Sanyo 8100: old and busted. Treo 650: new hotness.

I got a Treo 650. It seems pretty sweet so far.

What's a good AIM client? Preferably free. Two features required for ranking as "good" would be "always on" and "doesn't log me out of the AIM session on my desktop in Adium". (Therefore AOL's official client does not qualify.)

After a couple of hours of flailing around, I seem to have gotten it to sync with iCal and the Apple address book (so hopefully I'll never have to look at the monstrosity that is "Palm Desktop" again). But, it seems to sync quite a bit less than "everything". E.g., when I add a userpic to someone on the phone, that doesn't end up in the Apple address book. The PalmOS calendar seems to have only one calendar, but I've got several in iCal. And so on. I gather there are 3rd party whoozywhatsits that change how some of this works. What's the done thing?

Will it kill the battery life if I habitually leave the phone plugged into the charger 16+ hours/day?

How do I convert an MP3 file into a ringtone for it?

It's been a while since I've used PalmOS. What else should I know, or download?

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61 Responses:

  1. seems like you can use native mp3 as ringtones on the 650
    i was an ebook reader on my sony tg50 and i enjoyed every bit of wordsmith (it's a quite powerful memo replacer good for editing or reading); from what i remember acrobat reader for the palm was a piece of crap.

    • jwz says:
        seems like you can use native mp3 as ringtones on the 650

      Fascinating. What am I to do with that information?

      In other words: how?

      • aahahhah, ok, i was mislead by the word 'convert' and thought your doubt was if you had to make some crappy mmf or someting like that. well: yes and no, i found out. the phone recognizes nokia style amr format as a ringtone but you have to beam to it via bluetooth or mail it to make it store into the phone (palm desktop won't allow you to).
        since palm os doesn't have a proper file system you cannot put mp3 files directly on the phone, you need an expansion card. given that, i just saw ads of non free softwares that associate mp3 files to your ringtones - without the need for conversion.

  2. deificar says:

    I've got verichat on my treo 600. It supports all the major IM clients in much the same way that trillian does on PCs. I didn't pay for mine but I think it's hacked. In any case, it works well as I have yet to have a problem with it.

  3. autopope says:

    Unlike the Treo 600, the Treo 650 has removable, replacable batteries -- and after getting used to the sticker shock of laptop batteries, they're quite cheap.

    It's payware, but I'd strongly recommend Mark/Space's Missing Sync. It lets you sync photos and mp3s with iPhoto and iTunes, it lets you mount your Treo's SD card on the desktop as a remote drive (via USB 2.0, so it's not totally slow), it's got an NTP client, and it's got a conduit for syncing AvantGo.

    Other payware that may be indispensible depending on how much you have to work with suits is DataViz's Documents to Go -- the latest version of which is a fairly passable MS Office compatible word processor and spreadsheet (and which can load/save Word/Excel documents in their own format). Finally, Butler is a Treo-specific utility that lets you do things like remap the volume control rocker switch to act like a jog wheel, switch off the LEDs to conserve battery life, and so on.

    Freeware: you want to get into Plucker, probably -- great way to carry formatted documents around. (I keep "Programming Perl on my Treo, just in case -- the copy off the O'Reilly Perl CD bookshelf imports fine.) For hacks, get hold of YAHM (Yet Another Hack Manager) which supports PalmOS hacks written for OS 5 -- then there's FontHack 5, which lets you select a variety of somewhat more useful fonts, depending on your eyeball resolution.

    (Will think of more Treo 650 goodies when I've fully woken up.)

    • Mark/Space used to be a very cool company (not dealt with them in a decade) with some very nice products (first Mac com program with full ANSI suport just as the internet hit and the bottom fell out of that market, oops).

    • zeeke42 says:

      Documents to go was included for free on the CD that came with my 650.

  4. boggyb says:

    I used to have a Palm, but unfortuantly it got introduced to the floor by mistake. Palm's don't work quite the same way when the touchscreen is in two pieces.

    Anyway, stuff to have and play with includes OmniRemote (feature-reduced shareware) if you have an infrared port on yours. It's basically a learning remote control. Never quite got it to work on mine, but it looks like a fun bit of geekery. I think there's also PocketC or similar, which is a C compiler for the Palm.

    With the AIM client, I have no idea what there is out there but the server will probably force a signout on your desktop when you connect with the Palm, and vice versa. If you think about it, it makes sense otherwise how will the AIM server know which computer to send messages to?

