by August 9, 2003 0 comments



Don’t be fooled by the title of this article; it is not a newbie’s guide to the PocketPC. It is for the power user who wishes to do more than manage his contacts and appointments, for one who uses his PocketPC for more than as a glorified pocket organizer.

In this article, we describe some powerful and popular programs for the PocketPC. Many of the ones mentioned have alternatives as well. Some of the programs in this list are free, others are commercial, but all can be tried out for a few days, if 
you wish.

These programs add functionality to the PocketPC that no power user should ignore. 

RESCO Explorer is a powerful replacement for the built-in File Explorer and has zip compression 

Resco Explorer 2003 4.0 
This program is an extremely powerful replacement for the built-in File Explorer. Unlike the built-in one, Resco Explorer has a completely Windows Explorer-like interface that you can use to explore the entire storage area, including any storage cards you may have. You can even explore your Windows network from your PocketPC through
ActiveSync or any kind of connection, wireless or otherwise.

Resco also comes with some extras–a built-in Zip compression feature that allows you to save precious storage space by compressing seldom-used files in memory as a normal Zip file. There is also a high-encryption utility that works on files both on the desktop as well as the device. A Registry Editor and detailed system-information utility for the PocketPC round up the entire package. After using Resco, it is unlikely that you would ever open File Explorer again.

E-Wallet 3.0.1t 
Ever stuck in a situation where you needed to withdraw money from an ATM but couldn’t recall your PIN? Or filling up a form that required your passport number but for the life of you, you couldn’t remember it?
E-wallet is a utility that solves these problems for you. You can create ‘wallets’ of information that contain everything from bank-account and credit-card details to personal information like license numbers and passwords. 

The wallet, of course, can be password protected with a very strong alphanumeric password. The package also comes with a desktop component that allows you to easily create these entries and sync them with the device. Each entry can be customized in its look, colors, type, icon and even the fields that make it up. Secret fields, such as PINs, are not shown by default.

Microsoft Powertoys
As with most of their other client OSs, Microsoft has a set of unsupported tools that you can download for free from their site.

There are many different tools here. The following are some of my favorites:
The Theme Switcher Toy version 2.0. This versatile tool lets you create, view and modify the Today screens on your desktop. The tool even has powerful image property-editing features, such as brightness/contrast and transparency. You can customize the background images, the font, panel colors and more. The tool also comes with a Today screen plug-in that installs on the device and lets you cycle through the screens either by tapping the plug-in or specifying a schedule in mins, hours or days that does it for you automatically.

Power Contacts. Something that should have been built-in by default in the Contacts program, this adds a few new entries to the context menu when tapping on an entry. This allows you to create an appointment or a task for that contact or open the Contact’s Web page.

The Theme swticher desktop tool lets you create themes and the Today screen plug-in lets you rotate these on a schedule or whenever you choose

Pocket Internet Explorer Powertoy. This tool lets you change some advanced settings of the pocket browser. It allows you to turn Jscript on or off and the option of whether Jscript errors are shown to you. It also lets you change the amount of storage memory used for the browser cache and remove any temporary Internet files already stored.

Remote Display Control 2.03. This is yet another very useful tool that lets you manage your PocketPC device from a desktop. This tool has two parts: one that installs on any desktop and the other on the device itself. The part on the desktop is the host. Once the desktop host is running, executing the device program and giving the name of the desktop computer (which could be anywhere on the network actually), throws the display of the PocketPC onto the desktop host. From here you can control the device just as if you were using the PocketPC itself.

Windows Media Encoder 9.0 
The PocketPC is a good media player as well. It can play all sorts of media files, including MP3 and MPEG. However, since there is a limitation on the storage space for such devices even with expansion cards, a more compressed codec is preferable when using the device as a media player. Windows Media Encoder 9.0 lets you encode both audio and video in the Windows media format, which takes less space and is of the same quality. This means you can store more media files in less space. 

Note: The latest version of the Encoder has a small bug in the PocketPC profile. To solve that, look at the MS support article number 813693 that tells you how to correct it yourself in a couple of steps.

OverClockers
If you have a PocketPC device that runs on an Intel XScale processor such as the iPaq h19xx, iPaq 2xxx or the Dell Axim series, the chances are that you can easily overclock it for higher performance. In this, ClearSpeed, XCPUScalar and TurboTray are the most popular and powerful tools. The first two are commercial software and the last one is freeware. 

You can significantly increase the performance of the CPU with these utilities. However, as with PC overclocking, you must be careful in doing so. Increase only in small, discrete steps and note the performance and stability of the device for a while. Also, make sure that you backup the device regularly. If you do overclock, remember that the faster processing speed will consume your battery power faster as well.

E-Book Readers
E-book readers are another very useful set of programs that power users would keep handy. Not only do they let you keep a large set of reference titles (such as manuals, dictionaries, how-tos and articles) available all the time, they are also good for keeping books to read for leisure. All PDA power users I know (whether using Palm or PocketPC), have readers with a ton of books installed in their devices.

Microsoft Reader. This, of course, comes by default for the PocketPC devices and is quite a handy reader, although IT requires activation and can be a little slow. However, it does have some USEFUL features, such as annotations, lookups and a library. You can convert any document–Word doc, HTML, TXT–into an LIT file by using the free Word RMR plug-in from the MS Reader site.

