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PDA Issues

Last week I had an issue with the Calendar program in my Tungsten E. What follows will probably only be of interest to people who know me well, but even if you don't, it'll give you some insight into me.

Last Saturday night (March 5), I was trying to enter a new item into my Calendar program when I got a "Fatal Alert" and my machine crashed. After I reset it, I discovered that it had lost all the records in the Calendar except for the repeating ones.

Fortunately, I keep all the records backed up on my iBook. Unfortunately, I hadn't hotsynced for two days, so there were items I had to reconstruct, but I managed to do so. I synced the PDA and my computer, and everything seemed to be fine again.

Until I got the error again late on Monday night, March 7. I decided to leave it alone because having the Macintosh overwrite the handheld takes about half an hour. Since I didn't want to be up any later, I decided I would hotsync the PDA on Tuesday morning. I took note of the exact error I had so I could search for it on Google, and I emailed my friend Jeremy Lyon to ask if he might have an idea what was going on. Jeremy used to work for Palm, and he is one of the people behind Futurismic, a rather cool blog.

Tuesday morning, I received an email from Jeremy pinpointing the problem perfectly: I have too many records in my Calendar, and the software can't accept anymore. How many records is too many? About 32,000.

I know what you're thinking -- why in the world would I have 32,000 records in my Calendar?

The answer is a simple one, although slightly convoluted. Since I was 14 years old, I've kept a diary. It's more like a journal, really, in which I wrote whatever I did each day of my life. I kept it on paper, in binders, and as late as December 2002 I had about 40 or so of these little notebooks.

But that particular December I started falling behind on keeping my journal. Up until then, if I fell behind, I would take notes in a small paper notebook, and then later write things up more formally in my journal. Since I now had a PDA, I decided to use it instead to keep notes. And then, I never managed to get back to the journal. Instead, I used the Calendar like a diary. Every month, I would save the previous month as a PDF file in my computer, so that I still have a record of my life, but now it's no longer handwritten.

But I found that the PDA's records were useful in other ways. Keeping my diary stored in there meant that I could search it anytime I wanted over the past two or so years, and remind myself just when I last saw someone, had a medical appointment, received a particular issue of a magazine in the mail, etc.

If you've read this far, you can probably figure out why I had 32,000 records in my Calendar.

Last Tuesday I tried all sorts of other things to keep the PDA from crashing. I downloaded a program called dbScan to cleanse the database. I tried deleting old records piecemeal to see if I could keep the rest. But every time I thought I had a solution, the PDA would crash again.

So, sadly, I took my last step. Making sure I had saved all those monthly PDF files, I instructed my PDA to purge everything in the Calendar before a few weeks ago. Not being a fool, I also told it to save an archive copy on my computer. And then I performed a final hotsync, and saw all those old records, those beautifully searchable records, disappear into the ether.

My Calendar program works again perfectly, and I have learned a lesson. From now on, I'll keep an eye on the number of records stored in it, and when it gets close to 30,000, I'll purge it again.

Which may happen sooner than I thought. Purging all those old records still left me with 18,000 records. I leave it as an exercise to the reader (if you care) to figure out why I still have so many records in my Calendar.


In the small world category, Jeremy's wife, Linda, and I lived across the street from each other for several years when we were kids. I believe they moved out to California when I was around 7 or 8. I met Jeremy because we keep in touch with Linda's family whenever they come back to Illinois.
Wow. Really small world. Jeremy and I were at Clarion together, in 1994.
Probably around 32,768.
It actually was more than 32,000 entries, and may very well have been 32,768.
Maybe you can keep a year's worth in at a time?
At this point, I've already gotten rid of the entries from before late February 2005, so it's moot. But I do plan to keep as much in there as possible, without risking another crash of the program.
Palm does have a function in which one can automatically back up & delete files over 6 months old.

My Palm was acting flaky about a month ago, when I got my laptop & was syncing to both computers, and I had to delete VersaMail and Documents To Go. I didn't mind deleting the former, but I rather liked the latter.

How do you find out how many records you have, anyway?
Go to the Menu from the main screen and select Info. The default is to tell you the size of each application, but on the bottom you'll see three boxes: Version, Size, and Records. Select Records and it will tell you how many records you have.
I know they make software for PocketPC, so I'm guessing they also make it for Palm...seperate, stand-alone Diary that's searchable by date/etc. Saves entries as seperate files or groups of files (depending on the prog: there's more than one) rather than within one big file like Calendar does.

You might want to look in to it. Try searching at handango.com.
Had I but known...
::cough:: Well if I'd any way of knowing from the beginning that it's what you were doing with your Calendar, I certainly would have recommended it sooner! Sorry but my trusty time machine ain't so trusty: more like rusty. ;)

It's something you might still look in to, for that "from X date forward" sort of experience.
Didn't you know I was expecting you to read my mind and suggest solutions before I said anything? :-)

I took a look; none of the programs looked exactly like the kind of thing I would want, though...
No problem, just give me another year or three...I'm still only a "green belt" in Psychic-fu. ;)

Sorry Handango didn't have anything you like, but do check back. I used to get a monthly email from them listing new products and new versions of old ones. Who knows, something might come out that's perfect for you. I'd suggest Pocketgear.com as well, but I just checked and they're pocket-pc only. :(

"My Diary"

I found this program on Palmgear.com (which is a site similar in function to handago) and came across My Diary . I've talked to the author, and although it has the same 32k limit, it allows you to create more than one diary on a pda, so you could have one diary per year, for instance. It also allows diaries to be stored on removable media, which helps prevent your pda's memory from filling up. It apparently is searchable as well (which is one of the features you mentioned, right?)

It costs $14.95 USD but does have a trial mode where features are available for a certain amount of days and then everything is locked out until you pay for a code.

Last point, I haven't actually used this product :)

Re: "My Diary"

This looks close to the sort of thing I'd want, but not exactly. Still, I'll check it out. Thanks!


> Purging all those old records still left me with 18,000 records.
>I leave it as an exercise to the reader (if you care) to figure out why I
>still have so many records in my Calendar.

Jewish holidays?

Ok, I know that there aren't 18,000 Jewish holidays (in a year, anyway). However, I could believe that you are subscribed to enough con calendars, astronomical calendars, and birthdays-of-sci-fi-authors calendars to get near 18,000....

And yes, I certainly remember the (paper) diary. Never been able to have the discipline, myself. No blog either... I'm so 90s....


Re: 18,000

Give the man a cigar!

It's not all Jewish holidays, per se, but I imported all the Hebrew calendar dates as separate records, all the way until 2031. That means that every single day, there's at least one record with the Hebrew date. When you add records for specific holidays, and candle lighting times on Friday nights, etc...we're talking somewhere around 10,000 records.

Re: 18,000

Well, I was close. :-)

Erin go bragh.


Re: 18,000

You weren't just close; you essentially got the right answer. That's why you get the cigar. :-)

(God help us if there were 18,000 Jewish holidays...)

from the past

I am not sure if you remember who I am, and I'm not sure it matters. But I figured, after the shock of memory at seeing your name in Gaiman's blog, I was at least obligated to say hello. Hi there.
- Dan Vogel, CSW '98

Re: from the past

Hey, Dan! Of course I remember you. Now why is it that this post doesn't seem to be appearing in my blog? It looks as if you "replied" but kept the reply hidden or something like that.

Re: from the past

Ah! Now I see my confusion. You replied to an earlier post, and not the latest one, which is why I couldn't find it before...

December 2016

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