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HOW DO YOU USE DATACOMM
Bil. Alvernaz inaugurates his new "How Do You Do That" column by explaining how to set up and use the built-in DataComm program. He demonstrates HP 95LX communications capabilities showing how to access CompuServe and MCI Mail.
By Bil. AlvernazIt doesn't take much time at all to learn the basics in using the HP 95LX. It's a pleasant surprise to discover just how intuitive the 95LX is to use. Most people start using 1-2-3, the calculator, the phone book, the appointment scheduler, and the memo editor right away.
It's a different story, however, with the more advanced features of the HP 95LX. It isn't that they are complicated or too hard to master. It's just that you need to take the time to look up things in the documentation. Since most of us are busy, we don't have an abundance of extra time on our hands. After all, we bought the 95LX to help us save time.
Which brings us to the whole purpose of this column. Over the course of the coming issues we're going to cover those HP 95LX topics most people haven't yet learned or mastered (for whatever reason).
Now you'll have a reference point where you can learn the "ins and outs" of doing more with your HP 95LX.
It needs to be said that HP's documentation for the 95LX isn't bad at all - it's just that there is so much of it (weighing in at two and half pounds!) to wade through; and, many times, we don't know the exact term or name of whatever it is we're trying to look for. And, let's face it, most of us will avoid using the manual at all costs anyway.
The name of this column says it all -- we're going to answer your questions about how to do things on the HP 95LX, and we'll carefully explain step-by-step procedures to get you going. While we have a basic idea of topics to cover for this column, we're looking for your input. You can contact us directly at The HP Palmtop Paper or get in touch with me (more details at the end of this article).
COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE HP 95LX
The topic for this issue's column is communications using DataComm, which is one of the built-in applications on the HP 95LX. Before we get started there are a few points we need to cover.
A lot of people confuse DataComm with the Connectivity Pack. The Connectivity Pack is designed specifically for exchanging data between the HP 95LX and your desktop PC. DataComm is designed for use with a modem to access electronic mail or to talk to remote computers through the phone line. (If you do not have The Connectivity Pack, or if you have a non-IBM compatible computer, the DataComm program can also be used to exchange files. Instead of using the phone lines to connect the computers, serial cabling can be used.)
You can start using DataComm the day you buy your HP 95LX, provided you have a modem and the right cable. We're going to cover all of that in step-by-step detail. The Connectivity Pack does not come with the 95LX. It's something you must buy additionally. We'll cover all of the details in future columns.
If you haven't already bought an AC Adapter for your HP 95LX, it would be a good idea to get one before using either DataComm, The Connectivity Pack, or the Filer. Otherwise you're going to be putting a considerable drain on the 95LX batteries. While it's true that you can use your 95LX, as well as some modems, without an AC adapter, the reality is that your batteries will quickly wear down (both on the 95LX and the modem).
Unless your modem was designed explicitly with the HP 95LX in mind, the modem may not work properly without its AC adapter. Future issues of The HP Palmtop Paper will make recommendations about specific modems. (See letter, page 2, Fall, 1991 issue.)
The communications program built into the HP 95LX is called DataComm. Whenever you press <COMM> on your 95LX, that's the program you'll be using. If you're familiar with using your PC and communications software to access CompuServe or MCI Mail, you'll feel like DataComm is an old friend. If you haven't done much with communications, the HP 95LX is an ideal starting point because all of the hard work has already been done for you. Everything is ready to go. All you need to do is be sure things are set up right (which we're going to cover in this column) and provide the correct phone number.
Here's what you need for communications on the HP 95LX:
For the HP 95LX to work with the modem, the serial cable and adapter(s) must be correct. The adapter(s) that connect the 9-pin female end of the HP serial cable to the modem must accomplish the following:
Once you have your HP 95LX connected to the modem, be sure the modem is turned on. Next, press <COMM> on your 95LX. Press <MENU> to activate the DataComm menu -- Settings will be highlighted. Then press <ENTER> to select that item. That will take you to the Communications Settings screen shown in Figure #1. The Use option will be highlighted. Press <ENTER> again to select it.
For the purposes of our example here, we're going to select a setting for accessing CompuServe. To accomplish that all we need to do is press <ENTER> because CompuServe (COMPUSRV.DCF) is already highlighted as the file to be selected for the communications settings. Once we have done that, all that needs to be done is to enter the correct access phone number for this particular area.
If you don't know the local access number for CompuServe in the U.S. call 800-635-6225 to find a number in your area. (Users not in the U.S. should see page 11 in the Fall, 1991 issue for phone numbers).
To enter the CompuServe number you need to highlight Config and press <ENTER>. At the next menu highlight Dial and press <ENTER>. Now highlight Number and press <ENTER> again. Type in the CompuServe number. When you press <ENTER> you will be taken back to the menu screen where you selected Dial. If you need to change the baud rate, select Port, otherwise you just press <ESC> to move back to the Config menu screen. Press <ESC> once more. Your screen will now be blank except for the four menu choices at the top of the screen.
Highlight Connect and press <ENTER>. That will then dial the number for you and connect you to CompuServe. You will then need to enter the proper information and data to access your CompuServe account - just as you would with any other communications program. While on CompuServe you can capture text as it whizzes past, by pressing <CTRL>-F5. When you have signed off from CompuServe, you can press <CTRL>-F7 to hang up the phone.
To upload or transmit data/files, you'll need to work from the Transfer menu screen. DataComm can transmit data with the Kermit, XMODEM, or Text protocols.
USING XMODEM TO DOWNLOAD FILES FROM COMPUSERVE
Here's what to do to download CompuServe files using Xmodem.
The 95LX's built-in configuration file for CompuServe communications sets the serial port to operate with 7 data bits and even parity. Since the XMODEM protocol uses 8 bits, no parity, you'll need to modify the configuration file to include those changes (the Menu Settings Use command again). Once you connect to CompuServe, the first prompt from CompuServe will likely consist of nonsensical characters, but enter your user ID anyway. CompuServe will then detect that you are using 8 bits, no parity and automatically switch to support that. XMODEM transfers should now work without any hitches.
DOWNLOADING FILES FROM MCI MAIL
Signing on to MCI MAIL using the HP 95LX is similar to that of Compu Serve.
Once you press <COMM> on the HP 95LX you'll need to press <MENU>. Press <ENTER> to select the Settings options (See Figure #1). The Use option will now be highlighted, press <ENTER> again. Using <Right Arrow> move until you highlight MCI.DCF and then press <ENTER>. Now all you need to do is enter the number for MCI MAIL. You do that by highlight Config and pressing <ENTER>. Select Dial and then Number to enter the phone number. MCI MAIL's toll-free numbers are 800-234-6245 (for 1200 baud) and 800-456-6245 (for 2400 baud). These numbers are for access from anywhere within the U.S.A. at no cost except normal MCI charges. If you want to check for local access numbers, call MCI at 800-444-6245. International MCI should call (202) 833-8484 in the U.S.
Once you have entered the MCI MAIL access number (be sure you have the baud rate set properly, too), pressing <ENTER> will take you back to the menu screen where you selected Dial. Press <ESC> twice to return to the main menu screen of DataComm. Now highlight Connect to access MCI MAIL.
While DataComm isn't the most sophisticated communications program on the market, it does the job. For me, it's made traveling much easier. I no longer lug my laptop or notebook computers through airports. Usually when I travel I only need to check my MCI Mail, which is a breeze on the HP 95LX. Given the fact that my 95LX, via MCI MAIL, can even send FAXes, complete with my letterhead and signature printed on them (you can send FAXes on CompuServe, too), I can literally do office work out of a hotel room anywhere in the U.S.
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