Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Way to go, ActiveSync 3.0!

FIGURE D

This is a little confusing at first, but you get used to it. (click for larger image)

Since I have a dial-up Internet connection for my desktop, the Dial-Up Networking tray icon will intermittently become active, also giving indication that it may be busy. However, I cannot determine whether ActiveSync or AvantGo is at fault, so I'm not certain that this is a bug in ActiveSync. Perhaps there will be a new release of AvantGo that will address these concerns.

Speed, speed, speed

One tremendous breakthrough with ActiveSync is the phenomenal speed in initiating a connection and the ease of setting those speeds. You no longer have to configure any COM port to a speed that matches your Windows CE device; just choose the speed on your device and ActiveSync will match it. To do this on an H/PC, choose Settings->Control Panel from the Start menu. Then, choose the Communications control panel.

As shown in Figure E, choose the PC Link tab, then the appropriate synchronization port (either serial or infrared in most cases), and then desired speed (115K should work in almost all cases). That's it. You're finished. So it seems ActiveSync has a lot going for it so far, huh?

FIGURE E

Fortunately, this is the only control panel you ever have to look at. (click for larger image)

Wake me up when you're done

I never like to leave a gap in any article I write, but I'm going to now. As long as I've known anything about Windows CE Services, I've known there was a built-in utility that allows you to backup and restore your device while you are connected. In the past, I've heard of some issues regarding this utility but, from what I have gathered, this option never really had that many complaints. However, I'm not very enthusiastic about waiting for my computer to do something and a large download of any sort is especially aggravating. I am sorry to say that I haven't once, to date, used this utility in either Windows CE Services 2.0 and above or in ActiveSync.

My explanation behind my ignorance of this utility is this: I've invested a lot of money into Windows CE software for my device, and therefore have a lot of data to transfer. I've copied files that were one or two megabytes in size before and know that it's painfully slow. But I will not wait at my desktop for hours for it to transfer approximately seven or eight megabytes of data over the fastest serial connection I can muster.

I've purchased BSQUARE's bUSEFUL Utilities Pack as one solution to this problem and use it, instead, to make a very thorough backup and do it both faster and with less space, hence less time, to transfer the file. So this is the only feature that I haven't yet taken advantage of in either Windows CE Services or ActiveSync and I can't report on it.

Maybe a little grease will do it

The next obstacle you may have fallen victim to is the dreaded "stuck serial port." This occurs when Microsoft's synchronization software captures the selected COM port and won't release it for other software to use. One common example is the inability to transfer images from a digital camera to a computer because the software cannot access the COM port, since it appears to be in use.