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Learning from Others

by Tim Drenk

If you want to improve in any area or skill, you need to spend time with others who know more or are better at it than you are. Coaches, trainers, teachers, professors, support groups, discussion groups, and many others all serve the purpose to help us improve in one area or another. If you want to make better use of your handheld device, one way is to spend time talking with others who use them.

There are several options to do this. The first is the most obvious, if you know someone who uses a handheld computer, ask him or her for ideas and hints. Most people I have talked to are more happy to share things they have discovered for using their device more effectively.

Another option are user groups. There are user groups for many different things. You can find user groups for desktop computers in most major cities. In the Minneapolis/St. Paul, for example, there is a Palm Users Group-you can find them at TCPUG.com-and a Pocket PC Users Group-they are at TCPocketPC.org. To find a Palm Users Group in your area, check the list at InterPUG. To find a Pocket PC User Group, look at Microsoft's list. Each group is a little different and may or may not be what interests you. Some are geared for the general public while others are aimed more at developers and IT people.

A third option for learning about your handheld device from others is the discussion boards and e-lists on various web sites. These can be a great place to ask a wide variety of people questions and get some good answers. There are some very knowledgeable people as well as some very nasty people who respond to questions.

A great place to start is Yahoo's e-groups. You will need to sign up for a Yahoo account here if you don't have one. If you have an email account at Yahoo.com, just sign in at groups.yahoo.com. After you have signed in, search for Pocket PC and join whatever the group that interests you.

Here are some discussion boards or forums available: Here are a few tips to make the most of your time on these boards or lists:
  • Spend some time just observing. Find out what the focus is, the tone is, the etiquette of the group or forum is, etc.
  • Search the archives, if available, before you ask a question. Someone might have already asked the same question a few days ago and been given a good answer.
  • If you ask a question, give as much relevant information as possible. People will be able to give you a better answer if they know what kind of device, what system, additional programs, etc. you're using.
  • Avoid debates about which OS, device, program is best. It's highly unlikely that you are going to change anyone's mind and you'll come across people who just want to fight. State your opinion if you wish and move on.

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