Tim Hillebrand's blog

Tritton AxVisor BT Car Kit

TIOTRIBC200.PNG Remember what a thrill it was when you could first ride your bike without any hands? Driving a car is a different matter, and it’s a good idea to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.


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PhatNotes 5.3

phatnptes5-ppc Current users of PhatNotes will be glad to learn of the version 5.3 release that has many new features and works seamlessly with Vista and all Windows Mobile devices.


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SnagThis: New SnagIt 9

It is difficult for me to imagine that there have been significant enhancements to SnagIt. I thought it had pretty much reached its zenith, but SnagIt 9 manages to improve an already superb product that captures screen shots of all kinds in a flash.

You may wonder why I am writing about desktop software in a handheld forum, but let me tell you that I don’t know how I would survive without SnagIt. It has so many applications that I use that enhance my handheld computing and writing.


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Disaster Preparedness Devices

Earthquakes, forest fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, and other disasters seem to be common news items these days. Tragedy can strike almost anywhere at any time, so it is best to be prepared. Life Gear is a company that specializes in disaster preparedness equipment. I have two of their personal safety devices to tell you about.

PSD Tools


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Vito improves SMS-Chat

SMSchatWhen iPhone unleashed its finger-friendly, animated, touch-screen technology it was an instant hit with all the nose miners out there. Vito Technology has certainly stepped up to the plate to make a similar experience possible for Windows Mobile users, which I appreciate.


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New Universal Phone Cases from Proporta

I tend to think of Proporta.com as the case place because they seem to be able to cover just about any digital device out there. The new line of Universal Phone Cases comes in three sizes: Internal dimensions Small Case: 90mm x 25mm x 50mm Medium Case: 110mm x 60mm x 25mm Large Case: 120mm x 70mm x 30mm These black leather, handsome cases will protect your device with a stitched-in aluminum insert in the flap cover with a strong magnetic clasp.

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SMS-Chat New Release

Vito Technology listens. It’s always gratifying to see a company that is as responsive as Vito. In a matter of months, Vito has managed to issue several new releases of their innovative SMS-Chat client making significant improvements each time. I have previously reviewed the program in depth, so I’m not going to go into detail here other than to cover some of the significant innovations. Suffice it to say that SMS-Chat is an attractive, finger-friendly, easy to use SMS client for touch screen WM devices that will thread your messages and organize them by contact, time and date. It is also capable of sending a message to multiple recipients. Perhaps my biggest complaint about older versions was that an incoming text message would pop up on your screen. This unfortunate feature represented serious security issues and potentially embarrassing situations. In the new version, you can turn off this feature. Hooray! Mission accomplished.

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Grand Theft Avatar @ the library

I've been a mentor in the local schools for eight years. There have been some happy times and some sad times, but what happened yesterday was the most devastating. When I arrived, my mentee was eager to tell me what had happened to him at the library. He goes there almost every day after school to play an online game with his pals. He has been working on his prized character for about two years for two to four hours a day. That's a lot of work. I can't help wondering what else could have been accomplished with that amount of energy, but nevermind. This twelve-year old boy was practically in tears as he sputtered what had transpired. It involved grand theft and ransom. It seems that some Junior High school larcenists had purloined his prized game avatar and stolen all its attributes that had taken two years to acquire. How would you feel if someone absconded with something you had so laboriously created? It's akin to child theft. As he was was finishing his tale of woe, his buddy walked into my office, which is really a closet, and unleashed his even sadder story. It seems that not only had his character been stolen but horror of horrors, turned into a female. To make matters worse, all of the avatar's hard-earned attributes had been stripped away in a cruel act of malicious mischief. But, it turns out that is was more than just malicious mischief. The Junior High library larcenists had given these grammar school guys 24 hours to fork over 25 bucks if they wanted their avatars back intact, and time was running out.

