My Newest Tool

March 10th, 2005

Palm, Visor, Handspring, Treo… PDAs

They’re cool, aren’t they? things the size and shape of the communicator Captain Kirk used to call the Enterprise from the surface of bizarre alien planets and his communicator didn’t even have Bluetooth.

I used to think it would be very cool to have one of those types of devices. I could keep track of everything— never miss an appointment— get myself organized— and get my text messages anywhere I went (that had WiFi).

Of course, the desire I had for them was the same kind of vague wanting with which I envisioned myself driving a Formula 1 car. It would be very nice, but it isn’t likely to happen.

You see those things aren’t cheap. I’m not exactly poor, but I am picky about such things and if I’m going to have a PDA it’s gonna be the top of the line fancy honkin’ one that everybody else wishes they’d spent the extra cash to get and I don’t really have the disposable income or important task/meeting scheduling/organizational needs to even justify a mid-range model.

Plain and simple I don’t have multiple hundreds of dollars to spend on a toy to make me feel like a bigshot.

I do, however, have a need for some sort of external assistance to my brain in the area of organization and remembery of tasks and events. But as mentioned above, nowhere near enough of it to justify the expenditure for a digital model.

Recently I came across and idea for an alternative solution to the problem posed by this need. I don’t remember what pathway across the World Wide Web lead me to the website 43Folders, but that was where I discovered the idea for what Merlin Mann calls a Hipster PDA but which I have been referring to as my PAA— Personal Analog Assistant.

Reading that article was like a smack to the head! “Of course,” I thought to myself “Why didn’t I think of that?” I’d read the article last Thursday or Friday and last Saturday when we were out and about in the afternoon I got a box of small clips for ¢99 and found some old index cards lying around somewhere and I had a device even cooler than that list of geek toys at the beginning of this page.

Not only does my PAA have infinite memory, infinite battery life, and a screen with infinite resolution, but it cost right around a buck (with taxes) because I already had the index cards!

Granted the price of the thing will probably double or triple with some of the upgrades mentioned in the 43Folders article which I haven’t gotten around to installing yet, but mine has a cool little gimmick that Mr. Mann evidently didn’t think of. Mine has a built in attachment point for the input device. That is, my favorite pen clips right to it so the PAA and the pen stick together.

So now I may not be a bigshot with a high-dollar PDA, but I am just as enabled for a negligible amount of green. Of course, I can’t take pictures with it (though I can draw them) and it won’t play mp3s, but it was very easy on the pocketbook and when I input information into it I don’t look like a doofus poking the screen with a stylus cause after all, I’m just writing on notecards.