Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Published by sylvia on 03 Feb 2011

RSS to Calibre to Kindle 3

I am totally hooked on getting subscriptions to my Kindle via Calibre now, and it motivated me to tackle something I’ve been eyeing for months: an RSS feed. Since I was able to get Calibre to subscribe to some periodicals and painlessly (and automagically) email them to my Kindle, if Calibre is an RSS reader and I can figure out how to use it, I could subscribe to RSS sites and blogs as well. That motivated me to overcome my fear of RSS and intimidation by Calibre and see if it was possible.

Fortunately for my budget, I bought the WiFi Kindle 3 instead of the 3G version. I had wanted the 3G version, but it was more expensive. The 3G version has wider-ranging Internet access, but with WiFi at my home and in more and more hotels and restaurants, I don’t anticipate I’ll be going anywhere that I would be without WiFi access, and receiving Kindle-formatted documents via WiFi is free. The 3G version charges for most deliveries.

I googled RSS feed and was drowned in hits, but while I finally figured out that RSS is just a standard so different readers can use the same material, I didn’t find anything about using Calibre as an RSS reader. So I posted my question on the Amazon Kindle discussion board. As often happens, some helpful people with more experience with Calibre jumped in and told me just what to do. It turned out to be fairly straightforward, once I was told that the important part was to copy the RSS link into the URL box under “Add custom news source” and I could “name” it whatever I wanted.

The next entry contains detailed instructions for those who need straightforward “click here and type this” instructions like I did!

Published by sylvia on 03 Feb 2011

RSS/periodicals to Calibre to Kindle 3 Instructions

Following are the “RSS/Periodicals to Calibre to Kindle 3” instructions for dummies we found to work. Thanks so much to “Tegan” on the Amazon discussion board for her contribution!

First, download and install Calibre for your operating system. The following instructions assume Calibre for Windows; if you use a different OS, I hope you’ll be able to find the corresponding buttons.

Click on “Preferences.” Under “Behavior,” CHECK the box by “Automatically send downloaded news to ebook reader.” For the time being, do NOT click on the next “delete news” box. Once your system is functioning correctly, you can come back and check this box if you don’t want to keep a copy of your downloads on your computer. Set the “preferred output format” to whatever your ebook reader needs. For the Kindle, it’s .mobi format. The “preferred input format” doesn’t really matter, Calibre will figure it out any time you run a conversion. Click the green “Apply” button in the top left corner.

Click on “Common Options” and then “Output Profile” and select “Kindle.” Click “Apply.”

Click on “Sharing books by email” and then “Add email.” Enter the email of your Kindle and select .MOBI as the format. Check the “Auto Send” box. If you have a gmail or hotmail account, you can easily use that to send files to your Kindle. Click on “Use Gmail” or “Use Hotmail” at the right and enter your email address and password. Leave the Mail Server settings alone. If you want to use another email account, you will need to either figure out the server settings and enter them, or set up a gmail or hotmail account and use it. There is a “Test email” button but I can’t figure out how it is supposed to work. Click “Apply” and then “Close.”

Go to your “Manage Your Kindle” at and page down to the “Your Kindle Approved E-mail List” section. Under “Enter an approved e-mail address,” type the email you told Calibre to use to send files to the Kindle and then click “Add Address.” Unless you want to spend money having Amazon convert documents for you, also go to the next section, “Your Personal Document Charge Limit,” and enter 0.00 as the most you authorize spending on sending documents to the Kindle.

Now you are ready to send something to your Kindle! Click on “Fetch News” and then click on the triangle to the left of the language in which you want to see available periodicals. Select something that doesn’t require a User ID and password but is fairly static, such as Anchorage Daily News or Business Week. Do NOT click the “Schedule for download” button, just click on the “Download now” bar near the bottom right corner, then “Save.” You should see “Jobs: 1” and a whirling black circle in the bottom right corner of the main Calibre page. When the black circle stops whirling and you see “Jobs: 0” then you should also see the name of the publication at the top of the list of “books.”

Wait a few minutes and then turn on your Kindle and turn on WiFi, or go somewhere that has WiFi. Within a few minutes, you should have the periodical on your Kindle! If you don’t, go back and check the above settings, especially the Kindle email address and the “sender” email address you typed into Calibre – make sure they are correct and match the ones in your Manage My Kindle page.

