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FatFinger for Palm.

The main benefit of a PDA is almost ridiculously simple: It organizes the information that previously resided on slips of paper, business cards, and calendars. To access all this handy data that you’ve spent so much time entering, all you need is the slim stylus that tucks neatly into the PDA’s side. But aye, there’s the rub.

Too often, the stylus gets lost, rolling under furniture and wedging itself into table cracks, and because it’s artfully shaded to be unobtrusive, I begin to take it personally, thinking of the stylus as a kind of plastic chameleon, trying to avoid my search. Well, it can stay lost. Thanks to FatFinger, an inexpensive ($14.95) and quite handy shareware application from Avaion, text can be input by tapping at the screen with a finger. The layouts are customizable, so those with truly fat fingers can increase the size of the text display lines, while those with elfin digits can opt for a smaller keyboard and a quicker input speed.

The software is a snap to install, and it was fairly easy to become comfortable, especially since I’ve always resisted learning how to do Palm graffiti properly. It does take some time to master the navigation, since the software has a variety of keyboard options and preferences. As an added bonus, those minor hand cramps I’d have from overly enthusiastic stylus use are now, happily, a mere memory.

FatFinger’s lone drawback is that if you’re the type who gets slightly nauseated by the grime on the touchscreen at an ATM, you may want to just buy an extra pack of styli. My Palm’s once-pristine screen did tend to gum up more often. Still, it’s a small price to pay for never having to look under the couch again.

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