The Wired Ophthalmologist

Computers, Cellphones, and PDAs for Ophthalmologists

Mounir Bashour, MD, CM, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Last Edited

Tuesday October 30, 2007 16:16:58 -0800





  1. Introduction
    1. What does “Wired” mean
    2. Why is it important
  2. The Tools
    1. PDAs
      1. Keyboards
      2. Palm OS/Treos
      3. Windows Mobile PDAs, the iPhone and Smartphones
    2. Mobile Phones
      1. Choosing a Cellular Provider and Cell Phone
    3. Pagers
        1.   Blackberry
    4. Communication & Email Services
    5. Desktop Computers
    6. Portable Computers
  3. The Connections
    1. Modems
    2. USB Ports
    3. Fire Wire Ports
    4. Ethernet/LAN
    5. Bluetooth
    6. IrDA
    7. Wireless Home and Office Connections / Wireless LAN
  4. The Programs
    1. PIMs (Personal Information Managers)
      1. Outlook
      2. Outlook Express
      3. Eudora Planner
    2. Synchronization Programs
      1. Intellisync
      2. Pocket Mirror
      3. Companion Link Software
      4. Beyond Contacts software
      5. Enterprise Harmony
      6. PDA Link
    3.  Web Synchronization Services
      1. Excite Planner
      2. Visto
      3. Yahoo! Calendar
      4. FusionOne and Room33
      5. Any Day
      6. Jintek--Schedule Online
      7. Swifttouch
      8. Readysyncgo!
    4. Connecting to a Remote Computer
      1. LapLink vs. PcAnywhere
    5. USB Sticks & Drives - U3 and Mojo
    6. MP3 and Media Players

    7. Home Entertainment Centers - LCD TV Screens, Monitors and Projection TVs

  5. An Ideal Setup
  6. Important Links


I.      Introduction


Imagine this: You're desperately making a pitch to clients in London regarding a state of the art refractive center, but they remain stubbornly unconvinced of your company's tremendous potential. During lunch, you dash outside the pub and instruct your handheld computer to "Get Susan fast."
On command, your gizmo "sniffs" its electromagnetic surroundings, senses the local GSM wireless network, and calls Susan, your colleague, in Washington, D.C.  Susan's in-the-wall office computer answers, but it's early morning in D.C., and her computer's sensors tell it she's not yet in the office. Having identified you and the urgency of your command, it forwards the call to her home office, which is also empty, and then to her car's in-trunk computer. An image of you flashes on Susan’s dashboard display as she sits in Beltway traffic.
"Susan, I need our internal forecasts and the latest financial reports from our competitors."
Susan, though distracted by an 18-wheeler in the left lane, takes the request in stride. "Computer," she says aloud, "send to Mark's laptop the forecasts he wants, and check the Web for the newest numbers on our five largest competitors." Susan's office computer dutifully begins its mission, and you have a pie graph on the wall by the time your would-be British buyers finish their pub grub.  

Science fiction? For now. But you can already have computers at your service all the time, if you know how, and keeping up today means that when the time comes the above may not be fiction for you.

A.    What does “Wired” mean

We are living today in a society that has been becoming increasingly wired over the last 15 years.  The changes come at an exponentially increasing rate and it is hard to keep up with them.  In fact in some respects even this talk is on the verge of obsolescence in the next few years with the advent of the “WIRELESS” Age.  Not to worry though that topic too will be covered in this lecture.

I am, like you, a practicing Ophthalmologist.  My background and current research is in Engineering and I have been using computers since I was seven years old.  I am also, as many males can sympathize, a gadget junkie.  I keep up with the latest technical information devoting a minimum of at least one hour to that on a daily basis.   I have found that with proper use my wired and wireless friends have simplified my practice and my personal life and have provided me with great pleasure simultaneously.

To be wired means to be current in the knowledge and usage of today’s latest personal communication and organizational gadgets.

B.     Why is it important?

When asked the question in what period in time I would most have wanted to live I have a hard time answering.  My answer at the end of the 20th century was: “If restricted to this century, then I would have like to have lived the first decade in Vienna so I could have met all the minds who were to be the major influences of this century – Einstein, Marx, Freud and so on.  The early twenties either in New York or Chicago.    The thirties in Paris on the Left Bank.  The fifties in midtown USA.  The sixties between London and San Francisco.  And now anywhere.”  As you can see there is a pattern, I believe in living where “the action” of the time is taking place, and I believe in being involved in it as much as possible.  Well today, it does not matter where you live, you can be connected at any place on this earth or in orbit above it.  And feeling involved requires only that you allow yourself to be connected.  In many ways I think we are living in the most exciting time in the history of man, I would not trade it for any other.
So my answer is if you are not wired, you are missing the point, you are missing the excitement and thrill of living in today’s world, you may as well just…, well let’s leave it at that.   Practically speaking too, staying current gives you an advantage over your competitors who maybe do not.  So lets move on and get to what you should know to be wired.


II.   The Tools

One of the most important tools at your disposal is a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) either in its pure form or as part of your SmartPhone.  This is essentially a replacement for the once popular filofax.  It keeps all your phone numbers, appointments, list of things to do, notes and just about anything you could think of always with you.
Palm-size devices are designed to be held in one hand and used for reference to personal schedules, tasks, and contact lists-as well as for minor editing.
There are many types and makes available, but throughout this talk I will be offering my opinion on “the best” and my reasons why.  “The best” in this context is always an amalgam of not just capability, but value, and usually share of the marketplace and support. 

