Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Yes, You Can Break a Pocket PC Power Button
Compaq iPAQ 3650 Broken On-Off Button
First, yes I know that Pocket PCs don't really have a power button. The button just toggles the device between a low-power suspend mode and active mode. But, let's just call it a Power Button to simplify life.

The photo above is of my old Compaq iPAQ 3650 Pocket PC. It was released in Fall 1999 and was probably the first Pocket PC that really drew a lot of attention. Unfortunately, mine had two moving parts that wore out a lot quicker than I thought they should: The power button and the stylus release button. I ended up having to turn on the device by using its feature of letting any hardware button activate the underlying application. I used the PHM Suspend PowerToy mentioned a few days ago to turn it off. It finally gave up the ghost in early 2002 after I used it about, hmm, 18 months or so. I had a 3850 by then. But, the 3650 was actually replaced by the a first generation T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition.

YouTube Mobile Doesn't Mix with Windows Mobile
YouTube Mobile error messasge on Windows Mobile
YouTube Mobile was released from its exclusive deal with Verizon Wireless this week. Unfortunately, most Windows Mobile devices (at least the ones I have) don't support the 3GPP video file format. I could swear I had a Windows Mobile Smartphone or two that did. But, I can't remember which one it is. I tried it with Windows Mobile 2003 2nd Edition, Windows Mobile 5, and Windows Mobile 6 (Smartphone and PDA) devices this evening. None of them could display a YouTube Mobile video.

How to Turn on a Windows Mobile Smartphone
T-Mobile Dash Power Button
Every now and I then I hear or read someone advising Windows Mobile Smartphone (aka Standard Edition) users to press and hold the power button until the screen comes on. You could do that. But, I bet your thumb or finger will start hurting after doing that a couple of dozen times. Here's an easier and less painful way that has worked for every Smartphone I've used since the Smartphone 2002 days (1st generation).

  1. Press and hold the power button for a two-count (one... two...)

  2. Release the power button

  3. Wait 4 to 5 seconds. The screen will remain completely blank during this period

  4. The screen should suddenly come to life after the waiting period and start up properly

I have no idea why there isn't some kind of indication (blinking power light or something) during that 4 to 5 second period of nothingness. If someone could explain that to us, I would be grateful :-)

Opera Mini 4 Beta on a Windows Mobile Pocket PC
Opera Mini 4 Beta
I installed the beta release of Opera Mini 4 on a K-JAM Pocket PC Phone Edition (Windows Mobile 5) this evening. I downloaded to a PC and copied the files over to the K-JAM using ActiveSync. Opera Mini is a Java Midlet. So, I used the Midlet Manager to fire up Opera Mini. It went through a lengthy but simple configuration and used my WiFi connection (I don't have a SIM in the K-JAM) to get to the Interent.

I visited a couple of sites that are not formatted for mobile devices and found that Opera did a pretty good job of rendering the pages to fit both the portrait and landscape screen modes. It got a bit grumpy when I turned off WiFi and didn't want to surf the net after turning WiFi back on. I had to shut down the Midlet manager and fire it up again to let Opera figure out how to get back to the web.

My main beef is not with Opera but with the general state of Java apps on mobile devices. They always look out of place and don't conform to the Windows Mobile interface conventions I'm used to.

That said, Opera Mini adds enough value (browsing non-mobile friendly sites on a Windows Mobile device) that I'm keeping it on the K-JAM for a while to test drive it a bit more. I might even install it on the Dash to see how it looks on a smartphone.

Windows Mobile 6 Professional Edition Still Doesn't Know What a Phone Number Looks Like
Microsoft keeps telling us design choices such as removing the Pocket PC bottom menu bar area, previously used to good effect by many applications, with the two giant soft keys is to make the user experience and software design experience of the Pocket PC and Smartphone closer. And, yet, as of Windows Mobile 6, they still haven't given the Pocket PC (AKA Classic Edition and Professional Edition) one very simple and useful feature that has been in the Smartphone (AKA Standard Edition) for years: The ability to recognize any string that looks like a phone number as a phone number and make it a hot link dial-able object.

For example, if you create a Task in Outlook (on the desktop since you can't create Tasks on a Smartphone... and what's up with that limitation???) and type in a bunch of names and phone numbers in no special fashion, the phone numbers will appear underlined and can be used to dial the phone on a Smartphone. I hoped the Pocket PC (Professional Edition) would gain this feature with Windows Mobile 6. But, nope. So much for Windows Mobile feature convergence. Guess we have to wait and see what Windows Mobile 7 gives us.

Windows Mobile 6 Notes Lost its Inked Text Recognize Ability
Windows Mobile 6 Notes
The Windows Mobile Notes app never seemed to be able to fire on all cylinders from the very beginning. Despite its apparent usefulness, it seems like it didn't get widely used by most Pocket PC users. For me the main problem was that it didn't sync reliably with Outlook Notes when I first tried it. And, other applications from a variety of 3rd party developers quickly overtook Notes by providing a lot more useful features and metaphors (think yellow sticky notes).
Notes lost the ability to draw but gained the ability to recognized inked text a few generations ago. Windows Mobile 5 restored the ability to draw in ink again. But, I just noticed that Windows Mobile 6 lost the ability to recognize inked text (it used to be in the Tools menu). It isn't a big deal, I guess. But, I hate to see Windows Mobile 6 lose a feature. I guess Recognize gets added to the list of dozens of features lost by Windows Mobile over the years.