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  1.    #1  
    I had an opportunity to get out of my Sprint contract, so I took it and went for the Verizon Droid Eris.

    I am writing up my experience, hoping that it will be useful to someone. Of course my opinion is biased by my heavy use of the calendar, and my interest in Hebrew, science and math. Of course I would be grateful to hear suggestions to improve my ease-of-use.

    I've decided to break this experience into multiple posts, since I think it would be unreadable as a single post.


    I chose the Droid Eris rather than the Droid, because the latter was much too big&heavy to be kept in my pants pocket. The Droid Eris is about the same size&weight as the Centro, but of course lacks a physical keyboard.

    Main points: Eris screen is beautiful, but not being able to easily enter calendar items (and other documents) is a real hassle. Eris battery life is atrocious. Android has some really cool apps, but is missing a few others that I need/want.

    For example, suppose I wanted to add an appointment with a four-word title (say, at 11:30am) to tomorrow's calendar. I could do this, walking or seated, on a Centro (with DateBk5) in about 15 seconds, and barely look at the screen. I have no hope of doing this walking with the Eris, and it takes me about 2 minutes to do it seated, because of (a) the complexity of the keyboard, (b) the difficulty of adding appointments that aren't on-the-hour and (c) you have to scroll all the way the the bottom of an event to Save it.

    The Android web browser is great. Threaded email is pretty nice, as is email which automatically fetches in the background (available commercially on PalmOS, but I never tried it). Are email folders supported in the Android 1.5 email client?

    The Android AppsOrganizer is terrific. It's more work to setup than organizing apps on the Palm, but well worth the effort because you can assign an application multiple tags. If you use a lot of different applications, then you must organize them in some fashion due to the nature of the Android screen paradigm.

    New apps (didn't use a corresponding PalmOS app, or none existed):
    * OurGroceries. I really like the fact that there's no password, just a single email validation. My wife and I can both use this on our Erises, and one of my kids can update the list on his iPod touch. I'm toying with the idea of installing an Android emulator on one or two of our home computers, so my other kids can also have access to OurGroceries through the emulator.
    * Pandora. Hooray! I love Pandora, and it's great to finally take it on the exercise machine with me.
    * Kling is really cool, so is Shazam
    * TuneWiki is really nice to use at home with my music server.
    * AndFTP for Secure FTP. I always wanted to have an sftp client for PalmOS, and even looked into trying to port one myself.
    * Good Delicious.com support. Very nice to be able easily add entries from my phone. But why do I have to enter the tags by hand instead of clicking on choices like you can on a PC/Mac??
    * Better Youtube support, including nice ways to save links to your favorite videos
    * Pubmed Mobile is nice
    * ChemCards demo is really slick. Maybe I'll spring for the paid version.



    Widgets are really nice. I have the smallest (two-square) weather widget on my home screen, and the largest (16-square, or full-screen) on another screen. I also use a calendar widget, a Music widget, and Pandora widget, and the Google search widget. Each of these are four-squares.

    Being able to see this info (weather, what music is playing) without having to run an App, or having quick access to make a search is really nice. Google's voice search is terrific and reduces some of the frustration of on-screen typing. The full-screen bookmark widget is also nice, since it lets you access your four most-used bookmarks very easily. But another bookmark interface like Blazer would also be nice, even though it's not as sexy.


    So far the only apps I plan to spend money on are SplashID and perhaps BetterCut; the latter to make my (few) home-screen folders more distinct. I don't use many folders because I can do most icon management with AppsOrganizer, but unfortunately it can't accommodate bookmarks.


    I really miss being able to enter an appointment into my calendar and walk at the same time.

    I also miss being able to take notes in a meeting or seminar; it's just too klunky and time-consuming without a keyboard.

    Effective use of Google search by voice is nice, and using Jott (paid service) to add events to my calendar is nice.

    I really miss the remote-control application Salling Clicker.

    I am looking forward to being back on a "live platform" again so I can consider doing some software development. I had spent some time with the PalmOS development tools a few years back, although I never released an application. More recently it hasn't been worth the effort to pursue this.



    The following posts discuss applications which I've migrated from PalmOS to Android, or tried to migrate.
  2.    #2  
    PalmOS: Versamail

    When my wife (who also got an Eris) tried to get her email setup at the local Verizon store, they gave her a B.S. answer that the Eris didn't have the capability of handling her POP account. Of course I set it up for her that evening, although in the end I needed&benefited from super-duper tech support from her employer's (volunteer) sysadmin.

    While my wife's Droid Eris went through the POP and SMTP server setup without any errors (indicating that it was able to communicate with both servers), in fact her email was not making it out of her out-box. Her sysadmin looked in the SMTP logs and discovered that the Eris was failing to communicate a date/timestamp correctly. He googled the error and (sorry, I don't have the error code) and discovered that it's a known problem with the Android 1.5 client. He was able to hack the SMTP server to ignore this error, and now my wife's mail works perfectly!

