Pocket PC Issues
In our October issue we discussed
backing up the PDA in case the battery discharged and a user needed to restore
party applications, like the PEAC-WMD application. The 3rd
party applications are
typically stored in main memory, which in the earlier versions of the Pocket PC
operating system, is volatile memory, or memory that is lost when power is
lost. This month I’ll discuss some
other issues related to the Pocket PC (PPC) operating system that may help
users circumnavigate some differences between the PPC environment and the
typical Windows environment.
The PPC operating system (OS) is
the Windows operating system found in the PDAs that run the PEAC-WMD
application. There are different
versions of the PPC OS, which are very similar but have some differences. These are listed only to help readers
understand that the PEAC‑WMD application will run on the different
version of the PPC OS – Pocket PC 2002, Pocket PC 2003 and Mobile 5. The Mobile 5 started showing up in summer of
2006 on PDAs and has one added benefit that is long overdue in the PPC OS, the
automatic storage of 3rd
party application in ROM so the application
is not lost when power is lost to the volatile RAM.
The memory in the PPC OS is
divided into four different types or areas:
RAM - which is volatile and
all contents are lost when power is lost.
System ROM – which is
non-volatile (persistent) and where all system applications that are provided
with the PPC OS are stored.
User ROM – which is non-volatile
and where a user can load or backup 3rd
party application or data.
Storage card – either a
Secure Digital (SD) or Compact Flash (CF) non-volatile memory card that is
removable from the device and there can be multiple storage cards used by
PDA. Some PDAs have more than one slot
available for storage cards.
Reboot /reset processes
Like any Microsoft Windows machine, there needs to be a boot-up or
actually a reboot process when things get “balled up” and the unit doesn’t seem
to respond. There are two types of
reboot or resets that can be used – a soft reset and a hard reset.
The Soft Reset just stops all
running applications and restarts the PPC OS.
Doing a soft reset should not remove any applications but if an
application was running and new data had been entered, the new data will
probably be lost. If the PPC OS is not
responding this is probably the only solution to get things going again.
There are multiple PDAs on the
market but AristaTek typically provides either the HP iPAQ, Dell Axim, or the
Tripod Data Systems RECON when a customer purchases both hardware and software
Figure 1 - Soft reset on
HP iPAQ 2000 Series
Figure 2 - Soft reset on
Dell Axim 50
- The Soft Reset can
be initiated on an HP iPAQ by momentarily depressing the switch found on the
bottom side of the PDA using the stylus.
The switch location varies from the right to left side depending on the
specific model of iPAQ (see Figure 1).
– The Soft Reset can
be initiated similar to the iPAQ, by momentarily depressing the reset button or
switch on the back of the PDA (Figure 2).
- Hold down the power
button for about 3 seconds to display a countdown counter. Continuing to press
the power button will cause a soft reset when the countdown reaches zero.
The Hard Reset not only restarts
or reboots the PPC OS, it also restores all the settings and RAM to the factory
defaults. This will delete or remove
party applications or databases that have been installed on
the PDA. If you decide to initiate a
Hard Rest, understand the consequences for it can’t be reversed!
Figure 3 – Hard reset
HP iPAQ 2000 Series
- To perform a
- Press and hold down the Calendar
and iTask buttons (two outside buttons).
- While holding down these
buttons, use the stylus to lightly press the Reset button on the
bottom of the iPAQ Pocket PC for about two seconds (see Figure 3).
- When the Pocket PC screen
begins to fade, release the Calendar and iTask buttons
first, and then remove the stylus from the Reset button.
- The Pocket PC resets and
– To perform
a hard reset:
- Press and hold the power button.
- Using the reset stylus, hold the reset button for about 2 seconds.
- Follow the instructions on the screen.
- To perform a hard
reset, press the Power
and the Start Menu
for eight to ten seconds. The reset menu will appear with a countdown warning.
Continue to hold both buttons down. When the message “Booting - - - - >”
appears, release both buttons. If a backup was previously performed the Recon
will prompt you to restore the most recent backup after the rebooting process
"X" at top right of windows is NOT EXIT
Any user that has used the Microsoft
Windows OS is accustom to exiting an application by clicking on the "X"
at the top right corner of a window.
The natural extension would be that the "X" at the top right of those PPC applications
have a similar function. But the truth
is that tapping that "X" only minimizes the application, which in the
PPC OS means the window the application is running just disappears from the
screen. It sure seems like the
application is not running anymore, but in truth it is still running.