Now you can set up the publications you really want to get delivered regularly. Click on “Fetch News” and then click on the triangle to the left of the language in which you want to see available periodicals. Select the first periodical. If it requires a UserID and password, you’ll have to go to the site and subscribe before you can set Calibre to get it automatically. If not, click on the “Schedule for download” box and select how often you want to get it, either every certain number of days or a certain day of the week. Weekly or monthly magazines you will probably check for less often than a daily paper. Once you have set frequencies for the desired periodicals, click “Save” and you are done. But you will need to leave Calibre open and connected to the Internet for it to get the periodicals on the schedule you want.

There may also be periodicals and/or blogs that you want to collect regularly but that are not on Calibre’s list. You can add them as a custom source. Click on the little down-pointing triangle to the right of the “Fetch News” button, then click on “Add a custom news source.” This is where the built-in Calibre instructions left me totally baffled. Ignore everything on the left side for the moment. On the right, look for the “recipe title” field and enter the name you want the generated book to show up as. The Oldest Article and Max. number of articles can stay the way they are for the moment.

Go to the site of the blog or periodical you want to add. If there is an RSS button, click on it and copy the http address given. If there is no RSS button, copy the COMPLETE http line at the top of the browser. In Firefox the RSS feed shows up in the URL bar automatically if it can find a feed for the website. At the bottom, where it says, “Add Feed to Recipe” type in the title of your feed (the blog or periodical name) and then paste the URL you copied into the second box. Then click “Add Feed.” You can add multiple blogs to the same one (although I prefer to have a recipe for each blog), so you have a book of blogs. When all your blogs are in the feed list, go to the left side and click “Add/Update Recipe.” The new recipe should show up in the list on the left. Now, go back to the main window, click on Fetch News, and look under “Custom.” You should see your new recipe there. Click on “Download Now” at the bottom of the right side, and see what comes up in Calibre. When you have it working, you can set it for automatic download just like the preregistered periodicals above.

Please feel free to leave comments on whether this worked for you, or if you think something should be added or changed!

Published by sylvia on 02 Feb 2011

Thoroughly hooked on my new Kindle 3

I’ve really wanted a Kindle for months, but I didn’t *need* one. I am able to read tons of free eBooks from on my PDA, an old Toshiba e800 running Vade Mecum. I wanted the Kindle in addition for two reasons: first, so when my DH and I go somewhere together, I could take along something for him to read so he doesn’t get cranky; and second, to be able to take along a ton of books in a very small space when travelling (Amazon says Kindle’s capacity is 3500 average books; my PDA can only store 2-3 before impacting the rest of its functions). Many people rave about Kindle’s e-Ink technology being incredibly easy to read. I never had a problem reading my backlighted, color PDA, so that aspect didn’t influence me. After getting my Kindle, I found a lot of free or very-low-priced eBooks for the Kindle on itself, but nothing so compelling that it made the Kindle a must-have. I don’t have a problem reading the Kindle, but I don’t find it better or worse than my PDA. (Its battery use is sure more efficient, though. The instructions say it can go a month without needing a charge if you leave the WiFi off!)

Now, however, I’ve discovered periodical subscriptions, and the Kindle may have to join the PDA in my purse whenever leaving the house. I like reading magazines and newspapers, but I don’t need more paper piling up in my house, and newspapers are messy and awkward to get folded as I read through them.

I started with four subs through Home Business, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, and the Denver Post. I actually live 100 miles north of Denver, but our local paper is a bad joke. Amazon starts all Kindle subscriptions with a 14-day free trial, which I thought was a great idea, and I was curious to see what was included and how easy or difficult it was to read through a periodical on a small eReader.

I also started a thread on Amazon’s Kindle discussion board, asking what other users had thought about the subscription option. One responder mentioned getting subscriptions free through Calibre, a program I was already using to convert eBooks in other formats to Kindle format. But Calibre is a much fancier program than I am used to using, and frankly it intimidates me. So I hesitantly poked around it and I was able to find its capability to grab publications and send them to my Kindle. I actually knew my Kindle’s email address, so I entered that, and used my address for Calibre to send the files from. I cancelled my trials for Denver Post, Reader’s Digest, and Newsweek, and set them up to come via Calibre instead.

