Monday, September 29, 2008

How to end a task in Vista without the Task Mananger


I had something happen today that I've never seen on any version of Windows that I can remember.

The Task Manager crashed. More specifically - it continued to run but was completely unresponsive. Now to be fair this sort of thing has happened in the past - however - it would always indicate a major failure and require a reboot. Strangely the rest of my system was happy and responsive so I didn't see any need to reboot.

This of course was a new challenge - how to kill the Task Manager without using the Task Manager. Well it turns out its quite simple and required very little effort.

I opened a command prompt, and typed in "help". It returned a list of commands and I spotted the two I needed quite quickly - TASKLIST & TASKKILL.

Tasklist gave a list of running tasks as you would expect and TaskKill allowed me to end a task.

To kill the Task Manager the command is "Taskkill /im taskmgr.exe"

I think the bigger lesson in this post is the command line help is remarkably useful (as least it is under Windows Vista). I haven't tested this under other flavors of Windows so your results may vary.

Or maybe the lesson is the Task Manager is less stable in Windows Vista compared to previous versions.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How to simulate phone calls on Window Mobile 6 emulators

How to emulate phone calls on a Windows Mobile Emulator

The Windows Mobile 6 SDKs come with a great tool for emulating incoming phone calls and SMS messages. This is an invaluable tool for testing (all of your applications and games should be well behaved if a call comes in).

To launch the Cellular Emulator, open the Start Menu, Programs, Windows Mobile 6 SDK, Tools, and finally - Cellular Emulator.

Before you can start testing you'll need to configure the emulator you're planning on using to perform your tests.

Open your Windows Mobile emulator (obviously this won't work with the "classic" emulators). Click the File menu and select Configure ... From here select the Peripherals tab. Now go back to the Cellular Emulator and look at the bottom left corner of the Window. This will show the COM port the Cell Emulator is using. Type this into the settings for the Emulator under Serial port 0: (it won't appear in the drop down list). Press OK.

Now you'll need to perform a soft reset of the emulator (from the File Menu).

You should now see that your emulator has full signal strength - you're ready to test phone calls. If you make calls on the emulator this will also be accepted by the Cellular Emulator on your desktop.

The rest is straight forward - play with the options and try not to think about how much time you would have saved if you had this 3 years ago.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did you know working full time for a year adds up to over 80 full days?

Assuming you get 4 weeks of vacation a year (ignoring sick days and stat holidays) this is the equivalent of working 80 full 24 hour days non-stop.

As bad as it sounds - just think - if you could go without sleep (or social interaction) for 3 months you could take the remaining 9 months of the year off.

I've added "Work Weeks" to the Time section of the Unit Converter of iSS Calc Pro. The new beta: v 1.7.5 contains a number of other improvements and fixes.






Grab it here:

http://www.implicitsoftware.com/beta/iSS_CalcPro_175b_Demo_PPC.exe

Also of note: iSS Sci Calc will eventually see a major new version and will inherit a number of major features from Calc Pro.

But before v3.0 is ready, v2 is getting an update. iSS SciCalc has been updated to 2.3.0 and contains some minor bug fixes from 2.2.2. It should be available to download from the Implicit Software Solutions Inc website within about a week. However you can e-mail me directly or use the website support page to get a copy sooner.

http://www.implicitsoftware.com/mobile_scicalc.html

More Youtube game previews from Panoramic Software

Panoramic software has pumped out two more videos for your viewing pleasure on YouTube.

Both titles are compatible with new Windows Mobile Touchscreen devices.

Nicky Boom which looks like a really cool side scrolling adventure game (although I haven't played it yet)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUlefUfPKCc
more info on Wireless Gaming
http://www.wireless-gaming.com/desc.php?d=d1&id=226797

And Castlevania which I have played about an hour into. Its pretty faithful to the original NES versions of Castlevania. I'd recommend this one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wrbg37g7psg
more info on Wireless Gaming
http://www.wireless-gaming.com/desc.php?d=d1&id=226400

Monday, September 22, 2008

10 Reasons to try the new iSS Calc Pro beta

Real RPN Support - with a configurable stack and all the of stack manipulation buttons you need on a RPN calculator

Unit Conversions - 14 categories including Length, Area, Volume, Cooking, Time and Fuel Economy

Graphing - its now faster and easier to use

Constants - 16 scientific constants are now included

Skins - new in version 1.7 - Calc Pro comes with 4 complete skins

Customizable Display - display your answers in normal, scientific, engineering or fixed notation and specify from 0 to 10 decimal places. Or choose Fraction to convert any value to fraction as long as the denominator is less than 10,000,000 (that's not a typo).

Paper Tape - output all of your calculations to a text file readable on your Windows Mobile or home computer - like a paper tape adding machine.

Accuracy - Implicit Software Solutions Inc has been making mobile calculator software for over 6 years and Calc Pro uses tried, tested and perfected technology.

Features - Even more ... scientific, base conversions, & advanced options

Compatibility - It works on EVERY Windows Mobile Touch screen device (2003 and newer).