    My own migration went pretty well, except that I had copied the SMTP port number from my Centro to the Eris, which turned out to be the wrong port. By correcting this to port 465, the problem was solved.

    Email configuration on the Eris is pretty nasty when your SMTP account name is different from your POP account name, because if your SMTP validation fails it will automatically changed your SMTP name to match the POP name (especially frustrating when you don't have a hardware keyboard).
  3.    #3  
    PalmOS: DateBk5

    I had an excessively large PalmOS calendar with roughly 8000 events, going back nearly 10 years, with events going several years into the future.

    I had always synced with Palm Desktop, but decided that I need to switch to Outlook syncing so that I could get my calendar into Google Calendar. I was unable to cleanly sync this large calendar to Outlook. I deleted all recurring appointments (such as ones reminding me that a mortgage payment would be debited on a certain date), but even this didn't yield a clean sync. Fortunately I had a licensed copy of DbFixIt available. I figured out a record number at which I was willing to draw a cutoff (I chose record number 6000 of roughly 8000), and deleted records 1-6000 on the Palm. After that I was able to make a clean sync to Outlook. I believe that these record numbers are based upon the order in which records are added, although it's possible that I deleted some important info if it turns out that record numbers are reused.

    Then I did something dumb: I exported my calendar from Outlook into CSV format, and imported it into Google Calendar. But I also downloaded and installed GoogleCalendarSync. The net result was duplicated events in my calendar. I tried deleting my entire calendar on both Google Calendar and the Eris, but this made things even worse and I still had duplicated events on (only) the Eris. After speaking with Verizon I performed a hard-reset of my device, and then went back, deleted GoogleCalendarSync from my desktop and imported the calendar into GoogleCalendar, and everything was fine. I was saved from a lot of duplicated work because I had backed-up "Apps Organizer" onto my SD Card prior to the hard reset. I am now a big Apps Organizer fan :-)
  4.    #4  
    PalmOS: Memos

    Working on EverNote migration, having successfully synced my Memos to Outlook.

    OL2EN is an existing Outlook Notes->EverNote migration tool which I plan to experiment with. Hopefully I won't have to get a paid EverNote account to import my large body of notes into EverNote.

    EverNote (if I get it working) is much more promising than my old system, since it provides a Delicious-like tagging mechanism which could help me to get better organized.

    BTW, I hope to use the superior Android web browsing to develop a web page for something I've always wanted to do on a phone: enter mathematical equations in Latex or MathML. There are existing web pages and conversion engines which I can adapt. I had tried this in the past on PalmOS, but the lack of AJAX support and poor CSS support made this impossible over the web.

    Equation editing on an Eris (or iPhone) is harder due to the lack of a stylus, so I'll have to create lots of cascading menus, and targets big enough to hit by finger, as well as some "Undo" functionality.

    If I get my equation editor working, I then I hope to figure out how to integrate it with EverNote. I don't know whether they support any kind of plugin architecture.
  5.    #5  
    PalmOS: ToDo

    Todo list synced cleanly with Outlook, and imported cleanly into Google Calendar
  6.    #6  
    PalmOS: Phone

    Todo list synced cleanly with Outlook, and imported cleanly into Google Calendar. But the contacts really look terrible on the Droid, especially older ones where there are just phone #s without names, so I have some manual cleanup yet to perform. Also, there's a different phone number convention with Verizon, so I'm manually editing lots of commas (delays after dialing) into "p"s. In retrospect I could have done this with a text editor or simple Perl program before importing into Google Calendar
  7.    #7  
    This is really a hassle. I love PasswordsPlus, which has helped me to manage hundreds of passwords on different accounts, all encrypted using a single master-password, and synced periodically via Hotsync. But PasswordsPlus is not available on Android (as of 1/2010). So I've looked at other options.

    KeyPass is free, but the client is just a download, not in the Android Market. The Keypass syncing mechanism is not clear to me. I don't know whether it syncs over the Internet (I think so) or whether it can just sync locally over a local Wifi network, like SplashID. I don't know whether I'd need to root my phone to test this. The other thing about Keypass is it seems very gung-ho about using the clipboard for copying passwords. For many of my passwords, I don't explicitly list the password in my PasswordsPlus database; often I just give myself a hint for what the password is. So copy&paste isn't that helpful for me; I need to see my own hint.

