Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I had a Magellen GPS module plugged into the expansion slot of my Handspring Visor PDA. It plotted every step of my journey between Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan. One night in Michigan, the Magellan unit and my Visor locked up. When I tried to turn it on in the morning, the batteries were dead.

This meant my calendars, phone books, memos, special programs I had loaded, plus the Bible and other books in its memory were all gone. It would be a long time while before I would be back home and could hotsync it to my computer. Of course, the hotsync operation is meant to update the database of information for the PDA's basic functions. It does not restore special downloaded programs, books, and lots of other goodies I have stored in its memory.

Fortunately, my son talked me into getting a MemPlug Memory Module (it holds a CompactFlash card) some time ago. The module with memory card are plugged into the expansion slot of the Visor when the Magellan GPS unit is not there. I back up the Visor to the MemPlug module on a regular basis. In fact, I did that just before I plugged in the GPS unit for the latest leg of my trip.

On the morning of the dead batteries, I unplugged the GPS unit, popped in new batteries and turned my Visor on. It was just like brand new - that is, no calendar items, no phone books, no memos, no class notes, no digital books, no cool added programs, no Depth of Field photography program, no moon phase program, no user name - zilch. It didn't even know who it's owner was!

I plugged in the MemPlug module, clicked RESTORE, and 10 minutes later, several MB of precious data was all back in my Visor. I am nominating my son Jared for sainthood. Or maybe I will just thank him for talking me into getting the MemPlug module in the first place.

If your PDA takes a separate memory module with a backup funtion, I highly recommend that you get one. It might save your precious data and programs when you are miles from your computer. Especially when you consider that even a hotsync with your computer will not restore all the extra goodies you have been adding to your PDA.

I have a 64 MB card in my MemPlug module, so I can keep a lot of information on the card that will not all fit at the same time in the 8 MB of memory of my Visor. If I need something (like a book), I just drag it over from the memory card to the Visor's own memory. When I am done, I drag it back to the memory card in the module.

Incidentally, the Magellan GPS module is a cool little accessory for the Handspring Visor. You can download maps to your Visor and the GPS unit will show you on the map where you are. It will also show the direction you are going, how fast, how far you have gone, your exact position (in latitude and longtitude), where you are in relation to your "waypoints" and much more.

One last thing - remember to back up your PDA on a regular basis.

Handspring is here.

Handspring Visor accessories are here.

Some memory modules are here.

The Magellan GPS for the Visor is here.


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