I thought I'd test out my marketing pitch - but in all honesty its turning into a really great product. Feel free to download the beta here:
http://www.implicitsoftware.com/beta/iSS_CalcPro_171b_Demo_PPC.exe

And as always - you can buy the retail version (1.0) here:
http://www.wireless-apps.net/desc.php?d=d1&id=220717

How to improve your blog's search engine results

Here's a trick I just discovered. This may not be a new idea but its new to me so I thought I would share it.

Blogger.com is kind enough to pbut the blog title into the URL of your post but if you're title is too long it will cut out some of the words. This URL can be quite important in terms of google and other engines indexing your posts.

Now the interesting thing is - once you've published your post, if you edit the title the URL won't change.

So a quick tip is to write your blog and enter the important key words into the title. Save, publish, and then edit the title of your post with something more reader friendly.

Tabs and formatting in VS 2005


If you coded for any length of time you've come across code that was written with an editor that defines different tab spacing than what you use. The result is is usually a mess of unevenly spaced code.

A simple fix to this is to replace tabs with spaces.

So the first step is to set up your editor to enter several spaces instead of a tab character. 4 spaces is recommended.

In Visual 2005 (this is probably true or similar for other versions)

Select Tools from the menu

Options...

Under "Text Editor" expand the section for the type of coding you're currently doing and open "Tabs". You'll want to change the setting to "Insert spaces" to "Keep tabs" and make sure the "Tab size:" value is set to 4 (or your preferred setting).

The second step is to replace your existing tabs with spaces. This is easier than it sounds - any good editor will allow you to select one tab although it will look like you're selecting a section of nothing. Copy the "tab", open search and replace (Ctrl-H on VS 2005) and paste into the "Find what:" section. Then enter 4 spaces into the "Replace with:" section and start replacing.

You may have some minor alignment errors you'll need to fix after the search and replace but this should help keep things tidier in the long run.

iSS Calculator Pro 1.7 Beta coming soon - new additions include a unit converter


iSS Calc Pro 1.7 beta is almost ready for release. It contains a LOT of improvements over 1.6 but the most dramatic new feature is the addition of a unit converter.



It contains 14 categories and over 300 conversions which makes it one of the most powerful unit converters available for Windows Mobile.


More importantly however, is the careful attention we've put into it to ensure accuracy. Metric to metric and imperial to imperial conversions will come out exact instead of "close".

We're also quite excited about the fuel economy conversions. Its a feature I've personally wanted to have on my phone for years and now with high gas prices and with the changes to the way manufactures are reporting gas millage we hope this will be a very useful feature.


New beta will be ready this week




Friday, September 19, 2008

New Panoramic Windows Mobile Game - Hexegems


The Panoramic Software Team has been working on a game for Windows Mobile devices called Hexegems.

Its been put together as a technology demo and I have no word yet if its going to be available to the public (either as a retail game or a free download) but I'll post again as soon as I have more information.

What I can tell you is: its great fun on my G900.

For now - here's a little eye candy.



Panoramic Software: http://www.panoramicsoft.com/

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to Revive a dead Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone

I get this question quite often - the device will work great for months or years and then suddenly it stops turning on, continuously reboots, the screen stays blank, etc.

Step 1: Soft Reset



This won't harm your device or erase any saved data so you can do this without worry. On a touch screen windows mobile device there is usually a small button on the side, back, or under the battery cover that is only press able with the stylus. Try this first. If you can't find the soft reset button - simply google soft reset with your device make and model - it should be easy to find. Alternatively, or for devices without soft reset buttons (some non-touch screen device are like this) you can try removing the battery for 30 seconds, replace it and turn the device back on.


Step 2: Check the Battery(s)

If a soft reset doesn't work - make sure your problem isn't power. Find your power cable and try turning the device on. You'll want a real power supply that plugs into a wall and not just the USB cable that attaches to your computer.


On older Pocket PCs you may also want to replace the backup battery. NOTE - if you remove the backup battery you will lose all of your saved data as devices with backup batteries use volatile memory. Although at this point you're probably stuck anyways. The backup battery is usually beneath the main battery and is most often a standard, replaceable watch battery.


Step 3: Hard Reset

This is a full reset of your device. It will erase everything and restore your device to the state it was in when you took it out of the box. It will contain any applications that came on the device but you will lose all documents, contacts, and applications that you've installed. However if your device won't turn on you can't access these anyways.


A hard reset is performed differently on every device. It often involves holding down the soft reset button along with one or two other buttons for several seconds. Your best option to find hard reset instructions are to search google or your favorite search engine. Simply search for the words "hard" and "reset" along with your device make and model.


Before performing a hard reset its recommended that you charge your battery completely - otherwise your device may report inaccurate battery levels.



Step 4:

Well - you're just about out of options. I would recommend contacting the hardware manufacturer or start searching for a new device.





