April 25, 2006
 

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Posted: 07.04

On the Road Again

When you're traveling, the convenience of a larger font size--or the comfort of a ball score--can feel as welcome as two more inches of leg room.
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By Tim Bajarin




Like every serious road warrior, I am always on the lookout for software or applications that can make my life easier while on the road. Recently, I came across two such products that have become essential tools for me, whether I’m on the road or just out of the office.

The first product is the Handmark Express from Handmark. This is a wireless-based subscription service that allows users to have key information sent to their wireless Palm, Pocket PC or Windows Mobile Smartphone so they can keep up to date on things like news, weather, stocks and sports—you can even use it to get maps to places you want to visit during the day or restaurants to which you can treat your clients. Users can subscribe on a monthly basis for $6.99 or pay a yearly fee of $69.95.

I am especially fond of four of the offered services. The first is news. I can get top stories about international or U.S. news, as well as current updates in business and technology. Given my computer-industry focus, I find myself checking the technology section many times during the day.

The second area I like is stocks. I am highly interested in the state of the Dow and the Nasdaq, as well as the fortunes of the major tech players, and I check this section often. Also important to me is the weather section. I have the San Jose/San Francisco weather set as my preference, but the day before I go on a trip, I punch up my destination city and track its weather as well. This is a very helpful feature. And lastly, I like to keep current on the sports section. Because I travel so much, I am often away from my local sports teams. I am a big SF Giants and SF 49ers fan. When I know a Giants game is on, I update the baseball site and check the line scores. I always know what is happening in a game, even though I may be 3,000 miles from where it’s being played.

Handmark Express allows me to customize the information I want at any time, and when I go to the Express site on my Treo 600, I just hit ‘update’ and it gets me the latest breaking news and scores (although the stock data is always 15 minutes behind the real time stock ticker). This is a great service and worth checking out if you like to keep up with the news, stocks, tech issues and weather, or even need directions on where you may be going when you leave the office.

The other tool I really like is called Webeyes (www.webeyes.us). As I get older, I find that reading a Web site without my reading glasses is becoming harder and harder. Almost all Web sites come up in 12-point type in order to fill as much of the screen as possible with information so that a user does not need to do a lot of scrolling. With Webeyes, users can scale a screen’s fonts up to 144-point type or even read the page in a three-column book format. It also automatically re-formats or wraps the data to fit the screen, so no data is ever lost from the original.

I find that I now adjust the font to 16-point type, and although I need to do a bit more scrolling to read the entire page, I no longer need my reading glasses while Web surfing. It is specifically designed for use with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and you can try it free for 15 days or buy it for $19.95. It installs as a Web bar under the IE control bar and uses a simple plus or minus icon to scale the fonts up or down.

If you have a 15-inch laptop screen, you may not need Webeyes, although I find it very useful even on larger screens. I really like using it on ultralights such as my Dell C400 with its 12-inch screen, and it is must for me when I use my Sony TR1A VAIO, which has a 10.4-inch screen.

I would recommend both of these products to a fellow traveler, as they have made my mobile lifestyle much more productive—and enjoyable

Tim Bajarin is president of San Jose, Calif.-based Creative Strategies (www.creativestrategies.com).
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