Where is My Windows Mobile Buddy?

One of the first successful handheld computers was the 200LX from Hewlett-Packard. This was a DOS-based clamshell "palmtop" computer. Like our Windows Mobile devices, it was a great tool all by itself. However, there were a number of "annoyances" that users had to contend with. But a clever programmer named Jeff Mattox developed a utility called "Buddy" that implemented a number of keyboard macros. Now where is Buddy for Windows Mobile?

The way that Buddy worked on the HP 200LX was that it looked at the display for "clues" as to what program was running, then it modified the function of certain keys on the keyboard or changed the way data was displayed. For example, there was a program on the 200LX somewhat like File Explorer, but lacking the ability to "auto launch" programs. Buddy allowed you to open documents, files, etc. by highlighting them and pressing the Enter key. This saved keystrokes.

Buddy also improved the display for certain programs - much the way Agenda Fusion and Pocket Informant make the Pocket Outlook programs work better for us now.

Since we already have the helper tasks for Outlook, a Buddy-like program for Windows Mobile could simply add keystroke macros for devices with keyboards, and could provide custom shortcuts to the features you use most often. Here are a few features I'd like to see in WM-Buddy:

  • Menu shortcuts: For example, whenever I'm home I like to forward my mobile phone calls to my home phone number. Currently this takes quite a few steps on the Pocket PC Phone to get to the call forwarding menu option. This could be automated to allow a couple of keystrokes to enable call forwarding and a couple of others to disable it when I leave home.
  • Optional keys: Thanks to Ed at Pocket PC Thoughts, I'm using a neat little utility to assign the "ctrl" and "alt" keys in the HTC Universal. This is a natural feature for WM-Buddy. We also could use a few others, such as the F1-F10 keys (for use with the Terminal Server Client.)
  • Provide a "smarter" SIP (that’s Soft Input Panel) control that doesn't pop up the keyboard SIP on devices that have a hardware keyboard exposed. You could always pop it up manually.

These are just a small sampling of what a Buddy program could do. So how about it all you clever programmers out there? I'll be happy to be an early beta tester!

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