    There is only one calendar built-in, so you'd probably need a 3rd-party calendar program to use multiple calendars. Same goes for the to-do list, address book and memo pad (but at least you can filter those by category).

    It should be perfectly fine to leave it plugged in for days on end, but it's probably a good idea to run the battery down completely every month or so.

    Bear in mind that the last Palm I used was a Palm III-series, and this was with Windows synchronising to the Palm Desktop (BTW, it's possible to synchronise with more than one computer, just make sure that you don't change records in more than two places else the software gets *really* confused - it's bad enough when you edit something on both the Palm and the desktop). So use at your own risk, YMMV, yada yada.

    • sc00ter says:

      "With the AIM client, I have no idea what there is out there but the server will probably force a signout on your desktop when you connect with the Palm, and vice versa. If you think about it, it makes sense otherwise how will the AIM server know which computer to send messages to?"

      I have IM on my phone (a verizon phone, got the software through their "get it now" feature). It only lets me sign on to one service at a time (AIM/MSN/Yahoo!) but it has a couple cool features.

      It doesn't boot my computer connection. It knows what is the most active from the last signon/message sent. If it can't figure it out, it sends the IM to both clients. This has actually been a feature of AIM for a while now.

      The other thing I like about it is that it sends/recives AIM messages as text messages. This is cool for two reasons. I don't have to be using up my phone time in the form of minutes, and because I have unlimited text messaging, it's basically free.

      I eventually setup a seperate screen name for the phone, only because talking on a tiny flip phone is annoying and there were only a few people that I wanted to have access to me on my phone.

    • nester says:

      From a stictly windows perspective...

      I can login at work (Trillian) and at home (AOL offical AIM) and on my phone (cingular) all at once. When I sign on from a 2nd location, I get the following message.

      [10:05] AOL System Msg: Your screen name (nesteratigloucom) has signed in from another location. This screen name is currently signed in at 2 locations. To sign off the other locations, reply to this message with the number 1. Click here for more information.

      I would assume this is not client specific. This is a feature that AOL added within the last year or so. I think it was added to reduce clients fighting. IE: If I forgot to logout at home, and it was set to auto reconnect on disconnect... Work and Home would keep logging in and getting kicked, until the server locked me out. ICQ was a curse for this back in 2000 or so.

      • wyndebreaker says:

        From a stictly windows perspective...

        I'm pretty sure that's JWZ code for "skip to next comment."

        • nester says:

          Which is fine, but to the best of my knowledge, it's not client (much less OS) related.. It's all server side crude.

          I'm just too lazy to try to compile gaim on my *nix box to test it.. This is the home of lazyweb, after all.

          • aml says:

            the same thing happens with gaim on linux and adium, and ichat will allow your other clients to stay connected if you tick a box in the preferences. the official palm one not working is probably AOL being fuckfaces, and hardly supporting weird stuff like PalmOS.

    • It should be perfectly fine to leave it plugged in for days on end, but it's probably a good idea to run the battery down completely every month or so.

      Modern li-ion batteries like frequent recharges and suffer from being run down. They are smart enough to stop charging when full so leaving them plugged in won't hurt. A complete discharge can recalibrate the battery meter on the device, but will only harm the battery's actual capacity.


      • boggyb says:

        Ah, so that's what happens as a result of the "reconditioning cycle" on my laptop (full charge, full discharge, full charge) Looks like it's still worth doing once or twice a year then to recalibrate the battery meter.

        After reading those, I'd guess that it won't hurt to leave the phone plugged in for the time period that jwz was talking about (16h/day) as long is the phone's kept in a reasonably cool place (Palm-based stuff tends to have ridiculously low power consumption, and so doesn't get that hot - IIRC, one of the main features of Palms vs WinCE kit was the lower power consumptino and longer battery life of the Palm). If possible though it'd be worth setting the start/stop percentages for the charging to around 40% (or whatever gives enough life for when it's used on battery). I think you can do that with one of the various tweakers for the Palm.

        Feel free to correct me if I'm still wrong though. You only really learn by making mistakes :)

  5. sc00ter says:

    Ha s a link to AIM client from AOL UK, for free

    I know you said the official client boots your computer connection, but for free it's worth a shot. The only other two options I could think of is a jabber client on the phone, or load up java and use a java AIM client.

