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My very first published piece for PreCentral, more than 18 months ago, was entitled "Unlocking the Key(board) to the Pre," accompanied by the above image produced by Dieter Bohn.  In my article, I discussed my long history with external keyboards and Palm handhelds, and lamented that Palm had chosen for some reason to leave Bluetooth keyboard support out of webOS. To make the point, I typed the first draft of the piece on my Palm T|X PDA and my ThinkOutside UltraThin Bluetooth keyboard. I finished with this thought:

To me, having used every external keyboard solution available for Palm handhelds, it is unbelievable to me that Palm has missed the opportunity to add this basic feature to the Pre (one which, it's instructive to point out, Apple has refused to add to the iPhone and iPod Touch). I remain hopeful that Palm or a clever developer will eventually bring to the Pre the same ability to touchtype that I had with my Palm III in 1997. Until then, though, I guess I'll keep my T|X charged.

Well, that would have been an awfully long time on the charger; it was only last week that the released/leaked/hacked webOS 2.1 for the Pre Plus enabled me to dust off and change the batteries in my ThinkOutside keyboard and once again begin typing into my Palm handheld. After using it to take notes at multiple meetings this week, and even drafting an initial version of this piece at my dining room table last night, I feel like I am finally able to be fully productive in webOS.

For those of us who are writers of any kind, and who actually touchtype, the ability to do so on a full-sized keyboard, anywhere, cannot be overvalued. Even though we don't yet have true Office editing capabilities (while awaiting a properly functioning Evernote and PocketMirror Notes for webOS 2.1, I have been using Scratch, which is a capable text tool but nowhere near as functional as the late lamented BlueNomad Wordsmith for webOS), with the multitasking capabilities of webOS, combined with a real keyboard, we can now research, write, and report with new ease. I'm also pleased that, with an upcoming NY-San Francisco trip planned for April, I'll be able to do some real writing on the plane, regardless of how tiny the tray table is.

The real tragedy right now is that, with the ThinkOutside UltraThin and Palm's own folding Bluetooth keyboard no longer for sale, there are few if any choices for keyboards that are as portable as the Pre Plus or Pre 2 themselves. I am eagerly awaiting the promised release of the Jorno Keyboard and, in the meantime, being very careful with my nigh-irreplaceable ThinkOutside.

On March 11, 2009, months before the first Pre hit the shelves at Sprint, Palm's marketing master Jon Zilber posted a blog entry  called "Answers to a few FTQs (Frequently Tweeted Questions)", where he listed the acronyms Palm was using to respond to the questions it was getting the most. One of the acronyms listed was:

EWTBKA: Enough with the Bluetooth keyboards already! We get the point.

Well, Palm may have gotten the point back then, but we've finally gotten a Bluetooth keyboard now, and I can stop noodging Jon about it.

Happy typing!