Q&A


Mailbag Q&A/Back to Basics: ActiveSync and Bluetooth

Having used Windows Mobile devices since 1997 when the Handheld PCs running Windows CE (still the core engine underneath the Windows Mobile shell) had been out for just a few months, I sometimes forget that things that seem obvious to Windows Mobile enthusiasts may not be obvious to other people. So, I’ll pontificate :-) talk about some real basic type topics here now and then to try to help people who haven’t spent the past decade playing with these things.

Back in May I posted a short video to YouTube titled T-Mobile Dash WM6 Bluetooth ActiveSync demonstrating syncing with my PC using BT. I received an email from viewer ZTT asking:

hello, so on active sync you just have to turn bluetooth on and how does it connect to the computer? does the computer have to be bluetooth??

Oy! Good question. Microsoft ActiveSync and Bluetooth (BT) are two of the most problematic basic tech items I know of. They shouldn’t be. But, they are.

First, yes, your desktop or notebook computer must have a Bluetooth radio in order to sync with a Windows Mobile device over Bluetooth. Unlike Apple Macs (which all have BT these days), very few desktop and notebook Windows PCs come with an intergrated Bluetooth radio. Some notebooks have the option have adding an integrated BT radio at the time of purchase. If your Windows PC does not have BT, BT dongles are fairly inexpensive these days.

You need to partner your Windows Mobile device with the PC using a USB cable the first time. If all goes well, you should be able to configure ActiveSync and the WiMo device to sync over BT. I have an earlier blog entry that details this process. It can be found at…

Tips for ActiveSync With Bluetooth

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Mailbag Q&A: Using a Mobile Phone for Heart Attack Care

Reader D.S. has an interesting question. I usually post interesting questions because I think the question and my response might be of general interest. This time, however, I’m posting it because I think the question needs a better response than I can provide. D.S. asks…

We are in the midst of setting up a system to improve the care for patients who are suffering a heart attack in the city and county of [...]

One significant issue is how to to allow the cardiologist to see the electrocardiogram. This is important for the cardiologist to make a decision as to whether an emergent cardiac catheterization should take place.

Obviously if it is during business hours or if the cardiologist is at home and has a fax machine, this is not as much of an issue.

However, we need to address the possibility that the cardiologist on call is out and about. Hence the question about how a cardiologist might be able to view the electrocardiogram in the field.

One thought is for the cardiologists to have mobile devices. In my research of the topic, there do appear to be ways for a fax of the electrocardiogram to be sent to a mobile device. However, the worry is that there is still a delay, especially with a fax to email solution. In acute heart attack care, seconds and minutes count, so the image would need to be available in real time.

In your experience, what would you recommend as a way to get an image of the electrocardiogram to the cardiologist. Some way for the emergency room to send a fax of the electrocardiogram to the phone? Could it be send via MMS messenging?

First, here’s a caveat/disclaimer: My response here should not be considered as advice, recommendation, or consultation. It is merely a response to an interesting question. (Sorry for the weasel words :-).

Couple of thoughts…

1. First, before starting on the technical aspects of the project, be sure to consult with an authority in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You may need to encrypt the electrocardiogram image for transmission.

2. As you point out both SMS and email are subject to potential delays. And, sending images may be problematic depending on how email is configured, the storage capacity of the receiver’s mail server, and other factors. It may be worth investigating the possibility of keeping multiple resolutions of individual images (low, medium, high) on the server and sending alerts to the cardiologist via simultaneous multiple channels: E.g., automated voice call, SMS, email. This message would point the receiver to a password protected site where the image could be called up on a mobile device for viewing.

3. Don’t rule out the possibility of an old-style client-server application where coded alphanumeric data is sent from the server to the client (mobile device) instead of a graphic image. An electrocardiogram image could be rebuilt from this smaller coded data. This could greatly reduce the amount of data that is sent compared to an image file and thus speed up the process of receiving and viewing the electrocardiogram image.

Here are links to two mobile technology sites that may provide more information than I can provide.

MedicalPocketPC.com

Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine has an M.D. as a regular contributing author

Finally, if anyone has other information links that might be useful to D.S., please post it in a comment to this blog entry.

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Windows CE vs. Windows Mobile

Reader Z.M. asks: Two products I have seen, the Cisco/Linksys WIP330, and the Y5 World handset use Windows CE/Mobile for the OS and browser, but they do not have the full UI suite you see on Windows Mobile mobile phones. They both use what looks like the same 3rd-party UI kit for a telephony UI. I was wondering if you know who makes this software?
Microsoft provides the base platform for Windows CE that is used in embedded devices such as the ones you mention (and many more). This base platform is then molded and enhanced by independent developers to create products like the ones you mention. This is a large number of embedded systems developers working to develop these kinds of products.
Windows CE is also the underlying platform for Windows Mobile devices: Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone Edition, and Smartphone. The Windows Mobile Shell, Office, and other teams add on the features you see on Pocket PCs and Smartphones based on Windows Mobile.

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EV-DO applicability in Japan?

Reader J.V. asks: Would a BlackBerry with Ev-DO technology (such as the 7703e) be usable in Japan? Would a BlackBerrys on GSM/GPRS and EDGE networks be usable in Japan?

Most of the world does not use CDMA/EVDO. Most of the world tends to be GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS. Japan’s NTT DoCoMo invented W-CDMA used by both FOMA used in Japan and UMTS used in a lot of places (except for most of the US where we tend to lag behind in the wireless world).

I took a look at taking my GSM/GPRS phone with me when I visited Japan back in 2005. I ended up leaving it behind. In speaking with people who visit Japan regularly, it seems that they tend to buy a phone with rechargeable SIMs (fixed number of minutes). If you read the article I wrote about my trip for O’Reilly’s MacDevCenter…
Japan Primer for the Mac Techno-Tourist

…you’ll find a section sub-titled Mobile Phones, Broadband, & Wi-Fi Hotspots that provides links to sites that discussing phone roaming options.

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Q&A New Pocket PCs?

Reader D.K. says: I’ve been reading your blog and site for some time, and am one of the myriad people who greatly appreciate the lengths you’ve gone through to help us plebieans disseminate the complexities of what’s now the WM platform.After being cursed with the imate sp5 (and wm5 for smartphones – what a crock), I’ve decided that I’m going to switch over to a full fledged wm5 pda-phone. I’ve got my eyes set on the htc p3600 (trinity), but it’s still stuck using the samsung 400mhz processor and worse yet, has only 64mb of ram. You had mentioned that a few manufacturers are producing and will soon produce 256mb phones, and I was wondering if you knew if HTC has any underway. It would be a shame to spend nearly $800 only to discover that the phone is obsolete a few months later.

D.K.: Thanks for the kind words. But, you might have read about upcoming phones with 256MB RAM at some other site. Generally speaking, I tend not to write about rumors and unreleased products? Why? (cough, cough)… Mostly because I don’t catch wind of many rumors or get juicy insider tidbits :-)

That said, the HTC P3600 is a pretty nice looking Pocket PC Phone Edition. I would not be too concerned about the 400MHz Samsung chip. You will probably find it quite acceptable. I’ve got two first generation Windows Mobile 5 Phone Edition units: An iMate K-JAM (195MHz) and an iMate JasJar (520MHz). While the JasJar is definitely much faster than the somewhat pokey K-JAM, the K-JAM is quite usable. I usually carry the K-JAM around as my daily use Pocket PC (I use an SDA as my phone).

I also don’t find the 64MB RAM a limitation. However, I tend not to install a lot of apps on either my Pocket PC or Smartphone. And, I keep all my data on a 1GB mini-SD. So, I haven’t felt any storage crunch issues yet.

Of course, unless you must-a-gotta get a new phone now, it always pays to be be patient and wait for the usual round of announcements of new phones that seem to come out in Spring and Summer.

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Q&A: How to Configure Email for an IMAP4 Server

From the beginning of Windows CE/Windows Mobile-time, it seems like people have had problems configuring Messaging (formerly known as Inbox) for their POP3 or IMAP4 and SMTP email servers. Reader D.B. recently wrote me email asking about this issue.

D.B. writes: I recently got the Cingular Treo 750- my fiorst experience with Windows mobile. I read you peice below and wondered how I can go about configruing my email as you have apparently done the the very last scenario (IMOAP4)…any advice greatly appreciated!

IMAP4 06

The response is way too long for a blog entry. So, I created a special How-To page for D.B. and anyone else wanting to configure Windows Mobile 5 Messaging with an IMAP4 server. Click on the link below to read what I hope is a simple 10-step process with lots of screen shots to step you through the configuration process.

Configuring IMAP4 Email for Windows Mobile 5

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Q&A: Ubuntu Linux & Parallels Desktop for Mac

A friend had a question about installing Ubuntu Linux on a Mac running Parallels Desktop for Mac since reviewed it earlier this year. I thought it might be of general interest. So, I’m posting a response here. He asked…

I picked up a MacBook Core 2 Duo with 120 GB Hard Drive and 2 GB of RAM. Its wonderful so far. I also downloaded the trial version of Parallel (Build 1970 dated 1 November 2006). I have with me the Ubuntu Edgy (6.10 ) Live CD that I used successfully to install on a standard PC … but am not at all having any luck booting fully from the live CD under Parallels so that I can install it in a virtual environment. I wonder if I should try the Beta version of Parallels instead?You mentioned in your report a few weeks ago that you were not having any problems installing Ubuntu with your version of Parallels. Do you have any general suggestions?

First, woo! Nice MacBook configuration.

I’m running the latest public Parallels Desktop for Mac beta and it seems pretty stable to me so far. Two suggestions regarding the issue you are seeing.

  • Trying downloading the current ISO and install it using the ISO file instead of a physical CD disc. There might be some small drive tolerance issue that allowed to install fine on the standard PC you used but not the MacBook.
  • You might want to try Ubuntu 6.06 LTS instead 6.10. I seem to recall reading that some people were having problems with 6.10. I installed 6.06 LTS last summer when I was testing an earlier version of Parallels Desktop for Mac.

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ActiveSync Info for an Old Pocket PC

Reader Phil Smith (in a comment to a previous blog item) asks: My wife has an HP IPAQ 1910 PDA, running the older version of ActiveSync that allows backups and restores. The battery died and it lost everything. Can you tell me what is the latest version of ActiveSync that includes backups and restores. Also, what is the extension on the backups. I have to hook up an old hard drive to find the backup and don’t know what to look for.

I thought the response to this might be of enough general interest to merit its own blog item. So, here are my responses.

  • The most current production ActiveSync 4.2 actually provides Backup/Restore functions for pre-Windows Mobile 5 devices. It does not provide it for current generation Windows Mobile 5 devices though.
  • The extension for backup files created using ActiveSync’s Backup/Restore feature is .stg. In fact, unless you chose something different the default backup filename is backup.stg.
  • Click -> ActiveSync 4.2 web page for the current version. Veresion 3.8 seems to have disappeared from Microsoft’s site. So, if 4.2 doesn’t work for you, you can find version 3.6 here -> ActiveSync 3.6.

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Q&A: Excel Mobile Unsupported Content & Formatting

Reader P.L. asks: I just purchased a Treo 700W from Verizon. Excel Mobile will not let me save updates to most of the Excel files that I have synced to the handheld. It gives me a window that says unsupported content and formatting will be lost if I save the workbook and then it will not let me save it. I’m forced into a ‘Save As’ function. I cannot figure out what is unsupported and cannot find any documentation on the subject. Can you help?

I’m guessing a few details are missing from this story and will assume the following additional details…

  • The problem spreadsheets were created using a full version of Excel on a desktop or notebook.
  • This spreadsheet was copied to the Pocket PC Phone Edition (Treo 700w)
  • The spreadsheet was modified (new data and/or change existing data in cells)

If this is the case, then this is, believe it or not, normal (though undesirable). Word Mobile and Excel Mobile only provide small subsets of the features available in the full version for Windows XP. And, despite years of pleading from many users (including me), neither Mobile application provides what is called non-destructive round-tripping. So, if you use, for example, unsupported features like macros or unsupported statistical functions on the original version created using the full version of Excel 2003, these features will not be preserved if the spreadsheet is modified on the Pocket PC and then saved back to the same file.

