Nov 19 2010

I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 11:38 pm

One “feature” with Windows Mobile devices is that they are designed to rarely actually close programs, instead the idea is that programs are hibernated or minimized, meaning that when you want to re-start the program it is almost instantly available. This approach does unfortunately have some drawbacks though, as despite recent specification increases you will often find yourself low on memory if you use more than a couple of resource hungry applications. Another issue is that WM will attempt to automatically close programs that it deems are not needed, and take a lot of RAM (device memory, as opposed to storage memory) up. This can leave you with programs you don’t need staying in memory, and programs you’d actually prefer to keep open in the background being automatically closed down.
If you have an app that displays RSS feeds, and another than plays music or streams live video, you may find the wrong program is automatically closed whilst the one(s) that could be closed aren’t. Another issue is that, as with desktop PCs, some programs leak memory. If you’re not familiar with the term, it is a bit like someone sticking a reserved sign on a table at a restaurant, and not removing it either after the meal or if the customer fails to turn up. There are in reality spare tables left in the room, but due to the reserved sign, new customers (applications) are denied the use of these tables (RAM).
One solution comes in the form of CleanRAM – it clears out unused applications and processes from your phone’s memory to ensure more RAM is available for the next app you load. You can create exceptions so that certain programs are never closed. A bit like Windows own memory management algorithms, but more aggressive and highly configurable. Memory is recovered both from programs that are hiding in the background, despite not being in the official WM applications running list (I’m looking at you Ms. PacMan!), from leaks that need fixing, and also re-loading some drivers and processes to ensure the maximum amount of free RAM is now available for your next program.

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Nov 19 2010

Tweaking Your WinMo Device

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 2:10 am

One thing I like about Windows Mobile based phones is their tweakability. If that isn’t a word, as Chrome’s spell check is claiming, it should be… Anyway, thanks to other people’s research, and the ability to change your phone’s registry (as with Windows based PCs), you can easily completely customize the way your phonw behaves in a lot of different situations.
One alternative to spending a long time looking up individual tweaks and getting your hands dirty in the registry is Schap’s Advanced Configuration Tool – I’ve not yet had time to play with this a great deal on my HTC Touch Pro 2, but on the TyTn II this was a life saver, in terms of not having to remember random registry locations and values for all sorts of tweaks. I don’t think the application ties in too strongly to just older WM devices, though you may find some tweaks don’t work with Windows Mobile 6.5.x ROMs.
One thing to remember is to try and only apply a few minor, or one major tweak at a time – if something goes wrong with your phone, you will want to know which option to leave alone next time. As ever, playing with the registry can lead to problems, and so you should ensure you’ve backed up any important data before applying the tweaks that are available. Most of them won’t change anything too radically, but you could occasionally find yourself needing to hard reset your phone, if you choose a bad set of options at the same time.
Anyway, I’ve boiled down the list of available tweaks to the following categories, forgive the list style, but it would take too long to try and compile them into sentences 🙂

(Many) GUI tweaks
Today screen tweaks
Cache sizes and behaviours
Power Management settings
SIP (onscreen keyboard) tweaks
Network tweaking – WiFi,3G,Bluetooth,USB
Phone call settings
GPS tweaks
Message (e-mail, SMS, MMS and system) settings
Camera tweaks
Light and G-sensor settings
Customize key mapping
Customize file associations

One final thing – once you have found your perfect set of tweaks, it is worth exporting them (as an XML file), so if you install a new ROM or have to hard reset, you can restore your phone to it’s perfect state with just a couple of clicks (the same advice as with using HTC, see previous post).

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Nov 12 2010

Stretching Screens

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 9:56 pm

If you had a Windows Mobile phone or PDA from a couple of years ago or more, and recently bought a newer device, it is quite likely you now find yourself with a screen that has a VGA resolution (this is four times the detail of the older QVGA standard). WVGA is just a widescreen variant of VGA, and there is also WQVGA which is a widescreen version of the older QVGA resolution.
All of this greater detail, and in some cases, different aspect ratio can mean that your favourite older programs only occupy a small part of the screen and/or don’t use full width (or height, depending on whether you physically have your phone in landscape or portrait orientation.) This leaves you with needs to apply some much needed emergency assistance to your phone if you don’t want to be squinting or cursing the wasted screen space. Luckily, a coder has already stepped into the breech and created WVGAfix – it will temporarily alter the resolution used, meaning the offending application is a lot more likely to be legible. One thing to note – if you have a Windows Mobile 6.5.x (as opposed to 6.1 or earlier) ROM installed, and use the HTC Sense interface (instead of the standard old Today screen), you will not be able to revert to standard WVGA mode without soft resetting your device, the last time I checked.

