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The Palm/Internet and Miscellany for
Baylor College of Medicine Residents
By David K. Butler, MD

 

After numerous questions regarding my PDA (which was a Palm 3x then a Visor Deluxe and now a TRG Pro) and all the many hacks, freeware, shareware, medical databases and reference material that I have accumulated from surfing the web and watching the various newsgroups.  I have decided to put together a "high yield-must-have-bare bones" section of links to some of the basic programs that you must have on your PDA to be more efficient with your work as a Med/Peds, Medicine, or Pediatric Resident.  I have limited this page/article to just PDA's using the Palm Operating System (also referred to as the Palm OS).  Devices that utilize the Windows CE Operating Systems (i.e. Hewlett Packard devices, PocketPC, Casio, Jornada etc.) will not be referred to here.

Hardware (only Palm OS here)

There  are currently four companies (below) that make handheld devices that utilizes the PalmOS. They are listed below with links to the manufacturers websites.  Which one should you buy? This is the most frequently asked question that I seem to encounter.   Many factors will play in deciding which is best for you.  The look/design, amount of memory, expandability, color display vs. grayscale etc.  Ultimately, I say go with the product that "everyone else has" (unlike what your parents used to tell you). I think this is especially important if you are new to this "pda stuff" may need to curbside one of your residency colleagues for help. Also to ensure that sharing of data via beaming will not become and issue.  Currently the Palm OS (Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, TRG Pro, and Sony's CLIE)  has about 70% of the market and likely higher in the medical field. So be sure to purchase you PDA based on what OS most of your colleagues are using (Windows vs PalmOS). It's almost analogous to the Windows and Macintosh issue. Currently software converters are few and far between that will allow "beaming" of information/software programs between a PalmOS device and a Windows based OS (Casio, HP, Compaq).  Although, the windows based systems are more attractive and have a more familiar feel (Windows), be cognizant of the limitations that you may encounter with regards to data exchange. 

Palm OS HandHelds

You can visit zdnet.com and search for each product in "Product Reviews" and become an educated buyer. Also, here is a great product review of the above devices and more:  www.the-gadgeteer.com/palmos.html#Reviews

Windows/Pocket PC Models (not covered here)

  • Casio E-125 and Casio EM-500
  • Compaq Aero 1550, Compaq iPaq 3150, and Compaq iPaq 3650
  • HP Jornada 540/545 and HP Jornada 547/548

High Yield Terms

I have compiled a list of glossary terms that you may run into while searching for software on the net. Also you can go to http://www.zdwebopedia.com/ and type in or browse for any computer/web term that you may be unfamiliar with.  (I highly recommend you do this if you are not "computer savvy").

Handheld/PDA/Palm/Visor
All the above terms basically mean that little computer thingy you're using to keep track of stuff.

Hacks/Hackmaster
Hacks are small software programs that add cool features to your PP/Visor that didn't come packaged in the Palm OS. (Recommended Hacks:  MiddleCaps Hack, Menu Hack, Teal echo,  SwitchHack, Keyb+Graffiti ).  Go to www.daggerware.com to find out more about hacks.

Newbie
someone that is relatively new to a certain area in cyberspace or computing. (i.e. a 3rd year med student is a newbie to the wards)

Freeware
software that is designed by developers to be freely distributed without having to attain any license to use. 

Shareware
software that is usually a demo form of the full application.  Limitations of function may be restricted by options available or time constraints (21-day trial version...after that it stops working).  In order to get the full functional version you must pay a fee to the developers and they will usually send you a serial number to activate the full version or email you a copy of the fully functional version.  A great site for shareware for PC, Mac and your PDA  is www.shareware.com, www.download.com, www.zdnet.com, or palmgear.com.

Egoware
software that is designed by its developers to be freely distributed to others without licensing obligation but they require that you send them an email and give them feedback regarding how you like the software. 

Files types

.prc and .pdb
All files that end in one of the previous set of 3 letters are Palm Pilot OS® files that will only work when you HotSync them into your HandHeld  Alot of times I download these files from the web, HotSync them to my Pilot, attempt to find them on my   Pilot but have no luck.  What happened?  Well basically I downloaded a document for my  Pilot but didn't have the correct software application on my   Pilot to view it. (i.e.  almost analagous to downloading  a Microsoft Word file to your hard drive   but you don't have Microsoft Word installed on your computer to view it).   Solution...read the "read me" files that usually comes zipped with the .prc/.pdb files and they will tell you what application you need to view it.   

zipped files (.zip)
Zip files are compacted versions of "normal" files that most websites use in order to make the download time faster.  They usually end in the letters ".zip" (i.e. immunizations.zip)  this means that in order to use the contents of the zip file you need to "UNZIP" it.  Unzipping files is a virtually painless procedure if you have the right software on your computer.  You need a shareware program called WinZip that you can download from www.shareware.com  Search for "winzip" and follow the instructions to download it. 

newsgroups
A group of like minded individuals who communicate with one another by sending "email messages" to a central area that is freely viewable (if you have a newsgroup browser...Netscape comes with a newsgroup browser...you may need to read a bit to figure it out and learn how to "subscribe" to these various newsgroups.).   Basically its almost analogous to reading a medical chart with lot of consult services, you may choose to add to the discussion by posting a message or you may choose to just watch the conversation go back and forth about a topic of your interest and be a sponge. Two great Palm Pilot newsgroups are  alt.comp.sys.palmtops.pilot and comp.sys.palmtops.pilot. You can learn a lot from theses newsgroups.   If you have problems configuring your system to read newsgroups then just go to www.deja.com  which is a website where you can read through newsgroups.  Did you know that there is a way to use your Palm Pilot® as a remote control for all of your infrared remote controls? Do you care?

The "HOW TO" section

How to convert MS Word documents to my palm pilot

Question:
What if you have a Microsoft Word document that I have typed up and want to download it in my PDA?

I know all of you newbies (persons new to PalmPilotting) are saying...."I have a MemoPad program on my Pilot/Visor".  The MemoPad that comes loaded with the PP/Visor is almost analogous to the "Notepad" program that comes installed with  Windows.  Its great for jotting down notes in a Lecture or Grand Rounds but it has very limited capabilities (it only allows memos to be 4K, etc).

You can click here to find an excellent program that will place "buttons" on your MS Word toolbar for easy conversion from Microsoft Word to Palm Docs.  For info about converting Microsoft Word Documents  or MS ExCel documents to PalmOS compatible format click here.  Email me and let me know if this is helpful (davidb@bcm.tmc.edu)

Dave's Use for It:
I use MDConsult, electronic medical references, or the Internet to reference the previous days cases (i.e. Ludwig's Angina, AAP Guidelines for Management of UTI, etc, )...and cut and paste into my PP/Visor for later viewing.  Here's how:

  1. Select the text you want by dragging the mouse.
     
  2. Click on the "Edit" command then click "Copy"
     
  3. Open Microsoft Word (or your Palm Desktop, then open the MemoPad), Click on "Edit", then Click "Paste"
     
  4. Now you have just transported info from the web or other document into a Word processing program/Memo Pad  that you now can manipulate, and ultimately carry with you in your palm pilot.  (please read the copyright/disclaimer found on various websites and software to make sure you are not infringing on copyright laws)

How to download and install software to your palm

This is a fairly painless procedure. Click here for a full step by step guide found at pdamd.

How to create tables in Jfile format.

Click here for the program that will allow you to do this.

How to creat icons in datebook3 or datebook4

This will attach icons to appointments to visually categorize them in several of the available views. Click here to download the free software from Inertron.

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