Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Recovering Windows Mobile Outlook Data?
Reader D.K. asks: not sure who to ask on this one, but on an htc device (imate sp5) - do you know if there's a way to recover contacts on there if the device had them wiped off by outlook via activesync over usb? i have not done anythign to the device since it was wiped, im hoping that the data is still on there, but needs to be reassociated with its metadata.

First, ouch! I'm not even sure how something like that can happen. But, I won't ask. I'll assume some unfortunate accidental user error was the cause. Second, the data may or may not be there. But, I don't know of any utility off-hand to recover from that sort of error. Third, this is a good time to get on the soapbox for a general message to my fellow users of Windows Mobile Devices...

Two weeks ago when writing about the recently released Windows Mobile 6 Reference Model, I noted that none of the four user categories noted in the manual included a consumer end-user group. Microsoft designed Windows Mobile for enterprise use, not for individual consumers. The by-product of this design focus means that there is an implicit assumption that the Windows Mobile user is part of an enterprise that uses Microsoft Exchange Server and has an IT staff that performs tasks like configuration, backup, and restore. If you, like me, bought one as an individual consumer without enterprise support, you need to be prepared to do things like think about issues like disaster recovery and business continuance as an individual without supporting staff. I plan to discuss how I've tried to plan for my own DR/BC in a post or two later this week.

A Blackberry in Your Windows Mobile Device
The Microsoft Windows Mobile interface and applications just don't get any respect. When Palm decided to create a Windows Mobile version of the Treo, it made it contingent on Microsoft letting them allowing a custom interface to be used in place of Microsoft's default one. Why? Palm's is arguably faster and more intuitive to use. Now, RIMM (of Blackberry fame and network outage infamy) announced that they are working with AT&T Wireless to bring the Blackberry push-email capability to select Windows Mobile 6 devices. And, yep, they are bringing their own custom interface to swap with the Windows Mobile one.

RIM Announces New BlackBerry Application Suite for Windows Mobile based Devices

One interesting aspect of RIM's press release is the inclusion of a quote from at AT&T Wireless Executive Director. I wonder if any of the network feature modifications AT&T made for the Apple iPhone will be used with the Blackberry app for Windows Mobile?

Backup Outlook 2003 Data on Windows XP (Because Windows Mobile Has No External Backup!)
Two days ago I responded to a question from D.K. who somehow managed to wipe out Contacts in both Outlook and a Windows Mobile Smartphone. This is easy to imagine since most people don't back-up their Outlook data (or anything else for that matter) and Windows Mobile Smartphones have never had a backup via ActiveSync or to a storage card provided by Microsoft. Microsoft assumes that the persistent storage in the Smartphone (and Pocket PCs starting with Windows Mobile 5) keeps data safe from a battery rundown while the IT staff behind an Exchange server keeps your data safe from accidental erasure. But, oh wait, not everyone has an IT staff and Exchange Server to backup their data. Doh! So, why did Microsoft remove even the so-so ActiveSync backup/restore for the Pocket PC too? Remember, Windows Mobile devices are not intended for individual consumers. Look at the Windows Mobile 6 reference guide again. See the users categories? There isn't one for consumers.

So, if you, like me, do not have IT staff and Exchange Server to safeguard your data, you better learn to be your own system administrator if you plan to keep using a Windows Mobile device. You can start by getting into the habit of making regular backups of your Outlook data so you don't lose everything one day like D.K. The first thing you need to do is find it. Microsoft created ridiculously deep and confusing directory structures that make it difficult to find files (although Windows Vista's find helps a lot). Let's start with what most people use: Windows XP and Outlook 2003 (I'll cover Windows Vista and Outlook 2007 later). Here's how to find your data.

  • Start Outlook 2003
  • File
  • Data File Management...
  • Most people at home will have one data file named Personal Folders
  • Open Folder
  • Windows Explorer opens up to the directory with your Outlook 2003 files
  • Copy all the files from this folder to one or more backup devices
  • I back up my files to multiple places including a USB hard disk drive, CompactFlash card, and a USB Flash Drive. You might even want to burn a CD-R or DVD+R disc once a year or so.

You might also want to consider investing in a Windows Mobile backup software from Sprite or Spb that creates backup files on a flash card in your device. And, again, you should copy the file off the device to your PC in case you lose or destroy your mobile device.

Become a WiFi Provider from Your Home
Well, this was totally unexpected...

Time Warner Cable Teams Up With FON For Home-Based Wi-Fi

Who would have thought that the 2nd largest cable modem service provider in the US would team up with FON (not to be confused with Sprint whose stock ticker symbol is FON) to allow its customers to install a FON WiFi Router/AP to provide public wireless. FON's router has a dual access configuration that lets you have a secure internal LAN separate from the public WiFi LAN service it provides.

GrandCentral Adds Mobile Interface
GrandCentral, the free web voicemail system (among other features) added a mobile web interface to let you check on voicemail from your phone or PDA. You can it at:

http://grandcentral.com/mobile

Backup Outlook 2007 Data Files in Windows Vista
My main Outlook data still lives on a Windows XP PC. So, I had to take a look at my Windows Vista box to check on how Outlook behaves over there. It turns out that the steps I described for Outlook 2003 running under Windows XP remains the same for Vista with Outlook 2007. Outlook did not get the new Ribbon interface that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint got in their 2007 versions. So, the menus are pretty much the same between Outlook 2003 and 2007.

One thing you might be thinking, though, is why not just use Vista's powerful search function. Um, yeah. Go ahead, try it. Click Start->Search and then type "Outlook". Now, extend that string to "Outlook.pst". Not very helpful, is it? Unfortunately, Vista's search is powerful but not smart (Mac OS X Tiger's Spotlight is very smart by comparison if you want to see how a smart search should work).

The main thing to remember is to sync your Windows Mobile device to Outlook regularly (at least once a day) and backup your Outlook data to an external storage device regularly too (at least once a week).

2 Comments

Joe
2007-10-18 22:17:03
What are you talking about re: vista search? It doesn't search application data by default, and that's good behavior. Who wants to see 50,000 .dll and .ini results when they're searching for their resume? their photos? Your .pst file is stored as application data. If you want to find it with windows search, just click "Search non-indexed locations."


Sure, they could have called it "Search just my files" and "Search my whole computer" for the simple folk like mac would. But, you should be able to figure that out. Maybe they'll update the language for the lower denomentators soon.

Todd Ogasawara
2007-10-19 00:22:25
Joe: Take a deep breath and re-read the blog items. I think you are confusing something or other.