This morning, I got some lovely email messages from Amazon that there were files ready to download onto my Kindle, and the names are the ones I set up on Calibre. I’m going to skim the subscription files before downloading the Calibre files, since they may overwrite the Amazon files and I want to compare apples to apples. Stay tuned for further developments!

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets way too much spam each day. I’m eager for comments pro or con, but please Email me at mamasylvia at mamasylvia dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.

Published by sylvia on 13 Aug 2010

Vade Mecum on my Toshiba e800 redux

I definitely like this eBook reader, and I’ve been able to download many titles from Gutenberg to use with it. But I have a few books that I like to re-read enough to fuss with getting them into a readable eBook format, so I tried that tonight. I’m not sure how, but I found a Plucker site that included what sounded like files to convert .html files into Plucker-readable files. I found the descriptions seriously unclear but downloaded the “Plucker Desktop Installer Package” and installed it on my Windows 7 laptop. But from there on, I was stumped. I started reading the help file and got as far as running Python to parse the file and gave up. I don’t know what Python is or how to install it or what I needed the “Plucker Desktop Installer Package” for if Python was going to “parse” it. The download page had mentioned what sounded like an easier-to-use program, SunriseXP, so I downloaded and installed that. (Unsurprisingly, the SunriseXP page included a warning that “This product has reached the end of its lifespan and will no longer be updated” but I didn’t care as long as it worked.) The original download page included a link to a SunriseXP tutorial that I started working through. And I was able to convert one web page with some old detective stories into what I hoped was a Plucker-readable file. But when I copied it onto my PDA, Vade Mecum didn’t recognize it as a Plucker file. I edited the filename to the same format as the Gutenberg files that it *has* recognized but still no go.

Since Vade Mecum does recognize the Gutenberg files, it’s not like I will lack reading material for this program. But I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to create my own.

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets way too much spam each day. I’m eager for comments pro or con, but please Email me at mamasylvia at mamasylvia dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.

Published by sylvia on 08 Aug 2010

The Revenge of the GPS

Last year, at Wal-Mart’s Black Friday sale, I picked up a TomTom GPS for about $60. I’d wanted one for years and I couldn’t pass up that price. And it has definitely been a help finding places I haven’t been to before, with an occasional spectacular exception such as the time it took us along a railroad right-of-way and directed me to turn left onto a railroad track 50 feet overhead. And while the routes it plans do get me to where I want to go, they often are not the optimal routes.

But my husband and family have all relentlessly made fun of it, ignoring all the times it worked just fine and harping on the occasional exception. My 18-year-old son, in particular, laughed hysterically when he was going to Denver and I suggested he ask to take the GPS along – he’d rather call us whenever he gets lost and have us puzzle out from Google Maps where he should go. So when my husband and I planned a trip to Denver to take my son to a parkour event, I knew they would have fun razzing me about the GPS once again. Meanwhile, the little TomTom got me from my favorite dim sum place to the park and then across town to pick up some composting worms and back to the park … where my son announced I was going to lead a caravan to a parkour gym that no one knew where it was. Apparently after quite a bit of discussion about how to find it, my son said “My mom has a GPS” and volunteered me to get them there. Yes, this is the same son who has been making fun of it for almost a year … I pointed out that I at least need an address to plug into the GPS, but he did have an address, and I led two other cars through Denver roads to the gym. (There was a third car, but when I had to pull out of an exit ramp rather quickly, the third car didn’t keep up with me.) The GPS saves the day!

I also used the GPS to get to a restaurant for dinner, and then back onto I-25 heading home. And for some reason, no one made fun of it.

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets way too much spam each day. I’m eager for comments pro or con, but please Email me at mamasylvia at mamasylvia dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.

