Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Few More Favorite Applications

I wrote about my top 5 favorite applications for Windows Mobile developers earlier this month.

I've now added a list of my favorite free tools/apps on the right side of this blog.

The new additions include:
AVG: excellent free anti-virus. I would recommend upgrading to the paid version if you find it useful but the free version offers excellent and reliable basic protection.

Trillian: A great IM client that handles multiple accounts and most common IM protocols including MSN, AIM, Yahoo, GoogleTalk, etc. The Pro version doesn't offer much beyond the free version but I registered to support this excellent product.

CamStudio: An amazing open source screen capture utility.

NSIS: In my opinion, the best installer creatation tool. This tool trumps every paid installation creation tool I've ever used. Developed by the same team that created WinAMP. Its also open source.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Scanning in Windows Vista

It really seems like nothing is quite as easy as it used to be with Windows XP.

Here's another quick tip for Windows Vista users trying to scan.

Previously, pressing the Scan button on your scanner was all it would take to prompt your system (and scanner) to scan an image and send it to your favorite image editing application.

Now (at least with HP scanners it seems), you need to initiate the scan from your computer and NOT the scanner. If your software doesn't have an option to start a scan, you'll want to use the Windows Photo Gallery.

Simply launch "Windows Photo Gallery" from your start menu, open the File menu and select "Import From Scanner or Camera".

From here you'll have the option to select your scanner and go through the usual and familar options.

Aren't things supposed to get easier with Vista? However I don't know if this is an issue with my HP scanner or Windows Vista.

The Elusive Mail applet in Vista 64

I just wanted to make a quick post for anyone else who has had a tough time trying to find the "Mail" Control Panel applet on Vista 64. (and I assume this will also apply to other 64 bit Microsoft OSs).

I was setting up access to an exchange server yesterday for Outlook 2007. As you may already know, this needs to be done while Outlook is fully closed and should be set up by using the Mail applet in the Control Panel.
On Vista 64 bit Edition, this icon is no longer present in the Control Panel. Because this applet is a 32 bit applet instead of 64 - it gets hidden away with other 32 applets.
To find the Mail item - you simply need to click on the icon labelled "View 32-bit Control Panel Items" in the Control Panel. If you don't see this entry, you'll need to change the view in the Control Panel to "Classic View". This can be done by clicking the appropriately named link in the top left of the Window.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How to surpress the constant prompts in Vista

If you're new to Vista and you're at least somewhat tech savvy, you're probably wondering why Vista asks you to confirm just about everything you're doing.

This is because of the new UAC - or User Account Control. Honestly for most people its probably a great idea, for myself, it simply provokes brief periods of rage.

Fortunately there's an easy fix.

Simply open the Control Panel, go to User Accounts, and click "Turn User Account Control on or off". You'll know if its on if Vista makes you confirm this action as well.

Thanks to for the info

A Quick Tip for sorting your e-mail in Outlook

I recently discovered (or thought to try) a simple technique to improve sorting e-mails in Outlook. I'm currently using Outlook 2007 but I'm sure this will work on older versions.

Typically, I would sort my e-mails by the sender. Ie, I create a rule that automatically moves all e-mails sent from to my SomeCompany folder. And then I might have a second rule that moves all e-mails from Of course the problem with this is you can end up creating dozens of rules just for one company.

It finally occurred to me to try and sort by the company domain itself - "". As it turns out this is very easy. Create a new rule and click on the "Advanced Options" button. Now, the condition you want to check for is "with specific words in the senders address". Now simply add the domain name as a specific word, move onto the next step and sort as you wish.

I hope you find this tip useful.

Dell Vostro 1510 Review Part 1

The time has come for me to purchase a new laptop. My previous machine was a Dell Inspiron 6000 which served me very well over the past three years. I did some quick research and found it tough to get the specifications I wanted from a retail store (most notibly the high resolution screen) so I opted to order another laptop directly from Dell Canada.

Specifications of my New Dell Vistro 1510:
Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 at 2.1Ghz
3 Gigabytes of Ram (DDR2 at 667Mhz, 2 DIMMS)
160 Gig Harddrive
Integrated Graphics Accelrator X3100
15.4" WUXGA (1900x1200)

This machine is has been built for work as apposed to gaming and the specifications reflect that. I will be installing my complete suite of development tools onto this laptop and I'll write about those experiences in Part 2 of this review.

Build Quality / Exterior

This is the first laptop I've owned that has really wowed me out of the box. The laptop is very well built and the shiny black plastic shell is honestly quite impressive.


The speakers are adiquate but by no means impressive. I am happy to report the the touch pad works very well, this was a sore spot on my old Dell Inspiron. And finally the screen, I was concerned this resolution would be problematic on a 15.4" screen but its simply stunning. The reflective coating does pick up more glare than standard screens but the clarity and vibrancy of the colors more than makes up for it.

Windows Vista

This machine shipped with Windows Vista Home Basic (32 bit) which it handles very well. It gets a Performance Rating of 3.3 but this is due to the graphics card. All other components scored a 4.9 or better.

Installed Software

I ordered my laptop with Office Basic 2007. An additional $150 to receive Word, Excel and Outlook seemed to be an excellent value.

I was also pleased to find Acrobat Readed 8.1 and Google Desktop pre-installed.

Part 2

I'll be putting the Vostro through its paces as a work and development computer over the next 2 weeks. Part two of this review will be up before the end of the month.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wireless Apps (

I wanted to let you know that the sister site to has also received a facelift.

Both sites have been completely updated. In case you haven't visited yet: it’s an excellent site to purchase Smartphone applications.

