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Calgary Select: Windows Mobile Computing

Freedom for the IT professional - Pocket PC / Smartphone

Although the title for this section may seem odd at first glance it really is not once you have gotten deeper into this subject.

Windows Mobile refers to the pocket pc that comes in the shape of either a PDA or a smartphone like the UTstarcom PPC6700. It is the 6700 that I want to expound on a little.ustarcom.bmp As an IT person, part of my job is to monitor critical systems and also stay in touch with critical customers. For a long time I had been eyeing the Blackberry but really all that gave me was email access.  I needed more. Enter the 6700 with the full Windows Mobile OS.

One of the great features of the pocket pc is it's ability to provide a Terminal Server session. This means I can either remotely control servers or use my desktop back at my office. This is where the freedom part comes in, because now I can roam farther afield and not feel like I am too far away to respond to an urgent situation.

Another major aspect of my new communication tool, is it's ability to not only surf the Internet at a reasonably good speed but also I can set up Exchange Server email on it and also standard pop3 email. This completely avoids having to use third party proprietary servers (like the Blackberry).

UTkeyboard.jpgGauging by the marketing around this device it seems destined to be the new standard for 2006. For anyone needing Windows compatability this seems to be a great tool. There is a bit of a learning curve in setting it up for your personal use but the advantages outweigh the downsides. Speaking of downsides, I am quickly discovering the challenge of dealing with these micro keyboards. Again not insurmountable as "freedom is worth it".

 

 

The picture on the left is 4 inches wide which is about what the phone is.

Tips

As I learn how to use my pocket pc I will try to post some tips here:

How to delete a POP account that you misnamed or simply don't want anymore. Get to the Options menu and using your stylus hold on the account and a small menu will pop up with the delete option.

Bubble Breaker is highly addictive fun. If I was a commuter this alone would make it for me.

 

I spent much of this past weekend configuing an Exchange Server. Part of that was to get my pocket pc to talk to the Exchange server.  After a little tussle with configuring the software, my pocket pc now gets my calendar, tasks etc directly from the Exchange server. The software that does this is called Activesync and intially it wanted to communicate using SSL which then caused a problem because we were not using a recognized root certificate ( no need to spend the money as the server is purely internal to our operation).

The trick was to configure it to not use SSL during the server configuration part of setting up Activesync.  Another thing that threw me for a brief loop was initially the Activesync would time out. Finally I noticed that it was waiting for a response not on my pc but on the pocket pc. It wanted my user name and password. Once I got past that, it worked flawlessly. 

One other item to note, if you are not running Small Business Server R2 or have not upgraded to Exchange Service pack 2 then when you try to sync your pocket pc, it will not give you the option to sync up your Exchange based "Tasks" folder.

Next on my list of things to try with this is the new push technology, which will make my pocket pc a lot more like a Blackberry. I plan on using a wireless connection to do that.