Published by sylvia on 02 Jul 2010

Still trying to read ebooks …

Well, here I am again, still trying to find an eBook reader that will work on my Toshiba e800 running Windows Mobile 2003 SE. I found a humongous list of eBook readers, broken down by OS but not by price/free or if they are still supported or even which version of the OS they run under. I also found several links to .chm readers which I didn’t pursue because I haven’t found any free .chm format books, and Palm eReader. However, the Palm eReader turned out to be the same zip file as the eReader I couldn’t get to work yesterday. I ran all the following installs with the PDA powered on and connected via USB to my PC running Windows 7 Home Premium, and with .txt, .epub, .mobi, .plucker.pdb, and .qioo.jar files in an eBooks subfolder of the My Documents folder on the PDA. I also added the biggest ebook file I had, an almost-2-mb file of Bleak House in .txt, .mobi, and .plucker.pdb formats, to that ebook directory to see how the programs handled very large ebook files.

iSilo says it reads its own format as well as .txt and some .pdb files. I downloaded a .cab file for Pocket PC that said it required an ARM processor, which apparently my e800 has because it installed fine. It started and told me I was on day 1 of a 30-day trial period. However, even when I had it look in my ebooks directory, it did not see any of the text files, only the .plucker file which it couldn’t actually read. So I didn’t need 30 days to decide it wasn’t going to work for me and removed it.

Mobipocket Reader looked very customizable and I know Gutenberg offers many of its titles in their format. I downloaded the “Old Windows Mobile” .cab file for ARM processors and installed it without problems. But it doesn’t customize the items I would like to set. I don’t really care about the colors, which I can set, but I’d like to be able to permanently set which directory to look in and to list all the files in that directory, and I can’t. I have to manually change those choices every time I click on “Library.” It also takes a LONG time to load. The standard version is free, the Pro version is for purchase (I couldn’t find for how much) and includes the capability to scroll or switch to landscape mode. It automatically found the .plucker.pdb files (the “type of file” defaults to .prc) but couldn’t open them (error message was that they were corrupted, all three of them – right). Interestingly, Mobipocket couldn’t open any of the three .mobi files I downloaded from Gutenberg. Mobipocket was able to open the big Bleak House .txt file, but it took several minutes to load and there was another delay when I tried to do anything but simple page-down. But I like being able to read using the scroll button or the down-arrow button (which it treats as a page-down button) so this one stays, at least for the time being.

Tiny eBook Reader ($34.23 but with a free trial version) says it can read books of any size in txt (and zipped), html, and lit formats. I clicked on the .exe file and the information said I could add ebooks to the library by moving them into the My Documents folder or onto the CF card. It installed on my PC but the “finish” screen gave me the option of installing it to my “connected Windows Mobile with touchscreen” which I selected. It showed up on the PDA under “Programs” and started just fine, giving me a choice of folders to look in for ebooks. I clicked on my ebooks folder and it found the .txt files but none of the others. It opened Bleak House with no delay and I was able to move around in it with no problems. It did leave several .tbr files in the ebook folder, though. This one stays to be tested further.

I couldn’t resist a program named Tome Raider although it costs 15 British pounds (I got the free trial version) and appeared from the documentation to only read its own proprietary file format. It installed painlessly from a zip file and opened on the PDA, but I was right about it only reading its own format; it saw no ebooks until I downloaded a “trial” book from the TR website, then it opened the one I had just downloaded but every other page was “please register” so I uninstalled it. Too bad, I still love the name!

uBook ($15 with a free demo) claims to read .txt, .html, .rtf, .pdb, and .prc files as well as zipped files of any of these. Knowing now that I have an ARM processor, I downloaded the .cab file for Pocket PC ARM with Toshiba listed in parentheses. It installed, but gave me an error message that it might not have installed correctly because it was for an earlier version of Windows Mobile. But it opened okay and went directly to a 43-page User Guide. There is a nice clear (if tiny) page number at the top of the screen with forward and back arrows to either side. But there are also arrows pointing in different directions in the corners that are not obvious what they do, the type size is miniscule, and the program defaults to covering up the Start menu button – not a good thing as there is no quick way to exit the program. I finally found an Options section by clicking on the unlabelled buttons at the bottom left, but most of them were disabled, including the type size adjustment, presumably because this was the demo version. I paged down and the program locked up, I had to do a soft reset to get out of it – NOTHING worked. I still wanted to see what files it could read, so after the soft reset I clicked on the program again and found myself directly in the options section again and unable to get out AGAIN – had to do another soft reset and removed the program. It may be a great program, but if I can’t navigate around in it I’ll never know.

