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Posts Tagged ‘Windows Mobile’

Accessing files on a WM6 phone in Ubuntu

Posted by Fred on June 3, 2008

I tried valiantly to get my Ubuntu laptop set up to allow me to transfer files from my Windows Mobile phone to the laptop via SynCE using the instructions on the SynCE wiki. It installed OK (I think) but I never could get it to connect – it kept telling me there was no device connected (caused, I believe, by AT&T removing a settings screen on the Blackjack II and Motorola Q9 Global – stupid AT&T).  Finally I realized that SynCE is completely unnecessary for this purpose.

On the phone, change the USB device type to Mass Storage.  On my device, this is found at Settings >> Connections >> USB Device Type.  Plug in the USB cable, and Nautilus will show you the conents of your memory card.  You’ll have to copy files to the card via the WM file manager, and it won’t work for syncing contacts and appointments, but all I wanted was a file from the phone.  This also works for copying files to the phone.  Sometimes, it’s easy to overthink things.


Posted in Ubuntu | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Use Internet Connection Sharing on WM6 with Hardy Heron [HOWTO]

Posted by Fred on May 20, 2008

The reason I have a Motorola Q9 Global instead of a Blackjack II is that AT&T in its infinite wisdom eliminated Internet Connection Sharing from the BJII (I think it’s actually still there, but the interface isn’t, but I digress). Up to now, I’ve been piggybacking off the open wi-fi connection from the Richmond Omni, which is in and of itself amazing as the Omni is 0.4 miles away, but the connection has gotten flaky.  So I decided to use ICS instead (kind of like tethering, but free of the otherwise-applicable AT&T fees).  Here’s how:

First, you need to make sure you have the right Ubuntu packages installed:

sudo apt-get install subversion build-essential

Now do the following in a terminal:

svn co
cd usb-rndis-lite/
sudo ./
sudo make install

That should be all you need on the Ubuntu side. On the phone, start ICS. There’s no shortcut on the Start Menu, so use the File Manager to browse to /Windows and look for IntShrUI.exe. To make things easier, you can click Menu>File>Create Shortcut and create a shortcut in Windows/Start Menu. Once you start ICS, click the left soft key (“Connect”) and plug in the USB cable. That should be it.

I know this works, as I am posting this via ICS and WM6.

Posted in Linux, Technology, Ubuntu | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

My Today Screen: So Far, So Good

Posted by Fred on April 4, 2008

At first, I was a little hesitant about My Today Screen, the new Windows Mobile site started by Doug Goldring (late of Just Another Mobile Monday) and Tariq Bamadhaj (from a bunch of places, including Pocket PC Mag and his own blog, which now redirects to MTS). After all, do we need yet another WM site linking to the same stories about the release of Opera Mini 4.1 or Windows Mobile 6.1? My Google Reader list already includes Engadget Mobile and MobileCrunch, The Boy Genius Report and Smartphone Thoughts.

However, I’m coming around, for a couple of reasons.  First, although there’s little original reportage in the tech blog world, I have seen a few links on My Today Screen that I missed elsewhere, such as news of Amazon’s TextBuyIt service (I often miss items appearing first in TechCrunch, now that it’s descended almost completely into self-aggrandizement and Mike Masnick-style pseudoeconomic arguments about the collapse of the content industry business model).  More importantly, I like the balance Doug and Tariq and friends have struck. With the advent of the iPhone Era, too many mobile tech sites have gone over the deep end, fawning over the device as if it hung from the tool belt of the Carpenter of Nazareth himself, or descending into bitterness as if Cupertino’s cell phone was a personal affront, or praising Microsoft’s OS like tweens at a Hannah Montana concert, as if their hysterics counterbalance the Apple-groping at Engadget and Gizmodo.  My Today Screen seems to avoid all of that, treating WM like what it is, a tool that makes mobile phones do stuff.

