If you aren't
familiar with web-based organizers, let me give you a brief introduction. Often
called a web calendar or even PIM (Personal Information Manager), a web-based
organizer allows you to enter and view your contact and calendar information
on a website, just like on your handheld. Interesting idea? At first I thought
so. I mean, I always found it an interesting service, although I never actually
used one myself. This has been a difficult review to write. It started out as
a look at the MyPalm web-based organizer service. It then became a comparative
review of several similar services that could sync with the Visor and Palm OS.
However, once I started the comparison, (with the exception of one particular
service) it just got depressing. After spending about an hour jumping from
service to service, I realized why I never used a web-based organizer. It's a dumb idea!
Now before I get
300 flame mails from die-hard users, I want you to know that I am not here to
debate the general merits of a web-organizer. I am here to discuss the merits
in how it relates to handheld users. So let me ask you handheld users out there
Q: If you
have a handheld device and you carry that device with you everywhere, why do
you need to have that data accessible from a web site?
Doesn't this defeat the
idea of carrying a handheld? I recently had my Visor stitched to my side (I
am happy to report the scars are healing nicely), but for you less enthusiastic
users, are you going to be jogging without your handheld and think, "Jeez I
wish I had the number for Luigi's Pizza handy. Where's the nearest cyber-cafe?"
do you want to keep a copy of your most sensitive data up on some "strangers"
Sure, their tech guys will tell you that it is absolutely safe, however,
any hacker will tell you otherwise. Just go pick up a copy of 2600:
The Hacker Quarterly, at your local bookstore. Hackers provide a very valuable
service for whenever we start feeling a little too smug. I regularly read this
publication to keep my technological modesty in check. Everytime I read it I
am in awe, "Wow, you can do that?" With all the system outages, Denial
of Service/Hacker attacks, demographic profiling and companies who "accidentally"
release private information (oops), do you really want the phone number and
banking info of your offshore accounts up there? I really doubt the folks over
at Handspring keep their top secret Visor development notes over on the MyPalm
Q: Is this
Just because you can do something doesn't mean it is reasonable to
do it. The fact that Palm, for example, would divert millions of dollars in
resources to develop a service that won't drive the sale of new Palm devices
(like an investment in making the Palm device better) is beyond my comprehension.
In the past two years we have seen countless web-based organizers bite the dust.
Why? Because we have become a society of people who get edgy if we have to wait
more than 3 minutes to get a latte. We are so addicted to the "instant
on" aspect of accessing information at any time, that they had to build
a light into the handheld. I mean you never know when you could be out in a
field somewhere at night and need the number of your accountant. Web-based applications
and services take time. More time than most of us are willing to spend. I will
admit that there are some great features and compelling arguments for access
to your information at any time. However, I don't see that the web technology
is compelling enough at this point to make it worth the worry over safety and
The Review >>