Ernie the Attorney : searching for truth & justice (in an unjust world)


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Treo 300 Owner Tips

Here are some tips & tricks that I have learned from using my Treo 300 phone.  First, a great resource is the TreoCentral site, which has reviews and also Treo 300 Discussion Group where you can learn about the sorts of general questions that users have.  Of course, Handspring's site, and Sprint's site are worth bookmarking.  Many of the tips apply to the Sprint phone network, which is what I use.  Also, as I point out below, check out Rick Klau's post about his Treo 180 that he uses with the T-Mobile network (I use mine with Sprint).

Keyboard and Navigation Tools

Buttons - There are 4 buttons at the bottom of the Treo that have icons (phone, calender page, globe, and mail).  You can reassign what application is activated when you push one of those buttons (go to main page, choose "Prefs" and use the drop down menu to select "buttons").  These four buttons can trigger other applications if you press the blue "option" button beforehand.  You can also reassign applications that get triggered in this sequence, but you need to download the T-Button program.  It's a palm utility (with a .prc file extension) that you put in your Palm add-on folder and then install through the usual Palm synchronization method (if you're a Palm user and have installed applications this will make sense, if it doesn't just consult your manual).

E-mail Software

For the past few months I had been using the Eudora E-mail client, which I was pleased with, but, recently, I decided to use SnapperMail.  Both Eudora and SnapperMail let you manage multiple POP3 E-mail accounts, but SnapperMail is definitely superior.  It costs $35, but it handles E-mail attachments and --more importantly-- is more configurable than Eudora.  Like how?  Well, in my case I was having trouble using my Treo to send E-mail that was associated with my law firm's E-mail server.  We have major security on that server and it didn't like to let my phone use it to send emails.  And Eudora didn't let me set the outgoing SMTP server for the Sprint account in a way that let me use that SMTP server to send emails and make it look as though they came from my work account.  SnapperMail did let me do that.  Overall it's a lot more useful than Eudora. 

One really big advantage of SnapperMail is that you can also configure it to automatically check for emails at intervals that you define, and you can even specify the time range (i.e. from 6 am to 10:00 pm) when it checks.  And you can specify that mail should be automatically be checked on certain days of the week (i.e. weekdays).  Of course, you can manually check your E-mail whenever you want to, just like with the Eudora E-mail client.

AOL E-mail and Instant Messaging are also apparently available on your Treo, with this $19.95 download from Handango.  I don't use AOL mail so I haven't used the product and can't speak to its effectiveness.

Communication ( i.e. Text messaging etc)

SMS text messages - My provider is Sprint and the PCS Vision network has a feature called SMS, which stands for "short messaging system."  It took me a while to figure it out, but it is very handy for receiving text messages.  You can receive these messages if someone emails you at (where the "xxx"s stand for your Sprint phone number with the area code.  For example, I have given my secretary that E-mail address in case she needs to shoot me a quick text message that will go directly to my phone.  If I'm in a meeting and can't be disruptive by taking a call or leaving the room, I can still receive information in this way.  There are 3 important limitations.  First, the message is limited to 1000 characters.  Two, the subject line will not carry over so the sender shouldn't bother putting anything in there.  And third, the sender will need to put their name at the end of the message because the SMS doesn't deliver the sender's E-mail address so it's possible you might not be able to figure out who sent you the message.  Here is a discusion board thread about SMS at TreoCentral that may be of interest.

Sending SMS messages - The SMS application that came with my Sprint Treo phone only allowed me to receive SMS messages, and did not allow sending SMS messages.  I fixed that by downloading an application from PDA Apps (free to try for 5 days and then $20 to keep).  The program is called Treo300SMS (click on link to go to site and obtain download).  All you have to do is install the program into your phone using the usual Palm installation method.  Then you configure it.  To do this go to the main Palm menu (i.e. the home page, if you will) and look for "Treo300SMS" and open that up by entering your 10 digit Sprint phone number (i.e. area code + number) and your Sprint password (the main password, not your Sprint PCS Vision password).  It will also ask you for a "PDA Apps Proxy" password (just make one up; I don't think it needs to match anything).  Then click "Apply".  Basically you are telling the phone to authenticate you, and at some point it will perform a soft reset.  You'll have to make sure to activate the wireless service after the soft reset.  And then it finds the network and reconfigures your SMS program so that you have a button called "New" which is how you start a new SMS.

