Software Installed on my Sprint CDMA Treo 650
I've owned my PalmOne Treo 650 since December of 2004, and it's taken me quite a while to get it just the way I want it, with all the software that makes it do exactly what I want it to. I love my Treo! I want you to love yours too, so here is what I've got installed on mine, in hopes that perhaps you will find it useful, and just maybe - you'll find out about some fantastic software for YOUR Treo that you didn't know about!
First off, let me qualify myself: I am a programmer, and have been for nineteen years. I love technology, I love gadgets, and I'm not your average cell phone user. I know a fair bit about the technology behind cell phone operations, and I've made some decisions along the way because of it.
My Cell Phone History
My first cell phone, in 1988, was an $800 AMPS analog "bag phone" - basically a mobile car phone, with a huge 2.3 aH lead acid (yes, I said LEAD, as in HEAVY) battery hooked on the back of it, put in a bag that you slung over your shoulder. The whole thing weighed about 6 pounds and was absolutely state of the art. Of course, with a full 3 watts of RF output, you didn't want to carry the bag too close to your, uh, self, for fear of sterilizing yourself. You could get a good 55 minutes talk time out of it, or about 6 hours standby.
I had a car phone just like my bag phone in my car after that for a number of years. In 1994, I got my DiamondTel (Mitsubishi) 22X. This thing was sweet. It was tiny (for the time), which meant it was expensive - $650. A fully analog phone, with an extended battery (see the big lump on the back), it would last for almost an hour and a half of talk time, or about 8 hours standby.
But that wasn't the greatest thing about this phone. The best thing was that by turning on the phone, and within ten seconds holding down the END key and entering 0944635, it would put it in a special diagnostic mode. And in this diagnostic mode, you could manually turn on the receiver portion of the phone, AND manually tune it - basically meaning hours of entertainment listening to other people's telephone conversations. How cool was that?
After several years of dependable service, my 22X died, to my great displeasure. I bought an analog Motorola StarTAC 6500, with single-line LED display. Nowhere near as many functions as my 22X, but it was tiny. Unfortunately, so was its battery capacity, range, feature list, storage capability and appeal.
It was my first Motorola phone.
It was my last Motorola phone.
I did wear it on my belt though, like a proper geek.
My first digital phone was a GSM Nokia 6190. This amazing workhorse of a phone was on Canada's Fido network. GSM coverage was extremely limited at the time, so they included an analog module. You unclipped the battery from the back, clipped the analog module on in its place, then clipped the battery onto the analog module. It worked great, analog coverage and signal was great, the firmware was outstanding. I bought a data cable for the thing and figured out how to send and receive SMS messages through the phone from my PC. This was a revelation, and led to my creating the long-defunct DogPhone web site, offering free email to SMS message service for Fido customers. MicroCell (the owners of Fido) HATED it - but their employees used it! I started keeping track of how many messages had been sent for MicroCell employees, and posting the number on the front page. :) By the time DogPhone ended, it had sent millions of free SMS messages for Fido phone users.
My second favorite phone in the world was my Nokia 8260. It was absolutely TINY, and nearly indestructible. At first I carried it on my belt, but after the geek factor overcame me, I started just shoving the thing in my pocket. After a while the dust would get inside it, cover the screen and stop the keys from working. 15 minutes with a screwdriver, I could take it apart, blow it clean, put it back together again, and it would be good as new. I LOVED this phone, the firmware was amazing, the bit-mapped screen amazingly readable, the sound quality and signal reception superior. By the time I gave it up, I had worn all the blue paint off the outside of the plastic case. I retired it, but I still have it - and it still works as good as new!
Now, My Favorite Phone
Which, of course, is my Treo 650. I replaced my Nokia 8260 with my Treo 650 in December of 2004. I had been eyeing smart phones for a while, and I was sick of carrying around my Sony Clie TH-55 Palm organizer along WITH my cell phone. I wanted to combine them into one, but I wanted to keep the Palm OS, because of all the software I had and loved on my Clie. Enter the Treo 650. I loved it at first sight, and it is without a doubt still my favorite gadget.
I won't go into details on my Palm history, suffice it to say my very first Palm unit was a USRobotics Palm Pilot Professional in 1996, which set me back $450. I've had a few different (all Sony) units since then.
So, without further ado, here is, in alphabetical order, a list of my Treo 650 software.
I use BackupBuddy VFS:Lite on a very regular basis to back up my Treo 650 to my SanDisk 1GB SD Ultra card. (Incidentally, if you are going to get an SD card for your Treo, make sure it is an Ultra - it is so fast, you won't notice the difference between running apps from the card and running apps within the phone memory). All I can say is that BackupBuddy has saved my life more than once, and if you have a Treo, you are NUTS to not have it. When my first Treo 650 died in July, Sprint provided me with a free replacement - and I had it back up and running with every piece of software, all configured the way I had it, in about two minutes - thanks to BackupBuddy.
Bombel is, without a doubt, my fiancee's favorite game, and the one piece of software on my Treo that everyone really seems to love.
