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Synchronize Palmtop Data with PC Personal Information Managers

Synchronize Palmtop Data with PC Personal Information Managers

IntelliSync from Puma Technology lets you easily exchange and synchronize information between your HP 200LX and Windows PC.
By Rich Hall
Synchronization is the process of reconciling, or making two or more things the same. At the end of each month, we reconcile our checkbooks with our bank statement so we agree with the bank on how much money we have to spend.

Palmtop synchronization is only important to people who keep the same information on two different computers. For example, a physician may keep an appointment book on a desktop computer when in the office and on her Palmtop when away. This practice is necessary for executives, sales professionals, and others who have assistants making and canceling appointments for them. The danger with this approach is that the individual may end up having different appointments for the same time period, or miss an appointment entered in one place, but not the other.

You could just sit down in front of your PC, open your Palmtop, and hand-enter any changes from PC to Palmtop, and vice versa. Unfortunately, this wastes a lot of time and you're still prone to make errors. Back in the May/June 95 issue we reported on a software program called PalmConnect. This lets you run Windows versions of the Palmtop's built-in PhoneBook, Appointment Book, and NoteTaker applications on a PC, and automatically synchronize them with your Palmtop's files. PalmConnect is a good solution if you're willing to use its applications to store your data at the office. Unfortunately, many offices have invested time and money in other PIM software and don't want to change. Also, PalmConnect is no longer sold or supported and does not work with Windows 95.

Fortunately, a new solution to this problem is now available for Palmtop users. IntelliSync is file transfer and synchronization software from IntelliLink (now part of Puma Technology). IntelliSync lets you easily exchange information between your HP 200LX and programs running under Windows on your PC. IntelliSync lets you synchronize with, export to, and import from a number of different Personal Information Manager (PIM) software packages.

Installing IntelliSync on your PC

IntelliSync installs on any 386 or better PC with at least 8 Mb RAM, 8 Mb hard disk space, VGA or better monitor, 3.5" diskette drive, and one available serial port. The computer must be running Windows 95, Windows 3.1x, Windows for Workgroups, or Windows NT.

After installing the software, a Windows Program Group is created, with icons for IntelliSync, a Server Installation Utility, and three other features. Connect the Palmtop to the PC via the HP serial cable that comes with the package. Make sure the communications parameters on the Palmtop are correct by going into DataComm, pressing (MENU) Connect Settings and specifying 9600 Baud, Com1 Interface, no Parity, 8 Data Bits, and 1 Stop Bits.

Leave the Palmtop on, but exit all applications. Then click on the Server Installation Utility to install the IntelliLink Remote Server program to the Palmtop. You're now set to backup or synchronize files. (If you have any problems with the installation, call Puma their tech support is very helpful.)

Synchronizing data between your PC and Palmtop

Click on the IntelliSync icon to access the IntelliSync Main Screen. This screen lets you Synchronize your data, specify configuration parameters, backup application data from your HP 200LX to your PC, restore application data from your PC to your 200LX, or get online help for IntelliSync.

With the Palmtop still connected to the PC, click on the Synchronize icon and you go to the IntelliSync Configuration screen. This screen lets you select which of the built-in applications' data you are going to backup or synchronize, and which applications on the PC you are going to synchronize that data with.
 

 The IntelliSync Main Screen lets you synchronize your data, specify configuration parameters, backup application data from your HP 200LX to your PC, restore application data from your PC to your 200LX, or get online help for IntelliSync.

 If you need to keep contact/ appointment information on your desktop as well as Palmtop, a logical choice for your desktop are the desktop versions of Phone Book and Appointment Book that come with HP's Connectivity Pack. You know these applications well and the data files are 100% compatible.

 The Configuration screen lets you select which of the built-in applications' data you are going to backup or synchronize, and which applications on the PC you are going to synchronize that data with.

 The first thing I tried to do was to synchronize my Palmtop's Appointment Book data with a backup copy I had on my PC. To test the synchronization capabilities with a desktop running Windows 3.1, I first created backups of my Palmtops Appointment Book and Phone Book. I didn't want to take the chance of my data being "synchronized" away. I selected Appointment Book from the Configuration screen, clicked on (Browse) and specified the path to the .ADB file, clicked (OK) a couple of times, and got a message telling me that I needed to press (ALT) (FILER) to run the Remote Server on the Palmtop. I did so, clicked on (OK) again, and the synchronization went on without a hitch.

Next I synchronized my Palmtop's Phone Book with the .PDB file on my desktop PC. During the synchronization process, I got to see IntelliSync's conflict resolution capabilities in action. The .PDB file on my desktop was an older backup, and I had made several changes to the Palmtop version. Each time IntelliSync came across a conflict, it flashed its conflict resolution screen and let me specify which information I wanted saved to both files.

 The Choose Application screen lets you select the application you want to sync., with and whether you want to sync., import or export.

 The Conflict Resolution screen lets you specify which of the conflicting data you want to be saved.

 Exporting Appointment Book and Phone Book to Windows Calendar and DataCard

IntelliSync lets you synchronize with, export to, and import from a number of different Personal Information Manager (PIM) software packages. You can also exchange .GDB Database files with DBase, Paradox and other PC database applications.

During installation, you are asked to pick the program(s) you wish to work with, including: MS Schedule+ 7.0, NetManage ECCO 3.03, Lotus Organizer 2.1, Sidekick 95 and Sidekick for Windows 1.0 & 2.0, Day-Timer Organizer 2.0 & 2.1, and Now Up-To-Date for Windows 1.5. The only additional PIMs I have are the DataCard and Calendar applications that come with Windows 3.1.

IntelliSync only gave me the option to Import or Export Windows datacard and calendar files. I followed the procedure described, except this time I selected Windows Cardfile/Calendar from the Configuration screen. Importing and exporting these files worked smoothly and effortlessly. The only minor hitch was that IntelliSync put Datacard's phone numbers (placed on the line below the name in Datacard) in the Title field of PhoneBook's Phone Item screen. Fortunately, IntelliSync provides a field mapping feature you can use to customize the synchronization process so that data from fields in one PIM go to the appropriate field in the other.

 An effective and inexpensive solution

I had everything set up and was just about to do a test synchronization when I got a phone call. I answered it, spoke for a few minutes, hung up, and clicked on (OK) to do the sync. I got an error message and no sync. What had happened was that I'd let the Palmtop sit for more than three minutes and it had timed out. Make sure the Palmtop is on before attempting an export, import, or synchronization. Since this process is I/O intensive, it uses a little extra energy powering the serial port. It might be wise to connect the Palmtop to its AC adapter while using IntelliSync.

You'll probably spend a little time configuring IntelliSync for the desktop PIM you use. This may include a little re-mapping of data fields. However, once this is accomplished, using IntelliSync is very easy. All you have to do is connect the Palmtop to the PC, run the Remote Server on the Palmtop, and run IntelliSync on your desktop PC. The process of synchronization takes under one minute for small Phone and Appointment Books. Larger ones will take more time.

To my mind, it's easier to just keep one Appointment Book and Phone Book in your pocket all the time. There's no need for synchronization. This works for me because I make all my own appointments. Physicians, on the other hand, have an office staff making and canceling appointments for them. They constantly have to synchronize their personal schedule with the office schedule. Any Palmtop user who keeps PIM information in two or more places needs to synchronize it. IntelliSync provides an effective and inexpensive solution.

Pricing and Contact Information

InetlliSync $69.95 File transfer and synchronization software. Contact Puma Technology, USA; Phone: 800-248-2795 or 408-321-7650; Fax: 408-433-2212; Online: http://www.pumatech.com

iPhone Life magazine


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