FAQ for Vostradamus MSM 5.0
Vostradamus asked me to compile some answers to frequently asked questions about his Mobile Shell Manager. Reading them carefully will help you avoiding unnecessary problems and help us avoiding unnecessary answers on unnecessary support questions. This is a compilation of questions posted to all versions of MSM (also from the original Thread). The answers however are always adapted to the latest version of MSM.
If you find it useful, please hit the "Thanks"-Button on the bottom of the FAQ. Thank you.
- Will it work with my device?
MSM at the moment works only on Mobile Shell for Windows Mobile
. It is not planned to port it on another platform.
QVGA (320x240 Pixels)
WQVGA (400x240 Pixels)
VGA (640x480 Pixels)
WVGA (800x480 Pixels)
With Restrictions with:
Square 240x240 Pixels (Standard-Menubars do not work, Advanced menubars and all the rest work)
Square 320x320 Pixels (Standard-Menubars and maybe Weather Icon Set Change do not work, Advanced menubars and all the rest work)
HVGA (480x320 Pixels) (We have no means of testing that. Could work like the square 320x320 Devices, but we can not guarantee that)
- What do I need for the first install
You have to download the Manager Installation File at first. It’s called “Vostradamus Mobile Shell Manager x.xx.zip”, where x.xx is the version number. If you unzip it, you have the cab-file for installation.
Then you need at least one
of the following things:
If you want to use Vostradamus widgets you need a widget library. If you are using MSM 5.0 for the first time, you should download the complete package, named “MSM Full widgets library (xxx).wzg”, where xxx stand for your screen resolution. It is large, but it has the advantage of having ALWAYS all released widgets in it. If you are not sure which resolution you need, look some questions further. You can also go into the “Incremental libraries”-folder of your resolution and download only the base-library and/or an update-file of your choice. Which widgets are in which update-library can be seen on the widgets preview page. It is reachable via the first post of this thread.
If you want to use the MSM to change the Menubar of Mobile Shell, you have to download a Menubar library. They are in the “MenuBars libraries”-folder. Here there is also a base-library and eventual updates. In this case there is no difference between the resolutions. One size fits all
. Again you can see on the preview page (reachable via the first post of this thread) which Menubars are in which library.
If you want to use “ChangingPics”, you have to download one or more “Pic-Sets-Libraries”, again from the folder of your resolution. Because of the size, every Pic-Set is a different file. See the preview-page (reachable via the first post of this thread) for contents. If you don’t know what “ChangingPics” are, see the Chapter “Usage”.
- There are widgets for VGA and QVGA. Which do I need?
That depends on the resolution of your Phone:
QVGA / WQVGA is for every phone with a screen width (in portrait mode) of 240 Pixels. Also Phones with a screen width of 320 (HVGA 480x320) could work with that resolution with some restrictions. (see first Topic in this chapter).
VGA/WVGA is for phones with a screen width (in portrait mode) of 480 Pixels.
2. Square Screens:
Phones with a square screen with a size of 240 or 320 Pixels should use the QVGA-Versions.
- Where do I store that?
Regarding the size if the libraries, which can reach more than 50MB, you should put them somewhere on the storage card. You will only need them during installation, so just remember where they are. After the installation you can delete them from the card. It would be wise to keep them somewhere on the PC though, to avoid having to download them again when you change phones for instance.
- How do I make the first install?
At first you have to install the Mobile Shell Manager itself. This is done by starting the cab-file with your preferred File Manager.
Please ONLY INSTALL THE MANAGER ON THE STORAGE CARD. The Widget and Pic-Set libraries will be installed into the manager-folder and can be huge! Your phone would run out of memory probably already during installation if you install it into phone memory. There is no need to install it into phone-memory, because only activated widgets will be copied into the Mobile-Shell folder in Phone Memory by the Manager itself.
After Installation, start the Manager via the Program Icon.
Before doing anything, please read the section about navigating in MSM further down in these FAQ.
The next thing to do is to import all the downloaded Libraries. Choose the first Menu-Item “Libraries” and pick “OK”. Now either choose “Import Library” or “Import Library Folder”. If you have more libraries to import and they are all stored in one folder, the second option does them all at once.
If you have only one library (an update for instance), use the first option. Depending of the size of the library this may take a while. (On a fast HTC HD2, the base widget library takes about 8 minutes).
Now you are set to activate the widgets/menu-bars/pic-sets you want to use.
- What is activation of widgets for and how do I activate widgets?
Activation of widgets makes them finally available in Mobile shell. It copies the graphics to the Mobile Shell folder on your phone, makes the necessary registry entries and injects the necessary definition-files into the appropriate files of Mobile Shell.
Activating widgets: Choose the Menu-Item “Widgets”. There choose “Activate”. In the following list choose what type of widget you want to use in Mobile Shell and press “OK”. If there are more widget groups for the same widget type (like Links1, 2, 3…) look on the preview page (reachable via the first post of this thread). Here the folder of each widget is described. Now choose the widget you want to activate. It takes some seconds and the activation is finished.
- Can I just activate all of the widgets in one step?
No, and that’s by design, because you wouldn’t want to (at least not with the devices available now). As you have seen downloading the widgets, even the compressed base widget-collection is more than 75 MB. Uncompressed in MS it would be even more, but this time not on the storage card, but in valuable Device-Memory, which would most certainly render your device unusable. Furthermore the skin list in MS would become ridiculous long, filled with skins you will not use. So look for the ones you probably use and only activate them. If you have found your optimal set, use the option “Save Widget-Set” to save that state. After a reinstall you can use “Restore Widget Set” to activate all of them at once.
- How do I update to a newer Manager Version?
If you have any widgets version 2.xx, please do the following before installing the Widget Manager:
- Uninstall all 2.xx widgets
- Uninstall Tools package too if you have it
- Delete the registry key “HKLM\Software\Spb Software House\Shared\Spb Menu\WidgetPackages\Spb.WidgetsZioGian”
If you have already installed any version of Mobile Shell Manager, download the new cab and install it. All of your settings will be preserved.
- I need to free memory. How do I get rid of widgets?
If you want to deactivate a widget, be sure that you do not use it anymore on any page or panel of Mobile Shell. Then, in MSM, choose “Widgets” and “Deactivate Widget”. From the list, choose the widget you want to deactivate and click “OK”.
- How do I navigate in the Manager?
The Mobile Shell Manager is based on MortScript, a script language for Windows Mobile. Though being rather powerful, it has some restrictions. The most sincere for our purpose, is that we cannot intercept and react on the close “X” of Windows Mobile.
Therefore you MUST NEVER leave the Manager via the Close-X of Windows, but ALWAYS via the “Exit” Menu-Item in the Manager.
So always navigate back to the Start-Screen of the Manager, choose “Exit” and click “OK”. Then the Shell will be automatically restarted (if necessary) and all is well.
If you have accidentally closed the shell via the “X” look at the trouble-shooting section.
- How do I get those widgets on the screen?
As those “widgets” are in reality tweaked skins for widgets that already exist in Mobile Shell, you choose them via the “change Skin”-Option in Mobile Shell. So if you want a Vostradamus weather widget, just insert a weather widget via the normal Mobile Shell procedure. Then choose “Change Skin” and choose the Vostradamus widget you want. Of course it is only in the list when activated before (see “Installation”-Chapter further up the FAQ). A specialty are “Panels” and “Changing Pics”. As those do not exist in Mobile Shell, but are “tweaked” Date-Widgets, you find them as skins under the Date-Widget.
- What are “Changing Pics” for, and how do I use them?
“Changing Pics” is a “script enhanced widget” that changes a picture on the screen periodically. It uses a so called Pic-Set that can be provided by the user. Every info you need concerning Pic-Sets, you find in my Tutorial that is provided for download on the first post of this thread.
- What are Widget Sets and how do I use them?
Widget sets are groups of widgets that can be activated/deactivated en bloc. We have already provided some “widget sets” in the libraries, choosen after a common “Theme”, like “Neon”, “Transparency”, “Girls” and so on. Additionally the user can define all of the widgets he has currently activated as a “widget set” and thus reinstall that set very quickly. That comes handy, when you want to experiment a bit, but be able to get back to your standard widgets later.
Please be advised that this function does not save the widgets position, not even if they are really used on the screen somewhere. It’s just a list of the activated widgets. The commands for handling the widget sets are in the “Widget”-Menu.
- What are Panels and how do I use them?
Panels are additional “Pages” for Mobile Shell, adding space to put widgets there. MS and therefore also MSM have 2 types of Pages: Lifestyle and Professional.
The main difference between them is the handling of background pictures: All lifestyle panels share the same background picture. If you have 5 lifestyle pages aside, this picture is scrolled horizontally with the pages. Each professional panel has its own BG-Picture. Another difference is that from a Pro-Panel you can scroll down to the normal Lifestyle-Screen of MS (though not back “up”). From an additional Lifestyle-Panel you have to use the carousel or a link to go back.
To reach a user-defined Panel you can use the links that the manager provides under the “Extras”-Folder in Mobile shell. Here you find a group called MS-Panels in which they can be found.
Everything concerning Panels can be managed under the corresponding Menu-Item.
- MSkip has that second Fav-Contacts Page, why not MSM?
The aforementioned panels are a more than adequate replacement for that.
Just add a panel with 1,3,5 pages and call it "contacts" or whatever. Place a link to it on your screen and you are done.
You can even place an invisible link to it over the existing link to the "normal" favorites, replacing it completely.
If you use professional panels, you can even swipe back to Start with a "Down"-swipe.
- How can I change the background of the Standard Pro Panel?
The MS Standard Pro Panel initially does not show up in the list of Pro Panels if you want to change the background for those. After you used the function "Change Menu Bar" at least once, the Standard Pro Panel is available to change its background. So even if you want to keep your menubar as it is, but want to change the Standard Pro Panels BG do the following: Use the Function "Change Menu Bar" (even if you select the standard menu bar) and proceed to the Function "Change Pro Background".
- What problems can arise when using a "Full Backup"
The Full-Backup-Function does backup everything that is created AND managed by Mobile Shell. The most prominent things that are NOT backuped are assigned ringtones and contact pictures. They are part of pocket-outlook and thus not accessible for us. Also not backuped is the MSM-directory on the storage card (in fact the full backup is also placed in that directory). But that should not be a problem, because the card is not affected by a phone reinstall and it can easily be backuped by simple file-copy to your PC.
Possible Problems with and after restoring a full Backup:
- If between backup and restore you changed contacts that are used in Mobile Shell (in a widget or the favorites) they will dissapear. This is especially the case if you have made a new activesync connection because of flashing the phone or changing your PC. Then all contacts are gone from Mobile Shell.
- The same is true for links when you reinstalled the programs to a different place than before.
- If you have updated your Mobile Shell to a new version, a backup that was created before cannot be restored. (MSM can be changed of course).
- What are those "Invisible" widgets for?
Invisible widgets (available as links and contacts atm) are a means to create a link to a program or contact using another picture or icon than the provided one.
Imagine you want to use another sms-program than the one from Mobile Shell. Then you place an invisible link to your program over the status widget for SMS. A touch on the status then starts your program without showing its icon.
Another example: Create a panel with a background-picture of a family meeting. Then place invisible contacts of the different family members over the faces of the respective persons on the pic. Thus you can create a "different" contacts favorites page.
You can also place links you do not want to show everyone (maybe the link that unlocks a hidden and locked partition of your memory card, or a link to a textfile that stores some codes and passwords) invisibly on the screen or disguised as a link to something totally different.
- I have updated Mobile Shell to a new version or reinstalled Mobile Shell. Now Vostradamus widgets do not work anymore. What can I do?
Mobile Shell does ovcerwrite its XML-Files during installation, thus destroying the modifications MSM has made to them. So every change MSM has made to the Mobile Shell must be made again. Use the “Restore XML-Function” in the Libraries-Item of the Manager. Then all of your widgets will work as previously.
Unfortunately a reinstall/update also deletes all information about additional panels you created, and for them there is no restore method
. So you must recreate them.
- I have accidentaly installed another Add-On to Mobile Shell (Mskip, Sense, …) after MSM. Now it does not work anymore. What can I do?
Almost every other Add-On to Mobile Shell simply replaces essential MS-Files with their own, thus destroying the modifications MSM has made to them. So every change MSM has made to the Mobile Shell must be made again. The first step back to normality is using the “Restore XML-Function” in the Libraries-Item of the Manager. Then at least the widgets should work again. Then you have to restore the menu-bar if you had a modified one. The next step would be to delete all “Changing Pics”-Widgets if you use some of them and to recreate them. Then they should work again. The worst would be that additional panels would most probably be beyond repair. So you’d have to recreate them. I have experienced that after recreation with the same name a single panel was exactly like I left it before deletion. But that is not guaranteed
, it could have been coincidence.
What I would do in this case is restore the xml, save the widgets-set, uninstall the manager and the shell and begin from scratch. But this time install the other Add-On (if you really, really need it) before the MSM. Please be advised that the same thing will happen if you uninstall that other add-on, as it most probably will replace the files of the shell with the original ones, thus also destroying the Vostradamus-Add-Ons.
- I have closed the manager via Close-X. Now nothing works anymore. What can I do?
For reasons mentioned before, leaving the manager via the Close-X of windows leaves the scripts in an unstable condition. You can either open the task manager and switch back to the Manager-Task (if still there), or you perform a soft-reset of the phone. Then all should be well again.
- I can't use any buttons in the picture preview
As the picture preview is an external program it has limited functionality in MSM. You can only view one widget (turn and zoom it) and close it again. This is because there is always only one preview pic in each widget folder, therefore the "forward" and "back" buttons do not find additional pics in that folder.
- I activated widgets, they show up in the change skin list, but when I use them, nothing happens
This can have 2 reasons:
1. You have downloaded and used the widgets library for the wrong screen resolution (QVGA/VGA). Please refer to the first section of this FAQ for the needed resolution and redownload this. Then deactivate all activated widgets, uninstall MSM, delete the Vostradamus directory on your storage card under "Programs". reinstall MSM, import the right library and activate the widgets.
2. There has been a problem with the import of the XML file. This seems to happen sometimes with certain phone-types/ROMs. You can easily repair this. Just use "Restore XML" under "Libraries" in the MSM.
About Additional Widgets:
- Can I create my own widgets and use them inside MSM?
You can create your own widgets if you have some graphics skills and basic knowledge of XML/ini-files. As an example we have provided a tutorial for creating status widgets and using them with the MSM. You can download it on the first post of this thread. If you master that one, the transfer to other widget types should not be so hard.
- Why are there no real “New” Widgets that add additional functionality in this Add-On?
Unfortunately Spb-Softwarehouse, the maker of Mobile Shell, has not provided a Software Development Kit or any definition of the interface to Mobile Shell widgets. Thus it is impossible for external developers to create really “new” stuff.
- Can I have status widgets that are invisible when there is a "0"
Unfortunately not. The status widget consists of a graphical part and a numerical part. The graphical part differentiates between "nothing there" and "something there", therefore that one can be made invisible when there is no entry. But the numerical part is either shown always or never. So you can't hide a "0" and show everthing else.
The only way to come near that wish would be a status widget without any numbers. You could only see whether there are entries then, not how many. You also can't choose the color of the numerical part, it's always white. Only God and SPB know why.
- Can I use MSM with other Add-Ons to Mobile Shell
Yes you should not run into troubles. But you have to consider the following. Contrary to MSM, most other Add-Ons work “destructive”, i.e. replace MS-Files with their own, thus also killing the modifications the Mobile Shell Manager makes. So, if you MUST use another package also, install that one FIRST, and THEN the MSM. Also, do not uninstall the other Add-On after installing the MSM.
There is no 100% guarantee, as we cannot guarantee that other Add-Ons play to the rules and do not change additional things and so cause trouble with MSM. So make a backup before you use MSM to change panels, backgrounds and menu-bars if you have another package installed also.
- How do I donate and why should I do that?
If you like Vostradamus’ work and think it's useful, please consider donating even a small amount, it will help keeping him (and his cat) motivated. He spends a lot of time on this stuff, and every sign of appreciation, no matter how big or small, is more than welcome .
If you worked some time with Mobile Shell alone, you will admit that his Add-Ons make the whole thing worthwhile. So give yourself a kick and send a buck for a can of cat-food and a beer.
- My question is not answered here, what can I do next
If you cannot find an answer to your problem here, and there is also none in the rest of the thread, feel free to ask here on the thread.
But PLEASE do not ask questions that are already answered 25 times on the thread or have nothing to do with the Mobile Shell Manager. You'll help us keeping the thread in a a reasonable length. Nobody wants to read through 150 pages where everything is explained 20 times.
Again: If you find this FAQ useful, please hit the "Thanks"-Button on the bottom of this post. Thank you.
Added Section "About Additional Widgets"
Added Chapter "Invisible Status widgets" in "Additional widgets"
Added Chapter "Will it work on my device" in "Installation"
Updated Chapter "Which Widget -Resolution do I need?" in "Installation"
Removed "Task-Manager does not work" because it no longer applies
Added Chapter "My widgets don't show up" in Troubleshooting
Added Chapter "Task-Manager Button in advanced menubars" in Troubleshooting
Added Chapter "Additional Contacts Pages" in Usage
Added Chapter "After Updating/Reinstalling Mobile Shell" in Troubleshooting
Added Chapter "Invisible widgets" in "Usage"
Added Chapter "Picture Preview" in "Troubleshooting"
Added Chapter "Full Backup" in "Usage"
Edit "MSM and other Add-Ons" in "Other"
Posted original version