With all of that said, there is one thing I wish the site editors would address – their entries in my RSS reader include this annoying disclaimer:

Copyright © 2008 My Today Screen. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact admin at so we can take legal action immediately. (2)

I think splogs are as annoying as the next blogger, but this is both ineffective and unnecessary.  Most scrapers are now able to skip such disclaimers, and most readers are entirely capable of telling a legit site from a scammer looking to steal a few pennies via Google ads.  Unfortunately, the visual clutter of MTS’ site design makes me want to stay within the confines of Google Reader, so I’ll just learn to tune out the disclaimer:


Posted in Blogging, internet, Technology | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Google finally fixes Gmail IMAP for Windows Mobile

Posted by Fred on January 30, 2008

When Gmail announced free IMAP access for all, users rejoiced.  But then we tried to use it, and Windows Mobile users said Boo! Now Gmail says they have fixed IMAP for Windows Mobile users, so we can rejoice again.  Google has updated the configuration instructions for WM6.  These instructions are incomplete, however, so here is an illustrated guide to setting up IMAP.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in internet, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Skyfire set to unveil "game-changing" mobile browser

Posted by Fred on January 28, 2008


In advance of Demo 2008, Skyfire Labs (formerly known as DVC Labs) has announced a new mobile browser, also known as Skyfire.  The browser application will work similarly to Microsoft’s Deepfish or Opera Mini, in which web pages will first be processed by Skyfire’s proxy servers before being sent to a user’s mobile device.  This could speed up page loads, but more importantly will allow use of AJAX, Flash, Java and audio and video in a way not supported by other mobile browsers (even the iPhone).  Here’s how Skyfire describes it:

Today at the DEMO 08 conference, Skyfire unveiled a new mobile browser that makes browsing on a smartphone just like browsing on a PC. For the first time ever, smartphone users can experience the “real Web” to access and interact with any Web site built with any Web technology, including dynamic Flash, advanced Ajax, Java and more – at the same speeds they are accustomed to on their PC. With this free downloadable browser, users can finally watch videos from the real YouTube, stay connected with their friends on the full-feature PC versions of Facebook and MySpace, and listen to any Web music service like Before Skyfire, users painfully waited for these Flash and Ajax-heavy sites to render – often resulting in error messages or crashes.

You can’t download it yet, although you can sign up for the private beta list.  There is a demo of the interface on youtube (see below).  Skyfire has also posted some images of the browser showing popular websites.  Here are some side by side comparisons of Skyfire and Pocket Internet Explorer (on my Motorola Q9h).  Comparing some of the sites isn’t very easy – many of the sites default to loading a mobile version of the page, and there’s no simple way in IE to overrule that browser detection.


espn espn-pie


facebook facebook-PIE

Google Maps:

google_maps maps-pie

Obviously, Skyfire looks like it would be a vast improvement, although improving on IE isn’t hard, which is why the Moto Q comes with Opera Mobile as the default browser instead of IE.  Even Opera Mobile has its faults, however. It doesn’t zoom and scroll the way Skyfire promises to  or the way its sibling Opera Mini does. It doesn’t do Flash or Java, either.

With all the promise of Skyfire, I have two primary concerns based on currently available information:

  • A proxy browsing experience is only as good as the proxy servers.  Opera Mini has scaled very well, serving more than 1 billion pages a month with no real noticeable drag.  Deepfish, on the other hand, scaled badly and now appears to be abandoned.
  • Related to the first (servers cost money) is what the business model for Skyfire will be.  The company is looking for partners in three areas: OEM bundling of Skyfire with hardware or other services, branded editions of Skyfire with custom logos, start pages and links, and in-browser advertising.  None of these seem like very easy sells.  Will the carriers really embrace a technology that relies on third-party proxy servers? Will they be willing to install and maintain their own servers for Skyfire? Neither seems particularly likely, as the carriers like to maintain control and actively block use of browsers like Opera Mini.  Advertising seems even worse — users dislike advertising, and with only a 320×240 QVGA screen to work with, devoting very many pixels to ads would be self-defeating.

Proxy servers are probably the best answer to mobile browsing on basic hardware, but a standalone company seems ill-suited to providing the infrastructure.  opera can do it, as they make money from Opera Mobile, they make money from embedded Opera and they make money from advertising on their own sites.  Microsoft could do it, even if they show little interest at the moment in Deepfish.  It’s not clear if Skyfire can do it, but I wish them luck.

