Give your 8525 a Facelift, Read a Book, Listen to Music
The next installment of What Programs Have I found to Add to my Cingular 8525 continues. I’m not kidding about there being about a million little apps out there for mobile smart phones. It makes my head spin. Anyway, some are very useful and possible indispensable. Let me start with one which I won’t know if it actually works until around March 11, I believe. That’s because in the United States the government decided a few years ago that in 2007 they would start Daylight Saving Time at a different week than what has been “traditional”. This, of course, may be disruptive to computers in general including cell phones. Especially phones that are used to coordinate calendars and other time-related activities. For more information go to Daylight Saving Time – Windows Mobile Fix and download the cab file DST2007WM5.cab
I know it’s possible to use activesync and connect one’s computer with the phone to transfer files and install programs, but I just find that annoying. I prefer being able to copy cab files to the microSD card (via my USB cardreader), then placing the card back in the phone and clicking on the cab file. The DST program installed immediately. And even asked where I wished to install it: either the device storage or the card. Now, I just wait until the scheduled DST and see if it works. If you read the comments on that site you’ll see that people have changed the time on their phone to test this program and have found it works fine. I prefer to be surprised and delighted on the appointed day.
For years I’ve used Spybot – Search and Destroy on my laptop to check for nasty programs that try and sneak in usually via IE holes. It’s one of the many reasons I don’t use IE, but that’s another story. Anyway, it’s an easy to use program that lets me keep my system clean. At the very least I run it sometimes just for peace of mind.
For some time I have known about this company making a version for cell phones. So, When I got the 8525 I figured, what the heck! Let’s try it out!
Look for Spybot – Search and Destroy for Windows Mobile v0.3 – and download the cab file I installed it easily. The main screen is simpler than on the laptop version, which is to be expected, but it worked quickly and I’m happy to say, I found no problems. I’m not sure what the program does when it finds “bad” files, but I’m guessing it will zip them like it does on my laptop. Anyway, you can never be too careful and I’m glad I have this on my phone.
As I’ve mentioned “Zipping” I should point out that this archiving program comes with the phone OS and works flawlessly.
It lets me open all or only some files and politely asks where I want opened files saved. There’s all sorts of settings including a list of compressions, viewing a file and it’s properties while still “inside” the zip file, examining comments, etc. All programs should be this nicely thought out.
There’s TWO features that Windows Mobile seems shockingly lacking in. One is a global Cut and Paste and the other is an X button that really Closes the App. Now, I know that the default X button is supposed to Minimize most programs, but for people new to these cell phones, they will find themselves running out of memory as programs just linger well after their use is over and then wondering what is So SMART about this mobile OS! Hmmm! I get VERY tired going to the Memory Setting to shut down Apps I no longer need. During my searches I eventually discovered all sorts of solutions to this problem. One of the first I tried was HTC X-button which really does close applications! The trick to using it is that you need to HOLD DOWN the “X” button in order to close the program. A quick tap with the stylus on the X will just “minimize” the App. So you get both features available, depending on what you need. Actually, you can go into the settings for X-button and make the X button close any program with just a tap of the stylus, but I like having the choice to Minimize and this is a slick way to do it.
It’s very frustrating not being able to copy a number from an email or some text from one App and paste it into a Contact, for example. After using the Blackberry Pearl which has a Universal Copy and Paste feature, I’ve frankly gotten spoiled. So when I found VitoCopyPaste for free I downloaded the zip file to microSD card, unzipped it in the phone, copied the exe file to the card and started it by clicking on it. Press and Hold the central joystick button where ever you have an edit box to bring up a Menu to make your coping and pasting. To disable VitoCopyPaste run VitoCopyPaste.exe again. While the program works, I wasn’t completely satisfied – I want to copy and paste EVERYTHING – and I continued my Quest.
Lakeride Software’s WisBar Advance v188.8.131.52 is an App that has many fans. See this review. It’s very informative. And it really does sound like a very complete and useful App. Anything I say here would probably be redundant. For those that may want to try something else I discovered GSPocketMagic.
I installed the English version file for 8525: gspmagic.armE.CAB because I’d rather continue struggling with English than another language, but there’s plenty of choices for the rest of you.
GSPocketMagic++ v1.32.19 is a worthy alternative to WisBar. This utility replaces your Start menu – or rather I should say it supplements it because you can still keep your Start menu and just have it include features you prefer. That may sound redundant, but I love options. GSP has a Taskswitcher menu item which lets you cycle between opened Apps. It lets you jump to the Today page and close one or all applications.
Click the thumbnail and you will see from it’s menu and submenu one of my Very Needed Features. The fabulous Cut, Copy and Paste! Can I get an Amen? I, at long last have the opportunity to try this in almost every program. There’s no guarantee it will function in all Apps, but at least I can try and I know where to access the menu. (Just click on the GSP icon). Also note that there is also a Soft Reboot Feature. I’ve used this and it’s nice! I also can make my own icon in place of the default GSP icon. Cool Beans! I made a few and while it can use PNG’s, it can’t see the transparency in a PNG file.
