of How to Do Everything with Windows Mobile, by Frank McPherson (Softcover, 2006)|
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
If you have a mobile computer (for example, a PocketPC) that runs on a Windows platform, you probably found the instruction manual grossly inadequate. I know I did. I also found some basic, expected functionality missing from my PocketPC and immediately set about finding third-party applications to resolve those deficiencies.
Along the way, I found out just how frustrating it is to set up or even use a mobile computer without something other than just the manual to serve as an information source.
What a jewel I found in this book on Windows Mobile! Most computer-related books are either way too simple to be of any use, or they are written for people who don't need a manual in the first place. This one is targeted squarely at the typical user.
I have a real problem with "newbie" books that assume you can't read a display menu. This book doesn't start at that point. It starts with the assumption you don't live under a rock and aren't too lazy to click a few things to see what they do. It also doesn't assume you have an advanced degree in computer programming. My first reaction when reading this was, "Pinch me--I must be dreaming!" Definitely a great value for every penny spent and definitely worth the time spent reading it.
The book is arranged logically, with five major parts. Part One focuses on the "get started" issues. It starts off by explaining the Windows Mobile platform. It then provides some basics about the devices that run on Windows Mobile, so you're not lost in later sections. After this, it explains various settings--what they mean and what you can do with them. It ends by addressing specifics with Smartphones.
Part II helps you master using your laptop or desktop PC with your Windows Mobile device. I found this extraordinarily helpful, because the manual for my device left me to bumble and stumble in needless pain and misery. But now, I am very comfortable using my laptop to manage my Pocket PC. If you are wondering what the heck "manage" means in this context, you need to read this book!
One operation I don't do is synchronization--I find that far too scary. What if it wipes out the files on the computer? The first time I tried this process, it created all kinds of problems and I had to restore my computer's calendar and e-mail from a backup. To prevent a disaster, I now use my laptop rather than my desktop to do things on my Pocket PC.
A weakness in the book is it doesn't explain how to selectively synchronize. It gives a hint, though--setting up a special mail profile for this may solve the problem of unwanted "updates." But it doesn't address this problem directly. The synchronization function needs to be fixed, so that a person can use it without the risk of losing data. A well-explained workaround would have been nice.
Part III addresses many issues I don't care about and that don't affect people who have broadband service with their Pocket PC. If you have to use a dialup, though, this information is indispensable.
Part IV talks mostly about various applications that strike me as laptop or desktop stuff. For example, running spreadsheets and databases on your Pocket PC. Maybe my view is just too narrow. To me, the small screen and tiny keyboard mean you pretty much stick to calling, e-mailing, and doing minor text work. In an age where 21-inch CRTs and 17-inch LCDs dominate desktops, it seems ridiculous to try to cram those same applications into a screen that is 1.75 x 2.75 inches. If you can't have a laptop with you, then maybe the actual work can wait. It may seem unbelievable, but there was a time when people weren't expected to respond to a call 24 hrs a day and were expected to go back to the office to update a file.
Throughout the book, there are resource recommendations with accurate URLs provided. I followed up on many of these and found some excellent applications at reasonable prices.
If you are looking at any kind of computer/phone combo, get this book first. Yes, that applies to thinking about a Blackberry or PalmPilot, too. I was originally going to buy a Blackberry, but my product research led me to select a PocketPC instead. I have never regretted that choice. I bought this book several months after buying my device (I didn't know there was such a book, until then). My only regret is that I didn't buy it sooner.