The best sites with comprehensive news on PDAs Palm OS and Pocket Window are:
zdnet handheld review
best software site

The best gadget sites on the internet are:

To buy cool gifts for geeks go to

A.    PDAs and Smartphones

1.    Keyboards

Before we start please note that if you want a full size portable keyboard that can be used wirelessly with any Palm or PocketPc model including smartphones there are now several choices the new Stowaway wireless keyboard from Think Outside ( at $70 US, the Targus Universal Wireless Keyboard at $49 US (; the $44 US Belkin Wireless PDA Keyboard (; the iConcepts Universal Wireless IR Keyboard $45 US; or the $79 US Pocketop from So far Apple has not allowed use of a bluetooth keyboard with the iPhone although that is conceivably possible.
Also an interesting concept is the Celio Redfly which gives you an 8` screen and full keyboard for Windows based PDA`s and Smartphones like the Treo Pro.


2.     PALM OS and TREOs

In October 2005 the apparent death knell of the PALM OS was sounded with the news that the new TREO 700w (released early 2006) would operate using Windows Mobile 5.0.  To many that news means that Microsoft has won the handheld and for that matter smartphone war, Goliath has whipped David and it would only be a matter of time before the market share of PALM OS devices dwindled to nothing, and all the existing become non-supported legacy devices with only enthusiasts continuing to modify and write code for them.  

Late in 2006, however, Palm released a Palm OS version of the Treo 700 and eventually the 680 which has no external antenna.  Most former and many new Palm Users prefer the Palm OS because it is still more stable, requires less use of the stylus, has more and better add-on applications available, and the Windows version does not have enough memory to multitask well as the OS is more of a memory hog, and Active Sync the sync program for the WM5 OS leaves a lot to be desired.  However, the 700p does not offer the ability to use Wi-Fi which the 700w does using an SDIO card. 

At the end of 2006 the Palm Treo 680 (GSM Tri Band) was released - this is the phone I used until the advent of the IPhone 3G.  In combination with and a larger battery from Seido this phone is still quite a good phone but with the advent of the iPhone it is dated.

In fall 2007 Palm released a new value smart phone line called the Centro instead of Treo - so far it ihas done quite well for Palm and has sold well worldwide as it is a very low cost but capable smartphone running Palm OS. In the meantime Palm has all but eliminated the Palm OS on higher end models and if you want the latest best Palm Treo like the Treo Pro you will need to move to Windows 6.1 which actually is much better than former windows OS`s.


TUNGSTEN TX: $299 US is the best Palm OS PDA currently (the Z22 and Tungsten E2 are toys in comparison).  The LIFEDRIVE 4GB storage has been discontinued.


An in house comparison of all the devices may be found online here.

Click these links to go to Medical PDA sites:

Medical Palm Links
Doctor's Gadgets

 The software I have on my Palm OS PDA.


3.      Windows Mobile PDAs, the iPhone and Smartphones

The Microsoft Pocket-PC OS is now being called the Windows Mobile OS and its latest iteration is the 6.1 OS (WMA6) has just been released (Microsoft releases a new version every year - a great way to make money).  The previous OS before 5.0 was called Pocket Windows Mobile 2003 which allowed Windows Palm devices to become comparable to the Palm PDAs both in price and technology.  I would therefore counsel anybody buying a Windows based handheld device to make sure that it is Windows Mobile 6.1.

For a WM6 Smartphone there are currently many choices all of which are OK some possibiliteis include the Motorola Moto Q 9m (not great I heard it takes 50 sec to boot up) or the T-Mobile DASH (GSM) or the best choice in my opinion the T-Mobile Wing (GSM) and from Sprint the Mogul (CDMA).

The iPhone 3G of course is the main topic of tech conversation for 2008 as was the original iPhone in 2007.  Apple with its touch screen interface and control has reinvented the cell phone and even the PDA in many senses.  The iPhone is a great device - and has only become more interesting since Apple announced released the SDK in Feb 2008 - aloowing other providers to write applications that run on the iPhone (much as they can for the Palm OS and Windows Mobile) without having to crack the phone and potentially void the warranty. The AppStore is one of the phenoms of 2008 and its possible that soon will outstrip even the venerable Palm OS in number of applications available.

The iPhone can be cracked to run on other GSM networks besides AT&T but that carries risks and may leave the phone unusable if you update the firmware from Apple.  Regardless if you live in the USA its a good deal especially with the unlimited data plan or in Canada a 6GB data plan.

The iPhone has 2 main handicaps. One there is no synchronization with either the tasks (to do list) or notes feature of Outlook. Major oversights for people have been used to that functionality from Palm and Windows OS. There are alternatives for the to do list but they do not sync with Outlook and some cost money for added functionality on the AppStore but it will either mean duplicating your data in Outlook or switching your task functionality to another program. For notes as long as you have a internet connection you can use Evernote which you can import your Outlook notes into - again you will not be able to sync with Outlook so you will have to enter changes in Outlook and resync or vice versa. No really good workarounds exist and Apple does not seem inclined to do anything about this as thsi situation has been present since the advent of the iPhone.




B.     Mobile Phones

Cellular telephones are an indispensable business and personal tool, and with increasing competition from PCS services, prices for cellular service have nowhere to go but down. Competition, while it brings prices down, often brings confusion. Nowhere is this truer than in the cellular telephone industry.

GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900. CDMA, TDMA, AMPS, ETACS, NMP, PCS, GPRS, EVDO, EDGE.  Do you have any idea what all that means?  In the United States, there are now four different, incompatible types of cellular service being offered throughout the country. Deciding which technology is right for you depends on a variety of factors, including: geography (what kind of terrain do you live in), roaming requirements, security, sound quality and equipment pricing.  Please click here if you are interested in learning more.

1. Choosing a Cellular Provider and Cell Phone

A great review of cell phones by CNET is found here when you are trying to choose.  For the best site for seeing all new available cell phones (unfortunately most of which you will have a hard time getting in the USA) and being able to compare them CoolSmartPhone is where you need to check.

My current choice if I were buying a pure cell phone and not a Smartphone would be: The Motorola SLVR L7, NOKIA N73 ot NOKIA N92.


C.    Pagers


As physician’s we are all too aware how pager’s function.  But are you aware of the new types of Smart Pagers out there.  The best of the lot are the RIM (Research in Motion) Blackberry Wireless Handhelds, the latest of these offer a color screen and voice capability either with a headset and/or with an inbuilt speaker microphone system - in other words they are smart phones/pagers/email/PDA devices, all the models however lack cameras and are really mainly for business use being bought for most executives by their companies.  They are ubiquitous amongst the Fortune 100 executives.  

I never recommended these as a first choice for physicians but with the huge advances and the new color screens and phone capability they are worth at least a second look before making a final decision.  The models I recommend are the Blackberry Bold and Storm. The Bold is an original looking Blackberyy with a keyboard and greta screen and the Storm is an iPhone competitor with an original touch screen which actually depresses when you push on it.


D   Communication and Email Services

We all know how important it is for us to be reachable (especially when traveling or working) and most of us carry a pager, a cell phone, and have an answering service as well, not to mention several phone and fax numbers.  Would it not be great if things could be simpler.  Well believe it or not that is not so easy to achieve, entropy after all is at work.  The best advice I can give is try to minimize your personal communication to your cell phone and only give that to people who absolutely need to know it.  Use call forwarding a lot, either to your message service on your cell phone or other lines to your cell phone.    Some services which are available try and be an all in one communication center for your e-mail, phone calls etc.  Many of these services have gone bankrupt with the crash and others now charge.  Some examples of these Unified Messageing Services include: My TalkOrchestrate, Planetary Motion CoolMail, and many others listed here.  For opinions on free email services only, such as Hotmail, Yahoo , Google Mail (Gmail)and look here.  My favorite currently is Google mail, but you need to currently get invited for this by someone who already uses it (it gives you 2GB of free storage to compete both Hotmail and Yahoo now offer 250 MB and 1GB respectively).  For instant messaging services and chat services go with the one most of your friends are on (likely MSN Messenger, Yahoo, ICQ, or AOL) but if they are on several services think about downloading Trillian which allows you to use all of them simultaneoulsy!


E.    Desktop Computers

In 2006 the whole story of the divide between Windows and Mac has basically came to an end.  And as a result my thinking on the matter also radically changed.  So I rewrote this entire section.  Essentially as long as you are using an Intel Dual Core system or above now you can have a choice of either Mac or Windows or both on your system.  So how do you choose what to buy now.  For practical reasons if buying a new computer now I would suggest buying an Apple system whether it be a laptop or desktop, and before anything else when you first buy it partition the hard drive into equal sections using the bundled "Boot Camp" software, and put the Windows OS of your choice into one partition and leave the other partition as your Mac OS X.  Its a simple matter to switch between the OSs.  As of October 26th 2007 the Mac OS is 10.5 Leopard (see review here), a tremendous and highly advanced OS compared to poor old Windows Vista which has proven to be so unpopular and buggy that consumers often demand that Windows XP the older OS be pre-installed on new purchases...

A quote from tech blog: "I think most Windows users who are tempted by the Mac are being pushed away from their current platform more than they are being lured by features in the Mac. They like the idea of not having to worry as much about viruses and spyware (though that may be a false sense of security in the long term), and they hear tales of the Mac being more robust and stable than Windows (though that depends on the health of your PC's hardware and what kind of applications you install).

There's also the Vista frustration factor, whether real or imagined. Many of the people I talk to who are thinking about switching have older computers, but don't want a newer one with Vista because of its negative buzz, and aren't interested in sticking with XP. The Mac thus becomes a real alternative for them.

Not to be discounted, though, is the physical design of Macs, which are flat-out beautiful. I've had many, many Windows users tell me they switched or wanted to switch just because of the way Macs look. Indeed, I defy you to look at a 24-inch iMac and not feel a little lust in your consumer's heart.

What stops Windows users from making the leap? Fear of the new as much as the thrill, of course. There's the cost factor -- Macs appear to be a lot more expensive because Apple doesn't play in the low end of the market. Matched feature for feature and spec for spec, Macs and PCs are closer in price than most Windows users think."

As of this writing I have purchased 2 brand new 24" Aluminium iMacs with 2.8Ghz processors (one for me and one for the wife) - they are silent and there is no more big box under my desk.  Both run Windows XP and Leopard switching using BootCamp, VMWare Fusion  and  Parallels software there are tricks so that both BootCamp, Parallels and VmWare Fusion use the same partition so you do not have to duplicate or triplicate your data.  Here are some ideas.  Finally, it is of note that currently even though more people run Parallels VmWare Fusion is much faster, supports > 1.5GB RAM and 64 bit as well as both cores.

If you decide to stick to Windows PC system though I would recommend going with a system from Dell Computer, or EndPCNoise.


