Thursday, July 17, 2008

LCMinutes 1.54 is out for maximum flexibility

While I am still very busy with my work, I managed to get some time in weekends to update LCMinutes, which is long over-due.

Major updates:

  • Now all rates for phone call and SMS are set through rates string, similar to previous special rates.
  • For phone calls, there are always two rates: normal rates and special rates. Both of them will be applied to all phone calls.
  • Add 2 more free minutes counter: extra weekday minutes, extra special rates counter, in addition to the 4 existing counter: weekday, weekend, evening and special minutes counter. Extra weekday, special, and extra special minutes counter are used through share flags in call rates string as defined below.
  • Support weekend, evening rates for SMS.
  • Add 3 new SMS allowance counter: weekend, evening, and extra weekday. Extra weekday SMS counter is used through share flags in SMS rates string as defined below.
  • Now Today or Home Screen display is based on display format string instead of display flags. The content and sequence to display are fully user definable.

Please read carefully the new rates string format for phone call and SMS, and display format string when defining your rate plan.

Also please note, install this version will erase your existing rate plan and all balance info, but your call logs and SMS, and data usage info will kept untouched. And the smartphone edition doesn't work on my own smartphone, i haven't figured out why yet.

Rates string for phone calls

<weekday rates>/<weekend rates>/<evening rates>/<incoming rates>/<start minutes rates>/<outgoing connect fee>/<incoming connect fee>/<seconds per charge>/<seconds per charge in start minutes>/<start minutes per call>/<free minutes share flags>: [phone number 1], [phone number 2], ...;


  1. The start minutes defined here is only per call start minutes, daily start minutes is defined in general rate plan.
  2. If both per call start minutes and daily start minutes are defined, only per call start minutes will be used.
  3. The start minutes is counted by seconds.
  4. For incoming rates, -50 is the magic number to indicate incoming call is using the same rates as outgoing call.
  5. The share flags definition:

0x0001: share free weekday minutes.

0x0002: share free weekend minutes, only for weekend calls.

0x0004: share free evening minutes, only for evening calls.

0x0008: share extra free weekday minutes.

0x0010: share free special minutes.

0x0020: share extra free special minutes.

Example 1:


It means:

  1. This rates apply for all phone number started with 1234, 2234, or 3234;
  2. All phone call with these numbers will first be charged with $2.0 (for outgoing) or $3.0 (for incoming) connect fee;
  3. Then it will be used to consume free minutes: weekend call will only consume free weekend minutes, evening call will consume free evening minutes or weekend minutes if "evening as weekend" is selected in rate plan, but weekday call will consume weekday, extra weekday, special minutes, and extra special minutes, in the order as they are mentioned;
  4. After consuming free minutes, if there're still minutes not consumed, then in the first 2 minutes (120 seconds), it will be charged with $1.0 for every minute (60 seconds);
  5. After the start minutes, then the incoming calls will be free as its rates is $0.0, for weekday, weekend, and evening call, it will be charged at $0.05, $0.03, or $0.02 for every 1 second, respectively.
Example 2:


It means:

  1. This rates is the default rates, that is, rates for any phone number that are not listed elsewhere. Normal call rates string and Special call rates can both have one default rates, but normally special call rates doesn't need default rates. If more than one default rates is provided, only the first one will be used.
  2. For outgoing calls, $2.0 connect fee will be charged, but no connect fee for incoming calls.
  3. It will not use any free minutes.
  4. There's no start minutes.
  5. The rates for incoming call is the same with outgoing calls. All weekday and weekend calls will be charged with $0.30 per minutes (60 seconds). For evening calls, if there's no evening definition or "evening as weekend" is selected, it will be charged as weekend calls, otherwise, calls in evening is free.

Rates string for SMS

<weekday rates>/<weekend rates>/<evening rates>/<incoming rates>/<seconds per sms out>/<seconds per sms in>/<free SMS allowance share flags>: [phone number 1], [phone number 2], ...;


  1. For incoming rates, -50 is the magic number to indicate incoming SMS is using the same rates as outgoing SMS, eg has different rates for weekday, weekend, and evening.
  2. seconds per sms out/in is for rate plan that SMS also shares the free minutes.
  3. The share flags can use free minutes sharing flags defined above in call rates, but only weekday, extra weekday, special, and extra special minutes can be shared with SMS.
  4. SMS specific sharing flag definition:

0x0100: share weekday SMS allowance.

0x0200: share weekend SMS allowance.

