What's so cool about Coola?

NOTE: The Coola service has unfortunately been closed down due to "major changes in the marketplace."

by Greg Gaub

Whenever I talk about Coola with someone who hasn't tried it, or who hasn't explored it enough to know what it's truly capable of, they always wonder what's so great about it. It's such an unassuming little application that its easy to mistake its simplicity for uselessness. Well, instead of running down a list of specs and features, I'm going to tell a story based on how I envision a typical and valuable use of Coola... with a little humor tossed in. ;-) I'm also going to illustrate the recently added wireless features of Coola, as well as a brand-spankin' new one that swings wide the doors of opportunity called Coola Interchange. If you're unimpressed by Coola so far, please continue reading.

Meet Joe. Joe is a nice guy with good friends and an active social life. He's got a good job as an on-site support rep for a local ISP. Half the time he's in the office taking escalated support calls, the other half he's visiting customers to get their connections up and running.

It's a typical day for Joe. He arrives at work, drops his PalmVx into its cradle, and hits the HotSync button. He reviews his e-mail to find a couple messages from Coola letting him know that his manager has assigned a couple site calls to him. The Coola Sync window pops up, and he watches as two Date Book entries, a document file, an image file, and an Address Book entry are added to his device. He reviews his Date Book to find the new entries, one with a current client to troubleshoot a problem, and the other with a new client to help them get set up. The new client's contact information has been added to his Address Book, and the document file is a complete list of the client's current system configuration, the service they paid for, and the settings specific to their account. The image file is a high-resolution map of the quickest route from the ISP office to the client's location.

Since these are his first priority, he grabs his keys and hits the road for the first job. On the way, he gets a phone call from the office letting him know that there has been a change to the problem he needs to troubleshoot, and that he has a couple more Coolets waiting for him. After stopping at a 7-Eleven for a Double-Gulp, he clips his Omnisky modem to his PalmVx and runs the Coola application. He taps the My Coola button and reviews his unsynced Coolets. There he finds a Document Coolet waiting for him to sync. According to the phone call, this document contains instructions for a fix provided by the router manufacturer. That should speed up the service call, so he syncs it to his PalmVx and continues to the client's location. As soon as he arrives, he implements the fix as noted, and shaves an hour off the call. He then makes his way to the second service call, following the map in his image viewer application to get there quickly. He sets up the new client's system in short order and decides to grab some lunch while he's out.

He has time to grab a real lunch this time, so he heads over to his favorite eatery. While having lunch, he checks his e-mail, does a little web surfing, and ends up finding a Coolet link to a free e-book he's been wanting. He taps the link, then goes again to the Coola app to sync the book to his Palm. While finishing up his double-tall, half-caf, espresso mocha with extra foam, he cracks open the digital pages of his new e-book. After lunch, he heads back to the office. On his way, he passes one of his old hangouts and notices that a band he knew well in college is playing there. He pulls over to get more information, and jots it down into his Palm. It's the band's last night playing, so he quickly creates a Coolet of the event, and sends it to all his old college buddies. Even the ones without Palms and Coola will at least get an e-mail about the event. By the time he gets back to the office, two of his friends have called him back to let him know they'll be there!

He arrives at the office again to find his manager pacing the floor. They're getting ready to buy out a smaller ISP near them and integrate their services, but he doesn't have time to meet with the clients AND gather the data he needs from the bank, the phone company, and other sources. Joe then has the esteemed privilege of gathering this information into their database application at work. His manager runs out the door with Joe's PalmVx and Omnisky modem on his way to the meeting. With a snide remark about how the guy should just buy his own, Joe sets to work gathering the necessary information and incorporating it into their relational database. As soon as he's finished, he calls his boss, who then runs the complimentary database application on the Palm. He initiates the data transfer to find a minute later that all the information he needs is right there at his finger tips for the meeting he's currently walking through the door into the room for. With vital information at hand, he successfully completes the deal.

Meanwhile, Joe is at the office fielding support calls. He can handle most of these in his sleep, so he does a little surfing while helping a little old lady plug in and turn on her external 28.8kbps modem. While endlessly repeating AT commands, Joe finds a site that has a Coolet for the entire schedule of his favorite local sports team, and clicks it for future addition to his Palm. Knowing that his best friend would also want this, he uses Coola's "Send to a Friend" feature to share the Coolet link.

By the time his boss returns, the day has ended, and Joe is ready to go home to grab a quick shower before heading out to meet his friends to watch the band play some of the songs they loved in college. A quick call to his girlfriend to let her know when he'll be picking her up, and he's on his way. He synced his Palm as he was getting ready, and finds a little personal note in his Memo Pad from his girlfriend. He smiles as he reads it and decides to taker her up on her offer as soon as the show ends. ;-)

Can Coola really do all that? For the most part, yes, it can. Coola has been able to make adding and sharing Date Book, Address Book, and Memo Pad entries quick and easy for a long time. With it's recently added ability to perform these tasks wirelessly, much of my example is currently possible. And now, with a new technology called Coola Interchange, it's only a matter of time before everything in my example can come to pass. With the Coola Interchange technology, developers can integrate the wireless synchronization and database addition features of Coola into their applications. Image viewers will be able to grab images from sources linked through Coola. Database applications will be able to acquire and supply data via the Coola service. The possibilities are wide open now, for wireless as well as wireline and HotSync connectivity, to allow data of all kinds to be seamlessly and conveniently added to your device, and directly into the appropriate application, for indefinite storage. This is above and beyond the transient nature of most web clipping applications, which require you to remain connected to gather and view the information. Now, users will have more choices as to where the information is stored, and how long it's available to them.

For more information, please visit the Coola web site.

If you would like to add any comments or corrections to my review, please contact me at [email protected]

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