F.     Notebook Computers

The same goes for notebook computers.  Probably the easiest choice is to go for a MacBook or a MacBook Pro.rumors are that Apple is developing an UltraMobile possibly with iTouch technology but still no firm news on that.  Having said that for the moment Apple does not produce a Tablet version of the MacBook, and if like me you have become enamoured of the Tablet PC format than you have to choose something non-Apple.  For those of you who want to splurge and have a super notebook computer that hardly anybody else in the country has, best site is which imports and translates the latest Japanese notebooks for re-sale in the USA.  For the others you have to decide between whether you are only going to buy one computer and use it as a desktop at home in which case you want a "desktop replacement" notebook which is usually on the heavier side and often the batter does not last long but it has desktop type performance. 


III.           The Connections

A.    Modems

Nowadays, DSL or cable modems for high-speed access are ubiquitous, and so I will not go into details as I did in previous years. 

B.     USB Ports

USB is the de facto standard connection replacing serial ports and now is available in the much faster USB 2.0.  Make sure all your external peripherals, scanners, Zip drives, printers and so on connect by USB and if available as USB 2.0 make sure they are too, it is faster and better and lets you hot connect.  Other than the links listed also see here.

C.    Fire Wire Ports

This is the fastest standard for high bandwidth multimedia devices (still faster than USB 2.0 in real life no matter what you have heard otherwise), for example digital cameras and videos.  If possible try and get your computer with this inbuilt, but it is still not as widely used as USB 2.0.  Apples and Sony Vaios and now HP computers come with this built-in.  Otherwise you can buy cheap Firewire adapters and even Firewire/USB 2.0 adapters for either your desktop or your notebooks USB 2.0/FIREWIRE COMBO PCI CARD, Adaptec FireConnect 4300 AFW-4300 1394/FireWire Card, Startech Card Bus IEEE-1394 Firewire Notebook Card,

D.    Ethernet/LAN

Any new computer has these in-built at 10/100 but nowadays I would not buy a computer unless it had a Gigabyte 10/100/1000 Ethernet connection.

E.   Bluetooth

"Bluetooth" was a new standard launched in May 1998 which utilizes a short-range radio link to exchange information, enabling effortless wireless connectivity between mobile phones, mobile PCs, handheld computers and other peripherals. The first Bluetooth Products will be launched in 4Q2000. It aims to replace the IrDA spec of InfraRed in mobile and computing devices. 
Enabling seamless voice and data transmission via wireless, short-range radio, this new technology will allow users to connect a wide range of devices easily and quickly, without the need for cables, expanding communications capabilities for mobile computers, mobile phones and other mobile devices, both in and out of the office.
The radio operates on the globally available 2.45 GHz ISM 'free band', allowing international travelers to use "Bluetooth"-enabled equipment worldwide.

Bluetooth took a very long time to implement in the real world and only became a player as of 2004. Nowadays Bluetooth products are ubiquitous, just a few are listed below (many laptops and even desktops come with Bluetooth in built now or offer the option)  I would recommend that if you are buying anything new it have Bluetooth, you will be happy the more things you have with Bluetooth talking together.

D-Link Bluetooth 2.4 GHz USB Adapter for PC/MAC
Belkin Components F8T001 Bluetooth USB Adaptor v.2
Palm Bluetooth SDIO Card, Multilinqual
Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop for Bluetooth
IOGEAR Bluetooth CompactFlash Card
Sony DCRTRV80 MiniDV 2Megapixel Camcorder with 3.5" LCD, Memory Stick, Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity, and Networking Capability
Socket Communications Bluetooth GPS Receiver
Plantronics M1000 Bluetooth Headset for Nokia 3650 and bluetooth phones
Jabra FreeSpeak Bluetooth Headset for Bluetooth Equipped Phones

F.  IrDA

Note this is not so important now that Bluetooth is actually available on most things and I would advise buying devices with BlueTooth rather than IrDA.  Since 1994, IrDA DATA defines a standard for an interoperable universal two way cordless infrared light transmission data port. IrDA technology was in over 150 million electronic devices including desktop, notebook, palm PCs, printers, digital cameras, public phones/kiosks, cellular phones, pagers, PDAs, electronic books, electronic wallets, and other mobile devices.  It requires line of sight in order to be able to communicate, but is pretty high speed.  Most devices you buy these days from Palms to cell phones will come with bluetooth rather than IrDA. 


G. Wireless Home and Office Connections / Wireless LAN


I have written a great deal about this in previous years and recommended many models, however, at this juncture if you do not already have a system in place the only one I would recommend is the new D-Link DGL 4500 ($239) the update of the amazing 4300 that I have owned for 3 years , far ahead of its competitors.  The new 801.11N protocol even though nor truly ratified is really now the way to go and any changes can and will be made with firmware patches.  This has 4 Ethernet ports and I use all 4 trust me, so I need this even with my iMacs.

If you have a Mac you can also use the above router but its probably simpler to buy the equivalent Airport Extreme Wireless Router also an 802.11n with Gigabit Ethernet $179.  This only has 3 Ethernet ports, not enough for me but it does have a USB Shared Printer Port pretty cool.




IV.           The Programs

A.    PIMs (Personal Information Managers)

There are lots of PIMs on the market see here for links.  I have only included the ones worth considering here.  Also note that most PDA's come with a simple PIM included such as Palm Desktop with the Palm computing platform and that may suffice for many of you, for the others my recommendations are:

1.      Microsoft Outlook

My advice is to use this as your PIM, it comes as part of the Microsoft Office suite, which you will be using for everything else and is extremely well integrated into Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP and very well supported with synchronization and other 3rd party software.  Outlook 2003 and 2007 are excellent and vast improvements over previous incarnations.

