---------- ---------- PC Pro Realworld Computing: Paul Lynch - PDAs

Grabbing Attention

One of the many little tasks associated with reviewing software is producing screen shots. For desktop operating systems this isn't a problem. One of the first shareware releases is usually a screen capture program; there are many of these available for any operating system. After all, the developer wants to put some screen shots in his marketing material, so the operating system author needs a screen grabber as badly as we do. Probably the most popular one for Windows operating systems is Paint Shop Pro, which is excellent value for money. For PDAs, this isn't so easy. There are quite a few PDAs on the market, and new ones are being released all the time; of the three PDAs mentioned in this column (Psion S3c, Casio Cassiopeia, and US Robotics Pilot), all of them were released in the last year. Sometimes we are reduced to using a camera to take a photograph of the display, which is something no self-respecting computer journalist would want to admit to.

For the Pilot, there is an excellent emulator available, called CoPilot. This runs most applications, even HackMaster and HotSync. The only exception I have found so far is that Blocks runs at excruciatingly slow speed. With CoPilot, you can even load new applications directly from the file system into memory. It also emulates up to 4 Mb of RAM space. The only disadvantage is that a mouse isn't nearly as good to write with as a stylus, and it won't fit into a shirt pocket any more. CoPilot is an excellent tool for developing and debugging Pilot applications; it also happens to be a great way of grabbing screeenshots.

CoPilot is the best way to run Pilot applications
CoPilot is the best way to run Pilot applications

{pilot-copilot.gif - "CoPilot is the best way to run Pilot applications"}

With Windows CE, a screen capture program is part of the Developers toolkit (Handheld PC Remote Zoomin), so there is a solution, and a beta copy is still a free download. However, it requires Windows NT to run, and I try to connect all my PDAs to a Windows 95 system. If you are prepared to dig around the binaries, and install the right DLLs from the SDK, it can be persuaded to run on Windows 95.

The good news is that the new release of PowerToys, mentioned above, includes a Remote Control program for HPCs. This requires that HPC Explorer is already running to manage the connection to the HPC, but allows you to save BMP format screen images directly from the program. Remote Control has a couple of other pluses: you can control it with the PC mouse and keyboard, so it isn't just a screen grabber, and you can run an interactive demonstration from the program. Remote Control will also let you copy and paste between the HPC and controlling PC pasteboards.

Words and design by:
Paul Lynch
Last updated: July 30, 1997

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