A Few PocketPC Tips, Tricks and Links

© Beverly Howard, Austin, Tx, 2002
Content may be "linked" with permission but not reposted
This Page Formatted for Viewing with PocketPC
(* indicates off page link)
Getting Help
Google Contacts Sync
Can't Send EMail
General Stuff
Notes' Mysteries
Pocket Internet
Browsing (PIE)
Recorder for
All Occasions
Installing Apps
without ActiveSync
"FIND" in WM5*
Infrared Transfers
Making Multiple
using a Stylus
Super Lite Travel*
Tools and Tips*
Closing Apps
After Use
With RAM,
Backups Are Vital*
Serial Secrets*
(including pinouts)
Shortcut Dissection
Dial String Blues*
Mobile Weather Radar*
The Tropical Blues*
Reading Adobe
Acrobat (pdf)
 Favorite Apps
& Utilities
(my personal opinions)
Contact Tips*
(Deleting ALL Contacts*)

Old Stuff
Some Fast Loading
PPC Compatible Links*
Running MSDos Apps
on a CE Device
Finding the RUN command
CF Camera Tips*
54x Battery Replacement
Power "Tips"
Anchor Tag Problems
SH3, MIPS, Intel and ARM???
Pocket Excel's
Function() Limits

Where Can I get Help???

There are a number of places to get help for any PocketPC, but, unfortunately, the company that manufactured your device is not likely to be a good source of information unless your question is one of the most basic, often asked questions that owners post.  Part of the problem is that users need the most help with the operating system software which the device vendor knows little about even though they bought it from Microsoft with the agreement that they would support it.

Note also, that while there are a number of different manufacturers of PocketPC devices (HP, Compaq, Casio, Toshiba, Dell, etc) the questions are almost 100% identical for all of the devices because the PocketPC operating system is the same on all of them.

and reboot your Activesync PC BEFORE you assume you have an ongoing problem. 

Soft Resetting your device will cure a high percentage of user problems.  Frequent soft resets such as everytime you remove the device from the cradle or charger will prevent many problems.

See your device manual to learn how to soft reset your device.  It is normally accomplished by inserting the stylus or paper clip in a small hole marked "RESET"  Do not confuse a soft reset with a "hard reset" which can delete everything on your device.

The best sources of help for your PocketPC are;

PocketPC.com is a good starting place, not because it contains the answers you need, but because it has a number of links directly to help sources for newcomers to the Pocket PC.  That said, this site is dynamic and fluxes from good to ...not so good... use your judgement.

PocketPC NewsGroup

In it's questionable wisdom, microsoft has killed it's best source of tech support by shutting down all of it's public NNTP newsgroup forums (summer of 2010.)  Since the web interface that has replaced these forums is excellent and squandering the time that regular responders need to post help and suggestions to user questions posed about windows mobile, I'm fresh out of suggestions on where to go for help... if you find a good forum, especially if it's an nntp forum, drop me an email.

The web interface replacement is Microsoft NewsGroup "web interface" My experience with it is that I am too dumb to use it and I note today that the most recent post in the web forum replacement for the pocketpc nntp newsgroup is over a month old.

Use Searches (click the trademark)

Search for your needs but include the keyword "POCKETPC" to restrict the search to information or software that is relevant to the PocketPC devices.  Since both the terms "PocketPC" and "Pocket PC" are used, after searching using "POCKETPC" and reviewing the results, be sure to click on the "Did you mean... POCKET PC?"  at the top of the Google results page.

The above will uncover a number of other help/tip/chat/news/forum sites... fwiw, my personal favorite is Pocket PC Thoughts which is so fast and dynamic that it must be accessed and read on a daily basis or the articles will scroll off the front page into the archives before you return.

Historically, I have not posted any individual's PocketPC support pages for several reasons.  First, I'm too damm lazy and incompetent to find the links and retain them long enough to get pack to the page editor and remember what they relate to.

Second, I've had some nasty experiences with links that changed hands and presented visitors to my page with very unpleasant content when they clicked on links with totally different expectations than what happened after they clicked.

Additionally, the links above are not only sufficient starting points to get to the most current content, the are normally up to date and added to as new info sites surface.

Finally, I have just returned from my first Microsoft "MVP Summit" and have established thirty something new friends that I don't want to hurt their feelings by not including their excellent sites as reference sources on this and other pages.

The exception that I make is for Chris DeHerra's site at www.pocketpcfaq.com (formerly WindowsCE.net)  that seemed to be the standard technical reference site for all of the Mobile MVP's,

General Pocket PC Stuff

If you have been here before, you will notice that the "HP Jornada" title has been changed to refelect the fact that the bulk of questions and needs are not specific to the type of "PPC" (PocketPC) device that you are using, but to the PocketPC Operating System which is common to all current devices.

The original release in 2000 of the PPC operating system was officially known as WinCE ver 3.0, but that got complicated when an updated version was released just before 2002.  It was also based on WinCE 3.x but was oficially referred to as "2002" so PPC3 became "2000"

Then came "Windows Mobile 2003"  It's still based on WinCE but the kernel version toggled to 4.x with this release.