Supposedly you can only send SMS messages to other Sprint customers, but I was able to send SMS messages to any E-mail address.  The SMS application is also reconfigured so that you can access any E-mail address in your contact list  quickly.  You have to play with it a bit to see how the configurations work, but it is pretty easy to send short messages to anyone.  I suppose in some locations, and at certain times, the SMS method may take longer to deliver a message, but in my brief tests so far it was very fast.  The limit is that you can't include a subject line, and you are limited to 1000 characters (which the program keeps track of as you enter a message so you'll know if your message is too long). 

If you receive an SMS from someone who is a Sprint customer then you are given the option of immediately replying by SMS.  You are also given the option of calling them simply by clicking on a button.  So the SMS feature really shines when you are using it purely within the Sprint system.  But it seems to work pretty good outside the system too.  Time will tell how reliably and consistently it works outside the Sprint system.

Web Browsing

PDA Friendly sites -  The web-browsing is tricky, but actually yields results.  One thing that helps is to stick to PDA-friendly websites.  For example MSN has a trimmed down version available here.  For a list of more sites I typed "PDA friendly websites" into Google and found this place, which has a good list.  I noticed that the Yellow Pages page on the MSN site works pretty good and once you get the address you are given the choice of getting directions to the location, which is a good way of storing driving directions on your PDA (the browser will keep the page in storage even if you lose your connection to the PCS vision system)

AvantGo - this is a great resource that I have used for my regular Palm device.  Basically you can set up a free personal account (limited to 2 MGs of information) and select certain "channels" of information.  For example, I have chosen to receive and configured it to give me movie times for all of the theatres within 10 miles of where I live.  Whenever I synchronize my Palm device (now my Treo) it downloads a slimmed down version of the key information that I need from AvantGo's site.  I also use this to get TheOnion.  But you can also set up AvantGo to get information through the wireless browser, and one of the coolest channels that you can get with the browser is "Restaurant Row", which is sort of like, except for restaurants.  You can thus enter a City location, or zipcode, and ask for all restaurants (all, or just certain types) within a 1, 3, 5, 10, or 15 mile radius.  It will then return those restaurants, along with the address, phone number, information about type of cuisine and some information about atmosphere.  I can't say how accurate or complete the information is for other cities, but it appears to be pretty good for New Orleans. 

Other AvantGo resources -

FlightLookup - allows you to have up to the minute flight information for your city of destination.  This is useful if you want to make last minute travel changes.  If you've loaded your departure city code and destination code you'll get an immediate list of all the flights departing that date on various airlines.

MapQuest - driving directions optimized for the PDA. Directory Assistance - look up business and individual phone numbers with your PDA.  Also look do reverse phone number lookup.  I keep getting a javascript error, but it seems to work anyway once I clear out the error. - movies and times within a mileage radius that you set.   A great way to get a listing of all the movies that are showing near you.


No signal/can't find network - this happens when you go to a new City by plane.  The phone has to "find" the network in a new place.  To make it do this you hold the top button down for about 3 seconds until it starts the Welcome Screen, or something like that.  If it doesn't find the network right away (it might say the network is busy) then wait 5 minutes and try again.  I had trouble in the Atlanta airport once, but I'm guessing there were a lot of Sprint users trying to get on the network at the same time.

Once when I was in my home area I lost the network and could not get the phone to find it, even in different locations around the City.  I was stumped and called Sprint tech support.  While I was on hold, for laughs, I decided to do a soft reset on the phone (you pop the reset button on the back once with a pointed object).  After the soft reset I told it to look for the network by holding down the button for 3 seconds.   Amazingly, that did the trick and I didn't have to wait for tech support.


I highly recommend the $49 USB charging/sync cradle which is available here.  I keep mine by my computer at work so the phone is always charging during the day and it's easy to synchronize it.  But my wife uses hers at home by the bed so that the phone is charging at night and it sitting up so if someone calls she can see who it is without picking up the phone.  Trust me, you'll want this accessory.

Advice from Other Treo Users

Rick Klau has a Treo, and is serious tech-maven.  I highly recommend that you check out his thoughts on his phone, which are available here.  Rick has the Treo 180 (black & white screen) and uses it with the T-Mobile network.  Also, check out Dan Brickin's write-up of his Treo 180 (Dan is the guy that created Visi-calc, the first spreadsheet program).

Also check out The Connected PDA, especially the post entitled What's On My Treo 300.

© Copyright 2003 Ernest Svenson.
Last update: 7/23/2003; 10:05:12 AM.

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