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cc:Mail - Making a Successful Connection

cc:Mail - Making a Successful Connection

Practical tips on setting up and running cc:Mail on the HP Palmtop.

By Mark Scardina

Cc:MAIL is one of the communications programs built-into the HP Palmtop. It allows the Palmtop user to connect to and communicate with any cc:Mail system. Until recently, it has been one of the most misunderstood and least used applications on the Palmtop. (See the articles beginning on pages 41 and 47 for more on the use of cc:Mail.)

Cc:MAIL operation on the Palmtop is largely governed by the configuration settings in the CCMAIL.INI and the .MDM (modem settings) file. These files are located in your C:\_DAT directory. They are simple text files that can be edited with Memo. Don't worry about making changes in these files. There are backup ROM versions in D:\_DAT.

CCMAIL.INI: The cc:Mail host settings file

Setting up multiple hosts The (MENU) Connect Settings option in cc:Mail lets you set up more than one "Host." This is a very useful function if you use your Palmtop with different modems or from a variety of locations. The CCMAIL .INI configuration file is updated whenever you change your settings or add a Host within cc:Mail. Since CCMAIL.INI is a text file, you can modify it from a text editor like Memo. In fact, it's quicker to make changes with Memo, as long as you are careful.

The CCMAIL.INI file is structured very much like the INI files used with Microsoft's Windows program. The screen below shows the first lines from the default version of CCMAIL.INI, found in D:\_DAT.

; cc:Mail Configuration File

[cc:Mail]

driver=D:\_DAT\CCMAIL.DRV

prefix=CCMAIL

poname=Silver-HQ

username=?

password=?

speed=2400

port=COM1

flow=Hardware

mdm=D:\_DAT\HAYES.MDM

volume=Medium

phone=555-1212

dialmode=Tone

dialtimeout=60

idletimeout=5

manual=No

maxmsgsize=0

The name of each of the multiple hosts you set up will be set off with brackets and followed by a number of lines describing the specific configuration. The above screen shows the default host, named [cc:Mail], followed by the configuration lines.

CCMAIL.INI also has a section called [CCMAIL PROMPTS]. This section actually provides the labels and options contained in the cc:Mail Setup screen. This section looks like this:

[CCMAIL PROMPTS]

prefix=P&refix:

poname=Post &Office:

username=User &Name:

password=&Password:

Speed=&Baud:,300,1200,2400,4800,9600,19200

port=&Interface:,COM1,COM2,Alternate,Infrared

flow=Flow &Control:,Hardware,None

mdm=Modem &File:

volume=Modem &Volume:,Off,Low,Medium,High

phone=P&hone Number:

dialmode=Dial &Mode:,Tone,Pulse

dialtimeout=Dial &Timeout:

idletimeout=Idl&e Timeout:

manual=Manua&l Dial:,No,Yes

maxmsgsize=Ma&x Msg Size:

These should not have to be modified but can be if you want to change hotkeys or the labels. Comments can be added as long as they are prefaced with a ";" on each line.

Most of the configuration lines in the first example above are self-explanatory, but a couple of them are worth commenting about.

username= and password=

These are the fourth and fifth lines down in the lines describing the host. They have a ? in the example above because the username and password have not yet been specified. Once they are, they will appear in this file. If you forget your password or username, you cannot view them from cc:Mail setup, but you can see them by viewing CCMAIL.INI in Memo. Unfortunately, so can anyone else. These settings are also useful to check if the Post Office rejects your logon.

manual=

Set this line to manual=yes when attempting to dial on international or hotel phone systems. This causes cc:Mail to prompt you to dial the phone number manually when you wish to connect. This makes credit card calls and hotel access much easier as you simply press (ENTER) when the Post Office modem picks up.

maxmsgsize=

The "Maximum Message Size" line is very important to Palmtop users. By default this field is set to "0", which means that all messages and file attachments will be downloaded when you get your mail. By setting this field to a value such as "20000," cc:Mail will ask your permission to download any message larger than that value. You can then decline to download large messages on your Palmtop, saving connect time and storage space. Later you can access your Post Office with cc:Mail on your desktop and let that version download the large messages.

mdm=

Finally the "Modem Settings File" line points to a file with a .MDM extension (mdm=D:\_DAT\ HAYES.MDM in the example above).

