March 04, 2004  (The following article was featured in the Bancroft Times and is part of a series on IT) - by Kevin Taylor

When I was asked to write a regular column for the Bancroft Times, I decided that a column to keep readers in touch with some of the technology out there would be a good idea.  Each month, we will take a look at a product or service that involves the use of technology.  We will cover a variety of topics, including computers, software, internet and home entertainment.
I will try to speak in a language that will be informative to tech-folk, yet easy enough to understand for the novice.  One of the difficulties for someone that is absorbed in technology on a daily basis, is to discuss things in "English" - but in this case, that means "something I can understand."  I will endeavour to keep my language under control.
Now, on with this month's look at PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant), or Palm Pilots, or hand-held computers.  These are little computers that fit into the palm of your hand.  They are quite powerful and connect nicely with your home or business computer.
By using a special pen, you can print right on the screens and it turns into type.  Your address book, calendar, to-do lists, games and much more are all packed into these little units.  Really, the best part for me is that it interfaces with my computer.  I can write in an appointment when I'm at a meeting, or someone's phone number, and when I get back to the office, I can press a button and that information is now in my MS Outlook software.  It works the other way, too.  If I make changes on my big computer, hit a button and it goes into the handheld.
I have been using one for almost three years, and I'm on my second unit.  I have used it for all the reasons above, as well as tracking billable hours, recording expenses and more, but a couple of weeks ago, I found out how powerful they really are.
I was standing at the back of the church and a local businessman beside me pulled out his handheld.  I asked him if he was doing his bookwork and he said, "No, I'm looking up the passage."  Oops, egg on my face.  He had the entire Bible in two versions at his fingertips.  I was impressed.
The next week at church, I asked him if I could contact him and he could let me know where to get a copy of the Bible, and he said, "Sure, do you have your Palm with you?"  I pulled it out and he said, "Just open up your address book and hold your Palm out."  I did so, and he pointed his at me and "beamed" me.  Within a couple of seconds, I had all of his contact information in my Palm.  How cool is that?
I am very attached to mine and I'm glad to see others are utilizing them as well.  Handhelds come in many styles, colours, and features galore, but at a variety of prices as well.  They range in price from $149 for the powerful little guy I have, to ten times that amount if you want a colour monitor, GPS, cell phone features, digital camera and more.  You would be amazed at how much these little computers can do.
Here are a couple web site addresses that will allow you to look at their features - or go downtown to your local "high tech" dealer.  I did both.  Hope this made you interested in a new high tech toy that makes my life much easier, and is really simple to use.  I need that.

Kevin Taylor is IT (Information Technology Specialist) and Project Manager for Community Futures in Bancroft.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 613-332-5564.