Winner will be chosen at random and the contest ends at midnight US ET Monday 5th January.

Thanks to all the sponsors, enjoy the contest and warm wishes to you and those close to you this holiday season.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Season Greetings

Every year I am grateful to the people I have met that have enriched my life in so many ways. I wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and humorous holiday and great prosperity in the New Year.
Warmest regards,
Todd Sherman, President, Smart Box Design Games

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Changes to WordPop! for Pocket PC

WordPop! for Pocket PC was released over a year ago and over that time we have received some great suggestions for the game. Below is a list of changes we plan to make. If you have some additional ideas please feel free to post them at our forum or add a comment to this blog. Here is what we are working on for a new release early next year.
  • Add ability to clear High Scores / Best Words

  • Add Quit to Game Menu, which removes the game from memory (Windows Mobile leaves all application in memory unless it is explicitly removed)

  • Add additional sound and music preferences

  • Add Playing Tips

  • Update the word list incorporating the many suggested words I've collected from players

  • Add 240 x 240 Art so it can be played on the Treo 700W and other square screen devices

  • Fix saved registration bug. When some PDAs crash the registration is lost and the player has to to reenter the reg key.

  • Code optimization for newer devices

I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gaming Forum Grand Re-Opening

Our brand new engaging Gaming Forum is open and ready for your comments.

Would you like to show off your high score?

Now you can at the Game Forum!

Post your best words from WordPop!

Suggest words for Word Watch.

Swap Farkle Dice strategy tips.

Suggest new product features for Word Monaco.

Ask questions about any of our games.

Visit the tech news and rumors section for all the latest trends.

See you at the forum. Visit the Gaming Forum by clicking here.

WordPop Winning Strategies - Tip 3 of 5 - Using Bonus Tiles

Chances are, no matter how well you might plan the round, you often find yourself down to your last 3 or 4 letters but without a solution to clear the board. This is the perfect time to use a bonus tile, especially the blank bonus tile. The blank bonus tile can be used as any letter. To use it, tap on it then place it on an empty location on the board. For example you find you have the letters R, C, and H. By placing a blank tile next to the R, you can make RICH. But if you use up your bonus blank tiles too early, you may not have a way out. You can try WordPop here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

20 Days of Christmas Sale at PDA 24/7

PDA 24/7 is having their annual holiday season sale and Smart Box Design will be featured on the first day, December 1st. If you are looking for some deals stop by PDA 24/7 daily for the next 20 days. See you there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

We had a great snowstorm yesterday that has closed most of Bellingham, WA. The paper asked residents to stay home if possible. The schools are closed which I m sure all the kids are celebrating. The snow is a beautiful sight to see. Snow still holds a child like wonder for me as I barely saw it growing up in Southern California.

The attached pictures were taken from my Zire 72 PDA. The views are from my second story bedrooms. The water in the background is Bellingham Bay. Canada is just a mere 10 miles or so north of here.

Although the Treo and Zire PDA have been criticised for the low end camera I think it is fine for quick pictures that you want to share online. I find it very convenient having a camera with me at all times as I take my Zire with me everywhere. I am thinking about moving up to the Treo 680. I will take a look at it as soon as the snow melts and I can get to the mall.

Win a copy of any of my mobile games. Send me a picture from your Treo, PDA or Phone, and I will randomly select a winner or two. Send email to tsherman(at) (replace the "at" with "@").

Friday, November 24, 2006

Smart Box Design Forum is Up and Running

I love forums. They are rich with content and the casual nature of them often result in some very entertaining posts. I added a forum to Smart Box Design about a year ago. I used phpBB2 which is a very well known. Unfortunately, each week it was getting hacked, and I was spending more time fending off hackers than actually creating software. Thus I closed it down. After searching and reviewing several bulletin boards I settled on vBulletin. After spending most of the day installing it and doing basic configuration I can only say that I AM THRILLED WITH IT. It works great, has more features that I know what to do with it, and is fast. I will be announcing its comeback in my next newsletter. But if you wish to post please do so by clicking this link. Smart Box Design Forum

Monday, November 20, 2006

TraxItAll Review

I am a list guy. I make lists for everything; who to call, changes I need to make to the Web site, gifts for family, home repairs, etc. However, I have several reoccurring tasks, such as doing my push ups every morning and giving my cat her medication twice a day, that does not fit well into a task list. TraxItAll fills this niche.