  6. keimel says:

    For AIM client, I just use the default messaging client on the treo. When I go 'idle' on iChat on my PowerBook, messages get sent to my treo. I can reply there fine. When I come back and awaken my powerbook from it's screensaving slumber, I am marked 'available' and IM's start appearing on my powerbook again.

    I find no real reason to try and find a client for my Treo for chatting, as people can simply reach me.

    The real problem with my comment now is that I can't tell you where I went through the 'fu' of signing into my phone. It perhaps was on an AOL web page, where I input my cell phone number.

    A note, my provider Cingular nee ATT, gives me free incoming messages but counts my outgoing messages. I went over the 100 I get by default with my plan and had to pay for each one. So I went up to 200 and don't IM out that often anymore. Check your plan before you start being Mr. IM on Treo and kill your bill.

    Sorry I can't tell you where the sign in widgety thing is, but I'm thinking it was AIM's home page. Ah, try this:

    As for other third party apps, Salling Clicker allows you to use your Treo as a remote for your computer. It apparantly is able to make your powerbook lock or sleep due to bluetooth proximity. I intend to try this feature later this week or next week. (Just got the 650 a couple days ago).

    Good luck

    • jwz says:

      So it sounds like AOL runs an AIM-to/from-text-message gateway, that they turn on when you're idle? That sounds pretty reasonable, but sadly, it's not letting me activate it. I type in my phone number and it says "a text message has been sent to your phone", but it never arrives. I've gotten text messages from other folks, though, so it's not that they don't work at all.

  7. ninjagirl says:

    ScummVM, so you can play all of your favourite lucasarts adventure games.

    Alternatively, I'm selling these fine leather jackets..

  8. korgmeister says:

    The batteries will be Lithium Ion batteries. The motto for them is "recharge early, recharge often". Keeping them in the charger for as long as possible is a Good Thing. It won't fry the batteries because Li-ion chargers are always computer controlled and go to a trickle charge when the battery is nearly fully charged.

    Admittedly it's a little confusing if you've been using Ni-Cads since the 80s like I have, but Li-ions behave in almost exactly the opposite way. Deep cycles (that is, full discharge then recharge) actually wear out the battery prematurely, so they are best avoided in favour of keeping the batteries topped up as often as practical.

    • Seconded. I've had my cell phone charge drop to 2 of 3 bars maybe twice since I got in december (even on weekend trips), and keep it faithfully in its charging cradle whenever possible.

      • cannibal says:

        Very interesting, thanks for the info on charging, all.

        Have a couple of friends with Treos who are quite thrilled with 'em, very cool.

  9. elmofromok says:

    I would recommend pockettunes. Its allows for streaming MP3s and other musical goodness.

  10. yozlet says:

    IM client: if you don't like the free AIM Palm client then Agile Messenger is meant to be a decent (though not great) free alternative - here's a review.

    My favourite Treo apps:

    TCPMP is fan-fucking-tastic - it's free and plays many audio and video types (including MP3, Ogg, MPEG1, DivX, Xvid) without problems - you can carry a movie with you on an SD card and watch it fine. It's worth trying this before paying for an MP3 player.

    AvantGo is a nifty way to carry preshrunk websites with you, in a similar way to Plucker. It's free, doesn't have a supported Mac client but they say that Missing Sync handles it fine.

    Vindigo city guides are superb - they have maps, movie schedules, restaurants etc. Take the trial - I think the $24 a year is well worth it.

    KeyCaps is one of my favourite hacks for speeding up typing - basically it just lets you either double-tap or hold down keys for caps or symbol shifting, instead of needing to jump to the shift keys. Despite the beta warnings on that page, it seems to run just fine on my 650.

    If you want better maps than Vindigo provides, along with routefinding, Mapopolis looks excellent and the map packs are decent value.

    If you want to muck about with music-making, Bhajis Loops is obviously several miles off from Cubase but fun to play with when you're out and about. For other excellent timewasters there are quite a few high-quality Palm games coming out now from the likes of PDAville, Astraware and PopCap, but I keep finding myself returning to these lo-fi favourites: SFCave and DopeWars.

  11. Freeware:
    TuSSH ssh client works well on my tungsten c.
    Vexed is a nice game.
    I use noah lite as dictionary, but there may be better things out there now.
    Cipher is a really primitive encryption program (you paste text into it, it encrypts it, you cut'n'paste to text pad)

  12. Lots of people (including me) have had trouble with the official AOL AIM client putting their treo 650's into a reset loop. I fixed mine with the "hard reset -- no, just kidding" (don't push up arrow at the "are you sure you want to delete all data" prompt), so I didn't have any data loss.

