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Using an Apple Macintosh with the HP Palmtops

Using an Apple Macintosh with the HP Palmtops

Two Macintosh users tell how they integrate HP Palmtops with their Mac environment, for file transfer, backup, printing, communication and PC emulation.

By Craig de Fasselle

A Mac User's Guide to Working with HP Palmtops

As a long time Macintosh user, there was never any reason to learn DOS commands until HP started producing their Palmtop PC's. Fortunately, an Apple Macintosh user does not have to live life from the DOS command line for the HP and Mac to coexist effectively.

Unless otherwise stated, this article will deal with the HP 100/200LX, although many of the procedures work with the HP 95LX. I used the 95LX with my Macs for two years before switching to the 100LX and now the 200LX.

Although Hewlett Packard offers no connectivity software for Mac, there are commercial and shareware/ freeware options available. Regardless of the software, you need the Mac-to-HP cable (HP Part No. F1016A).

File Transfer with Kermit, Zterm, and other programs

For one of the least expensive methods of file transfer, try using MacKermit by Frank da Cruz on your Mac. This freely distributed program can be found on most BBS and online services, including America Online (AOL) and CompuServe. Kermit works fine with either the HP 95LX and HP 100/200LX (see sidebar for example).

I have also used Zterm (by David P. Alverson) successfully for file transfers at 57,600 (see sidebar for example).

MacKermit and Zterm are not the only way to transfer files between the desktop Mac and an HP Palmtop. Other popular communications programs should work. You can try the communications module in Microsoft Works, White Knight, and Microphone. The setups will vary slightly depending on the program, but are similar to the Zterm or MacKermit setups.

File Translation

Although some terminal programs offer file translation features, you'll probably need other programs to assist with this task. Here are a few tips:

  • Text files -- Although there are many freeware and shareware programs to convert text files, DOSWasher 1.0 by N. Jonas England, is one of the easiest to use and best. This application will convert text to and from PC and Mac formats. Simply drag a transferred Memo file from the HP over the DOSWasher icon and it will convert it to a text file that can be read by any Mac word processor. If you take any Mac plain text file and drag it over DOSWasher, it will be converted to PC format which the HP Memo application can read.
  • Lotus 123 files -- these spreadsheet files can be imported directly into Excel or Works. Likewise, you can save your Mac spreadsheet as a Lotus WK1 file that can be opened by the HP.
  • HP Palmtop Data Base files -- For database import-export, you may use GDBIO by Craig Payne or DBUTIL by Steve Roth. These import-export utilities are run on your HP to convert HP database to comma or tab delimited text files that can be used on the Mac. They also can convert delimited text files to the HP format (procedure described in the programs' documentation).

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MacLinkPlus: Translation and Transfer in One Package

DataViz's MacLinkPlus/HP Palmtop is currently the best commercial answer for both file transfers and translations between a Mac and the HP 95/100/ 200LX. The new 2.5 version includes new features and improvements to solidify this position.

Unlike prior versions, 2.5 has a backup feature that can copy all HP files to the Mac while maintaining the directory structure. All you need to do is launch MacLinkPlus/HP Palmtop, click on the Backup Palmtop option, follow the onscreen instructions, check the drives you wish to copy, and click the Backup button. This makes what was once a tedious procedure painless, especially since subdirectories no longer have to be copied separately.

While the program does not include Mac desktop versions of the HP programs, it does provide templates and a dozen new translators for popular Mac programs including Excel, Works, Filemaker Pro, Word, Now Up-to-Date, and others. The new 2.5 version has also added translation for the Mac version of the popular contact manager, Act! There is no translator for Pocket Quicken. (See the sidebar on this page for more on Pocket Quicken transfer.)

File transfers are done at 19,200 baud using the MacLinkPlus desktop application in conjunction with the MacLink communications program on your HP Palmtop. You simply connect the two units with the cable, launch MacLinkPlus/HP Palmtop on your Mac, and the MLPHP.EXE on your HP (there are versions of MLPHP.EXE for the HP 95LX, 100LX, and 200LX).

The Mac application allows you to use the more familiar dialog boxes and Shift-Click procedures for selecting multiple files within a single directory for transfer and/or translation. This alleviates any need for DOS commands. You must still transfer files from each subdirectory separately if you do not use the new backup feature.

With new translators, greatly simplified installation with step by-step on-screen instructions, and the global backup feature, the new MacLinkPlus/HP Palmtop 2.5 is the easiest and best HP-to-Mac connectivity solution to date.

File Compression and Decompression

You will find that most shareware programs for the HP Palmtops come ZIPped (compressed with PKZIP , the most common PC compression format). To use these programs, you must un-ZIP (decompress) them. Two Mac programs provide ZIP file decompression. The commercial program Stuffit Deluxe 3.0.7 or higher includes an unzipping utility. In addition, a shareware utility called ZipIt 1.2.6 by Tommy Brown provides both unzippping and zipping capability. ZipIt is an easy to-use program, and should be considered a "must have" for the Mac-HP Palmtop user.

Printing to Mac Printers

Both the HP 95LX and HP 100/200LX can print directly to a non-AppleTalk ImageWriter I or II using the F1016A cable. Set the HP's serial port to 9600,N,8,1 and select Epson FX-80 as the printer driver in Setup. Some LaserWriters may work if they support a straight serial connection. For example, a Personal LaserWriter NT allows you to configure the serial port as a LaserJet. Using the LaserJet driver in the HP Palmtop works fine with this printer.

Of course, the greatest printing flexibility can be obtained by transferring the files to your Mac and printing translated files from the Mac. For example, to print your phone or appointment files, first use the print to file option on the HP, then transfer that file to your Mac. Run the file through DOSWasher to convert the text. Use a Mac word processing application to make any desired format changes and print from the word processor.

Using Mac Modems

If your modem is Hayes compatible, it should work with the HP Palmtop without problem. You will need the HP cable for HP to PC transfers (HP Part No. F1015A) and a null modem adapter (included in the HP Adapter Kit, Part No. F1023A). Simply connect the HP Palmtop and modem via the cable, turn both on, and use either DataComm, cc:Mail, or another communications program.

Availability of Software Mentioned in This Article

Most of the programs mentioned in this article (except MacLinkPlus) can be found on the commercial online services, including America Online and CompuServe. On AOL, most of the referenced programs can be found in the PDA/Palmtop Forum (keyword Palmtop). While some of the above may sound complicated, the procedures are fairly quick and painless. With a little practice you'll have your HP Palmtop and Apple Macintosh working well together.

Steps for Kermit file transfer

Zterm File Transfer Steps

Transferring Pocket Quicken files to Quicken on the Mac

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