The workaround is to adopt a workflow model that takes this into account. For example, let’s say we have an Excel 2003 spreadsheet file named FOO.XLS. Instead of copying it directly to the Pocket PC, we make a copy named FOO-MOBILE.XLS on the desktop first. This renamed copy is copied over to the Pocket PC where it is worked on. When saving the modified spreadsheet back to the Pocket PC, you can ignore the warning and save it. This modified FOO-MOBILE.XLS is then copied back to the desktop PC where the data can either be manually or automatically (using additional macros or VBA scripts) merged back into the original version.

I am not pleased with this situation either. A number of people including me have been telling Microsoft’s Windows Mobile product management group that it is critical to have non-destructive round-tripping for Excel Mobile and Word Mobile. However, we have always been told that major customers have not identified this as a high priority issue. If this is an issue for you (as it is for me), you should definitely let Microsoft know through your Microsoft account executives, at conferences, or the Microsoft wish request.

Mobile Devices
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Q&A: Windows Mobile 5 Printer Support?

Reader OdL asks:

As a simple programmer of our laboratory, i’ve made a handy PDA application for our fieldworkers so they can: 
  • retrieve projectinformation from our database
  • walk through a wizzerd to fill in information
  • make a CAD-drawing, saved as WMF
  • print report including the drawing “on the spot” (HP Deskjet 450, IRDa)
  • transmit information & drawings, so the server can generate certificates for authoriation
This all works as a charm, except for the printing part.
We were using “HP Mobile Printing” software, which is now discontinued.
Now comes the time we have to purchase new printers that are not supported by “HP Mobile Printer” software, and so we’re looking for a new solution as well.
 
The current reports we use for mobile printing, are basically generated HTML-templates with jpg’s, printed from InternetExplorer.
 
What I wanted to ask from a PDA-expert, what can be the best mobile print solutions for our situation?
 
I was thinking about using PIEprint from fieldsoftware.com, but the quality kind’a sucks.
Hmm. I haven’t looked at that issue in a long time (since Windows Mobile 5 came out, basically). Here’s what I found after a quick look-see this evening though.
Please let me know if either of this work (or not) for you. I think other people will be interested to learn your findings.

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Q&A: Windows Mobile Pocket PC Web Database Interaction

Reader R.L. asks: came across your Blog and similarly O’Reilly articles. Wonder if you
could help please. Looking for a PDA Application (Mobile Windows) that
has the potential to push and pull data to and from a Web Server based
Database. Effectively allowing such aspects as ‘Search’ (via some nice
GUI tools) that then checks Server (assuming WIFI and/or GPRS enabled)
and brings relevant data about that ‘Object’ to the PDA App screen.
Hope you can help; much appreciated.

You are going to have to build it yourself. Here are a couple of Windows Mobile database tools that might do the trick for you.

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition

Syware’s suite of mobile development products

db40

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Microsoft ActiveSync Troubleshooting

Guy Williams posted the following question on my O’Reilly Windows DevCenter blog. My response includes a bunch of llinks which might be a bit much for the blog response box there. So, I’m posting a reply here.

I just bought a Treo 700wx from Sprint. I cannot get ActiveSync to recognize the phone (when the phone is connected via USB cable).

The error says “Active Sync cannot connect to the Windows Mobile powered device. To troubleshoot the problem, click ok.”

I spent about 8 hours yesterday along with many (10+) calls to Sprint to get the phone working with the Activesync software that came standard with it. I went through levels 1,2 and 3 of Sprint support. I was connected this morning to Sprint’s special “TREO Activesync” department. No one could get the software running so that I could sync with the Treo 700wx.

At this point, I am at a total loss regarding what to do. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

The first thing you should check is whether you have a software firewall (e.g., Zone Alarm) running. If so, check out my blog item:

ActiveSync 4.1 for Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 devices released

If that is not the case, check out the following ActiveSync troubleshooting guides.

Microsoft.com: What Does the Troubleshooter for ActiveSync Do?

PocketPCFAQ.com: ActiveSync 4.x Troubleshooting Guide – General

There’s also an item specifically focused on the Treo 700w (one generation older than the 700wx) at:

Microsoft.com: ActiveSync Troubleshooter – More Options

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