One of the most interesting and exciting developments of cell phones is being able to stream content. And especially exciting for me is streaming Sirius radio. Sure having a Sirius radio is great and they make various models that can be taken between car and home (and the Stiletto has WiFi as well as satellite grabbing abilities), but flexibility is always a good thing. Being able to listen in with one’s cell is convenient.
There’s a free program for phones like the 8525 to grab a Sirius Stream. Get the Current Release of SiriusWM5 at geekstoolbox. You must join the forum to get the cab file. Just copy the cab file to your storage card and once there click on it to install. Once installed in the phone’s memory – don’t install on the storage card – just start it up. The Sirius Dog icon will be in your Programs listing. Access the settings from the menu and write in your login name and password. Save the settings and try connecting. You will be shown a ‘captcha’ image which requires you to input the text and numbers you see there. You have to do this everytime you connect. Yes, it’s very annoying, but this is the way Sirius is handling their security at the moment. Of course this means that if I have to reconnect repeatedly I get really impatient. Click the thumbnail on the left (Sirius Dog) to see a gif anim of the various screens you can see after the program has started. One of those screens shows TCPMP, which I have set up SiriusWM5 to automatically begin when I want to start streaming. So why am I using that instead of Windows Media?
On the geekstoolbox forum the suggestion is to use TCPMP instead. I did try to use Windows Media first and I found it unsatisfying. There was difficulty getting a strong connection. Disconnection happened frequently and it just became very annoying. Once I downloaded TCPMP from the forum and changed my SiriusWMS settings to use TCPMP, I got a MUCH better and more reliable stream. If I am home or at a friends home – and not moving – I tend to get longer periods of time with Talk/or Music and no moments of lost signal. I tried this in a moving car and there are areas with no signal. And you just have to wait until the car arrives at a better location. And then it’s possible to get the channels coming over the cell. Sometimes the stream just comes back automatically and sometimes you have to reconnect. For a program that is still in development, it’s not bad at all. I’ve updated SiriusWMS twice so far. And it keeps your settings, which is nice. This program has been approved of by Sirius, by the way, so there’s no need to feel ‘guilty’. It’s no different than logging in from your computer to get Sirius channels. You still need your password and login name. So Sirius isn’t losing a thing. In fact this makes Sirius that much more attractive to their customers. It’s a Win-Win situation for everyone. Now, not all the issues have been worked out but at least it works well enough much of the time. Yes, it would be fantastic if the signal worked 100% of the time like my Sirius radio, but heck, having the option is great!
I’d also like to mention that having TCPMP (Core) on my phone is nice because it can play a very large number of formats. I’ve tried sound files – OGG, WMA, MP3; various movie files – 3GP, AVI, MP4; various playlist files; image files – PNG, TIFF……the list is really quite large and I haven’t tried them all.
The 8525 come with a stereo headset which plugs into the bottom of the phone. It’s one of those where one side (R) is longer than the other (L) which annoys me (the shorter side always ‘pulls’ down even with the clip attached to my clothes) but the sound comes through fine. And there’s a volume control along the length of the headset. If you need to juice up the battery while you listen just plug in the included Y-cable. Click on the thumbnail picture at the top right of this article to see everything connected to my phone. It shows the AC Adapter connected to one side of the Y-cable while the headset is plugged into the right side. I can also use the USB Sync Cable (also included with the phone) plugged into my laptop to fill up the battery. No Syncing software needed either. Just plug in and juice up. If you want to Sync, then yes, you need the software which is included on the CD.
I’m investigating using Bluetooth and while there’s at least one free program that claims to let you hear audio through ones headset, I have yet to get this to work. My search continues.
I love maps and certainly one of the most useful features of any device should be to access our landscape in as quickly and efficiently a manner as possible. When I first got the 8525 the only mapping program available to me was MGMaps used from the MIDlet Manager. It has a complex array of menu’s – I always get lost. It works ok but tends to be slow and somewhat unsatisfying. I just spend WAY too much time fiddling with the menus and while I can choose from various Map Types (Google, Yahoo, MSM, Ask.com) none of them seem to be satellite. And THAT is just unacceptable. Plus, it’s slow. The only program that runs from the MIDlet Manager that ISN’T slow is Opera Mini. I’m not a big MIDlet Manager fan.
I continued to look for map programs and found Google.
At first, Google maps was a Java applet accessed via the MIDlet Manager. Bleh… no satellite imagery, I have to make too many menu selections to go where I want to, it’s too clumsy to be effective. I have to use the Scroll Wheel to select menu items. I like the Scroll Wheel but I feel I am being forced to use it here because there’s no other choice. It’s just odd and clumsy. And it will hang at the weirdest moments. And it slows down the whole system. Plus, when I open the keyboard and the screen is forced to flip over the whole thing ‘blows up’. I mean I get a blank middle area and no map. Fortunately, Google Mobile FINALLY became available for Windows Mobile! Go to http://www.google.com/gmm and download the cab right from your phone. It can install immediately and works GREAT! It has a feature to search for an address from any of your Contacts. As you can see from the gif anim (on the right) the zoom controls are right there easily available, The traffic is generally available in most large cities, I can scan about the map areas by moving the stylus around. It’s completely intuitive. When you look for nearby businesses (PIZZA!!!) it will immediately give you a list with pushpins in the map. You can touch a pin, get the address, phone number, directions and even make a call, save as a contact, send a text message (One pie with pepperoni and anchovies!). Nice!
