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HPLX-L Connection

HPLX-L Connection

By Hal Goldstein

Many HP Palmtop users enjoy participating in the HPLX-L e-mail list that Al Kind, at the University of Connecticut, maintains on a nonprofit basis to serve the HP Palmtop community. In the e-mail list, 200LX users ask and answer questions, report software and Web site discoveries, and chat (although that is discouraged).

If you want to sign up to get on the mailing list, visit www.sp.uconn. edu/~mchem1/HPLX.shtml. Once you sign up, you will start receive 100s of e-mails a week about the 200LX. To post a message, all you have to do is hit "Reply" to any message from your e-mail program.

Most e-mail programs have a feature that you can apply to avoid your e-mail inbox being flooded. Simply have your program send all messages from the HPLX-L e-mail list to a folder that you designate. Then you can look through the folder at your leisure without interfering with your other e-mail.

There are many nuggets of interesting information in these e-mail posts. However, in practice, it may take a half hour of reading e-mail to uncover one or two pieces of golden Palmtop advice.

The purpose of this new column is to share some of the more interesting and useful pieces of information posted on the e-mail list. Except when someone's name and e-mail address are important in the context of the note, we will not include it. We exclude names mostly for expediency as it can take a long time, if ever, to get someone to OK a comment for publication. However, thanks goes to both those whose posts we reprint and the entire e-mail community of 200LX users. We feel that printing this information is completely within the spirit of users sharing knowledge and experience with other users.

We have kept much of the informality of the HPLX-L in this column. That means, the language below is more "NetSpeak" than English (There is a nice explanation below of NetSpeak in one of the entries.). Therefore, for the purposes of this column:

We will do minimal grammatical editing -- just enough to make sure the point is comprehensible.

We use common e-mail abbreviations (see the Glossary on page 27).

We will do some (but not thorough) checking, so be careful. Take the comments as someone's opinion, not something definitive.

If you have questions about any of these, join the e-mail list! If a source for software is not given in the comment, click "Downloads" at www.palmtoppaper.com and search.

Ready? Here goes.

HP 200LX Games Web Site

Just a quick note to say that plenty of stuff has been updated at http://games.hplx.net. I've added a new Asteroids game (Blaster Game) to download, as well as a slowdown utility for those games and other programs that run too fast even on an LX!

There's also plenty of new games information, new useful links and a completely new site format.

Mike Wagstaff [http://games.hplx.net]

Reformat PE Document All at Once

Q: Is there a way to reformat an entire text document in PE all at once?

A: ESC-Q on each long line or Ctrl-X H to select whole buffer then ESC-Q.

PC Cards and the 200LX

Just leave the flashcard in the Palmtop at all times. It does not need or use any power when the Palmtop is turned off. Flash is non-volatile, so it will always retain the data even without power. I recommend that you store all of your data files on it. So that even if your batteries fail and the Palmtop's C: drive disappears, your data is safe. That is what I do.

The life cycle of the card is something in the millions of writes these days. In other words, the card will outlast you. I don't spend a single second worrying about my flashcard wearing out - and I am a very heavy user.

I also recommend SanDisk as the #1 brand of flashcard. Personally, I will not buy any other brand. I am currently in the market for something larger than my 40MB and don't care about what other off-brand cards there are or the so-called savings I might see. Peace of mind is very valuable to me.

There is no way to quantify any battery life reduction when using a flashcard. It all depends on the type of batteries, the battery life you got before the flash card, how often you write to it vs. read from it or use it at all. The point is that it is not noticeable considering the tremendous benefit of having that much extra storage.

200LX Power Supply Splitter:

Q: It would be nice if I could run my primary LX and backup LX from the same power supply

A: Radio Shack sells the exact ""Y"" shaped power cable you seek. The plugs are the correct size for the 200LX. I don't know the catalog number, but it should not be too hard to find in the catalog or on the rack in the store. I bought one there and use it for the exact same purpose you want. Works great!

Double Speed and Legibility

Q: Does a double speed upgrade cause any screen legibility problems?

A: Some DS units have an unreadable screen if you don't load the double speed driver in your config.sys file. Normally, you would never notice a problem. However, if your batteries die and you have to reinstall everything, it will be harder to do with this sort of screen. The easiest solution is to keep the DS driver and your config.sys and autoexec.bat files on a flash card. This way you can reboot to a normal screen even if your internal RAM drive is gone.

NetSpeak versus English

Let not English grammar ever be mentioned in the same breath as Internet mailing lists. I think we are now moving into a new style of English which we will call NetSpeak which is a genuine sub-set of English. Already it is bringing new words to the English language -- FAQ is one example.

Punctuation may not exist as we know it in NetSpeak. The use of paragraphing, commas, semi-colons is not as in formal English. There are, however, other rules. For example, the convention is that if I write WHY DOES THE HARD DISK NOT RESPOND I am shouting which is offensive. (This has a practical side. It is very difficult to read messages which are all in capital letters. This has been shown by extensive practical testing.) There seems to be a shorthand, fire-from-the-hip feel about NetSpeak and my theory is that this is nearly always what starts flame wars.

Messaging on the Internet is a more instant form of communication than letters or even postcards. Emotions come across and are not masked by English grammar. Even more interesting is that instant messaging creates a sub-form of NetSpeak which we might call ICQSpeak. That is even less grammatical, more abbreviated, quicker to type. None of which I think is a bad thing. My son works on an Internet site and would not know a gerund if it bit him on the bum. The active and passive tenses are to him a strange country. But he can write for the Internet.

