Managing Contacts

Some of my gear from a previous trip, including 7 – my much loved and missed Palm Tx

The past few months has seen me forced into a bit of an IT overhaul after I had a load of computer gear stolen. Perhaps the biggest headache has been trying to work out the best way to manage my contacts.

For the past 10 years I’ve been using Palm computers, from the simple Palm m100 to the Palm Tx which was the one stolen from my car in January. It had a simple desktop, long battery life and – crucially – the ability to search by keyword.

But with Palm no longer making its own computers and with the PDA no longer in fashion, I’ve had to look for a different way to manage contacts.

The problem is that it’s all about the cloud these days. For journalists, that means a problem with security for contact details that might be sensitive. Then what happens if the service entrusted with my 3000 contacts suddenly stops operating overnight? And such a service is useless if internet access is sporadic – such as in Libya last year.

So I tried gist but packed it in pretty fast. Although it has a sophisticated way of keeping contacts up to date, its cloud-only service would leave me too vulnerable to dodgy internet connections when out and about. And what is an internet start-up that doesn’t charge for its service and is then taken over by RIM going to do with all my hard-earned contacts? Nothing good, I suspect.

In the end, though the most important thing for me is having all my contacts downloaded on to some sort of device that I can carry with me.

So I opted for Gmail. Not the sexiest of ideas, I grant you, but with Google Sync installed on my Blackberry it means that soon after I have entered new details via my internet-connected desktop they are entered into the address book on my handset. They are also transferred to my Android tablet (a Samsung, if you are interested).

The system is not perfect. My Blackberry 9900 has a pretty lame battery life. A day without being able to recharge would bring everything to a crashing halt. It’s a cloud-based system with all the security concerns that brings. And most irritating of all, I haven’t worked out how to do a keyword search on the BB address book. That’s not an issue if I have my tablet (offline) with me but – there are times when I won’t.

So, I’m still tempted to snap up a used Palm. Or does anyone have a better way of managing things?


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