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Personal Data Assistants (PDA)
Great utilities for your handheld computer

John Woody is a net working communications consultant specializing in small office, home office networks, training setup, and internet connectivity.

Michael Espinoza is owner of Technology Coaching, a training and consulting firm that specializes in the PDA market. He co-chairs the PDA SIG with John Woody.

The built in applications in the Palm OS and Pocket PC OS handhelds are great but add-on utilities can make your handheld device even more useful for you.

Palm OS Utilities

Letís start out with a company called Chapura. This company makes the software, Pocket Mirror, which synchronizes your Palm with Microsoft Outlook as well as other great utilities. Pocket Mirror comes free with the Palm units and works great but it is a standard version of the software and some users may require more features standard versions. Chapura makes a PocketMirror Professional.

With PocketMirror Professional software, you can do all the things you do with the standard version, store and organize your information in Microsoft Outlook and synchronize it with your Palm OS handheld. 

What makes it different from the standard version is:

Synchronize Public Folders and Subfolders
PocketMirror Professional does not synchronize e-mail, the Palm includes a utility to do that that must be set up and installed separately, it does let you carry personal or corporate information with you by synchronizing public folders and subfolders in Microsoft Outlook Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes with the Date Book, Address List, To Do List and Memo Pad on your Palm OS handheld. For those that work in a Microsoft exchange environment and use public folders this utility is useful.

Change Default Folders
If you use some Outlook folders more often than you use the default Outlook folders, PocketMirror Professional lets you use your preferred folders as the default Outlook folders.

Synchronize and Sort by Calendar Category
Chapura includes a free calendar with PocketMirror that allows you to keep multiple schedules in the same handheld calendar as your schedule. You can organize and sort them by category, something that is not available in the Palm OS Date Book

Chapura's PocketJournal
PocketJournal software synchronizes your handheld with Microsoft Outlook Journal. For those users that use the Journal feature in Microsoft Outlook this product is a good extension. PocketJournal helps you use Outlook and your Palm OS handheld as the contact management tool that Microsoft Outlook can be for many people. PocketJournal logs your latest phone calls, meetings, and other activities to your Outlook Journal (Figure 2). 

PocketJournal will:

  • Filter only selected information on the handheld, allowing all the other journal information stored in Outlook Journal on your PC 
  • You can view your history of activities by sorting multiple ways.
    • Contact 
    • Company 
    • Subject 
    • Type 
    • Date 
  • Change journal information in either your handheld or Outlook and synchronize the information.
  • Synchronize multiple handhelds to the same Outlook profile to share current and identical data with a group of people 
  • Support synchronizing to the same Exchange Server folders from any PC connected to the server
Jibe by Chapura
For those of you who want to sync your contact information in Microsoft Outlook Express with the Palm Desktop and youíre handheld. Jibe will allow you to synchronize:
  • Microsoft Outlook Express Address Book, 
  • Palm Desktop Address Book, 
  • Palm OS handheld Address Book. 

The built-in 2-way synchronization between the Palm Desktop Software and your Palm OS handheld maintains the synchronization for the rest of your contact information, like phone numbers and street addresses.

You can add, change or delete information on your handheld, Palm Desktop or Microsoft Outlook Express. Jibe will make sure Outlook and your Palm desktop software is synchronized and it also allows you to synchronize more than one handheld to the same PC. Remember that this software does not synchronize e-mail, you still must use the software supplied by Palm.

KeyContacts from Chapura
This is a replacement product for the Palm OS build-in address book. If you use Outlook and want to carry more of your Microsoft Outlook Contacts information on your Palm OS handheld, this product will do that for you. Many people use Outlook as their contact manager and the Palm will not carry all the information that they need. Key contact will:
  • Synchronize 40 more Contact fields than you can with the Palm Address Book on the handheld.
  • Match over 250 categories in Outlook with categories on the handheld
  • Store a contact in multiple categories in a handheld folder for easy organization and quick access.
  • Allow names to contain over 250 characters.
  • Allow category links established in PocketMirror Professional to be transferred into KeyContacts. 
  • Allow folder Synchronization 
  • Synchronize folders in Outlook with folders on the handheld. 
  • Transfer an unlimited number of Outlook Contacts folders, including subfolders and public folders, to KeyContacts on the handheld.
  • View phone numbers in standard or detailed list format.
  • Customize colors for the background, text, banding and the selection on the handheld.

Chapura has some great utilities for the Palm OS market and they solve some of the issue that many users have with their devices. Chapura utilities are not free, you may what to check out more details or try their trial software at chapura.com.
Pocket PC utilities
These are all utilities that are free on the Microsoft site.

Many of them are in a bundle called the PowerToys for the Pocket PC. These software tools are useful if you are comfortable with the Windows Powered Pocket PC devices. Remember that Microsoft states that these utilities are "as is," and are not supported by Microsoft. Microsoft Technical Support is unable to answer questions about PowerToys and use of these unsupported tools is at your own risk.

Theme Generator v2.0 for Pocket PC 2002
The utility allows you to personalize your Pocket PC 2002 OS.
Pocket PC 2002 Themes give you control over the look and feel of your Pocket PC 2002. The Theme Generator allows you to choose the background picture, the start menu graphic, and assign colors to menus, messages, and navigation bars. Once you have created some great themes they can be easily applied. You can also share them with other Pocket PC 2002 owners simply by beaming them to each other. 
Features include
  • ;Image Editing 
  • Modify the background image
  • Theme Switcher 
  • A today page plug-in that will automatically switch the today theme 
  • View Pocket PC themes directly on the desktop.

Remote Display Control for Pocket PC
With the Remote Display Control application, you can display actions on a Pocket PC, including user input, remotely on the display of a desktop or laptop personal computer. This allows you to demonstrate a Pocket PC to large and small groups. You can also use this utility to test applications for the Pocket PC on a larger screen. Remote Display Control uses TCP/IP, and it can work with ActiveSync connections via Ethernet or dial-up.

Microsoft Power Contacts for Pocket PCs
Power Contacts allows you to add the following options to the Contacts pop-up menu:

  1. Create Appointment 
  2. Create Task 
  3. Open Web Page

Microsoft Today Screen Image Tool for Pocket PCs
This utility allows you to customize your Today Screen with your favorite graphic.
Microsoft Internet Explorer Tools for Pocket PCs
 With is utility you can adjust Internet Explorer settings on your Pocket PC. You can:
  • Enable/disable JScript support.
  • Change the amount of storage available for temporary Internet files.

Outlook 2002 Add-in: Pocket Contact Synchronizer
One issue with the synchronizing process between the contacts in Outlook and the Pocket PC is that only one folder gets synchronized.

With the Pocket Contact Synchronizer utility you can synchronize contacts any contact folder you specify. This allows you to synchronize a public folder that contains company information. Pocket Contact Synchronizer allows you to synchronize as many contact folders as you want.
Pocket Contact Synchronizer does not synchronize contacts directly to your Pocket PC.  It copies contacts from the folders you specify into your default contacts folder in Outlook. This is a one-way synchronization, and a duplicate set of contacts is created. Microsoft has many lines of notes on this utility, please check the web site and read these notes. 
These are just a small example of the utilities available for Palm and Pocket PC. I think these are very useful utilities and I will be including more utilities in upcoming articles. If you know of useful utilities for the Palm or Pocket PC please e-mail.

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