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Perspicacious Pocket PCs

One Totally Biassed “Recommendation”

In addition to the software described below, I needed a reliable, easy-to-use, Pocket PC file encryption package, so I wrote my own. I dubbed it “Crippin” for some obscure reason which escapes me for the moment. Something to do with PINs and encription I think. Or maybe I just thought it would be a better way of hiding incriminating evidence than that used by the infamous Dr. Crippen. I’ll let you decide.

Crippin was intended to protect confidential information in case the Pocket PC is lost or stolen. It’s been designed to be…

  1. quick-and-easy to use
  2. small (minimal executable size)
  3. miserly (with respect to storage required both during and after encryption)
  4. secure (using RSA encryption)

Most Crippin-encrypted files are less than half the size of the originals, so it can be used purely for compression too.

With Crippin, you only need to type a password once in order to open an encrypted file, edit it and re-encrypt it. You do have to remember to close and re-encrypt the file you’re editing, but that only takes a few taps of the screen so is not too onerous. The relevant dialogues pop up automatically too, so you don’t have to do too much task switching. Similarly, if encrypting a number of files with the same password, that password only has to be typed once for each file (no secondary confirmation is required).

I routinely use Crippin to secure my passwords, PINs and any other sensitive information (stored in Pocket Excel spreadsheets and in Notes files), and to compress letters (stored as Pocket Word documents) and bitmap images (‘.BMP’ files).

You can download a freeware version from PocketPCCity. It’s just like the full one, but with passwords limited to 2 characters in length. If you need a bit more security, buy the full version at Share-It! If you do try it out, let me know how you get on with it.

Other Recommended Freeware

The packages below are all freeware, and most will work on all versions of the Pocket PC. Some only work on older versions, and some only on newer ones. I’ve tried to indicate which are which, but check the respective web sites to make sure.

Where possible, I’ve linked to the authors’ own sites, but some are no longer active and some no longer have free versions available for download. In these cases, I’ve included links to shareware sites which still have copies of the free versions. Please let me know if any of the links don’t work.

Games

  • Dots. The classic pen-and-paper game.
  • HangHim. A version of the classic Hang-Man game with customisable word lists.
  • FreeMine. Another classic game. Minesweeper, this time.
  • Pac-Man. Cool and true-to-the-original, but doesn’t work on old Pocket PCs unless you overwrite the supplied ‘gx.dll’ with the appropriate updated version from Microsoft.
  • CubicleChaos. A good quality arcade game from Microsoft.
  • Peter's Casino 1. The old free version of a shareware game pack, with a selection of classic casino games. Unfortunately it doesn’t work all that well with newer Pocket PCs.
  • Peter's Gamebox 2.5. Again, this is an old freeware version of a shareware game pack with a few arcade-style games, and again it doesn’t like modern Pocket PCs that much.
  • Chess. Fast and difficult to beat (at least when you’re as bad at chess as I am), but it only runs on modern Pocket PCs.
  • PocketChess for PPC. A good, but not so flashy, chess program for older Pocket PCs. The last free version was 1.1.

Multimedia

  • XnView Pocket. A very nice image viewer with editing capabilities.
  • NeFa Mobile Pencil. A good ‘painting’ program for the more artistically inclined.
  • The Core Pocket Media Player (TCPMP). The best Pocket PC video player I know of.
  • RealPlayer Mobile. Less intrusive than the PC version, and plays Real media effectively.
  • Microsoft Reader. Originally shipped as a part of the operating system, but now available as a separate download. A very usable method of reading electronic books in ‘.LIT’ format.
  • Michisoft Reader Studio. Freeware to produce ‘.LIT’ files compatible with Microsoft Reader. It works and is easy to use.
  • AvantGo. Automatic news and information delivery while synchronising your Pocket PC.

Today Plugins

  • tdLaunch. An application launcher which is configurable and compatible with a wide range of devices.
  • tAgenda. A good way of displaying your appointments on older devices.
  • TodaysInfo. Shows battery and storage status in a neat and skinnable fashion.
  • TodayAgenda. Like tAgenda, but more advanced. Unfortunately it doesn’t work on older Pocket PCs.

System Tools

  • Microsoft ActiveSync. Hardly needs mentioning as it’s the default method for communicating between desktop and Pocket PCs, but it’s worth checking for updates from time to time.
  • ActiveSync Toggle. A simple PC utility to turn off ActiveSync when you don’t want it.
  • WISBar Advance 1.x. Since the original WISBar disappeared from the InterWeb, this freeware derivative is one of the best task managers for older Pocket PCs.
  • MagicButton. A relative newcomer, this free task manager still has some minor bugs, but is still the easiest to use on newer Pocket PCs.
  • GSFinder+. A much more powerful substitute for the standard File Explorer.
  • Microsoft Transcriber. Handwriting recognition input method to make note-taking easier.
  • Where is my RAM? (WIMR). Keeps track of which folders are hogging your device’s memory.
  • ClearTemp. Just create a shortcut to this application and each time you perform a soft reset, your temporary files will get cleaned out.
  • Tascal RegEdit (TRE). A good registry editor with the ability to import and export registry entries to text files. Makes it easy to maintain settings when upgrading.
  • Eval. Not really a system tool, but it is a very neat, powerful, and easy to use calculator.
  • Microsoft eMbedded Visual Tools 3.0. The best way of developing applications for the full range of Pocket PCs.
  • StephBel Format. Formats storage cards if you want to.


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