Ah, the beauty of the PDA

Jan. 1, 2001
Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) may not sound as good to you as the old PDA expression (Public Display of Affection); but once you know how PDAs can make your life easier by organizing your everyday affairs, you may want to pick up one for yourself.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS

Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) may not sound as good to you as the old PDA expression (Public Display of Affection); but once you know how PDAs can make your life easier by organizing your everyday affairs, you may want to pick up one for yourself.

While they vary in appearance, functionality, and programs, all major brands of PDAs store data that you normally would write in an address book, on a calendar, or on notepads. Having a PDA is like having a small computer that fits in the palm of your hand. This device can interface with your personal computer and let you transfer files back and forth.

The newer generation of PDAs offers wireless Internet access. Some are now beginning to utilize a technology called Bluetooth, which uses a specialized radio channel to connect to other Bluetooth-enabled devices such as cell phones, other PDAs, ATM machines, printers, computers, and even your car. One dental practice-management system even allows you to connect your PDA with your management program. There is another program, Epocrates, that will allow your PDA to serve as a source for drug information. Just using it to keep track of addresses, phone numbers, and "to-do" lists will help you keep your life in order.

Many vendors are manufacturing these devices. The purpose of this column is not to review the different models; you can evaluate memory needs, features, and prices on your own. You will find that there are many Internet sites that will allow you to download programs to use on your PDA (see list below). Some programs are freeware and others are low-priced shareware.

You can also run Internet searches to find software to work on other operating systems, such as Windows CE. There are many sites out there with software available for these machines.

With the increased mobilization of our society, the need for portable communications devices and personal organizers has emerged. Over the last few years, laptop computers and computerized, hand-held organizers have been able to fill this need. However, the recent introduction of PDAs and their improvements and sophistication, have created a new demand for portable devices with more features than the traditional pocket organizers. And, these devices are expected to have more capabilities in the future. Pull out that stylus and start learning that graffiti!

Below are some Web sites where you can load your PDA with a variety of software for Palm operating system devices:

  • www.palmpilotware.com
  • www.palmgear.com
  • palm.anydownloads.com
  • www.epocrates.com
  • www.palmpilotsoftware.net
  • www.palm.com
  • www.zdnet.com/downloads/pilotsoftware

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesperson and critical-issue-response-team chairperson for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdasmiles.com. Contact him by e-mail at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or fax at (314) 567-9047.

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