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Like Jorgen Wallgren, a key application on my Palmtop is cc:MAIL, which has saved me from lugging a laptop around Asia for the last two years. However, in this time I have only once had to unscrew the telephone wall box to make a connection.

Instead, I carry a small connector with three standard U.S. phone sockets in a 2:1 arrangement that allows me to connect the handset and my Palmtop to the wall socket simultaneously.

Usually the existing cable to the handset can be unplugged and put into the connector. I then complete the connections with cables of various lengths (one 8' and a couple of a few inches). This way I avoid climbing around behind hotel beds to get to the wall socket, and it allows me to dial manually, if necessary.

To cover other eventualities I also carry a cable with a UK-style plug, a cable with spade terminals, and one with the inner and outer wires reversed at one end (some PABXs need this). All these cables are short, a few inches only, and have a standard U.S.-style plug at the other end. I use a 1:1 connector to connect everything. A small screwdriver completes the kit and it all lives at the bottom of my briefcase in an old airline wash bag along with spare batteries, serial/parallel printer adapter, serial cable and 9-to-25 pin adapters.

I made up the short cables myself. The materials and the connectors came from computer sundry shops in Hong Kong, but I have seen them elsewhere also.

A final tip: if you are having trouble communicating through a PBX, then look for a FAX machine. These are usually not connected through the switchboard, so you can plug into the handset socket on the machine, or use the cable running from wall socket to FAX, or go straight to the wall socket (usually under an inch of dust, behind a desk and reachable only if you have two elbows on each arm).

David Ankers


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