TraxItAll "...does something no other program can do: it automatically tracks anything on a daily basis." For example, to track my cat's medication, I made the header Cat-AM and then Cat-PM. I then selected to track this task daily and finally made the data entry a Yes No choice. This took all but a minute. Now when I give my cat her meds I tap the box next to the date and it fills in with a Yes, if I forget, I tap again for a No. For my push ups, I topped the column with Push Ups and selected count as my entry choice. After I do my push ups, I tap the box next to the date and it increments by one for each push up I did. Quick and easy.

TraxItAll is the type of program than is simple but deep. The more you use it the more there is. For example it has a great reporting system so you can track your progress over time. You can even set goals.

There are few features I would like to see added in the future. I think there are several opportunities to use color. For example Yes could be green and the No red. Also, I would like to be able to resize the column widths to squeeze a little bit more data on the screen.

TraxItAll has a wonderful flash demo that you can watch here and is thoroughly documented. If you want to be more organized you need to try TraxItAll.

My Digital Generation - A fun read

Shaun McGill a well known writer in the mobile world has written a wonderful book name My Digital Generation about his generation and technology. You will no doubt find and learn something of yourself when you read it.

The first three legit comments (as determined by me) about this book or Shaun McGill will receive a free copy of Smart Box Design's game Triples for Palm OS.

Here is an excerpt from the book: “When I was very young we used to have an outside toilet and I remember being scared that a big spider or rat would come and visit while I was taking care of business yet at no time did I think it odd that the toilet was in the garden. My brother and I used to have our baths in the kitchen sink and again it all seemed perfectly normal. We used to play in the street because there were hardly any cars and when the man who lived a few doors down picked up the local children to let them sit in the back of his open bed truck while he drove down the hill no one shouted “paedophile!” at him…” “…I remember snow very vividly and being able to build a Dad sized snowman and then roll his head down the hill just before the global warming melted him- in those days global warming was called the Sun…”

Saturday, November 18, 2006

How I used my Palm during the power outage

I now live in Bellingham, which is 85 miles north of Seattle and about 10 miles from the Canadian border. Yesterday a strong storm arrived with 80 plus miles per hour winds. It was not long before the power was out in the entire area. During the day I kept busy by looking up phone numbers on my Zire 72 PDA and catching up with friends and family. Night starts around 4:20 this far north so I was soon in pitch black. I went back to Zire and started playing games. I started with Bejeweled, then moved on to Bubble Ship Boy, and ended my last game playing Eric Snider’s Solitaire. With my battery wearing down and still hours to go before I would be tired I opened eReader and went down my list of several books I had recently loaded. Tarzan Lord of the Jungle quickly popped to the top of my list. I made myself comfortable on my bed and spend the next three hours reading Tarzan on my Palm. With about 20% battery left, I decided it was time to stop and conserve what was remaining. I opened World Clock and set the alarm for an early morning rise and went to bed (after brushing my teeth). Power was back on by morning, but with my Palm I barely missed a beat.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Google's New Blogger is Great

I really enjoy blogging. It gives me a chance to discuss technology topics that interest me and to give insight into developing casual games. I use Google's Blogger because it is easy to use and free. I tried several of the paid Blogger services and although they were all feature rich, they were much more than what I needed. However, Google's Blogger had several frustrating shortcomings. The most important was the lack of customization tools. You either had to stick to the basics or jump into HTML editing, there was no in between.