2.      Goldmine

Now offers built-in Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), Windows CE and Outlook synchronization.  In some respects more powerful than Outlook but less intuitive -- cool if you want to be different but still communicate with everyone.  Compared against other PIMs here and against Outlook here.

3.      Act

Again this is a great program and is supported by Symantec so integrates well with everything else by them (i.e. Norton stuff and WinFax).  However, I would say that this is a contact management program rather than a PIM and as this it is the market leader.  Given that as Ophthalmologists we are not going about as salesmen (well I hope not at least) it is not the best choice, but it is mentioned because you are likely to hear about it.


B.     Synchronization Programs

1.      Intellisync by Yahoo

My vote for the most often bought company.  It started of as Pumatech and was bought in order by at least Nokia and its current owner Yahoo.  This is freely available with the Yahoo Calender service see below.

Yahoo! Calendar
Yahoo! Address Book
Yahoo! Notepad
Outlook Express
Palm OS Handhelds
Pocket PC Handhelds
Lotus Organizer

2.      Pocket Mirror by Chapura

This standard version comes bundled with any new Palm or Treo but is also available for Pocket PC and is limited to synchronize with Outlook the Pro version is excellent and I currently use that. 

3.      Companion Link by Companion Link Software 

I have not personally tried this software but it looks great as it synchronizes

bulletAll Pocket PC and Windows Mobile 5 handhelds
bulletAll Palm handhelds, including the Abacus Wrist PDA and Palm Life Drive
bulletAll BlackBerry handhelds


bulletACT! versions 4 and higher (works with ACT! 2007/9.0)
bulletGoldMine versions 4 and higher
bulletOutlook versions 97 and higher
bulletLotus Notes versions 4.6 and higher
bulletGoogle Calendar (Beta)

4.      Beyond Contacts software by DataViz

Supports only MS Outlook series and the old MS Schedule series.

5.      XTNDConnect PC by Extended Systems

XTNDConnect PC is a single software solution that supports Windows CE, Palm and CASIO Pocket Viewer devices (like Companion Link).  Supports Microsoft Outlook 97/98, Lotus Notes 4.5 and 4.6, Lotus Organizer 5.0, 97/GS, Symantec ACT! 3.05 and above, NetManage Ecco Pro 4.0, GoldMine 3.0/4.0 (Standard Edition).

6.  PDA Link by Laplink

This latest addition to the line of synchronization software I have not personally tested as yet, but from experience with Laplink's products in the past I am certain that it is of excellent quality.  It is capable of syncing: HandSpring Visors; Palm series; Compaq iPaq series; HP Jornada series; Kyocera Smartphone Series; Samsung I300; Ericsson R520, T39, T60 and R300 mobile phones; Toshiba GENIO e Pocket PC series; Casio Pocket Viewer series; Cassiopeia Pocket PC series; Sony Clie; IBM WorkPad; SymbolSPT series; NEC Mobile Pro series; Sharp Mobilon; Vadem Clio; TRG HandEra 330 and TRG Pro to Microsoft Outlook 97,98, 2000, XP; Lotus Notes 4.5, 4.6, 5.0; Lotus Organizer 97/GS, 4.1, 5.0, 6.0; ACT! 3.05, 4.0, 2000; NetManage Ecco Pro 4.0, 4.01; GoldMine 3.0, 4.0; Palm Desktop 3.0, 3.0.1, 4.0.


C.    Web Synchronization Services/Online PIMs

More and more people are using multiple devices, but keeping them all organized can be tricky. An online personal information manager can help you collaborate with colleagues, and keep all your far-flung data in sync -- and accessible, no matter which device you're using.   During "the golden age of the internet" many of these services were available and free to use, most now are vanished along with the companies that ran them.  To read reviews of these old services an archive has been kept online for those interested here.  In fact as can be seen at the there are hardly any free web services anymore.  Some RIP services include  Excite Planner  (Rating: 9.0/10); Visto   (Rating: 8/10); Fusion One and eDock  (Rating: 9.5/10); MyPalm (Rating: 7/10); Swifttouch  (Rating: 7/10); Readysyncgo!           (Rating: 9/10)  Whats left is:

Yahoo! Calendar                   (Rating: 10/10)

This service is one of the few left and is the only one which is still free!.  In addition to its well-known and powerful search site and customizable start page, Yahoo! offers Yahoo! Calendar, which includes an address book, a calendar, to-do lists, and a notepad utility. You can synchronize all this information with almost any desktop contact manager or handheld device. Like Excite Planner, Yahoo! relies on Starfish's effective TrueSync Plus utility to keep your data current and consistent among all your devices and applications.

The look and feel of Yahoo!'s calendar and address book are clean and efficient. And Yahoo!'s synchronization utility is adequate, with few limitations. TrueSync is the only utility here that lets you synchronize multiple applications and devices simultaneously. For example, we were able to set up TrueSync to synchronize all of the data in our Palm device and our Outlook calendar with Yahoo! at the same time. TrueSync allows filtering, and its field mapping is robust.

Although Yahoo! Calendar offers no easy way to manage group contacts, you can share your schedule and contact information with other Yahoo! members. Also, Yahoo! lets you create a Web page where you can share your calendar simply by distributing the URL.

Google Calendar             (Rating 6/10)

This is an option if you have a google account - the major problem again is it does not have a good synchronization client at present to synchronize with either outlook or your PDA.

