Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Wake Up! PTravelAlarm 2.0 is Here!
Posted by Don Tolson in "SOFTWARE" @ 11:00 AM
I've known about PTravelAlarm (and been an occasional user, thanks to various business trips!) since my first HP Jornada 680. At the time, I think it was a port from a very popular Palm OS version, so you can tell this application has been around for a looooonnnggg time. Recently, it's been sitting on the backburner but I got re-interested in it when they announced a new version, in which they had apparently found a workaround for the Pocket Mobile 2003's 'missing alarm' problem. Does it work? Read on....
This is the type of application that I really like, and I respect the developers for sticking to their guns. It does one thing, very well, and it's well designed for its function. Obviously, BurrOak Software have spent a lot of time thinking about PTravelAlarm, and listening to their users. In the days where we see a lot of Today plugins trying to become 'jacks of all trades', it's refreshing to find an application like PTravelAlarm which does only what it's intended to do - replace the bedside alarm clock you take with you when you are traveling. I like having single-function software, since it lets me pick and choose the accessories I need, without having to carry along a lot of excess software baggage. After all, this allows you to get rid of one more thing to remember to pack, when you already have your most important 'travel' accessory -- your Pocket PC -- ready to go.
Installing PTravelAlarm is simple and straightforward. After downloading the executable onto your desktop, you double click it, and it installs using the normal ActiveSync routines. PTravelAlarm takes up about 750K of memory on the Pocket PC. Although are no specific instructions regarding where to install, I'd suggest you stick to the default (main memory) location, since there are power wake-up issues supposedly (in addition to the Windows Mobile 2003 alarms) with SD and CF cards.
After installation, two new links will show up on your Today screen.
Figure 1: PTravelAlarm links on the Today screen.
In the middle of the screen, among the displayed items, PTravelAlarm will show the time (and day) of the next alarm set to go off. In my case, I only have one set for each weekday morning, so it will show tomorrow’s. You can, of course, change its position, or remove it using the Start/Settings/Today screen.
At the bottom of the screen, PTravelAlarm inserts an icon in the system tray which provides direct access to the main screen. You can remove this too, if you want, using the Settings option from the Alarms menu in PTravelAlarm.
ZZZZZZzzzzzz…. PTravelAlarm’s Interface
The interface for PTravelAlarm is well designed – simple, straightforward and intuitive.
Figure 2: Main Screen of PTravelAlarm.
There's obviously been some thought put into the selection of colours used. The soft yellow with black background won't produce huge amounts of glare, etc. at night, if you leave it on and running. But there is sufficient contrast that the screen are clearly readable in the dark, even if you normally wear glasses. It also won't blind you in the morning when you stare at it, wondering why you would set the alarm so early! BurrOak has also made the buttons large enough that they can all be activated using normal-sized fingers, even in a groggy, half-wake state. Options for changing what is shown on this screen are available from the Options selection on the Alarm menu.
Setting alarms is equally simple. From the main screen, you press the Set Alarms button, and you get the following screen.
Figure 3: Setting Alarms.