Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sunk Cost

A workmate had been given a Palm Tungsten E2 care of some corporate give-away. As he didn't want it, he emailed everyone to sell it at a discount - $200 AUD or so. I was curious - I'd never owned a PDA before, and I wondered what the fuss was about - so I emailed it back. I had some vague idea that I could note down ideas for my moribund blog on the train or bus home. As I was the only one to express an interest in it, he popped around, dropped it off, and then went on holiday. I didn't pay, but I agreed to, and will - despite what I am about to write.

Let this be a lesson to me: impulsivity is a disorder - especially impulsive buying. I am not impressed with the Palm. It has Bluetooth, but I don't use Bluetooth. It has no phone capability as far as Australian networks are concerned. The sole game - Solitaire - isn't even as good at the Windows version; I can't take card off the destination pile. There's no way of teaching the machine to recognise my handwriting, so the Graffiti handwriting software is no good for me. There's a PVC cover for the screen, but it has the aroma of car seats in an open carpark during a tropical summer's midday; some of the additives are unhealthily volatile.

The thing that shits me is that it doesn't handle Unicode very well, and that's the real deal-breaker for me. Most OS do these days - Linux does, Windows does, and so MacOS does. It's a sign that the designers didn't think about their client base very well - many of whom are multilingual. It's not a matter of internationalising the thing so it can handle English or Russian or Vietnamese - its a matter of making the product being able to handle all three (and others) at the same time. To do it properly, you need Unicode; otherwise you're buggering around with incompatible character sets that break when you send a message to someone else.

Well, I've got the thing, I opened the box, I played around with it, and I have to pay. It would be churlish to return otherwise. The only bright thing is that I could use the machine to learn about embedded programming, but I don't think I'll use the machine for much else.