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Anyone else here have an ePods?

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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-01 3:28 PM
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I had a lot of fun tinkering with my first CE 2.12 device, the NTT DoCoMo Pocket PostPet, until the screen cable failed. Having tried unsuccessfully thus far to locate a replacement (there are some on Yahoo! Japan, but I'd need an intermediary to assist me, and the services online for this are pretty expensive), and suffering from CE 2.12 withdrawal, I went out and picked up an ePods One on eBay. Originally marketed as an "Internet appliance" with a proprietary GUI overlaying CE 2.12, it's much easier to hack than the PPP, as described on this site:

http://www.geocities.com/epodsfiles/

So far, I'm using the "Easy" hack, which just requires substituting a small set of files in \Windows. What makes the ePods interesting, though, is that it has a flash storage module where it keeps the system files - and the files can be removed and replaced with other files, which means that you can actually permanently replace the proprietary GUI with a core Windows CE shell (the "Full" hack), which will survive a hard reset. (The site linked above will explain how - but be careful. One mistake and you have a brick - and the process of rebuilding the file system to make it work again, while quite doable, is a major task.)

The ePods has a pretty nice form factor. It's less than 2 cm thick, with almost an identical footprint to the IBM z50. The 640x480 screen displays 16-bit color (65,536 colors), though it's set at 8-bit (256 colors) by default. (One registry edit changes the display to the higher color depth, and it's the same edit that does this on the Fujitsu PenCentra 200.) There are two USB host ports, and a Microsoft-compatible mouse and keyboard work out of the box. USB flash drives can also be used with it, using the Iomega Clik! USB driver. (As with the Intermec 6651, you have to use the MIPS 3000 version; the MIPS 4000 one won't work.) It also has serial and infrared ports, an audio-in jack, an audio-out jack, and an internal microphone. (Microsoft Voice Recorder for Windows CE is not preinstalled; however, I've installed it and it works nicely.)

The other nice thing about the ePods is that CE 2.12 supports Internet Explorer CE 4.0, which while far from perfect is a significant improvement over PIE 3.0. (Despite this, only PIE 3 is pre-installed, but you can download IE CE 4 from the site linked above, and you don't have to remove PIE 3 before installing IE CE 4.)

As with the PPP, I've tried some hexedited CE 3.0 programs on it to see if they work, and again about the only one that works on it that doesn't work on my CE 2.11 devices is AClock. (See the screenshot below.)

Downsides:

1) Since CE 2.12 isn't a platform version (it's instead a "Platform Builder" version), it doesn't have any PIM programs, nor the full Pocket Office suite. (It does have Pocket Word.) Despite this, it has the PIM databases by default, so maybe there's a solution. (I tried installing the Today application from Power Toys 2.0, and the PIM Today app from the H/PC Pro Plus! Pack, but neither will open. I believe they require msgstore.dll, since they both draw data from the Inbox, but this file is missing from \Windows on the device, and I can't assume there aren't other things needed that are missing. The CE 2.x-hexedited version of Executability Check won't work properly on this device.) There's a lot of discussion of this in the ePods forums, but no answers.

2) Despite being marketed as an "Internet appliance," it doesn't even have an internal modem. (You use a PCMCIA modem card.) And, like on the PenCentra, the Agere WiFi driver doesn't install. I did install the Prism-based driver for my Belkin F5D-6060 card, and the card works fine, but so far I haven't connected successfully to the Internet.

3) You can't sync data with the PC because, if you create a partnership, the device disconnects within a couple of seconds, throwing some kind of error message about insufficient memory even though plenty of memory is available. This disconnect happens every time you connect the device to the PC. (It does not disconnect nor show this error message if you do not set up a partnership and instead connect as a guest.) Again, there's a lot of discussion of this in the ePods forums, but it's clear that ePods hackers have just resigned themselves to doing without ActiveSync partnerships.

4) Only 16 MB of RAM standard. It can be upgraded to 32 MB, but where can you find a RAM upgrade module for it these days?

The battery on this one also won't hold a charge. Dunno if I can find a replacement, and I've had mostly bad luck so far rebuilding battery packs.

Anyone else have one of these and want to share his/her experiences?



