Fat Wallet

posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2007

Ever since the release of mobile storage devices, people have repurposed their gadgets to store important, often even confidential data on them. While there is nothing wrong with that per se, many users seem to forget the various security issues that could arise if someone were to get a hold of your Pocket PC and its unencrypted content.

Thanks to Ilium Software however, there is an application you can use to get the best of both worlds: carry your important data with you, wherever you go and still keep it safe and protected behind a layer that is as difficult to break as your password.

Wallet Size

On last count, my eWallet storage was 226 cards big (or does that count as huge already?). These cards are made up of roughly 120 logins for various things, software license keys, two dozen of personal items such as drivers license, SSN and all those other numbers you cannot ever remember but still need all the time and also a few select items such as “doing CPR the right way” and other medical items. Yes, believe it or not, that is what I use eWallet for, too.

I consider myself an eWallet power user and as such, I would like to share a hint with you: take a bit of time to analyze the data you use the most inside your eWallet database(s). I have four main categories, in the root of the wallet file and nothing else, no stray cards, no nothing.

Every one of these categories is prefixed with a number so if I have the SIP open or am on a PC, I can just type the number to jump to the category. The naming of the categories is a scheme that is similar to one that I use for email folders and groups in my chat application. This way, I already know the basic structure of the data underneath.

eWallet’s category feature is as simple as it is powerful. Set up the right way, it will save you a lot of time, but if you are not specific enough, you might end up wasting time as opposed to saving it.

Wallet Buddies

Ilium Software’s eWallet is one of those applications that you can use on just about every mobile device you use, including Pocket PCs, Smartphones, Palmtops and even on U3 drives.

The Desktop version of eWallet also includes SyncPro, which handles the various syncing tasks. Besides the standard device-to-device syncing, eWallet also lets you sync your wallet file with a Windows Share, FTP server or iOmega.

To answer a question of paranoid users: yes, the FTP syncing feature is plain FTP, which means that someone could sniff out your password. This does not, however compromise the data stored within your wallet file. That data is protected by a 256 bit encryption, which is twice as much encryption as most banks offer.

Wallet Chain

Apart from the main application and the syncing conduit, there are also two versions of PassBuilder, one that is installed on your device and one that is available online. PassBuilder, as the name suggests, is used to generate secure passwords.

A number of options enable you to generate the kind of password you can remember best, be that in the form of a mnemonic sentence or as part of a dictionary word.

Wallet Design

To visually enhance your listing, eWallet includes a feature that lets you select an icon to represent the content of the card. This works amazingly well with software license cards and even can be used to include a Favicon for a website login.

Besides icons, eWallet also lets you add sounds and (background) images that are played / displayed whenever a specific card is accessed. If you feel like customizing your wallet file even more, you might want to read about a long lost feature on Ilium Software’s blog.

Wallet Shop

In case the message still is not obvious, I love eWallet. I have been using it for years now and you should be using it too. eWallet is as great as it sounds; it protects your data and works across a huge group of different devices (and platforms).

For approximately $30, you can get the professional suite, which makes a lot more sense than just buying the Pocket PC (or Smartphone) version, because once you are hooked on storing data in eWallet, you will not want to be creating your cards on a small slide-out keyboard.

your mobile phone booth, secretary included (Spb Phone Suite)

posted in Reviews on August 17th, 2007

Pocket PCs with phone functionality are great, but out-of-the-box, Pocket PC Phones miss a couple of useful, sometimes even essential, applications. There are a couple of software packages available, all with their various advantages and disadvantages. Today, I will be looking at Spb’s Phone Suite.

Off the hook

Right from the start, you can tell that Spb’s Phone suite means business. As the name implies, this is more than a simple application, it is a full fledged suite, containing photo dialing capabilities and a notification system, mixed with black / white listing functions, and topped off with both a manager for profiles and a manager for connections. Finally, the mix gets sprinkled with a few extra enhancements to complete the whole thing.

Much of the functionality that is included in the suite, is available from the Today plugin, which has two main purposes:

Besides from supplying you with important information in the form of showing you missed calls and messages (SMS, MMS, email) the Today plugin also gives you one-tap access to a connection manager and a profile switcher.

