A Solution!

Longterm sharers of my PDA pains will recall that I:

  • Have a Treo 680 that still syncs with Palm Desktop and runs Palm OS.
  • Have tried Windows Mobile, but hate it.
  • Grudgingly accept that I will have to migrate away from Palm OS as the need for a better PDA arises.
  • Really enjoy Palm Desktop as my PIM
  • Really don’t like using Outlook as my PIM
  • Tolerate Google Calendar as a viable mobile solution for my calendar-based PIM needs
  • Grudgingly accept that Outlook will have to be an increasing part of my life

So the problem has always been:

  • While I still use a Palm OS device, how do I begin the slow migration to Outlook and Google Calendar without a real loss of data?
  • How do I slowly get myself used to the hell that is Outlook?

Most people’s solution has been to simply start using the new software without caring about the old items in their calendar or contact list. I’m anal when it comes to data, and want everything preserved all the time.

Also, most people used a basic third party application, like Pocket Mirror, to sync their Palm device with Outlook. Or, using the new Palm sync utilities, sync their Palm directly with Outlook. The problem for me is that:

  • These solutions don’t solve my need to archive old data, as Outlook doesn’t look back as long as Palm Desktop; and
  • The migration is not perfect. Outlook sometimes loses some data, such as notes, web addresses or photos.

Finally, I think I’ve found an interim solution in the form of two pieces of software: Doublelook for Palm Desktop and Google’s free Calendar Sync utility.

While I continue to use Palm Desktop as my primary PIM, Doublelook runs in the background, automatically updating Outlook to match all the content of Palm Desktop. Meanwhile, Google Sync does a scheduled run every few hours to update my Google calendar with all the data from Outlook. The outcome: Google Calendar is regularly updated with my Palm Desktop data, and all I have to do is continue to use my Treo and Palm Desktop the way I always have.

Now, when I do decide to migrate to a Windows Mobile device (sigh), everything is sitting there waiting for me to sync, (presumably) hassle free.

There’s another solution I’ve been using on the side, one that is less big name but far more elegant: Airset.com.

Airset is a virtual desktop computer that reproduces your true desktop as a website. The best part is that it has an automatic sync utility for most PDAs –including ones that run Palm OS!! And it’s so robust and user friendly that it actually emails me daily all my calendar items for that day, in digest form. Surprisingly, I find it to be a very useful and convenient utility. And it’s free!

Okay, that’s enough geekotry for today.