As of this writing, all PPC operating systems are based on the WinCE kernels 3.x and 4.x, but there are very different, "flavors" that are referred to as "2000"  "2002" "2003" and "2003SE"
I've been asked many times to give the reasons for choosing a PocketPC over a Palm OS device, and the best descriptive answer that I can offer is while it is absolutely amazing what a Palm OS device can do with the limited resources that has, one has to understand that the PocketPC is so close to a full Windows operating system, you have to be careful not to focus on what it can't do.

The abbreviation "PPC" used here refers to the specific CE devices known as these "Pocket PC's"  The term "PPC" also has an unfortunate history as it has used in the Mac world to refer to an Apple device and has led to some confusion when referring to it among other groups.

Similar to the "Palm Pilot concept," The CE operating system and CE devices are expressly designed to compliment an individual's work on a full desk or laptop Windows machine by making a subset of data and applications fit into an ultra portable device.

While I originally felt that PPC's were "supplimental" devices to their user's desk or laptop PC's, I have evolved over several years to the point where the device is now more important than my desktop, and I have been able to rely on it as a stand alone computing system.

That said, I would still strongly urge any new owner to approach the devices as devices that will suppliment and compliment their desktop machines to make the learning process as easy as possible.

Running Programs...

Unless you have PocketDos (see below) anything run on the CE machine must not only be written for CE, but written for the specific processor on the CE device.  Most programs come with a version for all of the current processors.

While there used to be several different processors for the PPC 2000 operating system, SH3, MIPS, Intel and ARM, the PPC 2002 operating system reduced that list to only the ARM processor.

It was not long before the XSCALE processor slipped in and now more new processors are showing up, but, the good news is that they will run all apps compiled for the ARM processor.

With the advent of 2003 the PPC OS is designed to be a ".NET" platform and Microsoft is headed in the direction of PPC devices that will only run programs written for that platform.

In General all programs written for the PocketPC since 2000 will run on 2003, but you may have to download and install the PPC Visual Basic Runtime.

Programs written for the .NET environment will not run on earlier versions although there is a PPC .NET runtime environment that will allow 2002 devices to run some of these apps.

I Can't Send EMail!

One of the most commonly asked PocketPC questions... but it has nothing specifically to do with these devices.

While we tend to think of "sending and receiving email" as the same process, they are, in fact, two independant processes and normally use two unrelated servers.

POP3 (the receiving side) is normally a server that remains open to the entire internet with no access restrictions other than needing a user id and password to access your messages.

SMTP is the sending server, and it doesn't know or care about how you receive your email, it just re-sends any and all messages you send to it.  Very early on in the internet, "Spammers" abused this possibility and used any SMTP servers they could find to transmit their junk to the world.  As a result, standard behaviour for almost all SMTP servers is to refuse to send any email that is not handed to it from an internet connection related to the ISP service which owns the server.

OK, so how does this info help you?  At home, your PC is normally connected to the internet service that provides your email service, so the SMTP server is happy to send whatever you hand it.  However, sitting at your local Starbucks and showing off your WiFispertise, when you ask your home SMTP server to send an email for you, it's response is that the connection you are using is bogus and it refuses.

The solution is to find the SMTP server address for each method that you use to connect and set up additional Inbox services that use the same POP3 service to receive email, but a connection specific SMTP server to send, so you might end up with HomeWifi, CellConnect, and StarBucks services to cover your bases.  To find each address for these servers, you will need to search the web pages for these providers or call their tech support lines.

Wait!!! It's not that simple!

Since more people are now mobile, providers have tried to take some steps to deal with this need, but, while some help, other's succeed in boxing you in.

The first is to allow your current SMTP connection while you are connected and picking up your email... fine, except that most people, connect, get mail and disconnect, then reconnect to send responses, hence, sending fails again.  Solution, use the "connect" button rather than the "send/receive" button to stay connected after you download... watch your connect costs though.

The next is "authentication"  The theory is fine and it works if your id/password is the same for both servers... if not, sorry, you are left sol.

EMail alternatives

You may have yet another option... "Web Mail"  Most ISPs are providing "Web Mail Interfaces" that allow receiving and sending email from any computer with a web browser.  That means that if you have an internet connection while mobile, you can log on to this interface to compose and send emails... maybe.

Some of the Web Mail interfaces are complex and some use Java which might prevent this... if so, check with your provider and ask if they have a PDA or CellPhone compatable mail page.

Sound Recorder Tips...

One of the most useful features of any PocketPC is the built in sound recorder.  When you need to make a note or preserve a thought and can't make a written note such as when driving, simply press and hold the record button until you hear the record "beep" speak the thought into the mike and release the button to stop the recording. (take a moment to find out where the mike is located on the PPC to assure the best recording in noisy conditions)

Tap start/settings/input/options and check the sound format that will be used for your notes... the PCM 8000mhz mono is a common format that can be played on most computers, but if you are a music creator, you may want to set a higher quality or different format for your needs.  The important point is to create the recordings in a format that will be accessable when the .wav file is transfered to other machines... for example, the default format for the Jornadas is "HP Dynamic Voice" that will not play on most PC's unless a special codec plugin is downloaded from HP's site and installed on the PC.

While the hardware "record" button normally generates WAV files, there are two "gotcha's" to be aware of.  If you "sync" to Outlook "Notes" these wav files will end up as Outlook PIM data on your PC rather than separate, accessable WAV files.

An important point to note is that even though these separate files "sync" as Outlook data and are not accessable as sound files, you can still copy the files directly to the PC or CF card and they retain their .WAV file status and become accessable to any program that can play a sound files in WAV format.

Know, however, if you are "in" a PocketPC document that supports sound objects such as a Notes or Word document, the recording that will be created will become an embedded "sound" object within the document you may not be able to converted it to a WAV file.

Despite the postings of others,  I have, to date, never been able to open a notes sound recording (.pwi file) in anything other than outlook, and attempts to copy the sound object within oulook and paste it elswhere have all resulted in some type of disaster such as an 'out of memory,' app freeze or system lockup, so that solution will work for some but seems to fail for the majority... assume that the newer the system and versions of all software apps involved will eventually lead to a workable situation.

Jud Hardcastle has been able to copy these objects using just Word and Sound Recorder, so, click here to find his approach.

Some programs do create separate wav files, but you have to pay attention to each app's rules.  One example is the HP Camera app.  It will only create sound files when it's "recorder" icon is tapped, and they are stored as .wav files with the same name as the current image.  The "confuser" is that if you press the hardware "record" button when in the Camera App, a recording will be made but by the Notes app according to the rules set there, totally unrealated to the current image on display.

Unfortunatly, afaik, there is no "standard" way to convert an embedded sound object in a ppc file to an external file such as a wav file.  In the case of embedded sound "objects" you could find yourself "stuck" trying to access an important sound clip.

You can, however, copy thesed sound "object" and paste them other apps (i.e. word, notes) and this is important information since, if the recording will not transfer within a synced Pocket Word file and play on your PC, remember that you can copy the sound object into a Notes file where it will play on the PC from within Outlook.

If it is an important sound clip, there are two options to get it into an accessable audio file format.  The first is to get an audio cable and connect your PPC's headset jack to your PC's "line in" jack on your pc and start C:\WINDOWS\SNDREC32.EXE and record the PPC's output when the clip is played.

There is also a program named "Total Recorder"  that will capture the file directly from the PC's sound card when it is played... for example, open the note in Outlook, start Total Recorder with source to "Stereo Out" record, switch to Outlook, click the sound object and when finished, click stop in total recorder and save the clip as a WAV file.

For the techies out there, the embedded object in a notes.pwi file is actually a complete .wav file.  If you go in with a HEX editor, you can find the wav file header information and copy from that point to the end of the sound binary code (fairly easy to spot) then create a new file from that clip with a .wav file extension and it will play as a normal wav file.  The same is not true for sound objects embedded in other file types such as pWord... it is my guess that in these cases, the wav file is in the PIM database.

Misbehaving Anchor Tags...

I have discovered the problem behind the fact that HTML "anchor tags" seem to be inoperative under the PocketPC version of Pocket Internet Explorer.  For those that don't know, "anchor tags" are web page links that refer to a location within the current page rather than another web address.  If you clicked on the table of contents at the top of this page to get here, you used an "anchor tag"

The confusing issue with PIE tags was that they do work sometimes, but because they often don't, many think that they don't work at all.  It was really confusing to know that the tags on this page and others here work without any problem when this page is accessed over the web using a PocketPC, but the exact same html file would not work properly when it was accessed on the storage card where the source lives.

When yet another request was posted on the MS pocketpc forum by a user who needed the tags to access his html bible which used anchors to cross reference and find needed passages, the fact that it could work bugged me to take another look at the issue and run some experiments which finally yielded success... and uncovered another result of MS's attempt to force a "simplified" operating system on all users.

The key turned out to be the <space> character.  Since most users try to store as much "stuff" as possible on their "Storage<space>Card" the trap is set.

When you access an html page on any storage device, and tap on a link to any point within that page (or any other page's tag) PIE apparently resolves the entire address to get to the tag... "file://\Storage Card\source\bhhpj.htm#ATAG" ...and chokes on that space in the card's address.

If I took the same file and move it to main memory at a location where the "path" contains no <space> such as... "file://\source\bhhpj.htm#ATAG" ...the anchor tags that failed when accessed on the storage card work.

So... the first "work around" is to move html pages with anchor tags into main memory if space is available... and don't put them in the "My<space>Documents" folder ;-)  In other words create a main memory storage location that uses short (8.3) filename paths.

Renaming a Memory Card...

When I first posted this information, several people asked about using "%20" to address the problem. While you can "address" a local url on the storage card with an address such as "file://\Storage%20Card\source\bhhpj.htm" as the file loads, PIE resolves the "%20" back to a <space> and, as a result, any subsequent attempt to find a tag on the same page fails.  In addition, I attempted to add the current filename to each tag, but the same issue is in place and the reference simply returns to the top of the current page.

Not only that, hard coding a full file path into an html file totally defeats the beauty of using relative addresses.  One final thought is that one might use the current filename plus the tag... but one shouldn't have to.

Next, there is a registry patch that allows you to change the "official" name of the storage card from "Storage Card" to any string that you wish.  To accomplish this, use a registry editor to find the key;


Add a new "string" value (not a new key) to this key.

Name the new value "Folder"

Assign it any name that does not contain a <space>  I strongly recommend the string "CF" since it is short and easy to type on a PPC, plus the "C" brings it to the top of a directory listing in File Explorer.