MSN Calendar                      (Rating 3/10)

This is an option if you have a hotmail account - the problem agian is it does not have a good synchronization client at present to synchronize with either outlook or your PDA.

Schedule Online                (Rating: 7/10)

ScheduleOnline (website) is designed for group collaboration and scheduling it costs $19.95/year for the basic Silver service or $7.95/month for the Gold service. Previously  limited in its sync capabilities, the service has been getting stronger and provides everything an organization or group needs to schedule its activitiesm including allowing your patients to make appointments with you online in the slots you have provided for them, thereby sparing your secretary on the phone.  I am not sure it should be included in this review as it is more a team or group collaboration site rather than an individual's online backup of their handheld or desktop PIM, however, there may be people who are interested in such a tool for their office or other group.  As a team collaboration site it is one of the better available (see this review).

ScheduleOnline's greatest strength lies in its group features. During setup, you specify a unique organization; the person who creates it is the administrator. The administrator then assigns users, rights -- such as delegating administration duties -- departments, groups, and resources.

The powerful calendar lets you schedule tasks, meetings, and repeating events, and invite others to meetings. You can add participants to your meeting, check for conflicts, and send e-mail invitations, with a carbon-copy option, to everyone on your group list.

The address book, which is hidden under "Other" on the menu, is not group-enabled. Each user has a separate one. It does have powerful sort and search capabilities. Unlike products such as, Excite Planner, and Yahoo! Calendar, however, ScheduleOnline syncs with Palm devices and now Outlook. Syncing is proprietary and rudimentary, with limited conflict resolution and no ability to filter or map fields, it does not sync Notepad/Memo Notes.

If you need an easy-to-use tool for your group scheduling needs, ScheduleOnline is a great choice.



D.    Connecting to a Remote Computer

1.      Using Web Based Virtual Network Computing - VNC

Teamviewer vs. GoToMyPC vs. LogMeIn vs. MyWebExPC vs. RealVNC

Probably the best and simplest choice is to use web-based application rather than a dedicated PC software solution when you want to access a remote computer.  Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a desktop sharing system which uses the RFB (Remote FrameBuffer) protocol or RDP (Remote Desktop) protocol to remotely control another computer. It transmits the keyboard presses and mouse clicks from one computer to another relaying the screen updates back in the other direction, over a network.

VNC is platform-independent: a VNC viewer on any operating system can connect to a VNC server on any other operating system. There are clients and servers for almost all operating systems and for Java. Multiple clients may connect to a VNC server at the same time. Popular uses of the technology include remote technical support, and accessing files on one's work computer from one's home computer.

The thress most well known applications are GoToMyPC; LogMeIn and Teamviewer.  I have used all services and can tell you they worked pretty much flawlessly for me.  GoToMyPc even works with Pocket PC PDAs and you can try it free for 30 days by going to their website and I would highly recommend you do so, however, Teamviewer offers a free service for non-commercial activity that is more than most people need so it is the best choice right now for most people, and even its premium services are better priced than GoToMyPc's.  A new service competeing with these 3 and also free like LogMeIn recently started and I have not had a good chance to evaluate it yet is called MyWebExPC.

It is possible to completely control a remote system using free software, although this is really for the more savvy reader and takes a lot of fiddling around with settings etc. to get right. One option is to combine BarracudaDrive, RealVNC, and the BarracudaDrive HTTPS tunnel client. The HTTPS tunnel and the VNC client/server make it possible to securely control your PC. The tunnel also bypasses corporate firewalls and proxies. BarracudaDrive also makes it possible to securely copy files to and from your home PC.

An interesting alternative software recently came to my attention which allows you to connect to a computer and transfer files solely through the use of email GetByMail which has a pretty complete freeware solutionHamachi owned by LogMeIn is a VPN solution that for now is free, worth a look for sure.

Finally, a free (for non-comercial purposes) and elegant solution from Teamviewer is available, please give it a try. 

TeamViewer Remote Control
Free Remote Control


2.     Using Retail Software

LapLink vs. pcAnywhere

Software based solutions include the market leaders LapLink and PcAnywhere and others including Planet Remote and I'm In Touch

No other remote-control software comes close to the number of ways LapLink allows you to connect two computers. Along with USB, your connection choices include parallel ports, serial ports, modems, network connections (including broadband ADSL and cable modems), and IrDA/Fast Infrared ports. Aside from the wide variety of connections it supports, LapLink's main advantage over archrival Symantec's pcAnywhere solution is the simplicity of its user interface. While pcAnywhere provides separate programs to act as host and guest, LapLink is a single program that serves as both. You don't have to sweat which component to install, and connectivity goes both ways, so you can control your remote system with your office system, as well as vice-versa. I also find LapLink's interface a bit more intuitive than that in the current version of pcAnywhere.


E. USB Sticks & Drives - U3, MojoPac and Portable

You almost certainly all have memory sticks, probably several, but are you aware of how powerful they truly are.  Beyond the simple use for backup and transfer of data and programs - Memory Sticks can now be used to carry around your software and all your passwords, even your desktop etc.  Imagine carrying your software on the same flash drive that carries your files. That’s what you can do with a memory stick now. You can plug it into any PC and work, play a game, message friends, send email, edit photos and more. Your memory stick makes any PC your own PC. And when you unplug it, it leaves no personal data behind.  Three particularly effective means exist, the first is the U3 standard created by SanDisk but accepted by Micorsoft, the second is a similar software in Kingston Technology and other manufacturer sticks called Migo, the third is a software called MojoPac, and the final one is completely free and open source   There is one more I-Flapp but I feel pretty sure that it is destined for oblivion...

1. U3
U3 comes on U3 Memory Sticks from SanDisk and other manufacturers (they have to pay royalty fees to install it).  If your going to buy one then get the SanDisk 8GB Cruzer Contour or the SanDisk 8GB Cruzer Micro you will be amazed about the amount of U3 software available pretty much anything you could want.  The amazing thing about U3 is that you do not need Administrator privileges to use it (the Microsoft agreement) and that is what makes it very cool.  So far no U3 Fingerprint USB Drives...

2. Migo

The blurb on their website reads as below - you can buy the software ($30) and put it on any memory stick or buy a Migo stick with it already (best bet) - an 8GB version is here for only $104 or a Kingston Datatraveller II for a bit more.  In my mind this software is really only if you use Microsoft Outlook and you want to keep everything in sync.  If you do not use Microsoft Outlook you are better off with another system.

Capture your data
Migo organizes and stores a backup of the data and email from your computer onto your portable storage device. Take that Migo-enabled device with you, and you'll always have access to your data, no matter where you go.
Borrow a PC
Accessing your data is easy: simply plug your Migo-enabled device into any available PC running Microsoft Windows 2000 or later, and watch the simple user interface transform that PC into your own. Everything you've been working on is there, including your Microsoft Outlook® or Outlook Express® email*; even your own desktop appears, complete with files and folders. Work on projects, answer email, listen to your tunes, all just as you would on your own PC.
Enjoy easy access to printers and network connections
Migo lets you use the borrowed computer's software, hardware and network connections, including Internet access.
Leave no trace behind
When you're finished using a borrowed computer, Migo will keep all the work you've done on your device, including your Internet history and cookies. No trace of your activity will be left behind on the borrowed computer.
Update your own PC
When you return home, Migo synchronizes the data it carries with the files on your own computer, so you're always working on the latest versions of your data. Your email folders are also updated, so you can stay on top of your messages. With email synchronization, there's no need to leave copies of your messages on your server.

3. MojoPac
The main competitor to U3 is MojoPac which you can install yourself onto any MemoryStick or even onto your iPod, cellphone, PDA, or portable media player or hard drive.  In other words its a lot more versatile - and its free unless you want the Pro version ($49) or Enterprise version.  The good thing here is that you can put ANY software you want on your Memory so long as it will fit (in other words you do not have to buy new U3 software here are some tested in house by MojoPac)...  How does it work - see here.  Basically its a virtual desktop and you can switch back and forth from it to your other desktop.  To my mind this is an amazing piece of software and with 8GB available nowadays you can fit a lot of programs on your virtual desktop...  The only problem is you need Administrator privileges on the the computer you are using and you likely will not have them - hence U3.  If your not buying into U3 or Migo the best drive to get is the Transcend 8GB JetFlash 220 with Fingerprint Recognition ($105) very cool - you can even log-in to anysite without passwords - your fingerprint is all you need...  If you have the money and are not afraid to lose it then the Transcend 16GB JetFlash 2A ($382) is the way to go - it can even be a bootable drive!

The problem with this while it is totally free is that you are also limited to totally free open source software which has been ported over to be compatible in the same way as the U3 software has been ported over - a complete list of the software is here although many developers have created portable versions of many softwares that are not on this list...  The site carries a nice summary of:

What is a portable app?

portable - carried or moved with ease
app - a computer program like a web browser or word processor

A portable app is a computer program that you can carry around with you on a portable device and use on any Windows computer. When your USB flash drive, portable hard drive, iPod or other portable device is plugged in, you have access to your software and personal data just as you would on your own PC. And when you unplug the device, none of your personal data is left behind.

No Special Hardware - Use any USB flash drive, portable hard drive, iPod/MP3 player, etc
No Additional Software
- Just download the portable app, extract it and go
No Kidding - It's that easy

Consider the Possibilities...

bulletCarry your web browser with all your favorite bookmarks
bulletCarry your calendar with all your appointments
bulletCarry your email client with all your contacts and settings
bulletCarry your instant messenger and your buddy list
bulletCarry your whole office suite along with your documents and presentations
bulletCarry your antivirus program and other computer utilities
bulletCarry all your important passwords and account information securely

Consider the Convenience...

bulletHave your favorite websites handy to recommend to a friend or colleague
bulletHave your presentation AND the required software ready to go for that big meeting
bulletHave your password with you if you want to bank online while traveling
bulletHave utilities handy when visiting family or friends that are having PC problems

A nice place for freeware portable apps is for freeware and shareware and for portable Mac OS apps

F. MP3 and Media Players

This was a new section for 2005 and updated in 2006, 2007 and now 2008. (At this point I have personally owned various MP3 players for eight years now) with the advent of the iPod MP3 players have been brought into the mainstream.  Is the iPOD the best MP3 player on the market - well that truly depends on your point of view.  Apple unfortunately has some idiosyncrasies if you want to call them that.  They have a habit of not making hardware backwards compatible which unfortunately works against the major advantage of iPods the incredible variety of add-ons.  For example, I personally loved the first generation iPod Nanos, I felt that this truly was a device worth having and with its small size could be worn on your person at all times - however, while the nano was easy to scratch particularly the black version Apple introduced the 2nd generation nano which took care of the scratching problem by changing the case to brushed aluminum - but for some unfathomable reason they shifted the adaptor plug 4 mm to the left of center leaving the new nano being unable to fit into most existing add-ons at its release.  If you are a consumer who has bought multiple add-ons (an i-Trip an i-Home etc.) this is really unacceptable - what are you supposed to do throw out all your sometimes very expensive add-ons or refuse to upgrade - and what happens when your 1st generation ipod nano breaks?  I feel sorry for consumers and for 3rd party providers, Apple is ripping them off.  Its not right.  Having said that the 16GB current 4thGen iPod Nano is a very elegant device as is the 32GB iPod Touch although I think it is slightly overpriced.

