Lifedrivedoc.com began as a place to talk about the Lifedrive. It soon became apparent that it was much more than that. Since moving on from my Lifedrive, I am engaged in more avenues of technology. That technology has intersected with my professional life - Medicine as well as my social life.

As noted above, the blog is about a lot of things in relation to technology. If you are looking for Lifedrive related material, I am currently dividing the blog so that those searches will be easy for you to find. Most of them will be pre 2007, that should help. Additionally, if you are looking for the links that used to be on the left border. They will be back up in a different format soon. I do enjoy reading about new things to do with the Lifedrive, so you can feel free to let me know about those. I will also post those on the site.

If you are having trouble getting an RSS Feed, click on the feed link below or type this into your reader: http://feeds.feedburner.com/lifedrivedoccom


Thursday, September 29, 2005

What's This? Mobi Database Files ???

Well, it turns out that there is now an area where you can download a few apps. They appear to be simple apps, but apps they are.

Now Mobi, if you could just answer the phone, or return a call or two. Open up the site to have people send you apps. It is the only way that this program will get the recognition it deserves. And don't leave a page such as this hidden. I found it by accident.





So there is this powerful program that no one seems to take notice of called Mobisystems Database. It parallels Microsoft Access in many ways. It has wonderful dropdown menus, the ability to pull up a form from within a form, intuitive editing features (but a poorly written manual) and many more positives. It is perhaps the best forms presentation program that I have ever seen on a Palm platform. Well, maybe a little short of Pendragons, but that particular software in its full form is usually a house payment.

So, one would think that with all of the power behind this software, its
speed, its wonderful graphical interface and the fact that Mobisystems
looks as though they used it to make MobiDiets (selling for 19.95) and
the incredible sample Database Apps that come with the program (all 5 of them !!!!!) , that Mobisystems Database would be an absolute must-have product, with incredible support and hundreds, if not thousands of apps floating around somewhere for people to download and use.

One would think that Mobisystems would take a cue from HandBase and Smartlist, their competitors-at-large and create either a competition or promote the product by encouraging people to send in apps made for it.

Well, you would be wrong if you thought that !!! I have been scouring the web for 2 months and have not seen one posting of a Mobisystems Database App. I have been trying to write a few myself, but have become limited due to the Lifedrive Fiasco --- ie. Every time I try to link a database to another database file, the Lifedrive Crashes !!! I await the update !!! As I turn blue, holding my breath, I am making a public call out to those of you who have this program or its original predecessor Mobisystems Access. There must be hundreds of you out there who have made apps for this program. If anyone has an idea where to put this up, or who is willing to host a site, or maybe if one of the powers that be at Mobisystems will give up some of that Free Ftp space that is so wonderfully distributed in Mobisystems Office to host this, I think that this would be great.

Additionally, Mobisystems, you are doing yourselves no favors by not picking up the phone. I have called your offices at least ten times in the past month. I am begining to feel like a Firefly fan, dragging this company to do something with a great product, because for the last 4 years they have no idea what a great product they have created.

For those in medicine, I think that if you don't have a Lifedrive that is prone to crashing, but you have a stable Palm Product, you should check out the demo. It is a little different and has a little more of a learning curve than Smartlist, which is my favorite Palm database for the price conscious. But this thing is very powerful. Its search features are wonderful. Its ability to filter out data and present it in a form layout is second to none. Additionally, one can transfer the files to a .csv format for printing.

What they do need is an ability to print out a form in its native mode. Once that is in place, this product would be sensational. If I were to compare it to something, I would say Pendragon forms with an Access twist for a fraction of the cost.

Yahoo Groups does appear to have a board on this product, with about 3 message entries the last time I checked and most of those appear to be asking the same question, Mobi, where are you?


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Just a thought......

This weekend, I again tried to do some database programming. This time using Mobisystems. Of course it crashed, as has become now an obvious problem with the Lifedrive. But before it crashed, I began to notice something very interesting.

