Offline Information on Palm-size PCs via Mobile Channels
By Chris De Herrera
June 29, 1998
One of the cool new features exclusive to Palm-size PCs powered by
Microsoft® Windows® CE is support for Mobile Channels. With Mobile
Channels, you can download and conveniently take with you Internet-based
information such as news and reference information, from headlines and
sports scores to Web-based forms or templates from a corporate intranet
If you've used Active Channel™ views with Microsoft Internet Explorer
4.0, you're most of the way there. Mobile Channels are very similar to
Active Channel content, and they're downloaded the same way -- via
"push" technology built into Internet Explorer on the desktop
PC. The difference is that Mobile Channels are optimized for easy reading
on smaller screen devices and they can be automatically synchronized to a
Palm-size PC via Microsoft ActiveSync™ technology.
On a side note, you don't need a Palm-size PC to use Mobile Channels.
All you need is Internet
Explorer 4 and Windows
CE Services 2.1 or later to subscribe, and you can read Mobile
Channels content on your desktop PC. But to take advantage of the
flexibility designed into Mobile Channels, you'll want a Palm-size PC so
that you can take your news with you and read it offline while traveling
-- whether it's down the hall to a meeting or on a plane to visit a
To take advantage of Mobile Channels, first install Internet Explorer
4.0 on your PC. Internet Explorer 4.01 is included under "Optional
Components" on the Windows CE Services 2.1 CD-ROM that comes with
Palm-size PCs. Be sure you've installed Windows CE Services and created a
partnership with your Palm-size PC.
Next, you'll want to subscribe to a Mobile Channel. To do so, you must
connect your desktop PC to the Internet, launch Internet Explorer 4, and
click the Add Mobile Channel buttons. At this writing, Mobile
Channels are available from MSNBC
Computing Magazine. Several more Mobile Channels are in the works;
look for new channels to appear soon on the Internet
Explorer Channel Guide. If you want to be sure you always have the
latest information downloaded to your computer, you must select Yes
to be notified of updates and download the channel for offline viewing as
shown in Figure A.
Figure A: You must say "Yes" if you want
Mobile Channels to download for synchronization on your Palm-size
Next, enable Mobile Channel synchronization on your desktop PC. Open
your Mobile Devices folder and select ActiveSync Options from the
Tools menu. Be sure to select the checkbox for Mobile Channel
synchronization. You can further customize your Mobile Channel
settings by selecting Channel Item from the list of synchronization
services and clicking the Options button. You can select which
channels you want to synchronize and whether you want images and sounds
downloaded to your Palm-size PC.
Figure B: News from MSNBC illustrates the type of
useful information you can access with Mobile Channels.
Now, whenever you use ActiveSync with your Palm-size PC, the Mobile
Channels that you subscribed to will be synchronized along with calendar,
contacts, tasks, and other data. You'll can access news or information
like the reports from MSNBC shown in Figure B.
The Mobile Channel icon will appear on the taskbar of your Palm-size
PC. Just tap it to launch Mobile Channels and read your news offline --
anywhere, any time.
If you want to further control the types of information you download to
your Palm-size PC, you're in luck. With the Mobile Channels browser, you
can choose exactly which parts of a channel (i.e. subchannels) that you
want to synchronize.
By default, the content provider will determine which subchannels are
selected when you subscribe to a Mobile Channel. If you want to make
adjustments, say to save storage space on your device by eliminating
categories of news that don't interest you, or to download content that's
not selected by default, launch the Channels browser on your Palm-size PC.
Next, open the File menu and select Channels. You will see a dialog
box like the one in Figure C.
Uncheck any subchannels that you don't want to receive, and check any
absent items that you want to add. Existing content will be removed
immediately, while newly selected content will be updated the next time
Figure C: Customize your Mobile Channels
by browsing the sub-channels and picking what you want.
If you're interested in authoring a Mobile Channel, the Site
Builder Network is working on resources to assist you, which should be
posted soon. Until then, you can start by examining the desktop version of
channels and Channel
Definition Format (CDF). If you're new to channels, try setting up
your content as an Active Channel view first. Mobile Channels require some
specialization, but that's a topic for a future column.
For now, enjoy using Mobile Channels on your Palm-size PC. I am!
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