(ePods.JPG)



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cmonex Page Icon Posted 2009-09-01 3:35 PM
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neat pic.
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nathanpc Page Icon Posted 2009-09-05 7:06 PM
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That's cool!
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-05 11:35 PM
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For those who have the old Windows CE Services OEM CDs (I have 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2, coming with CE devices that I've purchased), Microsoft Pocket PowerPoint is included on the WCES 2.0 CD, and the MIPS version installs and runs fine on the ePods.
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smb_gaiden Page Icon Posted 2009-09-06 2:01 AM
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The site linked in this post is on Geocities and Yahoo is closing Geocities next month. I did a wget on the site, I recommend anyone else with interest in the platform do the same.

Also, general advice... I recommend going through your bookmarks and doing a wget for any geocities sites you have in there!
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-06 2:26 AM
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cmonex has the files on her site, but not the instructions, so you can do what I did: save the instructions pages in either text or HTML format. (Now, if I can just find the InkWriter MIPS files. )
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smb_gaiden Page Icon Posted 2009-09-06 3:31 AM
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wget worked well for botht he files and the site pages!

What's the Inkwriter and where was the reference? I have a decent knack for finding stuff (except that chinese IME stuff I posted about way back when) and a few heads looking is better than one!
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-06 3:43 AM
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It's natively on H/PC Pro and H/PC 2000 devices. It's a program for writing handwritten notes on the screen. It depends on richink.dll, which is also missing from the ePods (and some other apps that have on-screen writing functions within their interfaces also require it).
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-08 5:05 AM
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Another cool thing about this hack is that it can also be done on the Casio BE-300, so you can run the standard Windows CE shell on it too. I was able to do this successfully with my BE-300 with help from this page:

http://web.archive.org/web/20030809023702/www.eecs.umich.edu/~mitta...

It even syncs with the PC via ActiveSync - and unlike the ePods, it will not disconnect after setting up a partnership. (The only problem is that the BE-300 lacks ctlpnl.dll, so the Control Panel won't work. I haven't seen any solution for this online thus far. )



(BE300.JPG)



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nathanpc Page Icon Posted 2009-09-08 8:24 AM
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Ow , that's so much cool!
But i don't have an BE-300

Thanks!
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-11 3:36 PM
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Upon closer examination I found that the following files required by pimstore.dll are missing from the ePods: addrstor.dll (for Contacts), calstore.dll (for Calendar), citydb.dll, inkx.dll (which is also required by InkWriter), msgstore.dll (for Inbox as noted above), parser.dll, and pimutil.dll. I located msgstore.dll deep in the set of files for the Full hack, but the others remain missing. The POOM SDK doesn't supply them either. Are these files available anywhere?
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nathanpc Page Icon Posted 2009-09-11 7:38 PM
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Huh, that's not a good thing!
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-15 3:28 AM
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Two other DLLs are missing that are required to access the PIM databases: cefobj.dll and pegobj.dll.
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-09-20 11:53 PM
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I should make a small correction regarding synchronization: The device doesn't actually disconnect when the memory error message appears. In fact, if I ignore the error message and don't acknowledge it by tapping on the X button, ActiveSync continues to search for data on the device to compare with what's on the PC. ActiveSync actually gets to the point of reporting how many items aren't synchronized, and then displays the dialog asking whether I want to combine or overwrite the data on the device or do nothing (it does this individually for each data category - in my case Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Files - rather than collectively at one time as it has done with my other devices), and then reports a synchronization error and disconnects. (Until this happens, I can browse the device's contents within ActiveSync - and a Synchronized Files folder is created for the ePods on my PC.) So it does appear to find the data it needs, but then can't find the files necessary to transfer PIM data to the device (the ones mentioned in my previous posts).
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2009-10-23 8:02 PM
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Another bonus for those with MIPS H/PC 2000 devices who miss the old "Windows CE" banner on the Start Menu: you can use the explorer.exe from the ePods package to do it the easy way, since the banner is a resource file embedded in the Windows CE 2.xx version of explorer.exe. Here's how to do it:

1) Copy explorer.exe from the ePods package onto any folder except \Windows on the H/PC 2000 device, and rename it to something else (eg, explore2.exe).

2) Now move the renamed file into the \Windows folder.

3) Using a registry editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/init, and edit the value for Launch50 to the name of the renamed explorer.exe file.

4) Close the registry editor and soft reset.

The screenshot below is from my NEC 790 after performing the above steps. (The only issue is that you lose the Control Panel link in Start -> Settings. No big deal, though - you can create one under Programs, or just navigate to the folder in My Handheld PC.)

Edited by CE Geek 2009-10-23 8:19 PM




(MP790.JPG)



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