The new Beta Blogger is very nice. Many of the basic features that I had to add manually in the HTML editing view have a pretty good, although not perfect, interface. Bloggers can now easily add links, pictures, lists, change colors, rearrange the screen, and spell check much easier and faster. My Blog already look better. If you don't already have a Blog, I encourage you to start one today with Google Blogger.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Porting Word Monaco to Windows Mobile - Part 4

Recently we've had an interesting problem, signing. What is signing? It is adding a verified certificate to your program which tells the smartphone that the application can be trusted. If you want your Windows Mobile application to install onto a smartphone, such as a Treo without an error message declaring your application as untrustworthy you will need to buy a certificate. In theory, the certificate is to protect the consumer from bad manufacturers.

I do not have any statistics on how many phone users have purchases games or other applications for their smartphones and the program destroyed their phone or stole data, or did some other unmentionable act. If you have or know of someone who's phone was attacked please let me know as I would love to talk with them.

Overall, I am not happy about having to purchase a certificate to remove, in my opinion, an unnecessary message. I could say more about this topic, but this blog entry at Craig Stuntz's Weblog says it all. What is interesting about all of this, is that none of this is required for Palm OS smartphones.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Great Free Web Link Checker

In addition to being President of Smart Box Design, I am also responsible for maintaining the Web site. After a long day, I find it relaxing to tweak the pages and try out new ideas.

I had not checked for broken links in a bit and being unsatisfied with my current tools I went searching on the Web to find something new. The FREE program Xenu quickly rose to the top of my list. It is a small and specific tool only designed to check links. I downloaded and installed it and to my surprise it worked great. Why was I surprised? Free programs rarely work as advertised.

Xenu quickly checks each page and displays if each link is successfully linking to another HTML page. To my surprise there were over 15 broken links. I quickly discovered some of them were from graphics, while others were links to reviews on external sites, but still, I had a few broken links that needed my attention.

Xenu provides a very long and detailed list on all the links of the web site entered in HTML form. The program will even post the results to your Web site if you have the correct FTP information. After about 40 minutes I made the corrections and retested.

If you are looking for a free and simple broken link checker I highly recommend Xenu.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Britney Spears should Play Farkle Dice

Britney Spears should play Farkle Dice as I think it would improve her life immensely. Although Farkle Dice is primarily designed and developed for entertainment purposes it has a lot of education built in. These Farkle Educational Features can help her.

Educational Feature 1 - Statistics / Play the Odds
Each roll has fewer and fewer dice which decreases the odds of a successful combination. For example, if you are trying to get the 2 to appear, rolling 5 dice has better odds then just rolling 1. If Britney Spears played Farkle Dice and compared it to her marriage she would have learned early on what the odds are for success. She could have assigned each dice side with a trait, such as, happy, sad, anger, bliss, divorce, envy, and jelousy. Then roll the dice to see which ones are coming up more often. If divorce is appearing often, perhaps it would have been better not to marry. But perhaps she was hoping to beat the odds.

Educational Feature 2 - Risk Management
Each roll risks all points earned. The player needs to weigh the risks of earning more points to getting a bad roll. A losing roll results in all points earned being lost for that round. When Britney Spears chose a husband she needed to apply this lesson as each husband is like a roll, should she keep him or roll again? It appears this time she should have rolled again.

Educational Feature 3 - Others Influence Behavior
In Farkle Dice, if another player is way ahead or way behind you behave differently. If you are behind, you need to take more chances or you may never catch up and win, if ahead you can take it easy. Britney Spears should have compared her success with her husbands. Since his career was so far in the rear she could have predicted that he would start taking chances to catch up with her success.

I do wish the best for Britney Spears. By all accounts she appears to be a very hard worker.

When you are playing Farkle Dice, remember these three educational lessons and try to apply them to your life at work or at home. Play the odds, take risks, and remember how your life influences others. But most of all, remember that life is a game to be enjoyed.