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Nov 12 2010

Translating The Basics

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 8:43 pm

I’m combining a couple of reviews into one post here, as the Windows Mobile applications are very similar. They both place a convenient interface for online translation services, so if you are in a foreign city, or accessing a document in a language other than your own, you can quickly get the gist of what is written.
Obviously using free automated translation services means the meanings won’t always be precise (does that phrase refer to a hot curry or a proper colon cleanser?), however they should be good enough to give you an idea of what you are dealing with. W0lf Translator has a basic interface, and will attempt to detect which language your source is in, if you don’t already know.
The other program I have installed is dV2tTranslator – which is like w0lf’s app, but you can choose one of two services to use, and has a basic text to speech option (I don’t know about European languages, but can confirm that English works, and Russian doesn’t. This may be a unicode issue, or the created MP3s might only have English rules pre-written). It also has a more modern looking interface (less Windows Mobile 2003, more HTC’s Sense, in terms of style).

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Nov 10 2010

Crud Scraper

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 8:41 pm

A lot of mobile companies will pre-install applications that add value (in their eyes) to your mobile if you purchase their subsidised branded version of the phone. Often referred to as bloatware (as the programs are often not incredibly useful (especially to power users), they take up storage space on your phone’s internal memory, and if they are run at start-up, also consume RAM). If you find yourself with an AT&T network branded Touch Pro 2 (I think they re-brand it as a Tilt 2), Crud Scraper will help remove any applications you really don’t want any traces of.
Whilst you can sometimes simply remove these programs yourself through Windows Mobile’s “Remove Programs” option found within the Settings window, there are a couple of problems with this method. Firstly, not all programs are displayed in this list, and secondly, using this approach can still leave behind files (so space is still wasted) and entries in your phone’s registry. Crud Scraper knows exactly what AT&T have added beyond the stock Windows Mobile ROM image, so it is able to properly remove all traces. Whether you want to remove a game that you know you’ll never play or a digital banking program that doesn’t integrate with your account, Crud Scraper will help to properly remove them. People have been asking the author to create the required XML files to assist in removing crud from non-AT&T phones, but I couldn’t see any such updates just yet.

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Nov 09 2010

Apps For Windows Mobile Devices

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 12:30 pm

I just wanted to write a couple of quick notes before I started writing Windows Mobile posts again. Firstly, the category for these posts was originally titled PDA (as I used it for iPaq related posts). The category slug is still PDA, to prevent old links from becoming broken, but I’ve changed the title displayed to Windows Mobile, as this covers all the HTC devices I’m likely to be writing about, as well as the older posts obviously.

Most of the software I shall be recommending/reviewing is will be found at the XDA Devlopers forum. You will need to register at the forum to download any attachments they are hosting directly, and before posting questions at the site, you MUST learn to search first. The site was originally set up for enthusiasts who enjoyed hacking the software and cooking ROMs for HTC devices. Although they have since branched out to other manufacturer’s devices, and now also get a lot of traffic from “newbies”, if you start posting questions that have been asked twenty times before, a frustrated member is likely to respond frostily.

All the applications/drivers/tweaks I’ll be writing about are free, unless otherwise noted. If the program is a paid for application, and written by a single person, you’ll not find me willing to help you get it for free. If you want a program that a large multi-national company makes, please do NOT visit or and search for a torrent that contains the program. Similarly, whilst NOT downloading programs for free from those sites, make sure you have your anti-virus up to date, as trojans and viruses and quite often found in some releases.

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Sep 08 2010

PockeTwit Fixed!

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 1:53 am

If you happen to use PockeTwit to read and write your tweets, you should start the application and make sure check for updates is ticked with the options. Re-start if necessary.
Alternatively, head on over to here to grab version 0.82a . If you prefer, just grab the CAB to copy to your device and install from here.

Because of the changes Twitter made to their authentication and application verification system, namely OAuth being the only acceptable method, we had to wait for the writer of this (FREE!!!) program to update his code. This took a while, but TBH, the program is free, works like a dream again, and matches 98% of my tweeting needs. If it had YouTube access for video uploads (like TinyTwitter that I tried to use temporarily, but also had OAuth problems with) or possibly TwitVid, I could finally dump Qik. I just checked over at PockeTwit’s User Voice Page, and someone had already requested that enhancement. Added my vote.

