Category Archives: PDA

Palm Desktop to Outlook: Better Contacts Migration

Having switched phones recently from an aging Treo 650 to a BlackBerry 8830, I once again put myself in the mess of transferring my calendar and contacts from one device to the other. In the past I’ve switched between Palm Desktop and Outlook by careful use of the Palm’s HotSync conduits. With the switch to a BlackBerry, those old tricks weren’t available. Luckily I was already syncing my Calendar with Outlook, so that left the migration of Contacts for me to solve.

I tried the old trusty CSV file export/import path, but even after painstakingly assigning field names to columns, the results were still jumbled (home phone number labeled as Work, and so on). The Palm Desktop CSV import/export process still has a few bugs in it, including not being able to reliably label the exported fields.

Enter vCard. Palm Desktop does have vCard support (for single or multiple contacts), and does fill in the fields more accurately. And Outlook accepts them as an import format. The only hitch was that Outlook can only handle vCard files with a single contact. Rather than repeat that process for several hundred contacts, I tried (then bought) vCard ImportExport by This simple Outlook add-in lets Outlook handle vCards with multiple contacts.

With my new vCard software in hand, here’s the process that ultimately worked best for transferring my contacts from Palm Desktop to Outlook:

  1. In Palm Desktop, export each category of contacts to its own vCard (.vcf) file (e.g., Personal category -> personal.vcf)
  2. In Outlook, use vCard ImportExport to import the first category vCard file
  3. Select all contacts just imported and assign to that category (normally they come in with no category assigned)
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 for remaining categories

The only problem I encountered was that the Notes field from the Palm Desktop side ended up in Notes and in Web Page fields in Outlook. Not sure if this is a bug with the importer, or Outlook itself. I wrote a quick Outlook macro to clean those up.

Mobile Website Project: New Domain

My 4-year old project to keep an updated list of useful mobile websites continues to draw a decent amount of traffic (somewhere between 1000 and 2000 page views per day). I’ve also managed to reach the top search result for “mobile websites” on both Google and (Yahoo and Ask are not keeping up…come on guys!)

This week I’m migrating the list from its current home on “” to a new domain “”. Tonight I have the new domain up and running and tomorrow I’ll start redirecting the old traffic.

Hopefully I’ll be able to follow the standard advice for such a move, including using “301” permanent redirects, so that search engines can find the page at its new home. I should be able to tell over the next couple of weeks if the move is a success.

In the meantime, check out the new page on your iPhone, Blackberry, Treo, or smartphone:

Palm Desktop Near the End?

Having worked for Palm for as long as I did (and having managed the desktop software team), I’ve continue to stick with Palm Desktop to keep track of my contacts, calendar and so on. Today it crashed on me, so I clicked Yes to send the error report to Microsoft. I know there’s no one at Palm that will ever pick up these crash reports, but it’s an old habit.

The Microsoft Windows Error Reporting site gave this summary of my problem:

This problem was caused by Palm Desktop. Palm Desktop was created by PalmSource, Inc.. Microsoft has been unable to contact the manufacturer and has no further information available at this time.

Ouch! Even better was their final recommendation:

If you are unable to fix this problem and continue to receive errors, you can also remove Palm Desktop.

If you want to get a glimpse of the current level of support, check out the Palm Desktop download page. I challenge you to make sense of all the notes and caveats on that page. Don’t even think about running it on Vista — it’s not supported.

I guess Palm Desktop is getting near the end of its useful life. Maybe we’ll all just switch to Outlook and get it over with.

Windows Mobile Device Emulator

If you want to run a simulated Windows Mobile device, installing the Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK can be a challenge. For starters, the SDK is about 175MB, then there’s the fact that it only works with Visual Studio 2005.

If you’re developing software, you’ll obviously need to go the SDK route, but if you just want to try some applications, play with the UI, or check how your site looks in a small screen browser, the Windows Mobile Device Emulator is a great alternative. It’s under 60MB and is standalone, not requiring Visual Studio at all.

The Windows Mobile Team Blog has some handy shortcut key references (and, it’s where I learned about the emulator).

Screenshots below show the Pocket PC emulator running with IE viewing my Mobile Websites page on the left and Yahoo! Go running on the right.

Windows Mobile 5.0 Device Emulator, showing Internet Explorer Windows Mobile 5.0 Device Emulator, showing Yahoo! Go

Ask Mobile Search

Ask has just launched a mobile version of their site at I played with it for a bit on my Treo 600 and it seems to work pretty well. They’ve kept things simple, not trying to do too much on any page. Results are all filtered through Skweezer technology, just like Mobile Bloglines recently added.

Maps are servicable and in a pinch would probably help you find something. On my 600 at least, the map size was really small, so it was of limited usefulness. Google Maps is going to be tough to beat now.

See the SearchEngineWatch page for some more detailed tricks and the original announcement from Ask.

Ask Mobile Search Example
Ask Mobile Maps Example
Ask Mobile Weather Example

(Via Lifehacker, via SearchEngineWatch)