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Spring Cleaning

Unavoidably, Windows Mobile devices can get bogged down with open programs running in the background, installation files, duplicate contacts, Internet history, invalid registry entries, broken links, temporary and cache files, duplicate files, old email and attachments. These things and more can begin to pile up and affect the performance of your machine.

First things first: scrub the system


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Text Message Clients and SMS Enhancements

Perhaps you are new to the world of text messaging or you haven’t bothered to look beyond the native functionality your phone provides. You may be surprised at some of the enhancements available to make texting even more productive, secure, enjoyable, and even profitable.

One of the many things I appreciate about my Treo 750 is its ability to thread SMS chats into conversations by contact. On most machines, the built-in Windows Mobile SMS utility simply lists messages in the order received, which rapidly becomes a jumble.

Several third-party applications make threading possible and handle it in elegant ways.


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Let a Sextopus Satisfy Your Needs

My life was a mess; Sextopus has saved me from embarrassing, inexcusable, inappropriate, unmanageable, and extreme entanglements. It was love at first sight. The sinewy appendages, the inviting receptacles, and the penetrating blue eyes were irresistible. Instantly, I knew I couldn’t live a moment longer without Sextopus.

Sextopus is so amiable and highly adaptable; its only purpose is to conform to the master’s needs graciously without complaint. It’s just a matter of appendage adjustment.

Similar to the octopus, a distant cousin with eight tentacles, Sextopus only has six. But oh what it can do with those six appurtenances. It is a wonder to behold.

A characteristic peculiar to the echinoderms of which the Sextopus must be related is the ability to regenerate severed appendages. Lop off the arm of a starfish, and it will grow a new one. A Sextopus has the same ability, but even better. You can just rip one off, and it can be instantly replaced with one more suitable to your liking and special needs.

Are you beginning to think a Sextopus might be right for you too? Let me tell you a little more about what this little beauty will do for you.


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You’ll get a double charge out of this…

I am always impressed with what Proporta, my favorite accessory supplier, comes up with next. This time it’s a dual car charger. You plug it into your cigarette lighter receptacle; it has two USB ports for charging two devices simultaneously.

It comes with two cables. One has a standard USB connector on one end and a mini USB connector on the other. The second cable has a standard USB connector and a plug that will fit into a variety of adapters that come with the set.

You get three adapters that connect to iPod, Sony, and Nokia. None of these are of any interest to me, so I just pulled out a spare USB cable, and I’m set to charge up any two devices in my car and keep them topped off ready for use.


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PASSTHEPARCEL: Happy Birthday Proporta

Proporta, my favorite gadget provider, will turn twelve tomorrow 4/23/08).

To celebrate, Proporta is offering a 15% discount.

Go to http://www.proporta .com to check out all the goodies they have to offer from cases to cables, some don’t leave home without chargers, and a myriad of other goodies for portable devices.

Take advantage of this special discount offer by typing or pasting in the following discount code at checkout: PASSTHEPARCEL

Learn about how it all got started.


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How to turn your Windows Mobile touch screen into an iPhone

Clearly, one of the innovations that iPhone offers is the slick, finger-friendly touch screen interface. It has been heralded and embraced by a public of enthusiastic nose miners. Well, if you want to join the crowd of finger frolickers, and you have a WM touch screen device, don’t despair. There are several ways you can turn your little pocket pal into a finger-friendly navigator.

While a finger-friendly screen is not part of the Windows Mobile operating system per se, several developers have seized the opportunity to offer programs that feature finger flicking screen changing.

What if you wanted to turn on finger scrolling for almost all of your applications that involve multiple pages such as contacts and Websites? What if you could pan a Webpage scrolling up and down and from side to side? This is now completely possible with the installation of a single program that contains this feature.


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Krusell Orbit MultiAdapt Case

Whenever I get a new pocket pal, I feel obligated to get it a new suit of armor to protect it and to protect my investment. The first problem is that there are so many types of cases out there that it can become a difficult decision and expensive if you make the wrong choice.

