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Windows Mobile (soon to be Android), and other toys aka gadgets

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Saturday, April 29, 2006
  Treo works fine after 1.10 update, but new memory manager could impact push email

Installed the Treo 700w Updater 1.10, and everything advertised seems to be working fine, including push email. I will continue testing to ensure the push email feature works consistently. When I send an email to my public exchange server on mail2web.com from a POP account on a desktop or PDA, the email is pushed to the Treo 700w in about 20 seconds. I do not need the immediate email offered by this push feature; however, I did want to be familiar with the technology.

The new wireless manager is a nice addition. You can easily control the three radios on the Treo 700w - broadband/phone, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi (when Wi-Fi SD card is installed). You do not gain any new controls, they are just placed together in the new wireless manager.

One potential problem is the memory manager seems to start closing applications when available memory falls below about 5 MB. Before the update, the system started closing open applications when available memory fell to about 2 MB. If you use the push email feature, this could be a problem. ActiveSync needs to be open in order for push to work, and Outlook needs to be open in order to read the email. Email will still be pushed if Outlook is not open; an open ActiveSync is the critical component on the Treo 700w for push email. If you are using other applications on the Treo 700w that drop the available memory below 5 MB, Outlook and / or ActiveSync could be closed by the system without any warning or notice.

I found on several occasions that the email I sent from another device to the exchange server was not received on the Treo 700w. When I checked, the available memory on the Treo 700w had fallen below 5MB, and ActiveSync was closed by the system without any notice. This was not just a one time occurrence. Whenever my available memory fell below 5 MB, there was a good possibility that ActiveSync would be closed by the system without any notice. When I closed other applications on the Treo 700w to bring the available memory above 5 MB, and restarted ActiveSync, push email worked great again. Of course you need room to start Outlook if you wish to read the email that was pushed.

Maybe an increase to the memory threshold for closing applications was warranted, however, on a device with very limited user memory available, it does not take many applications to reach the 5 MB limit. Maybe 3 MB would have been a better change. In addition to the potential for stopping push email without warning, one of the nice features of Windows Mobile, multitasking, is now limited by applications being closed as soon as the 5 MB limit is reached.

It may not be an issue for you, just wanted to let you know of a potential problem.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
  Added free public Exchange Server

Since I use the Treo 700w for personal and small business use, I do not need an Exchange Server, and do not need to sync with, or obtain email from an Exchange Server. I can obtain my email anytime I have an EvDO signal on the Treo 700w from my POP, or IMAP acccounts using Pocket Outlook. I do want to be familiar with the technology, and have experience using it, so I obtained a free public Exchange Server account from http://www.mail2web.com. Setting up the account was hassle free, and the account has worked as promised. I can ActiveSync to the Exchange Server account anytime I have an EvDO signal on the Treo, or a Wi-Fi signal with one of my other Pocket PC devices. You can sync contacts, calendar, and notes with the Exchange Server. If you want more capability, you can purchased low cost upgrades.

Palm released an upgrade for the Treo 700w which adds push technology from an Exchange Server. With this upgrade, email will automatically be "pushed" to your Treo 700w as soon as it is received on the Exchange Server. Once you do the initial configuration, all you have to do is have the Treo 700w on, and you will receive email automatically as soon as it is received at the Exchange Server. The Treo 700w upgrade is temporarily not available due to a problem with the installer. Once the upgrade is available again, I will upgrade the Treo 700w. I do not need push technology personally; however, I want to have experience with it. I will test the push technology using my free mail2web.com Exchange Server account. One of the primary reasons I obtained the free Exchange Server account was to test the push feature.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
  Save HanDBase files to website in addition to NAS

I use Network Attached Storage (NAS) to store my frequently used data files due to the multitude of handheld devices I use. Using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, I can quickly and easily obtain the latest version of my files by downloading directly from the NAS to the device. The problems using NAS with the Treo 700w are the lack of built-in Wi-Fi, and the lack of a DUN profile for Bluetooth.

