I have been one of the early adopters of PDAs. I had a pocket computer always with me circa 1985. I have been a PalmOS user for about 7 years now. But the sorry state of the market, the much improved free online offerings (such as Google Calendar), and the wider availability of WiFi make PDAs less attractive.
I figured out that I can safely have roaming access to my calendar, mail, todos, and so on, at a tiny cost, online. I nearly never work without a computer, and if any computer is good enough to give me access to my data, why carry a PDA?
Well, there is one need that online applications cannot fill. Sometimes, I really just want to jot down an idea, or an appointment, and I do not have a computer with me. Oddly, I am often at a meeting and there is no WiFi available. Or sometimes, I have a nice work-related idea, but I am shopping for milk. Or sometimes, I am at work, and I recall that I must go shop for milk. But for jotting down something in a hurry, paper does the job. I will go back in time to 20 years ago when I used to carry a small (paper) notebook in my pocket. Paper is cheap, quick, efficient, it does not need to be recharged, and so on.
Ah! But here is the real twist. I will not manage my data with paper. Paper is the expendable part of my system. You just collect the random information on paper, and then you later sort it out in digital form where it remains in a more permanent and manageable form. Have you ever tried creating a backup of a paper calendar? What about searching for a meeting by keywords (did I have ever meet with John Borzak?)?
I am already an avid user of online applications including wikis, blogs, Web-based mail client and calendaring applications (Google’s), version control systems (subversion), and so on. This has already allowed me to be a roaming computer user: I can just go from my home computer, to my laptop, to my office computer, and always have all of my data at hand. The nice thing about such a setting is that you also do away with the need for backups, since you are constantly backing up remotely your data as part of the process.
In any case, I’ll let you know how my new paper-based approach goes. Give me a few weeks.