Every once in a while I write a column that overachieves. For example, a column I wrote in 2001 about the future of the Palm operating system and Palm devices was picked up by Wired News and posted around the world in 20 languages. The column predicted a new type of device that delivered specialised information (to you or to firemen, waitresses, mechanics, soldiers, chambermaids, nurses, doctors and engineers) wherever it was needed. One of the embodiments I described was a device that came standard with a rental car and would tell a person where he or she could find whatever was needed, including the closest vegetarian pizza. Well, some of those devices have finally arrived but not exactly in the form I anticipated. They arrived hidden in a clamshell-sized mobile phone that costs little more than any other high-quality mobile phone. Better than the US$2,000 Newton-sized gadget I predicted four years ago, this device works with my Mac (using a few tricks) and existing Mac software. I am talking about a Palm OS-empowered mobile phone. I finally bit the bullet and purchased one after they became more compact and less expensive. The model I bought was the Samsung i500. The original intention was to have my 1,500-plus contacts available whenever I needed them and to have my calendar at hand as well. The only other requirements were that it synchronise with Microsoft's Entourage calendar and contact database, and that it not break the bank. Well, it has turned out to be one of the handiest investments I have ever made. Most mobile phone manufacturers are not very Mac friendly and they generally claim they don't support Apple software and hardware. Fortunately, the Mac community has created all the gadgets and software you will ever need to make your Palm-endowed phone work just fine. Here are the basics: To connect, forget about the factory cradle for synchronisation. Most do not come with Mac drivers (though you can find plenty available online with a quick search). I used the inexpensive Boxwave MiniSync ( www.boxwave.com/products/minisync/ US$14.95) USB-to-mobile retractible cable. It not only syncs with your Mac without drivers, it charges your phone and allows you to use your handset as a high-speed wireless internet connection, assuming that your mobile operator provides data access. This is incredibly handy, not only because hotels charge a bundle for internet access, but while you travel in your car, a co-passenger can search for directions or points of interest along the way. As far as software goes, the Mac comes with a synchronisation application that provides 'conduits' (Palm access routes) for its key applications such as iCal and Mail. Since I use Entourage, I bought a copy of MissingSync ( www.markspace.com/missingsync_palmos.php US$39.95). It connects with iCal, Address Book and Entourage, and it also connects via Airport and Bluetooth if your phone supports these technologies. What impressed me was its ability to transfer images from iPhoto and iTunes to my phone. I now have a most impressive slide show of images of friends and family I can use to bore fellow air travellers. It turns out that the Palm/phone has a bundle of features I did not expect I would ever use. The first are the games. I downloaded a few to entertain my son on long trips and they do fine. But I also discovered that they entertain me more often that I expected. My son likes Bejeweled ( www.astraware.com/palm/featured/bejeweled/ US$19.95) which is a mesmerising colourful puzzle/type game. I like SolFree ( www.smallware.com/solfree.php ) which is a package of five, free, high-quality solitaire card games. Whether waiting for a flight or for my son to get out of school, I find myself pulling out my phone and playing. Another tool I found useful is Vindigo ( www.vindigo.com/ US$24.95 a year) which is a personal assistant installed into a PDA phone. It also works on any colour screen mobile phone that runs Brew-type applications. You sync Vindigo with your Mac, identifying which cities you will be visiting. Your Mac then locates the data you might need and syncs that with your Palm device. When you get to where you are going and discover a need - from restaurants to washrooms - you open Vindigo on your mobile and it will find what you are looking for including ATMs, movies, museums, shops, services, and so on. It also gives maps and walking or public transport directions. E-mail Dave Horrigan at email@example.com with your Mac queries.