Perform a soft reset.  Following the soft reset, html files stored on the CF card containing anchor tags should function normally.  If they do not, check the path to the file and see if it contains any spaces... for example, is the file in or below the "My<space>Documents" folder.

The following is the entire contents of a registry (.REG) file that can be "imported" into the PPC's registry using most registry editors... simply paste it into a "text only" file with the extension .REG and copy it to a location where the PPC registry editor can find it.



There is a similar key named;


Although on the Axim the "SD" slot registry pointer is;


The Axim tried to address at least part of this issue by renaming these cards with the simpler names "CF Card" and "SD Card" but these changes threw their own monkey wrenches into the mix by preventing Word and Notes from saving files to external memory.

Please Note!!! There is a very good chance that there are programs or processes that have the string "Storage Card" hard coded and will fail with this solution in place.  I have not found any yet, and embedded processes such as Word and Excel have no problems finding and displaying files on the storage card with this patch in place so the cavaet "Use this Solution at Your Own Risk" applies. To revert to the default string of "Storage Card", use your registry editor to delete the value "Folder" in the key(s) and perform a soft reset.

I now have a copy of this file that allows me to easily update a registry that has been restored to default values by a hard reset.  More accurately, I maintain a personal preferences registry file that contains all of the fixes, duns, patches and personal configuration settings that allows me to restore any PPC to my needs a few seconds after I install a registry editor.

Feedback on this and similar discoveries would be appreciated.

Reading Adobe Acrobat PDF files...

First, Adobe's whole design concept of pdf is to prevent any document manipulation by the end user, so you may have three strikes against you and your pocketpc before you begin.

First the installation... acrobat PPC reader is one of the few PocketPC applications which needs to be installed on the PPC using Activesync rather than installing from a CAB file.  The reason for this is that the installation process on the Sync PC also installs an Activesync plugin which will attempt to add accessibility tags to any pdf files which are syned from the PC to the PPC.

You can, however, obtain the cab files by extracting them from the Activesync installation process.  The trick is to run the install without having the PPC connected, then go find the CAB files which were extracted from the installation exe... unlike most ppc apps, you will find them in a directory under the adobe name rather than the Activesync folder.

The following assumes;

<Tap-Hold> the main screen in Acrobat.  If you can select "reflow" you should be good to go.  Once selected (it can be set as the default) you can zoom the text to an easily readable size and it should then wrap to fit in the available screen size.

If not, the document either does not have "accessibility tags" _or_ what you are reading is not actually text, but an "image" of text... for example, scanned test or a pdf of a faxed document.

If the pdf consists of ascii text, it may be possible to add accessibility tags, but if the document is a scanned image of text, there is no way to redisplay the text so it wraps or flows into the available screen.

The sync process on the pc which was used to install ppc reader will _attempt_ to add tags to any pdf files which are synced to your device.  PPC Acrobat reader is one of the few files which must be installed using activesync as the installation process also installs a primitive "tagger" into the sync process.

You may be able to use "full ($$$)" acrobat to try to add tags to a document using advanced/accessibility/makeaccessible but this depends on the level of document protection and will fail if there happen to be any tags anywhere in the document... for example, the author may have used tags one in a table or text box in a large document which will prevent any additional tags from being added.

Options with respect to "tagging"

While the async tagging operation output only goes to the ppc's main memory, once synced, that tagged file in the ppc's main memory can then be copied to the storage card. I also recommend copying (not syncing) this tagged file back to the pc as the original file on the pc remains untagged.

For those with serious pdf ppc access needs, consider purchasing a copy of full acrobat as that is not only the easiest way to get tags into untagged files, afaik, it is the only app other than the activesync plugin which can do this job.

It does not have to be the latest version of acrobat... any version of full acrobat from 5 up will do this job... I've been using the "standard" version 6 for several years.

Again!!!  ...many files can't be tagged by any means due to their structure or protection levels.

Acrobat Reader on WM5, WM6

Adobe PPC reader should install and work on any of the Windows Mobile os versions... I have sucessfully installed acrobat reader on _all_ ppc os' from the original PPC3 (WM2000) to WM5 and know others who have it running on WM6. This software will only run on PocketPC (PPC) devices with or without phone but _will not_ run on any of the "Smartphone No Stylus" devices.

There are a raft of reported install problems with all of the os' but, they should be surmountable.

Bottom Acrobat Line

If the pdf has the design elements and tags necessary to make it easily accessible using a pocketpc, adobe's reader turns out to be one of the best document viewers available dispite it's huge (6mb+) size.  In addition to offering fast searches, rotation, zooming, image support, contents, the user interface and controls work well, but it's up to the document generator to produce an easily readable file, since, if it's not, it's difficult if not impossible to convert them after they have been generated.

To see if the manuals you want to read on the ppc are tagged, open them on your desktop and select FILE/DOCUMENTPROPERTIES and look for "tagged"

To see what they will look like on your PPC, open acrobat on the PC, then resize the document window so it's about the size of your PPC screen, then select VIEW/REFLOW.

Note that while Acrobat 7 can now "reflow" documents which don't have tags, the PPC reader requires the document be tagged to reflow.

The "My Documents" folder gotchas...

