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Things every Psion owner should know

Psion
Revised July 2007

Having established tips pages for the much newer Symbian devices, I thought I ought to put together something similar for Psion owners. After all, there will be people picking up Psions second-hand and unsure how to get the best from their new units...

  1. Psion lives!
    Don't make the mistake of thinking the Psion world is totally dead. You can still get new Psion 5mx and Psion 3mx palmtops from the likes of Clove, even though Psion themselves have stopped production.
    Because the Psion has a totally unique form factor, and despite the fact that it's not quite as cutting edge as many newer handhelds, there will always be a hard core of users, especially in the UK/Europe. So persevere!
  2. Up to date
    Make sure you're using the very latest PsiWin 2.3.3 to connect your Psion to your PC. Psion went through various strategies for restricting which version could be used with which palmtop and with which operating system, but 2.3.3 works with all of them and has had most of its bugs fixed along the way. Thankfully.
    You can still get PsiWin 2.3.3 from the main Psion site at www.psion.com, although it's a big download (28MB). If you haven't got a fast connection, or want lots of extra software anyway, it might be easier to just get the 3-Lib library CD.
  3. Be aware of fragilities
    With limited replacement and repair opportunities, be very aware of the relevant fragilities of your Psion. On the Series 5 and 5mx, open and close the unit gently and note that even then your screen ribbon cable will probably need repair after a couple of years. On the Revo, your biggest problem will be its internal pair of rechargeable NiMh batteries. If battery life starts falling to silly levels or its starts shutting off with the battery gauge still a healthy level, then it's time to take action. For Psion repair facilities, see POS and PsionFlexi.
    Psion
  4. Keep the RAM free
    As with most handhelds which support expansion cards, try to install applications onto card wherever possible, on the Series 5 range. Card capacity continues to increase, but your precious internal RAM is all too easily used up by a few hungry applications (Java, Opera, etc.)
  5. Safe surfing
    If you're intending to go online on your Psion in this modern, virus and worm-infested Internet age, you'll definitely need a copy of the Sink 'firewall'. Go for the OPL version, as it's smaller and faster, working in the background to stop your Psion locking up every time a Windows-targetted worm tries to attack.
  6. Get some back issues
    Although there are now quite a few good detailed Psion tips and guide pages on the Web, it's also a good idea to snap up a pack of back issues from the old Palmtop magazine. Their 'Series 5 special pack' is now very good value and most back issues are still available in paper form.
  7. On/off as God intended
    Don't be too concerned if the automatic switch off/on when closed/opened stops working - it's common for dust to accumulate in the microswitch. Just turn your Psion off and on the old fashioned way!
  8. Add plBeam
    The built-in infrared functionality in the Series 5mx and Revo is reasonable, letting you beam around contacts and appointments to friends with different handhelds, but you'll probably find it useful to install plBeam, which extends infrared compatibility to multiple entries, files and other objects.
  9. Multi-task!
    Make the most of your Psion's multi-tasking. Pressing repeatedly on an application's silk-screen icon will cycle between multiple 'instances' of that application, so for example it's quite practical to keep three databases, two agendas and five spreadsheets all open at the same time.
    In the System screen Preferences, I suggest you set 'Open multiple files' to 'Enter'. And while you're there, check 'Show System folder', which means you can now browse around the main \System folder in future, should you have to install something manually or fix a problem.
  10. Revo PLUS!
    For some inexplicable reason, Psion left out Sketch, OPL, Record, Spell and Comms in the Revo range. OK, so Record is pointless as the Revo doesn't have a microphone and Comms is mainly for geeks like me, but the omission of the other three is frustrating.
    Luckily, Sketch, Spell and Program can be retrofitted to your Revo or Revo Plus. Just follow my links (or, again, find them on the CD)!
  11. Tidy that Agenda
    Keep a close eye on the size of your Psion Agenda file. Strange things start happening once this gets into the hundreds of kilobytes, so make sure you 'Tidy' your Agenda each year, archiving the previous period off into a different file.
    Psion
  12. Keeping info safe
    How do you keep confidential information on your Psion (personal information, financial details, passwords, etc.) safe from prying eyes?
    You can set a power on password, but you'll probably disable this after a few days once the novelty of entering the password every time you power on to look something up has worn off. Why not use Word instead? By setting up your subheading paragraphs in a suitable style (e.g. 'Heading'), you can even use the built-in Outline view to quickly navigate between different sections of your secure file. Obviously, you'll need to use 'File | Password' to make the file secure from prying eyes.
  13. Sheet to the rescue
    If you can't face programming your own mini-apps in OPL, why not use Sheet instead? There are lots of examples of powerful spreadsheets-that-want-to-be-applications on PocketInfo.
  14. Sync problems
    At some point you may think of trying to synchronise your Psion with Outlook or Lotus Notes or similar. Don't bother. For a start, your Psion's always with you. Secondly, behemoths like Outlook are the spawn of the devil. Thirdly, PsiWin's sync routines have always had issues when syncing with Outlook. Sync at your own risk.
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