[via about a bazillion blog posts, although the first was at Engadget]

Posted in internet, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Google releases new YouTube mobile site, works on Windows Mobile

Posted by Fred on January 24, 2008

Google has released an updated version of the mobile YouTube site, which now allows you to view any video on the main YouTube portal, instead of just the videos selected by Google.  You can search for videos or even upload videos if you have a profile set up on the mobile page.  It streams to just about any device capable of handling multimedia, using the device’s default application, which means it finally works properly in Windows Mobile (at least for me).  A brief screenshot tour:

youtube_main The main screen, as seen in Opera Mobile on a Motorola Q9h. The main page lists some recently featured videos and a search box.

youtube_browse Scroll down a little further for additional options. You can browse by Most Viewed, Top Rated, Videos or Categories.  there’s also a second search box, which is handy because it means you don’t have to scroll back up.

youtube_videoHere’s what you get when you search for a video. Your usual basic stuff here, including a screen capture, running time, uploader, etc.  Click on the image or “Watch Video” link…

youtube_playingThe site launches the default media player and streams the video. The old version tried to do this, too, but it just resulted in an error message on my WM6 devices. Workarounds sprung up, but now it just works. Video quality seems pretty good.  The audio is surprisingly loud.

It’s nice to get all the videos in the YouTube library, but I’m really happy to see that it Just Works on Windows Mobile.  Too often lately, Google seems to be optimizing for the iPhone and telling WM users to pound sand.

[via the New York Times]

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Google Addresses Windows Mobile IMAP (sort of)

Posted by Fred on January 24, 2008

Some time ago, Google rolled out IMAP access for Gmail users, to great fanfare. Unfortunately, on Windows Mobile, IMAP is useless, as many messages show up as headers only, with blank message bodies.  Google has known about this for months and months, but done nothing about it.  Now it seems they may actually be trying to work on it.  Many messages still show up with blank message bodies for me, but some HTML messages actually appear to work:


Unblocking pictures doesn’t work, but that’s certainly not Google’s fault.  Perhaps HTML messages worked before and I just missed it.  Has anything changed or is it my imagination?

FlexMail is still your workaround if you want full Gmail IMAP on a Windows Mobile device.  That FM works and WM Messaging doesn’t proves it is Google’s problem, not Microsoft’s.

Posted in Gadgets, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iphone + Gmail + IMAP = disaster about to happen

Posted by Fred on January 16, 2008

The law of unintended consequences in action:

For people using POP access in their iPhone, the new update for the device will automatically convert your email to IMAP without you knowing. Why does that matter? Well, if you are in the habit of deleting messages from your iPhone after you’ve read them, those messages will now be sent to your trash in Gmail too.It’s unfortunate that most users will be updated and probably never know what just hit them, but for those who are in the know, it’s actually a pretty good feature. You can think of IMAP as simply a different interface for your actual Gmail account — anything you do here will be done right in Gmail too. That means that actions like moving, deleting, and replying are instantly broadcast to any client using IMAP.

People will say that Apple or Google (or both) broke something, but this is how it is supposed to work, and reflects a difference between IMAP and POP.  There is really no Gmail mailbox and iPhone mailbox; they’re just interfaces to the same server.  That’s why the mailboxes are always in sync, and why under POP they’re not.  Just as you wouldn’t expect to be able to delete a message in Outlook and have it still be there when you log on from a different PC, you shouldn’t expect to be able to delete on the phone and not delete on the server.

This can be the same on a Windows Mobile device, too.  There are a couple of potential solutions, however.  First, you can set the deleted items folder on the mobile device to All Mail.  What IMAP actually does with a deleted message is mark it for deletion, and then on the next sync it moves it to the appropriate folder.  Normally this would be Trash, but you can set it to anything you want.  Setting it to All Mail archives the message.  Second, if your client allows it, choose to enable local deletion of messages.  I don’t have an iPhone, but in FlexMail for WM, you can enable “clear locally” for any folder, which will delete the local copy of the message but leave the one on the server.  To really delete, you would have to manually move the message to the trash.  FlexMail also allows automatic clearing of messages, so that anything older than 30 days is automatically cleared, again leaving the copy on the server intact.

