Bozidar Benc Interview [08/28/2001 21:27]
Pocket Goddess Interview: Mr. Bozidar Benc, of Pop-Up Fame
I am very pleased to present this interview with Bozidar Benc. If you've been using a Palm OS
handheld for any time at all, you've probably come across some of his very popular programs.
Launcher III is the first one that comes to mind, but that is no means Mr. Benc's only creation. He
also created all of the Pop-Up programs that make using your handheld so much more efficient, as
well as several other Palm OS gems. First the interview, then I'll talk a little more about some of
my favorite Benc programs.
Discuss this interview in the PocketGoddess Forums!
Please tell us a bit more about yourself.
I'm 45, and I live in Slavonski Brod(Croatia),a small town 200 km east from Zagreb (Croatian
capital). I'm married and have two daughters, 15 and 20 years old. My hobbies were always of
technical nature - ham radio, rocket modelling, astronomy (I have two telescopes - 8" home made
reflector, and 4" SCT). My first computer was also home made. That was Z80 system with 2 Kb of ROM
and 2Kb of RAM memory. It didn't look very nice, but it worked. :-)
How did you get your start in Palm programming?
I've got Pilot 5000 as a gift from a customer, at the beginning of the 1997. I was delighted.
Shopping in Hungary was very popular at that time, but it was quite complicated to calculate the
relationship between Croatian and Hungarian currencies - I had to first buy DEM in Croatia, and
then use those DEM to buy Forints in Hungary. :-) So, I start learning how to write programs for my
new toy. The result was Currency Calculator, which was among the first 100 applications ever
written for the Pilot.
At that time Kenny West was starting with the Pilot Gear. We exchanged a couple of messages and
then I decided to offer CurrCalc to the market. Kenny even allowed me to use some space on his web
server for my own web pages! In fact, he is the one to whom I must say a big thanks, because
without his support, I would not be what I am now.
Is it something that you do on the side, or has it become a full-time job for you?
Programming for the Palm OS is my full-time job in the last two years (or a bit more), but it's
still a hobby.
Were you surprised by the success and glowing reviews that your products have received from Palm
users all over the world?
Yes, I was surprised, and I was very glad. :-)
You've written a large number of Palm OS programs. Which one is your favorite, and why?
You can guess that the answer on such a question is hard. If you ask me which one I'm using the
most, then the answer is easy - PopUp Favorites. I use it many times each day.
However, my real favorite is PopUp Names. I use it a lot myself, and it is very popular.
And there is PopUp Calculator. Its popularity motivated me to dedicate myself completely to the
Palm OS programming.
I must not forget the Currency Calculator. I would say that it's still the most powerful
combination of calculator and universal unit converter.
Why did you make Launcher III freeware, when you could easily charge $10 or more for a license?
I just feel that it wouldn't be right if I charge anything for the Launcher III. That's because the
whole idea is not mine - we all must thank Eric Kenslow for the great idea.
Any plans to release apps for the PocketPC?
I was thinking about the PPC quite a while ago, but those devices are extremely expensive here, in
Croatia, and I'm afraid that the market is not wide enough.
What sorts of surprises can we expect from Benc Software Productions in the future?
If I tell you that, then it won't be a surprise any more. :-)
Thank you very much for your kind assistance. I'm sure our readers are excited to know a bit more
about the man of "Pop-Up Fame."
Pocket Goddess Picks
I was fortunate enough to be able to try out some of Boizdar Benc's Palm OS applications while I
was getting this interview together, and I must say I agree with Mr. Benc when he said that it was
hard for him to pick a favorite. I would have to say though that I simply couldn't live without
Launcher III, the freeware launcher replacement. After using it for any length of time, it's
impossible to go back to the standard Palm OS launcher. That could have something to do with the
unique tabbed interface, which saves a lot of time going from one program to another. Or it could
have something to do with the way that it replaced several other Palm utilities with the little
gadgets that are included. There's a trash can for deleting files, and an "info" icon that I can
drag any program to in order to get information about its size, creator, etc. I can also drag a
program to the little beaming icon at the bottom to send it to a friend with a single tap. The lock
is a quick way to turn off and lock my Palm, without having to make that long Graffiti stroke up
the screen. And of course the battery voltage meter and the ability to see how much memory I have
left at a glance are also extremely useful.
I can't overlook the PopUp programs though- they are all simply brilliant. You'll need XMaster
(freeware), TealMaster (shareware), or HackMaster (shareware) to use them, and it will take a
little time to set up the activation strokes to suit you, but the investment is well worth it.
PopUp Calculator can be used in any application, so you can settle the lunch bill in just a second
while you are actually in the Palm Datebook setting up your next appointment. You can copy and
paste your results in any application as well.
PopUp Time gives you a very nice clock and date display that is available in any application as
well, and it also shows you your battery voltage and free menory at a glance. It includes a tools
menu that allows you to copy the time and date if you need to quickly time stamp an entry in the
MemoPad, and it also lets you view a monthly calendar. Two last PopUp programs that I would
strongly encourage you to try are PopUp Memo, which gives you one stroke access to a quick entry
Memo Pad screen, and PopUpFreeTime, which lets you see your weekly schedule at a glance and quickly
see which time slots you have available. Write in the proper text, tap a time slot, and the
appointment is scheduled just like that!
The programs that I mentioned are just a sample of what's available at Benc Software Production.
The prices are very reasonable, you can try before you buy, and best of all, they add a great deal
of functionality to your Palm OS device. Take my advice: try out a few of Mr. Benc's programs,
register them, and help suport one of the Palm OS platform's best shareware developers.