There’s a nice help file with tips and access to the FAQ file online. It can use GPS is you have set it up on your phone. As I don’t have a GPS unit to test (Yet?), I can’t say how well this works. It hopefully can be one of my future projects.
I mentioned Virtual Earth Mobile in my first article of this series. I still find that it’s very nice and competitive with Google. Aside from having to use the hardwired button to move the map up, down and sideways works quite nicely. And that isn’t difficult (Duh!), it’s just that it’s the only way to control that feature.
Windows Live Search is different than which is used to look for words in files. Windows Live Search is a really nice map program. Click the thumbnail to see the opening page which lets you pick the various features like Traffic, Directions and Maps. Click this to see Central Park with the roads identified and a nearby subway stop. Here is The Lincoln Tunnel in Manhatten showing the traffic problems. Red is more severe than yellow so it shows that one direction is more serious.
I can switch between Road Map Type or satellite Map. I can use the categories to pick a business or other type of location and get a route between addresses. It will show the list of directions so that I can easily follow it.
It lets you use GPS by choosing a COM port in the settings. And when I turned on the program today I was inforemed that a new version was available. It asked if i wanted it. When I clicked yes, I was immediately connected to the website for downloading. The installation process was easy and seamless. I noticed that I could switch between the US and the UK as a main area. I don’t think that was the case before but I can’t be sure. I immediately zoomed into Glasgow. neato! I love traveling to other places using my phone.
This Gif shows Glasgow and then Edenbrough.
File Dialog Changer – v1.66 adds a menu item to certain programs which lets you save files in other formats (if possible). It’s one of those little features that just makes your phone feel more useful. To get this program to work go this site to access the main download site which happens to be in Japanese so it’s tricky but the file names are basically in English. Heck, I did it, so can you. Find two files: download both FileDialogChanger and gsGetFile.dll. You can unzip them on your PC or the phone. Copy the gsGetFile.dll and filedlgchg.cpl to the phone’s Windows directory (‘My Device/Windows/’). Don’t run the program from the storage card. It just won’t work that way. Once the files are in the right location use the File browser to get to the files and tap on filedlgchg.cpl to execute it. You will know it executed because it will display a startup screen. Click the check box to get the program working automatically.
Click on the thumbnail to see a gif anim of the main screen which shows the settings – you can even type in the name of programs you want to be exceptions although I can’t imagine why you would NOT want this. Then I screen captured what the menu looks like in Word Mobile. See ‘Save As..’ in the menu? Ta Da!! It doesn’t work in every program, but it’s nice to have it where ever!
Pocket Notesv0.4 is a nice drawing program lets you use different colored pens on one page. I can vary the thickness of the pen I am currently using, plus I can use different page backgrounds – Blank, Lines, Chequered (square lines), Elementary (like they have in school) and Quadrilled (rectangle boxes). It’s used for fun or technical drawings.
Files can be saved in ‘apn’ format or exported as SVG. Only certain browsers can read this kind of ‘scalable vector graphic’ format – Newer versions of Opera and Firefox, Mozilla and Safari support SVG natively. IE does not support SVG, therefore it can only render svg with Adobe’s plugin. I tried it in IE 5.5 and it showed the page in gray tones.
rlToday and rlCalendar are fabulous Today plugins that let the user write their own look. Create an XML file and whatever images and fonts you need, and almost anyone can customize their own look to their phone. Get the programs from rotlaus-software. There are already a large number of skins on that site. You can get help from the forums and keep up with new developments. I’m really impressed with how easy and beautiful this concept is. I can change my clock as quickly as accessing the settings (hold the stylus over the clock area until the menu opens up. click on ‘Options’ and I can go through my list of skins to pick one, add timezones for those skins that need that info, add Apps icons that will be displayed by the skins that let me open programs from the Today screen. All skins are installed in the ‘My Device/Program Files/rlToday’ directory. Once installed all you do is go to the Today Settings and under ‘Items’ check ‘rlToday’ to turn it on. I have found that it is so useful – and attractive – that nearly every other plugin is turned off. That and TodayAgenda (from my second article in this series).
Getting bored with having this useless PTT button taking up space on the left side of your phone???? Download PTTFix.cab from the xda forum. Once installed I suggest rebooting just to start with clean memory (remember, kids, it’s a computer). Access the Settings/Buttons window and you will see that button 5 now has two capabilities. One click will still get Voice Speech Dial. HOLDING the button will now do something else. Any program you want that is on the list. I have it start up the MIDlet Manager so I can get to Opera quicker. Pick your poison.
For those people that need a way to place the date (DD MMM) above the time in the title bar, this is the program for you. This will allow you to remove the Date from th
Today Screen to save space there. Get Title Bar Date Time.cab from 8525software. This program has been optimized for the 8525 screen.
Don’t ask me why but I am always looking for alarm programs. I still hate how the included alarm and notifications can only use wav files placed in the ‘Windows/rings’ dir. Stuff like that really drives me nuts. Well, Alarm Clock doesn’t really solve this problem but it’s a simple program I just found while I was looking around. And, what the heck, it has a cute icon.
Get AlarmClock.WM2003.CAB and after installing it access it from the Programs list. The settings will let you repeat the alarm 15 time! holy cow, if that doesn’t wake you up, you are dead! As you can see there’s other settings available. It seems like I have to turn it on everytime so this is appears to be one of those Special Alarms rather than a daily thing. Heck, it’s good to have for those times you have to get up at 4AM and you know you REALLY need to and this will nag you until you turn it off.