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June 30, 2008

SPB Backup 2.0

I recently wrote an article (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/cms/blogs/9/spring_cleaning) on how to keep your Windows Mobile device lean, mean, and clean by scrubbing it out manually or on a schedule to weed out all the detritus that builds up and slows down the system. I also highly recommended a regular backup routine as part of the process. What good does it do to have a shiny, clean machine that has lost its data?

One of the backup systems I recommended was SPB Backup. I am happy to report the release of version 2.0 with some significant improvements. SPB allows you to create backup copies of your entire system, not just your data. So, in the event of a crash, you can restore the whole system just as it was without having to go through the laborious process of reinstalling all your applications and re-registering them. It even backs up your storage card.

If you have to do a hard reset or have purchased a new device, all you have to do is run your latest SPB file, and it will duplicate everything you had on your old device saving you oodles of time. In some cases you may have to re-register a program.

With 2.0 you can actually view all the backup archive files, a feature I have not seen in other similar programs. Now you can compress and encrypt your backup files to save space and for extra security.

The new version allows custom backups, and you can select precisely what you want to backup. However, under normal circumstances, I suggest that you simply perform a full backup to make sure that you have everything covered. I also suggest that you take advantage of the autobackup option.

SPB claims the version 2.0 is twice as fast as the old version. I have to say that it goes surprisingly fast considering all that is going on in the process. Version 2.0 has a desktop companion from which you can restore files if you wish. Installed, it only requires 1.42 MB, and you can install it to a memory card.

If you are running Version 1, by all means upgrade. If you do not yet have a backup program, I highly recommend SPB Backup 2.0. In fact, it is simply a must have. Not to have SPB Backup would be like driving without a seatbelt.

It is a good investment at $24.95. It works on WM 2003, 5.0, 6.0, and 6.1. Grab your copy at www.spbsoftwarehouse.com. Purchases within 90 days of release of 2.0 get free upgrades. Upgrading from Version 1.x costs only $9.95.

Posted by conradb212 at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2008

Tritton AxVisor BT Car Kit

Remember what a thrill it was when you could first ride your bike without any hands? Driving a car is a different matter, and it’s a good idea to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. It gives me the shivers when I see a young mother with a car full of kids yakking on the phone. Fortunately, in some states it is against the law to talk on a cell phone (or text) while driving. This should be a matter of common sense.

I don’t know about you, but I find those over the ear headsets a bit uncomfortable after a while. Some actually hurt my ear. A full set of headphones is illegal. I have somewhat successfully used a GPS device with built-in Bluetooth for receiving and transmitting phone calls while driving. But the sound quality seems lacking and difficult to hear over road noise sometimes.

Having just returned from a month on the road covering several states, thousands of miles, and a big gas bill ($5.09 in California for regular), I am pleased to report that I was able to test the new AXVisor Bluetooth car kit thoroughly, and I am happy to be able to give it a high recommendation.

One of my major beefs with Bluetooth is that it can be frustrating to get devices connected and shaking hands properly. This was not the case with AxVisor. It’s simply a matter of making your phone discoverable, initiating a search, and the AxVisor is immediately recognized.

Once the pairing has been established, it remains until deactivated. And, listen to this. If you leave the AxVisor on, when you start your car engine, it will automatically sense the vibration and reconnect to your phone. Very cool. If you want to reconnect with the engine off, just push the big phone button once, and it will reconnect. I like this friendly little car kitten.

I recommend that you simply leave the device on all the time for automatic Bluetooth connections. You get 15 hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby between charges, so you can afford to leave it switched on. I’m not sure how long it would take to complete a full charge. I never had to charge it for more than an hour or so.

When you get an incoming call, it rings, and you just tap the big phone button on the front. The caller’s ID information will be displayed. If you don’t want to talk to the calling party, you can hold the big phone multi-function button in until “call rejected” appears on the screen.

If you want to call back the last party who called you, just tap the big phone button.

Sound quality is remarkably good considering the small speaker. It uses enhanced DSP echo and noise cancellation to improve the sound on both ends of the transmission. Amazingly, this compact device has dual microphones. However, on the highway, I found myself wishing for more volume to overcome road noise.