    So I've decided to spend another $30 for SplashID, even though the Market comments on SplashID for Android indicate that it's not ready for prime-time. The online documentation hasn't been fully cut-and-pasted correctly to remove iPhone and PalmOS references. Migration involves exporting my PasswordsPlus database, massaging the resulting CSV file with a bit of Perl (I haven't done this yet), and then importing it into the PC or Mac SplashID environment. I'm leaning towards doing this on a Mac at home, rather than continuing to manage my passwords on my laptop PC at work. The primary reason is that I don't have a Wifi router at work, so I would have to sync my passwords by bringing my office laptop home, or bring in my own old router to use occasionally in the office. The latter is too Rube-Goldberg-ish, and also risks the wrath of the local IT gods.

    Another minor nuisance: you can download a 30-day free trial of the SplashId desktop clients, but you don't seem to be able to try importing your database without first paying for the phone app.
  8.    #8  
    PalmOS: Lingvosoft Hebrew-English Dictionary (ECTACO Palm OS translation software. LingvoSoft Dictionary English <-> Hebrew for Palm OS. Dictionaries)


    No decent result. Current versions of Android (at least through 2.1) don't support Hebrew&Arabic, and there is no commercial dictionary. There are fonts available online, but you have to root your Android phone to try this.

    I tried installing the FLV Foreign Language viewer for Hebrew that I found in the Android Market, but it's a one-way Hebrew->English translation, and as I said, there are no Hebrew fonts on Android, so it's pretty useless.
  9.    #9  
    PalmOS: ReadThemAll, a very nice "spot-scrolling" bookreader.

    Aldiko is great, and is the one I'm using. WordPlayer looks nice too.

    This is one area where the Droid Eris just crushes the Palm. The screen is so beautiful, has more pixels, and is just easy to look at for a long time. The bookreading software is really well done too. I had thought about trying to port the open-source ReadThemAll so that I could read hands-free, but there's little motivation for this.

    The best thing is that my Eris fits on a spring-loaded plastic "easel" which folds into my wallet (I keep it in a constrained section with my driver's license to that it doesn't pop open). I had purchased this for my Centro a few years ago, but it never was satisfactory for book-reading (or videos) because the software to flip screen orientation doesn't work well.

    But this works beautifully on the Eris, and it's such a pleasure to sit in my cafeteria (when dining alone) and read a book, just pausing to press a point on the screen to read the next page, with the Eris balanced on the easel.
  10.    #10  
    PalmOS: pssh

    ConnectBot. Attractive, good session management. Hard to use without a physical keyboard, especially dealing with control-chars.
  11.    #11  
    PalmOS: Tryda

    WhitePages, and to an extent YellowPages. The functionality is similar to Tryda, but I have to say that Tryda is better. What's this stupid CallerID thing in WhitePages? Who cares about CallerID when it's bundled with your phone service??
  12.    #12  
    iSkoot. I was one of the few people who seemed to like this for PalmOS. It worked for me much of the time, although of course it's flaky.


    Can't get iSkoot to work at all on Android. Haven't tried SkypeLite because requires a SkypeIn account to receive calls. I have a SkypeOut account that I've used when placing calls to international landlines (via iSkoot or from my desktop), but why should I need a SkypeIn account? This seems dumb.
  13.    #13  
    PalmOS: Bundled DocumentsToGo

    Free version of DocumentsToGo. Might upgrade if I feel a need to edit documents or (more likely) want to view PowerPoints.
  14.    #14  
    PalmOS: Bundled DocumentsToGo

    PDF Viewer
  15.    #15  
    PalmOS: Google Maps

    Google Maps. It's nice to have more exact locations, and I'm looking forward to Android 2.x so that we'll get true turn-by-turn functionality. But how the heck do I copy&paste directions? And I really miss just being able to press the "G" key on my Centro and start this application. So far I haven't figured out how to re-use a recently-used address ... is this functionality present?
  16.    #16  
    PalmOS: Chemical Elements

    PeriodicTable. But I need the masses of common isotopes, which are missing. Maybe there's another program out there that has what I need.
  17.    #17  
    PalmOS: MathCard. Pretty klunky

    MathPractice is very slick. Multiple choice instead of entering the answer by hand, but that's OK
  18.    #18  
    PalmOS: LyME is unbelievably impressive, but to be honest I rarely used it.

    No such animal. Maybe there's a kind of online Matlab-like-tool out there? Wolfram Alpha??
  19.    #19  
    PalmOS: Builtin calculator


    LoanDroid. Haven't played with it yet.
  20.    #20  
    PalmOS: Salling Clicker (commercial) is awesome, and very powerfu&flexible on the desktop

    There are some music clickers out there, but I really need something more powerful for Powerpoint and generic control. Gmote looks promising, but lacks Bluetooth support because of Google's restrictions. The Salling Clicker developer says he's unwilling to port to Android until Google opens-up Bluetooth access more to developers.

    It doesn't seem that Gmote is very extensible.
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