Jul 17 2007

For Steve – iPAQ Basics

Category: Friends,Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 3:44 am

In a similar vein to the previous post for Alex’s bro, this post is being written as a friend needs some help, and I am too appalled at the thought of typing it all into a messenger window, only to need it again in the future. I hope some other random person will one day find this post through a search engine, and find the contents useful. For anyone else, please indulge me a moment, normal random postings will resume shortly 😉

Firstly, some basic terminology / concepts to get a grip of, before proceeding.

PPC – For the purposes of this post, PPC can be safely assumed to refer to a Windows Mobile powered Pocket PC, such as an iPAQ.
RAR or ZIP files – These can be safely opened on your PC. See later for details.
EXE files – These are normally installation programs that will use ActiveSync to install a program for you automatically, the next time you plug your PPC into it’s cradle or USB lead. However, occasionally, you will find an EXE file that produces an error on your PC, when you try to run it. It may state something like ‘Not A Valid Win32 Application’. If this is the case, don’t despair, it is simply a program meant to run directly on your PPC, not your PC
CAB file – do NOT ever open or extract these files on your PC. In that path heart ache does lay. Follow instructions below.
Sync – for the purposes of this post, any mention of sync refers to you plugging your PPC into your PC. Whether it be via a cradle, USB lead, bluetooth or WiFi (if you have an old version of ActiveSync, before such usefulness was disabled), the end result is the same – the little circle in your system tray, that belongs to ActiveSync, should eventually go green, and stop rotating.
Anyway, back to the main reason for this post – how to install programs…

Open ONLY RAR or ZIP files on your PC :
Extract them somewhere temporarily (don’t delete until you know for certain program is working, not just as a demo, if you have ‘purchased’ a full version)

IF, and ONLY IF the extracted files is a CAB, then copy it via to your PPC (see below)
Always check the included documentation, but you can normally leave any other files on your PC – TXT NFO DOC files etc

How to copy CAB files?
Either eject your SD memory card, and put it in card reader in your PC, then copy the CAB file as you would any other type
OR plug your PPC into it’s cradle or USB lead, make sure ActiveSync says Synced or Connected. Right Click green circle icon in your PC’s system tray, and select ‘explore’ OR open the ActiveSync main window, select the File Menu, then ‘explore’
In either case navigate to My Windows Mobile-based Device (or words similar), then Storage Card, then copy the required file(s) as you would to any other directory or drive, such as a memory stick.
What now? Now open your favourite file explorer program on your PPC, navigate to the SD card, and THEN you can open the CAB file. It will install the program semi-automatically for you. When given a choice between the internal memory or your SD card, there are two factors to consider before deciding which location is best. In almost all cases, a large program should only be installed on the SD card. If the program is small, but is not needed often, or not likely to require fast transfers to operate normally, again install it to the SD card. If the program is something that will automatically load each time your PPC is started up, or is very small AND needs fast transfers or access times, ONLY then install to SD cards. Other may argue with this approach, but over time, you will find a few programs that give you no option as to where they will be installed – leave your PPC’s internal memory for those times. Also, the internal memory is dynamically split between storage space and operating memory. As a rough analogy, imagine you could use some of your PC’s 2Gb of RAM as a storage area (yes a RAM Drive before any geeks giggle and point). Now imagine you filled that 2Gb with crap you didn’t need very often. There would be little space left for anything interesting, such as large buffers or game playing resources.

If you happen to have found a PPC EXE file within your extracted RAR or ZIP file, copy them in the same manner as I mentioned above, except you will need to create a directory for the EXE file somewhere on your PPC first. You can dump it anywhere, but it makes it easier to spring clean / trouble shoot an issue if each application has its own distinct directory.

If the file you have is a normal PC EXE file, then when you run it, the program will actually copy and run the CAB file it contains for you automatically, the next time you sync your PPC.

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