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Lotus cc:Mail One of My Most Useful Palmtop Applications

Lotus cc:Mail One of My Most Useful Palmtop Applications

One of the Palmtop's least-used applications is his most-used communications program.

By Jorgen Wallgren

For most Palmtop users cc:Mail Mobile is one of the least-used of the Palmtop's built-in applications. Cc:MAIL Mobile is the stripped-down version of the popular Lotus e-mail communications program built into the Palmtop. Many Palmtop users think it's totally useless, or worse, don't even know it exists on the Palmtop. I can understand these feelings since I once had the same low opinion of cc:Mail. Then circumstances forced me to figure out how to use it on the Palmtop. I began to realize how valuable it was and why HP put it on the Palmtop in the first place.

I work for a manufacturing company in Singapore. The head office has a Novel network running Windows 3.1 and using a Windows version of cc:Mail (version 2.0) for e-mail and Internet access. When I first bought my 200LX I realized that I had cc:Mail built into the Palmtop. But since my office was running a Windows version of the program, I didn't think it would work and ignored it.

Then one day my boss told me that I had to have access to the office's cc:Mail system while I was traveling and ordered me to carry a notebook computer with cc:Mail capability with me whenever I was on the road. The reason I bought the Palmtop in the first place was so I would not have to lug around a five-pound notebook. I suddenly had a very practical reason to get cc:Mail to work on the Palmtop.

Configuring cc:Mail

It turned out to be surprisingly easy to get cc:Mail up and running.

  1. 1. I opened the cc:Mail Mobile application and pressed (F10) to go to the Connect dialog box, which prompts you to select the host system you will connect to. The default host, cc:Mail, should be highlighted.
  2. 2. Press (ALT)-(E) to go to the cc:Mail settings dialog box (shown below).

  3.  

     

 cc:Mail settings dialog box.
 
 

  1. This screen lets you customize cc:Mail so that it interfaces properly with another system running cc:Mail. When you first open this dialog box you'll notice that most of the settings are predefined. I modified Host name, Post Office, Username, Password, Baud rate, Interface, Modem Volume and Phone Number. If you don't know the proper settings, you'll need to check with your systems administrator.
  2. After customizing the settings I pressed (ALT)-(A) (Add Host) to save the settings.
  3. 3. Specify the "Mailbox Location." This specifies the location on the Palmtop where incoming mail is stored. I use the EXP ThinFax PCMCIA fax/modem card that comes with 4MB of built-in flash memory. This memory is configured to appear as the F drive on my Palmtop.

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From the main cc:Mail screen I pressed (MENU) File Mailbox Location Yes, filled in the location (in my case F:\MAIL) and pressed (F10) OK.

It was easy to configure cc:Mail, but would it work? I connected my fax/modem to the telephone line and pressed (F10) (ENTER) to connect. I received a number of procedural messages informing me that cc:Mail was "Reading Settings," "Resetting Modem," "Waiting for Connection," and "Checking for new messages." Finally, I saw the screen shown below. I had received an e-mail message. Cc:MAIL was working on the first try! I could send to, and receive messages from the Windows version of cc:Mail running on the office network.

 Cc:MAIL Connect screen showing that I had sent 0 messages and received 1.

 "An incredibly useful application"

cc:Mail is an incredibly useful application for me. My time is split between traveling and working in the office three weeks on the road, one week in the office. When I am in the office, I e-mail messages to co-workers instead of running around after them or playing phone-tag. When I travel I can now do the same. We have distributors around the world, each with access to the office network. I can now communicate with them via cc:Mail, instead of having to send faxes all the time. The cost of pages sent via cc:Mail is a fraction of the cost for a conventional fax.

I also receive faxes via cc:Mail. A fax will come in for me at the main office in Singapore. The office uses a program called Delrina Winfax Pro 4.0 to receive the fax. The same program lets office personal save the fax as a PCX graphics file. This file can be attached to an e-mail message and sent to me via cc:Mail. I then use a small software utility program called LXPIC =, which lets me view (or modify) the PCX file on the Palmtop.

Connecting from a manual-dial phone

When traveling, I don't always have access to an International Direct Dialing line. When this is the case, I have to go through the local operator to call the head office in Singapore and access the network.

  1. 1. Configuring cc:Mail -- First, I open cc:Mail and configure it for manual dialing by pressing the following keys:
  2. (F10) Brings up the Connect dialog box. (ALT)-(E) Takes me to the Edit Settings box. (ALT)-(L) Takes me to the Manual Dial settings field. (Y) Selects "Yes" for manual dialing. (F8) Updates the cc:Mail configuration settings.
  3. This leaves me in cc:Mail's Connect dialog box.
  4. 2. Make the physical connection -- Before I call the operator I connect the Palmtop to the phone line. The phone systems in most of the places I stay are not set up for this, so I developed a work-around solution. I open the little phone jack box that the phone is connected to and connect the EXP modem directly to the wires. I have an RJ-11 phone cable with alligator clips on one end and a female connector on the other. The clips connect to the phone wires. The female connector connects to the EXP PC Card modem, and the EXP card slips into the Palmtop. This arrangement makes it possible to use the phone to dial and talk with the operator, and still connect with the system at the appropriate time.
  5. 3. Call the operator -- Next, I call the local operator and have her or him dial the phone number that connects to the head office network in Singapore. When I hear the modem tone, I press (ENTER) and I am connected.
  6. 4. Put things back the way they were -- When I am finished, I carefully replace the cover to the phone jack box and pack away my two small screwdrivers and my customized RJ-11 phone cable.

  7.  

     

Some minor restrictions

I have noticed that cc:Mail Mobile lacks some of the capabilities of the desktop version:

  1. 1. cc:Mail Mobile only allows me to "Copy unread mail and disconnect." This means I can't sit there, connected up to the network's cc:Mail via modem and interact with the system. I have to connect up, send e-mail I've composed off line, receive incoming messages, and disconnect to read the new messages.
  2. cc:Mail on your desktop allows for an "Interactive connection to Post Office." Whenever an e-mail message comes in you get beeped. You can compose a reply on the spot and send it off immediately.
  3. 2. I have to update my Address Book manually. When you compose a cc:Mail message, you must enter the e-mail address of the recipient. You can type the address in or get it from an Address Book that is part of the cc:Mail program. The desktop version of cc:Mail lets you enter a new address as you are composing the message and then save it to the Address Book for future use. The Palmtop's version of cc:Mail does not. You must press (MENU) Mail Add/Modify Names to open the Address Book and type in the address (see screen below).

  4.  

     

 Cc:MAIL Add/Modify Names screen displays the names and e-mail

 address in your cc:Mail Address Book and lets you modify them, delete them, or add new names.
 
 

  1. 3. The cc:Mail's Receipt option does not work with incoming messages. The Receipt option informs the sender when you receive and open the message to read it. If a person sends you a message with the Receipt option checked, he or she will not be notified when you read the message.

  2.  

     

I have used Lotus cc:Mail on my HP Palmtop for more than one year now. It's easy to up- and download e-mail and faxes wherever I am, and the whole system fits in my pocket. Far from "totally useless," cc:Mail is one of the most useful applications on my HP Palmtop.

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