Opera Mini + (W)VGA users, attention: a hacked, VGA-friendly Jbed version has been released!

(Technical note: as of 01/02/2009 2:57 AM CET, the images in the article and the mirrored download aren’t accessible. Hope they’ll become available in about 10 hours. That is, make sure you check back in 10-15 hours if you’d really want to see them. Sorry for the inconvenience - my database back-end has been having problems and the CS people have been away.)


New MIDlet manager in development: PhoneME; Jbed for WM2003(SE) released!

There are two pieces of news for everyone interested in running Java MIDlets. The first will be having a pre-WM5 device and wanting to run Java MIDlets (for example, Opera Mini) on it. Yes, at last, some Russian hackers made Jbed, the industry-leading MIDlet manager work under WM2003(SE)! The second (and, for most people, not that important) piece of news concerns a brand new MIDlet manager port for Windows Mobile.

1. Some Russian hackers, including the folks, have, at last, managed to make Jbed, the best MIDlet manager, work under WM2003 and WM2003SE. The importance of this just can’t be stressed enough: so far, you only had the really inferior IBM J9 and the 10-series TAO MIDlet Manager to run MIDlets on pre-WM5 operating systems. Now, this has dramatically changed. Now, nothing will stop you from using Opera Mini on your pre-WM5 Pocket PC.

The direct link to these WM2003(SE) MIDlet Managers are as follows. There are three versions: a modded one, a non-3D one and a 3D one; all with a heap size fix.

Esmertec Jbed heapfix
Esmertec Jbed3d heapfix

They have also made a MAJOR update to their MIDlet article, linking to all the contemporary Esmertec, TAO etc. versions (including ones with heap fixes, with and without 3D support etc.); the above links can also be found in their article. You can see the translation of the new page HERE (Google) and HERE (Babelfish). Note that I’ve kept the original page HERE (Google) and HERE (Babelfish) for historical reasons for people interested in the pre-Esmertec times.

2. Now, the other piece of news, which, again, won’t be of that much interest to non-WM2003 / non-Java hackers.

Java is a really viable programming platform. Not only several high-quality games make it worthwhile, but also probably the best and, if you’re lucky enough with your geographical location, fastest and most bandwidth usage-friendly mobile browser available for mobile phones (including Windows Mobile), Opera Mini 4.

I’ve already devoted an entire all-in-one Bible to running Java on Windows Mobile (and Symbian). Now, let me introduce the latest Windows Mobile KVM: PhoneME.

PhoneME is another "let’s bring Java to various platforms†projects (official homepage HERE), which has recently received Windows Mobile support.


Misc news: new Jbed / Jblend distros; PDA controller / Web browser news, Revival out

1. After publishing my review of VirtualCE 4, there have been some changes:

  1. a new MyMobiler version has been released, implementing, for example, manual screen rotation and the ability to hide the Today screen icon
  2. some of the bugs of VirtualCE 4 have been fixed (for example, BMP24 crashing). Hope the developer also finds a way to completely (even from the bottom taskbar) hide the main selector / controller screen as is asked in the above-linked HowardForums thread
  3. Pocket Controller 6 has turned out to support LAN discovery and hiding the connection “bubble†upon TCP/IP connection (as opposed to the ActiveSync one).

2. I, after more than a week’s waiting (see my previous post HERE), still haven’t received any feedback from the Strategy Analytics Inc. folks regarding the lack of Opera Mini in their 5-Star Safari Leads Mobile Browsing Experience, which, in many Windows Mobile users’ (including me) opinion, is the most useful / quickest Web browser for the Windows Mobile platform. And, for other mobile platforms too – on my Symbian Nokia N95 and BlackBerry 8800, I almost exclusively use this browser to access the Web. Not including it in the test makes the entire report pretty hard to depend on – it’s like completely ignoring, for example, Ferrari (a top-performing car) when evaluating the cars of Formula-1.

And, of course, I’ve already elaborated on the bad ranking of Nokia Web (running on Symbian S60 3rd edition devices – that is, NOT on Windows Mobile) and, particularly, Opera Mobile (running on all major mobile platforms). Again and again, if you do learn the dialpad shortcuts and/or, with Opera Mobile running on a dialpad-less Pocket PC, use a third-party tool to assign its key functionalities (accessing favorites, current tabs, back etc.) to Pocket PC hardware buttons, they both become quicker and easier to operate than Internet Explorer. It’s clearly at this point (in addition to the lack of Opera Mini) that Strategy Analytics Inc.’s report severely lacks – it’s evident the test folks didn’t really make an attempt at learning the dialpad shortcuts / configure Opera Mobile for easy and much quicker access / use.


