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Decorating Your Pocket PC

You've covered a lot of territory in this chapter, so let's lighten things up with a couple of somewhat esoteric Pocket PC customizations to the graphics on the Power-On and Today screens. These graphics can be easily set by copying appropriately named files onto your Pocket PC.

Customizing the Power-On Screen

If you recall, the Power-On screen is displayed when a Pocket PC is first turned on, provided that you have checked the option on the Owner Information screen that displays owner information when the device is turned on. Please refer to the "Personalizing Your Pocket PC" section earlier in this chapter for more information on setting this option. It is possible to customize the graphical image displayed on the Power-On screen, which isn't a huge functional issue but does add a touch of personalization to your device.

Watch Out!

The previous steps to customizing the Power-On screen won't work on the HP Jornada series of Pocket PCs due to HP's implementation of the Power-On screen. Jornada Pocket PCs do allow you to customize the Power-On screen but they use a different name and format for the image file. In fact, the image used on the Jornada Power-On screen is actually much larger, measuring 240x295 in size. To customize the Power-On screen of a Jornada Pocket PC, follow the previous steps but create a bitmap (BMP) image that is 240x295 in size and name it hpstart.bmp. It is important that this image be stored in the Windows Bitmap format and not GIF.

The image displayed on the Power-On screen is a GIF image of size 240x60. To change the look of the Power-On screen, you create a GIF image that is 240x60 in size using whatever graphical program you have at your disposal and copy it over the default image on the device. The default image is named myinfo.gif, and is located in the \Windows folder on the device. You can change the image as much as you want. Following are the steps required to customize the Power-On screen:

  1. Create a GIF image that is 240x60 in size and name it myinfo.gif.
  2. Use ActiveSync to explore to the \Windows folder on your Pocket PC.
  3. Copy the myinfo.gif file from your desktop PC to the \Windows folder on your Pocket PC, making sure to confirm the replacement of the existing file.
  4. Turn the device off and back on to see the results.

Figure 3.13 shows the Power-On screen of my Pocket PC customized with a mountain image.

Figure 3.13 You can customize the image on the Power-On screen to give your Pocket PC a more personal feel when it is turned on.

Customizing the Today Screen

Like the Power-On screen, the Today screen is also customizable in terms of the graphics you see in the background near the top of the screen. Unlike the Power-On screen, the Today screen uses two images: one that is displayed behind the date and another larger image that appears just below the date and includes the word "Today." Following are the names and sizes of these two images:

  • tdydate.gif: 240x20
  • tdybnr.gif: 240x40

Inside Scoop -

If you aren't too artistically inclined or don't have the desire to create your own Today screen images, you'll be glad to know that there are images readily available for you to download off the Web. James Feck has a Web page located at http://www.thefecks.com/pocketpc/today_page.html that includes Today screen images that he created. The Pocket PC software company DeveloperOne also hosts a Web page containing Today screen images, which is located at http://www.developerone.com/pocketpc/tips/today/.

Similar to customization of the Power-On screen, customizing the Today screen images involves replacing the images in the \Windows folder of the Pocket PC with images of your own. Following are the steps required to change the Today screen images:

  1. Create a GIF image that is 240x20 in size and name it tdydate.gif.
  2. Create a GIF image that is 240x40 in size and name it tdybnr.gif.
  3. Use ActiveSync to explore to the \Windows folder on your Pocket PC.
  4. Copy the GIF files from your desktop PC to the \Windows folder on your Pocket PC, making sure to confirm the replacement of the existing files.
  5. Perform a soft reset of the device for the Today screen changes to take effect.

Figure 3.14 shows the Today screen of my Pocket PC customized with images of a scenic lake.

Figure 3.14 You can customize the images on the Today screen to personalize your Pocket PC.

In addition to customizing the background images on the Today screen, you might also want to consider making an additional, more practical change to the way the Today screen is accessed. Because the Today screen serves as a starting point in the Pocket PC user interface, it makes sense that it should be readily available. Granted, you can always get to it from the top of the Start menu, but I like the idea of my Pocket PC automatically taking me back to the Today screen if I haven't used the device for a while. Fortunately, this feature is built in to the Pocket PC operating system, and you can alter it to have the Today screen displayed more often.

By default, your Pocket PC is set up so the Today screen is displayed if the device is idle for four hours. I prefer the minimum setting for this feature, which is one hour. To change the idle period for the Today screen, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Today screen.
  2. Tab the Today graphic near the top of the screen just below the date.
  3. Select the idle period in the combo box near the bottom of the screen.
  4. Click OK to accept the Today Settings changes.

You might have noticed in the Today Settings screen that you can customize the information that is displayed on the Today screen. To do so, you check and uncheck the information that you want to have displayed. By default, all the items are checked, which results in the most information being displayed on the Today screen. This is my personal preference because there is plenty of room on the Today screen and you might as well use it.

Essential Information

  • Set the owner information for your Pocket PC so you can be contacted if your Pocket PC is lost and found.
  • The Start menu provides quick access to any application with two taps of the stylus, and can be customized to suit your own tastes.
  • Password protecting your Pocket PC is a good idea if you plan to keep sensitive information on the device, such as credit card numbers or business information.
  • The ActiveSync software allows you to synchronize application data between your Pocket PC and a desktop PC, explore the Pocket PC file system, copy and move files, and install applications.
  • Altering the visual appearance of the Power-On and Today screens is as simple as replacing a few images in the \Windows folder on your Pocket PC.
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