    I use:
    Safe: 3-DES drop-in memo pad replacement
    TG SSH: SSH client
    and for games
    Pyramid Solitare

    I also have installed:
    DaliClock (heh)

  13. mayoff says:

    CardExport is pretty handy. It makes the SD card in your phone show up on your Mac as a USB hard drive.

  14. wire_on_fire says:

    So Jabber nicely solves the problem of not logging you out of the AIM session in Adium.

    But... err... Yeah, I can save you the effort and write a jwz-style rant about how the Jabber software totally sucks and spare you the whole experience. Because it SHOULD be nice, but, in reality, it's got fifty million lame-ass bugs.

  15. I tried VeriChat at one point. It works, reasonably well also. Too bad it's got a horrible pricing scheme, $24.94 for a year, $19.95/year after. What's that all about?

    Hmm good PalmOS apps... I don't really do a whole lot with mine. I do like the mapquest PQA app, though I have to upgrade it, it seems broken. And the etrade one is nice, if you use etrade. A few things for looking up phone numbers seemed to make sense, but then, 411 is so much easier.

    There are some upgrades for the DateBook application, I've played with DateBook5. Didn't buy it though, didn't see the point really.

    I do have "Tube", which is subway and street maps for major cities. Also non-free, but really excellent.

    • zeeke42 says:

      The reason is that verichat has to maintain a server to proxy things. The advantage of this is that things like file transfer are handled far more gracefully than they would be otherwise. When you do a file transfer within verichat to another client, it uploads the file to verichat's servers, and sends the other person a hash keyed link. I was annoyed at the pricing, but I ponied up the cash, and I now have no regrets.

  16. queeg500 says:

    For imap email I use Chatter Email and I've recently started to use Toccer for Treo which is a nice AIM-only client

  17. darkengobot says:

    I don't know if you're interested in astronomy at all, but IMO the best Palm app by far is Planetarium. It still runs well on my IIIxe. It's shareware--fully functional, degenerating to nagware, but still works. It can connect with a telescope (have not tried this feature). Expandable database of objects.

    When somebody asks you "what's that bright star there?", you get full points for just knowing, but you get half points if you can whip out a gadget to tell you the answer.

    It's Jack Horkheimer in your pocket. But not quite so annoying.

  18. hcr3 says:

    A friend just released KMaps, a Java app. for accessing Google Maps from the Treo. Pretty nice, IMO, and definitely worth a look.

  19. Let me know how good the camera is, that would be my first question. It's gotta be better than mine...

  20. wfaulk says:

    Handy-dandy apps:

    • Dir Assist: It just goes to to grab data, but it does it for you in a very handy, and much faster, way than using the web browser.
    • Graffiti Anywhere: I find that it can sometimes be hard to use the keyboard when you have the stylus out (sometimes it's a pain to just use your fingernail), and this reenables Graffiti on the Treos. You can even figure out how to load Graffiti 1 if Graffiti 2 bothers you.
    • KeyCaps: Others have pointed this one out, but it's quite handy.
    • upIRC: You've mentioned IRC before. This one has worked pretty well for me.
    • AudioList: Album database. I know I have a hard time remembering what music I have (and what I want) when I go to the record store, and you seem to have way more than I do.
  21. zonereyrie says:

    I'm currently in withdrawal - I dropped my 650 a couple of weeks ago and it went back to Palm for a new screen. Hopefully I'll have it back soon... *twitch*

    The two applications I use most are:

    Interesting thread - I'll have to check some of these other suggestions out...

  22. fnoo says:

    'gaim' is pretty much the standard these days amongs my circle of friends. I've been using it for a couple of years - it aggregates my AIM / MSN / ICQ contacts, which is kind of neat. Decent interface similar to what's available in the commercial world.

    YMMV re running on OSX.

  23. gregv says:

    I don't really have to tell you this, but get the latest firmware. Many issues resolved: sound quality, memory efficiency, response time, etc.

    If you're going to put a lot of apps on there, get ZLauncher and a SD card. I use it for the ton of games I have. It will store them on the SD card and leave a stub in memory which will copy them back and forth as needed. Plus you'll get a much nicer launcher UI, although the default settings are kind of ugly.