The (Java) MIDlet Bible PART II


3. Introduction to using MIDlets

Now, let’s see how you can install (deploy) MIDlets on your Windows Mobile device and how you can use them. Fortunately, doing this is very simple.


The (Java) MIDlet Bible

(Note that this Bible does NOT discuss Java applets or applications. For more info on running applets under Windows Mobile, see the Web Browsing Bible; for application-related info, see my generic Java articles.)

You may have already heard at least of Java games (more precisely, MIDlets) running on almost all current “dumb†phones. These games are all the rage today, especially with teenagers, which also means there are thousands of sometimes really high-quality games for ordinary phones, all written using the portable Java language, ready to be played on (almost) any kind of mobile phone. Just an example: in THIS HowardForums thread, the topic starter post lists some (but not all!) games available for the Samsung QVGA 240x320 phones (d600, d900, e900 etc – not only Windows Mobile ones!). Quite an impressive list, isn’t it? And it’s just the tip of the iceberg – there are a lot more games, all waiting for you to purchase, download and run!

No, don’t think MIDlets are only for gamers and are absolutely useless otherwise. You can make a good use of them in the enterprise too. There are several solutions already for, for example, mobile payment, reservations etc. done using a MIDlet as opposed to the Web, which is, in a lot of cases, is much harder to access / operate on a small-screen device. Controlling for example your bank transfers via SMS can also be less intuitive and/or require a lot more work / data entry than using a GUI to do this. Other, known enterprise-related MIDlets are Jupiter, which is basically a financial data streaming program (also see THIS) and Betfair (also see THIS). Should you be interested in these “MIDlets in the Enterprise†questions, I really recommend Michael Juntao Yuan’s excellent book “Enterprise J2ME: Developing Mobile Java Applications†– I’ve learnt a LOT from it. Highly recommended!


TUTORIAL: Control issues of Java MIDlets – all secrets of button handling


Lately, with the advent of Opera Mini and the really excellent and highly recommended Gmail MIDlet and some quality games (see their list in the 10/19/2007 update of my 3D MIDlet article), there has been a tremendous increase in the demand for MIDlet-related information. This is certainly shown by the sheer number of MIDlet-related questions asked at XDA-Developers, probably the best, most lively Windows Mobile hardcore user community with the most posts. For example, today, I’ve answered at least 20 different MIDlet-related questions there. Quite a few, isn’t it?

Let me give you all another modest present: in addition to my already-published previews (for example, the 3D Gaming Bible, the Download Bible etc.), another excerpt – a full chapter – from the forthcoming Bible. Yes, it’s coming and yes, I do try to get it ready tomorrow or the day after – everything, all accompanying screenshots and charts (the main chart; 3D games Compatibility Chart and JBenchmark Chart) are ready, I only need to consolidate all my thoughts into an all-in-one, still-somewhat-comprehensive Bible, which will, I promise, be MUCH better, will contain MUCH more information and MUCH more up-to-date than that of the Russian-only Now, look at the length of the 4Pda tutorial (and all the linked-in ones) to see how much information it contains :) Not very easy to come up with something that has even more info, is it?

Note that the MIDlet managers I refer to in the article can all be found in the main chart of the Bible.


The Button Enhancer Bible & great button config tips for Opera Mobile / Mini users

Back in early 1997, when the first Microsoft WindowsCE 1.0-based devices hit the selves, they already contained shortcuts to built-in programs. Back then, as the 1.0-series of WindowsCE exclusively ran under clamshell Handheld PC’s with a built-in keyboard, it was pretty easy to find place for these quick start keys. For example, in the Philips Velo 1, the entire number row is overridden with them, providing access to almost all major applications (Pocket Word, Excel, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, WWW, Inbox, Database, Calculator, Voice Memo) delivered with the device. When, in 1998, the Palm-size PC’s and, in 2000, Pocket PC’s arrived, the lack of a built-in real keyboard meant it was no longer possible to crunch as many buttons in the radically reduced front and side surface of the device. Therefore, the number of shortcut keys were substantially reduced; most devices only sported five of them. There were differences in both directions: for example, the HP iPAQ 2210 only had four, while the Fujitsu-Siemens Pocket Loox 720 had six and, what is more, these buttons were all bifunctional: press and hold them instead of just quickly pressing it, and another functionality starts. (Some models, for example, the h2210, also supports something like this – holding the buttons results in, in general, creating new records. However, unlike with the Pocket Loox, you can’t redefine the functionality if you want to access something different.) Unfortunately, very few models support bifunctional (short-press and long-press) buttons. While some device manufacturers (like HP with their WM5 upgrade for the HP iPAQ hx4700, introducing full support for press-and-hold front buttons) did realize the ability to double the functionality one can quickly access with a single button press(-and-hold), not even the latest mainstream models offer this. For example, HTC’s Pocket PC Phone Edition (Windows Mobile Professional) models, in general, only offer one application (app for short) button with double functionality (for example, Button 4 on the Universal and the Wizard); all the others are single-function and, therefore, greatly reduce their usefulness and the flexibility, should you want to greatly speed up invoking applications or greatly simplifying tasks (for example, by a hardware button-initiated macro playing back several pre-recorded stylus taps to, for example, greatly speed up mail checking). Some of the current models even more reduced the number of (redefinable) buttons. For example, the HTC Elf / Touch only allows for redefining the Camera button and nothing else (also see THIS). Yeah, only ONE button. Nice, eh? The hardware manufacturers’ neglecting the need of people wanting for more functionality assigned to the few hardware buttons of their Pocket PC’s (and, due to the, in general, far fewer application buttons they have, to a lesser degree, MS Smartphones) has resulted in a plethora of third-party solutions that do allow for this. In this roundup, I explain and thoroughly compare these all. This kind of a Button Enhancer Bible has long been awaited. Except for some not very recent (pre-WM5) and, now, completely outdated quick reviews & comparisons, there has never been a really decent and thorough comparison of the major button enhancers, let alone ones that cover even the latest (2007), kick-butt, freeware titles developed by some highly skilled XDA-Developers folks.


(Hopefully) final MIDlet Bible main feature & hack & standards compliance chart published!


It was yesterday that I’ve published a larger excerpt from my forthcoming MIDlet Bible (a full roundup & tutorial explaining what MIDlets are, why you would want to run them, what applications there are to do this etc.), focusing on mostly 3D games. I haven’t been lazy in the meantime: I’ve made some serious updates to the main feature & hack & standards compliance chart of the Bible.


The Definitive Guide to Running 3D-enabled Java MIDlets on Windows Mobile

I’ve started working on my MIDlet Bible, the premiere and definitive resource of everything related to running the, particularly on “dumb†mobile platforms, hugely popular Java programs called “MIDletsâ€. Currently, the project is on hold because I’m still waiting for some MIDlet Manager developers to answer my mails so that I can, for example, can directly recommend where to download / purchase MIDlet Managers from. (If you’re one of them and we used to be in correspondence but you haven’t heard anything from me, please check your spamfilter – it might have caught my mail(s).)

Several people have been looking for running 3D-based games on Windows Mobile. As this part of my forthcoming MIDlet Bible is pretty much self-contained, doesn’t really depend on the rest of the Bible and can, therefore, be separately published, I’ve decided to take the plunge and publish it right now, before coming out with the “full†MIDlet Bible.

1.1 Is it worth bothering at all? Isn’t Java, particularly 3D games, slow?

You may have heard a lot of people despising Java because of its “sluggishnessâ€. This is not really a case, particularly with the highly optimized Java environments, that is, MIDlet Managers (also abbreviated as KVM’s; some people also refer to them as JVM’s, using the well-known desktop/server mnemonic) of today. You will be REALLY astonished: current KVM’s can produce at least as quick 3D speed as highly optimized, native Windows Mobile games written in C(++).

You don’t believe me, do you? Neither would I have before embarking on some serious 3D MIDlet testing (and, of course, I also know most, if not all, native racing games for Windows Mobile like the palm of my hand).

Well, just give some of the tested racing games (for example, 3D High Speed, 3D Andreotti Racing, 3D Fast or Furious Fugitive) a try and you’ll see this for yourself. Compare them to the current native 3D titles. These Java programs are blazingly fast even on VGA devices and even on, otherwise, graphically, pretty sluggish models like the HTC Universal – while still rendering high-resolution (not plain pixel doubled) graphics. Yes, I told you, many Java titles just rock on Windows Mobile – if you’re into games and, particularly, racing games, you WILL want to give these programs a try.

Speed issues aside, price is another factor. Java MIDlets games, in general, way cheaper than native Windows Mobile games – several high-quality Java games cost no more than $5, while native WM games, generally, start at $10. In cases, you are allowed to even buy a MIDlet for all your phones and, then, you can put it on any number of your dumb & smartphones and Windows Mobile handhelds. Think of it: you buy a high-quality MIDlet game for, say, $5, and, then, deploy it on the phones of your wife / husband / children in addition to your WM phone so that they can also kill some time playing it. You won’t ever have problems explaining to your wife why you’ve spent a single penny on a game ;-) Yeah, being multiplatform (meaning a single Java MIDlet can run on a vast number of mobile phone platforms, even cheap dumb phones) has definite advantages.


New Java-based browser Teashark: really a competitor to Opera Mini 4? Not (yet?)

Thanks to XDA-Developers forum member TalynOne, I was directed to the new Java MIDlet-based browser Teashark. It is also mentioned in THIS blog post too.


You can download the JAR file HERE. Just deploy it under either the Jeodek or Jbed MIDlet Manager. (Do NOT try to deploy it under TAO Intent because the browser is entirely incompatible with all TAO Intent versions!)

Please note that, if the words Jeodek, Jbed, TAO Intent and MIDlet Manager sound Chinese to you, don’t despair: just wait for my long-promised MIDlet Manager Bible, where I explain everything you’ll ever need to know about these programs. In the meantime, feel free to follow the links in the above-linked MIDlet Manager Bible announcement for forum posts and other remarks.

Compatibility, problems, bugs

As I just love Opera Mini 4 (OM4 for short; see review HERE), which I use almost exclusively for Web browsing, I’ve tested the new browser at once to see whether it’s, as mentioned in the above-linked blog post, indeed a decent alternative to Opera Mobile.

I’ve tested the browser with the three most common MIDlet managers out there: TAO Intent (both the 10 and the 11 series), Esmertec Jeodek and Esmertec Jbed. (Haven’t tested it with IBM J9.)

TAO Intent (tested on the HTC Wizard Pocket PC (TAO version default), the HTC Universal Pocket PC ( Risidoro) and the HTC s310 / Oxygen Smartphone ( default)): absolutely useless. The menus aren’t accessible (neither the hardware nor the software, on-screen keys work) and there’s no way of even navigating on the page – neither the D-pad nor the on-screen / hardware 2/8 or up/down buttons work. Finally, as with the other MIDlet managers, the touch screen can’t be used on Pocket PC’s.


MIDlet manager news; anyone from Esmertec, Aplix or IBM?

With the recent release of Opera Mini 4 beta 2 (see the review, which has even been frontpaged by SmartphoneThoughts, HERE), which, in many respects, even better than Opera Mobile, the, so far, best Windows Mobile browser, Opera Mobile got a really serious contender.


MIDlet Bible News / Progression Report


It seems it'll take some more days (at least) to publish my forthcoming MIDlet Bible, the premiere resource of ALL MIDlet-related information for Windows Mobile users.


IBM releases new, 6.1.1 version of great Midlet runner J9; now, it’s fully compatible with Google Maps!

UPDATE (04/04/2007): Handango also hosts IBM J9 6.1.1; the links are: hi-res VGA; low-res QVGA. Note that there is no trial version offered in there.
(End of update.)

Ever wanted to run the same midlets (small Java applications) on your Pocket PC as on your mobile phone? Ever wanted to use the great alternative Web browser Opera Mini or the great mapping software Google Maps on your Pocket PC? Read on!

It was over half a year ago that IBM released the last, 6.1.0 version of their well-known Personal Java / Midlet environment J9 (read the tutorial here).

As with the previous version, the distribution isn’t available on major Pocket PC software resellers like Handango; only on IBM’s official download page. You will need to register yourself in there in order to be able to download the environment – Personal Profile (PP) if you need to run smaller, PP-compliant (!) stand-alone Java applications (NOT Java applets inside Pocket Internet Explorer / Internet Explorer Mobile – IBM J9 has never supported them!) and the MIDP 2.0 version if you want to run midlets like the above-mentioned two "killer" midlets, Opera Mini or Google Maps. Note that the Midlet version, as with the previous 6.1.0 version, comes in two flawors: a VGA and a QVGA one. If you have a VGA device, get the former.

After downloading (make sure you also get the installation instructions PDF file and don’t mistake Windows CE 5 for Window Mobile 5 – you’ll need the latter only), execute the file (it’s been downloaded to c:\DownloadDirector\) and extract c:\Program Files\IBM\WEME\runtimes\61\wm50-arm-vga-midp20\ (VGA MIDP), c:\Program Files\IBM\WEME\runtimes\61\wm50-arm-midp20\ (QVGA MIDP) or c:\Program Files\IBM\WEME\runtimes\61\wm50-arm-ppro11\ (Personal Profile). Transfer the contents of the (unpacked) bin and lib subdirectories anywhere on your Pocket PC (note that the installation instructions instruct you to copy these two directories under \J9\MIDP in the main storage. This isn’t needed: a storage card will do too) and, then, do what “Installing and running a demo MIDlet†(the MIDP version) or “Running a demo application†(the PP version) states. Note that you can (and, if you plan to install many midlets, should!) still use the registry import script I’ve provided (see the “My registry script†section in my previous tutorial) for 6.1.0 to greatly ease midlet deployment; as with the previous version, make sure you change all occurrences of “\\SD Card\\J9-MIDP†to the current path of your J9 home in it before importing.

