StarTap / Explorer (real soon!)|
Explorer is the other great missing piece in CE for the PPC. StarTap / Explorer will present the familiar two-pane view of the contents of your "disk(s)," with directories shown above and files below, in resizable window panes. View files as Large icons, Small icons, or Details; sort by Name, Type, Size, or Date, and Delete, Cut, Copy, and Paste to your heart's content. Like StarTap itself, this is ordinary stuff for a desktop, but it's a huge improvement for the PPC.
Probably the simplest application we'll do, but it's handy. The program presents a simple, LARGE numeric keypad, with a simple numeric display. Enter a time in minutes, and you've got an alarm set. Turn off the water, let the dogs back in, whatever it is, you'll be reminded.
Some of those "single use" long distance services (like 10-10-321) really are a good deal, but, oy! all those digits! The speed dial on the phones I have can't even handle the 18 digits that are necessary now. Also, Contacts is great, but finding the contact I want out of the 400 or so that I have on my machine is a pain. Phone Dialer lets you Import a selected list of Favorite contacts from your main list, and then makes it painless to dial those numbers (optionally) using one of several long distance services. (Yes, the little speakers on these things really can dial phones!)
Clock / Calendar
If you have the AC adapter that attaches to your PPC's cradle, then you can leave it on and "synched" all the time you're working at your desktop. Let it do some useful function while it's there! This little app shows a LARGE digital clock at the top, and a LARGE calendar of the month at the bottom, with indicators for appointments each day. Tap on a day with your finger to open your usual Calendar display for that day.
A couple of times a week I download a slew of opinion columns to my PPC. Also, I have several of Project Gutenberg's novels on it (I'm working on Moby Dick at the moment). Consequently, I no longer suffer fear and loathing of doctors' waiting rooms. I know that I can keep myself entertained for the duration. The program that makes this work is BookWorm, from ICL Software.
This program has been a Godsend, but it has a whole laundry list of annoying rough edges. We can do better.
Books on Tape
Really! A 45 minute tape comes to about 2.5 MB in Wav format, and with an earphone, the sound is great (well, more than adequate!). But there's no way to keep your place with a simple application like Voice Recorder. I don't know if this application will ever catch on, but it's a slick demonstration of what these little devices are capable of!
NoteTaker is fine if you just want to work on one document, but you want to cut and paste between two? I don't think so. NotePad can be started as several instances, and probably has many other nice things to be said about it, too. More later.
This is actually a weak point in '95 and NT, as well. Communicating to the machine that you want to associate THIS kind of file (extension) with THAT application, so that you can double click and open it, is complex, counterintuitive, fraught with danger, and generally a pain in the neck. SysInfo gives the user direct access to a surprising number of things that can be set or changed to make your PPC work the way YOU want it to.
Nothing surprising here, except it's a pretty trivial program to create, and we can do a better job than the other guys!