PalmIIIxe – Part 4 – To do lists and Memos

However, mundane the PalmPilot is in today’s modern landscape, its simplicity still intrigues me. So as I continue to try to document the various steps I have taken to bring back the technology to life, at least within my own sphere of use, the hope is that we can all get back to a point where technology really is an enabler rather than just a distraction. So here is how I handled the final two basic components offered in a Palm. To Dos and Memos.

See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

To Do Lists

I use Things 3.0 from Cultured Code to help sort my list of item that I need to complete. As the number of To Do lists out there are large and varied, I can’t say for sure if this method would work for anyone else unless you are also using something similar, or have a workflow similar to mine. The key idea is the same as the experience gathered from working on iCal and Contacts… To get the database exported to some common format so that I can work on it with the PERL Palm modules.

The key ingredient is this project available on Github called This very capable command is able to get all your cloud connected Things information into a CSV file which you can then parse. There isn’t really a lot of fancy magic here. However, there are a few text manipulation issues we have to deal with.

  • Long names and spaces
  • Projects and Categories

These items above are just so common in modern lists that didn’t use to exist. I had to find a way to be able to map all these fancy new capabilities into a simple category and checkbox. The decision that I made was this:- (1) All Categories and Projects will be “flattened” into a category. (2) All Project titles will have a prefix of “[P]”. (3) All incompatible items from Things will get mapped into a notes field.

(1) and (2) allows me to keep things simple, and (3) is simply how I handled iCal and Contacts. Keep in mind that Text::Unidecode and Encoding::FixLatin continues to provide the capability to help in the Chinese/English situation.

As in the To Do lists being generated from the CSV from, this was essentially a lot of file manipulation and string parsing. Nothing particularly interesting in the way the code was written in order to handle any oddities.


This was a little more complex than handling a Things CSV file. After some research, I have found that Memo syncing tends to be handled by individual text files. This works great for me as I’m all for text files. However, I’m an Evernote user and that’s definitely able to handle more than just text. So, a process has to be put in place for me to be able to get “Stuff” on my palm.

  1. I have to decide what I want in the Palm
  2. This has to be placed into a separate category in my Evernote. So a separate notebook is used e.g an Evernote Notebook called “ForPalm”
  3. I have to be able to get each individual note into a text file
  4. Convert the text file into a MemoDB file for Palm
  5. Sync that

I have to admit that the above has proven itself, over time, that it isn’t the best way to get memos into the unit, but it was for now the easiest. To be able to export the Evernote Notebook into a *.enex file requires a non-AppStore version of Evernote. Once the dump is obtained, I put it through a script I found called enex-dump. This small little tool in PHP helps to convert this dump into a folder of plain text documents. This folder is then parsed for content and transformed into the MemoDB file.

Buttons Functionality Complete

With this, the functionality of the basic 4 buttons of my palm is complete. Over time, small little fixes for display are found and fixed, but otherwise, everything is pretty stable. As long as I could export the data into the format required, be it ICS, VCard, CSV or text files, I have the capability of getting that information into my PalmIIIxe and show it.

All buttons mapped

Additional Notes

As the use of my Palm now works in tandem with my iPhone, i have noticed that To Dos and Memos tend to have the highest capacity for change. While i can hold off not syncing calendar items and contacts, To Dos and Memos then to require more immediate attention. And while the current mechanisms are 1-way sync, I’m starting to feel that there might be a need to change how I handle both these items such that 2-way sync can be achieved. I’m still weighing my options, it might require a new method, software architecture or perhaps some new way of addressing it. As with always, its a function of time I can spare for this project.

See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3