Thursday, November 30, 2006

20 Days of Christmas Sale at PDA 24/7

PDA 24/7 is having their annual holiday season sale and Smart Box Design will be featured on the first day, December 1st. If you are looking for some deals stop by PDA 24/7 daily for the next 20 days. See you there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

We had a great snowstorm yesterday that has closed most of Bellingham, WA. The paper asked residents to stay home if possible. The schools are closed which I m sure all the kids are celebrating. The snow is a beautiful sight to see. Snow still holds a child like wonder for me as I barely saw it growing up in Southern California.

The attached pictures were taken from my Zire 72 PDA. The views are from my second story bedrooms. The water in the background is Bellingham Bay. Canada is just a mere 10 miles or so north of here.

Although the Treo and Zire PDA have been criticised for the low end camera I think it is fine for quick pictures that you want to share online. I find it very convenient having a camera with me at all times as I take my Zire with me everywhere. I am thinking about moving up to the Treo 680. I will take a look at it as soon as the snow melts and I can get to the mall.

Win a copy of any of my mobile games. Send me a picture from your Treo, PDA or Phone, and I will randomly select a winner or two. Send email to tsherman(at) (replace the "at" with "@").

Friday, November 24, 2006

Smart Box Design Forum is Up and Running

I love forums. They are rich with content and the casual nature of them often result in some very entertaining posts. I added a forum to Smart Box Design about a year ago. I used phpBB2 which is a very well known. Unfortunately, each week it was getting hacked, and I was spending more time fending off hackers than actually creating software. Thus I closed it down. After searching and reviewing several bulletin boards I settled on vBulletin. After spending most of the day installing it and doing basic configuration I can only say that I AM THRILLED WITH IT. It works great, has more features that I know what to do with it, and is fast. I will be announcing its comeback in my next newsletter. But if you wish to post please do so by clicking this link. Smart Box Design Forum

Monday, November 20, 2006

TraxItAll Review

I am a list guy. I make lists for everything; who to call, changes I need to make to the Web site, gifts for family, home repairs, etc. However, I have several reoccurring tasks, such as doing my push ups every morning and giving my cat her medication twice a day, that does not fit well into a task list. TraxItAll fills this niche.

TraxItAll "...does something no other program can do: it automatically tracks anything on a daily basis." For example, to track my cat's medication, I made the header Cat-AM and then Cat-PM. I then selected to track this task daily and finally made the data entry a Yes No choice. This took all but a minute. Now when I give my cat her meds I tap the box next to the date and it fills in with a Yes, if I forget, I tap again for a No. For my push ups, I topped the column with Push Ups and selected count as my entry choice. After I do my push ups, I tap the box next to the date and it increments by one for each push up I did. Quick and easy.

TraxItAll is the type of program than is simple but deep. The more you use it the more there is. For example it has a great reporting system so you can track your progress over time. You can even set goals.

There are few features I would like to see added in the future. I think there are several opportunities to use color. For example Yes could be green and the No red. Also, I would like to be able to resize the column widths to squeeze a little bit more data on the screen.

TraxItAll has a wonderful flash demo that you can watch here and is thoroughly documented. If you want to be more organized you need to try TraxItAll.

My Digital Generation - A fun read

Shaun McGill a well known writer in the mobile world has written a wonderful book name My Digital Generation about his generation and technology. You will no doubt find and learn something of yourself when you read it.

The first three legit comments (as determined by me) about this book or Shaun McGill will receive a free copy of Smart Box Design's game Triples for Palm OS.

Here is an excerpt from the book: “When I was very young we used to have an outside toilet and I remember being scared that a big spider or rat would come and visit while I was taking care of business yet at no time did I think it odd that the toilet was in the garden. My brother and I used to have our baths in the kitchen sink and again it all seemed perfectly normal. We used to play in the street because there were hardly any cars and when the man who lived a few doors down picked up the local children to let them sit in the back of his open bed truck while he drove down the hill no one shouted “paedophile!” at him…” “…I remember snow very vividly and being able to build a Dad sized snowman and then roll his head down the hill just before the global warming melted him- in those days global warming was called the Sun…”

Saturday, November 18, 2006

How I used my Palm during the power outage

I now live in Bellingham, which is 85 miles north of Seattle and about 10 miles from the Canadian border. Yesterday a strong storm arrived with 80 plus miles per hour winds. It was not long before the power was out in the entire area. During the day I kept busy by looking up phone numbers on my Zire 72 PDA and catching up with friends and family. Night starts around 4:20 this far north so I was soon in pitch black. I went back to Zire and started playing games. I started with Bejeweled, then moved on to Bubble Ship Boy, and ended my last game playing Eric Snider’s Solitaire. With my battery wearing down and still hours to go before I would be tired I opened eReader and went down my list of several books I had recently loaded. Tarzan Lord of the Jungle quickly popped to the top of my list. I made myself comfortable on my bed and spend the next three hours reading Tarzan on my Palm. With about 20% battery left, I decided it was time to stop and conserve what was remaining. I opened World Clock and set the alarm for an early morning rise and went to bed (after brushing my teeth). Power was back on by morning, but with my Palm I barely missed a beat.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Google's New Blogger is Great

I really enjoy blogging. It gives me a chance to discuss technology topics that interest me and to give insight into developing casual games. I use Google's Blogger because it is easy to use and free. I tried several of the paid Blogger services and although they were all feature rich, they were much more than what I needed. However, Google's Blogger had several frustrating shortcomings. The most important was the lack of customization tools. You either had to stick to the basics or jump into HTML editing, there was no in between.

The new Beta Blogger is very nice. Many of the basic features that I had to add manually in the HTML editing view have a pretty good, although not perfect, interface. Bloggers can now easily add links, pictures, lists, change colors, rearrange the screen, and spell check much easier and faster. My Blog already look better. If you don't already have a Blog, I encourage you to start one today with Google Blogger.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Porting Word Monaco to Windows Mobile - Part 4

Recently we've had an interesting problem, signing. What is signing? It is adding a verified certificate to your program which tells the smartphone that the application can be trusted. If you want your Windows Mobile application to install onto a smartphone, such as a Treo without an error message declaring your application as untrustworthy you will need to buy a certificate. In theory, the certificate is to protect the consumer from bad manufacturers.

I do not have any statistics on how many phone users have purchases games or other applications for their smartphones and the program destroyed their phone or stole data, or did some other unmentionable act. If you have or know of someone who's phone was attacked please let me know as I would love to talk with them.

Overall, I am not happy about having to purchase a certificate to remove, in my opinion, an unnecessary message. I could say more about this topic, but this blog entry at Craig Stuntz's Weblog says it all. What is interesting about all of this, is that none of this is required for Palm OS smartphones.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Great Free Web Link Checker

In addition to being President of Smart Box Design, I am also responsible for maintaining the Web site. After a long day, I find it relaxing to tweak the pages and try out new ideas.

I had not checked for broken links in a bit and being unsatisfied with my current tools I went searching on the Web to find something new. The FREE program Xenu quickly rose to the top of my list. It is a small and specific tool only designed to check links. I downloaded and installed it and to my surprise it worked great. Why was I surprised? Free programs rarely work as advertised.

Xenu quickly checks each page and displays if each link is successfully linking to another HTML page. To my surprise there were over 15 broken links. I quickly discovered some of them were from graphics, while others were links to reviews on external sites, but still, I had a few broken links that needed my attention.

Xenu provides a very long and detailed list on all the links of the web site entered in HTML form. The program will even post the results to your Web site if you have the correct FTP information. After about 40 minutes I made the corrections and retested.

If you are looking for a free and simple broken link checker I highly recommend Xenu.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Britney Spears should Play Farkle Dice

Britney Spears should play Farkle Dice as I think it would improve her life immensely. Although Farkle Dice is primarily designed and developed for entertainment purposes it has a lot of education built in. These Farkle Educational Features can help her.

Educational Feature 1 - Statistics / Play the Odds
Each roll has fewer and fewer dice which decreases the odds of a successful combination. For example, if you are trying to get the 2 to appear, rolling 5 dice has better odds then just rolling 1. If Britney Spears played Farkle Dice and compared it to her marriage she would have learned early on what the odds are for success. She could have assigned each dice side with a trait, such as, happy, sad, anger, bliss, divorce, envy, and jelousy. Then roll the dice to see which ones are coming up more often. If divorce is appearing often, perhaps it would have been better not to marry. But perhaps she was hoping to beat the odds.

Educational Feature 2 - Risk Management
Each roll risks all points earned. The player needs to weigh the risks of earning more points to getting a bad roll. A losing roll results in all points earned being lost for that round. When Britney Spears chose a husband she needed to apply this lesson as each husband is like a roll, should she keep him or roll again? It appears this time she should have rolled again.

Educational Feature 3 - Others Influence Behavior
In Farkle Dice, if another player is way ahead or way behind you behave differently. If you are behind, you need to take more chances or you may never catch up and win, if ahead you can take it easy. Britney Spears should have compared her success with her husbands. Since his career was so far in the rear she could have predicted that he would start taking chances to catch up with her success.

I do wish the best for Britney Spears. By all accounts she appears to be a very hard worker.

When you are playing Farkle Dice, remember these three educational lessons and try to apply them to your life at work or at home. Play the odds, take risks, and remember how your life influences others. But most of all, remember that life is a game to be enjoyed.

Shaun McGill All Around Gadget Guy

Technology enthusiasts come in all types. You have the cutting edge technofile, the must have the latest no matter what it is, the slow adopter, and others. Each group has it's own opinions and reasons for using and loving their devices. Every now and then you come across a person who really understands these groups and reaches out to them. Shaun McGill is one of those people.

Shaun runs several Web sites and contributes to many. If you have not yet visited these Web locations you are in for a treat. Take the time over the next few days to check them out. My favorite is WindowsMobile24/7.

Writer- PDA Essentials:
News Editor- Palmtop User:
E61 Blog:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Palm Addict Supplies Great Palm Info

I love my Palm device. I am excited about the Treo 680 coming out this week at Cingular and I plan to be one of the first to buy. But how did I learn that Cingular will be selling it this week? Palm Addicts. Where do I get the latest news? Palm Addicts. Where can read rumors of things that might be? Palm Addict.

Purchasing a Treo is not cheap which is why I want to take full advantage of it. Palm Addicts is reviewing and discussing software, hardware accessories, and tricks on a daily basis. For me, my day is not complete without reading their articles.

I subscribe to their RSS feed using news reader. That way I can glance at the latest postings, which change constantly. I encourage you to visit them. It is worth your time and will help you take full advantage of your Treo.