Category: Pocket PC

I finally got sick of clicking Not Now when setting up my Windows Mobile PDA-phone under Vista, and deicded to go ahead and register with the Windows Mobile folks, to put a cease to their nagware.

Lo and behold, the message I get after entering my personal info is:

“Thank you for providing us with your email address. We will contact you when the program is available in your language.”

What the hell does that mean? The Windows Mobile team at Microsoft doesn’t speak English?

I think this bug is related to the fact that I used a non-Hotmail Windows Live ID to log in, so they can’t tell what market I’m in. But really folks — shouldn’t we default to English?

Also, what “program” are they talking about? I didn’t ask for any program for my phone, and it seems to be working in English perfectly well already.

Duh.

Microsoft Pocket PC

xv6700_diag.jpg: If you’ve been following my blog, sorely in need of updating as it is, you probably know I have a Verizon XV6700, otherwise known as an HTC Apache. In general, I love it. It’s a very capable mobile device. I use it for everything from snapping pictures when I don’t have my camera, to downloading and listening to podcasts in my car on my way to and from work. Oh — and it’s also a phone. “;->”

But I’ve had one thing that’s really annoyed me ever since I updated the ROM to run WM5: The car charger got flaky. Sometimes I would plug it in, and nothing. Even more annoying, if I had the need to do a reboot (which is rare), and the device was plugged in to the car charger, it would come up with a low battery warning, even when the battery was fully charged.

If you want the solution now, without my back-story, click here. “;->”

I finally started trying to find the answer to this a couple of days ago, and lo-and-behold, the Apache isn’t the only HTC phone to suffer from this problem. Apparently this is also a known issue with the TyTN as well, at least in the ROM dated 7/22 2006. Having found that, I checked the ROM version that Verizon is using, and it’s 2.07.20, dated 2/24/2006. Whoops!

After some more reading, I understood the issue. As it turns out, there’s a pin on the mini-USB connector on the device, which doesn’t have a use according to the standard spec, but HTC decided to get clever and use this pin to determine whether the device is connected to a data connection (computer) or not. Normally the pin is not connected to anything, and the phone’s ROM software assumes that this means that it’s connected to a PC. If, on the other hand, the pin is grounded, the phone thinks it’s connected to one of HTC’s mobile chargers.

So — the reason I couldn’t get the car charger to work properly is the fault of HTC, Verizon and myself:

  1. I’d updated the phone to the WM5-capable ROM (using a download linked from Verizon’s site).
  2. Verizon didn’t know about this issue, or chose not to deal with it.
  3. The charger that shipped with the phone is a Verizon-branded charger, not an HTC charger (which would have had the pin connected properly, I assume).
  4. HTC fixed the bug in a later version of the ROM, but Verison doesn’t have that version. (Some other carriers do though.)

One more point: The base-station and home charger don’t have this problem. The base station (I assume) has enough USB smarts for the phone to think it can talk data to it, and the home charger presumably has the pins connected so the phone will see it despite the bug.

The Solution

As it turns out, the fix is easy, if you can solder, have good eyes, and a steady hand: Just solder pin 4 to pin 5 on the phone-end of your charger, and the phone will see it again. Which are pins 4 and 5? They’re the rightmost two if you’re looking at the phone-end of the charger plug end-on, with the wide end down.

It’s easy enough to do the soldering after prying the top of the connector opened with a pair of needle-nosed pliers (being careful not to break it). If your soldering iron tip is too big to touch just the two pins — they are pretty small after all — just snip off a tiny piece of solder, place it over the two pins, and heat it up with the iron. Just look out not to add too much solder, or to connect more than just the two rightmost pins.

Here’s a nice diagram and another set of instructions to help you out. (I’ve also mirrored it here, just in case.)

After doing this, my phone charges every time. Reboots are not a problem either. I’m very pleased with the results, but less than happy that both HTC and Verizon let this get through their testing, and into the hands of end-users. I wonder how many phones they’ve replaced as a result. (The tech I talked to at Verizon’s technical support hadn’t ever heard of the problem, so either they don’t know about it, or don’t want to acknowledge it.)

Presumably this will all become moot once Verizon gets with the program and starts shipping the fixed ROM from HTC like the other carriers do. (Nudge, nudge.)

Oh, and by the way — I keep meaning to, but haven’t yet written about how I deal with podcasts on this thing. I think I’ve got just about the best mobile podcast player solution I could find, though it still has its problems. If you’re someone like Dave who’s looking for an open platform that can do the podcast thing, and do it well, Windows Mobile seems to be the way to go — not Zune, iPod or iPhone.

A moderately resourceful programmer with some .Net Mobile savvy, a willingness to utilize open source libraries, a decent business plan, and some funding could totally use WM5 (or WM6) as a platform for a best-of-breed podcast player. I mean one including all of the social networking features we geeks need, support for all of the codecs in current use, and as much cool-factor as you care to pack into the design. And it could do video, email and Web as well. Just a thought…

Pocket PC

So I just went and looked again after a couple of months, and (re)ran across Diarist for Windows Mobile, now at version 2.1. It’s a free weblog editor for Windows Mobile, with support for the now nearly ubiquitous MetaWeblog API.