The only other iPod choice is the new 7th Generation 120GB video they got rid of the larger 160GB drive from 2007..  The Archos AV604 (160 GB) trumps the iPod in allowing WiFi Internet use TiVo functionality and a much larger screen for video playback all at the same price...

The advantage of the iPods is there ubiquitousness and as a result their mass market accessories, way too many to go into details, but put it this way, many 2006 and 2007 cars come built with support for iPods, so you can see what your playing on your dashboard.

The choice for Media players at present really comes down to the video iPod, the new Microsoft Zune device , a Windows Media Player device, or an Archos unit - my advice is go for one of the 7th generation Archos units which are up to 320GB!.  One reason for the Archos units being better is that you can treat the Archos as an additional hard drive on your system and fill it up directly without having to use a software solution like iTunes or Windows Media Player although you can use either is you so choose all the other units you have to use the software and they are all buggy.

G. Home Entertainment Centers - LCD TV Screens, Monitors and Projection TVs

Moneual 902EuniJust a brief section here to talk about how PC technology or wired technology has made into into your living room.  Microsoft is pushing hard to try an own your living room as well as your home office and PC, the Windows XP Media Center Version of their OS in its 2005 version is actually quite good and home theater media centers (HPTCs) equipped with it in a new format are a not bad idea for your living room.  They vary dramatically in price (some costing more than $5000) and a 2005 review of three high end ones is available here, the Rolls Royce of these systems is the systems available from Niveus Media and their top of the line K2 is marketed at the “cost is no object” segment of the market. The K2 (all of Niveus’ products are named after mountains) boasts a P4 at 3.6Ghz, 2GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD (yes, you read that right), dual TV tuners, dual HDTV tuners, and High Definition 6-Channel Audio. It’s also passively cooled, so you’re not going to hear a fan kick in while you’re in the middle of a flick. So, just in case cost is an object, how much does all that speed, storage, RAM and video power run? Well, Niveus refuses to post prices for their high-end units on their web site, insisting that you call or email to get the numbers. But we assume it’s a bit more than the $5,000 that their Denali system — which is similar to the K2, but has more limited audio capabilities — goes for.  If anybody ever wants to get me a present, that's what I want...  Another choice not reviewed in the article above would be an ARIA Center from Voodoo PC.   2 Parts Fusion a company owned by HPTC enthusiasts has competitively priced models as does Moneual (their models also have a particularly cool feature a touch screen on the front).  Highly rated 2006 Mini-MCE systems are available as well, these while not being as high in specs as the top-end larger units are fantastically small and really worth a look at.  Personally, however, I am probably going to wait until a HD-DVD format has been settled on before purchasing though, by then of course price competition should also make these items a little more affordable.  By the way my bet is that HD-DVD will beat out Blu-Ray for the version that people end up settling on, especially now as it appears to be the one backed by Microsoft and Intel (more bad luck for Sony who backs Blue-Ray).

To go with this HPTC you obviously need a screen and speakers.  I am not as much an expert in this area as I am in some of the other areas above but still IMHO I would go for LCD over Plasma.   Also I would ensure that if I was buying currently that the screen was capable of displaying 1080p resolutions.  While 1080i is currently the highest resolution HD signal that networks transmit in and is likely to remain that way until at least 2012, both the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray systems support 1080p and so do the new XBox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 system.  Which brings me to my main point once you see TV or even your XBOX in HD you will have a hard time watching anything else...  HD is so real to life it is almost scary.  For a 2006 great resource for HDTV go to CNet's Must-have HDTV add-ons


V.      An Ideal Setup


For most Ophthalmologists the ideal setup would be

·        A Mac Pro or iMac at home dual partition Mac OS X - Windows Vista or XP with a cable or DSL connection to the Internet

·        A Mac Powerbook dual partitioned Mac OS X - Windows Vista or XP for the road

·        A combination cell phone/PDA (smart phone) running on tri mode/dual mode/primary CDMA/AMPS or GSM/AMPS  if available in your service area = iPhone or Balckberry Bold or T-Mobile G1.



Great internet start pages:

Want to mail a big file

In previous years that I have given this course I have been asked multiple times about the programs I recommend for various things.  For example "What is the best antivirus program?", "What is the best search program?" etc.  So I am making a link here for RECOMMENDED PROGRAMS that you can refer to if you have such questions.

Some links for Web 2.0 sites and other useful sites:

Mpire useful for auction sites and comparison shopping
Glide Effortless a virtual desktop (has a free version for evaluation)
Hamachi the free VPN solution

Most of the important links are included within the text,  Here are some supplemental links that might be of interest to some readers.

One of the best Gadget Sites Online - The Gadget Box

The Seven Wired Wonders of the World

CNET’s list of the top 1000 selling online computer products

BABEL a database of technical acronyms





XBOX 360

PSP3 (Bought)


IPHONE 3G 16GB (Bought)

ARCHOS 604 160GB (I think I prefer to a 160GB IPod)

MAC PRO (got the iMac instead more affordable and quieter and more recently updated)










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