A slightly different skill to writing for books, magazines or newspapers. I write for all of the above and have to put my mind into a different mode for each of them. Where it will become seriously interesting is with voice recognition. I make extensive use of Dragon Dictate and the articles that result are as if written by another person. This may lead to a new form of written English called EnglishSpoke.

As to the matter of "read" in the past tense. Fowler, the sage of the English language who had an elegant sense of irony, wrote that inflection was a general name "for changes made in the form of words to show their grammatical relations to their context or to modify their meaning in certain ways." With NetSpeak we do not need to do that. It can be "read" in the past, present and future tenses without any ambiguity. So let us take the words of Francis Bacon, First Baron Verulam and Viscount St Albans, who wrote: ""Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider."

Gareth Powell

Japanese Database Program

I, too, found that Japanese database application quite impressive. The non-decipheral menus are pretty distracting. Frankly, it probably serves many of us right since we expect everything to be in English.

It would be nice if someone could at least post a form showing what the drop-down menus actually say, although, guessing probably would work.

It would be appreciated if one of our Japanese members here could contact the programmer to help with an English menu structure. Or maybe get permission to patch the menu code if possible.

It appears to work just like the HP version - if you open the file, it gets re-written with current date/time even if you don't edit anything! <G>

http://www2u.biglobe.ne.jp/~fronttom/book/gdb win/index.html

CompactFlash Power-Efficient

According to my tests, The CF flash disk is the most efficient in terms of power consumption, followed by the ATA Flash Card.

HP Calculator Museum

I would suggest checking the museum of HP calculators Web site: http://www.hpmuseum.org. More interested in calculators but some computer links. I found a cut-open view of my 12-C (now I don't need to dismantle mine).

Running DOS on Windows CE Devices

XT-CE can be found at: http://www.xt-ce.com and while you're at it also checkout: PocketDOS - MSDOS 6.22 compatible DOS for your Pocket WinCE Computer http://www.pocketdos.com.

Windows Program Opens 200LX Database Files

This program is precisely what I've been searching for, i.e one into which I can paste big gobs of text from the Internet. Even though it's written to support Japanese characters, I fiddled around with my fonts for a while and found that Arial Narrow works great in the datacard. For the sake of anyone else who might be tempted to try this Windows program to open database files, use the following URL: http://fronttom.freeservers.com/book/gdb win/lzh/gdw090bs.lzh

Modified Phone Book Works in HP Connectivity Pack

I fired up version 1.02 of APP200, copied the Phone.pdb file to Test.pdb, modified Tests.pdb in the database app and reopened it in the Phone app. Works just fine.

Boot Order of Drives and EXP Driver

The EXP driver is cranky and does not like other flashcards or SRAM cards in the slot while it is loaded. There is nothing you can do about it that I am aware of. But there are ways to work around it.

You can set up a procedure where you reboot after changing cards so that the EXP driver is only loaded when you are using the ThinFax card. When the ThinFax driver is loaded, you can only use the ThinFax card. When that driver is not loaded, then you can freely swap between the flashcard and the SRAM cards. So, you will just need to reboot after inserting the ThinkFax card and then again after you remove it and put either of the other two cards in.

This procedure takes advantage of a feature of DOS during boot time. During boot, DOS in the Palmtop looks for CONFIG.SYS in the root of the A drive first. If it finds one there, it loads it and then looks for AUTOEXEC.BAT in the same spot. If the Palmtop does not find a CONFIG.SYS at A:\, it looks at the root of C: next. If CONFIG.SYS is found there, then that one is used and so is the C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT. If nothing is found at A:\ or C:\, then the Palmtop looks at D:\ and since this is ROM, it will always find the default files there.

The memory on the ThinFax card is accessed through a driver, so it appears as drive F. In other words, there is no A drive when the ThinFax is in the slot and therefore the Palmtop will not be able to find any CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT files at A:\ while booting with the ThinFax card. DOS will have to use what it finds on the C drive for configuration.

But, when the SRAM or flashcard is in the slot at boot time, there will be an A drive and therefore, you can have a different CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT there to allow for a different configuration.

So, make your C:\CONFIG.SYS & A:\CONFIG.SYS files to be the same and your C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT & A:\AUTOEXEC.BAT files to be the same except that the ones on the A: drive cards do not have the EXP drivers. When you boot with the flashcard in there, the A:\CONFIG.SYS will be used and no EXP driver will load. If you boot with the EXP card in the slot, there will not be any A:\CONFIG.SYS so it will use the one on C: and the EXP driver will load. Since the ThinFax card is also a modem, I would assume you would also want to use the modem, so put the CIC100 driver only in the C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT file so that it doesn't bother to load when you are using the flash and SRAM cards.

This, along with the procedure described above will make a simple and effective way to have a dual boot configuration that will only load the ThinFax memory (and modem) drivers when it is needed and therefore prevent interference with the other storage cards you want to use.

Battery Drain Fix

Q: Recently, my 200LX seems to have developed an appetite for batteries. I have to replace batteries in about 1/3 the time I used to.

A: Sometimes pulling out all the batteries including the backup battery for at least 24 hours and replacing them with fresh batteries can clear up that problem. Make sure you backup everything first of course.

Glossary

iPhone Life magazine


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