mrbiotech HipsterPDA

mrbiotech's HipsterPDA

Some of you may heard recently about my over-scheduling of tasks and how the Palm Pilot T|X is NOT working out. Here is my low-tech, DIY solution using something that actually works: The HipsterPDA.

Included are instructions on how to hand-make your very own leather HipsterPDA case and some shots for size-comparisons, etc…

mrbiotech HipsterPDA

The Method

I’ve been using a Palm Pilot T|X for over a year now as my principle means of organization. It’s been syncing up just fine with AddressBook and iCal on the 15” PowerBook, and the default software works just fine for organizing. It’s got a very fatal flaw, however: data-entry.

This Palm unit, just like the m515 that preceded it, have been plagued by appalling screen sensitivity issues. Specifically, touching the screen to enter data or select on-screen items doesn’t register the touch where it should on the screen. I try to click a button on screen but the one a centimeter below it activates instead. Even after multiple screen calibrations, device resets, etc… the problem has persisted. The upper-left corner of the touch-screen is completely dead to touch. Palm customer service doesn’t actually serve anyone, and they appear to be more interested in denying any problem or culpability than serving customers. Needless to say, I’m grateful I purchased an extended warranty from the point of purchase – the Palm with be returned this week after 14 months of data-entry frustration.

I’ve turned to a method I’ve used before: The HipsterPDA – in its purest form, just a stack of organized 3×5” cards. I have become accustomed to using an iPod Nano (2nd Generation) to hold calendars, reminder alarms, static lists, and contact information, but the iPod has no means of entering new data. The HipsterPDA has assumed this role, forming a single point of entry for new appointments, notes, To-Do items, contacts, and the like. This consolidates information entry to a single point, rather than a brigade of sticky notes. This information gets entered into the computer (iCal and AddressBook) at least once a day, or whenever is convenient.

Something else I’ve opted to do is adhere to some of the suggestions on Pmarca’s Guide to Personal Productivity . Each night before going to bed I simply write down 3-5 items I want to accomplish the following day, and then the next day, do them. It’s a simple method, but it’s made a major difference in how I work. Pmarca’s guide has a great deal of useful information, and I HIGHLY recommend the read (especially the part about creating ANTI TO-DO LIST).

The Case Tutorial

There are some great web-sites out there with pre-made templates for HipsterPDA’s. My favorites include the D*I*Y Planner and John Norris’ NorrisHipster . There’s not much I can add to these excellent templates, so I focused on creating a suitable case, something that will keep my cards in readable condition.

I created this case with the following features in mind:

  • Hard-back, to enable writing on cards while held in hand. Even a 1/4” stack of 3×5’s is flexible enough to make writing difficult without a hard-surface underneath.
  • Cover to protect cards from smudging, key-scratches, and pocket-lint.
  • Some means of closure, keeping a cover securing over the cards.
  • Something not much bigger than the cards to keep size and weight down.
  • Something durable, that will put up with regular placement in and extraction from pockets.

Here are the instructions on constructing your own hand-made leather case. All the materials used cost around $20, including some of the leather-tools (which were all purchased at a local Michael’s crafts store).

mrbiotech HipsterPDA


So here’s what the finished product looks like in comparison to a 15” PowerBook laptop, an iPod Nano

mrbiotech Hipster PDAmrbiotech Hipster PDAmrbiotech HipsterPDAmrbiotech HipsterPDAmrbiotech HipsterPDAmrbiotech HipsterPDAmrbiotech HipsterPDA

Coming Up… mrbiotech’s MiniHipsterPDA

I’ve found that even 3×5” cards are sized a little big for most of my pockets (on size 30×34” pants, even). I’m currently in the process of making both templates and a similar wallet for 3×2.5” cards, 3×5’s cut in half. They are approximately the size of a standard men’s wallet, and easily fit in a pocket. The templates are 70-80% complete (created using Photoshop, although they’ll be converted to PNG, DOC, and PDF), and the prototype MiniHipsterPDA is almost completed. I’ll post those as soon as they’re available.

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