Going paperless (and getting organized)

I have not posted for a while for a variety of reasons, one of which is I am getting organized (again!). I used to keep all my personal information (contacts, calendar, important records) in a paper address book and wasted much time and energy every year transferring it all by hand to a new pocket-sized booklet.  Then, around 1998, I lost my address book in an airport, and had to start all over, from scratch. That is when I bought my first electronic organizer, a Casio.   In 2001 I bought my first Palm Pilot PDA, and have gradually put everything in it: addresses, calendar, bank data, travel info, medical info, recipes, random notes, etc.  Over the next 7 years I bought several new Palms and finally a Treo (Palm) mobile phone which nicely contained everything I needed; truly a second brain.  But the Palm platform is getting old and its future not looking good, so (after much research and agonizing) I switched to a Blackberry.  Anyone who has read this far is probably something of a technophile (like me), but if not, just roll your eyes and find something else to do.

Here is what I am discovering:

The Blackberry (I have a Verizon Curve) is a neat phone/PDA, very comparable to the Treo.  Except it does not have a touch screen, and that has taken me a while to get used to (a new Blackberry is coming out soon which does have a touch screen, like an iphone).  It does have a very usable QWERTY keyboard, though, and a neat trackball, which I really like.  So, after 2 weeks, I have made the transition to the new device.

The Blackberry’s operating system is different from the Palm’s, and in some ways not as user friendly.  Again, though, I am used to it now and find it very functional and more powerful than the Palm.

One reason I moved to BB is I had become very frustrated over the years because of the difficulty in updating software after switching hardware devices (e.g., when my MS Windows laptop crashed and I replaced it with a new one; when I bought a new imac desktop; and when I changed mobile devices).  All of my Palm data would have to be transferred over to the new device, and I would have to be careful how I backed everything up and synchronized it.  Now, because of the software I have chosen to use, my data is floating in a cybernet “cloud” and not residing on any hardware device other than my BB Curve. If I lose my Curve, all I have to do is get another one and download the data from the cloud.  (If the cloud goes away, I will be in trouble!)  The beauty is that I can easily access my info from my Windows laptop, my Apple desktop, or any computer I happen to be in front of.  All the information is synchronized with my mobile phone over the airwaves (or by using the Blackberry desktop program that came with it, which passes the info along to the cloud).

Most Blackberry users up to now have been part of corporate networks that use company software for storing calendars, contacts, data, etc.  I do not; I am just a lone individual.  So, I had to find a set of software applications that would do all that the Palm used to do, and more.  Here is one major downside: in order to use the cloud, I have to subscribe to a service (through Verizon) that provides internet access to the phone. It works very well, but costs me $30 per month over and above basic voice/phone service.  I did not need this level of service on my old Treo, because all my data resided on my phone and laptop.  The cloud is costing me money, but it is worth it (one side benefit is that now I can surf the internet and send and receive email on my mobile phone).

For the very select few of you who are still reading and who might want to go in the direction I have described, here are some more discoveries about the cloud: I use Yahoo for keeping my calendar and contacts coordinated between the handheld and various computers (it works very well with the blackberry software); I use Rexwireless Ideamatrix for keeping all of my hundreds of folders and other containers of data organized and synchronized with the cloud (it is designed to work with BB and is very elegant, but not free, though reasonable); I use Upvise for some other cloud/BB applications, such as the shopping list function which is pretty cool (this, like Yahoo, is free); and I use Evernote as a general (free) way to keep and organize a variety of information that does not fit in any of the other categories (e.g., keeping track of info I find on the web, including pictures, that I may want to go back to from time to time, or send along to other people).

As an addendum, I store photos and video I make in the cloud, too, and find Flickr and Vimeo to be excellent sites. Vimeo is free and can keep and display high defintion movies (which I can take on my tiny all-purpose digital camera and easily edit on my imac).

That’s where I am at this point.  I would welcome a discussion about any of this with any of you who are interested.

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6 Responses to “Going paperless (and getting organized)”

  1. Mike Says:

    I too have just (yesterday) made the change from Palm to BB, and presently am frustrated but beginning to feel that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. The BB seems on the surface to be more cumbersome and more difficult, but that may be my bias (having used palm for close to 6 years.)
    I changed to BB because I am a little bit of a gadget geek, and wanted to experiment with BB. I am hoping that I can get most of the functionality that I miss from my Treo onto my BB. I am about to bite the bullet and re-enter all of my data/contacts/calendar through Outlook to synch to my BB. I had used the Palm desktop software in the past, and upgraded it to run on windows vista, so the BB provided change-over software does not work. I am not looking forward to entering close to 300 contacts and all of the holidays, birthdays, work schedule, etc long-hand, and really miss the desktop functionality.
    I guess I am still in the dark with all that BB can do, and look forward to experimenting with it for the next few weeks to try and get up to speed. In the meantime, I am carrying my BB Curve and Palm Treo.

  2. thinkingarthur Says:

    More about your personal life than I really needed to know, CG. But, as for Edie, she is looking to follow your general path and her take on your story will, I am sure, help her and, at the same time, make your posting worthwhile.

    We wondered what had happened to the blog…..

  3. Charles Goldman Says:

    I started a parallel discussion on blackberryforums.com (http://www.blackberryforums.com/general-blackberry-discussion/151203-my-experience-switching-palm-os-bb-bis.html), and here are some comments that are relevant:
    from Daphne:
    I read your blog post. My suggestion would be to keep back ups of all the data you have “in the cloud”. Personally, I’m not a fan of “cloud computing” because when data is on someone else’s servers, there is always a risk of security breaches, lost data, etc. I have much more faith in my own hardware and my own security practices than in anyone’s “cloud”. JMO.

    Gartner: Seven cloud-computing security risks – Network World

    My resoponse:
    “daphne”, you make a good point, and one I have thought a lot about. However, I really hate the process of backing things up regularly and then deciding where to store them. I even put my backup hard drives in a safe deposit box when I leave town, because the biggest risk is probably someone breaking in and stealing all my hardware! It becomes a nightmare to juggle backups of PDA, desktop and laptop files, photos, videos, etc. But, trusting the cloud is risky, too – especially in today’s business climate. I do keep local backups of very critical data, but most of my data is ultimately expendable.

  4. Nancy Says:

    Hi Charlie. I am currently enjoying my Palm Centro. A lot of people don’t like the tiny Qwerty keys but they are okay for me. I am not yet willing to pay Verizon an extra $30 /month for for internet, etc. I don’t have to have it and it seems like a real rip off.
    A friend of mine is getting ready to switch from Treo to to iPhone. Of course she will have to leave Verizon for ATT. I’ll let you know how that goes. I really love my Palm desktop and am very reluctant to let it go. I love the idea of the cloud but assume there must be potential confidentiality issues. All of these issues should be improved with time. Thanks for all the info. It will help a lot when I make the next upgrade. I will stay tuned.

  5. Charles Goldman Says:

    For another take on Cloud Computing, see this November article in Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/id/166818

  6. The computing “cloud” – an update « Happy-Well Health and Fitness Blog Says:

    […] year ago I posted on my transition from using a Palm handheld to using a Blackberry Curve (here) — this is a follow-up. This will be a very short post, but the main point is that I am happy […]

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