About a month ago, I acquired a variety of Windows CE devices. The idea was to start learning all about the inner workings of Windows CE, for the purpose of passing this information on to you. However, what I didn’t plan on was becoming totally addicted to my handheld PC. The palmtop is nothing short of a miracle of modern technology, and I highly recommend picking one up. However, since the palmtops have a hefty price tag, I realize that not everyone’s significant other is as cool with the idea of dropping a thousand dollars on a new gizmo as my wife was. Therefore, I figured it was my duty to come up with a list of reasons you can use to justify buying a new palmtop. The ideas in this article are just a few of the ways I’ve been using my palmtop.
Of course, being a network guy, the use of Windows CE that I’m most pumped about is the idea of being able to use my palmtop to manage my Windows 2000 network. By loading a special client onto the palmtop, you can do anything from your palmtop that you could do if you were sitting at the actual server console.
If you frequently get phone calls in the middle of the night from someone who wants you to check out a network problem, think of the time you could save by being able to view your servers remotely from a device you can carry anywhere. See “Using Windows CE to manage your Windows 2000 network ” for more information.
Another favorite feature is the way that Windows CE can operate with Microsoft Streets. You can download maps from your desktop PC directly to your palmtop. After doing so, you can enter an address and instantly have it appear on the map, along with driving directions. Just think—if you bring a palmtop along on the road trip, there’s no reason to ever have to stop for directions.
High-tech TV remote
Do you have too many remote controls for your home theater system? Perhaps you always lose or break remotes. Whatever the situation, it’s no longer a problem if you have a palmtop. I found a really cool program called Sky Commander at CNET’s Download.com . This program allows you to use some Windows CE machines to control any device in your house that works with an infrared remote. You can control such devices as stereos, DVD players, TVs, and lights.
If you have a thought that you don’t want to forget, you can use your palmtop to remember it. You can use either the voice recorder or the scratch pad. With the scratch pad, you can quickly jot down things that might normally be written on a cocktail napkin. For example, you could jot down a map to a friend’s house, or the name of a movie that someone recommended that you rent, or even an idea for an anniversary gift.
Surf on the go
Another great use for the palmtop is that you can turn otherwise wasted time into productive time. For example, if you’re waiting in the airport, you could compose some e-mail messages. The messages will sit in your outbox until you connect to the Web. Later, when you have time to connect to the Internet, the messages you wrote earlier can be transmitted in the background while you’re working on something else.
If you have a favorite Web site, you can also make it available offline. For example, suppose you’re considering buying a new TV. You can go online and find a site with lots of information about all the different models. Rather than having to commit all this information to memory, you can make the page available offline.
Later, when you go to the store, if one particular model catches your eye, you can pull up the Web page right in the middle of the store and see what it had to say about the model you’re looking at.
A close friend recently used a palmtop as an intimidating negotiating device. Before going to buy a new car, he found a Web site that listed all the details about how much the dealer actually paid for the car and for the various options. As you might have guessed, he made the Web site available offline so that he could show the salesperson what the car was really worth. He also set up a spreadsheet in Pocket Excel that would calculate his payments based on how much he paid for the car, what he got for his trade-in, and how much money he put down. My friend claims that the money he saved on the car could have paid for several palmtops.
Brien M. Posey is an MCSE and works as a freelance technical writer and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. If you’d like to contact Brien, send him an e-mail. (Because of the large volume of e-mail he receives, it’s impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)
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