BugMe! v4.3 & BugMe! Messenger

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, send e-mail
Published by: Electric Pocket, Ltd., go to the web site
Requires: PalmOS 3.1 or higher (OS 4.x or higher for screenshots); works on standard res or hi-res displays; wireless Bluetooth or WiFi-enabled PDA, network access for e-mail
MSRP: $19.95 (BugMe!), $29.95 (BugMe! Messenger)

BugMe! enables PDA and smartphone users to hand write notes or sketches directly on the screens of their Palm Powered handhelds and set reminder alarms. Versions are available for Palm OS and Pocket PC PDAs, as well as Nokia Series 60 and Sony Ericsson P800 smartphones. You can beam BugMe! notes to other BugMe! users, exchange ideas and add depth to meetings, workgroups and personal schedules. We reviewed Bug Me! and BugMe! Messenger on a Palm Zire 71 (PalmOS 5.2.1) and a Palm M515 (PalmOS 4.1).

BugMe! Messenger adds another dimension. Like BugMe!, it also lets you take notes in your own handwriting or with Graffiti text and captures what you draw on your Palm PDA screen (sketches, drawings, maps, doodles). Messenger however lets you send notes wirelessly from your handheld to any Internet e-mail address. You can also import a photograph and annotate it with your own handwriting or add text with Graffiti. The content in your notes is automatically shown by desktop and web-based e-mail programs. If you send a BugMe! note with an alarm, the recipient gets the alarm in vCalendar format, making it possible to add the information to compatible diaries and schedulers. If you beam a BugMe! note to another Palm Powered handheld, your alarm goes with the note. BugMe! Messenger is fully integrated with IDEO's eyemodule and Kodak's PalmPix cameras. When we wrote this review (early October 2003), Messenger did not yet work automatically with the Palm Zire 71 built-in camera.

BugMe! Messenger comes with a free bugme.net e-mail address. Once you install the software, the registration process helps you set up your bugme.net e-mail account. BugMe! Messenger scans this address and delivers messages to your handheld.

The core of BugMe! is its note-based reminders and alarms. BugMe! lets you use your digital notes as visual alarms. Choose from pre-defined intervals such as "Bug me in an hour" or set an alarm for any time in the future using the date selector. There are dozens of different note templates which can be used to personalize everything.

In daily use for a little over 4 weeks, BugMe! proved very handy and provided a break from the mundane DateBook alarms and reminders (there's nothing like a little color or stationery to perk things up - I'm serious - especially when, on some days, you're almost literally living inside DateBook). We used BugMe! on a Palm Zire 71 and BugMe! Messenger on a Palm M515 equipped with a Palm Bluetooth card. We encountered no problems outside of a bit of crankiness with POP3 settings, which was traced to a mistake in the spelling of the incoming server name (mea culpa).

Cons: Some alarms locked the system, forcing a reset. The problem was traced to an incompatibility with Linkesoft's Screenshot and Beiks' BDicty Reader. Note that the problem only occurred when either Screenshot or BDicty was running and a BugMe! alarm popped up. Outlook (Microsoft Office XP version) is not known for its supreme friendliness to other e-mail applications and Microsoft's flagship e-mail program stayed true to form by periodically interfering with BugMe! Messenger's Internet. We solved that problem by changing Outlook's automatic e-mail check to 30 minute intervals. We don't know why that made a difference, but Outlook and BugMe! Messenger worked perfectly together afterward. Messenger only works with POP3 e-mail accounts - no help here for AOL and Hotmail users yet.

Pros: BugMe! and BugMe! Messenger are both very handy. We know that conventional e-mail works well, but if you're already in the midst of using your wireless equipped PDA (connected to a network via Bluetooth or WiFi), BugMe! can be very handy. Its integrated screenshot utility is useful not just for adding detail to BugMe! notes but also for projects and other work (you need to be using PalmOS 4 or higher). Graphic files sent to your bugme.net address are automatically formatted for your PDA. The ability to use drawings, photos and graphics as well as text is very convenient. Recommended.

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