More Fun With Your Palm, er, PDA November 21st, 2000
Randy: Heya Gary, whatcha been doing to your Palm V there? It's smoking.
Gary: Overclocking. And it's good!
Randy: Man, you are a speed freak! First your G3 Mac, and now you're tricking out your handheld too.
Gary: Wow, you're not the only one to say that I am fast. My wife says that all the time. Man, I'm pretty cool.
Randy: That's nice. You know these Palm OS based handhelds are pretty fast as they are. Why in the world could you possibly need them to be faster?
Gary: In a word: Games.
Randy: Ahhhh, I see.
Gary: A while ago we did a column about wasting time with your Palm. And boy, did we ever get a lot of angry responses. Especially from parents and nuns, for some weird reason.
Randy: You know, we never seem to get tired of those Palm jokes.
Gary: Well, what do we expect when we set such poor examples?
Randy: Good point. Well, what new stuff have you found to do with your Palm.
Gary: Well, I gotta tell I have been having a blast with my Palm. In fact, sometimes I just lock my self in my office for hours until the batteries wear out.
Randy: Dude! Here come all of those angry letters again.
Gary: Let's just call it a handheld then. After all, you have a Handspring Visor, and it keeps the readers minds out of the gutter. You filthy pigs.
Randy: Oh yeah, "Handheld." That's much better! And I am sure the "filthy pigs" comment will unleash another flurry of angry mail.
Gary: We need all the mail we can get, man. Forget it! And why don't we just call them PDAs?
Randy: No problem. What fun and possibly illegal ways have you found to waste time on your PDA, Gary?
Gary: I thought you'd never ask. First I found a killer 3D racing game called Race Fever from Digital Fiction, Inc.
Randy: I've tried some of those, lame top down racing games for the Palm OS. So far nothing has come close to being fun.
Gary: Then you gotta check out Race Fever. It's real gaming. Imagine Nascar Racing on your PDA! At scale speeds of over 200 MPH, you really get the sensation of speed when you play this game. You have your choice of fixed or dynamics cameras. You can modify your cars. Race on16 different tracks. Choose between automatic and manual transmission and even work your way through 4 different Championships.
Randy: Now that does sound like fun. But what about the controls? I hate trying to drive a car with those analog buttons on my Visor.
Gary: While you can use the buttons Race Fever, also lets you control your car via the graffiti area on your PDA. Drag your stylus left and right to steer and up and down to control the gas.
Gary: And according to Digital Fiction's web site, Race Fever will soon feature head to head racing via the IR port on your PDA.
Randy: Now that will be awesome! I knew my PDA could play a few cool games, but I never thought it would be as cool a game machine as a Gameboy of anything.
Gary: Well, it's funny you should mention that, because your Palm OS based PDA can become exactly that with another nifty piece of Palm software I found. Say hello to Liberty.
Randy: Hello Liberty. Who's Liberty?
Gary: Liberty is a Gameboy emulation program for the Palm OS.
Gary: The clever folks over at Gambit Studios, the creators of the must-have Palm overclocking hack Afterburner, have made playing Gameboy titles on your PDA a reality.
Randy: Wow, I didn't think my PDA had that much processor power. I am going to guess that's why you're PDA is smoking right now.
Gary: Yeah, I hate it when my Palm gets so hot it starts smoking.
Randy: Hey! We agreed to call it a PDA.
Gary: If that's important to you. Are you about to head out and polish the PDA?
Randy: Hey, nice one. But back to why your PDA is running hot.
Gary: Oh yeah. Emulating software takes some extra processor cycles so I highly recommend checking out Afterburner when running Liberty. The game speed in noticeably smoother with Afterburner running behind Liberty.
Randy: Of course, your results may vary when using Afterburner. Some folks report being able to clock their PDA to the max, but other can just gain a MHz or two. I even here our Editor is going to add something in about his Palm crashing and losing all his data when an afternoon of Afterburner went awry. Use Afterburner at your own risk, but we would love to hear some of your experiences with it.
Gary: Ignore our editor. Also, keep in mind that different PDA perform differently. For example, Randy gets great performance with Super Marioland: Golden Coins, but mine plays just a little slower than I would like. And have both our PDA's clocked up to 28 MHz.
Randy: I also tried Dragon's Lair and The Empire Strikes Back. Those games played a little slow for me, but they were playable. Now you may ask, "Where did you get those cool games?" Well, basically you hunt down game ROMs on the web. Just use Sherlock to search for "gameboy roms", and you get a ton of listings. Keep in mind that unless you own the original cartridge of the ROM you are downloading, this is technically stealing.
Gary: We say, technically, because there is some disagreement has to how wrong it is to use a ROM of a game that has long been out of circulation. After all, how can you be hurting the game manufacturer? We don't know, but still it is technically stealing.
Randy: Once you download a ROM file, you must convert it a format that Liberty can understand before you upload to your PDA. Fortunately, Liberty comes with a drag and drop converter that does just that. Just drag your downloaded ROM file to it, and it is instantly converted to a Liberty file. One hotsync and you're gaming!
Gary: One downside to the Liberty emulator is the converted ROM files it uses are huge! Super Marioland is 512K. That is one-quarter if my Palm V's total memory.
Randy: Hah! Get a Handspring!
Gary: Whatever, hoser. I have better things to do than sit on a city bus playing Asteroids on my PDA. Why you don't get beat up more is beyond me. I'm outta here.
Randy: Where you going, two meg? That's your new name: Two Meg.
Gary: Whatever. I'm off to Palm my stylus.
Randy: Hey! Keep that up and we are going to get fined, or something.
Gary: Well, we could re-edit the column to make it less objectionable.
Randy: Nah, I'll take my chances. Besides, it looks like our editor took out the most offensive stuff...
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .