Me and My PDA

About a year and a half ago I wrote about my trials and tribulations with PDAs as I jumped into the fray by purchasing and using a Dell Axim v50. I found that I use the PDA primarily with the GPS add-on for navigation and with Microsoft Reader. (See "PDAs: To Buy or Not to Buy" at http://www.windowsitpro.com/Article/ArticleID/45765/45765.html .)

I’m still using the PDA on a daily basis and have managed not to break it, thanks largely to its aluminum RhinoSkin case, which has saved the device from damage even after being dropped (unintentionally) from various heights. Although I purchased the damage replacement warranty from Dell when I bought the device, I’ve not had to use it.

After that column, I got a lot of email from users and vendors who wanted to recommend their favorite PDA application. Although I tried quite a few applications, for me, the PDA is an excellent reference device. I keep spreadsheets, documents, and PDF files on it and on the pair of 1GB Secure Digital (SD) memory cards I keep in the hard case.

When I'm at a client's site, I can access the PDA for notes and PDF versions of manuals for the client’s hardware and applications, and I can answer questions and solve problems without having to dig through stacks of paper copies. For example, I recently needed to manage a client's real estate transaction (a bit out of the ordinary from my usual services), so I kept all the details of the transaction--along with many JPG files of the properties, land maps, and survey documents--on my PDA. Having all the data easily at hand gave me a definite advantage in just about every meeting.

I don’t find the PDA platform to be a very good email device (though it's far better than trying to access email on my cell phone), but I do use the PDA's Wi-Fi capabilities to access Web-based email accounts and to stay in touch with my office and clients when traveling. Wireless hotspots are generally available, so it's not hard to find a place where I can quickly check for high-priority messages or request information.

These days, I generally leave my notebook computer in the hotel room and take the PDA instead. It's become a necessity, like my car keys and cell phone. I keep spare chargers in my cars and my notebook case and use the device, in some fashion, every day.

Tip--Installing disk defragmenter

I've noticed that some PC vendors don't fully install Windows XP on the computers they sell. While walking a client through a list of standard maintenance procedures, which includes running the disk defragmenter regularly, I noticed that the disk defragmentation application that came with the computer hadn't been installed. To install the disk defragmenter, do the following:

1. Open the C:\windows\inf folder (assuming your OS is installed on the C: drive). 2. Find the dfrg.inf file. (There will be two files named dfrg--one with the .inf extension, the other with the .PNF extension.) 3. Right-click dfrg.inf. 4. Click Install.