When I used the other database program, Smartlist, I noticed that the device would crash when it went to look for a database that was locked on the memory card. It would crash every time, until the database was brought into the main memory of the machine. It would crash only once or very rarely once that was done. I began changing fields in a new database written in Smartlist, this time limiting the number of additional files and storing them in lists instead, in order to minimize file access. This apparently made a differnce in Smartlist, however some linked files are unavoidable and this is when the problem would resurface.

Well, on Mobisystems, the crashes are fewer, since the program is using a sort of Access type relation, thus most of the data is stored within one database. However, wonder out to another database using the Lookup or link command and you find the same problems with crashing.

Well, the interesting thing that I have noticed is that if the file being accessed is on the Lifedrive (outside of the 64 mb section), then the crashes occur more frequently. This weekend I am going to try to place all of the databases into the 32mb portion of Ram not the extended 32mb, which is the disc drive and see if that makes a difference. My theory is that it may have something to do with the FAT-32 system. Since using Resco, I have been able to see where some of the programs are residing.

Are many of the files in the database programs reading the palm structure as a .PDB which is the classic palm file system , all linear and treated as a serial database, thus thwarting their abiility to assume that bits of files may be somewhere else, as in the disc drive? A possible solution could loom here.


When a Major Player gives up, what does this say?

Today, I read with amazement that Sammy McCloughlin has ceased using his Lifedrive. Infact, he gave it away to one of his partners. I wrote a long piece detailing this important news, but the blog timed out before I could save it. However it was a long diatribe about how Palm should do something about this device quickly, such as offering rebates for a new model or correcting the software glitches. I am losing money with this device. It is no longer keeping track of my charges because with each patient that I add, it crashes. This, despite the numerous resets.

Anyway, I have decided to spare the long diatribe and leave open the question, what does it say about a device and a company when one of its major supporters, one day before the announcement of a Microsoft enabled Treo, publicly announces that he is returning to his old Palm device?

I'll save the long speech.



Thursday, September 15, 2005

Rumors Abound about the new Tungsten

Palminfocenter is reporting that Palm may release a new product, tentatively nicknamed the Palm X. It is supposed to replace the Palm T5 and a release date is presumed to be in October.

(Picture Courtesy of Engadget.com and Palminfocenter.com)

The new device supposedly supports the following features:

1. Palm OS Garnet v5.4.9
2. 312 MHZ Xscale Processor.
3. 320 x 480 pixel display.
4. 128 mb non-volatile memory.
5. 802.11b and Bluetooth 1.2
6. SDIO Expansion Slot.

Not readily confirmable is the following:

1. Internal Camera.
2. Internal Voice Recorder.
3. Price of $299.00

My take on this:

I think that the addition of the 802.11b is a good one, along with the NVFS (nonvolatile memory, allowing you to let the battery run down and not lose the information in the machine). However, I would think that Palm would have been able to put a faster processor in this machine and begin to add not only SDIO card slots, but Memory Sticks for pictures. When one considers that the leading selling digital cameras are Sony's, it only stands to reason that this should be included. (While on the subject, whatever happened to the Lifedrive Memory Stick Adapter)?

The price point is quite appealing, because this is the MSRP and not the "street" price. It will make those holding sacred the unrelenting PALM TUNGSTEN 3 (Debatably the best Palm product ever made :) ) look to upgrade, since the T3 goes for about 250.00 on Ebay. Although, not lost in this comparison is the fact that the T3 has a faster processor. That is somewhat surprising. However, as I stated before, the Garnet Operating System is not compatible with multitasking, thus Palm may believe that the processing power is not really needed.

For medicine, I think that if the price is 299.00 retail and by January it can be found for about 240-250, this is a very good Palm. It could become a better seller than the Zire series, which is by far the most popular new Palm for healthcare providers at the moment.

What is not mentioned is the lack of a hard drive. I would suspect that without a hard drive, this is probably faster in "real life" than My Lifedrive. At least at the point of entering data. However, I think that many of you know my opinion of hard drives in the Palm. If you can have a fat-32 system on a solid state device, then I believe that this is the best option for speed, weight and size. The battery life is also better on these products (ie. Ipod nano, Tungsten T3).

I certainly hope that the bugs are worked out in Garnet. The glitches found in the Lifedrive are by now historical and just downright annoying. A stable operating system is needed, particularly when using a handheld device.

