H/PC File Transfers and Printing when stuck on the road

There are few things in the Handheld World more aggravating than finding yourself on the road with your H/PC, without your proprietary cables, and thus unable to print or exchange files. In these virus-ridden days, one cannot count on the willingness of a systems administrator to install additional software on an office's machines solely so you can enjoy your H/PC for the afternoon.

This article offers up some tips and workarounds, and it assumes only two things:

  1. You have a terminal program installed on your H/PC that allows file transfers [the standard MS Terminal program does not]
  2. You have PC Card Modem card of 33K speed or LESS.

 

File Transfers:

If a user had FileGram 1.0 installed and a proprietary serial cable, that user wouldn't need this section. Or if an office was agreeable to receiving your attachments, you could conceivably e-mail your files to their server, and vice-versa, but with so many lurking viruses, these are not particularly generous times.

This shows how to transfer files for exchange or printing without H/PC cables or e-mail attachments.

First, the terminal program. There are several good terminal programs available for H/PC users (see Henri Spagnolo's j7xx site for HPC2000 listings).

As for a non-56K PC Card modem, they're essentially free with a full tank of gas at any participating service station. I ended up getting a Megahertz XJ4288 28.8/14.4 PC Card Modem. It was a piece of hardware that retailed for $220 in 1996, but in 2004, it set me back $5 on e-bay. It came new-in-the-box with manuals and even had the "The Latest AOL 2.5 Floppy Diskette."

Why do we need a non-56K modem? Why can't we just use the H/PC's internal modem? Because 56K modems are hardwired to prevent direct hook-up with another 56K, and a direct hook-up is our operating premise for all transfers. Any modem with a speed lower than 56K will work.

Store the modem in your wallet, in the H/PC's PCMCIA slot, or Velcro it to the bottom of the machine.

For this article's purpose, a Jornada 720 and a PC operating on Windows ME will be the examples. But any two terminal programs should work, even a Mac's.

 

The Connection:

Connect the H/PC and the PC's modems with a standard r-jack phone cable.

ON THE Handheld PC'S TERMINAL PROGRAM:

    1. Choose the fastest file exchange format, which is "Zmodem." If the H/PC's terminal program lacks that choice, you can go all the way down to "Xmodem," which is slow but still efficient.
    2. Generally, everything else can be left at its defaults. If you choose VT100 as your terminal emulation, Window's HyperTerminal will autodetect it.

ON THE PC (Windows ME):

    1. After clicking on the HyperTerminal icon, the first screen is "New Connection." Hit "Cancel." This will take you directly to a Terminal screen.
    2. Everything else can be left at the defaults.

Communicating:

  1. On the PC, type ata and hit ENTER.
  2. On the H/PC's terminal screen, type atd and hit ENTER.
  3. After a few moments, the machines should handshake, with the same connection speed posted on each screen.
  4. The surest way to tell if it's a proper connection is by typing on one keyboard whose strokes should show up on the other machine's screen.
  5. From here, you can upload/download files via Zmodem or any other file protocol, as long as you choose the SAME protocol for both machines (Zmodem is Hypterminal's default)

TIP: the connection can be noisy, and to silence the modems, on both screens, you can type atm0 and hit ENTER. But give this command BEFORE the ata/atd commands.

Virus Musings:

If an office or another user doesn't want your attachments, they may not want your files via an in-house terminal program either. There is little evidence that viruses can infect a CE OS, but .doc can transmit viruses via macros created in Visual Basic.

To reassure others, you could convert your .doc to a .rtf file. There is no conclusive proof-yet-that .rtf files can carry anything other than rich text.

 

Fax Printing:

Let's hypothesize that your files are not wanted on someone else's machine in any form. You can still generate a hard copy with only your non-56K PC modem-assuming you have a fax program on your H/PC, you can employ the old fax-to-print trick.

Connect the J to the machine with a phone line. Start printing your document through the fax program. Pick a faux phone number (e.g. 1-2-3) and in Transmission Quality, choose Fine Mode for best printing results.

On the fax machine, enable "Manual Receive."

The two machines will handshake and the fax machine will generate your document.

This procedure will also work with a PC's fax program. Connect the H/PC to a PC, start up the PC's fax program, and choose "Manual Receive," which has been a standard command for years.

I hope this helps people who find themselves in a pinch. Sometimes we forget the old standbys-terminal programs and fax machines-even though they have rescued many users in the past.


Jake Fisher
HPC:Factor Guest Writer

Contact Jake (via Chris Tilley) by e-mail or via Windows / MSN Messenger.
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