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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Windows Hatred To Go

So I recently upgraded my Nokia to a spiffy Cingular 8525 - also known as a HTC Hermes. This is kind of a moment for me since I've always been a big Palm fan and this 8525 is one big block of Windows Mobile. Still, the phone itself was the kind of hardware design I wanted - foldout keyboard, nice big touchscreen.

I figured Windows Mobile can't be that bad.

So last night I was syncing some MP3 files over to it while playing Oblivion. After a quick travel, Oblivion locked up and took the whole computer with it. So I rebooted the computer. I figured I would just need to go back to Windows Media Player and tell it to start syncing again.

Sadly, Windows Media Player had no idea what I was talking about. Maybe it had moved all the files over? Maybe not? It didn't really know what I meant by "did stuff". So then I picked up the phone and looked at the storage card - sure enough there were, well, some songs.

Then I launched the WMP mobile version. Files? What files? Songs? It didn't know what I meant. It couldn't see them. It could play them if I went to the song in the filesystem and then clicked on it - but once that was done the player refused to acknowledge it or any of its 100 friendly other songs as being in existence.

Being Windows - I tried rebooting the phone a few times to see if that would fix it. Nope.

Which brings me to my next point. Getting apps for this thing sucks. You never know if it will work or the app is outdated. 90% of stuff comes in a silly executable which insists on talking to ActiveSync when all you actually need is the cab file and a USB connection. I finally got Pocket Music running on the thing and ...

... the whole phone just crashes. Locks up totally. Refuses to even turn off until the battery is ripped out. After it did this like seven times I decided maybe it wasn't just coincidence that this started after Pocket Music. So this morning I removed it.

About an hour later - locked up again. Just before I installed Winamp.

Winamp, btw, throws an error message with a random assortment of letters before launching on this thing. But if it will stop crashing the phone, I'll take what I can get.

And someone was just asking me why I like my Mac so much.

Update: Right now Winamp is playing in the backgound on the phone. When I tell it to go to Winamp, it refuses.

So basically my phone is singing to me and the only way to tell it to stop will be to turn the whole thing off. Brilliant.

Update to the update: I just removed Winamp and installed GSPlayer (humorously right before Thomas recommended it). It's pretty bare bones but for me has the added functionality of actually working. And it's more user friendly than WMP.


Corvus said...

I might as well play the role of MS fanboy for you since I doubt any of the drooling variety actually visit your blog...

Dude, I totally use Windows mobile all the time and I've never had a problem. Maybe if you weren't such a Mac weenie, you would know how to use a phone! Steve Jobs is so gay, I know because a friend told me. Anyway, I don't know why you want to install all this stuff on your phone anyway, Windows mobile comes with everything I need and I'm perfectly happy.

Okay, sorry. Had to get that out of my system. I've been reading the comments on too many tech sites lately.

I used to have so much trouble trying to synch an old boss's Windows phone, I can't even tell you. Finally we figured out that if you reinstalled the latest version of ActiveSynch immediately before transferring files over, it went well. Otherwise, doooooom.

Josh said...

Most excellent rendition.

I did figure out some of the lockups were due to storing an app the card - so this might be a buggy SD card issue.

But the craptacularness which is trying to find decent Pocket PC apps is not :)

Thomas said...

I am that Windows Mobile fanboy. Sorry. I could never afford the Linux handhelds, and I outgrew PalmOS in a hurry.

These may have changed since WM5 (I'm using 4.2, what they used to call "Pocket PC 2003 SE" before they decided that maybe those long titles weren't even ironically funny), but try these apps instead:

GSPlayer for music.
TCPMP for music and video, including DivX and XviD.
GSFinder as a replacement for the built-in file-explorer.
vBar to let you close windows and switch between applications quickly.
Cabinstl will unpack and install .cab files, although it won't help you with the .exe files. However, there's a command line utility called i6comp that's floating around the Net, which is originally from Installshield, which will open them up and let you extract the .cab.

Activesync is a love/hate relationship. I love the ability to have a live update between a folder on my computer and the contents of the device's My Docs folder. I hate the instability and the memory leaks on the device side (may have been fixed in WM5, I'm not sure).

Why copy files using Media Player? Just hit Explore in Activesync, find your storage card, and dump the music directly onto it.

I understand Opera has a free mini browser if your machine has a JVM installed, and if not there are a few options (J9's good, I hear). I don't run much Java, and I use NetFront for browsing. HaaliReader is a great ebook reader.

Josh said...

See update - I just stumbled on GSPlayer. Seems to work exactly as I want it to.

I should add that hate is probably a strong word. Up until last night's car wreck, I've been cooing over this thing like it was a kitten. Thanks for the suggestions though - I'll probably add them soon.

Winkyboy said...

Just chiming in - I have WM5, here. I've never even been tempted to buy a Palm device.

BUT, I've gone through three different PocketPCs over the last X years. WM5 is really nice, but I WILL say that there will always be some weird crap going on with any pocket device - regardless of OS. The weird stuff I've found with WM5 has been tolerable.

ANYway, all that having been said, don't use default Microsoft apps on it. BLEAH. Yucky! There is a free- or shareware- or low-cost solution to EVERYthing for the PocketPC, and they're usually much better than the drivel that MS produces.

Here's an "essentials" list for me:
Iliumsoft's eWallet $
Resco File Explorer $*
Pocket XPDF
Magic Button
File Dialog Changer **
uBook (book reader)
TCPMP (media player)
PocketSand (game)

*There's a freeware file explorer out there that I used for the longest time -years- but since Resco's IS a little better and I felt like buying it...

** This is a weird one to install, but so subtly, uber-useful.

P.S. Email me if you have trouble hunting down the proper video plugins for TCPMP.

Josh said...

I've got PocketSand now - which is awesome because I'm having trouble find suitable games for it as well.

Tried Opera - Opera can't get to my gmail for some reason - removed Opera. Isn't there a hack to add tabs to PIE?

And I get the impression that were I to write a game for PPC - some people here might be willing to try it... course "were" implies I ever finish anything.

Thanks for suggestions peeps. Since GSPlayer the phone has been behaving much better.

Thomas said...

My gaming usually consists of emulators, Bejeweled, and the occasional game of PocketQuake (like Regular Quake, it's fun for about 5 minutes, but I used to have Reapers installed for short deathmatches).

There's a couple of plugins or IE shells that add tabs, and some replacement browsers. this seems to be a good overview.