Nevertheless, if this product appears as mentioned above, I think it would be a good addition to the Palm line and bodes well for the possibility of a magnificent upgrade to the Lifedrive line (hopefully with solid state materials ---> Just read that Samsung is creating a 16 gig card to rival the disc drives).


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Reset City

So today was a pivotal point in my Lifedrive chronicles.
Last week I sat down ready to explain a few things to a
patient, using the wonderful memory capacity that is my
Lifedrive. We are a computerized outfit, thus interconnectivity
is our only desire. Bluetooth and 802.11b and soon -g permeate
our offices.

We can send charges to our billing clerk, immediately from rounds,
or in my case, at the end of the month. So far, so good. Lifedrive
has lived up to its promise.

The downside comes from the other things that we need it to do.
Inexplicably, the device will go through a series of soft resets.
"Free Handle" errors are the norm. Once I start seeing a few of these,
there is a simple solution. If "File" still works, I look for a stray
file, usually a numbered file ie. "38.txt." I then look at the Checksum
file and note that the Lifedrive, just as with a PC, has made a file, that
is surprisingly useable. I then reenter the program that crashed and see
if it crashes again. If it does, I make a backup of the file that crashed.
I then go to the "38.txt" file - again if "file" is working and I erase the "38.txt" file. I then return to the offending application and usually it starts working without a problem.

I believe the "Free Handle" errors are termed by programmers, "Memory Leaks."
It turns out that Palm, somewhere in their documents, or perhaps it was on
a web site, (lifedriver.blogspot.com) gives a good discussion on this.
However, if the "file" program crashes, it's usually "lights out!" You will
probably have to do a hard reset to get everything back.

I am certain that there is a clever programmer out there who knows how to stop
the memory leaks. This was apparently a problem with the Dell Axim and it was apparently fixed without problems.

My problem last week was that I downloaded some contracts that I had saved, large
documents, over 30megs a piece, some incredible medical videos, playable on the
TCMP program. Soft resets throughout the entire presentation. At 3-5 minutes
per reset, I ended up spending twenty minutes during a busy day trying to
show this important video and print out a contract.

This was not what I envisioned I would be doing with my Lifedrive. I really love
the device, but really a solid state solution may need to be obtained, or the
software developers need to learn how to work with non-volatile memory. It is the
latter that I believe may be the biggest problem of all. Documents to go was a big culprit in this.

Anyhow, I am begining to think that Software sales are going to decline substantially, at least from clients who have upgraded to the Lifedrive. This does nothing for the Palm Lifestyle.

PALM, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU NEED TO COME UP WITH AN UPDATE OR SOMETHING, OR MANY OF US WILL BE MIGRATING TO MICROSOFT. This type of delay in documentation input and the numerous software crashes, requiring -- at least on my part -- a hard reset once every 2 weeks is completely unacceptable.

As our institution is looking into obtaining more devices, the LD sounded the most promising, due to storage, but the woes that I and a few others have encountered, are leaving us second guessing our decision. We have critical data on our Lifedrives that needs to be accessed quickly and distributed quickly - sometimes to patients, sometimes to other physicians. Crashes are not an option. During a busy day, I do not expect to wait for the machine to start up; slow down graffiti input because of a delay; wait for 5 minutes as the machine boots from a soft reset. TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE !!!! Last week, during a telephone call with another physician, I actually had to open up my Rolodex, something I haven't used in 5 years, to look for a name, because the Lifedrive was too slow.

This is a great device, but we need to leave Reset City and get back to Nirvhana.
The Hard reset went well today, but another hour wasted in setting up parameters and waiting had to be done. I also have to find other data files that I saved on a CD.
Let's hope that the acquisition of Palm Source will entertain a new avenue of progress for this company. It would have been easy for me to switch to a Microsoft product, but I have grown up with Palm and I wish to stay with them. Hopefully they will oblige and give us what we need.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Patient Databases

I have seen a few Patient Keeper Databases and I must say that I think that many suffer from a simple case of too much information. They tend to want to do too much and become extremely bloated.

Keep it simple. In my opinion, a patient keeper database for inpatients should consist of a few simple necessities:

1. Patient Name (Last,First).
2. A Unique Key (For repeat patients, it can become confusing if a patient is admitted twice in the same billing period). I like to use a name database now, since this tends to cut down on the amount of redundant information that one has to keep entering.
3. DOB.
4. Medical Record Number. (Preferably not SS number).
5. Emergency Contact or POA etc.
6. Optional Insurance Carrier.
7. Usually in a separate database for linking, the CPT codes).
8. I haven't figured out a way to simplify date entries, since CPT codes should
be billed on a daily basis.
9. A memo section, which pretty much could include a lot.
10. An alert function.

A few databases that I have used for the above are as follows:

1. HandBase. I stopped using this when they began selling separate ODBC products. Something that I think should have been included in the original software. Additionally, the GUI appears too "cartoony" and takes up too much space on the screen. It is also dreadfully slow when more than about 30 patients are in place.

2. Smartlisttogo (SLTG). I am currently using this and still love it. However, I have outgrown it and have found its main weakness is in database links. One can get lost in nested links in SmartList. And I have found out that I am not the only one getting confused. The program sometimes gets confused and links to the wrong database during programming. Additionally, some of the query options are nonstandard and become difficult to follow as you expand your database. But there is a lot to be said for a program that I have used for 4 years now. I have nothing against it, just a need for more. It is quite robust. I have had 200 patients in the database and there was little delay. On a lifedrive it flies.

As for ODBC and ActiveSync. A word to the wise on both HandBase and Smartlist.
IF YOU VALUE YOUR DATA, DON'T USE IT !!!!! Back up your data often on both products and use other alternatives to print it out or to exchange information. If you are a diehard and feel that you can't live without ActiveSync, then please back up your original.

I have chosen to send my data to the MemoPad, transmit it to my laptop via I-R and then print it out. I also use a Bluetooth and/or an 802.11g option with printboy for handbase (in the past) and there is a direct print option, which prints beautifully with the built in print feature on the Smartlist program.

3. Mobisystems Database. Well, I've graduated. I plan to experiment with this database for a while. I have written a PatientKeeper App, but I am still writing it. It is a lot more complicated to write it with Database (MBSDB) but it appears to be worth it. The forms are very compelling. Again, I don't like ActiveSync, and keep in mind that I am using the buggy LifeDrive, so I am already fighting the resets as I write the app. I am using the beta version of the program right now, but it is looking as though I will purchase the full Desktop version next week some time. It is quite powerful and I am enjoying it. I am keeping very much aware that the more relational databases that I link this thing with, I am in danger of encountering more errors. But after all, isn't that what programming is all about? Trial and error.

The one thing that I will miss, switching to Mobisystems is the active changes in fields that can be done with Smartlist. I haven't fully tested it out yet, but I think that modifications to the database causes resets to all of the fields. A major problem if I decide to add a field or two on the fly as I did in the first two years of using SLTG. Again, I am hoping to put up some these files for use by everyone. I love feedback as well, so that would be nice as well.

If I could get some feedback on this activity, it would be nice.



Welcome to LifedriveDoc.

I decided to write this blog because no one seems to be able to voice the opinions of those who are both happy to have a Lifedrive and frustrated with it at the same time.
I love Sammy's PalmAddict Lifedrive, however I must say that there are a few too many cheerleaders out there who are not explaining all of the positives and negatives.

Right now, I am holding my breath waiting for the Lifedrive to reboot from its third reset. The last time that this happened this often, I had to scour the web and do a hard reset, reinstall Documents to go and hope for the best.

The most recent set of crashes have occurred since I installed Mobisystems Paint. However, in its defence, the crashes start after installing any software. I previously blamed Documents to Go due to the fact that their memory leak problems were occurring long before the LifeDrive.

I plan to use this forum to keep track of my woes and successes in the hope that it will help others. And more importantly, give us a clue to recovery and no more crashes.

Comments always welcome.

I will also try to put up some files on this site, if I am allowed to. I am still trying to get a handle on the whole blog thing. Probably a podcast will be next.