Not really a game, more of a time-waster. It's virtual bubble wrap. Best used with your finger, you pop the bubbles. Complete with bubble-pop noise. And, for the geek crowd, it gives you full statistics on your bubble-popping prowess.
Kickoo's Breakout is an excellent graphic-intensive version of Breakout. I have tried quite a few different versions of Breakout on my Clie and Treo, and this one is my favorite. There's enough variety and constantly changing things in it to keep things fresh and interesting as you progress through the levels.
My fiancee likes this one, too.
Just like BackupBuddy, CallFilter is another one of these products you simply can't afford to be without on your Treo. It lets you filter incoming calls based on phone number, name, category, blocked/no callerid, or company, send unwanted calls to voicemail immediately or after a few rings, pickup and hang up on caller, ignore caller, or automatically answer. You can have it play customized MP3, OGG, WAV or MIDI ring tones for any contact or group. You can have unlimited picture caller ID. It can filter SMS messages and have separate rules or actions based upon them. It speaks (yes, speaks) the phone number of incoming calls. And it does about 400 other things that the Treo should have been able to do out of the box. CallFilter is without a doubt the best piece of utility software that I have on my Treo.
This version of Checkers is simple, but it's easy to figure out, and hard to beat. And you certainly can't argue with the price (free). You can change just how good the computer is to play against, but I won't admit to the fact that it still regularly beats me even at the easiest level. Oh. oops.
Converter is a simple utility that converts basically any unit of any measurement to any other. Quick and easy to use, and very useful. And again, you can't beat free software. Are you sensing the fact that I like free software? Especially well-written, functional free software? Props to these guys for taking the time to write something of quality, and then giving it away to the world for free.
Let's say it again - Freeware rules! I have a love-hate relationship with EZFTP. It does allow me to do some incredible things like solve server problems while sitting in a restaurant, or pull up a file that I left on my PC at home (what, you don't have an FTP server running on your home PC?) But it's not the most, uh, stable piece of software. If you can deal with the occasional lockup, it works great. Your mileage may vary.
If you have a PalmOS based handheld of any kind, you should not be without Filez. They should make it part of the OS. It lets you peer into the Palm file system, figure out what is taking up lots of space, what doesn't need to be there, and find lots of things out that the Palm OS normally doesn't want you to know. Send files, delete files, look at files on the card, in ROM...besides, it's free. What have you got to lose?
Written by a 14 year old high school student, FlightStatus does exactly what you think it would do: It goes online and retrieves flight status information on any flight you want from the Internet. If this saves you from missing one flight, it's worth donating a few bucks to the kid. It works, and it works perfectly - which is more than I can say for some software written by people a lot older than 14 who should know better.
When I had my Sony Clie TH-55, it came with a brilliant Solitaire game that I spent a LOT of time playing. Unfortunately, the license for it did not extend to my Treo, so I had to find a new one. This is the one. I play this game on my Treo more than any other. I spend literally hours playing Handmark Solitaire. It frustrates me over and over again, and then lets me have a winning streak, just long enough before it humbles me by crushing me once more. The best Palm solitaire game out there.
I can't find an image of this one, but the web site (as sparse as it is) can be found here. It is a ZIP format compress/decompress utility for Palm, especially useful for sending or receiving large files over slow wireless Internet links. It will allow you to ZIP and mail a file in one step. Works great, and - it's free!
Lines is a fun but frustrating game where you have to move colored balls around on the screen in order to create a line of five or more of the same colored balls. If you make a line, the lined-up balls disappear. If you don't, three more balls (of random colors) appear on the screen. The idea is to get rid of all the balls on the screen. I haven't been able to do it yet, but I'm sure it's possible if you spend enough time at it.
What can I say about Mapopolis? It is the single most useful utility on my Treo. I use it ALL the time. I have been using Mapopolis for years, since I had my Clie. I have maps for every square foot of North America, and about half of those are loaded onto my 1GB SD card. The remainder I have burned to a DVD-R that lives in my laptop bag should I need them. I am reassured by the fact that no matter WHERE I drive in North America, I will never be lost. More importantly, I never need a map, or directions. I can easily look up where I am, enter where it is I want to go, and presto - instant directions, along with a scrollable, draggable, zoomable road map. Think Google Maps on your Palm. I simply can't say enough what a great program this is. If you travel at ALL, or are someone who gets lost easily, you need to go buy Mapopolis right now!
And now, a word from our sponsors:
Marbles2 is another one of these frustrating games that I can never win, but my fiancee figures out in no time flat. You have to collect squares of marbles of the same color, and the larger the square, the more points you get. The more points you have with the least number of marbles left on the screen at the end, means you win. Or something like that. It's a fun game, and will pass the time.
