Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

MobileViews Facebook Group
Facebook MobileViews group
I have no idea what to do on or with my Facebook account (now two days old). But, I created a MobileViews group there anyway. So, if you have a Facebook account, drop by the group (click on the link in the previous sentence) or use Facebook's mobile friendly website on your phone or PDA and search for a group named mobileviews.

m.facebook.com


Word Mobile File Name Truncation
Ever notice that Word Mobile truncates file names it creates from the first line of text? Word automatically creates a filename based on the first line of text. Unfortunately, it truncates the name to the first 21 characters of the line (and adds a .doc suffix). This may seem like a lot compared to the good ol' 8 character DOS file name length, but seems pretty short for a 21st century system. You can, of course, change the filename to avoid name collision. But, I would have preferred having at least 64 or even 128 character file names since I do a lot of writing using Word Mobile which is later copied over to my desktop.
Information Week's Smartphone Browser Shootout
Information Week has an article comparing a bunch of smartphones' browsers at...

Smartphone Browser Shootout: Palm, BlackBerry, HTC Vs. iPhone

It's quite a long article (6 web pages), so I'll save you some reading and tell you the conclusion is a lot of fawning over the Apple iPhone and a bit of dissing the Treo (Palm OS version), Blackberry, and T-Mobile Wing entrants. Don't neglect to read the comments at the bottom of one of the pages (the same comments are at the bottom of each web page). They are quite interesting themselves. Although I don't haver an iPhone, I am a huge admirer of it myself. But, is its browser that much better than everything else? I think it may be. I can't speak for the non-Windows Mobile devices. But, I've been a huge critic of Mobile Internet Explorer for years. It has essentially not made any progress in being able to view "normal" sites (sites not reformatted for mobile devices) or even https secure sites well. Microsoft needs to take a hard look at its mobile browser if it wants to stay in the game.


Is a Pocket PC Good Enough to be a Podcast Recording Device?
Every now and then I toy with the idea of catching up with the rest of the world and starting a podcast. But, being a mobile geek, I would, of course, prefer to record it using a Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone. The question is: Would the sound quality be good enough for podcasting? So, I created two audio recordings to help me decide. If you visit my new alternate multimedia blogging site, you can listen to a 30 second test recording found at the link below...

Audio Recording Test

This web site has a built in audio player. So, you don't need to download anything to hear the test recording.

The recording consists of two pieces. I recorded the first part using a Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 USB headset/microphone. The second part was recorded using a Windows Mobile 6 Pocket PC. Both recordings were made in the same room with a large Voronado fan blowing in the background to simulate a noisy environment. Both recordings were made using 16-bit 44KHz mono setttings.

Only two transformations were applied to the recording. First, the combined audio file was sent through the GigaVox Levelator to even out the volume differences between the two recordings (the Pocket PC recording was much louder than the headset recording). Second, the resulting WAV file was transcoded to a MPG audio file to reduce its size.

The USB headset recording is much quieter (you don't hear the fan as much) than the Pocket PC recording. But, I think the overall Pocket PC sound quality is decent enough to use for short podcast recordings. And, the ambient sound might even add a bit of real-life to the recordings (vs. a somewhat sterile but quieter USB headset recording).


ThinkOutside Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard for PDA
The...

ThinkOutside Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard for PDA

...has been around since December 29, 2004 according to Amazon. But, having had disappointing experiences with various other Stowaway keyboards (I have a bunch piled up including iPAQ and Jornada specific ones as well as the infrared versions), I avoided buying the Bluetooth version until this past week. The one I bought is the older Universal model (larger than the Sierra model). Its price had dropped to around $85 and I felt the urge to write using a Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone. So, it seemed like the right time to try another near full-size keyboard.

It arrived today and I paired it with an HTC Advantage 7500 (Windows Mobile 5) Pocket PC Phone Edition after downloading the latest drivers from the Thinkoutside (iGo) website. The software installation and Bluetooth pairing went surprisingly smoothly. I say "surprising" because I remember how the infrared keyboard's drivers had messed up a Pocket PC so badly that I had to perform a hard reset to get it working again. Testing it with Word Mobile went well. The keyboard feels pretty comfortable. And, the keyboard has all the right keys (Windows key, OK key, etc.) to work with a Pocket PC.