    SplashMoney rocks. So does Chatter E-Mail, which was made by the guy who made Zork for extra geek points. I use Life Balance a lot but not everyone will find it useful.

    For tweaks, KeyCaps is recommended by everyone for a reason; press and hold caps is very very convenient. FieldPlus makes shift-arrows behave like they're supposed to. It turns out I rarely use it, but it's free. KB Lights Off lets you manage the keyboard backlighting, which I usually have turned off.

    I don't know how interested in games you would be, but I have a commute so I have a ton.

    That's not all of them, but it's the best of them.

  24. n3nbb says:

    I use Missing Sync with my 650 as well, and I checked with them about not syncing certain fields (IM names, photos, web sites, and a few others), their answer was that it's an issue with Apple's sync conduit not moving the information, so they can't do anything about it.

    It sounds like the only way to make it work is to either find or write a replacement for Apple's conduit.

    • deeptape says:

      Does the Treo 650-to-Apple bluetooth syncing work?

      • jwz says:

        Yeah, I got it working. It took quite a bit of fucking around, and I don't remember what all was necessary, but it seems to work as advertised.

      • n3nbb says:

        It's rumored that you have to sync with a cable the first time, I don't know if that's true or not, but since I started with an iBook without bluetooth then transferred everything to the PowerBook I wound up starting with a cable anyway. The bluetooth sync seems to work there's not much of a speed difference between the cable and bluetooth, and other than needing to pair the laptop to the phone everything else happend automatically.

        • deeptape says:

          Sweet! Where do Treo memos get synced to in OS X, btw?

          • chetfarmer says:

            Memos have no Apple home, so by default if you install the Treo, its software, and then the Apple conduit for Calendar/Todo/Address Book, your memos will still be synced to the Palm Desktop.

            StickyBrain (payware, but nice) will sync your memos, but it takes ALL your Palm-side memos and shoves them into a single category on the desktop. This is workable until you have to reload the Palm after a hard reset; at that point, you have to go through your 300+ memos and categorize them manually on the device, which sucks.

            Someone here sent me a link, however, to a tool that syncs Palm memos to a directory hierarchy on the desktop, which is pretty much the Right Answer as far as I'm concerned (especially in light of Spotlight searches in Finder windows). Of course, I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I like the idea.


          • n3nbb says:

            Missing Sync came with "Mark/Space MemoPad" whch gets them. (by default they go to Palm Desktop, but that's easy enough to change.)
            It's about as functional as the memo pad in Palm Desktop, but then again what else do you really need it to do?

        • jwz says:

          I never used the cable at all. What I did was:

          • Install the CD that came with the Treo;
          • Reboot (!)
          • Turned on Bluetooth and paired with the phone;
          • Spent an hour randomly permuting settings in various programs under /Applications/Palm/, in iSync, in iCal, and in Address Book, stumbling around like a bull in a china shop;
          • And at some point, it started synching.
          • n3nbb says:

            That's about the same as how I got it to work - I just figured that it's a Mac and that it'll probably fix itself if I spent enough time retrying it, and eventually it worked.

  25. edouardp says:

    I've got a T3, but most of the following should apply to JWZ.

    Stuff I find essential:
    Keyring for PalmOS - Apart from memos, this is the most useful thing on my Palm. Pair it up with the Java Keyring Viewer and you can read (and edit) the entries on your Mac. This Shell Script make the Java program act more like a Mac OS X app.
    Handy Shopper - shopping list program. Can be used for a lot more than just grocery shopping.

    Stuff that I like, but could get by without:
    Salling Clicker - Remote control program using bluetooth. Lets you control your Mac from your Palm/Phone/Palm'n'Phone. Very good event->script model. I found the proximity detection of my cellphone automatically marking me as present or away from iChat exhibited ... rightness.
    eReader - eText reader for the Palm. I pair it with Drop Book to put stuff to read on my Palm.
    Pocket Tunes - MP3 Player.

    • jwz says:

      Sailing Clicker sounds like it might be cute, but my god, no way is something that trivial worth twenty bucks. The way these chumps try and nickel and dime you for every little halfassed goddamned shell script is definitely the worst part about the Mac experience.

  26. mcgroarty says:

    All the features are cool. The Apple iSync page shows complete compatibility, which is promising.

    But how does the Treo 650 work as a phone - what's the sound quality like?