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Smart Cover | Thinmodem Plus | FullCharge Battery | Cellphone Connection | Top 10 Springboard Uses | Pocket Satellite | Donations

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I finally broke down and got a new PDA to replace my old, reliable HP100LX handheld. Now I have a cool black Handspring Visor Deluxe. Below is a list of my favorite Palm/Visor-related apps and websites so far:

 Site  Product  Description 
AvantGo AvantGo  Free online/offline web browser and page conversion service. 
Hacker Dude-san BeamSync  Freeware lets you HotSync your Visor via IR. 
fortytwo Clip  Free, open source Command Line Interface for the Palm. 
CSpotRun CSpotRun  Free, open source DOC viewer. 
4thPass KBrowser  Free WAP browser for surfing WAP pages online. 
Mapopolis Mapopolis  Great freeware street map viewer with free maps. 
RHuebner MathPad  Fantastic shareware formula solver. 
Solutions In Hand MiniCalc Lite  Shareware spreadsheet. I keep my household budget in it. 
MochaSoft Mocha W32 PPP  Connect your Visor to the web via your Windows machine. 
Tapperware MyRoots  Shareware genealogy program. 
IndiVideo OnBoard C  Wonderful shareware native C compiler. Runs on the Visor. 
Jan KALIN PalmCLIS  Palm Command Line Install Scheduler. 
PalmGear PalmGear H.Q.  Massive web site dedicated to Palms and Visors. 
AHo Planetarium  Shareware star plotter with great features. 
Jim Berry PocketSat  Shareware satellite tracker so I can spot the space station. 
TealPoint TealMovie  Shareware movie viewer. 
ufp TimePAL  Shareware that synchs your Palm to the time on your desktop. 
Handspring Visor  The manufacturer of the Handspring Visor. 
DaggerWare HackMaster ------  Great shareware system extension manager for hacks. 
Quartus ClearHack  Shareware hack removes dotted underlines in MemoPad. 
Deskfree Computing ClipHack  Shareware hack increase the clipboard size. 
Stephen Millman ClockPop  Freeware hack that pops up a clock with useful info on it. 
Sergey Menshikov FontHack 123  Great freeware font substitution hack. 
Rui Oliveira MiddleCapsHack  Freeware hack to uppercase strokes crossing a certain line. 
Mitch Blevins Phlegm Hack  Great freeware hack to launch apps from MRU list. 
Jeff Jetton SelectHack  Shareware hack to improve text selection via taps. 

Other cool apps and websites of note:

 Site  Product  Description 
Ed Halley Politiquiz  Free PalmOS version of the World's Smallest Political Quiz. 
Walt Bilofsky Tide Tool  Freeware utility to display ocean tide info for boaters, surfers and others. 

The Smart Cover

Smart Cover After trying several different cases and covers for my Visor, I've found one that has all the features I was looking for. The Inno Pocket Smart Cover is so light you can't tell it's there, it barely adds to the length and thickness, and its rugged cover gives great protection to the screen, preventing accidental presses of the hard buttons. The cover flips up out of the way like a Star Trek communicator, yet stays attached so it doesn't get lost. The Visor is pocketable even with the cover, which can be used as a stand to prop the Visor at an angle. The new model lets you remove the stylus even when the cover is flipped back. The Smart Cover is affordably priced, and the Inno Pocket people are responsive to email. Now if only they had it in black.

Thinmodem Plus

Thinmodem Plus My only Springboard Module is a Thinmodem Plus from Wristband. It features a 56K modem and 8 MB of flash memory, all in a self-contained module. Unlike other modems with large bulges for batteries, the Thinmodem sits flush in the Visor, allowing it to be used with standard cases and covers. Unfortunately, most cases need to be removed when the phone line is plugged in, but that's not Thinmodem's fault. The module comes with a setup app, an email package, a web browser, a file mover app and more. It's a great little modem that works smoothly.

FullCharge Battery System

FullCharge When I got my Visor, I used to worry about batteries a lot. I tried not to drain them with too much use, always carried fresh spares, and buying batteries regularly was just a pain. Now I'm using the FullCharge NiMH battery and charger package. The system comes with a battery cover that replaces your old one. It's a standard cover except for two tiny holes where the charger cord plugs in, so you don't have to remove the batteries to charge them. I plug in every night to keep the batteries topped off, letting me use the Visor as much as I want without worry. Great system.