Shaun McGill All Around Gadget Guy

Technology enthusiasts come in all types. You have the cutting edge technofile, the must have the latest no matter what it is, the slow adopter, and others. Each group has it's own opinions and reasons for using and loving their devices. Every now and then you come across a person who really understands these groups and reaches out to them. Shaun McGill is one of those people.

Shaun runs several Web sites and contributes to many. If you have not yet visited these Web locations you are in for a treat. Take the time over the next few days to check them out. My favorite is WindowsMobile24/7.

Writer- PDA Essentials:
News Editor- Palmtop User:
E61 Blog:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Palm Addict Supplies Great Palm Info

I love my Palm device. I am excited about the Treo 680 coming out this week at Cingular and I plan to be one of the first to buy. But how did I learn that Cingular will be selling it this week? Palm Addicts. Where do I get the latest news? Palm Addicts. Where can read rumors of things that might be? Palm Addict.

Purchasing a Treo is not cheap which is why I want to take full advantage of it. Palm Addicts is reviewing and discussing software, hardware accessories, and tricks on a daily basis. For me, my day is not complete without reading their articles.

I subscribe to their RSS feed using news reader. That way I can glance at the latest postings, which change constantly. I encourage you to visit them. It is worth your time and will help you take full advantage of your Treo.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Porting Word Monaco to Windows Mobile - Part 3

There are 4 key areas that need to change when porting Word Monaco Solitaire from Palm to Pocket PC / Windows Mobile devices. These areas are critical as the audience is used to navigating and interfacing differently than the Palm.

Menus - Window Mobile OS displays a universal menu at the top of the screen for global navigation and a menu at the bottom of the screen which is controlled by the launched application. Many games take over these areas to gain back precious screen real estate. Microsoft provides links to third party developers who have published code to take control of these areas. Plus a developer can create their own code. I saw two risks in taking over the menus. The first is as new devices are released there is no guarantee that the application will be compatible once you stray from Microsoft official code structure and second, many Pocket PC owners are professionals and we wanted to make sure the could quickly navigate away from our games and back to work without anyone noticing. :) Thus, all of our games leave the global navigation at top alone and create an appropriate and helpful menu on the bottom of the screen.

Help - Windows Mobile OS supports a reduced version of HTML. Which I think is fantastic. This means the WM users can easily and quickly navigate my long and thorough help. Plus I can then post the same help file on my web site.

Different Orientation - With the exception of a few square Pocket PC's most of the devices running Windows Mobile are rectangle while most Palms are square. This new ratio results in additional real estate for our players and I think Pocket PC players expect gamers to take advantage of the space. On Word Monaco Solitaire we will allow users to make longer words and my tips can be slightly longer, if necessary.

Fonts - Windows Mobile has a greater variety of fonts and sizes than the Palm. Pocket PC players are use to this variety and expect information to be presented clearly. In Word Monaco we were able to fit more information into a smaller area because of this. For example, the tips that pop up use a smaller font than on the Palm, this resulted in a smaller dialog box, which means more of the game can be viewed when the tip is being read.

These four areas were the ones the rose to the top for Word Monaco Solitaire. Other games will have different concerns. If you have a question or comment, please feel free to contact me.

WordPop! Winning Strategies - Part 2 of 5 Hard Letters

Use difficult letters early. Letters like Q, Z, J, X and V are harder to use than other letters because there are fewer words that use them. For example, how many words can you think of with Q. Now compare that to words starting with B. Plus 99% of the time the letter Q is followed by a U. You have to work to get a U next to the Q to make a word like QUOTE or QUICK. However, if you get stuck WordPop accepts the word QAT (which is a type of shrub). If you see the letter Z, check to see if there is another one. If there are two Zs you can make high scoring words like BUZZING.

Having difficult letters near the end of the round is very difficult because there are few 2, 3, and 4 letters words with Q, Z, J, X, and V in them. Often you are forced to use a blank tile.

