Stevenator65’s Weblog

Technology, Commentary, Opinions, Reviews and Fun Happenings.

Supercharge Your Outlook with Agendus for Outlook v5.41

I’ve had a Windows Mobile device since 2000.  But recently my work gave me a Blackberry 8350i to replace my aging Nextel phone.  I had the opportunity to reduce my load from two devices to one.  I had to make a lot of changes in order to accomplish my goals of continuing to carry my important business information and integrating the Blackberry into my business routine.  One big switch I made was moving from Act! Contact Manager to Outlook.  I suppose I could’ve kept Act! if I used the excellent CompanionLink software to sync my device, but I want a more direct solution.

Outlook excels at email, but is not a great contact manager.  Act! is a great contact manager but does not excel at email.  Hmmmm.  If I downloaded the Business Contact Manager for Outlook add-on, I’d have to use CompanionLink, so I felt stuck.  That is, until I demo’d Agendus for Outlook.

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May 15, 2009 Posted by | Blackberry, Reviews, Software, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment

I Want a New Drug

tweaks  iPhone_blackberry

 

I’ve had a Windows Mobile (WM) device for 8 years, as I’m sure many of you have.  I feel so comfortable with it.  I know its capabilities, I have tons of great software, and best of all, I have support from this excellent forum and others like it.  If I want to find how to do nearly anything a Windows Mobile device is capable of, all I need do is ask.

But my comfort has grown into boredom.  I’ve done many things to alleviate this boredom and make my device more exciting and user friendly, such as upgrading the ROM to WM6.1, and adding Winterface, ZoomBoard and other modern applications.  But when it comes to using the device, ultimately I have to pull out a stylus, and that’s where my frustration lies.  When a customer calls and I need to look at the notes in his contact information or look up product information in my device, I get very frustrated by having to pull out the tight-fitting stylus and navigating a bunch of menus.

Supposedly Microsoft will unveil the next version of WM in the second half of 2009, called WM6.5.  But there are no firm details as to expected improvements.  And the new version will reportedly only be available in new handsets.  I’m not sure I want to wait at least six months for a new, exciting product, when I have no idea what to expect.  Will we still have to drag out a stylus for picking out contacts or playing some of my favorite games?  How will our user experience be enhanced?  Judging from past versions of WM, I suspect only incremental upgrades, and that’s ok, because I’m sure Microsoft doesn’t want to alienate their current user base by making radical changes.  But I feel radical changes are in order.

If you were to suggest a pocket pc or new phone to someone, would you recommend a WM product if they had no previous experience?  I don’t think I would.  I think it would be a steep learning curve as compared to the out-of-the-box user experience that competitors supply, such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, the upcoming Palm Pre, Symbian and Android.  I have many non-techie friends who have recently bought new handsets from BlackBerry and iPhone and were up and running quickly.  Can one expect that from a WM device?  Certainly a WM device has more capabilities, is more tweakable, has a huge software base, and of course huge communities to help one along.  But the vast majority of users are not looking to reflash ROMs, or edit the registry.  Which begs the question, what is a power user?  Is a power user someone who endlessly upgrades roms and software, tweaks the endless amount of settings and spends hours hacking away at the user interface, or is a power user someone who makes tons of calls, emails and text messages?

I think both are power users, but they are very different types of power users.  One is a power user and the other is really a power tweaker.  Take my wife, for example.  She is very non-techie.  When her work got her a BlackBerry Curve she was emailing and texting in minutes.  She has turned into a major power user.  Yet she has no idea how the inner-workings of her phone function.  And why should she care when everything works with no intervention?

I enjoy tweaking my device.  It’s fun.  I’m amazed at some of the incredible ideas people have come up with in order to enhance the WM experience.  But really, is this experience radically different than it was 8 years ago?  I submit it is not.  And that would be fine if I never saw a BlackBerry or iPhone.  But with that door open, WM suddenly seems old fashioned.  To be sure, you can dress it up in the beautiful cocoon of an HTC Fuze, and you can add finger friendly software, but that won’t attract the casual user who makes up the vast majority of customers.  Isn’t it obvious?  A recent article from Computerworld.com showed the numbers.  For the 3rd quarter of 2008 Symbian is first in sales with 15.4 million sales, followed by RIM with 5.8 million units sold, and 3rd place iPhone finally beat out WM devices for the first time, 4.7 million units to 4 million.  Of these nearly 30,000,000 units sold, how many owners are in the power tweaker category as opposed to the power user?

Are you happy with your WM device, or are you looking for easier access to your information and communication functions?  Do you want to spend your time tweaking or texting?

And while I’m at it, I have to say I am sick of using a mouse.  I only have two hands and the mouse is slowing me down.  It’s also time for a new desktop user interface that allows two handed use or we will be forced to evolve into three-handed people.

