At about 1am the other morning I had one of those epiphany things - I finally got my Palm TX hooked up to my 3G mobile phone.
Finally I have my PDA back. No more making do with smartphones, with their smaller screens and imperfect PIM software - now I can go back to using (IMHO) the best mobile organiser platform on the market.
I've been using my Palm with 2G mobile data for years, of course, first dial-up and then more recently GPRS. It occasionally required a bit of hacking around with command codes - to get GPRS going on Virgin Mobile, for instance - but it worked.
Then last year I switched to 3-UK. The offer was good - up to 384kbit/s data on one of those semi-capped (ie. it's unlimited but they ask you to limit yourself) tariffs for just £5 extra a month. The one snag - you can only use the data on the phone.
I figured it wouldn't be a problem - after all, 3 had opened its network to unlocked phones, so I could use my Nokia N70 for email, web browsing and so on. I did try with the TX but it wouldn't connect so I assumed 3 had blocked that capability.
The N70 is slow for anything beyond phone calls though, and its screen, while nice and bright, is too small for the built-in email reader. If Nokia had made the font size adjustable I could have fixed that, but no such luck. So I bought myself a Nokia E61 on eBay. It's faster, the screen is a sensible size for both email and web, and I gradually came to like the Qwerty keyboard. Oh, and it has Wi-Fi, so there's no need to pay through the nose for GPRS while abroad if there's a usable WLAN about.
Over the months I found more and more little frustrations, though - finding stuff in the diary, searching for wireless LANs, navigating the browser... Series 60 is better than WinMob of course, but it still isn't as ergonomic as PalmOS. I thought about getting a Treo, but the only one that supports 3G is the 700w, which means WinMob, so no thank you...
But then a chance exchange on the Cix conferencing system (the kind of thing that means Cix is still miles more useful than any under-populated web forum) lead me to discover that 3 mobile data does indeed work with other devices, and in just a few minutes I had my laptop connected via Bluetooth. The Palm still didn't want to play, but now I realised it was just a settings problem.
I must have wasted hours looking up and testing different settings. Palm was no help at all - its current management has all-but abandoned PDAs in favour of the Treo range, and even there they are months (if not years) behind the rest in technology terms. Its PhoneLink program hasn't been updated for years, and is missing the settings for loads of mobile networks. I found lots of clues elsewhere though, and also got help from some techies at 3 (thanks guys!), but nothing worked.
So it was that I'd almost given up hope when another chance exchange jogged my memory. Specifically, I remembered a few years ago trying out some software which added GPRS support to older Palms that didn't have it built in. Is it still around, I wondered...?
Luckily, I remembered its name too - it's called MoHiSp (for Mobile High Speed), it comes from a German company called Novamedia, and yes, it now supports both 3G in general and 3-UK specifically. I don't think I've ever spent 15 quid on software quite so rapidly...
There's a lot to re-learn, of course, and the TX isn't perfect - the E61's handling of Bluetooth is better, for example - but hey, I've got my PDA back. I'm a happy bunny...