Use those difficult letters as soon as possible. WordPop! is available for Palm and Pocket PC. Look for tip #3 coming soon.

WordPop! Winning Strategies - Part 1 of 5 Vowels

WordPop! is our most popular game and as a result I receive many positive comments about the game. One popular theme is how to be a better player. I will address this question over a five part series. Here is Part 1 of 5.

Assess the number of vowels. The number of vowels per round is random, although the code maintains a minimum and maximum count to guarantee the round is solvable. After the letter tiles have fallen into place look for the vowels to get a general sense of how many there are. If there are very few, then you know that you must make words that use several consonants but few vowels. Many words with blends fall into this category, such as black, flint, spring, strips, etc. In each of these words 4 - 5 consonants were used but only one vowel. When the grid is half empty you could easily find yourself with too many vowels. If you do have too many, develop a list of words that use several vowels, such as, iota or ion.

Good luck clearing the round and keep an eye on those vowels. WordPop! is available for Palm and Pocket PC.

Look for tip #2 coming soon.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Porting Word Monaco to Windows Mobile - Part 2

I had a great conversation with Surur Davids from Window Mobile 24/7 in his email he says, "Your note about the profusion of resolutions in the windows mobile world is an interesting insight in itself. Who knew the market has already become so fragmented, and now with the new prominence of the smartphone platform things will become even more confusing for consumers and software developers." I agree with this. My team will have to work very hard to make the process of installing easy and error free. Fortunately, Microsoft has provided a nice suite of products to help developers.

I also received a request asking who the team members are. The team is made up of:
  • Jim Patterson - Artist, animator, and designer. Jim will create every piece of art. He is 100% dedicated to his work and the results are fantastic.
  • Wyatt Webb - Engineer, technology expert, graduate of MIT. Wyatt is the type of engineer who instantly grabs concepts and runs with them. Wyatt also programmed WordPop and Farkle for Pocket PC.
  • John Winston - Sound engineer. John is the owner of Sound Audio Solutions, and has created all the sound and music for all our Palm and Pocket PC games. If you ever need sound or music for your games, applications, video, electronic toy, etc. his company is excellent.
  • Todd Sherman - Producer, designer, and QA tester. Author of this blog.

I was hoping to cover features that need to be changed so the game feels like a Windows Mobile game, but will cover that in the next blog.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Porting Word Monaco to Windows Mobile - Part 1

Over the next several months I will provide updates and some of the thought processes involved in porting our new game Word Monaco Solitaire to the Windows Mobile platform.

One of the first choices I had to make was what versions of the operating system to support. Our framework was designed to work with Windows Mobile (WM) 2003 and 2003SE. Should the framework be updated to take full advantage of Windows Mobile 5 but possibly be WM 2003 incompatible? The team consensus was clearly no and I agreed. Since my game is a 2D puzzle, it would not need the full power of WM 5.0

The next question to answer was which screen resolutions to support? I can't support them all, as a privately owned company, I need to watch to bottom line carefully. After reviewing device sales data and pulling out the old crystal balls, several predictions were made on what might be released. Thus Word Monaco Pocket PC will support 240 x 320, 480 x 640, and 240 x 240. If the Motorola Q is a huge hit, 320 x 240 might be added to the mix. The art needs to be tweaked for each one of these resolutions, which increases costs. And the game code has to be modified too as the relative input changes (more on that later). Installation becomes more complex as the installer will need to detect the device type and install the correct files and technical support issues become more varied.

My next blog on Word Monaco will list out features that need to be changed so the game feels like a Windows Mobile game.

If you are interested in signing up to be informed when Word Monaco Solitaire for Windows Mobile is click

Friday, June 23, 2006

Scrabble Players Love their Words

I love making games. My team and I released our 5th game last month, Word Monaco Solitaire. It is our 3rd word game. After creating WordPop! I realized that I really miss creating word games. I use to create language arts software for children and it was so rewarding watching a child make the reading connection.