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Apple, Blackberry, Opinions, Pocket PC, Technology, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment

DoInventory Software Review

ScreenShot015

There’s a plethora of list making software for Windows Mobile available, and DoInventory by WakefieldSoft is one such program.  What sets it apart from its competitors is the ability to filter out unwanted information to find what you are looking for.  Most other programs limit you to organizing your information by sorting one field.  Not so with DoInventory.  In addition, it’s highly customizable.  Let’s take a closer look.

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December 22, 2008 Posted by | Reviews, Software, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment

Divergence & Death

I love writing for MobilitySite, and I especially like reading what others’ have to say.  But day after day I read the same thing in every blog.  It goes like this, “The new XYZ phone from ABC has this and that feature.”  It’s grown old.  And boring.  I’m thinking of kicking my excitement level up by taking up Bocce Ball or Bowling.  All the devices are the same.  They are no better than what we had four years ago.  They’re just getting bloated with compromised add-ons. 

Phones

Windows Mobile is Dead.  Read on to find out why your next device will not have a Windows Mobile OS.

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August 28, 2008 Posted by | Opinions, Pocket PC, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment

iWindowsMobile Communication Suite Review Part 1

The Suite contains four software programs which include, Winterface, ZoomBoard, SMS-Chat, and FunContact.  Part 1 will cover Winterface v1.1.

 

For the record, Vito Software owns the iWindowsMobile website.

 

Winterface is a mobile shell for Windows Mobile 5 and 6.  This launcher replaces your default screen and is fully customizable, allowing you to determine what programs, plug-ins, files and contacts you want to make easily accessible.  I tested it on an Hp Ipaq Hx4705 running Windows Mobile 6.1.

wintermain 

Read on to learn more about Winterface.

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August 21, 2008 Posted by | Reviews, Software, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment

10 Free Pocket PC Utilities You Need

These innovative utilities help your Pocket PC become even more useful.  I have gathered, over the years, some of my favorites.  I will share them with you here.   Please post some of your own favorites too.

In no particular order I present them now.

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June 17, 2008 Posted by | Pocket PC, Software, Steals and Deals, Utilities, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment

The Countdown Begins

In approximately 60 hours I will see my favorite band of all time, Rush, perform at the United Center in Chicago.  That will be the first of two shows I see.  The next one is June 27th at Milwaukee Fest.  I decided to use technology to prepare myself for the shows.  Here’s how.

rush_snakesandarrows

 

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June 7, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, Opinions, Software, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment

Blackberry Trounces Windows Mobile

BlackBerry_Curve

I was at a party last night and was shocked by how many people were sporting the BlackBerry Curve, including my wife.  Even a couple people who used to have Windows Mobile devices have made the switch. 

One of them used to have the Sprint Mogul PPC 6700, which is a really cool phone:

Sprint_ppc6700

I couldn’t believe he had a Curve.  So I asked him why, and he told me that the form factor makes it so he can hold the Curve in one hand.  He said that Gmail Mobile for BlackBerry has really added a lot of functionality to his new device.  He loves the keyboard because it allows one-handed operation, as opposed to the PPC 6700, which requires two hands.  Even though the device does not have gps, you can find your location easily by with Google Maps.  He also likes the included media player.

I thought to myself that lots of phones have a similar form factor, such as the Samsung Ace, BlackJack, Palm Treo, and the Moto Q, to name a few.  So I figured there must be more to it.  He didn’t just get a new phone, he got an entirely new operating system.  Just then I spotted a girl I knew and went to say hi.  She, too, had a Curve.  So I also asked her what was up with that (I was the life of the party).  She told me similar things to my other friend, but added one important thing.  She loves the trackball.  With one hand you can navigate anywhere on the screen, just like with a trackball mouse on a computer.  You just click the trackball when your cursor is where you want it, then start typing.  This eliminates the stylus completely.  She told me she missed the touchscreen on her old Treo, but absolutely loves this new way of interacting with the device.  She can now do everything with one hand easily. 

CurveBall

I asked her if she minds only having Edge support instead of the faster 3G.  She couldn’t care less, she said, because the OS is very responsive.  The screen may not have as nice resolution, but for her purposes, it’s great.  She also uses and loves Gmail.  She showed me her family pix on the attachment viewer.

What really put it altogether for me was when  we dropped off our middle kid at another party earlier in the evening (isn’t anyone sick of Pump it Up yet?) and one of our friends agreed to take her home.  My wife pulled out her BlackBerry and got our friends’ vitals and typed them in very quickly.  She used the cursor to navigate through the fields and the excellent keyboard to input name, address etc. very fast. 

None of these people were power users in the Windows Mobile sense.  That is, they didn’t care much about third party apps, spreadsheets (though it sports an Excel and Word viewer), WiFi, 3G access, and gps.  But they are power users in the BlackBerry sense, and with its tremendous ease of use, and excellent form factor and features, Microsoft should take note, especially if they want to increase their market share from 13% to 40% by 2012.