I can access the NAS from the Treo 700w using the SD Wi-Fi card; however, sometimes it is not convenient to remove the SD memory card. My solution is to save the frequently used data files to one of my web domains via FTP. Using CedeFTP, I can quickly upload/download files to/from the web domain. An additional benefit is my frequently used data files are now available anywhere the Treo 700w has an EvDO signal. Due to EvDO's excellent speed, all uploads/downloads are fast.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
  Second Time - "Synchronization cannot be completed successfully" message

About two months after I started using the Treo 700w, I was ActiveSyncing my Treo 700w with one of the two PC's I sync the Treo 700w with, and received the "Synchronization cannot be completed successfully" message. After about two hours on the phone with Palm Tech Support, the only remaining solution was a hard reset. The hard reset did solve the problem, but of course, it takes about 2 to 3 hours to reinstall everything. I wasn't too upset because I wanted to do a fresh install of the latest upgrades for all my third party applications. However, I was also determined I would not be doing this again in the near future unless it was because of a system upgrade patch from Palm. Instead of waiting for the free Sprite Backup app to be made available by Palm, I purchased the Sprite Backup directly. I am certainly glad I did.

Two weeks later, I was ActiveSycing with my PC, and again received the "Synchronization cannot be completed successfully" message. I was surprised, and disappointed. Surprised because I had not changed much on the Treo 700w since I reinstalled all the applications after the hard reset two weeks earlier. I was disappointed because there was evidently a serious bug that needed to be fixed quickly by Palm. A search of the web revealed that this problem is not uncommon, and a plethora of suggested fixes have been posted. Unfortunately for me, none of the suggested solutions, including deleting all zero byte temp files, fixed my problem. I did not bother calling Palm Tech Support because I tried everything they had me try the first time I received the message. Fortunately, this time it only took 15 minutes to hard reset the Treo 700w, and do a full restore from Sprite Backup which worked flawlessly. I will ensure I do a new backup each time I add an application.

All my other Windows Mobile devices, including the Dell Axim x51v, another Windows Mobile 5 device, still ActiveSynced perfectly after I received the "Synchronization cannot be completed successfully" message with the Treo 700w. Since all my other devices still worked fine, the problem must be with the Treo 700w, and its interaction with ActiveSync. This is a major problem that has cost many hours of work by Treo 700w users judging by the web posts. A quick solution for this major problem is definitely needed from Palm, sooner rather than later. In the interim, purchase a Windows Mobile 5 compatible backup program and backup your Treo 700w frequently. You will be glad you did when you can cure the "Synchronization cannot be completed successfully" problem in 10 to 15 minutes, rather than 3 hours plus.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
  Slight problem updating FX data with Resco Keyboard Pro

One of my favorite applications is the Resco Keyboard Pro, particularly the FX feature. FX allows you to store 11 frequently used phrases which you can input with just two stylus taps. The keyboard itself works fine with the Treo 700w. The slight problem is when you try to add new phrases or modify the default FX phrases. Due to the 240 x 240 resolution of the Treo 700w, the input area for phrase additions / modifications is blocked by the soft keyboard which automatically is displayed when you try to add or update. You can not update or modify the phrases using any soft keyboard. Fortunately, the Treo has a hard keyboard. You can click the keyboard icon at the bottom of the screen to close the soft keyboard, input the additions or changes via the hard keyboard, and click the update button with the stylus. I did send an email to Resco. I anticipate the problem will be resolved in a future update.

If you have a similar problem on a device without a hard keyboard, the FX phrases are stored in the Registry. Using Resco's Registry Editor, I was able to add new phrases and modify the 4 default FX phrases. The workaround seems to operate fine. As alway before doing any additions or modifications to the Registry, make a complete backup of your system. The FX settings are at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Resco\Keyboard\FX.

