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DA (Desk Accessory)

What is a Desk Accessory? And why are they useful?

DAs (Desk Accessory) are specially written Palm apps that can be run while a normal Palm app is running. If you can remember to the early days of IBM, they are somewhat similiar to TSR (Terminate, Stay Resident) programs.

In practical terms, let's say that you are entering some notes in the MemoPad and you want to do some conversions from cm to inches to enter in your notes. Instead of launching the Calc program, doing your calculations, then relaunching your MemoPad, you could launch the ezConvDA DA which pops up over your MemoPad as below:

EzConvDA screenshot

After you do your conversion, dismiss the DA (usually you can do this by tapping outside of the DA window) and you are right back in MemoPad without having to launch it again.

Why not use a hack instead?

For the above example there is a hack called PopUpCalculator which does more or less the same thing. Why use a DA instead of a HACK?

There are times that only a hack will do, but there are many times when you could substitute a DA for a hack. There are DAs that do calculations, clipboard manipulations, adjust your auto off time, pop up clocks, etc. See Yamakado's DA site for a list of the many free and useful DAs available. Here are some neat DAs you can check out.

What do I need?

You will need a DA launcher program which is usually a hack program that launches DAs. This also means that you will need a hack manager program such as


or some other hack manager program. I use X-Master v1.1, because it is very useful in programming, but the other hack manager programs have their places as well.

What DA launcher to use?

There are a variety of handy (and free) DA launchers available. Again, check Yamakado's DA launchers page for a list of most of the DA launchers.

I like using two DA launchers. The first is AppDALauncher which allows you to launch regular Palm apps and DAs by either dividing up the App button into quadrants, and/or by swiping in various directions from the App button. It features an app history list like SwitchHack.

Enabling AppDALauncher from X-Master
Enable AppDALauncher from X-Master screenshot
AppDALauncher Configurations
AppDALauncher Configurations screenshot
AppDALauncher Tap & Drag Configuration
AppDALauncher Tap & Drag Configuration screenshot
This is the way I have my Tap & Drag configuration set up. This means that

The other DA launcher that I find very useful is ButtonDAHack. This hack lets you map any of the hardware buttons, the upward pen swipe or the calc button to an app or a DA. ButtonDAHack is most useful when used with another set DA launchers called LDAs. The LDA launchers are DA apps which map your 4 hardware buttons, silkscreen Calc button and your silkscreen Find button to launch apps and/or DAs. Since LDAs are DAs, they can also be launched by other LDAs. In short, this means you can launch either apps or DAs by pressing a sequence of buttons. I find that using ButtonDAHack and LDAs replaces the launchers such as ButtonLaunch (freeware) or CoLauncher (shareware). And they also allow me to launch DAs as well!

Here is an example (admittedly contrived since I am creating the screenshots from POSER rather than from my Palm), in how you could set up ButtonDAHack and LDAs.

First enable ButtonDAHack from X-Master
Enable ButtonDAHack from X-Master screenshot
Map the MemoPad hardware button to an LDA
Map MemoPad screenshot
Launch the MemoPad LDA
Launch MemoPad LDA screenshot
Configure LDA MemoPad launchers
Configure LDA MemoPad launchers screenshot
The configuration screen is a bit confusing ... at least to me. The buttons on the screen correspond to:
Up Calc
Down Find
Address Memo
Date Todo

Usage
Now you can use the above example as follows:
The first press of a MemoPad button will bring up the LDA launching screen. The screen appears very fast even on my ancient Palm Personal.
Example 1 LDA screenshot
Now pressing on the MemoPad button again will launch your MemoPad as normal. Or if you press the Todo button instead, it would launch the Preferences Screen (or course you could map the ToDo button to launch a more useful app instead). As a bonus, if your Palm is turned off and you first press the MemoPad button and then the Date button, since the Date button is not mapped to anything, the effect would be to leave your Palm in the last app that it was running. Ie this would duplicate the power on button. This is useful for those with broken power buttons (quite a number of Palm V owners suffer from this), or those of you with cases that make awkward access to the power button. I wrote a hack, ButtonOnHack, that can do this with a single button press, but I prefer using ButtonDAHack and LDAs to get similiar results with the bonus of being able to launch apps and DAs.

I hope you have found out after reading this explanation of how DAs can be useful in your daily Palm life. Please let me know if this explanation was helpful or confusing.


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