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October 8, 2015 / 25 Tishri, 5776
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Penticon Technologies

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Every day more and more people are purchasing handheld organizers running the Palm Operating System (Palm OS), including a significant number of Jewish consumers. This interest on the part of the Jewish community created a demand for software that is geared to their unique needs. This is where Penticon comes in.

Penticon was and is one of the pioneer software companies to introduce the Hebrew platform. The story behind Penticon is quite interesting. In 1996, an American named Howie Hirsch who made aliyah almost two decades ago, was tinkering around with his Palm Pilot. In a moment of inspiration, he envisioned the great potential this device held and he subsequently developed the first version of Hebrew, which became an immediate hit in Israel. Upon seeing how great a response the Hebrew received, he created Penticon’s Luach.

Today Howie and wife, Renee, run and manage the company. Howie designs and programs the applications, while his wife handles all aspects of customer support.

Luach is geared to make life easier for the religion-oriented community. No longer does one need to be stressed by not knowing when the proper zeman is for Krias Shema or for candle lighting. This product adjusts the zeman according to your location, great news for travelers. By checking this option, you are informed of the date and time the holiday is being celebrated in the geographical area you are currently in or going to. This is particularly handy when traveling between Israel and America, when the weekly parsha is read on different Shabbosim, (as it occurred recently after Shavuos). The Yom Tovim as well can be adjusted according to Israel or the Diaspora (i.e. first day of Chol Hamoed in Israel equals the second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora). Luach will figure it out for you automatically.

In addition, Luach is minhag (religious custom) friendly. For instance, someone who holds that Shabbos ends 72 minutes after sunset as opposed to 45 minutes, 50 minutes, 60 minutes, etc., can adjust it accordingly – which means you can simply program the Luach’s zemanim according to the time of your minhag. Also you can adjust the times based upon the degrees (longitude, latitude) of your location. No matter where in the world you are, the Luach will present the appropriate times.

For those planning ahead, or curious about the past, Luach is programmed until the Jewish year 5833, (2072) and goes back to the Hebrew year 5663, (1903).

Aside from the zemanim, you can keep track of special Hebrew and English dates, utilizing the convenient user event option which allows you to save those most precious dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, yahrzeits, etc. (that will automatically adjust from Hebrew to civil and vice versa). When entering the dates, you are given the option to check off if the event took place after sunset, but before midnight. By doing this, the Palm will automatically adjust the event to place it on the correct Hebrew date. The program will then integrate it into your Date Book and you can even have these dates displayed in your computer in the Palm Desktop or Microsoft Outlook program.

All this innovation was not enough for Penticon. Hebrew Graffiti was the next endeavor. In 1999, the mission was accomplished and the next version of Hebrew was released with graffiti and the capability of editing Hebrew text. This opened up many doors for those who use Hebrew on a daily basis.

More and more Hebrew documents, including Shacharis, Mincha, Maariv, parshas hashevua, Mishnayos, Gemara, etc., related to Jewish study and life are being released for the Palm by companies that are based upon Penticon’s technology. Although there are fees charged for some of these products from their respective companies, it is usually well worth it and these programs in general will not disappoint you. As is often the case, the product that companies require some payment for will have better user functionality.

In terms of simplification, Penticon?s Hebrew Address Book is hard to beat. It gives you the option of inserting the names in Hebrew or English. What is truly remarkable is that you can write Hebrew in the correct direction. Normally when you type in English letters it goes from left to right. However, with Hebrew it is just the opposite. Hebrew goes from right to left. With Penticon’s applications you are able to write Hebrew the correct way (right to left). Another convenient feature is that when you access the English Date Book, everything is on the left side. However, when you access the Hebrew Date Book everything is on the right side.

Potential buyers need not have concerns regarding compatibility. This isn’t a problem because Penticon’s applications run on all Palm OS (Operating System) devices, which include Palm organizers, Handspring Visors, and Sony Clie models. Also for those who have cellular phones that have the Palm OS ( Kyocera, Samsung, Handspring Treo models etc.) Penticon’s applications work on all of these devices. To get a full listing of specific models please visit Penticon’s website.

For those of you who are new to all of this and would really like to see what you are buying before making a purchase, you can visit http://www.penticon.com and download a free 30-day trial period of the software. You have the option to try Hebrew Lite or Hebrew Support+. Hebrew Lite gives you the option to read Hebrew on your palm, while Hebrew Support+ allows you to write and read in Hebrew. After the trial period, it will no longer be functional, but once you use this program, you will find it hard to give it up.

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