THE PAPER PDA is a web site with free templates for making an eight-page paper booklet out of a single sheet of paper. The resulting new pages are necessarily tiny, but readable.


You start by using your computer’s mouse to pull in individual templates for each page. You can have a page with a calendar, another for a shopping or to-do list, and you can even create a flap that holds business cards. Joy made one that starts with a page of Ben Franklin’s list of “13 Virtues,” then a shopping list, notes, a weekly and monthly calendar, measurement conversions, a Sudoku game, and a couple of photos. When she folded it according to the directions on the web site, each page was different.

We like to think of it as a paper PDA. PDA is an acronym for Personal Digital Assistant, and these are designed to be a kind of portable electronic appointment and record book. One of the first was the Palm, which is still made and widely used; the best known PDA now is probably the Blackberry. You can carry any of them in a jacket pocket or purse. Of course you can do that with our paper PDA as well.

The advantage of the paper PDA, as we call it, is that it’s free and requires no batteries. The information it contains can be read even in bright sunlight and photocopied on any office copying machine. We also found an excellent companion device for data entry. It’s a thin wooden stick with a marking point at one end and a kind of rubbery “undo” button at the other. If you want to wipe out anything written with the data entry point, you simply reverse the stick and rub the undo button over whatever is written. They’re very cheap, have a long shelf life and are available in all the office supply stores.

Of course, unlike electronic PDAs, you can’t access the web or send and receive emails with a paper PDA. And you can unfold it and make a paper airplane.

All of which reminds us of a program called ClickBook, we’ve written about before. This, unfortunately, is not free but lets you easily print out many kinds of booklets, and is handy for both home and business. You can read all about it in one of our older columns, or go to their web site: The latest version is $50, for either Windows or Macintosh.


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