I just acquired a new MWg Atom Life, which is a sweet device and certainly worth protecting--hence, my quest for a new case.


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A Stranger in a Strange Land Revisited: 30 Reasons Windows Mobile is superior to iPhone

Last week I published an article about my initial experience with my brother’s pride and joy, his iPhone. I found the iPhone to be lacking in several areas compared to my Windows Mobile Professional device. Since then I have been delving deeper into the virtues of iPhones and found even more astonishing lacks that I hadn’t noticed or had taken for granted would naturally be there. The inability to highlight, copy, cut, and paste is one example.

In this article, I have included my initial observations and added some new ones for a condensed list of 30 features lacking in the iPhone.


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A Stranger in a Strange Land: a Windows Mobile guy meets iPhone

My brother, the cinematographer, is a MAC kinda guy. So, naturally he packs an iPhone of which he is very proud. While visiting me last week he was showing off the virtues of his iPhone with a bit of a smug air and a tinge of superiority.

He quickly established that the iPhone makes phone calls, surfs the Web, does email and SMS, takes pictures (but has no flash), and it does it all on a really cool, high-resolution, finger-friendly touch screen.

Perhaps a little reluctantly, he let me try it. The first thing I had to check out was the finger-friendly interface. Sure enough, you just touch any icon on the home screen, and the tapped application appears. I suppose this would seem cool to a cellphone user, but it's not too impressive to an old Pocket PC packer.

Within the application, you can use your finger to scroll around, but you can't use the keyboard or a joystick 5-way button because they don't exist. You can even zoom in or out on a screen or photo by pinching your fingers together or spreading them apart—very cool.

This is all well and good until you get to a Web page that has many hyperlinks such as the results of a Google search. Try to expand, contract, or scroll the screen, and the slightest touch invokes the hyperlink and drives you nuts.


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SplashMoney

Compared to the money transaction program I’ve been using, SplashMoney is the ultimate supreme being, the granddaddy of the universe. Instead of a black and white ho hum presentation, SplashMoney opens in full Technicolor with spiffy icons and lives up to its name from the first impression.

Delving deeper into SplashMoney, I found it to be a transaction recording program that probably has no equal. For instance, to my knowledge no other similar application allows you to access your bank accounts live online and sync data.


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HanDBase 4.0

I must admit that I have been aware of HanDBase for some time, but have largely ignored it because my databases are in the millions of records and would swamp the memory of a PDA.

However, upon the prompting of a friend, I took another look at the new version 4.0 recently and was more than a little impressed with what I found.

HandDBase is a sophisticated relational database that will work on almost all PDA platforms. It allows data entry, record searching, sorting, filtering, printing, and syncing with desktop and handheld devices. It will import/export Microsoft Access or other ODBC compliant databases.

You can construct your own custom-designed database using fifteen different kinds of fields from text to numerical to date to calculating and more. It also lets you create forms for data input with a nifty drag and drop designer. The form designer is impressive. You can select colors for text, background, buttons, as well as button functions and button shape. There are drop down boxes, radio buttons, and free text fields that can contain up to 2000 characters. You can even insert graphics in the forms.

HanDBase comes with a desktop form designer application as well. You can also sync data with a desktop computer if you wish.


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Features I would like to see added to Windows Mobile

Out of the box a Window Mobile device certainly comes with a myriad of features for instant productivity and entertainment. However, as you learn more about the potential of the device, you begin to wish it could do even more and long for more applications to make it happen. Of course, there are thousands of third parties programs that will do just about everything on my wish list and more. Perhaps the advantage of installing third party applications is that they add more features than just the main one on my wish list. Probably, if Microsoft included all these features, it would put a lot of other companies out of business, which I would not want to see. It would no doubt also make the device that much more expensive. On the other hand, installing all the third party software to make my wish list come true could cost a tidy little bundle too. The Wish List


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