pilot FAQ

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Andrew and/or Julie

Aug 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/15/96

The Unofficial Unsanctioned Incomplete Really Basic pilot FAQ

This is not a comprehensive guide to the Pilot. It’s a short, anecdotal
introduction. If you like it, let me know. If you have suggestions, send
them in. If you hate it, tell your dog. He may care more than I do.

Intermittently maintained by Andrew Rothman, rot...@millcomm.com, who
is neither an expert nor an employee of US Robotics, but just a guy who
loves his pilot.


What is this pilot thing anyway?
Pilot 1000:
Pilot 5000:
What's so great about the pilot?
What’s so bad about the pilot?
-What does it do?
So I’m having this problem with my Pilot
Need to press button 2 times to turn on pilot.
My screen goes dark!
Where can I find pilot software?
Where can I get more info?
Web Sites:

What is this pilot thing anyway?

The pilot is an electronic Personal Information Manager (PIM), a little
doodad to replace your Franklin Planner. It can do some other neat stuff

It comes in two or three flavors, depending on how you look at it.

Pilot 1000:
Comes with 128K RAM
Pilot 5000:
Comes with 512K RAM
You can buy a 1 MB RAM upgrade for about $179 from US Robotics. This
replaces the existing RAM/ROM card in the unit.
(Sorry to shout. If you ask this question on the newsgroup, we’ll know
you didn’t read the FAQ.) So if you have a load of data, buy the cheaper
1000 first, then upgrade it.

What's so great about the pilot?

Two things. Okay, three. Well, four.

1) It's small. According to US Robotics, Size: 4.7" x 3.2" x 0.7" (L x H
x W) Weight: 5.7 oz. (including 2 AAA batteries)

2) It uses handwriting recognition. Kind of. It actually uses Graffiti,
which is a program which recognizes specific stylized writing. That
means you have to draw each letter a certain way. The bad news is that
if you do it wrong, you see the wrong letter. The good news is that most
of the letters are intuitive. People report needing no more than 20
minutes or half an hour to get into the swing of it.

3) It connects to your PC. The pilot comes with a decent desktop-based
PIM. Connecting pilot to your PC is effortless (unless you have a Mac or
use OS/2. See below). You plug a cradle into your serial port, install
the desktop software, drop the pilot in the cradle, press one button on
the cradle and BOOM, instant replicated data. The software does a
two-way update, so you can do heavy keying on your desktop and get the
info in your pocket in a minute.

4) You can add other programs. Download `em from the internet, run the
installer, and hit that button on the cradle. Boom, they’re loaded. See
below for where to find other programs.

What’s so bad about the pilot?
Two things. Okay, three. Maybe four. Well, five.
1) The construction is pretty crappy. The flimsy plastic case flexes,
the front and back shell are not firmly attached, and many people have
reported cracks in the case near where the stylus is stored. (This does
not affect functionality, but it does make your stylus fall out and get
2) The screen is hard to read… in some light. It’s LCD and not backlit.
There is a contrast knob. You just have to go to the store and try it.
3) You can’t connect directly to the internet with it. Yet. However,
since it does connect to a modem as an alternate way of synching data,
one can assume that we’re just waiting for the right software.
4) It’s not an HP or a Newton. No, really. One of the biggest
criticisms about it is that it’s not a "real" computer. True enough. It
is, however, a programmable organizer on steroids. No flame wars,
please. It’s a different product for a different niche.
5) Can’t run the PIM on a Mac unless you have SoftWindows (US Robotics
promises a native Mac application soon. Soon is a long time for USR), or
on OS/2 unless you are very patient with installing and configuring
WinOS/2 and Win32s.

-What does it do?
Built in applications include:
Address book
To-Do List
4-function calculator

Add-on shareware, freeware and commercial software include (but are not
limited to):
A drawing program
a super-duper stopwatch/alarm/clock package
a world time application
an RPN button-based calculator
and RPN text-based calculator with scripting language
Golf and Softball score- and stat-tracking aids
a pocket synthesizer (yes, play a tune!)
a birthdate tracker that links your phone list to your calendar

So I’m having this problem with my Pilot

Need to press button 2 times to turn on pilot.

New batteries will fix this, although it can happen pretty early in
battery life (say, 50%). USR is apparently aware of this problem, but I
wouldn’t hold my breath for a magic fix.

My screen goes dark!

1) Was in on your dashboard? LCDs turn black when they heat up and
return to normal when they cool down.
2) Did you accidentall turn that contrast knob on the left side?
3) Okay, you broke it. Send it and $100 to US Robotics.

Where can I find pilot software?

There are several sites out on the web, but for the most complete and
up-to-date, there is no place like Scott’s Pilot Page:
http://www.pilot.org/ . This site also has a huge FAQ (much more
technical and complete than this.)
Another good site is Adam’s USR Pilot Software Archive at
http://www.inforamp.net/~adam/pilot/ .
Each of those sites has lists of other sites.

Where can I get more info?
Watch these newsgroups:

Web Sites:
Again, I think Scott’s site wins hands down. http://www.pilot.org
US Robotics has a site at http://www.usr.com/palm

Additions and corrections:
Send `em on.


Andrew and Julie Rothman rot...@millcomm.com
> On the web at http://www.millcomm.com/~rothman <--------------------------------------------------

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