ISilo. Available originally for the Palm, it is now also available for the PocketPC. It not only lets you read a number of Palm document formats, but also comes with its own desktop program that lets you convert any Web page, TXT file or DOC into the iSilo format and install it on your device. The document can have hyperlinks, fonts, colors, tables and more.

In the next part of the series we’ll look at some advanced software tools that you can use with your PocketPC. These software will almost give you the power of your desktop on your little pocket device itself, including working with your mobile phone and working on the network or Internet. So, if you want to know more about how to really use your PocketPC, watch this space.

Today Screen 
Today screen plug-ins are small applets that become a part of the main Today screen for the PocketPC. These applets add some small functionality that can make using the PocketPC simpler.

Pocket Plus 2.0.2
This is a small utility that adds a single line to the Today screen. By default, it shows the battery status (percent remaining, or charging), a backlight control that lets you set it immediately, main memory and storage-card memory status, as well as list of ‘favorite’ program icons that you can launch by clicking on them on the Today screen.

Store all your important information in eWallet and protect it with a strong password

However, Pocket Plus’s most important feature is that it changes the default behavior of the X button on programs. By default, on the PocketPC platform, the X does not exit the program; it merely minimizes it. However, this does take up more program memory than you may want to lose. Pocket Plus changes the default behavior to the normal Windows behavior, that is, close program. It also adds a task manager to the context menu of the X button that lets you select to close, minimize, close all or close all inactive programs. It also allows you to quickly switch to another open program if you wish. This feature alone makes Pocket Plus a compelling Power tool.

Battery Bar 3.0
Similar to the Pocket Plus program, this adds two lines to the Today screen. The first panel is for statuses only–battery, program memory, storage memory and storage-card memory. The second is for creating a quick launch toolbar of installed applications. You can add a large number of apps whose icons are displayed on the Today screen itself. Though, this does not have the other enhancements of Pocket Plus, it can let you launch many more programs than the other can from the Today screen itself.

Network Apps
There are many different things that you can do with the PocketPC on the network and the Internet. 

FTP servers and clients
The PocketPC platform is great as an FTP client. There are many different FTP clients that let you transfer files form FTP sites. For instance, CedeFTP and VxFTP are two popular ones.

But, not only does the PocketPC allow this, but you can also run an FTP server off the device quite easily. The client programs above also have corresponding server versions for the platform that let you share files on your device on your network for other people to pick up.

Terminal services clients
This is, of course, an essential tool if you are a network administrator. The main client for this is the MS supplied client that comes pre-installed for many devices or is available as a free download from the Microsoft site. It allows you to remotely connect to any Win 2000, XP or 2003 machine that has terminal services running. You can control the entire machine from within the little PocketPC itself.

Miscellaneous clients
Since the PocketPC OS is based upon WinCE, you can expect that most of the programs available for desktop Windows would be available for this platform as well. There are telnet, SSH, SCP, IRC, IMAP, POP, SMTP, SNMP and any other protocol clients that you can think of. It sure is fun when sitting in a café you can log in to your favorite IRC channel and chat from your little device.

Mobile phone 
There are different programs that let you manage your mobile phone and its different features. You will need a mobile phone with a serial cable, IR port or if your PocketPC device supports Bluetooth, a mobile phone that supports that too.

Mobem mPhone Professional 2.6
This is one of the most versatile programs for the PocketPC to work with your mobile phone. Although there are many other programs that do one thing very well (such as SMSing, or ringtones or contact management), mPhone does all of them very well. All you need to do is select your phone model when creating a profile, and mPhone configures itself for that type of phone.

mPhone allows you to read, edit, and synchronize your mobile-phone contacts (from the phone or SIM) with the
PocketPC.

You can even initiate a call from the device by tapping the name of a contact on the screen. You can also back up, compose and send SMS and organize them in Outlook-style folders on the
PocketPC.

The professional version also allows you to create, view and send mobile-phone logos and ring tones to the phone. You can draw on the screen or copy BMP, GIF or JPG files of the correct resolution to the device and have them show in
mPhone.

Simply upload (for phones that support it) or send the logo as an SMS. Any cellular service provider in the world has a unique country and provider code, India having the code 404. On the Palm, one has to manually find out the operator and country code and enter them for the logo changing to work. However, mPhone automatically detects the country and provider codes.

Of course, if you are sending a logo to a friend, make sure you select the correct provider from the dropdown.

Similarly, you can compose or store ring tones in RTTTL format. You can find thousands of ring tones on the Net and simply copying the MID or RTTTL file to the PocketPC will let you send the ring tones to the phone. 

EasyConfig 
EasyConfig is a very inexpensive program that configures your PocketPC for using your mobile phone as a modem. Although the PocketPC can do this natively, EasyConfig optimizes the PocketPC for your phone’s model. You can find EasyConfig for many different makes and models. As the name suggests, EasyConfig comes with a pre-defined template for the phone, which you can tweak if you so desire from the very simple dialog box that it presents.

As you can see, the PocketPC is much more than your simple digital organizer. This is a full-fledged Windows-powered device that you can use anytime, anywhere to do most of the things that a notebook itself can. Of course, it does not replace a notebook by any means, but when you are in a situation where you are unable to use a computer,a PocketPC could be your 
best friend.

Vinod Unny is a technology consultant at Enterprise InfoTech

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