Connecting with Infrared

Using free software available from Palm, you can use your Visor's IR port as a serial port. To do this, download at the Enhanced Infrared Update page. Install the SerialIrPanel.prc and SerIrComm.prc files. DO NOT INSTALL AMX.prc or IrLib.prc on your Visor, or you will lock it up and have to do a hard reset. After installing the files, you will need to do a soft reset. A Serial/IR category will show up in the Preferences, letting you select either the Cradle or Infrared as your serial port.


I thought about getting a modem or wireless modem for my Visor, but they're pricey, I wouldn't use one much and Springboards only work in Visors. Instead I got Ericsson's DI 27 IR modem for my Ericsson CF788 cellphone. The DI 27 is 1/3 the price it used to be. 9600 baud sucks, but I wouldn't be downloading anything big to a Visor, and text files compress for a higher effective speed. The modem fits in a film can and I can connect to it with my laptop as well. I really didn't want to pay $50/month for Yet Another Provider.

When I first tried connecting to the cellphone, I would immediately get NO CARRIER when dialing out. The following settings fixed that: I set Flow Ctl: Off in Modem Preferences, Phone: 00 in Network Preferences, and I wrote a login script that dialed and logged in. Of course I also set the Serial/IR preferences to Serial via Infrared. The login script in Network Preferences looked like this:

         Send: ATDT4991121  (substitute phone number of your provider)
      Send CR:
     Wait For: login: 
 Send User ID:
      Send CR:
     Wait For: Password: 
Send Password:
      Send CR:
     Wait For: Entering PPP Session.

After that, I was able to get web pages, WAP pages, email and ftp. Kewl. I HotSync every morning, which uses AvantGo to get me the Yahoo! news and movie listings, my TV listings from GIST and the local weather from InfoSpace.

Using the same IrEnhancement described above and Mocha W32 PPP from MochaSoft on my laptop, I was able to connect my Visor to the Internet via an IR connection to the laptop, which was dialed into the Internet. MochaSoft's web site claims that their product doesn't operate using the Visor's cradle, but it will work using IR if you have a Windows machine that can treat its IR as a serial port.

Set Mocha W32 PPP to 57,600 bps and the COM port that uses infrared on your Windows machine. On your Visor, set the Modem Preferences to Flow Ctl: Off and Speed: 57,600 bps, set the Serial/IR Preferences to Serial via Infrared, set the Network Preferences to Service: UUNet and Phone:00. Surf's up!

Top 10 Things to Store in the Springboard Slot Protector

Now, the Visor is a gem of simplicity and elegance, using all of its resources to the utmost. Even the stylus houses a cool Phillips screwdriver and a reset pin. So why let the Springboard compartment go to waste? Below are my top 10 suggestions for what to store in that nifty space. Send suggestions to Of course, avoid things that will leak or otherwise damage the Springboard pins or Visor electronics. Use at your own risk.

10.A condom..."Wait a minute, sweetie, while I get my Visor."
9.Mad money..."Another twenty dollars! Hang on, I've got a bill hidden away."
8.Aspirin..."My boss is giving me a headache, but my Visor can help."
7.Ear plugs..."This meeting is boring!"
6.Matches..."I'm ready for that deserted island now."
5.Breath mints..."Yeppers, that was great lasagna!"
4.Lens cloth..."I can see again."
3.Sticky notes..."I'll just leave a note on her monitor."
2.A tiny flashlight..."I know it's under the couch here somewhere..."
1.Phone numbers..."Hello, Handspring? My Visor won't turn on!"

Pocket Satellite Tracker

I use Jim Berry's PocketSat program to display when the ISS space station will be visible. The program needs orbital information to plot the satellites you select, which I download from Dr. TS Kelso's CelesTrak web page. To automate the process, I wrote a batch file which uses the native Windows command-line FTP along with PocketSat's tle2pdb.exe file converter and Jan Kalin's PalmCLIS install scheduler. The batch file is listed below, which you should edit to reflect your own configuration and email address:

@echo off
echo Getting TLE...
echo open>ctrak.rsp
echo anonymous>>ctrak.rsp
echo cd elements>>ctrak.rsp
echo binary>>ctrak.rsp
echo get stations.txt>>ctrak.rsp
echo quit>>ctrak.rsp
ftp -v -s:ctrak.rsp

echo Converting file...
tle2pdb stations.txt sats.pdb "ISS and MIR"

echo Scheduling install for next HotSync...
palmclis -a -fmq "c:\visor\data\sats.pdb"

echo Done

Be sure to replace with your own email address, replace stations.txt with the actual file you wish to download, replace the arguments in the tle2pdb line, and use the correct path on the palmclis line.


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Copyright © 2004 David K. Goodman. All Rights Reserved.
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