Tech Note: Handheld File Transfer Woes

i-33f56612612f3fa6f467a8d9ac8eaa79-minisd_1gb.jpgFor the past two years I’ve been packing a soap-sized handheld computer named the Qtek 9100. It’s a version of a design named the HTC Wizard, sporting a slide-out qwerty keyboard and running Windows Mobile. The machine’s been good to me, though is has a few annoying quirks & glitches, and I would never go back to carrying anything with lesser capabilities.

As I am phasing out Windows XP for Ubuntu Linux on my machines, one of the 9100’s shortcomings has become an acute problem. It will only let you transfer files by cable using a glitchy piece of Microsoftware named ActiveSync, and this program has no working equivalent under Linux. I listen to a lot of music and podcasts on my handheld. Every time I want to put stuff onto it, several times a week, I have to boot Windows. The same goes for stuff I want to get off the handheld, photographs and pieces of writing. The alternative, to email the stuff over wifi, is an even bigger hassle and unworkably slow. The handheld’s web browser doesn’t handle ftp well, and I haven’t tried installing a dedicated ftp client as it is unlikely to be faster than email.

I’m thinking of a third solution to the problem. The storage medium on my handheld is a mini-SD flash memory card. I could stick it into a reader dongle plugged into my computer’s USB port and hope that Linux recognises it as a drive.

Unfortunately, visits to three computer stores today taught me that mini-SD is not a popular format in this context. They offered me readers for micro-SD and big clunky SD, but to use them I’d need an intermediate adapter plug, which is only sold together with flash memory cards that I don’t need. So I’ve ordered a slightly more expensive (!) dongle on-line. Meanwhile, the Qtek’s headphones socket has just started to lose one channel again, which probably means that it needs repair for the second time in two years.

Dear Reader, I’d be interested in suggestions for two things.

  • Other ways to solve the file transfer problem.
  • A good recent-model handheld computer that functions as a cell phone and doesn’t run Windows.

Update 1 April: Yay, the dongle works under Linux! Too bad my handheld chose this moment to become a monaural audio device.

And by the way, for comprehensive information about the new creationist movie Expelled, see Because those guys got flunked, not expelled.

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7 thoughts on “Tech Note: Handheld File Transfer Woes

  1. You can’t buy one of those camera reader thingies that takes a mini-SD card? They retail in Australian for $29.95 and I’ve always found that mine mounts as a hard disk as well as triggering iPhoto on the Mac.


  2. Yeah, I looked into SynCE, and found that its current version is hard to install, hasn’t got a graphical user interface, and performs erratically even at the best of times. )-:


  3. It would make sense that miniSD is getting less attention, now that you can get as much capacity you’ll ever likely to use in the microSD format.

    Just how much more expensive is a “more expensive dongle”? I paid only around 100 SEK for my umpteen-in-one card reader when it was on offer at my local Lidl. (And it does handle mini.) I hope you didn’t pay much more than 150…

    Another solution might have been to ask any gadget-crazy friends. They are bound to have tons of those “useless” format adapters lying around.


  4. It worked! I paid SEK 300 for the dongle including postage, which was really silly as the lighter-sized thing could have been sent for the cost of two stamps.


  5. I actually used a simple USB thumb drive purchased at Target (large low-cost department store in the US) to move files from an XP laptop to a Ubuntu 7.10 installation.


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