Vade Mecum is an open-source free program, although I couldn’t originally tell whether it supports Windows Mobile 2003 – since it hasn’t been updated since 2006, I thought it was worth trying. This is the Windows Mobile program to read Plucker files. The .cab installed but gave me the same “designed for a previous version of Windows Mobile” error message I encountered with uBook. But it not only opened, it found the Plucker files without further prompting and had a nice clear “settings” button at the bottom of the screen to let me adjust items like the directory where the ebooks are stored and what size typeface to use. It also defaulted to full-screen mode but it was easy to find the pull-down screen to turn full-screen off. It opened Bleak House in sections but remained pretty fast when I navigated both within the section and to the next section. It also let me use the scroll button on my Toshiba. I like this program! Even though it apparently *only* reads plucker files and I’ll have to go see which of the books I’ve already downloaded in .txt format are available in plucker format. It did create some small files of its own but they are safely tucked in a VadeMecum folder, not cluttering up my ebooks folder. Definitely on the short list.

Free Zulu Reader can read .epub and .rtf files. The .cab installed fine but didn’t actually run, which wasn’t a big surprise as the wiki listing claimed it would run under Windows Mobile 2003 but the download page didn’t list it. Removed from PDA but this was another one that I couldn’d get the icon out of the Programs folder.

There is still a brisk market on ebay in these older devices, and plenty of people like me who want the convenience of a PDA but can’t justify (or afford) spending hundreds of dollars on the newest one. That is why I’m going into such detail here, because everything I found on Google was several years old – I’m supplying info on what is available *now*.

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets way too much spam each day. I’m eager for comments pro or con, but please Email me at mamasylvia at mamasylvia dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.

Published by sylvia on 01 Jul 2010

Wanna read ebooks!

I’m still working on getting my new (to me) Toshiba e800 configured to suit me, and one reason I bought it was to be able to always have something to read with me: ebooks. Project Gutenberg has thousands of free ebooks in various formats. Other sites such as Amazon also offer ebooks, but since Gutenberg is free, I started there. However, the e800 did not come with an ebook reader! So the first task was to find an ebook reader, preferably free, that would work with my Windows 2003SE mobile device.

Thanks to Google, I found and downloaded three: Microsoft Reader (which did NOT come already installed), eReader (which is affiliated with Barnes & Noble and of course markets their ebooks, but also has some freebies, and comes in a wide variety of OS flavors), and Freda. (I also picked up a free PocketPC PDF reader from Adobe – don’t know if it will work as an ebook reader, but it will be nice to be able to read pdf files like the user manual on my mobile.) I tried all of them with my PDA on and connected to my computer, and Windows Mobile Device Center running, which (besides keeping calendar/contacts/tasks synced) syncs the PDA with whatever I put in my My Documents\Documents on Sylvia’s PDA folder – very convenient both as a backup of my critical document files and as a way to painlessly get files onto the PDA.

Freda was the easiest to install. It came as a .cab file so I just moved the file to the CF card on my PDA, then clicked on the file from the PDA and it magically did its thing. The only problem was that the program didn’t work. I clicked on Freda on the program list and NOTHING HAPPENED. I found the exe file using File Explorer and clicked on that. Nothing happened. Okay, I thought, maybe it only activates when you click on an ebook file, so I clicked on one in my ebook directory. It opened fine – with Pocket Word. Still no Freda. I went back online to read the manual, and apparently Freda is supposed to go to a “main menu” when it is started. So apparently it doesn’t work with Windows 2003SE after all and I deleted it from my PDA (which was a minor pain and I had to find and use Remove Program). So much for Freda.

The next on the list was Microsoft’s Reader. It was an .exe file so I just clicked on it, on my main computer, in Windows Explorer. It ran an install program and although it wanted me to let it install in the default directory, when I clicked “no” it let me choose between regular memory, the flash ROM, or the CF card. I decided to put it on the CF card with my ebooks. When it finished, it told me to check my PDA to see if additional steps were necessary, which I thought was smart. But the message on the PDA was to “reset your device according to the device manufacturer’s documentation.” Huh? The user guide PDF says nothing about resetting after installing a program, and I don’t know if the instructions mean a soft or hard reset. So I did neither and went into Programs to start it up (and was annoyed to find the Freda icon still there). It started fine but told me the program was “not yet activated.” Huh? What do I need to do to activate it? I was able to open the help file that came with it, but it took me a minute to figure out that the page number was the number between the “3” and “4” at the bottom of the screen. Maybe this was one of the fonts that the PDA needed to be reset to use properly? So I tried a soft reset. Sure enough, after restarting the program, the page number at the bottom is now bracketed by left and right arrows instead of 3 and 4. The program has adjustable type size, which was nice, and the capability to add bookmarks, which is necessary. But I still couldn’t get it to see any other ebooks, so I started wandering through the help file and discovered it was looking in the My Documents folders. So I moved my eBooks folder into the My Documents folder. I also accidentally found out how to “activate” Reader, and it requires logging on with a Passport ID (using Internet Explorer, it told me Firefox doesn’t support activation), but the help file says any Hotmail, MSN, or Passport account will do. Of course, I don’t have ANY of those. This is turning into a major pain. (Gee, what a surprise with a Microsoft product.) However, the login page also said I could use a Windows Live ID, and I had to get one of those a few days ago to download Windows Mobile Device Center, and fortunately I long ago set up a “login” folder and filed the confirmation email for my Windows Live account in that folder so I can actually find it now! So I login and now I get ANOTHER error message. “You must install the Activation ActiveX control before you can activate.” And I can’t go any further without allowing Microsoft to install ANOTHER program on my computer. Reader is looking less and less attractive now. Before giving up completely, I checked to see if Reader would recognize and read any of my free Gutenberg .txt files. No matter where I put them in the My Documents folder, they failed to appear in the Library. I also tried a book in epub, Plucker, QiOO mobile, and Mobipocket formats, moving them all to the Personal folder to make sure it was somewhere Reader could find it. It didn’t recognize any of them. Does anyone actually jump through all of Microsoft’s hoops in order to use their “free” reader?

eReader was the last one I tried because it came in a zip file and I hate dealing with zip files. But Microsoft has made it too hard to use Reader so I guess I’ll try eReader now. I right-clicked on the zip file, told it to “extract all,” had to wade down through two levels of folders to get to the extracted files, and clicked on BookInstaller.exe – at least they made the title obvious. Install was not so obvious. There are three choices on the screen and none of them are to install a reader. I selected “install books” and it prompted me to tell it where to look for the books to install. It didn’t find any of my .txt books so I moved all the odd-format files (that I tried with Reader) into the ebooks folder and it recognized one of them. Wish I knew which one, but I guess it doesn’t matter because I got the dreaded “this program may not have installed correctly” message and there is no new reader in Programs. (Turned out to have been the Plucker file, I found it on my CF card later.)

So my choices are: (a) buy an ebook reader (which may just saddle me with another program that doesn’t work); (b) let Microsoft install another program on my computer and see what other ridiculous hoops it makes me jump through to get Reader to work; (c) keep using Pocket Word as my ebook reader, which doesn’t let me insert bookmarks on txt files; or (d) give up on reading ebooks on my PDA (which is a major reason I bought it in the first place). But I’ve had enough trauma for one day. Tomorrow is another day.

Oh, and the Freda icon is STILL in the Programs folder. Guess it’s time for a hard reset after all.

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets way too much spam each day. I’m eager for comments pro or con, but please Email me at mamasylvia at mamasylvia dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.

Published by sylvia on 28 Jun 2010

Trying to get my Toshiba e800 working

Tired of dragging multiple pieces of paper wherever I go, I decided I was overdue for another PDA. (My previous PDA, a Phillips Velo 1, worked great but I couldn’t sync it using anything newer than Win95.) I’m running Win7 64-bit on my laptop (which is my main computer) and just bought an e800 with Windows2003SE to use as a PDA since the Windows 7 compatibility page said it is compatible without additional software. That was untrue, when I tried I got a message something like Windows was unable to install my device.