Anyway, once the update is installed, start up PockeTwit, goto the Settings menu on the left, and select Accounts. Assuming it is already showing your Twitter account, click on Edit Selected, and follow the on screen instructions. One other person reported a problem with OAuth verification, it might be worth temporarily changing your phone’s default browser to Pocket Internet Explorer if this occurs. No reason I can think of that this would be the issue, but worth a shot. On an unrelated note, if you get general application errors, make sure your .NET CF is up to date. (Basically 3.5 or 3.7).

Now I just need to see how easy the program will be to operate on a device without a D-Pad, like the HTC Touch Pro 2 soon to be arriving.

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Jul 26 2010

Bloated Memory

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 10:42 pm

I am currently installing a lot of (freeware) applications on my phone (an HTC TyTn II/Kaiser) trying to see which might be of interest when Irina and I get our new mobiles. If any of the programs cause real problems and make the phone buggy or sluggish with the touch screen interface, I’d rather have to do a hard reset and re-install on a device I’m already happy tweaking, and then have a final list of stable apps for the future, than risk mucking up the new models, if and when I find incompatibilities with resource hungry applications. Having read 151 pages of a 162 page thread over at regarding the device I would like to upgrade to (an HTC Touch Pro 2 (effectively a TyTn III)), I haven’t managed to find any insurmountable problems or quirks that are new to me. I have installed Andriod on the TyTn II to get an idea of what other handsets have to offer, but for the next couple of years, I am happy to stick with Windows Mobile 6.x . I don’t believe my new phone will be able to run Windows Phone 7 properly, Android still is a little immature for me (in terms of OS development), and I’m about as likely to get an iPhone as Bill Gates is to profess a love for all things Mac.

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Jun 19 2009

Knowing Your Limits

Category: Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 4:20 am

After a lot of research this long night, I have decided to take the sensible route – leave my Kaiser screen and keyboard repair task to someone less ham fisted than me 🙁
Give me a soldering iron and a proper old fashioned PCB without any SMT components, and I will (and indeed used to as part of one of my jobs) have a go at diagnosing and repairing problems. Having found shots of the internals of my phone, I don’t think I have the dexterity required to disassemble the phone, remove the LCD and digitizer, replace them, and then reassemble it all without breaking any plastic tabs, flexible connectors and small components. A friend had kindly offered to bring the parts over from the UK (don’t trust the postal service here, and a courier would make the whole deal not worth it financially), but I think I would just be setting myself up for a fall. Shame, but it looks like I’ll need to wait six months or so until I’m back in Britain, and send the phone off to a professional to do the job. Might see if they can replace the keyboard and joystick on my old phone as well.
Speaking of limits, I need to be up in 3 – 4 hours to look after Anna, so I’ll say good night for now, and carry on with the posts I’d intended to write tonight tomorrow instead.

Good night.

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Jun 19 2009

Hurricane With Windows Mobile 6.1

Category: Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 1:17 am

For any UK readers, you’ll also find it listed as an Orange C550 (HTC often sell their models on via other networks, and so often each model has a lot of alternative names).

Anyway, despite the down direction on the joystick being a little wonky, since installing WM6.1, I’ve grown to like the phone again. I have learned that EITHER using WM5torage (a tool to enable the phone to be used as a mass storage device, thereby avoiding the need to install ActiveSync on a PC first) OR OMAPClock (a tool to overclock (or in my case attempt battery life improvement by underclocking)) on this particular model, with this particular ROM (selang09’s wm 6.1 – a breeze to install thanks to ubrdave’s helpful instructions here) caused some sort of corruption, leaving my phone convinced that all EXEs were not valid Windows CE applications! I’m assuming it was the underclocking that did it somehow. Anyway, lesson learned, phone NOT bricked, so re-flashed it, and carried on guessing what some of the included Chinese language programs do.

With 6.1 installed, I was able to start using apps that required .NET CF 3.0 or above, like PockeTwit, though live access to the camera does seem to not be possible – don’t know if this is a hardware limitation that the developers haven’t been able to work around, or whether this is related to the non-standard ROM I’m using. I’ve yet to try Barcorama on the Hurricane (a barcode scanner application), but I can imagine the ever present security guards in Kazakh supermarkets getting their knickers in a twist if I attempt any price comparisons/uploading 🙂

Here is a quick screenshot of how the phone looks right now, I miss the ability to easily add/remove components from the equivalent of the today screen, compared to the Kaiser with its WM6.1 Pro, but I haven’t yet had to fall back to my v.old Sony Ericsson K700, so I can’t really complain. Editing homescreens on WM2003SE involved plugins and XML files for the main config, so I’m hoping I can bluff my way through customizing the interface a little in the future.

Orange C550 HTC Hurricane Windows Mobile 6.1

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