This causes some unexpected
problems with the PPC OS that can confuse users, in fact, it can irritate the
living daylights out of most people!
The problem is that the PPC OS and all the applications, whether
built-in applications or 3rd
party applications, are running in RAM,
then eventually the PPC OS runs out of enough RAM and the system seems to quite
responding. Which is exactly what
happens, it just runs out of memory and stops responding. There are two ways to correct that
problem. First a soft reset will stop
all applications and return the system to a responsive mode. The other method, which gives the user some
control over what applications are stopped, but takes a little longer to
execute. To view what applications are
executing in memory at any time, from the Start Menu tap Settings (Figure 4),
then select Settings (Figure 5), then select the System tab at the bottom of
the screen. On the screen find and tap
the Memory icon (Figure 5).
Figure 4 – Tap the Setting entry on the Start Menu
Figure 5 – Tap the System tab and then find and tap the
On the Memory
screen, the default display is for Main Memory (Figure 6), which gives the user
some information on how memory is currently being utilized for storage of
applications and programs. To view the
currently executing applications, tap the Running Programs tab to display a
screen similar to that shown in Figure 7.
Figure 6 – The Memory screen viewing the default Main tab
Figure 7 – Tap Running Programs to display the list of
As shown in Figure 7, I need to
stop playing Solitaire
and get back to work! To stop execution, simply highlight the desired application in
the list by tapping on its name and tap the [Stop]
button below the list
of applications. The user can stop all
applications by tapping the [Stop All]
button. But remember, if synched up to a PC with ActiveSync, as shown in
Figure 7, this might have some unintended effects although normally a warning
screen will appear and allow canceling the termination of ActiveSync.
How to exit the PEAC-WMD Application
Now that we know that tapping the Ä
only minimizes the application, it should be
pointed out how to exit PEAC-WMD without having to go through the above described
process of running the Memory application.
This is done quite easily by following these instructions:
Tap the File
& Edit Menu
the bottom left of the PEAC-WMD screen (Figure 8).
Tap the Exit
selection on the list of options (Figure 9).
2007 application will terminate and free up memory for other applications to
Figure 8 – Tap the File
& Edit Menu icon to display options
Figure 9 – Tap the Exit
selection to terminate the PEAC-WMD application
Improving Battery Performance
last point that might help users with their PDAs and using the PEAC-WMD
application is how to extend their battery performance. One of the things that some customers have
experienced is unsatisfactory battery performance that was due to leaving their
wireless features turned on all the time.
In some cases the customer wasn’t aware they had either the Bluetooth
and/or the Wi-Fi (802.11) wireless feature turned on. How that feature is turned ON or OFF varies depending on the PPC
OS, but I’ll try to give an example that should be similar if your PPC is
There are a lot of different iPAQs on the market but the example I’m using is
the iPAQ 5550 which has been out of production for a couple of years. On the front of the iPAQ 5550 there are
three LEDs at the top left (Figure 10).
If the center LED (blue in color) is ON, then a wireless feature
(Bluetooth in the iPAQ 5550) feature is turned on and that requires additional
power or reduced battery life. In
addition there is normally an icon at the bottom of the screen that can be
tapped to display the small window as shown in Figure 10. That allows the user to turn ON/OFF the
wireless feature. The icon will appear
differently on those units having the Wi-Fi option plus the Bluetooth feature.
Figure 10 – Bluetooth LED
on iPAQ 5550
Figure 11 – Accessing the
Bluetooth status via Settings|System and Bluetooth application icon
user can also access the Bluetooth status via Settings|System
tapping the Bluetooth application icon.
That will display a screen similar to Figure 11, and the user can turn
ON/OFF the Bluetooth wireless feature.
other PDAs there should be similar screen icons or built-in applications that
provide comparable control over the wireless features available on the
device. Turning these systems off when
not in use will extend battery performance.
on commercial aircraft with PDAs
you travel and take your PDA with wireless capabilities on a commercial
aircraft, then when the crew asks you to turn off electronic equipment,
remember that turning off the display on a PPC doesn’t turn off the device, it
just turns off the display. To keep the
aircrew happy, be sure you have turned OFF the wireless features and then turn
off the display. Your PDA is always
running when a charged battery is installed, turning off the display just helps
to reduce the power drain on the battery.