[FoRK] Form factor implies application; a new class of semi-mobile devices emerges?

Tom Higgins <tomhiggins at gmail.com> on Sun Jul 15 16:34:48 PDT 2007

I'm a long time laptop/pda user...everything from the 286 dual floppy
lugables to the lifedrive..

Here are my thoughts....

Book Reading-

The plam TX and Lifedrives where the first devices of their class I could
comfortable read a novel on. I tribed it on the m500 and sure i did a few
times but not as well. White background and black text seem to be my
preferred defaults for book reading. The screen size though breaks the book
paradigm unless you are used to reading much smaller form factor books
(little blue books anyone)...this calls fo increased "page turning" and for
some thats a deal breaker...not for me though. Yes I tried out the auto
scroll reader options, nope...distractions and the event interruptions kill
that. Eink I have not played with enough to know if it is a one off solution
that will not work well with a device that is doing more than reading
documents. How will it work for playing Go on or real time games like
WarfareInc? I think not so well.

General Uses -

So whats the general use scene out there now as far as i can see....

We now can carry on us devices that act as communications(cell or wifi or
bluetooth) gateways, storage haulers, application runners  and displays.
Mostly though these devices are little islands rather than being the smart
little self clustering devices we want them to be. My palm should be able to
sense an open screen over there and ask if I want to have it display up
there or if it wants to mount up the new storage devices it just noticed or
if that printer 20 feet away is the one it should use to print out the
google maps directions i am displaying.

Networking is really what we are talking about when we talk about
mobile....mobile is networking on a scale the size of a pocket or purse(for
now). Bluetooth had the sort of right idea but as with most marketed
solutions missed being the right fit for the right time due to being forced
to be the be all end all panacea de jour

What we need now are devices small enough to be fashionably accesorized with
whatever lifestyle platform we have bought into  yet interoperable enough to
truly play with each other..so in a way the new offering from Palm is on the
right track but i think it does not go far enough in defining what folks are
(imnsfho) really craving

BUT, yes thats a big but thanks for noticing...BUT

The vendors making these devices do not play nice with each other. One
thinks it is the invntor of all that is cool, the other is assured its the
real mature company users want to sell thier souls too, still others are
crouching in the rebel bases ready to pounce on the evil agressors of
conformity...some times things work out such that they use common standards,
so must bluetooth devices can see each other and to some extent use some of
the services on each others devices. Wifi has cleft a lot of twain by going
around problem children and getting out to other networked devices. Even
things like zeroconf hold the promise of discovery and detection of

I do think Hawkins focus on the display issue is a good place to start.
Using X a lot has spoiled me, I am used to being able to run any app on any
display...so long as it can deal with the layers
That I can use vnc on my palm to see screens on any of the linux boxen
around the house is nice but I would rather be able to use something more
like X to remote on the app level  and also go the other way and get into my
palm apps from my other boxen.

The devices need to be able to be able to see services around them and be
able to call on them and display them.

Now as to the Foleo itself....the Foleo wont work for me as it is. I have a
great laptop that can utilize a lot of what is on my palm already. Since my
mail is mostly on the net any device that can get on the net is a mail
client so I do not really need to have my palm be the mail center. That my
palm can, at worst, become a dumb usb thumb drive makes it such my laptop
can see all the info on it; at best the samba abled apps on both the palm
and laptop work to the same end without dumbing down the palm.  The apps I
run on the palm have equivlents on the laptop/desktops (go client, book
readers, web browsers, network scanners, etc etc) so the Foleo does not add
much of anything to the mix I do not already have.

My advice to Hawkins...make the plam able to send its display to other
screens ala X fwding and let the users use the screens they already have.
Beef up the ability of the palm to do a few choice appp (voip for one) and
build into zeroconf. Oh yea, and please make a lifedrive with a mic in jack
and give me the upgraded model for free:)- Thats just me though.


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