Alan J. Steinberg
Les A. Steinberg
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Bills, Bills, Bills!!! How can I saved money with all these bills? Where can I cut down?? This "cell phone" bill is eating me out of house and home! Sound familiar??

I may have the answer to your problem, or at least to those of you who carry with them a Palm Pilot. As many of you know, from my other articles on the Palm Pilot by 3 Com. Inc., this little PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) is the most popular "computer-type-device" to have been introduced in the last few years, having sold over 1,600,000 units since its introduction in 1996.

The Palm Pilot holds names, addresses, phone numbers, to-do lists, memos and "syncs" with your PC or MAC for reliability, backup, information transfer and utility. It has had a lot of press lately, so if you are not aware of what this PDA will do, contact me for a copy of the article in which I explained the Pilot Story in some detail (or see St. Louis Daily Record _______1998).

Now, for the good news that will save you money, or perhaps convince you that the Palm Pilot will "change the way you do business", for the better.

Recently I purchased from "PageMart", (www.pagemart.com) the national paging company heavily concentrated in leasing and selling, those ubiquitous pagers we see clipped to many waistbands and purse straps. Pagemart teamed with Motorola, the giant electronics company, which manufactures the little paging card that is "swapped" with the "3-Com factory card" that comes with the Pilot.

What does the paging card do?

What does it do? It saves carrying around on one's belt one more device, sparing the "wearer" from the slings and arrows of being asked if you are "wired for sound?" when those who are unitiated spot, the Pilot, and a Cell Phone hanging from the wearer's belt. I envisioned myself feeling like Batman must have felt when he was wearing all that junk around his middle, except that in his case he called it his "utility belt".

I don't have to do that anymore because now I only have to carry the Palm Pilot as it is now a pager, which eliminated me having to carry the cell phone "all the time", as it generally stays in my car.

What is the cost?

For the cost - $169.00 for the paging card and a copy of Palm Pilot's new Version 3.0, intended for the Palm Pilot III (the only difference being that the Palm III has infra red "beaming" capability, which the other Palm Pilots do not have).

Is upgrading the Operating system worth the cost?

There are just a ton of differences between the Version 3.0 and prior Operating systems that will perhaps be fodder for another article, but, at this time, let me say that I see a definite improvement in Version 3.0 from many standpoints.

How does the Card get inside the Pilot? Can anyone do it?

The Paging Card is this small block of circuitry that fits inside the back of the Palm Pilot. You stick a paper clip in the "open here hole" and wiggle it until the plastic back comes off. It won't break. You touch your hands to some kind of ground to rid yourself of "static electricity", and remove the old card which is held in place by two plastic clips. After the old card's release, insert the new paging card and re-fasten the plastic clips. Believe me, when I tell you that I am severely "mechanically challenged" and was able to "pull this off" without a hitch, that it just couldn't be easier.

The Pagemart set up.

After installing the new operating system, which is a common CD-Rom installation to the Pilot Desktop on your PC, you "sync" with the Palm Pilot and it's newly installed system. That is quick and painless. Next, I telephoned PageMart's 800 number and signed up for a $13.95 per month package that enables me to receive both voice and text transmissions directly to my pilot when they are sent to me. Now, my office has the option of typing a text message directly into "Page Mart's web site", and then the text message is electronically sent to my Pilot, or my office members may pick up the telephone and leave a voice mail or numeric message or page. In either case, a phone number is electronically "flashed" to my Palm Pilot, and I can decide whether and when to go to a phone and "call in" to retrieve the message.

How does a text message get created?

The text message is created by any user with Internet connectivity by using your Browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape) and navigating to www.pagemart.com, then clicking on the "Send a Message" button which takes you to a page with spaces for my personal PIN number, ( which is my Pagemart Address), and typing in a text message. When the text message is typed in, it is clicked "O.K. to Send" to cyberspace whereupon it is electronically transferred to my Palm Pilot. I have timed this process, and, typically, within thirty seconds the text message is received by my Palm Pilot and, along with a customized tone (the Pilot user can select from multiple tones) alerting me to the receipt of a message. Conveniently, the sender's telephone number is displayed on the Palm Pilot viewing screen and associated with the sender's other data, that already exists in my Palm Pilot.

Let me explain. Ms. Debbie Vogel has "put up with me" for 19 or so years. (She was 6 when I hired her). When Debbie wants to send me a text message, she goes to www.pagemart.com, clicks on "Send a Message", enters my PIN number and types in the message. When she types in her name to the message, upon receipt, the Palm Pilot will attempt to match her name in the Address Book I carry with me on my Palm Pilot. If there is a match, all of the other data, i.e. phone number, address, etc. is displayed at the time her message is displayed. Upon receipt, I can choose to view the text message now or defer to read it later. Not bad! And, in addition along with the message will appear the sender's name, "Debbie and our office phone number". Not bad!

Numeric paging.

If the caller wishes simply to dial in their phone number (a numeric page), all the caller does is dial a Pagemart specific 800 or local phone number and "at the tone" enter the caller's phone number or, more appropriately, a telephone number where the caller hopes I return their call soon. If my Palm Pilot recognizes the numeric telephone number that was electronically transferred to it, the caller's database information (name, address) is displayed for my review. Again, not bad!

Voice mail paging.

Lastly, a caller may telephone my Palm Pilot, and by "touch toning" the proper key prompts, the caller may choose to leave their voice mail message. Pagemart will send a signal informing me through my Palm Pilot than a voice mail is waiting for me. I can then retrieve the message and choose to return the call and find out who is calling me.

Yes, you can turn off the PageRing tone when you are in court, as well as putting the Palm Pilot paging card to sleep during the evening hours so as not to be disturbed. The Pilot is always on, so batteries which used to last a couple of months don't last quite so long. I don't know how long they last as I have only had my paging card a couple of weeks and the batteries are still going strong, but I am suspecting three to four weeks should do it.

Additionally, the Pagemart company sends news, sports and market updates throughout the day whether you want them or not.

I look forward to saving a substantial amount of money on my cell phone bill as so many of my calls were initiated from my office with instructions on where to go, people see, or to notify me of a change in plans, none of which particularly needed a "conversation".

I know I will be dollars ahead.


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