Currently the website has the top applications for:

Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile (both touch and non-touch screens), UIQ and Series 60 phones (most Nokia smart phones). Of course iPhone applications will be sold when they're available.

Take a look, just like it has a great interface and we're very proud of the site.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

5 Application Every Windows Mobile Developer Should Use

As a Windows Mobile developer with quite a few years of experience I would like to pass on a few of my favorite tools.

These are 5 programs I couldn't (or at least wouldn't want to) live without.

In no particular order:

This is an excellent freeware paint program. No it won't replace Photoshop but this is excellent for quick edits. If you can use MS Paint, you can use I've been using it for months and never ran into a bug.

Visual Assist

This program is unfortunately not free. In fact, its very pricy. I'd like to tell you its overpriced but the amount of time you'll save using Visual Assist will more than make up the cost. It adds brilliant shortcuts to toggle between .h and .cpp files, it does an excellent but non-intrusive job of color coding your code. It finds spelling mistakes in comments, it has an excellent predicition engine to help cut down on typing, etc, etc etc. Just install the 30 trial - you'll love it. Note - last I checked it won't work on Visual Studio Express.

Beyond Compare

I know there are a lot of tools to do file comparisons but this one is simply flawless. Its brilliant at comparing large quantities of files and equally compitent at comparing two text files. If you need more it has a great list of free plugins for comparing images, mp3s, hex, etc.

At $30 its steal.


This program may not be essential but its a nice upgrade to Notepad with low overhead. It has color syntax schemes for most common lanuages but is still light and simple like the original notepad. I use it for doing side by side comparisions with Visual Studio. If you want just a little more functionality do a search for Crimson Editor. Both are free and both work very well.


Now this program might not be very exciting but when you need it, its perfect. I have been searching for years for a descent icon editor and have probably wasted more hours than I care to admit. I've even bought two retail icon editors but nothing comes close to IcoFX. If you're creating Windows Mobile Icons from pre-created images - this is the only program you need. It makes it dead simple to create multipage icons with different sizes and bitdepths. And it does an excellent job scaling down images. For Windows Mobile, I simply create one 64x64 image and let IcoFX do the rest.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Follow up to Windows Mobile Development on Vista

In a recent post I mentioned my troubles with syncing the windows mobile emulators (ie cradling) with the Sync Center on Windows Vista.

As it turns out it was quite an easy fix (and to be fair - something I should know by now). It appears that syncing over DMA isn't enabled by default which is what's required to "cradle" the Visual Studio 2005 WM Emulators.

The fix is to simply open the Windows Mobile Device Center, open the Connection Settings (the link will appear under "Mobile Device Settings"), select the check box beside "Allow connections to one of the following:" and finally change the drop down selection to DMA.

That's all it took for me.

Good luck and happy developing

Wireless Gaming (

I'd like to introduce you to a relatively new online sales website for wireless games.

Specifically - for Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian Series 60 (Nokia Smartphones), UIQ (most Sony-Ericsson phones), and Blackberry. iPhone games should be added soon.

This is a site I helped develop, I'll admit that up front, but I do think it’s an excellent website and has quite a few advantages over the competition.

So first off, you can take a look here:

Wireless-Gaming has been designed to be easy to use, both for shopping and browsing.
We put this site together because we felt it was just too hard to find the top games on other online websites. There are amazing quality games getting very little attention in the mobile market because they're not associated with a great brand. And there are some that are associated with a big name that still fall through the cracks.

All of the titles on Wireless Gaming have been hand selected for quality and of course fun. Take a look, the site's interface, is, for lack of a better term: really cool. And of course its VeriSign secured so you don't have worry about your personal information being miss-used.

The entire site was just completely updated so even if you have browsed the site before, it’s worth looking again. And please feel free to post any comments or questions here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Windows Mobile Development and Vista

A popular question when Vista was first released was "Should I upgrade to Vista?"

Now that Vista has been well established and through its first service pack I decided to give it a try. As a Windows Mobile developer there are quite a few things to consider before making this choice.

At this point I'll jump ahead and save you some reading if you want to know my answer to the question. If you're a Windows Mobile developer and you're using Embedded Visual Studio - the answer is simple - No.

EVC 3 and EVC 4 don't work on Vista and they aren't likely to work anytime soon (if ever).

There are further considerations - I primarily use Visual Studio 2005 (and will likely be upgrading to 2008 in the near future ... but that's a different topic). So the jump to Vista wasn't too problematic. And it’s probably good that it’s forcing me to update those last few projects from EVC to VS 2005.

My biggest complaint is the VS 2005 emulators and the Microsoft Sync center. I have been completely unsuccessful in syncing the emulators with the Sync Center. Now I know it’s possible and I'm sure if I spend another hour or two it will eventually work. But I really feel if Microsoft is going to sell an Operating System with the word "Ultimate" in the title - I shouldn't have to waste precious time convincing it to behave nicely with Microsoft's own development tools. Vista Professional and Visual Studio 2005 cost enough that these products should work out of the box.

My other hiccup is a direct result of changing from the 32 bit version of Windows XP to Vista 64. Unfortunately all of the development SDKs now install into c:\Program Files (x86)\.... so all of my build scripts are temporarily broken. Now this is trivial to fix but does require extra time.

And a quick side note - 64 bit Windows operating systems now have two program files folders because of the "Common Files" sub folder. If 32 bit and 64 bit applications shared the same "Common Files" sub folder it would be far too easy to break applications when installing both varieties of applications.

Despite all of the above issues I will be sticking with Windows Vista on my primary development computer. But I will make sure I always have access to at least one computer running Windows XP "just in case".

From a pure productivity point of view I don’t see any reason to upgrade to Windows Vista.