Memorix is the classic memory "match two the same" game. It has lots of different difficulty levels and lots of different images for you to match, including the undoubtedly copyright-violating "Simpsons" one shown at right. I rather like this type of game, I'm quite good at it, and I've tried several different versions of "memory" games - I like this one best, and it's free to boot. Bonus.
mSafe is another one of those "don't even think of owning a Treo without it" kind of utilities. If you value the information stored in your Treo, and if you store any kind of sensitive information whatsoever (and who doesn't?) then you NEED mSafe. The two main functions I use are: securing the Treo with a selectable password when it is powered up or reset, and the MAIN reason I bought this software: Locking or WIPING CLEAN your Treo remotely via SMS. How cool is this? If you lose your Treo, simply send it an SMS via email with a special password in it. When the Treo receives that SMS, it either locks itself or wipes itself clean to a factory-fresh condition (depending on the code you give it). It then replies via SMS that it has been done. Never worry about storing sensitive information on your Treo again.
mVoice provides functionality that the Treo 650 was SORELY lacking out of the box, and I use it all the time. It is simply a voice recorder - press a button, speak at your Treo, press a button to stop. It records in very high quality, direct to your SD card if you want, and organizes your recordings by date and time, or by any name you want to give them. You can offload them and play them on your PC, or play them back on your Treo. I never have time to write notes to myself, and if I don't record my thoughts when I have them, they are gone minutes later, so this application allows me to create reminders to myself of things I need to remember. Another "I wouldn't even think of doing without this" application.
A Pac-Man clone, PacDude 100% is about the closest to the real thing that I have found. The music is dead on, the sounds are exactly right, the animation is great. And get this...it's FREE! I think this is my fiancee's favorite game, or at least the one she spends the most time playing on long road trips in the car. I know whenever my Treo is missing, all I have to do is follow the Pac-Man sounds in the house to find both my Treo and my fiancee.
Unbelievable. That's all I can say about PalmVNC. Using my Treo, I can be in my CAR, log into one of my servers over VNC, view the desktop of the server, do whatever I need to do, and log out. Anything I can do sitting at the console of one of my servers, I can now do from ANYWHERE, on my PHONE! You have no idea the kind of freedom and reassurance this gives me, knowing that no matter what happens, what goes wrong, wherever I am, I can fix it. This utility is worth a million dollars, yet it is FREE.
Open Source (free)
When I had my Sony Clie TH-55, it came with a brilliant Solitaire game that I spent a LOT of time playing. Unfortunately, the license for it did not extend to my Treo, so I had to find a new one. Patience Revisited comes close. It has a bunch of other card games in it as well, but I only care about the one. I spend a lot of time in waiting rooms and so on playing this game. Because it is open source there are constantly offering new versions with new games.
One of the design flaws of the Treo is that in order to warm (or cold) boot it, you have to slide open the battery compartment, take the stylus out, and shove it in a little hole in the back. This is a PITA to accomplish if all you want to do is reset the darn thing. ResetMe allows you to do the same thing (two different kinds of reboots) by clicking on an on-screen button. Simple and fast, and saves you from having to (yet again) slide that battery cover off.
TreoGuard is yet another one of those "why didn't Palm include this in the Treo firmware" utilities. Once you have it, you'll never want to do without it. Absolutely the most important #1 feature that TreoGuard has is: It turns the phone back on after it crashes. That's right - if your Treo crashes, for any reason, which of course it is wont to do now and then - when it reboots, the phone is turned OFF! And you don't have any idea that it has happened, until you happen to notice that your phone hasn't rung in a while! TreoGuard makes sure that when your Treo reboots, that it switches the phone back on. It also has functions to enable or disable screen and button functions when in certain modes, to save battery life and prevent inadvertant keypresses.
Basically Trillian for your Treo, Verichat lets you log into your ICQ, Yahoo, AIM and MSN Messenger instant messaging accounts - all at the same time. Anyone sends you an IM, it pops up on your Treo. Reply to it, and they get a reply - they have absolutely no idea that you are actually at home sitting by the pool instead of at your PC at work. I use this thing CONSTANTLY. I had some crashing issues with it early on, but subsequent builds and excellent technical support from Verichat got those fixed, and it runs rock solid stable now. Love it.
When I bought this software, it was called Voice Dialer, from Grover Industries. It is now called VoiceDialIt, from VoiceIt Technologies. It is a voice dialing utility where you can push a button, speak someone's name, and your Treo dials the call. In practice, it was, well, less than outstanding. Having more than 20 or 30 names recorded (you have to record it using your own voice) makes it very slow at matching what you said to the appropriate entry. If there is any sort of background noise, it basically doesn't work at all, or worse - dials the wrong number. I played with it as a novelty for a few days and abandoned it, although it's still on my Treo, because dammit, I paid for it! :) Perhaps the new VoiceDialIt software is faster, more accurate and less sensitive to background noise, I don't know - because I'm not about to pay more money to upgrade to their newest version.
And there you have it! I hope this quick compendium of software is of some use to someone, somewhere, and enables them to make their Treo 650 "all it can be." It's taken me quite a long time to be happy with the software collection on my Treo, and I have no doubt it will change in the future - but for now, this is it!
Comments? Questions? Feel free to email me.