So, I'm nearly three years late to the Bluetooth keyboard game. But, I figured one or two other people might be in the same boat as me and find whatever I note in the next week or two useful. More later on this BT keyboard testing.


Mobile Tech While Immobile
I called in sick today after not getting much sleep (something I ate disagreed with me or I have a mild virus of some kind). I had hoped it would clear up in a couple of hours so I could either wander back to work or get some work done at home. But, that didn't happen. I was reminded though that mobile technology can be really useful when you are immobile too. I didn't feel comfortable sitting at a desktop or notebook. But, I wanted to check my email and see what was going on in the world every couple of hours. So, I kept a WiFi-enabled Pocket PC (an old Dell Axim X50) nearby. It helped me avoid listening to the blaring music on CNN, MSNBC and other news channels. I basically just used the built-in email and browser as well as Ilium Software's NewsBreak to keep me up-to-date when the urge to be connected for a minute or two struck.

An iPod with a decent set of external speakers (headphones are uncomfortable too when you are not at 100%) with a bunch podcasts provided informative and (again) non-annoying ambient sound. The speakers were the Logitech mm50. Its sound quality is pretty decent. But, I wish its integrated rechargeable batteries had a bit more battery life.

Nothing complex or fancy here. But, these mobile products sure kept me from suffering from the ol' sick day summer cabin fever syndrome. Stay healthy folks!


One Sentence Journals and the Problem of Future-Proofing Archives A few weeks ago I toyed with the idea of taking a photo a day and was searching for a web tool/service to use to store the photos and, perhaps, annotate it. I'm still looking for that tool... This evening, I read about an interesting idea over on lifehack.org...

Keeping A One Sentence Journal

The twitter fan in me (as well as the lazy writer combined with the historian and statistician in me) found this simple idea fascinating. For many of us, this simple technique could keep a year's worth of entries in probably 20 paper pages or so. Of course, the geek in me wants to keep it electronically and preferably on a Windows Mobile device.

That, however, leads to the issue of future-proofing the journal. How can I be sure the text could be retrieved and read 10, 20, or more years from now. The simplest and safest way is probably to use a simple ASCII text file. But, that, to me, seems too visually messy. There are journal type apps for Windows Mobile. But, I worry about how to effectively archive those files without doing a lot of research on each product.

I think, though, that the answer is right in front of me: Excel Mobile. My gut instinct is that the pre-Excel 2007 XLS file format is going to be around forever. Why do I think that when other file formats (the Microsoft Picture-It MIX image format comes to mind) disappears or became irrelevant? I look to a now a now departed application whose file format has lived on long after the software itself went away: dBase II. I don't even know when dBase II went away. But, it seems that all kinds of apps including Microsoft Excel can still read and writer dbf files.

But even if XLS becomes extinct, I hope that establishing and following some kind of reasonable practice of export each year's worth of entries (365 rows... 366 on leap years) to some simple format like CSV or XML will allow relatively simple retrieval (even reading the raw file in a terminal window - which I also think will never disappear).

I think I will add one little addition to the date and single sentence though. It will simply note if the day was generally good (1) or bad (0). In some simple minded way, it might even let you decide if, overall, a year was good or bad. :-)

Any other tool recommendations? Do you already do this? How is it working out for you?


Yahoo! Go Does Not Support Smartphone Landscape Mode
Yahoo! Go error message in Smartphone landscape viewing mode
I originally tested the Yahoo! Go mobile client on a Windows Mobile Pocket PC. Tonight I finally got around to testing it on a Windows Mobile 6 smartphone. I used an HTC S710 (aka Vox) so that I could see it in both portrait and landscape modes. Unfortunately, it turns out that Yahoo! Go does not support the WM6 smartphone (Standard Edition) in landscape mode. In fact, the display gets so messed up that switching back to portrait mode results in that display being unusable too.