One other thing Apple users might want to be aware of — when setting up Gmail in FlexMail, the default profile sync all Gmail folders, including the Spam folder.  It also defaults to downloading all messages.  So under the default setup, you’ll download every message in your Spam folder.  Hopefully the iPhone is set up differently.

The good news: messages deleted via IMAP aren’t gone forever. They sit in the Trash folder for 30 days before being purged, unless you’ve changed the default setting in Gmail.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Free App Friday: Fizz Weather

Posted by Fred on December 21, 2007


Today’s free application at Handango is Fizz Weather for Smartphone.  This is a $16.95 value for, well, free.  Features include 7 day full forecasts, 2 day forecasts, 6 hourly intervals, and current conditions for 58,000 cities worldwide.  You can also get weather maps that you can zoom and pan, ski reports, airport delays and weather alerts (US only).  You can access all this information from your home screen or via an application.  I used Fizz Traveller on my Blackjack and found it useful – Fizz Weather provides more weather information, while Traveller provides basic weather info (forecasts only – no current conditions) plus alarms, currency conversion, to-do lists, etc.

The one downside I ran into with Traveller was that there were lots of times that weather information for a location was unavailable.  This is undoubtedly a problem with Fizz’s upstream weather data provider, CustomWeather. In all, it’s a nice piece of software, and a good alternative to paying AT&T a monthly fee for MyCast Weather, which comes installed in the Applications folder by default. I have a religious objection to paying AT&T for the services they try to push, and this includes MyCast ($3.99/month), TeleNav ($9.99/month) and XM Radio Mobile ($8.99/month).  You can get most of the same functionality for free by using Fizz Weather, Windows Live Search or Google Maps, and XStreamXM Mobile.

Posted in Music, Shopping, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Should Google Mobile Do Next? Fix the Broken Stuff.

Posted by Fred on December 20, 2007

Judi Sohn at Web Worker Daily wants to know What Should Google Mobile Do Next?

As Google expands their supported platforms and applications in the mobile space, what do you want them to tackle next? Sync for Windows Mobile calendar? Gmail contact syncing? Stand-alone Reader or Docs? More iPhone-friendly browser applications?

To paraphrase the comment I left over there – should Google introduce new mobile products? God no. They should fix the ones they already have, most of which are broken in some way (other than the ones for the JesusPhone):

  • Gmail introduced IMAP support, which in theory should allow you to keep the messaging application on your phone and the web application in sync.  Unfortunately, on Windows Mobile it’s horribly, horribly broken.  HTML messages just show up as message headers with empty message bodies. Google knows it’s broken, they’ve known for over a month, and they haven’t said anything other than “Windows Mobile is not supported.”
  • An alternative would be the Gmail java application, which does a lot of neat things like prefetching messages for speedy access.  Unfortunately, on AT&T the application is unusable, thanks to the crippled java implementation AT&T uses to promote its own service offerings.  This isn’t Google’s fault, but they could easily fix it by either (a) releasing a signed java application, which would get around the security restriction (what Nokia ended up doing to get Widsets to work on the e62) or (b) releasing a native Windows Mobile application (like they did with Maps).  At the very least, Google should acknowledge the issue and explain what the problem is.
  • The new beta of the Maps application has a cool feature called My Location, which uses cell tower location to provide a rough GPS-like functionality for non-GPS phones.  Great if it works, but many handsets just say “location temporarily unavailable.”  The Blackjack and the Q are two primary examples.  Each of these devices does report location to the OS, which some applications are able to use (i.e. PhoneAlarm).  Google apparently doesn’t like the data the phone provides.  Again, this is not entirely Google’s fault, but they could fix it, if they wanted to.
  • The last time I used it, the Google Reader mobile site crashed Pocket IE any time you tried to mark all items as read.  The Q9h comes with Opera Mobile, which seems to work OK.  Opera Mini also works OK, although it suffers from the same problem Gmail does and is unusable on AT&T phones.  Google Reader also doesn’t play nice with Opera Mini – keyboard shortcuts don’t work.

It bears repeating that these problems are not necessarily Google’s fault.  Other mail applications can deal with Gmail’s non-standard IMAP implementation, for example.  But the mobile world is what it is, and if Google is going to play in the mobile space, they should figure out a way to make their applications work properly.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »