Archive for the 'Mobile Phones' Category

Email & PIM; home & work. How to handle?

I want to review the best way of handling PIM (contacts, calendar, tasks, notes) and email.

At Work

My work set-up is fixed: Outlook and an Exchange server. This is used for Email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks (and I would like to have my categorised Notes too but at the moment that is an issue)

What I need on my phone

  1. Contacts: work contacts & home contacts
  2. Appointments: work & home
  3. Tasks: work & home (although home ones could just be maintained on the phone)
  4. Notes: work & home
  5. I don’t look at emails on my phone (I have a home email address which I look at when home; and a work email address which I look at when at work)

Both work and home information is needed on the phone: work and home contacts, appointments, tasks and notes. This is the starting point for my thinking. It probably means that work and home PIM should probably always be stored together.

Home PC

I want to have Contacts, Appointments, Tasks, Notes and (home) Email. I prefer to use Outlook for these because it has excellent functionality, you can navigate very quickly between between different bits of information and the search is good.

Actually we have two home PCs now so having Outlook on both (synchronised) would be great!

What I would like

So the optimum solution would be to keep the following synchronised:

  • MS Exchange at work (this I have to use)
  • Outlook on my home PC (for excellent functionality) (and on the other home PC too if possible)
  • my phone (currently a phone that runs Windows Mobile 5.1 professional although I could change to a different phone)
    Except I don’t want emails synchronised – want home emails at home, work emails at work, and neither on my phone – although I do use web access to occasionally access home or work emails when travelling


  • Synchronisation: I use Windows Active Sync to synch my phone: wirelessly to Exchange and with a cable to my home PC. If I change any Outlook entries on the work PC I have to be careful that my next sync is to Exchange otherwise my latest changes can get overwritten (similarly if I change anything on the home PC I have to make sure the next sync is to the home PC). This is awkward and sometimes it goes wrong
  • Notes: to get categorised Notes on my phone I had to purchase SmartphoneNotes. This synchronises to the home PC but not to work PC: a big problem for me. The synchronisation to the home PC is incredibly slow (I have over 1500 notes) and opening the program on the phone is also painfully slow. I tried Phatnotes instead but that is very slow when using the application (a least smartphoneNotes is quick to use once it’s open)
  • Two home PCs Can I have Outlook (PIM and home emails) on both home PCs and synchronised?! If I use IMAP for downloading email then I can have emails in sync between an email web client and both home computers BUT that won’t help with tasks, calendars and contacts (and if it was just emails I was interested in I would probably abandon Outlook for Gmail).

Synchronising Outlook between two home computers

 I guess what I am really looking for is the power of the Outlook application on the PCs but the data to be held in the cloud and synchronised across the computers. There is software to synchronise Outlook between PCs (at a price) eg SimpleSyn, or Sync Outlook (runs in the background but $100!) and SynchPst (unfortunately have to run manually & needs Outlook closed!) – the last two are reviewed at – this post has many helpful comments on it (eg “try gSyncit: synchronises Outlook PIM with Gmail”)

Alternatively, if I’m going to pay money I could go for a hosted exchange ? eg


1) Do notes separately from Outlook

One of the big problems at the moment (see above) is with Notes. There is no reason why Notes would need to be in the same app as emails, calendar or contacts. So I decided to look for an app that would do just notes and:

  • sync notes between both home PCs, work PC and phone (and have them categorised on all platforms)
  • notes need to be available offline especially on the phone (that rules out Evernote)
  • categories, good search, tags
  • import from Outlook
  • quick and easy to use

Springpad might be a solution (if I can bear all the ads) .. BUT it’s not available for Windows mobile, which leads me to the next conclusion:

2) Maybe it’s time to change my phone to one that has a reasonable range of apps (Android or iphone I guess)

Palm Treo Pro no sound on phone calls

All of a sudden I can’t hear anything on my Palm Treo Pro when I make a phone call – although it does still make sounds (eg when I reboot it)


1) plug in headphones: they work

2) jiggle the headphone jack in its socket a bit & the “no sound” problem is solved completely.

I found this web page which explains it (apparently there is a little switch inside the barrel of the headphone socket which gets stuck):

Update 8 Aug 2011

Same phone a few months later … now I can’t hear music play even with headphones / earbuds.
+ when someone phones me the ringer doesn’t sound
BUT when I answer the phone with headphones on then I can hear them!
(although apparently they can’t hear me)

  • So, as before, I pushed the headphone jack in & out several times, but the problems remained.
  • Then,  following instructions in the link above, I put a bit of lubricant (GT85)  in the socket that takes the headphone jack
  • Then I pushed a couple of different jacks in & out of the socket a number of times and eventually …  I could now hear sound through the headphones, but still couldn’t hear anything  without the headphones.
  • Then after a bit more lubricant, and inserting and removing the headphones again, sound returned to normal. Phew!

Phatnotes for Outlook sync problems

I use the “notes” in Outlook. I like to use them on my phone too – so I use Phatnotes for Outlook which stores the notes on my phone and syncs with Outlook nicely. (Importantly Phatnotes can handle note categories – which the notes facility in Windows Mobile can’t).

The problem

Well, after a year, the “syncs nicely” changed. Notes get randomly deleted (fortunately they are in my deleted items in Outlook so I can get them back). Also some changes I made to notes in Outlook are not appearing on the phone!


