Mike Riley's blog
I have been a portable electronic gamer since the Mattel LED handheld system era, though the last handheld dedicated gaming device I owned was an Atari Lynx, having less interest to play on a tiny screen with the advent of rapidly evolving PC gaming titles. However, that focus changed with the advent of the Windows Mobile platform, especially as I used the PC more for programming and network administration and less for pixel blasting. This especially became a reality once Microsoft provided API's specifically designed for improving the Windows Mobile gaming experience.
As readers of my blog know, I have been a Windows Mobile user since the early days of Windows CE 1.0. As a result of that long history, I maintained a nervous habit on the platform until the release of Windows Mobile 5, that being playing whack-a-mole with my running applications. Due to an early Microsoft design decision, most Windows Mobile applications do not inherently have an exit application function.
Features I would like to see added to Windows Mobile - It's Time for a Change! Let me preface the following blog entry by saying I am not an embedded systems hardware designer. I occasionally write programs for the Windows Mobile platform, though mostly using high-level languages and frameworks. With that disclaimer out of the way, I can say with all honesty that I'm so glad the iPhone has been such a success for Apple. Microsoft badly needed serious competition to reset the playing field.
After prodding my iPAQ and HTC Advantage for a while, looking for one of the many tweaks I use every time I power on the screen, the answer stared me straight in the face. SBSH's iLauncher is one tweak/utility I simply can't live without. I've become so used to its flexible features that any other Windows Mobile device lacking this exquisite application simply feels naked and clunky, like sewing with chopsticks.
I have been a Windows Mobile user since the days of Windows CE 1.0 and have used WinCE-based devices too numerous to list. I have eagerly anticipated the release of each successive version of the operating system, seeing it evolve from a mere Palm knock-off with a confusing Windows-like GUI tacked on to a refined always-on Internet-connected mobile business organizer and occasional recreational device that the Windows Mobile 6 has become.
As a consequence of this evolution, I believe I currently own the most advanced Windows Mobile device that has culminated in this trajectory.
I didn't have to think very long and hard about which applications are the coolest ones available on the Windows Mobile platform today. There's no question in my mind that The Core Portable Media Player, known as TCPMP for short, is the coolest must-have Windows Mobile application available today.
While some may relegate creativity to the features of software or hardware installed on a Windows Mobile device, I prefer to think literally outside of the box and encompass the modality and principles upon which portable, mobile computing is based. I am also a fan of the Green IT movement. Combining these two intentions along with my preference to ride my trusty Infinity recumbent of 20+ years as frequently as possible to my intended work or play destinations has resulted in the configuration shown in these accompanying images.
There has always remained a fine line between security and convenience and the Windows Mobile platform offers no exception to that axiom. Depending on the level of sensitive data, I rarely rely on the basic internal functions of the Windows Mobile OS to secure my data. For one thing, a majority of it resides on a removable media card that demands open access to be able to write and read to and from file systems outside of Microsoft's operating systems.
I was fortunate enough to write a Bluetooth article for the June/July 2007 issue of Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine which examined a broad array of Bluetooth devices optimized for the Windows Mobile environment. Consequently, I was able to test some amazing cutting edge technology. Of all the devices I had the opportunity to highlight in that article, the one Bluetooth device that continues to amaze me is the Gennum Z-E-N nX6000 Bluetooth Headset.
The third party Windows Mobile application I use literally every time I turn on and look at my Pocket PC is SBSH's iLauncher (http://www.sbsh.net/products/ilauncher/). This extremely flexible app launching utility allows me to customize the Today screen just the way I want it, assign different icons to applications and set them to small or large size, add multiple tabs for app categories (utilities, games,
etc.) and generally lets me feel like I'm not enclosed in the standard cookie-cutter Microsoft themed environment.
Iâ€™ve been playing the memory conservation game on the Windows CE and now Windows Mobile platform since its inception. Harkening back to the days of MS-DOS when memory constraints meant application execution life or death, the idea of multiple applications stealing away precious memory resources trained me to practice the single scenario of program launch, execution and exit.
I consider myself a hardware pragmatist. I am OS agnostic. I use whatever tool best suits my needs. With each new innovation, I include past history with a product's manufacturer only briefly in my assessment of overall value. Given those underpinnings, I still see no equal in the mobile platform arena when it comes to Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform. Even the flashy though not yet shipping Apple iPhone does not meet the number of requirements, versatility and depth that Windows Mobile delivers.
As a result of evaluating and writing about innovative products for the Windows Mobile platform, I need to install, test (and if I'm lucky, break), and occasionally uninstall applications that install software drivers, modify or replace system files and update (and in some cases make a mess of) the registry. I have learned from the early days of volatile RAM Windows CE handheld PC days to instruct ActiveSync to incrementally backup my device each time I docked.
Being an occasional application developer, I look for ways to optimize my computing world and try to leverage what Iâ€™ve already written on one platform and with very few modifications, make it run on another. Open source scripting languages like Perl and Python have been in my toolbox from the beginning and I have used the conversions of these languages occasionally on the Pocket PC platform. What Iâ€™d really like to try is Ruby but unfortunately only a very poor conversion of this language exists and is not actively maintained.
First off, Iâ€™d like to thank Hal Goldstein, the publisher of Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine, for inviting me to join in the conversation of talented team of bloggers on the pocketpcmag.com website. For those curious about my background, Iâ€™ve been an avid computer and embedded systems technologist for over 25 years, have designed numerous applications for several popular desktop operating systems and Windows CE platforms and use a HP6315 iPAQ as my primary mobile communication device every day.