I was reading the column written by that awfully nice Tim Phillips chap a fortnight ago and saw he was talking about a TV show he had appeared on. It took a couple of seconds, but I realised I had been on the very same show (oh yes, I do telly as well, doncha know). Anyway, it was the traditional fare - me in one corner jeering at everything Tim said and the interviewer in the middle trying to regain control of the programme.
Among the bits and bobs we were looking at was the Hewlett Packard LX620 PDA, a clever bit of kit with a full-colour, touch-sensitive screen running Windows CE 2.
That Windows CE isn't to be sneezed at - although if you want to use the touch-sensitive screen, bring a hanky. If you know Windows 95 at all you will be right at home with the functions and will be able to play Solitaire immediately.
Alas, the TV company was giving strip searches to the departing guests, which I suspect, given the proximity of the camera and the state of undress of some of the female guests, was not entirely for security purposes.
But it meant I couldn't accidentally leave with the PDA in my pocket.
So I had a brainwave - I simply asked if I could borrow it.
And thus it was I had the chance to play with it. And contrary to all my expectations, instead of coming up with a definitive 'yes I must buy this' or 'take it away, this is rubbish', I came up with a question - why?
Why is this unit being made? Not, as Tim said a couple of weeks ago, because we can, but because the manufacturers are stupid. What possible use is the current PDA? The keyboard is dreadful, the applications are brain-dead and it is too big to fit in your pocket neatly.
If Hewlett Packard were to make the machine, say, 30 to 40 per cent larger, it could have a bigger and better keyboard.
Let's face it, if Psion can do keyboards it can't be rocket science (no offence meant, Psion) and the thing would be flatter and easier to carry.
The whole area of PDAs seems to have been infected with mad cow disease.
They are too small to be used like proper portables yet they have Word for Windows and Excel built in. Do manufacturers really think people are going to be writing reports in Word or working out Excel-based budgets on a handheld with such a poxy keyboard?
If it has a Windows 95-alike front end then it should be expected to be used like Windows 95. So, in the headlong rush to prove how clever they are by making them smaller and smaller, manufacturers are simply are making them more difficult to use. So I'm starting a campaign for name change from Personal Digital Assistants to Personal Digital Useless Assistants (PDUA) until the manufacturers finally produce a PDA that actually assists. See you in the TV studio.
Chris Long is a freelance/IT journalist.
Outsourcer says the size of the operation should be considered before criticising the error that affected 43,000 women
Vendor says a range of its products will be made SD-WAN compatible, with traditional networking 'completely under disruption'
With just a day to go until the 25th annual Channel Awards, we catch up with the SMB Reseller of the Year category sponsor Exertis, to find out why the sector is such a vital part of its business strategy
Analyst predicts spending on Robotic Process Automation will rise XX per cent next year, driven by price decreases