Visual Call Indicator

By default, the second row features the photo dialing function, which in itself is very extensive and contains an array of enhancements that make it a lot more useful than comparable photo dialing applications. For users that would rather have a bit more privacy (or simply save some more screen space), you can change the display mode of the photo dialing function to be drop down activated. This will add a third icon, right after the profile icon, but will still provide you with the same functionality.

In its most simple form, the Photo Speed Dial function requires you to select a contact and it will be displayed on your Today screen. In today’s age and time, many people have more than one number they can be reached on, so Spb Phone Suite lets you select the (primary) number you want to call.

To make the photo dialing even more useful, Spb Software House includes a whole set of avatars, but you can always use your own pictures. Either way, the photo speed dial function is that Phone Suite hooks into the Outlook contacts and does not require you to re-create your photo contacts database, contrary to other applications.

Once you have selected a handful of contacts, they will be displayed on your Today screen.

Spb Phone Suite


Tap the name, and you will be asked to confirm the calling, one might argue that this could save some calling cost…

Distilling your calls

Apart from providing you with picture dialing capabilities, Spb Phone Suite also includes a black / white list module. While the available options are rather limited, the function in itself is powerful enough to keep pesky, unwanted callers from getting through at inappropriate times.

Profiling your needs

Besides the Today screen integration, which provides you with quick access to a couple of your profiles, there is a second, much bigger part of the actual profile part of the Phone Suite:

Every profile contains a host of settings, such as changing Bluetooth, WiFi and cellphone connectivity as well as adjusting backlight and, of course, ring and speaker volume.

Spb Phone Suite


By default, Spb Phone Suite includes a diverse set of profiles that will most probably fit most users without a need for adjustments.

extended services

Next to a host of big features, the suite also includes a number of small, but useful enhancements:

The Phone Notification feature will continuously remind you that you missed a call or text message using whatever method you like.

The Dialer Extension displays pictures (if available) in your call history as well as adds the possibility to quickly reply to a rejected call with a short message.

Hang up

While I could probably go on explaining why SPB Phone Suite is useful, it would make more sense if you would just go and download the trial version from the SPB Softwarehouse website..

For $20, this application provides you with a toolset that should actually have been included by default. SPB Phone Suite, once again does what it is supposed to do and does those things the right way. This application is a no-nonsense way of enhancing the way you communicate with and via your device.

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Shell of choice (Spb Mobile Shell)

posted in Reviews on August 14th, 2007

After more than seven years since it’s first release, six full releases and lots of time to improve, the default Windows Mobile setup still looks a bit bland. Even though there are thousands of themes, extended themes and a handful of Flash themes, the overall look and usage of these devices has not changed all that much.

Shell shock

If you have never heard of Spb Mobile Shell, you might be wondering why (and probably if) you would need it. Let me preface this review by stating that the Pocket PC interface, per se, is not bad, but I think we can all agree that a lot of stuff is missing.

Officially, Spb Mobile Shell is categorized as an UI enhancement tool. Many Windows users are already familiar with this kind of tools and might be reluctant to try it out, due to bad experiences with memory usage. Contrary to its bigger brethren however, Spb Mobile shell is very memory conscious and does not delay the execution of applications at all.

Shell in

The first thing you will notice after installing Spb Mobile Shell is the beautiful main screen. All the icons are big enough to be used with your fingers, but you can also use your stylus or your D-pad and buttons.

The content of the various menus is highly dynamic and depends on the applications you have installed, however, it is also filled with various enhancements from Spb Mobile Shell:

Some of the functions that are visible in the main screen are shortcuts to previously installed applications and some of the icons lead you directly to important PIM functions:

Spb Mobile Shell


Spb Mobile Shell also contains a small camera utility that even works if you do not have the camera software that originally came with your device installed.

It should be noted that on my XDA Flame, the camera application always selected the front side camera and I had no way of switching cameras. This maybe related to the lack of an original camera software though.

The time is Now

The feature you will see the most, unless you change the settings, is Spb Mobile Shell’s Now Screen. The Now Screen provides you with all the information you need at a quick glance:

The top most row contains battery information, signal strength and the name of your MNO. Below that is a bar that displays the latest weather information, your missed calls as well as your unread text messages and emails. The last icon in the listing is a shortcut to your profile settings.