What I LOVE about this utility – and there’s lots to love – is that it has a very configurable Close button feature. I can pick Which programs have the Complete X Closing. Click the thumbnail to see the list of programs which I have decided to Exclude from needing the X button. It’s generally because they already have an Exit button and I see no reason to add another, but also to just play around with the feature. Ya know?
I have to admit I’m VERY happy with this program.
Another App which happily congests my Today Screen is Today Agenda. Look for TodayAgenda 0.9.11_PPC.ARMV4.CAB
This is a today plugin that provides more features to the built in calender and tasks. Look at the picture of my screen and you will see that Today Agenda begins right under my “No unread messages”. I can add horizontal and vertical lines which I changed to a kind of pinkish color. I also can change the text color of the different elements. The task listed is an aqua color. I left the “appointment” listing the default white, but I can change that as well. Feb 2 is my father’s birthday and I made that a different color. Notice the menu which you access by simply holding down the stylus in place over anywhere in the Today Agenda area. It’s nice to be able to add calendar and task items right there and access the settings. And the scroll buttons can also be altered to taste. I’m not even listing Everything you can do with this plugin. It is Quite feature filled. It didn’t come with documentation, but once I found the menu I figured it out.
This plugin also works very nicely with GSPocketMagic – there’s no conflict, no slowdown in everyday use. Today Agenda can be temporarily removed or turned off by checking it off in the main Today setting.
For those people that do much more typing than me PQzII v0.0.7b is a Keyboard Helper. It improves the convenience of the hardware keyboard and adds some shortcuts like CTRL/ALT plus some more options which are customizable. I don’t think I’ve installed this yet but I’m VERY busy with the tons of other utilities I have downloaded. It’s a wonder there’s any room left on my phone! I’m sure I’ll get around to it at some point.
There’s links on this page that also include Themes which I’ve downloaded and installed on my 8525. By the way, when downloading Themes – and there’s about a million around – remember that the 8525 (also referred to as “HTC Hermes”) is a QVGA device. (QVGA = Quarter Video Graphics Array, for those that like to know what all those letters stand for.) VGA skins won’t work on the 8525, so don’t bother downloading them.
Icbar is a task bar/application manager. While this app does look fine the beta version (most recent file) seems a bit unstable or odd. As you can see from the image there’s a problem with it’s menu. And I can’t access the system fonts from it’s Settings program. I love all the skins you can get (I added the Amiga skin just because I love the look and the memories) and I don’t know if this program will continue to be developed, but right now it’s not happy on my phone.
For those people who like various profiles for their phones this may be the program to try out: PocketZenPhone costs a few bucks. Profiles tend to be a feature used by the businessman or “women on the go”, but as cell phones become The Most Important Device in your bag or pocket, being able to store and change various setting at once may be used by anyone.
There’s programs that seem interesting but aren’t ready for Prime Time.minimo is one of those. It’s a Mozilla Browser for Windows cell phones. I copied the cab file to my microSD storage card. Once in the phone I installed it in my device memory. While it starts ok, it seems very sluggish and I really can’t do much “surfing”. In fact, most days I turn it on it never finds its way on to the web. I think this is one of those programs that may develop into something someday. Just keep track of it’s progress. Right now I’m staying with Opera Mini and the default IE on the phone.
Opera MIni on this 8525 installs as part of the Midlet Manager. It’s slightly annoying to have to go through several steps to get to Opera, but I love this browser so much it’s worth it. I’ve tested it on several phones at this point and it works fine on all of them. It behaves exactly the same on other devices. When OperaMini comes across, say, a PDF file which it can’t open, it will ask politely if it can call the default program to read the PDF. That generally means opening IE and then opening the PDF. Then, once I close the PDF, I am returned to Opera. The whole process works quite painlessly.
The only negative with OperaMini on the 8525 is not being able to copy or paste from the Opera url field. That includes GSPocketMagic and VitoCopyPaste. It’s just one of those things. I’m sure it’s related to it running from Midlet Manager.
Fortunately, whatever I can’t do in Opera Mini I can always jump back to IEmobile, which works well enough. It even lets me have bookmarks in folders. And I can add the folders within the IE settings. It’s not as fast as Opera Mini, but it works ok and is certainly better than those old WAP browsers.
Even on the simplest phone – like those Pay as you Call deals – you can use the phone to make audio notes to yourself. I consider this an Indispensable Feature of any phone. I can’t see NOT having this. For those who need extra homework here is Everything you may need to know about sound recording on the Pocket PC. It will give you a good understanding of what you need to increase the functionality of the built-in Notes program which you can use to type, draw, move/scale your drawing AND speak your mind. Of course, it saves this is a format called PWI which makes it a bit difficult to us
on another system. Ah, windows. Insert Rolling Eyes. I looked around for a solution to this problem and most of them are programs that you must pay for. Which is fine and most are listed in that article I linked to. I did try to find some free apps.
