by Sean N. Henderson
Happy New Year!
Happy new year to everyone! As I write this, I do not know
what tech goodie Santa will have brought for me, but as of this
writing, my gear list has been mostly stable. I’m still
using separate devices for PIM, cell phone access and listening
to music. My laptop has itself upgraded but otherwise unchanged,
and at work my boss sprang for a nifty wide-screen monitor. Except
for some software titles here and there and some service changes
(upgraded to cable Internet from DSL both at work and at home),
all remains the same. So let’s look at a recent software
upgrade for a popular handheld.
Opera Mini for Palm TX
At one of the recent monthly DACS General
Meetings, a friend mentioned that he uses Opera exclusively,
and finds that it had better stability than even Firefox. Myself,
I do not experience browser crashes on my desktops or laptops.
My handheld browser has issues, however, which I’ll get to in a moment. What
I remembered was that I read somewhere that Opera could be loaded
onto portable devices such as cell phones and PDAs. I’m
a big PDA user and like my Palm TX very much. Maybe there was
a version of Opera for my unit?
Let me first explain why I would care.
The Palm TX comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and its two built-in
Internet applications are VersaMail mail client and the Blazer
Internet browser. At this stage, both of these built-in apps
are quite underwhelming. If my attitude towards the TX was
based purely on these applications I would think the TX was
an inferior unit. As I mentioned before in this column, I do
use my PDA to check email on the road, but I use a terminal
program ‘pssh’ to get SSH access
into my server, where I use a very good server-side program called ‘pine’ to
handle my regular email. VersaMail doesn’t really handle
email in a way that suits me, and the Blazer browser handles
loading Opera Mini would give the TX a much needed update and
bring it forward technologically.
A Web search and a couple of Wiki articles later, I knew that
the app to replace the Blazer was Opera Mini. Yes, there is a
version of Opera Mini for the Palm OS and for the TX in particular.
For the Palm OS units, there has to be a Java Virtual Machine
(JVM) layer between the OS and Opera Mini, and the preferred
package is a version of IBM WebSphere Everyplace Micro Environment
(WEME). Version 5.7.1 seems to work the best on my particular
Sean N. Henderson is a DACS director, officer and regular contributor
to DACS.doc. More information at http://seannhenderson.net/dacs.html.
The gotcha here is that PalmOS no longer makes WEME or any compatible
JVM available for the TX since January 2008. IBM no longer seems
to make the 5.7.1 version available, so a new Palm TX Opera Mini
user will have to find a mirror site for the download. See the
links at the bottom for one such link. As they say, your mileage
One poster on a related forum wrote: “Palm doesn’t
like its users very much.” I’m beginning to agree
with that. PC Mag seems to have the same beef with Palm and the
PalmOS as well. It’s a shame since I consider the PalmOS
a superior and stable OS for handhelds. (“Handheld operating
systems for $100, Alex…”)
Just Like That
Recently, I had to get a gift for a distinguished presenter.
This person is obviously awash in promotional mugs, trophies,
and other such items. Our budget didn’t provide us enough
for a monetary honorarium, so we were still looking at a gift – possibly
a plaque or similar. We knew that the presenter enjoyed motorcycles,
gadgets and oddly enough, pepper grinders. The search was on
and maybe we could find a USB key with his motorcycle logo on
I visited the local cycle dealer. After looking online at the
site, I knew that the local shop would carry more items than
could be found on the Web. I was not let down. The shop had a
myriad of T-shirts, jackets, riding gear, and so on. After chatting
with a floor person for a bit and determining that there wasn’t
really any techie sort of items, they directed me to the parts
We looked up the presenter’s website, and there in the
photo gallery was a number of cycles he owned. The parts person
immediately saw what type of bikes he had, and said that one
of them was missing a dash plate and we could probably get him
that. Maybe engraved even, and suggested a local business at
the mall. Great! If the store hadn’t had the Internet
available to the employees, this sale wouldn’t have happened.
A well known business for onsite engraving is a shop at the local
mall. A trip there and I met with the manager and she said that
sure they could engrave this dash plate with a logo. I asked
if they had the Internet available in the store and if they could
pull down the logo files I had posted on my site for download.
No, they could not. But, the manager indicated that I could email
headquarters with the files using their website form, and they
would prep the files for their engraving unit and forward them
to the local store for use. I did that, got a call three business
days later that all was well and that the dash plate would be
ready in time. Nice!
What I find interesting in this story is the attitudes of the
two stores. Both stores had informed staff, but the engraving
business’ lack of Internet access at the store for their
employees put an extra step in the process and pushed back on
the customer. The cycle shop was forward thinking and was able
to put together a solution on the spot.