A few days ago an upgrade for Word Monaco Solitaire was released. This release was the result of urging from the Scrabble community. Scrabble players are VERY competitive. To be great players they've learned to make very abstract words. Many players rely on those words to get out of a jam or to get some really high scoring words. The word list used in our games has 83,000 plus entries but the majority of the words are classified as common. Words you would see in the newspaper, best selling fiction novels, and in movies. Scrabble players pointed out to me that sometimes the key for getting out of a jam in my games is often making a 2 or 3 letter word and they felt more were needed. So this last month, I gathered all the suggested words and expanded upon them.

Here is the work involved. If a word is suggested I check it first against several dictionaries to make sure the word does not conflict with several rules I have for adding a word.

1. The word can't be a name or any word that would require it to be capitalized.
2. It can't be an abbreviation or hyphenated, for that matter the word cannot have any punctuation associated with it, such as can't.
3. It is a real word or spelled correctly

Once it passes my test, I then need to locate all the forms of the word, such as its plural, inflection, tense. For example, if the word 'help' was suggested, I don't just add the word 'help' but I also add 'helps', helped', 'helping', 'helper' etc. Thus it is a lot of work to add each word.

Adding over 300 new words to Word Monaco Solitaire was a tremendous effort but a lot of fun. Many of the words being suggested are so unusual that I get a big kick finding out the definition of the word. Plus I really like being able to change my games based on user feedback. This is the best way to improve the game.

All in all, I hope all you Word Monaco Solitaire players really enjoy the new version. Try making some 2 and 3 letter combination and see if the letters stick. I think you will be surprised on some of the words you can make.

Keep those suggestions coming.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Great New Blog about Mobile Devices

I love gadgets, especially mobile devices. It fits my active lifestyle and makes me feel connected to my family especially when I travel. I am always on the lookout for new information sites that provide well written and cool information. I am a huge fan of Palm Addicts and PDA 24/7 and now I have a new site to look forward to, Matt Miller's, The Mobile Gadgeteer on ZDNET. Matt had already made a name for himself at so I was not surprised to hear that ZDNET wanted to hire him.

This weeks articles cover secure data, which is important if you ever lose your phone or PDA, a review of the Motorola Q which is challenging Blackberry, and ThunderHawks web browser. But don't take my word for it. Go to The Mobile Gadgeteer today.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things...

Being a gadget guy and loving technology, I am always trying out new application and devices. Below are a few of my favorite things from the last several months.

Favorite Palm Applications

Vindigo City Guide - Vindigo supplies great information about cities, such as places to eat, museums, hot spots, directions, bathrooms (LOL), weather, etc. I use it mostly for finding places to eat and finding cab companies. I never travel without first adding the city I will be visiting.

QuickTips - A FREE application that quickly and easily divides a dinner tab and figures out the tip. It has preset amounts like 15% or 20%, or you can customize it to a preferred percentage.

Destaller - This application makes trying new programs safe. It will thoroughly remove an application and its associated files.

Facer 3 - Replaces the Palm OS look and feel with a fantastic launcher and home page. The home page presents to-do lists, appointments etc., and the launcher page makes navigation a breeze. I like the program so much I plan write a complete review of it in the near future.

Favorite Pocket PC Applications

SPB Weather - Not that I can't look outside, but great for planning outdoor events, especially with the weather finally turning nice.

Broken Sword - What a fun game! It has s a great story line with fun, integrated puzzles that propels the adventure. The Pocket PC version is very faithful to the PC version.

Favorite Windows PC Applications

Skype - I use it all the time to "call" my artist in Japan or to setup conference calls. With a good headset and microphone the sound is excellent and it is free.

PC-Cillian - When I upgraded to Norton 2005 my machine took a nose dive in performance. I removed it and machine speed came back. I did this three times until I was convinced it was Norton. After trying several other virus protection software I selected PC-Cillan for its ease of use, speed, and integration with online and offline email.