A little history here... MS assumes pocketpc users are too dumb to deal with more than one level of file folders, so they designed the default applications with the ability to only "see" files that were in the "My Documents" folder and, further, only one level below that.  Until WM5, the same rules held true for the memory card.  When you look at a file display within these apps, a small square next to the filename gives the clue that they reside on the storage card rather than in the main memory.

Well... Windows Mobile 5 has highlighted Microsoft's schizophrenia with respect to the company's long standing battle to force all users to maintain all of their files in or under that infamous "My Documents" folder.

In all of the OS version prior to WM5, the os demanded that folder named "My Documents" must exist on the Storage Card's root directory for pocketpc "compliant" apps such as pocket word and excel to to be able to see their file types stored on the card.  With the advent of PPC 2002, if you inserted a memory card in the device which did not contain a root folder named "My Documents" the os would place a "hidden" flag file named  "ignore_my_docs" on the card's root which would prompt the os to only look at the card root.

With WM5, the os is oblivious to the existance of a My Documents folder on any memory card. (more on coping with WM5 specifically below)

Coping Tips

The following tips will not make the problem go away, but it will make life a bit easier.
  1.  Name the subfolders "generically" so that they apply to any file type... for example, "current, old, personal, work, etc" Since each app only displays it's own file type, other file types will disappear from each program's own file lists so, using generic folder names will keep the folder list short.

  3. Keep the compliant apps folder names in main memory and on the CF card identical.  The limited screen size can quickly become a nightmare when there are a lot of folders with different names... for example, if you have ten folders in the main memory's "My Documents" folder, and ten on the memory card with the same folder names, the file displays will show only the ten unique names... name the folders on the card with different names and the display doubles with twenty unique folders.

  5. A first glance, there is no obvious way to determine if the files displayed are in main memory or on a memory card.  However, it you look closely, the file icons tell you if they reside on the CF card by virtue of the addition of a microscopic "card icon" within the file icon.

  7. Use these folders only for files you access all fo the time.  Once created, you can keep the files anywhere on the device or it's memory card(s). To access seldom used files,  use File Explorer and when tapped they will open in the correct app. This can be applied to any files that you don't access regularly.

  9. Don't keep files directly in the "MY Documents" folder, but keep them in the first level of sub folders.  As the number of files in the folders increase, to access any file not in a subfolder will require looking through all files... for example, if there are 10 Word files in the "My Documents" folder and a hundred in all of the subfolders, to display the 10 files, you will have to display all 110.

Surviving WM5's demands

Since WM5 doesn't allow compliant apps to display any folders located within a memory card's "My Documents" folder, the biggest problem with this snafu is visited on those of us who migrated from earlier os' and transferred our cards from 200x devices to wm5 devices and found that files in the My Documents subfolders had disappeared from within "compliant" applications such as pword, pexcel and pstreets.

Additionally, if the card contained many root folders or any of those folders contained a lot of files, the file displays in compliant apps' file menuss became so crowded and unusable.

On the comment that wm5 operated like older devices which had the "ignore_my_docs" flag file, I finally sat down and started rearranging my primary card's folder structure;

  1. I moved all root folders to a single folder off of the root named "Gen"

  3. I moved the entire contents (including folders) of the card's "My Documents" folder to the card root.

  5. I deleted the card's (now empty) "My Documents" folder.
When finished, wm5 and "compliant" apps were able to access the files as they could in older os's

By removing the "My Documents" folder, when the card(s) were re-inserted into ppc's running 2002 and 2003 os' the older os's responded by generating the "ignore_my_docs" flag file, so, rather than trying to get wm5 to operate like other ppc os's with respect to the memory card, the only workable solution I have found is to get the older devices to act like wm5 by rearranging memory card files as above.

"Fat" issues

With respect to memory cards used in PocketPC's if a folder or file with a long filename is generated on the PocketPC, including the "My Documents" Folder, it will not be visible in Dos or 16 bit apps that reference the FAT16 directory information.  Solution, create or rename these on a Windows machine.

Another benefit of creating the folder(s) on the desktop or laptop machine is that when browsing the storage card in a card reader or pcmcia slot with Explorer, access to the folder's files is significantly faster.

Also, if there is any possibility of needing to access files created by the PPC on any device or computer that uses FAT16, stay in the habit of naming the files... or at least the folders with the old 8.3 format rules.

Software and tools...

More good news is that most PPC software is very affordable... some of the best apps that I use are in the $15-$30 range.  My feeling is that utilities and apps are very personal choices driven by not only the personality of the user but his/her everyday needs and environment as well.  In my case, I will always go for the minimalist approach as it normally pays off with small efficient tools.

Here are a few personal favorites;
Eval (Calculator)
& others
(buy MS Streets & Trips
at Sams or the Like)
Sprite Backup

I also carry a number of other app cab files on my storage card to meet seldom used or unexpected needs as they come up.

Installing programs...

If you are a brand newcomer to the CE world, the process of installing apps may seem strange at first.  The PocketPC way to install programs is to download them to your desktop computer, then run the install process on the PC!  When you run the install process on the desktop, it determines the device's processor type and configures the installs accordingly.  If the CE machine connected by a serial, IR or USB connection the transfer will begin automatically after the install or start the next time the PPC is connected to the PC.

I say normally because, on a hunch, I "opened" one of the CE installation EXE files with Winzip and found that it contained a variety of CAB files whose extensions indicated the processor type.  I was then able to unpack the appropriate CAB file, copy it to a Compact Flash card, and by clicking on the file using the CE Explorer, the install was initiated.