This device also features call waiting, mute, and three-party calling. I particularly appreciate the mute and hold features, which not all car kits have. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to discuss something with your passenger without the calling party hearing, and this kit will accommodate that.

I also appreciate its black case, sleek design, and stylish silver band. It has a slanted step design with the display screen on the incline. The lower half is the big phone button, and the upper half is the speaker.

It has a small 2 x 4.75 inch footprint with a springy metal clip for attaching to your visor. You can put it on the top or bottom of the visor. The display will automatically orient itself accordingly for convenient driver viewing-- another very cool feature. If you prefer to set it on the dash, it has four, non-skid rubber pads.

The controls are efficient and simple. I already alluded to the big, multi-functional phone button on the front. On one side is a slider power switch. On the other side is a volume +/- control and a mute/hold button.

In the box, you get a USB cable for charging and an AC charger. You would think for the price they could have thrown in a DC car charger. The visor mounting clip is detachable. A printed manual also comes with it.

If I had to come up with a complaint, it might be that it has no memory, and you cannot download your contacts into it. But that’s no big deal because they are already in your phone anyway. I suppose another complaint might be that you cannot listen to Bluetooth stereo music with it, and you can’t watch movies on the screen either. Maybe it could offer a 3.5 mm jack for connecting MP3 players? Oh well. It’s a high quality car kit, and that’s all it’s supposed to be. If the truth be known, I found at highway speeds, I wished for more volume that just wasn’t there.

AxVisor seems to be competitively priced with a suggested retail price of $99, but you may do better by shopping around. Visit the developer’s Website at www.trittonusa.com. I recommend it for your consideration, and if you don’t already have a car kit, get one. If you have one already, use it.

Keep connected!

Posted by conradb212 at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2008

SnagThis: New SnagIt 9

It is difficult for me to imagine that there have been significant enhancements to SnagIt. I thought it had pretty much reached its zenith, but SnagIt 9 manages to improve an already superb product that captures screen shots of all kinds in a flash.

You may wonder why I am writing about desktop software in a handheld forum, but let me tell you that I don’t know how I would survive without SnagIt. It has so many applications that I use that enhance my handheld computing and writing.

Not only does SnagIt perform the expectable duties of copying anything on any screen and saving it in different formats or pasting it into another application, it also allows you to edit it with an array of publishing tools.

Of course it will capture static screen shots. It will record screen automations as well. It will even snag scrolling Webpages. You can also capture, edit, and email an image from within the application without having to go through the whole process of saving and inserting a file. It will output an image to many other applications such as Word, Excel, PointPoint or save it as a file or send it to a fax, ftp, or printer.

New Features

· Tray shows recent captures as thumbnails for easy retrieval
· Work with multiple captures by dragging and dropping for combining
· Auto stores every capture along with where and when snagged
· Allows tagging and flagging captures for organization by keyword or category
· New menus and quick styles for easier access to existing powerful editing features
· You can customize the quick access toolbar with icons for operations you use most
· You can set up custom capture profiles


While you can capture video as in GIF animations and record your own screen shot sequences in movie form, it will not capture movies online or show animated transitions between pages. I hope this can be remedied in future iterations.

You cannot drag and drop another image on the SnagIt screen just anywhere you want; you must either drop it on top of an existing image on the work screen or expand the background. While you can fill the expanded background, you cannot fill the background of an existing image.

Another vexation is that I can’t seem to use SnagIt to capture screen shots of SnagIt. I think there’s a way to do it, but I haven’t figured it out yet. When you invoke the copy function, the SnagIt screen conveniently disappears to get out of the way so that you cannot copy it. I thought I could do it with the native Print Screen function, but that is cleverly linked to SnagIt upon installation. Guess I’ll have to use a competitor’s product for that purpose. Accordingly, there will not be any illustrative screen shots in this article.

Try, Buy, Ply

After 17 years at $39.95, the price has increased $10 to $49.95. However, if you are already a user, you can upgrade from Version 8 for only $19.95 until August 12. After that, upgrades will cost $5 more.

Check it out and download it at www.techsmith.com.

Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without the power of SnagIt in my toolchest. I’m looking forward to a productive and enjoyable relationship with the new SnagIt 9.

Posted by conradb212 at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)