Back in February, I wrote a guide about how to extend your StuffBak protection with a custom designed boot screen for Windows Vista. This time around, I’ll be discussing how you can protect your Windows Mobile (5) powered Pocket PC.
As with most customization guides available here, the standard disclaimer applies: I write about something that works for me. It may or may not work for you. If it works for you, feel free to post a comment with your device information, if it doesn’t work for you, retrace your steps and try to find a solution. If you manage to brick your device, don’t come screaming. I know it sucks but I can’t help you.
That said, let’s get down to the real stuff:
Pocket PCs tend to get smaller with every new revision and with more Pocket PCs being sold than ever before, its a fair assumption that a lot of important data is stored on these devices. To lose one of these devices is bad enough, but knowing that you didn’t do everything you could to help an honest finder to get it back is probably just as bad.
This guide will most probably consist of two parts, in this part, I’ll be discussing how to create a boot screen for your device, the next guide will focus on a way to create a theme that displays your StuffBak tag.
The first thing you need is a StuffBak tag, which, I assume that you already have. In case you do not have one, head on over to stuffbak.com and grab yourself a set.
Take a note of the code of your tag and grab yourself this PSD file from my gallery. You can edit it in Adobe Photoshop and many other image manipulation applications.
Pick the text tool and edit the text field. You will want to input your own StuffBak tag there.
The next step is to save the image. The name you will want to use is “welcomehead.96.png”.
The next to last step involves connecting your device to your PC, make sure that Windows Mobile Device Center (or ActiveSync) starts and copying the “welcomehead.96.png” to your device.
Finally, use Pocket Explorer, Total Commander CE or any other mobile file explorer of your choice to copy the file to your /Windows directory.
Now, whenever you soft-reset your device, you will see your boot screen with your very own StuffBak tag.
Note that this solution does not guarantee that your device will be returned to you, but at least you made it a lot easier for honest finders to get in touch with the rightful owner of the device.
Approximately two years ago, I wrote an in-depth review about a service called StuffBak. This service helps you retrieve lost items by means of a tag attached to your device, keycord or whatever you deem worthy of protection.
The StuffBak tags are the first thing I attach to devices that are irreplaceable and sometimes, I even create sets, so for example if you’d find my laptop bag, you’d be eligible for $100 worth in tags as well as another $600 in finder’s fee. It it works, ultimately, I can’t tell you, but at least I’ve taken steps to give people a chance to do the right thing.
When I first installed Windows XP, I created a boot screen that would contain my personal information, so if you’d find my laptop, you could use the information provided on screen to get in touch with me.
With Windows Vista, I wanted to do the same thing and as luck would have it, I came across a tutorial that explains how to create a boot screen.
Many people will go for something like a female with little clothing or an image depicting the superiority of one operating system above another, I went for something that made a lot more sense to me:
I tried to recreate the tag that is attached to the back of my laptop as closely as possible (and no, I don’t have eight zeros as my number) and I think it will do the job.
In my gallery, you’ll find both a preview image as well as the actual PSD file (works in Photoshop CS, CS2) that I used to create the image.
Follow the tutorial and you should be good to go. It’s very straightforward and you shouldn’t encounter any problems, if you do, head on over to my gallery and download a backup of winload.exe.mui (Windows Vista RTM, Home Premium, not sure if that matters though)
As always, all stuff provided here is free of charge and comes with no support at all. If you screw up, too bad for you.
You’re in a hurry, a client just called - you have to move out. No time for the coffee you just ordered, you pack your things and leave. Being a mobile professional however, you carry around a lot of stuff with you - like your notebook, your Pocket PC and your Smartphone.
You got your phone in one hand, laptop under the other, but wait - where is your Pocket PC? Fifteen minutes later you realize that it’s still guarding the cup of coffee in Starbucks…
How are you going to tell your boss that you left your $500 Pocket PC in Starbucks? How are you going to explain that all the important data you have on your Pocket PC is out of your reach? That’s going to be tough, luckily however, there are companies out there that know how to counter such problems:
Stuffbak is one of those companies. The idea behind their product is the following: People want to return lost items, so do police agents and employees at Starbucks, an airport and the staff from a sports event. However, it’s pretty hard to do so if your device doesn’t contain any information that is accessible without a password, or if your device doesn’t contain any personal data at all - like iPods, your designer glasses or your brand new digital camera.
I have to admit that I was skeptical about the product. Many questions were screaming for an answer:
- Could something that costs a mere $1.95 actually protect a device worth $2000 and will the product be easy to use?
- How easy can it be removed, and will it be eye pleasing or ugly?
StuffBak felt that they could answer my questions and sent me a selection of their products, so I could protect my assets. Mind you, I’m located in the Netherlands but StuffBak says it’s no problem at all and since an honest finder can report the items via the web as well. I actually have high hopes that I will get my items back if I lose them.
Once the labels arrived it took me only a few seconds to attach them to the various items I wanted to protect. However, it took me a few minutes to find a good place. Granted, an honest finder will probably look on all sides of your device, but why complicate it? I choose a place that is easily visible and yet isn’t in full view.
Naturally the best place for this purpose is the underside; I really wouldn’t recommend putting the label inside a battery
compartment since most “technology illiterate” people wouldn’t know how to get there and hence the StuffBak protection wouldn’t work that well for you.
I also found that after attaching the label you have a few seconds which you can use to peel of the label and reattach it, once you press it down - it’s over. The tag is about as easy to remove as a small rock. Prior to attaching the label, I cleaned the surface with a cleaning spray I normally use to clean my devices from dust and dirt. I can’t really comment on if this will have any effect on the durability of the labels but it sounded logical to me to do so first.
Another thing I like about the labels and tags is that they have a great design. The colors, an eye-pleasing cocktail of golden-yellow / golden-orange combined with silver and black give them a distinct look and make them very easy to spot. Yet, the design does not decrease the visual value of your device in any way.
Once the tags and labels were attached, I had to activate them, which consists of the following steps: First you go to StuffBak’s site and click on activate label, you then get to select from various categories like bags, electronic accessories and many more.
Your selection then requires a sub-selection where you specify what kind of item you want to register. Following that, you enter as much data as possible, including model, serial number and you also have a field for a description in which I always entered the color, contents (if applicable) as well as characteristics.
You then get the chance to offer an optional cash reward, which is a good idea if you register expensive items like your laptop or Pocket PC. Most of the times, the information on those items is more valuable than the device itself, and an optional cash reward may entice people to return it faster. StuffBak also prints the words “reward for return” on their labels and tags, and I strongly believe that this entices more people to return something.
Apart from an optional cash reward, StuffBak also offers every finder $20 worth in labels, so they can in return protect their items. Pretty nice move I’d say.
All in all, I can say that I am sleeping better now, knowing that my items are protected by a great service. Okay, people still can choose to NOT return your items, but at least I know that I did everything possible to give finders a chance to act the honest way. I consider these tags, as inexpensive as they are a real essential for all the mobile professionals out there.