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pure CE goodness

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My IBM z50 just arrived, and it is seriously cool!

For the uninitiated, the IBM z50 was IBM's first (and probably last) Windows CE device. Going against the other palm-clones and baby laptops out there, the z50 was almost a full-size laptop. It had a very nice screen, a good keyboard, and still could run for ten hours on the built-in batteries (as it has no drives). It also sold for $1000, which was awfully high for Windows CE. It sold miserably, so IBM dropped the price to $300 and dumped 'em all. They're getting scarcer than hen's teeth, and the price has jumped to almost $400 now due to their scarcity. You can still find a couple of distributors out there, and they're hot potatoes on eBay.

Anyway, I'll probably be using this gizmo to do the daily GDC updates. Since it has a modem, I'll try to connect to a local ISP and update the page via email. Hopefully it'll work nicely, so I can dump my cheesy 386 laptop. This is half the size and easily five times the speed.

So, for you CE newbies out there, here's the stuff I put on my z50 so far. . .

MobiBook Reader (free) - While the built-in web browser can read most HTML books, this does a much better job of formatting text for on-screen reading. It can also read Palm-formatted books. The full-screen mode is also quite nice. Until MS releases their new font technology, this is the best way to read a book on the screen.

Microsoft's Entertainment Pack for CE - While not overly flashy, this is the best gamepack out there for CE. There are some necessary games (Minesweeper, Taipei), some good startups (Blackjack), and some losers (Space Defense), but all in all, it's a winner. Biggest complaint is that Taipei is locked in a "mini" version for small screens. This has a 640x480 screen, which is plenty to show a full set of Mahjongg tiles.

Ya know, somebody oughta come out with a full version for CE. Hmmm. . .

Note: Ignore the "Games to Go" arcade pack for CE by WizardWorks. While some of the games could have been good, they are all basically unfinished and aren't much more than demos. This product was hurried out the door.

Space Invaders (free) - This is really old port of a really old game, but the author got it right the first time. It's a very faithful version of the original Space Invaders for CE.

Microsoft's PowerToys for CE (free) - Only thing on here that I really wanted was Regedit for CE and the Sci Fi sound-scheme. But hey, it's free!

Microsoft's PlusPack for CE (free) - Again, I only kept a couple of utilities from this one (Paint, Word Count, Favorites Sync), but it's also free.

TrayDate (free) - puts the date in the system tray. Shows a calendar when you click on it. If you put it on your z50, go with the H/PC version rather than the H/PC pro version. It's better.

SoundWidget (free) - Puts a little speaker in your system tray, and you can adjust the volume with it just like its big brother machines. Better than the "mute" applet in MS PowerToys download.

Finally, I found out an interesting factoid that, as far as I know, only exists on the z50. It has a command-line! If you pop up the "run" dialog and run "cmd", you will get a command-line of sorts. I think this is something IBM wrote to make folks moving from Windows more comfortable. Anyway, it might be of use. You never know. . .

Fixed the problem with the CD-RW. . .sort of.

I think the problem is actually with the EZ-CD Creator software that came with the unit. It appears to have some serious problems with Win2K. After taking the advice of some newsgroup folks who suggested putting it in its own IDE controller by itself (didn't help), I downloaded the shareware version of NERO. Well, it worked beautifully, burning the CD's in record time. The shareware version is good for 30 burns, which is plenty of time for me to make sure it works well. Nice product!
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