Saving Your Data:

The best way to not lose data is to back it up. You may want to invest in a robust data backup solution such as SPB Backup: (available here for Touch devices) http://www.wireless-apps.net/desc.php?d=d1&id=182078)

Or you can use my solution and store all important data to a memory card rather than saving it on the devices internal memory. Applications like iSS Explorer make it easy to manage files on your device and copy them to storage cards: http://www.wireless-apps.net/desc.php?d=d1&id=220718

Good Luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Panoramic Software launches YouTube channel

Its a great place to check out previews of new and/or popular windows mobile games.

The latest addition is Call of Duty 3 for Windows Mobile Professional.  If you're a wireless gamer its worth taking a look.

http://www.youtube.com/user/PanoramicSoftware

Monday, September 15, 2008

iSS Calc Pro gets proper RPN support


You may have noticed the RPN support in version 1.6 - however the button layout really wasn't set up properly for Reverse Polish Notation.

Here's a little preview of the new RPN specific scientific button layout. You won't have to select this specifically - iSS Calc Pro will automatically display the layout when you select RPN calculator mode from the options.

The latest updates focus heavily on appearance and functionality.  Not a lot of new features but you can now change many of the settings by simply tapping on the display area (ie DRG, base, output mode, etc).  This version also improves performance and just generally improves usability.

I'll post a new beta soon and Windows Mobile Standard (smartphone) will be added in future versions.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Implicit Software Solutions Inc Calc Pro v1.6 Beta released


Implicit Software Solutions Inc Calc Pro version 1.6.1b is available to download here:


If you're a user of the software you may be wondering why the last retail release is way back to version 1.0.1.

iSS is aiming to release a major new version (v2) but internally is adding and testing new features incrementally.

New in this version:

Added Calculator Modes - you can now choose between:
  • Simple (adding machine style - also known as Chain)
  • Algebraic (standard order of operations)
  • Direct Algebraic or DAL (allows using function buttons before entering the number)
  • RPN (Reverse Polish Notation)
  • Expression (enter the entire equation and then evaluate)

Also has 5 Output notations:

  • Normal (standard calculator formatting)
  • Scientific
  • Engineering
  • Fixed
  • Fraction (will convert answer to fractions where possible)

Calculator Tape (like an adding machine)

  • Option to output all calculations to text file (appears in root presently - max size 30k)

Selectable Max size for base conversions (8, 16, 32 & 48 bit)

Selectable RPN Stack Size (for RPN mode - 4, 5, 10 or 50)

Two new skins (selectable in options)

Better Square Screen support - much improved on square devices such as the Palm Treo series

Graphing - can graph one equation. Lots of great features on the graphing screen.

Constants - now includes 16 new constants - accessible from the View menu when in Scientific Mode

LOTS of bug fixes and improvements.


This version will work for 7 days. However if you already have the full version installed it will upgrade the old version and retain its full version status. Please send any bug reports or suggestions to http://www.implicitsoftware.com/Support.html or reply to this thread.

If you would like to purchase the full version of iSS Calc Pro it is available here:

http://www.wireless-apps.net/desc.php?d=d1&id=220717&t=iSS%20Calculator%20Pro&com=Implicit%20Software%20Solutions%20Inc

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google's new web browser Chrome Beta released


First things first - get it here: http://www.google.com/chrome/index.html

Google has released the public beta of its new web browser Chrome today. So far its been an excellent experience for me.

There are few features to take note of right away.

First is the interface - its bare bones and uncluttered which is exactly how I like it. IE 7 wasted far too much screen space in my opinion.

Second - the HTML rendering. Each web browser does things a little differently and Chrome is no exception. It seems to have a very accurate rendering engine which means it won't hide coding errors like Internet Explorer (I spotted one already because of Chrome).

Third - The home page defaults to a Google landing page that shows you your most visited websites. Purely brilliant. This will quickly become a must have feature for other browsers in my opinion.

Fourth (and final for now) is the view source feature. It uses full color syntax highlighting. And better yet - links, scripts and pictures are hyperlinks within the source meaning you can still click on them to access content - again - brilliant.

Chrome looks to be an excellent option as your new default browser. Honestly Internet Explorer and Firefox have treated me well but there's something just pleasant about using Chrome. Even if its not your new favorite it will be an excellent push for the competition to add some new features.

Microsoft and Google to follow Apple's Good Example

And its about time.

Google recently announced an on device application store for Android - Google's new cell phone platform. The first Google Android devices should be on the market later this year and they will include a working version of the app store.

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=software_development&articleId=9113759&taxonomyId=63&intsrc=kc_top

Microsoft has failed to lead or innovate but they are doing what they do well - playing catch up. The next version of Windows Mobile should also include an on device store called Skymarket. In my opinion this should have been done years ago but at as Windows Mobile developer I'm happy to see it come - regardless of how late it is. Expect to see Skymarket and Windows Mobile 7 sometime in 2009.

http://blogs.computerworld.com/microsoft_windows_mobile_app_store_to_be_called_skymarket