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Special Software and Hardware News

Hal discusses HP's Windows versions of palmtop PIMs; connecting the Newton keyboard to the palmtop; 8Mg double-speed palmtops; and Thaddeus Computing's purchase of used palmtops.

By Hal Goldstein

Running HP palmtop PIM software on a desktop

 For several years, HP has quietly shipped Windows versions of HP palmtop PhoneBook, ApptBook, and HP Calc with HP OmniBook laptops and HP desktop Vectras and Pavilions. Using this software on a desktop lets you access your HP palmtop phone, appointment book, and solver files in the Windows environment on your desktop.

 Bad news and good news

 The bad news is that this software has not generally been available. Also, it was intended for use by HP on the target machines on which it came. However, we have recently discovered several sources of this software, the general usage of which is not supported by HP.

One source is a CD from Yellow Software in Germany. (The CD, which is called The HP Palmtop Software Kit, not only includes the PIM software, but also an enhanced version of Transfile Win 200, the Windows-to-Palmtop file transfer software available at HP's web site [http://hpcc923.external. hp.com/handheld/getting_help/software/palmtops/transfile.html ], plus lots of palmtop freeware and shareware.)

 The other source for the software is on CompuServe's HPPC forum (in the OmniBook 500 and OmniBook 600 sections, files OB5DSK.ZIP and OB6DSK.ZIP, respectively). Most of the files are not relevant and apply only to the OmniBook. There is a warning in the readme file that the files in each of the ZIP archives are intended for the respective OmniBook. Therefore, if you experiment, you are on your own and you should take appropriate precautions.

 Running PIM software in Windows

The OB6DSK.ZIP n file contains slightly newer versions of Phone and ApptBook software. I found I needed the following files out of the rather larger archive: HP CALC.EXE, HPCALC.HLP, PHONE.EXE, PHONE.HLP, APPTS.EXE, APPTS.HLP, DB.DLL. I put all the files in one subdirectory on my desktop.

Using Windows95's Start Run command I was able to execute HPCalc, PhoneBook and Appt Book. (See Screens 1, 2 and 3.)

 When HPCalc is run from Windows, the mouse can be used to make selections.

 When the Appointment Book is run from Windows, you can use the mouse to position the Edit Appointment/Event box where you want it.

 PhoneBook running from Windows.

HPCalc did not require DB.DLL in the same directory, but PhoneBook and ApptBook would not run without DB.DLL. The software also runs under Windows 3.11. You can create a Windows 3.11 icon or a Windows 95 shortcut to launch the software from your desktop.

 The programs worked nicely in the Windows/mouse environment. A few features were missing and some were added. For example, the List Stats, Cash Flows, and Date Calcs applications are missing from HPCalc. On the other hand, there is a "delete categories" option in the PhoneBook Edit pull-down menu which is not available on the palmtop version.

Also, there are many Windows enhancements that make the applications easier to use. Examples include icons for mouse-clickable weekly, monthly, and six-month views; easy mouse selection of multiple phone items; and mouse-resizeable columns for the phone list view (no data card view).

The Windows software read in my 200LX Appointment Book, a 66k PhoneBook, and some equations. However, I got an error message when I tried to read in a large (200Kb) PhoneBook file. (Note that my phone file is not modified. It is unlikely that this Windows Phone program will read in a phone file in which the fields are modified). Also, the alarms did not beep on my desktop.

We plan to include these files on our 1998 CD InfoBase and this issue's HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK. But use them at your own risk and remember they are unsupported by HP.

A palmtop keyboard, at last!

 If you've followed this column, you may recall that several times I have suggested that a portable keyboard would be a great application for the palmtop. The adapted Newton keyboard available from Shier Systems, reviewed in this issue, does a great job filling the bill. Once again, thanks goes to a Japanese palmtop user, Mr. K. Adachi, for writing the software driver that enables the palmtop to use the Newton keyboard. Thanks to David Shier for substituting a custom cable for the palmtop for the Newton cable.

 The Newton keyboard is portable, light weight, and draws very little palmtop battery power. The footprint is the minimum size to still be touch-typeable. Now I have no reason to take a laptop when I travel. I can do all my e-mail and word processing on the palmtop using this keyboard. Further, I can use the keyboard for entering the stack of business card data I accumulate at trade shows into my palmtop.

The only problem I have discovered is that I have to switch applications (e.g., from Phone to Memo) on the palmtop rather than on the Newton keyboard with Software Carousel running. Mack Baggette, manufacturer of speed and 8Mg memory upgrades, has told me that he will see if he can update the Newton driver to fix the problem.

 8Mg double-speed palmtop

 Speaking of Mack and Japanese users, I want to respond to a few questions I have been asked about the 8Mg Double Speed palmtop we are offering.

 Both double speed and memory upgrades were originally developed in Japan. Mack Baggette at Times2 Tech, who has re-written the drivers, has contracted with a manufacturing company to produce the speed and memory upgrade chips in the U.S. Mack has selected our company, Thaddeus Computing, and A One-Stop Palmtop Shop to do double-speed and 8Mg upgrades in the U.S. Tom Rundel (acCIS author) handles the upgrades in Europe, and Chaikin Koon performs them in Asia. (See p. 3 for contact information.) In addition, Notebook Supply Warehouse sells its own versions of 5-Mg memory upgrades (see contact box, next page).

 In the past I have published warnings, especially about the double-speed upgrade. HP does not approve of the upgrades, and upgrading voids HP's warranty. In practice (especially as the chips, the software, and the techniques for performing the upgrades have become refined) these upgrades are quite safe. That is why we are willing to sell one- and two-year warranties on units that have these upgrades. All software that runs on a normal palmtop runs on double-speed and memory-upgraded palmtops.

 I've had a beta version of Mack's 8Mg Double-speed palmtop since June, and I really love it. With Mack's expanded memory manager and 2-Megabytes of C:\ drive memory, I am able to switch from System Manager applications to various DOS sessions in about a second, using Software Carousel. When I use my EXP Flash/modem with 8Mg Flash card, I have nearly 16Megabytes of storage space.

 If Mack's expanded memory manager is used with MaxDOS (freeware from Japan), it is possible to run a DOS program of any size while at the same time keeping the built-in applications open.

 Used HP palmtops

 As you might guess, controlling inventory for used palmtops is tricky. We sell used HP 95LXs, HP 100LXs, HP 1000CXs, and HP 200LXs, but aren't yet advertising them aggressively, so as to build inventory. If you are interested, give us a call for availability and pricing.

Similarly, please have patience with us if we run out of 200LXs for our 8Mg double-speed 200LXs. We have just sent out 60,000 post cards to LX users in the U.S. asking if they'd like to sell their palmtops. We have been pleasantly surprised, as most of the 200LXs we have gotten are in excellent shape, and were hardly used. The HP 100LXs and 95LXs tend to be more used.

Commercial Products mentioned in this article

Shareware/Freeware mentioned in this article

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Notice about Palmtop.net
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We Buy
We buy used palmtops, working or broken: HP 200LX, HP 100LX and 1000CX.

Copyright 2010 Thaddeus Computing Inc