Late in the year 2000, I was looking for a better way to organize my life. I was still carrying around a notebook listing all the books in my library when I went to conventions, trying not to buy duplicates (it was a simple text file, then).

My best friend, Garcia, had a PDA and he showed me what it could do. I was sold. I got my first HandspringTM. I believe HandspringTM was put together by someone who left PalmTM and thought they could do better. It was sort of a bigger, clunkier PalmTM. Also cheaper.

For those of you who missed the PDA revolution, and went directly to the smartphone, PDAs did bunches of stuff. My HandspringTM had a full address book, lists of things-to-do (tasks) complete with check-off boxes, calendar with appointments, memos, pdf reader, photos, easy-to-use calculator, and functionality to read any .doc or spreadsheet file I wanted to download.

Sorry this is so detailed.

The most appealing thing for me was that files could be changed either on your computer (laptop for me) or the PDA, and with a single command (press the button!), could be synced. Most of the info was stored on the computer by running a program created by PalmTM called the Palm Desktop. It’s a calendar, address book, list of memos, tasks, etc. The remaining functionality (pdfs, etc), needed to be updated using specialized software.

Eventually the HandspringTM died (I think one of the cats knocked it out of its charging cradle). I got another. When I went looking for a third, I discovered HandspringTM had gone belly up. I investigated PalmTM, and acquired my first real PalmTM (better, smaller, faster, able to leap small buildings in a single bound able to play mp3s even). I’ve been through several PalmTM PDAs since then.

PalmTM no longer makes PDAs. I picked up my last one on ebay about a year ago, and when it died, the after-market warranty from Square Deal gave me back full purchase price. After much thought, I declined to pick up another. I needed to find another way. I settled on a tablet, and picked up a Samsung GalaxyTM.

Good points: it boots right up–unlike a laptop; it functions as an ereader, obviating the need for me to pick up one of those (it’s a NookTM, it’s a KindleTM); it reads pdfs (I put all the cat show rules and standards on it, so I can stop carrying the rule book around–I started again after my PDA died); it has some fun “apps”–find a restaurant, etc.

Now I need to make it a functional PDA.

I am crazy dependent on the Palm Desktop. I’ve been tracking everything from club meetings to garbage night to what books I’ve been reading, etc. in the calendar for just over ten years. I have over one hundred memos detailing everything from cat registration numbers to what color gutermann thread I have in stock. Twenty years of personal, business, and cat show contact information. And packing lists that I duplicate, merge, modify and print out every time I’m going away for a weekend so that I don’t forget something.

So now I am engaged in a monumental task–pulling all of that info out of the Palm Desktop. I’ve turned the memos and tasks into simple text files in a few directories that I’m manually copying over to the GalaxyTM. Easy enough. Now I’m going through the calendar, month-by-month, pulling any data I think I might one day want out into various log files. It’s slow going. I’m going to try to switch over to using Google CalendarTM, which can sync with the GalaxyTM, but I’ll probably avoid leaving anything there that isn’t stored elsewhere . . . .

Once the calendar is done, I’ll need to tackle the address book. Hopefully that can be handled in bulk (via data manipulation) and dumped into a spreadsheet, rather than needing to be re-typed. One can but hope.

I did so love having all that info in my pocket, handy. I miss the era of the PDA. While my smartphone is cool, it’s not quite as useful. And I need my blasted reading glasses if I want to do anything more complicated than dial a phone number on it.