Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Google Mobile Changes?
Google Mobile seems to have changed quite a bit since I mentioned it last October. If you browse google.com, it automatically redirects to a mobile device friendly page google.com/m. Unlike the full-sized personalized page, the mobile friendly version can only have up to six page modules added (weather, movies, news sources, etc.). There aren't any links to other mobile friendly Google properties, but other Google sites redirect to mobile friendly pages too. gmail.com and news.google.com look fine on my Windows Mobile Pocket PC. One nice touch is that GMail can be used over an SSL encrypted session on a Pocket PC or Smartphone by using https://gmail.com instead of http://gmail.com.

Philips HN060 Noise Canceling Headphones

I bought the Philips HN060/37 Noise-Canceling Earbuds for a recent trip. For a relatively low price (US$50+) headphone, it did a pretty good job of delivering sound while reducing the background noise while on a plane. It comes with three sets of buds in different sizes. None really fit my ears well. But, they fit well enough for use. I wouldn't be able to run or exercise with any of the buds though. They tend to fall out (unlike the Sony earbuds I usually use in non-noisy settings). The neckstrap is handy when stuck in a plane for a long time. But, the cords to the buds tend to get tangled up a lot when taking the headphones out of its pouch or putting them away. The 124 ratings of it on Amazon gives it 3 out of 5 stars. I tend to a agree. It is a relatively decent earbud headphone. It would get a lot better rating for me if the earbud fit well in my ears and if the strap didn't get so tangled up so often.

Pre-Windows Mobile Office Files vs. Windows Vista WMDC
Reader Patrick (PHH) says:
WMDC imports all my Word and Excel files (I have over 1200 on my pda) in ppc format (pws and pxl). I thought it was the fault of Office XP vs Vista (I could read those files fine on Office XP installed on an XP pc)and that when I bought Office 2007 I'd be able to read the ppc files on my PC. No such luck.

It will import rtf files directly, so I've translated literally hundreds of doc files into rtf format; however I don't see any workaround for the spreadsheet files. I even tried openoffice on my Vista machine. It won't read those files either.

I'm running ppc 2003 on an iPAQ 2755. Have been using them FINE for over a year on XP and using various versions of ActiveSync.

I'm close to paying the computer shop that built my machine for me to revert to XP from on my brand new machine unless I can get some answers.

Is there any way to get Microsoft to talk about these problems for brand new software?

Patrick: Welcome to the wonderful world of poor initial design decisions! The original Windows CE Handheld PC designers decided to create unique Word and Excel file formats a decade ago. When Mobile Office components came to the Pocket PC, they kept the same broken design that required a translation before the files could be read on the desktop. This led to all kinds of problems for Windows CE/Mobile users for years. This finally changed in Windows Mobile 5 based Pocket PCs. But, that was too late for your aging Windows Mobile 2003 based iPAQ.

I'm not syncing old 2003 or 2003 2nd Edition Pocket PCs with my Vista box. So, I can't test your situation at the moment. However, it looks like Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) actually reverts back to ActiveSync 3.8 code when old legacy devices are partnered. This means that there should be an option that becomes visible when you sync an old device that lets you check or uncheck the Office Mobile translation feature (it is turned off by default since Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices use native DOC and XLS [but not DOCX and XLSX] file formats).

You might also want to consider upgrading two or three generations and move up to a WiMo 5 or 6 generation device.

Microsoft LifeCam NX-6000: Who Designed the Useless Clip?


I bought the relatively new Microsoft LifeCam NX-6000 Webcam designed for use with notebook PCs on a whim last week. The 2 megapixel camera and USB microphone components seem to work well. The image is quite a bit better than Intel 0.3 megapixel webcam I bought years ago. There is one little problem with the NX-6000 though. The clip that was presumably designed to clip on top of the LCD lid of a notebook is a fixed size. There isn't any width adjustment I can see or feel. So, unless your notebook lid is an exact fit for the NX-6000's clip, the webcam won't sit on top of your notebook. I can tell you for sure that the clip is way too narrow to use with a Dell Latitude D600 notebook. And, I suspect it will be way too narrow to use with the D620 notebook that will replace it.

And, why is it that the so-called business notebook models have fewer features than the consumer models? No webcam. No Firewire port. No SD card reader, etc.? But,that is for a different blog rant.

Microsoft LifeCam NX-6000: OK, the clip kind of works
I took another whack at the LifeCam NX-6000 earlier today. I sort of shoved it on the top of a Dell D600 notebook LCD lid and found that the clip slides out a bit (Did I mention there is no useful printed documentation for this thing?). It sort of sat on the cover at an somewhat odd but mostly workable angle. I had to move the LCD cover around a bit to frame objects (me) correctly.

One other thing became apparent as I played with it for a bit. The NX-6000 becomes pretty hot to the touch after using it for a few minutes. This surprised me. Of course, this is the first webcam I've bought in 4 years or so. Do all current generation webcams heat up?

Windows Mobile Screen Formats
Quick, what is the difference between Windows Mobile Standard and Windows Mobile Professional? Had to think a moment, huh? What? Still need more time. Yeah, that was a great renaming move. But, hey, there's more to confuse you beside branding changes. There are now 5 possible Pocket PC (oops, "Professional") screen formats and 3 possible Smartphone (oops, "Amateur"...wait, that's not right either, "Standard") screen formats. Microsoft's Mike Calligaro explains it in all its gory detail in a blog item titled...

320×320 Revisited

The article focuses on the 320×320 format introduced for Windows Mobile 6 (based on Windows CE 5... Got a headache yet?) but has a great table placing all the screen possibilities in perspective.

We Need a Good Non-Microsoft Windows Mobile Sync Solution
I just read on PocketPCThoughts.com that HP is no longer providing Microsoft Outlook with Windows Mobile devices. You might be thinking that you can simply buy the most inexpensive version of Office 2007 to deal with this issue. But, think again. Head over to the Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 edition page and look at what it includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. No Outlook in that package. While only HP has gone down this no-Outlook-with-devices path so far, they do sell a good sized percentage of Windows Mobile devices in the US. One can assume that Dell and other Windows Mobile vendors will not be far behind.
Your next thought may be that it might be good to sync with a bunch of Google web apps. Unfortunately, while Google has a decent calendar, it does not have a contacts solution. Yahoo!, on the other hand, has decent contacts, calendar, and notes web apps. It even provides a free IntelliSync (now owned by Nokia) utility to sync with its apps. Unfortunately, I had such poor experiences with it years ago that I am afraid to try it again. Yahoo! has been aggressively pursuing mobile users recently. So, I hope they take this opportunity to create a good mobile sync scenario.

Microsoft is only focusing on Enterprise users with Exchange Servers. But, that leaves out a lot of consumers as well as double digit percentage enterprise users who do not have Exchange Servers. The importance of the desktop OS has been less and less important over the years as we increasingly find ourselves dependent on web-based applications. Even Microsoft's own confusing Live brand web services acknowledge this trend. So, why are our mobile devices still often tied to a PC-bound Outlook client? What we need is a good non-Exchange Server web-based sync solution that can sync with any mobile device: Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Linux, Apple iPhone, whatever.