Resco Keyboard Pro ships with default values assigned to keys 1 thru 4. You can modify one of the four default values by selecting FX, holding down the entry number (numbers 1 thru 4) you wish to change, and selecting modify from the context menu which is displayed. After you modify the selection, press ok in the upper right corner.

You can add a new entry by holding the stylus on FX until the context menu appears, selecting new, and then selecting string value. A two entry box appears. Enter an unused key number (usually 5 thru 11) in the Name box, and then the phrase you assign to that key in the String box. Press ok in the upper right corner, and your new phrase is added.
  ActiveSync takes too long with Treo 700w

I ActiveSync via Bluetooth to two PC's. Depending on the number of changes, the Treo 700w takes between 4 and 6 minutes to complete an ActiveSync. A Dell Axim x51v, which is also Windows Mobile 5, takes between 45 seconds and a minute an a half. An iPAQ 4155 (Pocket PC 2003) takes between 25 seconds and 40 seconds to complete an ActiveSync. In all time tests, the devices were placed close enough to the PC to ensure the signal strength meter in the PC Bluetooth Connection Status showed a good signal reading.

Both the Dell x51v and iPAQ 4155 have bigger memories than the Treo 700w; therefore they have more files in memory. I can understand the Dell taking longer than the iPAQ due to the slower persistent memory in the x51v. However, the ActiveSync times for the Treo 700w are unacceptable. For most of the ActiveSync process, the message "Looking for Changes" is displayed.

I talked to Palm Tech Support about the long ActiveSync times. The tech rep told me Palm was working on a system update for the Treo 700w (no ETA yet), and the system update may reduce the ActiveSync time. Hopefully, the system update will fix other issues as well.

Update posted April 15, 2006
The Treo 700w creates a multitude of zero byte files and places them in the Windows\Temp folder. After a short time, the number of files can exceed a thousand. These zero byte files slow down the ActiveSync process significantly. If you delete the zero byte files from the Windows\Temp folder, you will significantly reduce the time the "Looking for changes" message is displayed. My Treo 700w was taking 5 minutes or more to finish an ActiveSync before deleting the zero byte files. After deleting the zero byte files, the ActiveSync's averaged a minute, quite a substantial reduction. I checked my Dell Axim x51v, another Windows Mobile 5 device, and there were no zero byte files in the Windows\Temp folder. Evidently this is a Treo 700w problem, not a Windows Mobile 5 problem.
Friday, April 07, 2006
  Windows Mobile and the Treo 700w

For 7 years, I was a Palm OS champion. Due to stability and compatibility problems with the Tungsten T5, I gave the Windows Mobile platform a test drive as a daily use PDA. The rest is as they say history; I now use Windows Mobile devices as my daily PDA's. Whenever I leave the house, I always take the Treo 700w with me. I like the Treo 700w, and use it more as a data device than a phone. This blog will relate my experiences with all Windows Mobile devices with emphasis on the Treo 700w.

When this blog was started, April, 2006, I was using the following programs on my Treo 700w:

All programs run well on the Treo 700w; I have not experienced any stability problems using any of the above programs.

I ActiveSync via Bluetooth with two PC's. The Treo 700w does take way too long looking for changes during an ActiveSync. Hopefully, this will be corrected with a ROM update.

EvDO is fantastic. I live in Boston, MA (USA), and receive a strong EvDO signal just about 99.9% of the time during my travels in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline. EvDO is considered broadband speed, and my experience verifies that EvDO is very fast. In fact, even when Wi-Fi is available, I do not switch because the defacto speed difference is minimal. The Treo 700w does not have built-in Wi-Fi (it should); however, it does have built-in support for the Palm branded SD Wi-Fi card.
I was a Palm OS champion for years, but switched to the Windows Mobile platform in 2005. My experiences using my Windows Mobile devices, and other electronic devices will be detailed in this blog. The posts reflect what I like, and do not like about a device, or application. Your needs, and opinion may be different.

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