Dreamweaver - Makes web site building a breeze. I do recommend taking a class to get full use out of it.

Favorite Gadgets / Hardware

Synching / Charging Cables - They are great to travel with. Compact and light. They use the USB Port to charge your device, so a little slow but gets the job done.

Porporta Crystal Clear Case - Not only does it protect my PDA's but I can check a date, to-do item, etc, without having to open the case. I understand the appeal of the other cases but I am most efficient with a clear case.

Logitech USB headset and microphone.- I bought this to use with Skype and it is great. The advantage of having a USB headset is that you can continue to have music playing while using the headset to talk. Also it is very cool to use on multi-player games.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Don't Wait! Enhance your PDA Today - Part 2 of 2

Part 1 covered ebooks, launchers, and clubs. Today I'll cover gadget news sites, games, and memory cards. Each one of these ideas are geared to giving you a new perspective and enthusiasm for that great PDA you use to organize your life.

4. Visit Gadget News Sites - If you own a Palm and you have not visited Palm Addicts or Treonauts, then you are missing out daily on great advice. For Windows Mobile try iPAQHQ, WindowsMobile24/7, and PDArcade. For all types of gadgets try engadget or Geek, they both cover a broad spectrum of gadgets that influence our lives with a great sense of humor.

5. Play Games - "All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy". There are thousands of games appealing to all types. My games at Smart Box Design are strategy and puzzle based, with an emphasis on easy and quick to learn. Astraware, PalmGear, PocketGear, or Sniderware all have a variety of fun games. And since most games have a trial period, you have little to lose but the time to try them.

6. Buy a Memory Card - A 256 MB SD card at Amazon is around $20.00. Imagine how much you can add to your device. Dictionaries, games, references materials, spreadsheets, pictures of your children, music. Skip going to the movies one week and buy a memory card! Once you have it you will wonder why you didn't get one earlier.

There's a lot to try in this list, and any one of these items will enhance your experience and justify the costs of your Palm, Treo, or Windows Mobile Device. Try each one and see where it takes you. If you have additional ideas, post your ideas or send me an email. I look forward hearing from you.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Don't Wait! Enhance your PDA Today - Part 1 of 2

I love starting a new year because everything feels possible again and it seems that everyone has an open mind (at least until they return to the office). Make a decision to try someting new in 2006 with your PDA. Here's a list of three great ideas to start you off with three more coming tomorrow.

1. eBooks - If you have not tried eBooks, then make this your top priority. It is both fun and engaging to fill your device with books on a variety of subjects. It feels like you have your own personal library available at any time. While waiting in line or taking the bus you could be learning Russian, How to Start a Business, Investing, Hang Gliding, etc. Screen resolution has become so clear that I find it very comfortable to read a book on my Palm for extended times. To get started, try eReader which has a huge collection and includes a free reader or your local library (Seattle has thousands of books ready to be downloaded.)

2. Launcher - Both Palm and Windows Mobile come with a decent launcher and navigation system, but there is room for improvement. There are several great 3rd party launchers to try and one of them will be geared towards how you think and organize data. Do a search on Launcher at PalmGear or PocketGear and give them a try. For my Palm I'm going to give ZLauncher another look and WinLauncher. For my Windows Mobile phone I'm going to try PocketPlus and AgendaFusion. If you try one that you think is fantastic, let me know.

3. Join a Gadget Club - I belong to both SEAPUG and PSHUG. They both meet monthly and I always walk away learning something. Plus the attendees are bright and enthusiatic and want to help. You can find a local Palm Group here and a Windows Group here. If you don't see one near you, then start one. It's 2006, anything is possible!

There's a lot of information above and any one can significantly enhance how you use your PDA. Look for Part 2 where I discuss, News Sites, Games, and SD Cards. Send me an email or post a comment if you have an idea to add to this post.