The .MDM file configures cc:Mail to work with a specific modem (Hayes-compatible modems in the example above). The line specifies the path so the .MDM file can be located anywhere (except the A drive if you use a PCMCIA modem). The .MDM file is a simple text file that tells cc:Mail everything it needs to know about that particular modem. HAYES.MDM is shown next:

; cc:Mail Generic Modem Command File

[attributes]

MODELS=Generic

NULL MODEM=0

[commands]

ESCAPE=+++

ATTENTION=ATZ

ATTENTION=ATE0V1

HANGUP=ATH0

SETUP=ATS0=0Q0X4

SETUP=ATS7=60S10=50

RTS/CTS ENABLED=

RTS/CTS IGNORED=

VOLUME OFF=ATM0

VOLUME LOW=ATM1L1

VOLUME MEDIUM=ATM1L2

VOLUME HIGH=ATM1L3

MANUAL DIAL=ATX3S9=6D

AUTO DIAL SETUP=ATS9=6

AUTO PULSE DIAL=ATDP

AUTO TONE DIAL=ATDT

AUTO DIAL SUFFIX=,,

Because it is a text file it can also be edited in Memo. If fact it can only be edited by a text editor. There is no setup utility to change this file, like there is with CCMAIL.INI. If you wish to use a modem and you don't have an .MDM file for it, you can edit an existing .MDM file and save it with a new name. When editing these files in Memo, they must be saved as ASCII files or they will not work.

Since most of the problems associated with connecting to your Post Office are in getting your Palmtop's modem to communicate with the server's modem, the settings in this file are very important.

There are two sections to the MDM file - [attributes] and [commands].

The [attributes] section contains two lines: MODELS=Generic and NULL MODEM=0. The "MODELS=" line simply describes the type of modem, in this case a generic modem. The "NULL MODEM=" tells cc:Mail whether it should use a direct Serial connection (1) or, as in this example, a Modem connection (0). This would most likely only be changed if you maintained your own Post Office and wanted to connect directly to it.

The [command] section specifies the setup parameters of your modem. When you run cc:Mail, the Palmtop transmits these parameters to the modem, thereby configuring it. The specific setting is a string of alphanumeric characters that follow the "=" sign on each line. Except for ESCAPE and AUTO DIAL SUFFIX, every string should begin with "AT" and the entire string must be on a single line. Also strings can be no longer than 64 characters after the "=". One additional tip is that you can repeat a value such as SETUP=. This is very useful when, for example, your modem cannot detect the dial tone. By entering a second string, ";SETUP=ATX3", below the first, you can activate the blind dial option (dialing without waiting for a dial tone) by simply removing the semi-colon. Thus your standard Setup string can remain intact.

Interactions between the CCMAIL.INI and .MDM configuration files

"Flow control" allows your Palmtop to communicate with the modem at a higher speed than the two modems are communicating. This gives the Palmtop's CPU more time to write to memory and do other housekeeping chores. The proper flow control (flow=) and speed (speed=) settings in CCMAIL.INI can speed things up and make the connection more reliable. To do this you must enable Flow Control in your Setup (Flow=Hardware), modify the .MDM modem settings file (RTS/CTS ENABLE=AT&K3), and set the speed higher (speed=9600).

Connecting to cc:Mail via a modem and cellular phone is more difficult and far less reliable. Do not attempt this if you need speed or a large file transferred. To minimize file transfer problems you should specify a slower baud rate (1200 or 2400 bps) in the "speed=" line of CCMAIL.INI. There are two protocols that are included with various modems that enhance reliability - MNP10 and LAPM. These require that the modem on the Post Office have them set up as well. You can enable these with the proper AT commands in the "SETUP=" string of your MDM file.

You can find .MDM files already setup up for various modems in CompuServe's HPHAND Forum, Lib:9).

Correcting Internet addresses

Internet mail has several addressing formats and one particular format causes problems with cc:Mail. If you receive a message that has the FROM address in angle brackets, (i.e., "Hal Goldstein <hal_goldstein@thaddeus.com>") and you try to use the Reply option to respond to it, cc:Mail will create a folder using the email address instead of sending the message. The workaround is to edit the To: field of the Reply, replacing the "<>" with "()". You can use the following System macro to automate the process.

{F6}{Enter}{Copy}{Memo}{Paste}{Home}{F4}<{Enter}

{Shift+Home}{Del}{Del}{F4}>{Enter}{Enter}{F4}at{Enter}

{Shift+Home}{Del}{BackSp}{Home}{Shift+End}{Copy}

{Menu}qn{Paste}{Shift+Tab}

Assign this macro to the F6 key. Then, from cc:Mail with the original message highlighted in your Inbox, run the macro (i.e., press (Fn) - (F6) instead of (F6) ).

Another address problem concerns entries in your Palmtop's address book. Any address that has a remote post office such as "at Internet" as its User address must not have its User Name formatted as "Last Name, First Name". If it does, cc:Mail will assume these are local cc:Mail addresses and any messages you try to send will be rejected.

iPhone Life magazine


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