Screenshots of the new version running Opera Mini 3.0.6540 Advanced (also see this article; the JAR file is available for download here; simply download it and click on it after transferring it onto your PDA and importing my above-mentioned registry import file if you don't want to deploy it by hand, in the very awkward way the official IBM documentation recommends) on my WM2003SE VGA Pocket Loox 720: 1 2; on my WM5 VGA Dell Axim x51v.


Bluetooth, Midlets, Java, Pocket PC

I've always played a lot with native (non-Java) Pocket PC Bluetooth API's (see for example this). Now, I've tried to make stand-alone Java Bluetooth applications (under the IBM J9 Personal Edition environment) and Java midlets (under the IBM J9 MIDP environment) work.


How do I run the well-known Stocks Applet on my Pocket PC? (Incl. TONS of brand new, never-published Java tips & c

I’ve just received a question over at the Pocket PC Thoughts forums (read it in its entirety if interested) concerning how the well-known Stocks Applet should be run on the Pocket PC.

When you click this link on your desktop, the stocks applet will run just OK. When you click it on your Pocket PC, on the other hand, it won’t – just a strange, small “beta.jnlp†file will be downloaded to the Pocket PC.


Running Motorola-specific Midlet games on the Pocket PC? YES!!

In this XDA-Dev thread, forum member therealholg stated the Intent Midlet Manager (which is shipped with all Pocket PC Phone Edition devices as is pointed out in, say, Java Midlets on the Pocket PC - the Complete Tutorial) is able to run Motorola midlets (that is mini Java mostly leisure applications - read: games).

I’ve given this a try to find out whether it’s true as the Midlet manager can’t execute most other, device-specific Midlet programs (Nokia or Sony-Ericsson ones). I was delighted to see that this is indeed true: the Intent Midlet Manager was indeed able to run the majority of the (well, not very new, but still, some of them is pretty playable and enjoyable on the Pocket PC) Midlets I’ve thrown it at.

A breakdown of the midlets I’ve tested the Midlet manager with (along with their filedates, -sizes; “invalid JAR†stands for the Midlet manager’s inability to deploy the midlet) some midlets:


Great, Free Java/Midlet Environment IBM J9 New, 6.1 Version is Out – a Full Compliance & Bug Report & Never Before Publi

IBM WebSphere(R) Everyplace Micro Environment (IBM J9 for short) is one of the best Java and Midlet environments for the Pocket PC (please see this tutorial on what Midlets are and how they can be used). If you make a generic search in my Pocket PC Magazine Expert Blog for "IBM J9" or look around in my full-blown Java-related articles (for example, Using Java on the Pocket PC - the complete tutorial (alternatives: FirstLoox, PPCMag); also, the "Java" sections in my Pocket PC Magazine Expert Blog are worth checking out), you’ll get numerous hits. The former Midlet article and the latter generic Java article are both worth checking out to see what midlets are capable of/usable for. Opera Mini, Google Maps, Toonel - just to name the three most important "killer apps".

The last version of J9 was released over a year ago – it took IBM a year to move to a new version. It was indeed worth the waiting - the midlet support is indeed definitely better than the previous version.

What’s new – in a nutshell

  1. Improved Midlet compliance – now, it’s fully compliant with all versions of Opera Mini Advanced (including the latest, 2.0 version). I didn't have problems with Google Maps either.
  2. VGA (high) resolution support, at least as far as text rendering is concerned, without having to use the native VGA mode on VGA devices. (Unfortunately, this only applies to text rendering. Rendering of graphics in standard SE VGA is still pixel-doubled, which will be a real pain with graphics-based midlets like the ingenious Google Maps. Then, you'll need to reboot the device into native VGA mode.) There're two separate versions for QVGA and VGA devices; I'll elaborate on the differences of the two in a separate section, with a lot of practical tips and tricks never published before.


Ever wanted to play the great, free multiplayer game Wyvern on your Pocket PC? I have great news for you!

It was only some days ago that I reported about the new version of free Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Mysaifu, being able to run Wyvern, the great multiplayer game. Now, I have even better news for people that have pre-Windows Mobile 5 (WM5) devices – CrEme, another JVM, also runs the game. What is more, as one would expect, it runs the game as if it were a native Pocket PC application; that is, much faster than Mysaifu.


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