Daryl Seager wrote an engaging booklet on the history of Dice and Farkle. It’s a fascinating read that takes the reader around the world and through time. It starts with the Romans and their knuckle bones and takes the reader to Greece, Persia, Korea, and China where “21 individual domino pieces represent the possible throws with 2 dice”. I love the list she provides of other names Farkle is known as. Farkle is odd enough, but “Pass the Pig” is even better. Download this fascinating and well worth the time booklet. In addition to the history, it thoroughly covers all the rules plus several variations. Download here.

As a software designer at Smart Box Design I use a lot of software. Some of it is very inexpensive and others more that I want to admit paying, but if it does the job, then it was worth every penny. The internet and mobile connectivity has made purchasing software quick and easy and receiving updates even easier.

There are several mechanisms to learn about updates of which I use them all.

  • News Sites
  • Subscriptions Services
  • Newsletters
  • RSS Feeds

News Sites
We all have our favorite news sites to read about the mobile industry. A few of my favorites are Palm Addicts, PDArcade, and WindowsMobile24/7. Palm Addict does an incredible job posting update notices they find during their daily trolling of other web sites or posting updates sent by developers. What is great about Palm Addicts is they usually have a comment or two about the update or where to get more information. PDArcade specializing in games, and Windows24/7 posts without all the Microsoft marketing hype.

Subscription Services
A great site to subscribe for updates is versiontracker.
In addition to covering Palm updates, they also send out update notices on Windows and Macintosh software. Subscribing is easy, give them you email, tell how often you want update notices and voila, you’re done. Every major developer I know uses versiontracker to post update notices including my company.

I am a big fan of newsletters, as long as they do not come more than once a month. I love hearing about new features, tips, and maybe a way to save on my next purchase. My web site has a newsletter and I enjoy writing it. New subscribers receive a coupon off their next purchase, I get to point out some really cool features in our games and I announce all new upgrades. Our newsletter uses a third party system that guarantees we are adhering to all spam laws. If you have not already signed up for your favorite company’s newsletter I highly recommend that you do. You can always unsubscribe if you find yourself not reading it.

RSS Feeds
Many sites now include an RSS feed. My site includes one, Palm Addicts I mentioned above has one, Time magazine has one, etc. The nice part of about RSS feeds is you can customize what you see. You can set your reader to just see the headline, or headlines and the synopses, or the entire article. I typically just read the headline and if I want more information, I click the headline to read the full article. Setting up a reader can still feel a bit clunky, but once you have it done for one site it is easy to add more. I use Yahoo news when online. I paste in the URL to the RSS feed and Yahoo takes care of all the rest. This is all done in the MyYahoo section. There are also many fine RSS readers for the Palm and Pocket PC.

A nice trend is having the software check for updates when connected to the web then informing the owner. This is not practical on my phone or my PDA as I don’t like my connection fees being used in this way, but as connectivity prices fall and more devices have Wi-Fi I can see this method becoming very popular.

All in all, I love getting updates. The new features are fun to try, it reminds me to see if my favorite developer has anything new, and when the upgrade is free, I really fell like my initial investment is paying off. If you have any sites you use to keep your software up to date, please let me know.

Los Angeles experienced a rather large black out yesterday.

The power outage got me thinking about how helpful a PDA would be during a blackout.

If you were in Los Angeles during the blackout with your PDA you would have access to a host of data.

  • Phone numbers to call and let everyone know about the black out or numbers for your spouse’s work to make sure all is well.
  • You could still work on documents while your computer is down.
  • You could listen to music while waiting for the bus that will be very late, especially with traffic signals not working.
  • You could become a photojournalist and take pictures with your Treo 600 or 650 and email them to the news agencies or your blog.
  • You could catch up on that book you downloaded last week or listen to Palm Addicts latest Podcast.
  • You could review emergency procedures you downloaded to your PDA.
  • You could review the list of emergency supplies you inventoried and added to your PDA.
  • You could keep a journal on how to be better prepared for the next time this happens.
  • You could play games to relax.

All in all, the power might be down, but with your PDA you are still up and running (at least until the battery dies).