There are several links to sites on old messages (around 2005) but unsurprisingly, most of them were no longer valid. The link to the manual on PocketPCAddict did work, thank heavens. I also found a UK Toshiba link still active (select Archived Files as product type and PocketPC as family) and it steered me to the Microsoft site that told me I needed to use Mobile Device Center rather than ActiveSync. However, when I went back to see if it had any other useful files, when I tried to search all I could get was an error message that “Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.” I tried with several different OSs and they all got the same error message, so I don’t know how I got useful info from the site earlier. I went looking for ActiveSync and found a message that for Win7 64-bit I had to download Mobile Device Center 6.1 drvupdate-amd64.exe and before I could get the file I had to download and install a couple of programs to establish I had a legal copy of Windows 7 (like I would have it installed if it hadn’t come with the laptop!), but the site walked me through installing them with no problem. I installed Mobile Device Center and that worked well for communicating between laptop and PDA, but it said Outlook was not installed. Outlook2000 *is* installed, but I had to update to Office2007 before Mobile Device Center recognized it and synced with the e800. But I now have my appointments and tasks on my PDA! Hooray! I also copied a game .cab file onto the PDA and got it running – very straightforward, I just clicked on the .cab file and Windows Mobile 2003 SE installed it.

The hard-reset button is neat (kills everything except what is in FlashROM). It’s unlabelled and hidden on the bottom by the WiFi on/off switch, but it completely shuts off all power to the device and let me do a hard reset quick and easy when I first locked it up by not knowing what I was doing.

I found all kinds of info by working my way through the manual. The device on/off switch is terribly anti-intuitive. It’s at the top of the PDA and labelled with the usual icon, but you can either press-and-hold or press-quickly to turn the PDA on, but you can only press-quickly to turn it off! Sheesh! The transcriber works surprisingly well, I used it to add a task and it correctly read my handwriting first try.

I also like that if the e800 is on and connected to the laptop, when I make a change in Outlook on either, it immediately syncs with the other. That will be a huge help to me, as often I have to leave the house with a minute’s warning, and I won’t have to worry about not having a shopping list or phone # with me. It will even keep a directory on my laptop synced with a directory on the PDA, although it wouldn’t let me decide which directories to sync, I had to move all my current & active files into the directory it would sync with, and the directory on the PDA is volatile, not the flashROM or the CF disk. Still, it’s pretty unlikely that both my laptop and PDA would crash at the same time, and I can still do manual backups onto a more stable storage device.

I’m posting my trials here so anyone else looking for e800 info will find something more recent than 2005 and hopefully have information and other links to share!

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets way too much spam each day. I’m eager for comments pro or con, but please Email me at mamasylvia at mamasylvia dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.

Published by sylvia on 05 Mar 2009

I’ve joined the MP3 fanatics

For years, I’ve looked askance at people wearing earplugs in their ears. While it is certainly more considerate than boomboxes playing at full volume, I didn’t understand the attraction. It didn’t help that when I bought an MP3 player, I chose one with lots of features (4 gig, voice dictation, raw data storage capability, uses a standard AAA battery so I could use rechargeables) so it was more of a challenge to use, and an absolutely unintelligible manual. (It’s a Sly SL034G, if anyone cares.)

Now that I’ve figured it out, I’m a fanatic too. It’s WONDERFUL, and I’m so glad I bought the model with the most storage. I can listen to the type of music I like. Or I can listen to a book or two, great during long waits. If something occurs to me, I can dictate a quick note to myself. And I still have plenty of room on it to backup the working directories of my laptop so if worst came to worst, I wouldn’t be without my data.

All this in a package about the size of two of my fingers held together, that easily fits into a little zippered camera case (player, USB cable, ear buds, manual, and spare AAA batteries – and it holds my place when I need to change batteries). This is technology at its best: enjoyable, flexible, and enabling me to make the most of my time. I *am* glad I waited until there were models with larger storage, however.

Note: comments have to be approved because this site gets TONS of spam each day. Please Email me at mama dot sylvia at steigerfamily dot com to tell me you left a real comment, otherwise it will probably get deleted with the unread spam.