Some setup programs can't be opened using WinZip, so the installation process must be run on the PC.  However, if you run the install process with the PocktPC disconnected from the PC, the setup program will extract the cab files and store them on the PC to wait for the next "sync."  After the install process is finished, hunt them down by doing a "Find File" and they can be copied directly to the PPC for a stand alone install.

Note... virtually all "CABS" self delete themselves at the end of the install process.  While this saves space, if you need to reinstall or install on a different machine, it's nice to prevent this deletion and it's easy... simply mark the cab file "read only"

I maintain a "Cabs" directory on my CF card, actually one for each processor type, where I copy the appropriate cab files, then mark them "read only"  This allows you to keep seldom used apps with the PPC ready for installation when needed, but I find that this ability is more often used when helping someone with their new PPC... insert card, tap needed app's cab using file explorer, wait about 10 seconds for install to complete, remove card... that simple.

Next, there are several "Cab Installation" apps that allow you to both install Cabs directly, but also control where the install will take place plus nicities such as allowing the user to determine if the cab should be deleted by default after each installation.  I have been using CabInstal for a couple of years and now prefer it to the above manual process.  It can be "associated" with the .CAB file extension, but I find it more flexible to copy the executable to the "Cabs" directory on a storage card so that when installing an app for a client or populating a new device, it can be done without needing the file association to be registered.

Running MSDos on a CE machine...
My recommendation is PocketDos, and on the PPC, it works best "rotated left"  This is the "pricy" software at $40, but for this fossil who still uses and relies on Dos, well worth it.

It's a full package, with the ability to run any dos program that does not require extended memory including the ability to access the com ports which makes it fully usable as a terminal.  The interface allows quick and easy zooming  and scrolling as well as a full keyboard including all cursor and function keys.

The FAT16 gotcha is at play here as well.  The "My Documents" folder and any long filenames will be invisible to dos. PocketDos complicates the issue by being unable to see any long filename no matter where it was generated.  In other words, you can "CD \MYDOCU~1" but the command "DIR \MYDOCU~1" will return a "file not found" result.

Can't "Find" things...

The "find" command is one of the many Window's tools that is missing from CE Explorer and does not appear to do a decent job when launced from the "start" menu.  It's my assumption that it's only checking the top two levels infamous "My Documents" folder.

The solution is to get a third party tool that does file searches... My recommendation would be Kilmist File Quest that also allows string searches within files.  The RESCO file explorer also allows file searches.

There is another double gotcha as well.  One of "Find's" jobs is to hunt down large files when you run low on memory.  First, it still only checks the My Doc... folders, and if you forget to blank the search string left from your last find...

Finding Anything about a Contact

"Find" does have it's place... especially in the "contacts" and "calendar" apps.  Contact's internal search function is limited to first and last name, but "Find" will find anthing in any field... for example, if you have a phone number and need to see who it belongs to.

PocketDos offers the option of quickly finding files using the old Dos DIR <filename> /S command.  There are, however a couple tips and a gotcha.

The tip is to know how PocketDos deals with drive assignments and what the current assignment is.  The problem is that the default assignments change depending on the presence of a compact flash card.  Type SETDRIVE at the dos prompt to find out what the current setup is.

The "gotcha" is that damm "My Documents" issue.  Doesn't exist as far as Dos can tell since it doesn't have the dual FAT directory entries.  Back to the PocketDos SETDRIVE command to map that directory to a drive letter.

Bottom line... a DIR /S will not find any file that has not been named with the 8.3 naming convention, and will not find any 8.3 filename that resides in, or below, any folder that has a long filename.

The Internet...

Slow down... it's there but it's IExplorer 3.0 and it works great with html, but has a problem when the requirements get high such as Java and security.  OTOH, the best way to implment it initially is using the included Avantgo software that downloads links you specify on your desktop, then populates the CE device when you sync... i.e. you read CNN in bed... disconnected.  It's much nicer and easier than it sounds.  Hint, after you install it and make your online selections, download and install the newest version.

Looking at network cards?  Two tips. Get an NE2000 compatable card.  The drivers in CE are native and the card will work as you upgrade.  In addition, get a Compact Flash Type I format to assure that it is going to fit in the maximum number of devices.

Need another justification for a PocketPC network card?  You can use it to sync if your PC is networked... fast, very fast.

Frames are a pain because you can't navigate, see or even scroll in some frames to the right, but another undocumented trick is to tap and drag unwanted frame borders and effectively slam unwanted frames closed.  If there are multiple frames (top, left and bottom) the sequence of closing them may result in previously closed frames re-opening, but once you learn, it works.

The best reference tht I have found on understanding how the PPC IE access is going to function is found on Microsoft's site at http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/developer/technicalarticles/pie_dev.asp

While the vast majority of web sites are accessable using a PPC with either a modem, network or wireless connection, the small screen together with the speed limits of modems will drive you battty.  For some approaches that will allow you to make valuable information sites fast and easy to access with a PPC, take a look at Some Fast Loading PPC Compatible Links


The Pocket Internet Explorer (PIE for short) is a full browser with full color images, either shrunk to the screen for full sized and scrollable.  PIE displays Jpegs, Gifs and (get this) bitmaps.  In fact, these three image types are "associated" with IExplorer and display with it when clicked.