If you have multiple Spb applications, you will appreciate the work that the Spb Mobile Shell development team has put into various integration features:

For example, if you have Spb Weather, the weather forecasts will contain a lot more information. If you use Spb’s Phone Suite, you will be provided with a couple of extra options too. The same integration is also available for Spb Time and Spb Diary and, in fact, virtually any other Spb product.

Feels like Today

Not unlike Spb Pocket Plus, Spb Mobile Shell adds a couple of tabs to your today screen.

The primary row contains information about your battery, the current time, a weather forecast as well as a picture dialing extension that works with or without Spb Phone Suite.

The various tabs themselves contain additional information, such as a listing of recently used applications for the battery tab or World Time in three different cities, which can be selected from a huge listing.

I personally found no need to change the order or content, however if you need to alter the information that is displayed, Spb Mobile Shell provides you with an extensive menu with various functions. The only thing missing is a way to delete a tab.

By default. the bar auto-collapses and thereby saves a lot of space. If you need it, just tap one of the big icons and the linked menu will pop up.

Other than modifications to the Today screen and the addition of a Now Screen, Spb Mobile Shell also provides a way for you to change the color scheme of your device. A very simple feature, but if you are not looking to create your own Themes, this is a nice alternative.


If you are looking to beef up your device with a collection of useful tools, Spb Mobile Shell is the application you want. Even thoughh Spb Mobile shell is not particularly cheap, at $30, the various features definitely justify the price.

Spb Mobile shell provides great enhancements and little overhead. Every function in this software is done the right way with no half-hearted attempts at adding extra functionality at the cost of usability. Spb Software House is known for their solid applications and Spb Mobile Shell is no different.

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get your StuffBak with Windows Mobile

posted in Guides on August 10th, 2007

There is little doubt about my love for StuffBak’s lost & found service and I have written about it on a couple of occassions.

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 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.

Spam filters that don’t work are a great thing

posted in Tech Talk on January 5th, 2007

While checking my email today, I was a bit annoyed by my, seemingly, defunct spam filter. It seems that more and more mail is left untagged lately and more and more spam is ending up in my mailbox.

So while looking through the latest messages from people I never heard off and offers about mortgages and medicine I don’t need, I came across one of these messages from - considering that I never buy there, cause they discriminate against people who don’t have access to a credit card, I was about to delete the message, when my fast-scanning eyes spotted a name I recognized: Iliumsoft.

Now, if you ever used a Pocket PC or Smartphone (or a Palm Handheld device, for that matter), you have probably heard of their premier application called eWallet. This application provides the perfect solution for people who do a lot of stuff online as well as off line. Me, I use it to store anything that I don’t want to see flying around, including personal details, important addresses as well as license keys for applications I bought.

After 18 months of development, Marc, Iliumsoft’s product manager, put out a call for help on their blog. The company was nearing the RTM stage of product development and needed some people to look at the product and put it through some stress testing to ensure that the application lived up to the expectations of the developers.

Thanks to a business kind-of relationship Marc and I established back when I was a reviewer for a tech site, I was included in the beta and was given a chance to look at eWallet 5.0 before the general public could.

I’ve been beta-testing software for about four years now, sometimes developers say “thank you”, sometimes you even get a license key and sometimes you end up with nothing but a timebombed application that will stop working a couple of weeks after the final product is released.

Iliumsoft however, values their testers. At the beginning of this week, Marc sent me an email with license keys for the whole eWallet range. The total of this “gig” alone comes down to a hefty $70 and to be honest, I wouldn’t have expected that. One key, of my own choosing, say Desktop or Smartphone, yes - but all four? Nope, I didn’t see that one coming.

However, as if that wasn’t generous enough, Iliumsoft also gifted me with this here: gift certificate from Iliumsoft

this $20 gift certificate from is Iliumsoft’s way of saying “thank you” and it’s awesome. Iliumsoft really wouldn’t have to do this, after all, they have enough momentum going for them as their reports show, yet they did. It seems that not everyone forgets where they “come from” once their sales go up. Keep it that way guys.

Marc and everyone else from Iliumsoft, it was most definitely my pleasure. Your responsiveness, be it in regards of support issues or feature suggestions is truly amazing. My Smartphone would be a useless piece of technology, if it weren’t for the data I collected within eWallet. You guys help me remember the things I am used to forgetting and I’m sincerely thankful for that.

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