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THOUGHTS: Is more really better or is it just excess baggage?
Posted by Carlo Guerrero - on Saturday, 10.04.04 - 19:16:37 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 6617x
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If you've been a long-time Pocket PC user, you might have come across those little utilities and applications that take up a mere 40K to100K. This can be from Registry editors to simple tweaking interfaces that help the average Pocket PC user do those complicated registry hacks from a simple interface.

Over the years, more and more developers have started offering multi-functional applications to add value to their products. The downside of this is that most of them offer these features in a fixed package. These applications have steadily grown in size where one application could have started out as a 600KB installation, with every added feature or version upgrade, it grows by about 50KB to 100KB.

Memory for handhelds has always been an issue and will always be an issue. We may get more memory with every new device that comes out, but what good is it if we can't use it efficiently? I'm not saying that all applications are memory hogs, all I'm saying is that if the user decides to use another application from another developer, he can't remove that part of the software which for him may be uselessly taking up some precious memory space.

I think it would be nice to have more applications that allow for more user control wherein the user can select which components are loaded up to the device. Some developers offer a single software with as much as five different features, at times not related to each other, in one installation package. Some of these features may be deselected from a list, but still resides in the Pocket PC's precious memory doing nothing. Luckily, some developers have taken a step in offering a users better control as to what components are installed. This of course minimizes the chance of conflicting installations or simply lets the user manage the Pocket PC's memory better.

Here is a feature I love about Resco Explorer 2003. It allows me to select which components to load up. I can either have just the File Explorer, or choose to add the FTP add-in, the Registry add-in, or both. If I ever choose to use a different FTP Client from another developer, I can simply choose not to load that particular add-in that comes with the package. If I am already using another registry editor, I can simply deselect the Registry add-in and simply go for the core File Explorer function. If I don't have a use for an FTP client, and if I don't care about editing the registry, I can opt not to install any of them altogether.

I would like to see more developers consider such a practice and give the user better control as to which components are loaded up or not. A good application is always one that strikes a good balance between usability and memory usage. In my opinion, a multi-component application streamlined to install only the user selected components will always be better than one which installs everything, including excess baggage.

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo


 

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Comments
Posted by Cageyjames on 11.04.04 - 06:18:32

Very interesting article.   I always enjoy Windows XP before I start installing programs on it.  If it could only do 100% of my work with notepad, I'd have a very fast computer.

Posted by farnold on 11.04.04 - 12:25:45

Hi Carlo,

interesting story and yes: I love concept like the RESCO one as well. But I like to add two aspects, mate.

Memory for handhelds has always been an issue and will always be an issue.

Generally speaking, that's right... but why is that the case? Technically we would be able to get GBs into current PocketPCs... just vendors rather do it in tiny steps so they can sell the next version next year as well...

And my second point: I think we have to really install what we need and not what we can. I am always surprised to read about people installing 20 or so applications and games on their PocketPC. To me that only proofs that someone needs a toy and not something to really work with. Besides the standard apps I only need RESCO Explorer, HP Printing and Pocket Informant - and I haven't anything else installed... why would I?

Cheers

Frank

Posted by farnold on 11.04.04 - 12:27:45

If I may add one thought: This "I still have some space left and need to find more software I can put into it" is a bit like "Every morining I pack whatever fits in my car so I don't drive around with unused space" smile Seeing all the cars with just one passenger this doesn't seem to be the case with these devices smile

Posted by Arne Hess on 11.04.04 - 15:44:56

@Frank: Well for one, we will never be satisfied with what we have... we always want more (that is with regards to memory).

Now, what I was driving at are some developers that leave you no way out.  For example, you get a screen rotating utility... and then you get a system color/theme tweaker built into it with no way of removing that particular component. But since they produce a very good rotating utility, you have to live with the extra luggage.

You get a Today Plugin that shows you battery & memory status, and along with it is a Pocket Internet Explorer Utility that you don't need since you're using another one that you like and it can't be removed...

You install an MMS client and you have to struggle with keeping all components like WAP and Internet Connectivity tweaks even if you don't need them...

There are so many applications that sometimes we really don't need and we end up installing them anyway since the thing we need most is embedded deep into it and probably takes only 50% of the whole installed size.

I was looking at my installed stuff... and although I'm guessing, comparing it to other applications available, I would guess I could have saved more than a megabyte in memory if I could only remove the things I don't need.

You're right about people installing stuff because they can and not because they need them... but how about us who only want to install what we need? We have to live with the fact that we will always have some relatively useless app residing in our PPCs taking up valuable memory which we could have alotted for Program Memory...

I like your last thought. lol That's so true!:-)

And using that analogy... I see some multi-functional software now as... "Here's your new car Audio system with CD, Equalizer... which comes with a police scanner, CB Radio, 8-track cassette player, barometer, compass, altimeter, yaw and pitch indicator, rain indicator, G-Force indicator, on the hour chime, count up/count down timer, heart beat meter,  and soda dispenser all built-in!" :-)

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo

Posted by jimski on 12.04.04 - 07:02:57

Maybe fardnold can live with built-in apps and PI, but I really don't think most of the additional apps I use are there just for W?BIC.

A few examples;

-CodeWalletPro - can't live without this one. Wish I could just memorize all my passwords and login scripts, but that just ain't gonna happen.

-Lextionary - has saved a few embarassing moments when a spell checker was not available.

-InvestCalc - easy to calculate equipment financing scenarios (use it all the time)

-Pocket Streets - Aleays download a local map when I travel. Zooming into a street corner has gotten me out of more than a few jams.

-ApCalcDesk - calculator program, because the built-in calculator simply stinks.

-CLC Journal - because I just Outlook Journal for everything and having this info at my fingertips is indispensible.

-JournalPro- for all my other journaling info. For running logs it's much better than Pocket Word.

-RepliGo - so I can carry copies of documents with me and print anywhere, while retaining the original format.

Notice I didn't even touch on games (I have a few) and multimedia apps. PPC are supposed to simplify your life and mine does. But I do wish I had more available memory either by developers skinnying down apps (or providing options as Carlo suggests) or by simply providing more RAM. I would think that developers should be lobbying for that.

Posted by Jayson on 12.04.04 - 11:28:57

Carlo said:

And using that analogy... I see some multi-functional software now as... "Here's your new car Audio system with CD, Equalizer... which comes with a police scanner, CB Radio, 8-track cassette player, barometer, compass, altimeter, yaw and pitch indicator, rain indicator, G-Force indicator, on the hour chime, count up/count down timer, heart beat meter, and soda dispenser all built-in!"

Same goes with hardware.  We want a super hardware that does anything but do we really need to spend a lot of money for them?  I know a lot of peolpe who ends up using 50% of the device.  I'm quite happy with my "low-end" device because it does the things that matter most.

Posted by farnold on 13.04.04 - 10:57:38

That is quite an important coment, Jayson, and has a lot to do with future development. We all think of devices as an all-inclusive soltion. And while it suits us - that actually limits the ability to win broader customer bases. The future will look pretty different and offer devices that are specific for individual requirements and specific needs using CE as a platform. Look i.e. at a camera - what is needed there can be provided by a fraction of CE and putting all of WM2003 into a camera would just be creating problems for the majority of camera users that don't need more than a camera...

We as the self declared spearhead of new technology introduction always want every device to do everything... but we are not the majority of any target market.

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