One anomoly... if you "Tap" on an image file, or HTML file for that matter, IExplorer will run it without issue.  If you attempt to reference the same file from IE's address line, it will report that it can't find it unless you are extremely careful about the exact URL line syntax.  Tap one to load, then copy and study the syntax.

Calanders and Contacts...

It's an MS world, and CE functionality is named Outlook on the desktop.  If you already use Outlook, you are home free, and if you don't, you need to switch.  Outlook 2000 is included on the Jornada ActiveSync CD.  Importing 1500 addresses from my LX and desktop database was about as painless as it gets.

Top Card...

LX'ers will know what that means, and attempting to replace the default startup logo with a personalize image was one of the harder learning experiences.  Here it is in a nutshell;

The file on the Jornada PPC is \WINDOWS\HPSTART.BMP which is a 240x320x4bit BMP file... which resides in ROM although \WINDOWS contains RAM files.

The trick is to connect the PPC to the desktop and copy the replacment file over the existing file using Windows Explorer (remember you have to be able to see system files to do this)  If you get tired of your replacement, delete it and the ROM file will take over.

Final note... Even though the screen is 240x320, make the image you want to use 240x300 as the bottom 20 pixel lines will not display due to the blue startup bar that takes up the top 20 screen lines.


Control Clicks are vital on a desktop machine to allow the picking of multiple random items in a list such as picking a series of files to copy or delete.  I quickly found out how to <Tap-n-Drag> to mark sequental items, but it took a long time to discover that if I tapped the <Ctrl> key on the keyboard, it would "stick" and I could proceed to tap multiple items for subsequent actions.

The missing "X"...

When WinCE evolved from version 2.x to PocketPC CE 3.0 (2000) the omission of the "X" at the top right of each window that allowed you to close an application brought numerous complaints from everyone, not only those who started early with CE.  MS's theory is to leave everything open and allow CE to close things automatically when it needs more resources.  Nice theory, but...

Well... the "X" re-appeared when PPC 2002 was released but it took less than a few hours after the first machines shipped to learn that tapping that new "X" didn't close the app but left it running along with all of the memory that it demanded when the program was visible.

There is an easy solution, and that is tapping  <Ctrl-Q>  using the "soft keyboard"  This command will close any app that allows you access to the keypad... even MSReader... hint, "find" something.

RUNning around...

Another missing option appeared to be the RUN command.  It's there but well hidden.  Press and hold the "Action Button" (the scroll wheel on the Jornada 540, and then tap and hold the time display at the top right of every screen and after a few seconds (if you "did" it right) the "RUN" option will pop up.  The best way to practice this is to use the HOME menu and select one of the blank squares first, because it will take practice.

Red Eye...

IR or Infrared is an appetizing but frustrating addition to these devices.

The Jornada comes with the limited ability to transfer your card or multiple "contacts" to any Palm device with an IR port and you can buy an upgraded version that will allow you to beam files back an forth.

What's surprising is that the only way you can take any IR action with a Windows laptop or other machine with an IRDA port is with the ActiveSync software.  While all Win98 machines have IR file transfers built into Explorer, it's not possible to utilize the direct file transfers either way between a CE device and a Windows machine.

Nor is IR printing a default option.  JetSend is packaged with the Jornada, but I have heard mixed reports on it's usability.

IR success Stories...

The good news is that using IR to transfer files between two CE devices is a relative dream.  The only difficulty is that both the sender and receiver have to take an appropriate action at the same time and the failure timeout is relatively short.

File transfers from within CE Explorer are built in and the use is fairly easy to understand.

Highlight the file or files (You can tap/drag or <ctrl-tap> to select multiple files) Tap and Hold, then select "send via Infrared"

On the other (receiving) CE device
If it's a Pocket PC, select IR receive from the START/PROGRAMS menu.
If it is a CE 2.x device, there should be a "Receive" option in the File menu of CE Explorer

Back to the infamous "My Directory" issue, unlike CE 2.11, the Pocket PC "receive" function appears to place all received files in this central directory with no other destination options while the "old fashioned" CE 2.1 will put the received file in the currently selected directory.

However, on the PockePC platform, files, or series of files transfer easily from within the default apps such as Word and Excel.  You can either send the file you are in or by tap/hold from the file menu or if you are editing a file, it can be transmitted while editing it.  From the application file menu, you also have the option of receiving a file.

This ability alone has amazing potential, but would have even greater potential if you could send or receive a document to someone with a laptop instead of a PDA.

The maximum ir range appears to be about 3 feet although I would recommend keeping it to a few inches.

What's in a Shortcut...

Just plain text,  for example;


where"nn" is the number of characters in the shortcut not including the leading "nn#".

Name the text file with the extension .lnk

Shortcuts work just like those on a PC.  For example, they can include "arguments" such as


Which will run Pocket File Explorer but start it at the root directory of the PPC

Shortcuts can be made for documents and any "associated" file as well... for example,


Will lauch Pocket File Explorer and load the above file.

