PocketPC essential applications

It’s like 93 degrees out right now. We could head out to the pool, but Eric and I are just as happy to putter around the house enjoying the air conditioning. We’ve been running around nonstop for days. Every now and then, it’s nice to have a “do nothing” day.

So that’s just the kind of day that it’s not so bad to be forced to hard reset both your PocketPC and your default browser (Firefox). Both gave up the ghost in the last 24 hours, forcing me to start over. That’s sometimes a good thing…gets rid of all the cobwebs that creep in if you’re the type that likes to add new plug-ins and customizations as I am. Makes you decide what’s important and what’s not worth reinstalling.

Yesterday, my Axim PocketPC decided that it was time for a hard reset. How did I know? Well, I installed a piece of software (a public beta version of [Phatware’s Calligrapher](http://www.phatware.com/calligrapher/index.html)). At the end of the install I did a soft reset as the installer requires and everything got wiped. I have no idea how it happened. Maybe my hand was on the power button and I didn’t realize it. Hard resets of a PocketPC device are much easier to deal with compared to Palm OS resets. Unlike the Palm OS, you’re not restoring what may be buggy data. Reinstalling fresh applications is as easy as clicking a button. A little annoying to reset preferences and enter serial numbers again. Took 20 minutes to get back up where I left off, minus that piece of beta software. I keep all my data on the external SD card or the desktop so no panic about losing anything.

What applications made the cut on my PocketPC? Read on.

As much as I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different applications on my Axim, and it’s that install/uninstall merry-go-round that probably screwed up my Axim in the first place, there are only a handful of apps that had to be reinstalled immediately:

[spb’s Pocket Plus](http://www.spbsoftwarehouse.com/products/pocketplus/?en). One of the first PocketPC applications I tried and bought and still the only launcher I like. I keep it simple. One tab for the guages…battery, care & memory space, brightness. One tab for my application icons. That’s it. Minimal space.

[spb’s Diary](http://www.spbsoftwarehouse.com/products/diary/?en). [Pocket Breeze](http://www.sbsh.net/products/pocketbreeze/) is the most popular in this class but I find Diary far superior. It lets you see your appointments, tasks and contacts on the Today screen. Pocket Breeze is bigger and more complicated with pages and pages of preferences. Diary is simple, and gets the job done. Easier to configure, better interface.

spb diary

My favorite feature is the “contacts” screen, illustrated above. Let’s say you want to call your friend, John Doe. You tap the letters on the screen just below the window. First name, last, company or whatever. d-o-e and you dynamically get the best results for those letters. It’s scary accurate and fast. Similar to the way Spotlight or iTunes does its searching thing. I would love if I could make those letters bigger so I could tap them with my fingers instead of the stylus.

Now that I have a Bluetooth cell phone (Motorola v551), there are only a few contacts on the phone. Those people I call all the time. No point in putting everyone else on there and have another device to sync with. Instead, I use spb Diary’s contact window to find the contact I want to call, then hold down on the name and select “Dial via Bluetooth” on the menu to send the number and dial the phone. Easy.

Pocket Plus and Diary are what separates a PDA from a cool little toy into an extension of my hand that I use everyday for everything.

[WebIS Pocket Informant](http://pocketinformant.com/products_info.php?p_id=pi&dir=wm). Keeps getting better.

[Landware PocketQuicken](http://www.landware.com/pocketquicken/ppc/index.html). I’m a little annoyed that version 2.5 is out for Palm OS but not PocketPC yet, but still an essential application for me.

[Resco Explorer](http://www.resco.net/pocketpc/explorer/default.asp). I got the utility package that includes the photo viewer and other utilities, but this is the one that I restore first. It’s the only way to get around a PocketPC device.

[Astraware’s Bejeweled 2](http://www.astraware.com/ppc/featured/bejeweled2/?skucode=0079-000-0167). Beyond addicting. The only game I bother with anymore.

[Siber System’s Roboform](http://www.roboform.com/wince.html). Essential password manager.

That’s all I need for my PocketPC to be completely functional. Everything else I use (Messenging, PocketIE, Word, etc.) comes on the device by default. The rest is eye candy and toys and can wait.