May 18, 2008 Posted by | Blackberry, Opinions, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment

Strategize Your Backups

seatbelt

Don’t wait until it’s too late and your mobile device craps out on you.  Plan for the eventuality like it’s a certainty, and you’ll confidently be up and running again in minutes.  I call it the “wearing your seatbelt” strategy.  It’s so easy to do, and once you get used to it, you don’t even think about it. 

Background

Companies like Handango are now charging for download protection.  Chris Spera of Gear Diary likened it to extortion in this article.  If you pay for software, download it, then subsequently lose it, you must actually pay to download it again.  To “protect” yourself from the extra expense, Handango is offering download protection, which is an extra fee, or insurance, that will make the software available for you again.  That’s nice of them to offer, but you won’t need it. 

Sometimes you find a gem, a true software miracle, and only weeks later you either can’t remember where you found it or you don’t feel like looking through 100 pages of posts at the spectacular Xda Developers Forum – which has happened to me.  I remember reading this article at Pocketables and getting excited about True Vga, but then I spent hours weeding through all the posts.  I don’t want to do that again.

Backups apply to everything.  I remember how I found out Microsoft Excel has an automatic save feature.  About 8 years ago I was working on a spreadsheet.  It has 7 pages and thousands of records in a very precise order and format.  It took many hours to construct.  I was suddenly called away from my office and next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in a new problem.  I returned to my desk a couple hours later and found my computer frozen.  I stared at the screen in utter horror.  I had to reboot and lost everything.  To make sure that never happened again, I enabled auto-save on Excel.  But this won’t be your concern anymore.

Strategy

If you are like me, you might have 30 or more software programs on your mobile device.  Everything is tweaked and setup just how you want it.  But haven’t we all experienced a catastrophic loss and had to hard reset?  If you said no, then you are either lucky or you haven’t used your device to anywhere near its capacity.  But it’s just a matter of time, so listen up!

Your strategy does NOT start with a good backup program.  Let’s back it up a bit.  Here are your steps:

1. Save all software downloads in a file folder on your computer’s hard drive.  Save the passwords as well.  Make sure your folder is organized.

ScreenShot040

The screenshot above shows my Downloads folder.  Inside of that folder is a PPC Downloads folder.  Inside of that is a separate folder for each software I download.  Sometimes I even write a note about the software on Wordpad and save it in the folder.  My notes may include the serial number, date I downloaded it, or the download link.  I bet I have more than 60 folders.  You never know when you may want to add an old program back into the rotation.

I also save my passwords in a wallet program.  I use FlexWallet.  I have a folder called PPC Serials where I list all my serial numbers and other information associated with the software.  This comes in handy more than you think.  Sometimes out of nowhere a software program stops working and asks me to register.  Sure, it’s odd, but it happens.  I have no worries.  My serials are a couple clicks away.

I also keep a file in my email for serials, as they are often sent via email.

2. Use a backup program.  I use SPB Backup.  It keeps 3 backups on my microSD card.  It performs a backup every day at 3am.  I have used the restore function once since I bought my HTC Advantage a few months ago.  It was a lifesaver.  So you may think this is all you need, but it is merely one component of your strategy.  You never know when your flash memory card will cease to operate.

3. When downloading new versions of software, save them to the same folders you created for the older versions.  Just rename them if necessary.  By that I mean, sometimes downloads have generic names like download.exe.  Give it a meaningful name such as SPBBackup1.exe.  If you download a new version you can call it SPBBackup2.exe.  This way if there is a conflict with the new software or you just don’t like it, you can revert to the old one.

4. Backup your PPC Downloads folder.  Often.  I use a USB key once every couple weeks to backup the entire folder.  Sometimes I save it to a cd.  I also keep a copy on my network in case my local computer goes down.  What?  Did you call me paranoid?  You’re correct.  I am.  I’ve been burned before.  I don’t want to pay for downloading the same software again, and I don’t want to buy download protection.  And I want to be able to find my software quickly.

That’s it.  Easy, huh?  Once you get into the habit of saving your software and serials, and backing them up, you won’t have to even think about it.  It will become as easy as tying your shoe.  And you can use this strategy for other parts of your computing life.  For instance, I have 3500 songs in iTunes.  Can you imagine what I would feel like if I lost all that music in a hard drive failure?  So I bought a backup hard drive to backup my music.  Plus periodically I save the whole library to DVDs. 

What are your backup strategies?

April 22, 2008 Posted by | Opinions, Software, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment

A Day in the Life of the HTC Advantage

I left for work today without my product book.  My product book has all my product and customer information.  Oh oh.  But then I figured it would be a good time to see if the Advantage was worth the investment.  And it is a heck of a lot smaller than my product book.  So off I went.

advantage

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March 24, 2008 Posted by | Opinions, Software, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment