My Dana Alphasmart software is now in open Beta!

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about my Dana programs other than that vague notion of ‘Gee, I said I was going to do an open release on those before Nano started this year, huh?’ Well, this morning I’m finally doing something about it.

I’ve written two programs for the Alphasmart Dana portable word processor, that have been very helpful to me, especially during Nano or similar challenges, so I’ve done my best to pretty them up, write some useful manuals and basic freeware licences for them. If you have a Dana device and are interested in trying them out, please feel free to download, redistribute to other Dana people, (but please keep the packaged files together!) and let me know if you’re having problems or can think of more improvements.

Multicounter: This is my on-the-go word count tool for Dana. It works in conjunction with Alphaword or any other word processor program that will give you an overall word count for a file – most PalmOS programs running on a Dana device don’t support word count for selected text, because it’s hard to select long ranges of text anyway. So Multicounter lets you type in the starting and ending word count for a writing session and does the math to tell you how much you wrote – it’ll also total up multiple writing sessions on a single scratchpad, (along with the date, chapter, and comment for each session,) supports daily quota targets, (50,000 words in 30 days, anybody?), 8 different scratchpads, and export to .CSV format on SD cards. If you’re doing Nanowrimo with a Dana, I really believe that this is the tool you need to keep track of your word count progress. Click here to download Multicounter.

Alphafiles: This program might not fit everybody’s writing process on a Dana; I started writing it because I wanted to move my Alphaword files back and forth on SD flash cards, and found that neither the Alphaword ‘open from card/save to card’ or the various generic file managers were convenient for letting me do this quickly. Alphafiles uses a ‘back and forth listboxes’ interface to show the Alphaword files on your Dana and the .pdb files in a single SD card folder, to easily copy or move them around. You can switch to a different card or different folder, rename, copy, or delete your files. It works really great in conjunction with the WSCONV utility on your laptop or desktop computer, so that you can quickly transfer your writing from the Dana to Windows without needing to hotsync or send – or transfer a file the other way without hotsync. Click here to download Alphafiles.

On a sadder note, my own Alphasmart Dana is having battery problems. I haven’t used it in a while, and I think that I’ll probably have to be careful to plug it in every night if I want to be using it the next day for Nano, as opposed to letting it run for weeks between charges. Maybe I should look into replacing the rechargeable battery pack or switching it out for alkalines soon. But I don’t think I’m going to futz with that before November.

4 Responses to My Dana Alphasmart software is now in open Beta!

  1. Jesús says:

    hi thanks for creating the software!

    did you know that you don’t need to buy a new rechargeable pack? you can use normal AA batteries.

    if you just open the battery compartment, gently remove the battery pack WITHOUT pulling on the wires… the wires and battery pack can be removed completely by carefully pulling on the left hand side where the wires meet the dana’s body. there is a little plastic “catch” which will reveal itself — to release the wires & battery pack you press the plastic catch’s sides where there are raised nodules.

    when the nodules give in (you will feel it) you can firmly seperate the two pieces of plastic. now you can tuck the plastic and short bit of wire back in its hiding groove.

    you will now see where the battery pack was, a normal battery socket. you can insert your AA batteries and replace the compartment door.

    (sorry for my english, hth)


  2. I ripped apart the old battery pack and wedged the connectors in between some rechargables and the main battery connectors. This gave me better rechargables that recharge from the standard Dana plug. It’s a tight fit, but it works. Others have fashioned their own battery packs or soldered things… I went for the hick-rig wedged metal method. Seems to be fine for the last three years.


  3. neoaptt says:

    I am a programmer as well and want to know how you programmed these applications. Do you have a github account you could post the source code on? Or just point me to the tutorials where they are located? I am having trouble finding tutorials on how to program for deprecated devices such as AlphaSmart Dana.


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