While you cannot create a shortcut directly on a PPC 2000 device unless you use a third party app such as Resco File Explorer, with the newer PocketPC's, you can easily create a shortcut, but it's not obvious how to do so;

  • Open Pocket File Explorer
  • Find the file you want to create a shortcut for
  • Tap Hold the File
  • Tap COPY
  • Navigate to the location you wish to post the shortcut
  • Select EDIT
  • Tap "Paste as Shortcut"

  • Where's that light coming from???

    The Jornada seems to be well on the way to replacing many more devices than expected.  While reading a .lit file late one night with all of the other lights out, the old dresser in the corner of the bedroom let out an especially loud creak as the evening temperature cooled, and as I turned to see what had occurred, I was amazed at the "beam" of light that the 540 was putting out on the lowest power setting.  It is a very directional beam, illuminating about a 4x8 foot rectangle at a distance of around 15 feet.

    Since the illumination was very even, it was easy to see every detail that was in the light, in short a great "flashlight" better in many respects to a MagLight.  The best realization was that using it did not impair my night vision and as soon as I turned it off, my eyes were already adjusted to the ambient light from the stars outside.  Remember this then next time you have to change a tire on the side of a dark country road.

    Axim Power Tips... (sorry)

    The Axim's power connector is a fairly standard coaxial center positive connector (10mm x 4mm x 1.4mm center pin) that is the same as the Ipaq 36xx and cradle power jacks, however, I found that non Dell power supplies with plugs having the same specifications as well as replacement connectors would not make a reliable connection in the Axim.

    The problem is that the Axim's jack is recessed, and in the image, you can see that the insulated shoulder of the plug is a smaller diameter than a "standard" plug of the same size, preventing the Ipaq plugs from  fully seating in the Axim's power socket.  While the Axim's sync cradle has the same jack, that one is not recessed and will accept the Ipaq power supply without issue.

    Solution, a tiny bit of old fashioned "whittling" with the tip of a sharp knife to widen the recess.  The plastic is soft and very easy to work if you have minimal carving experience.

    My motivation to attack the case came from a number of power adapters and mounts that I had generated to provide power for either the Jornada and Ipaq, but now, with that minor mod, they include the Dell as well.

    All of the PocketPC's that I have encountered to date use the same power supply specifications... a "nominal" voltage of 5vdc and most of the device power supplies run between 500 ma to 1500 ma.  If you are going to use a power supply other than one from the device manufacturer, the voltage and connector polarity are critical.  "Nominal" 5vdc is going to range from 4.5v to 6.0v... for example, the closest supply that Radio Shack offers at this writing is 6v and that is the voltage specification on their Ipaq replacement power supply. (Radio Shack was one of the original vendors for the Ipaq 36xx series PocketPC's)

    Radio Shack also offers a versatile power supply system called "VersaTip" that provides a number of different tip configurations that fit on a single two pin connector that is a part of a number of different ac and dc power supplies.  Reversing these two pins using the "Tip" and "+-" markings on this connector controls the resulting polarity of the tip.  The last time I looked, they offered around twenty different power tips.

    The ma (milliamp) rating is less important as the PPC will control how much current it will receive... if the power supply ma rating is too low, it will take longer to charge and, in extreme cases, may not provide enough juice and the device might take power from the battery as well.

    If the supply's ma rating is high, the voltage and device specs will control how much current is actually used.  For example, the Axim's ac adapter is rated at 400 ma and the HP 56x series adapters are rated at 1700 ma and since it seems to take about the same length of time to charge the Axim with either, I would guess that it is demanding less than 400 ma from the HP adapter when I use that.

    There is a "quasi" standard on these coaxial connecters... the center or "tip" connector is positive and while most power supplies of this size that I have seen are 5vdc tip positive, I have seen some that are different polarity and different voltages, so test and confirm before you destroy your expensive device.

    Finally, an "old timers" tip that you can use with the Jornada's rectangular power connector.  If you need to determine the polarity of the plug, take a close look into the power jack on the Jornada itself... it's simply gold traces on the edge of the motherboard inside of the case.  A close look with a magnifier will reveal that one of the traces is slightly longer than the other... the longer one is negative or ground... a trick to assure that any static electricity in the cord will be shunted to the case before the positive connection is made.

    Replacing the Main BatteryHP Innards (taken with HP CF Camera)

    While HP assumes that you are too unskilled to replace the main battery, they do sell it and replacing it is pretty simple with a few cautions.  The HP Part# is F1798-60918 and listed as $38.00 Main battery.  While it was not originally available on the HP web site to purchase and had to be ordered by phone, it appears to be there as of this writing.

    STEP ONE... BACK UP!  All Jornada contents will be GONE when the battery is disconnected! As always, by opening any device, you assume full responsibility for any damage that results from doing so.

    To remove the back, start with a slightly damp piece of cloth to work on (to drain any static charge) and use a small screwdriver to remove the four screws on the back... pull the cover free at the CF end and move the cover toward the jog wheel to clear it.  The rest of what you need to know is in the image.

    Be careful with the screws you remove... they are tiny, machine threaded, easy to loose, and probably impossible to replace.

    The black board shown contains the ROM (non flashable) which can be removed by pulling it up and away from the motherboard.  I point this out as there have been a number of questions about changing the language on the 54x series, and I would assume if you can obtain a broken Jornada with the language you desire, swapping this board out should achieve this goal.

    To Return to Bev and Rebecca's Home Page, Click Here.