I’d tried it once before, but wasn’t able to connet to my blog, I think because Manila didn’t implement getUsersBlogs. With that fixed (because I’d wanted to use ecto on the Mac — a great, albeit slightly clunky blog editor, by the way), Diarist now seems to be working with my site. If you see this, then it is anyway. “;->”

Even better, v2.1 has support for newMediaObject for posting pictures. I’ll try that another time…

Now let’s see if this will work… 3, 2, 1…

Update: That totally worked. Way cool! It’s not wizzy or anything fancy, and it’s a real shame you can’t edit past posts, but for a simple little mobile blogging tool, it’s looking quite capable. More soon.

Update: Posting an image totally worked too. If only Diarist could retrieve posts from the server, instead of haing to edit locally cached copies. And a little better category UI wouldn’t hurt either. “;->”

Pocket PC

So I was just looking at Yahoo Mobile, and discovered it doesn’twork on my mobile. How lame is that?

I’m using the shipping version of IE for Windows Mobile 5 on my Verizon (UT Starcom) XV-6700, and when I go to My Account to try to update Yahoo with my current device, the JavaScript on the carrier-selection page doesn’t work. Silent failure — no warnings about browser compatibility. No downgraded page. Nothing but a device pop-up that doesn’t work.

And it’s been like this for months.

Lame.

Pocket PC

This is the set of software that I’ve found useful on my Verizon (UT Starcom) XV6700. Note some of it is specifically applicable to this device, but most will be just as useful on any Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC.

Software update for the UT Starcom (that’s the actual manufacturer) — free
The update has two very important fixes: You can now use WiFi at the same time as the phone — you don’t have to choose between the two. Also, the update includes a voice speed-dialer that works with Bluetooth hands-free devices. (There were workarounds for both, but the official update is probably better in general.)

A few warnings about this update:

  • The update will hard-reset the phone, so you’ll need to re-install apps and restore data. If you’re using ActiveSync to synchronize with your mail server and a desktop machine, most people will have an easy time with this, but make very certain that you have everything backed up before running the above.
  • It takes a few minutes to complete the update, so make sure your battery is full or you’re connected to a charger. Also, wait ’till you’re sure you have 1/2 hour or so to complete the install.
  • Last: Many corporate Exchange servers have a policy that locks the phone with your PIN (Settings -> Lock) after 10 min of inactivity. This can be really annoying, especially if you’re used to being able to just glance at the phone for PIM information without having to enter a password.

SKSchema – $10
Scripting app that allows registry changes and automation of many basic functions.

ImmerSoft XCPUScalar – $20
A CPU throttling app that can adjust CPU speed based on utilization, theeby saving battery power – don’t use speeds over 520MHz on the XV6700 – it’ll likely freeze the unit; the 208MHz setting may make the unit power up slowly, but will save more battery power than higher settings.

IMPORTANT: Don’t enable the CPU or battery meters – they eat lots of battery power (which kind of defeats the primary purpose of the app). In fact, don’t ever enable battery or CPU meters that display all the time on your Today screen – they will probably all do this. (The System Tray CPU speed indicator for XCPUScalar is ok though.)

acbPowerMeter – free
App to measure power usage (useful for figuring out what apps are using lots of power & battery).

PocketBreeze – $15
A very cool Today plug-in that does lots of fancy views of your calendar, mail, tasks and otehr stuff – a bit of a pain to configure, but very handy. These guys have other apps that look cool too, but I haven’t tried any of them. I recently heard of another Today plug-in that does similar stuff, but haven’t tried it yet: Spb Diary ($15). Their Finance, Tips & Tricks and Pocket Plus apps look interesting too.

TranCreative Magic Button – free (I think)
A very handy task switcher that displays running tasks as icons in the menu-bar. It also lets you quit apps withou switching to them, and can be configured to make the close button exit apps, instead of hiding them (to save memory).

pRSSreader – free
Lightweight RSS aggregator/reader.

Resco Explorer 2005 – $25
Filesystem explorer with plug-ins for ZIP archives, encryption, FTP client, SMB client, and registry editor; also has today plug-in & built-in file viewer. (These guys also make other cool apps.)

Opera for Windows Mobile – $24
Web browser with tabbed UI, nice small screen presentation, but a little heavy.

PhatWare CalliGrapher – $40
Very nice handwriting recognition – much better than what comes with WM5 on the device. Only important if you do lots of text input on your device, and don’t want to be forced to use the built-in chicklet keyboard. Also has an on-screen keyboard with lots of special characters, handy if you use the following to access any machines over SSH:

PuTTY telnet/SSH client – free
Just what it says. Also, there’s a nice page of SSH-related links on that site.

Pocket PC

SeattleFireworks2006a:

I have a couple of movies too — leave a comment if you want to see them.

Also, the last few posts were made with my nifty new toy.

Pocket PC

Seattle4thSmall.JPG:

Almost time…

Pocket PC