NoteM v1.21 was the only one that looked promising. Voice Notes Recorder with MP3 encoding (NoteM) is several years old and no longer supported. It was created as an alternative to the build-in Notes application and saved in a format that could be used by all systems (which was my initial interest). It has a compression rate of 5.5 which is lower than the Notes default recording mode (8-bit 11.025kHz mono PCM) and it doesn’t work on my 8525. I can install it and start it up and it even plays my various other sound files. But it doesn’t record. I found that it made my system unstable and I decided to remove it entirely. Which is a shame. It looks like it could have been a nice program to use.
As I continued my quest I found PWI Embedded Sound Extractor. It can “extract” the embedded WAV files right from the Notes PWI files. It works fine saving a new wav file in the same directory as the original Note with a similar name. Which is nice and polite. Click on the thumb to see the program. The first screen (not shown because it’s “boring”) alerts you that you are about the Convert a file and after you click that button you are shown this list (my picture here) of PWI files on your phone. Pick one and watch it get instantly converted.
If you need more info about copying notes or recordings from a Pocket PC or a Smartphone – using Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 on your PC (which needs ActiveSync), click here.
While I’m sure that works fine, I’m sticking with the simple stuff. But that’s me. After doing all this looking the conclusion I came to is that if you want a Full featured program you will have to pay for it, which isn’t a problem as these programs are certainly not expensive and worth the money being asked for.
It may seem weird to think that you would use a phone to read from, but well, welcome to the 21st century. Aside from the Notes program which saves text either as type or as handwriting, here’s my investigations of other apps:
The included PDF program is ok but is a bit sluggish and I can’t save any settings. I have to manipulate the Zoom everytime I use the program. It also doesn’t let me Load a file from within it. The same is true for the WordMobile program. This is something which drives me crazy. (yeah, yeah, short trip. ha ha). However, If I really need to download and see a PDF file from the web, I can. And it’s fairly accurate. Just slow as heck. The program Has to refresh the screen Every single time I scroll right, left, up and down. It takes a LONG time to read a PDF.
A friend emailed me a .DOC file and I put it on my phone to read in Word Mobile. The doc file included images which is what motivated me to try reading the file on my 8525. Looks good! I should try to save a Doc file in this program and email it out to be read by others. I’ve saved .RTF which is easily read by WordPad, so it satisfies my criteria for usefullness even with non-windows systems. No major complains at this time. But then, writing complex documents on a phone seems rather a exercise in frustration. It is good to know that if I needed to I could write the beginnings of article, say while on the subway, and when I get to a computer embellish it later. So, Word Mobile is useful. And that’s really the point of having all these Apps on a phone, is it not? As I said before, from within WordMobile I can not load in a file. I have to click on an existing doc file which automatically opens in Word. This is hardly the End of the World, but I hate not having the flexibility to open files within programs. It’s just one of those things that bother me.
In my travels I found cke – v0.21 alpha which is a fancy text editor that can open several file at once to work on simultaneously! It reads the ASCII of any text file. I loaded some html file and I suppose if I wanted to could do some html editing on my phone. If I REALLY had to.
Click on the thumb to see the PWI file I loaded up from within cke. Weird looking, ain’t it? This is something I CAN’T do in Word. There’s tons of features and menu items and this is one program that will take time to really get familiar with. For those that really need to work with several text files at once, this is the one to get. It also can save in various formats. It’s Nice for html, css, program files and other text files.
I also found eReader 2.6.3 which installed just fine but will expire in 15 days. I can’t find any books to load up. However, it does look like a very nice reader with lots of great features, including changing the background, fonts, colors, and so on. If you really are going to be doing a great deal of reading on your cell, this might be worth a look.
I also found Haali Reader and for a long time I couldn’t find an ebook to try it out! Then, I discovered that this App loads up books that use the “.fb2” extention, the FictionBook format that was developed in Russia. In fact I found a Russian book and a Russian-English dictionary. Click the thumbnail to see a book I’ll never be able to read – but it sure looks great. The little menu pop-up happens when you heightlight a word and you can check your available dictionaries for a translation. A very nice feature. I still wanted to find a book I could actually read, however. So I Googled like crazy and found a treasure.
I found some books including Asimov’s. Those people who know me understand that Asimov is one of my hero’s. Years ago as a child I read his Science Fiction in which the characters would often be reading “books” on electronic devices. Asimov wrote many of his fiction books in the 40’s and 50’s. He didn’t go into great detail describing these devices but it was clear that these “books” were portable, small, held in one’s hand and could contain various reading matterial. So, here I am, as an adult reading from my Handheld electronic device a book by Isaac Asimov, “I Robot”. I tell you it fills my eyes with tears! The very meaning of Irony.
Click the Thumbnail to see the Front Cover (I guess you could call it) of I, Robot. This is the first page. You can make bookmarks using Haali Reader, observe which page you are on, do searches, and there’s a few other features. It’s a really very nice book reader considering it’s free.