---------- ---------- PC Pro Realworld Computing: Paul Lynch - PDAs

Hints & Tips

In issue 55 I wrote about Andrew "Sooty" Corbett using RCOM to connect his Psion Series 5 to a Windows 3.1 desktop, which I reported won't run on Windows 95/98/NT. Laurence Williams has written to me to explain how to get RCOM to work on Windows 95/98/NT. This is what he has to say:

"The way I get it to work is not just to run the RCom.exe file (from a DOS command prompt) but to add the switches for baud rate and com port manually; otherwise it doesn't seem to work.

Example, run RCom from com2 port at a baud of 19200 :

RCOM /pcom2 /b19200

There are spaces between each ?/' element.

The RCOM Readme file amplifies on switches and usage."

Thanks, Lawrence!

I'm also getting a lot of questions about using the Ericsson SH888 as an infra-red modem. This is something that I have covered reasonably extensively in recent months, notably in issue 54 (April 1999). There are other possible phones to use, including both the Nokia 8810 and the Ericsson DI27 clip on adaptor, which connects to many common Ericsson phones. Note that there is no way to use the Nokia 6100 as an infra-red modem - it has IR, and is cheap, but stupidly doesn't include the necessary software; it can only be used with a PC Card adaptor and a suitable driver and cable connection.

The SH888 is only supplied for use with Cellnet or Vodaphone, not Orange; this is apparently because Orange aren't happy with the slow keypad response of the SH888. However, I can vouch that it works perfectly well on the Orange network. The process to go through is to take out the cheapest available tarriff with an SH888 on Cellnet/Vodaphone, and a cheap phone on Orange, then swap the SIM cards. If you want to use it on Orange, then you probably already have an Orange SIM to use. You won't get SIM updates over the network, but in my experience it works perfectly satisfactorily.

Once you have your SH888, ask your service provider to enable data and fax; they will give you two additional phone numbers for incoming calls, but you can safely ignore these. There is a menu option on the SH888 to turn on IR, which you will need to enable every time you switch on the phone. If you watch the phone's display, you will be able to see it attempting to dial, and then light up with a "data call" message when a successful connection has been made. If it fails to show any sign of your PDA's attempts, then either you haven't enabled IR on the phone, or the PDA hasn't been properly configured to use IR. If you connect but don't get the "data call" message (it should drop the connection), then you either haven't entered the correct phone number and log on sequence, or your service provider hasn't enabled data for you.

With a Psion Series 5, make sure that you have the current version of Message Suite installed (1.52f), then use the modem control panel to define an infra-red phone; the rest of the procedure is as normal. If you have problems making a successful connection, then I can recommend looking at Charles Newgas's web site: http://www.cix.co.uk/~cnewgas/Psion_Tricks/Mobile_IR/mobile_ir.html. Charles also runs a business selling CF cards at reasonable prices, mainly for use with Psion Series 5s, although I have bought them from him for use with Windows CE and digital cameras.

If you are using a Palm, then use the Serial/IR Pref module to switch to using IR. Strangely, PalmOS 3 as used on the Palm IIIx and Palm V doesn't include this module. You will have to download the IR enhancement patch from 3com's web site and install just this module.

Finally, you can do more than just using an IR connection to connect to the Internet. Software is available for both Palm and the Psion Series 5 to manage your phone book on the phone and send and receive SMS messages. For the Series 5, use PhoneMan, from SG Software; the latest version is 1.40F; I took a look at V1.01 in issue 53. This is another product that receives continual enhancements. I haven't used a recent version of HandPhone for Palm, from Smartcode Software, but they were taken over by Palm Computing earlier this year, and seem to offer a similar, although not quite so all--embracing, set of features to PhoneMan.

PhoneMan SMS messages
PhoneMan SMS messages

HandPhone phone book
HandPhone phone book


Words and design by:
Paul Lynch
Last updated: August 18, 1999

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