0x0400: share evening SMS allowance.

0x0800: share extra weekday SMS allowance.

Display Format String

From now on LCMinutes also support fully user defined Today / Home Screen display content. The format string can be anything like:

[Whatever content]<variable 1>[whatever content]<variable 2>...

The predefined variables are:

1: Balance info.

2: Accrued charge.

11: Balance expire time.

12: Balance effective time.

21: Used weekday minutes.

22: Free weekday minutes.

23: Used weekend minutes.

24: Free weekend minutes.

25: Used evening minutes.

26: Free evening minutes.

27: Used extra weekday minutes.

28: Free extra weekday minutes.

29: Used special minutes.

30: Free special minutes.

31: Used extra special minutes.

32: Free extra special minutes.

41: Used today minutes.

42: Daily start minutes.

51: Used weekday SMS.

52: Weekday SMS allowance.

53: Used weekend SMS.

54: Weekend SMS allowance.

55: Used evening SMS.

56: Evening SMS allowance.

57: Used extra weekday SMS.

58: Extra weekday SMS allowance.

71: Used data allowance.

72: Free data allowance.

Enjoy it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

LCMinutes 1.45 is out for bug fixing

Two bugs should be fixed by this new version: daily and/or monthly counter sometimes are not cleared, which results in incorrect charge calculation, and clear data records doesn't work.

I was quite busy for the past month, and seems will stay that way for the coming month, but I will try to get some time to work on LCMinutes for those features I have promised.

Hope I can keep my promise.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

LCMinutes 1.43 Is Ready

Still busy these days, but now LCMinutes supports time based charge for data traffic, the maximum length of special rates string increased to 2048, and a new sharing flag added to special rates to support used shared free long distance minutes before daytime minutes. And the new service message format for balance info from Rogers is supported.

Check LCMinutes change history for details.

Friday, March 14, 2008

LCMinutes 1.42 Is Out

LCMinutes 1.42 is out with some minor feature changes and bug fixing. Check the change history for details. The main changes are use KB instead of MB as the unit for data allowance (thus support data allowance like 3.8M or so), add character "+" into allowed number char in free number and special rates strings (so user can put number like "+14161234567" into special rates), and fix a call connection fee bug.

In the past half month I am a little busy on my personal stuff, which slow down the updating of LCMinutes. But I will try my best to keep updating LCMinutes so it will be more user friendly, less missing features, especially those important features like roaming charge, time based data usage charge mode, monthly usage exporting, etc.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

LCMinutes 1.40 Is Ready

LCMinutes 1.40 is ready with partially support of font customization, you need a registry editor to do it. And it fix the rate plan setting editing problem on some htc Touch phones. It also fixes error in detecting USA T-Mobile service messages. Check LCMinutes change history for details.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

LCMinutes 1.39 Is Ready

LCMinutes 1.39 is now ready, again, for detecting balance info from service messages of T-Mobile USA and Kuwait Zain. Now user need to manually set their rate plan network id to related network to get the detection work.

What also changed are the charge unit for data usage can be set by user to any number of kilobytes, expire or effective date can now be displayed without year information, view setting for LCMinutes main window is now saved, and more importantly, more traces are added to debug the problem that some editing box for rate plan setting are not displayed in some htc Touch phones. Check LCMinutes change history for more details.

For those htc Touch users that have this problem in rate plan setting, please install 1.39, turn on the main trace, reproduce the bug, and send the trace file (LCMTrace.TXT) to me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

LCMinutes 1.38 Is Ready

LCMinutes 1.38 adds support to get balance information from service message for T-Mobile USA and Kuwait Zain users, and more traces added. It also change the used data display format. Multiple characters currency symbol is also supported now.

For htc Touch users that experience problems when editing rate plan and/or balance, please upgrade to 1.38 and turn on main trace. Reproduce the bug and then send me the trace file so I can see what happened.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

LCMinutes 1.37 Is Ready

LCMinutes 1.37 is out with support of simultaneously data connection and phone calls, it also fix a bug that change of free minutes and data/SMS allowance is not reflected in balance initially.

Version 1.3x user should upgrade to 1.37.

Monday, February 18, 2008

LCMinutes 1.36 Is Ready

LCMinutes 1.36 fix the bug that trace setting for display and main application are not saved. For user of 1.35, it's not necessary to update to this version unless you want the trace functionality.

Why my free minutes/data/SMS is not displayed correctly in today plugin item?

It's because the rate plan has not been updated to balance information. Do following to update the balance information:

  1. Start LCMinutes to change your free minutes for evening (or for weekend, long distance), and save the rate plan setting;
  2. Back to main window of LCMinutes, choose NO when prompted to question that whether you want to apply this changed rate plan to past calls and SMS;
  3. Quit LCMinutes and check the today display.

LCMinutes 1.35 Is Out

LCMinutes 1.35 fixes a bug that the used data in balance setting is incorrectly imported when it's longer than 4 digits. Users of 1.34 should upgrade to 1.35 if they use data traffic monitoring features.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

LCMinutes 1.34 Is Ready

LCMinutes 1.34 (with the not publicly released 1.33) now can track data connection for Samsung CDMA phones (verified on Verizon Samsung SCH-I760 WM6 PPC), handle concatenated SMS, support one more bit of precision for data rates per KB, and increase special rates length from 512 to 1024. For details, check LCMinutes change history.

And from now on, LCMinutes for Smartphone is open to public. Its editing functionality still doesn't work without 3rd party software helping, so it's still rely on import/export feature to setup the rate plan and/or balance. And its installation steps is different with Pocket PC Phone version. Please follow these installation steps strictly unless you know what you are doing.

And for those who still can't track call, SMS, or data usage, or can't import call logs, SMS, please turn on trace and send me a copy of the trace file so I can have a look at it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

LCMinutes 1.32 Is Ready For Free Long Distance Minutes

Now free long distance minutes is supported with version 1.32. Other changes are automatic updating of traffic info for long lasting data connections, new special rates format, seconds based starting minutes, displaying used minutes with seconds info, call minutes calculating bug fixing, etc. Please check change history for detailed information.

Polish and Australian users may use the new special rates format to support their network based charging mode while sharing the same free numbers. While other users may now input start minutes per call that is not full minutes, like one minute plus 20 seconds.

Monday, February 11, 2008

LCMinutes 1.31 Is Ready

LCMinutes 1.31 comes with support of Today / Home Screen display customization, minute beep, and several bug fixes. Check the change history for details.

Minutes beep feature is a little tougher to implement than my initial thought, the main problem is that during a phone call, the default audio device is muted. I have to unmute it make the sound heard. And I am not sure it will work out on every devices.

But in case the minute beep doesn't work on your device, just disable it and let me know. And also let me know your opinion on the volume if you feel it's too low or too loud.

This version should also fix the problem that on some phones (or operator related?) the data traffic is not recorded. For those of you have encountered this problem, please let me know whether this version has fixed it or not.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

LCMinutes 1.30 Is Ready And Data Aware

For those of you that demanded data traffic support for LCMinutes, the wait is finally over. The version 1.30 can monitor data traffic through cellular line (GPRS, HSPA, EVDO, etc), and calculate its charges.

Monthly data traffic limit, or monthly data allowance, is supported, along with rates per kilobyte for extra data. User can also choose whether to round up to next full kilobyte when calculating charges.

If you try it, let me how it works, or not working.

Friday, January 25, 2008

LCMinutes 1.25 Is Ready & Fast

While LCMinutes 1.24 introduces the great feature to re-calculate charge for past phone call and SMS, its automatic loading of phone call and SMS also slow down the start up process of the main application a lot. Version 1.25 change the loading from automatic to manual. User can choose to load the existing logs by menu.

It also fix the bug the duplicate call logs are imported.

LCMinutes 1.24 Is Ready

The main features introduced with this version are auto loading of phone call & SMS log, calculating charge for past calls & SMS, support of charging units shared by both call minutes and SMS, and new special rates format. Check its change history for details, and the FAQ for the new special rates format.

The support of calculating charges for the past should be helpful for smartphone edition, as it doesn't need the monitor module running all the time. But again, please contact me for the smartphone edition. It's still in the test stage.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

LCMinutes 1.20 Is Ready

10 days after my last update, LCMinutes version 1.20 is now ready for download. The main update is the support for import/export of both rate plan and balance. So when upgrade to a new version of LCMinutes, user don't need to manually input their rate plan again. Check its change history for more details.

At the same time, LCMinutes for smartphone is also ready to be tested. But I have not uploaded it for download for two reasons:

1. It's not signed, (or to be exact, it is signed with a sample privileged RD certificate), which means it can not be installed on those smartphones that are blocked from installing unsigned software, and unfortunately most smartphones belong to this category.

2. It's only tested on emulators, which means it might not work on actual phones.

For those brave hearts that know your smartphone is ready to install unsigned applications (or if you do have the sample RD certificate installed), leave a comment with your email here, or send me an email, I will mail the smartphone CAB file and detail installation guide to you.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

LCMinutes 1.14 Is Ready

The main change of this version is enhanced support for special rates, and today plugin support for Spb Pocket Plus.

Check its change history for details and FAQ for new special rates format.

Monday, January 07, 2008

LCMinutes 1.12 Is Ready - With Special Rates Support

Now LCMinutes 1.12 is ready to download. It now support special rates, which can be used for long distance rates, pay per call service numbers (like 900 numbers), and different rates for different types of phone number, etc. Check the LCMinutes FAQ for details.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Some Links To LCMinutes

Here are some links about LCMinutes:

LCMinutes in and freeware list.

LCMinutes Thread in's Development and Hacking forum.

Detailed review about LCMinutes in Eten Blog.

LCMinutes 1.11 Is Ready - For Free Numbers

Now LCMinutes 1.11 is ready for download. The new feature is the support of free numbers. Check this out if you are a T-Mobile myFaves, or Rogers My Five users, or have whatever free calls in your plans.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

LCMinutes Frequently Asked Questions

What is LCMinutes?

LCMinutes is a Windows Mobile 5/6 application designed to monitor phone usage: how many free minutes, free long distance minutes, free SMS allowance, and free data allowance have been used? what is the current charge? Or for prepaid plan, what's the current balance and its expire date?

What is the system requirement?

Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone or Windows Mobile 6 Professional.

Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone or Windows Mobile 6 Standard.

How to install it?

For Pocket PC Phone:

  1. Install LCMinutes;
  2. Reboot the phone;
  3. Start LCMinutes application to setup a rate plan and initial balance;
  4. Reboot the phone;
  5. Done.

For Smartphone:

  1. Install LCMinutes;
  2. Start LCMinutes: Start -> More -> LCMinutes;
  3. Go to Settings: Menu -> Settings;
  4. Export default rate plan: Menu -> Export -> Rate Plan;
  5. Input a new name or accept the default name, click Save to continue;
  6. After rate plan settings is exported, modify this file based on your rate plan (wireless plan);
  7. Import your modified rate plan: Menu -> Import -> Rate Plan;
  8. Export default balance: Menu -> Export -> Balance;
  9. Input a new name or accept the default name, click Save to continue;
  10. After balance is exported, modify this file to reflect your current balance;
  11. Import your modified balance: Menu -> Import -> Balance;
    Back to main window;
  12. Install LCMinutes Today Home Screen Plugin: Menu -> Tools -> Install Home Plugin;
  13. In the open file dialog, go to \Application Data\Home, and select full.home.xml or any other home screen configuration file you want to use;
  14. After home screen plugin is installed, exit LCMinutes;
    Change home screen setting: Start -> Settings -> Home Screen;
  15. Change Home screen layout to whatever layout other than the layout you just modified, click two times Done to finish setting change;
  16. Change home screen setting again: Start -> Settings -> Home Screen;
  17. Change Home screen layout to Windows Default, or any other layout you just exported the LCMinutes plugin to, click two times Done to finish;
  18. Return to your home screen, LCMinutes plugin item should be there displaying the balance you just changed;
  19. Reboot machine;
  20. Done.

How to upgrade it?

  1. Uninstall existing LCMinutes;
  2. Reboot the phone;
  3. Remove folder \Application Data\LCMinutes;
  4. Follow the install guide to install the new LCMinutes;

How to setup a rate plan?

  • Start LCMinutes;
  • Choose Menu -> Settings to enter setting dialog;
  • Click Edit button at the top-right corner to enter editing state;
  • Change the desired rate plan settings;
  • Click Save button at the top-right corner to save the settings.

How to setup a balance?

  • Start LCMinutes;
  • Choose Menu -> Settings to enter setting dialog;
  • Click Balance tab at the bottom to open balance setting page;
  • Click Edit button at the top-right corner to enter editing state;
  • Change the desired balance;
  • Click Save button at the top-right corner to save the settings.

My plan has no weekends, how to setup my rate plan?

Change the Weekday in Rate Plan Settings to 0-6, which means the weekday starting from Sunday to Saturday.

My plan has no evening, how to setup my rate plan?

Change the Evening in Rate Plan Settings to 00-00.

What is the Adjust in rate plan settings?

Adjust means add some more seconds into every call duration for what's recorded in the phone. This helps to make the charge calculation more matching with the charge forwarded by operators.

How to input free numbers in rate plan settings?

Go to Menu -> Settings -> Current rate Plan -> Free Calls, and then input the free numbers desired into the multiline edit box.

Different free numbers are separated with a semi-colon (;) or a carriage return character.

Partial number is supported: this means if a free number 416 is input, then all phone number started with 416 will be treated as free numbers.

What is special rates?

There are 3 types of special rates:

  • Rates that is added onto normal rates: like the long distance charge, or pay per call service charge;
  • Rates that is deducted from normal rates: like some discount program in some rate plans;
  • Rates that replaces the normal rates: this can be used to support the different rates for different phone number types.

All these 3 types special rates can be defined for phone call or SMS. The same phone number can appear for 2 times, one for call and one for SMS.

What is special rates format?

Basic special rates string format is: [<phone number> : <rates type> <sharing flags> : <weekday rates> / <weekend rates> / <evening rates> / <incoming rates> : <charge interval> : <Out SMS rates> / <In SMS rates>;], excluding the square brackets ([]) pair.

  • <phone number>: the target phone number. It can be any format, but for number 123-456-7890, 1234567890 is recommended because it uses less space;
  • <rates type>: the type of this special rate. It has 3 possible values: + stands for addon rates, - stands for deduction rates, and missing both means this is a replacement rates. This applies to all the rates listed;
  • <sharing flags>: a number to indicate what free minutes this number (or these numbers) can share before applying these special rates. Currently supported flags are:
    • 0x000001: sharing free daytime minutes;
    • 0x000002: sharing free weekend minutes;
    • 0x000004: sharing free evening minutes;
    • 0x000010: sharing free long distance minutes; These flags can use together, but a decimal number should be used. Fox example, if you want to use all these flags, you can put this number as 23, or if you just want to share daytime minutes and long distance minutes, then use number 17. And if no sharing is needed, then put 0 (zero) here.
    • 0x000020: used free long distance minutes before daytime/weekend/evening minutes. By default, free daytime/weekend/evening minutes is used first.
  • <weekday rates>: the price to be charged to outgoing calls happens in weekday for every charging interval;
  • <weekend rates>: the price to be charged to outgoing calls happens in weekend for every charging interval;
  • <evening rates>: the price to be charged to outgoing calls happens in evening for every charging interval;
  • <incoming rates>: the price to be charged to all incoming calls for every charging interval: if the incoming using the same rates as outgoing calls, then use magic number -50 here;
  • <charge interval>: the charging units: For per minute charge, this value is 60;
  • <Out SMS rates>: the price to be charged for every outgoing SMS;
  • <In SMS rates>: the price to be charged for every incoming SMS.

Several examples:

  • [1234567:0:0.50/0.25/0.25/0.0:30:0.30/0.15;] : it means for any phone numbers started with 1234567, no free minutes is shared, no normal charge should be applied. Its rates for weekday, weekend, evening and incoming call are $0.50, $0.25, $0.25, and free respectively, charged at every 30 seconds. And every SMS sent to it is charged for $0.30 while every SMS coming from it is charged at $0.15;
  • [1234567:+16:0.50/0.0/0.0/-50:60:0.30/0.0;] : it means for any phone numbers started with 1234567, free minutes for long distance is used first till no free minutes left. All normal charge is applied to it. And on top of normal charge, it is charged for $0.50 per minute in daytime for both outgoing and incoming calls. But it has no extra charge in evening and weekend, for both outgoing and incoming calls. And every SMS sent to it is charged for $0.30 while incoming SMS from it is free. 

Why my free minutes/data/SMS is not displayed correctly in today plugin item?

It's because the rate plan has not been updated to balance information. Do following to update the balance information:

  1. Start LCMinutes to change your free minutes for evening (or for weekend, long distance), and save the rate plan setting;
  2. Back to main window of LCMinutes, choose NO when prompted to question that whether you want to apply this changed rate plan to past calls and SMS;
  3. Quit LCMinutes and check the today display.


LCMinutes 1.10 Is Ready

Now LCMinutes supports even more options to define a rate plan that matches user's wireless plan as much as possible! Please check its change history for more details.

There're still some important features missing, like free service number, support to myFaves or MyFive, long distance charge, etc., but I do believe this version is a worthy try.

I will create a FAQ for LCMinutes about its common usage and its other aspects. But for now, if you have any questions, suggestions, opinions, or bugs to report, please leave a comment here.