rev-bob at rev-bob at
Tue Nov 23 03:47:29 GMT 1999

> ** Original Sender: David Megginson <david at>
> Of course, I've been wrong often before, and I'm not an expert in
> small or embedded devices, so I'll look forward to seeing what
> happens.  I do think that small devices will be at the centre of
> computing in the next decade (and a mostly MS-free centre, to boot).
> I'm also looking forward to the big 3COM antitrust trial in 2009.

Okay, this may qualify as high heresy these days, but someone has to say it...and it looks 
like the duty falls to me.  The fact is, I *despise* palmtops when it comes to documents 
bigger than, say, your average shopping list.  It's not an implementation issue (ie. "the 
technology isn't mature enough"); it's a usability issue.  For documents of a reasonable 
size (greater than 1K or so), a palmtop is just too small to make adequate use of them; 
you just can't see enough of the document at once to easily follow it.  Lists and such 
work fine, but even for such "trivial" tasks as email, I wouldn't dream of trying to cram 
an application or even an interface for one into a small device.  Certain implementation 
issues also come into play - for instance, it's a trivial task to write a document  on a 
keyboard, but rather arduous when you're scribbling on a PDA - but by and large, it's a 
mindspace issue.

How does this relate to the current topic?  Well, except for a couple of applications 
(stock quotes come to mind), I consider the much-hyped Wireless Web to be slightly less 
torturous than an iron maiden (and I *don't* mean the rock group).  The one thing I can 
think of which would show real promise in changing this is exactly the one thing nobody 
really seems to be looking at - text-to-speech conversion for small devices.  That is, 
instead of working on making the tiny screens a little bit bigger or a little bit clearer, 
maybe someone could work on routing the information through a speaker and only 
having the screen as a reference point for data which is hard to understand through 
audio.  I hear a lot - especially here - about the "how" of fitting XML onto cellphones 
and palmtops; what I haven't heard anything about yet is the "why" of it.

 Rev. Robert L. Hood  |
  Get Off The Cross!  |

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