1. I restored the “deleted notes.

In Outlook went to deleted items. Sorted it by icon so all the notes were together. I created a new notes folder (called “oldNotes”) and moved in there any notes that had been genuinely deleted. I highlighted the remaining notes and dragged them onto the “Notes” folder (thankfully they remember their categories).

2. I resolved that I would see my notes in Outlook would be my definitive set, and reviewed some recently changes notes to check they looked ok. I decided that I would now uninstall Phatnotes and reinstall it – so starting from scratch with the notes on the phone:

a) Backed up my Outlook notes
In Outlook:
– File à Export à select “to file” à select “pst file” à select Notes folder à next àBrowse à choose a filename that describes it (eg notesbackup) and a folder (can be a flashdrive) à I chose no encryption

b) Uninstalled Phatnotes from the phone
On the phone:
– closed Phatnotes – and disconnected phone from PC
– Start à Settings à system tab à Remove programs à select Phatnotes à Yes
– at the “delete notes database?” prompt: Yes

c) Uninstalled Phatnotes from the PC
On the PC:
– closed Outlook and ActiveSync
– Start àControl Panel à Add/Remove Programs à select Pahtnotes à Remove

d) Reinstalled Phatnotes
– connected phone to PC
– on PC: opened Active Sync and waited for sync to finish
– on PC: ran PhatnotesOutlook.exe (which I have saved on my PC)
– then a dialogue on the PC says look at phone screen. Phone screen asked where I wanted Phatnotes installed. I selected: Storage Card
– at next dialogue on PC: Finish (not necessary to select the options button unless have multiple notes folders in Outlook that you want to sync)

e) Synchronised phone to PC
– then did a Sync using Active Sync
– it now copies all the notes over to the phone
It took ages over an hour (I have over 1300 notes)

BUT!! the result was – all the notes in Outlook had been deleted (moved to the Deleted folder)!


I restored the notes from pst backup (I could probably just have moved them back from the Deleted Items folder). Then I did another sync. This sync was very quick (a minutes?) and now all the notes are on my phone and in Outlook!

I tested creating and editing notes on each platform – and they sync ok

My setup
PC running Windows XP SP3
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Palm connects to PC using ActiveSync4.5
Store Outlook notes on my phone using PhatNotes for Outlook 5.2 build 5.591.0201

phone memory critically low

  • Getting the message “memory critically low”
  • Click in top right-hand corner of home page and then tap on the % figure
  • This shows how much “program memory” is free and how much “storage memory” is free. For me the “storage memory” is the problem (max 105.55MB)

Program memory = the memory programs use (temporarily) when they are running
Storage memory = used to store files AND programs


  1. I have a program called “KeepRecordin”. Changed this to save on storage card not in memory
  2. Wondered what the large pim file is (59MB) – in root folder (ie in MyDevice). It’s apparently all my contacts, calendar and tasks
  3. MyDevice/Windows/Rings. This contains my ringtones. Some are large files (5MB). So deleted some
  4. In Notes changed the set-up to store on storage card (some notes can include graphics and audio so can be large files). Also moved existing notes from MyDevice/MyDocuments to Storage card
    NB the icon has a little picture of a storage card if the file is stored on the card
  5. I could also … move programs to the storage card rather than the main memory (eg Phatnotes) (Think should probably do this by uninstalling and reinstalling the program)

My setup
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional

Active Sync hangs

I had been happily synchronising my phone with Outlook for many months (using Active Sync) and then one day it kept hanging. It never got past the “Looking for changes ” stage. It just carried on saying “looking for changes” and nothing changed. It didn’t produce any error messages and the ActiveSync troubleshooter said everything was ok

After trying many things I replaced the cable connecting PC to phone – and all was ok!

My setup
PC running Windows XP SP3
Palm Treo Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Palm connects to PC using ActiveSync4.5

A phone that synchronises with Outlook Notes & Tasks

I have used a Palm m500 PDA for a very long time (and before that a Palm V). Then at work I was offered the chance to choose a mobile phone that is a PDA as well. That’s good: instead of carrying 2 devices everywhere I can carry one. But it’s important to me that I can sync Outlook Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes with the device. The options …

1) Apple iPhone
It’s great BUT ….
a) it’s too bulky for my pocket and
b) it doesn’t sync Tasks or Notes with Outlook

2) Symbian phone (eg Nokia)
a) Outlook notes don’t seem to sync
b) Outlook tasks sync but they just appear in a long list or by date (I use categories)
c) I find typing on the phone pad very slow – I need a touch-sensitive screen with some sort of handwriting recognition (like the old Palm Graffiti)

3) Palm Centro
This runs the Palm operating system – which has synchronised with Outlook fine for over a decade!
But the Centro is rather low specification in some other areas. Palm apparently are working on an updated version of their operating system so are likely to issue a better phone next year.

4) Windows Mobile phone
I went for one of these … the Palm Treo Pro (free with O2). (Despite being a “Palm” it doesn’t run the Palm operating system – but Windows Mobile).
Unfortunately, unlike Symbian and Apple, WM6 doesn’t sychronise over WiFi** , but I only really want to synchronise when I’m in the office or at home – and I can do that with a cable.
BUT … I then found WM doesn’t support categories for Notes. I have a huge number of notes in Outlook carefully categorised: but on my phone they all just appeared in one long list!!

Solution for Notes Categories on WM6.1
I purchased PhatNotes from
It runs rather slowly on my phone but it supports categories!
(I looked at SmartPhoneNotes as an alternative: but they say their software is not compatible with Windows Mobile Professional edition)

** WM6.1 doesn’t sync over WiFi: