by September 9, 2000 0 comments

Last month, we looked at some of the standard features andcapabilities of the Palm. In this article, I’ll discuss how you can use e-mailand access the Web from your Palm.

E-mail

In my previous article, we saw that the Palm uses a conduitto pull down and synchronize your e-mail with your desktop or laptop mailclient. You might now ask: Can I collect mail directly from a standard POP3account? Yes, certainly. Several programs let you to do this. however, I’lltalk about two of my favorites–HandMail and MSGAGENT.

Let’s begin with HandMail first. HandMail is a large prcfile with a size of about 174 kB. prc files are usually quite small with theaverage size being 15 to 20 kB. Size apart, HandMail is a useful program.

Setting up HandMail is quite easy. First you need to define aPOP3 account that you want to access. HandMail lets you define up to fivedifferent accounts and also offers most of the standard features required ofPOP3 servers. Next, define SMTP servers so that you can send mail out as well.Here again, you can define up to five different accounts.

The next step is to specify the connection method, which canbe a little tricky. You will ideally use either the infrared or a Palm modem toestablish a connection. If you are using a regular modem then you will need aHotSync cable. Remember I spoke about it last month? Well, here is where you’lluse it.

Once you’ve specified the connection method, establishing aconnection is fairly simple. You need to go to the Network preferences panel,define the service name, provide the username and password and the script, ifrequired. Then specify your connection method and phone number. Select”Connection” from the preferences and make sure you have the correctsettings for speed, dialing type, init string, etc.

Now you can either establish a connection from the networkpanel or even directly from HandMail. The default setting also automaticallyforces a disconnect after collecting mail, so the whole process can actually bequite rapid. A few quick taps of the stylus and you should have your e-mail onyour Palm.

For those who are a little more adventurous, you canestablish a PPP connection over the serial link on the cradle. Then, youestablish a connection from your PC and use the Palm as an additional node onthat link, complete with a separate IP address. In a later article, I’ll talkabout how to use this.

Make sure you check out some of the additional features ofHandMail, especially the filters. The company that makes HandMail–SmartCodeSoftware–also makes other useful programs for the Palm, one very good onebeing HandFax that lets you send faxes from your Palm.

The downside of HandMail is that it is a paid product, asopposed to the large collection of freeware available for the Palm. but ife-mail is critical to you then it’s great.

My other favorite program to install e-mail on the Palm isMSGAGENT. This freeware product has most essential features but does not, asyet, implement things like filters. MSGAGENT is about 140 kB in size, and apartfrom the main program, several smaller files get created and occupy space.Setting up MSGAGENT is quite simple. I am not sure how many accounts it canhandle, since there is no limit mentioned. In terms of operations, it’s verysimilar to HandMail and the only things that you’d really miss are the previewand filters.

Web access

Now let’s see how you can access the Web from your Palm.Like for using e-mail, you have a couple of options here as well. One, ofcourse, is to get a web browser for the Palm and use that. The other, and theone that I prefer, is to set up something that gets Websites every time youhotsync. A very neat program and service called Avantgo is what lets you dothis.

You can download this program by first registering yourselfas a user at www.avantgo.com. Registrationat this site is free. The Avantgo software has two components, one for windowsand one for the Palm. Fortunately, Avantgo, like many other websites, realizesthat users will be using devices like the Palm and hence have special Avantgo ortext sections that are ideal for the Palm. If you use Linux, then you can get aprogram called MalSync from www. freshmeat.net. I have not used this with a Mac,so I’m not quite sure what happens there.

Once you download the program, two components–MobileLink,which has the settings for the server, your user ID and password, and the mainAvantgo program itself–get installed on your Palm. Having installed thesoftware, choose the sites that you wish to capture and other options such aswhether you want images or not and what levels of the site you wish to capture,and just hotsync. Just make sure you are online. Like while using e-mail, if youhave a Palm modem, you can dial-in into your ISP and do a modem sync as well.

Once information from the Web is on your Palm, you can viewit using the main Avantgo program, which is like a browser complete with a homebutton, back and forward buttons and the ability to follow links. If you hadselected a depth of more than one page, then select a link, and Avantgo willtake you to the next page as well. You now have a great offline browser.Download your favorite websites before leaving home or the office and enjoywhile commuting.

A quick tip on smart offline browsing. Although your Palm canshow graphics, don’t fill it up with just graphics since they take up too muchspace. Remember the RAM on the most common of Palms is only 2 MB. Also if yourfavorite site is not Avantgo compatible, try and look for the text or theprinter-friendly version of the site. I like the quick news from CNN, which isnot an Avantgo site. So what I do is select the printer-friendly version of theheadline news and save that as my Avantgo settings. This way, I get the latestinformation without a hassle.

Well, its looks as if I am running out of space. But before Igo, remember last month I mentioned the IR Kiosk at Singapore airport? Well, ifyou have HandMail or any other such mail program, Avantgo, and a few minutes tospare just walk up to one of the kiosks, point your Palm to the funnyeyeball-like infrared port and collect your mail and websites for the nextflight. Works really well.

While I was writing this article, I received an alert that anew Eudora suite of programs has been released for the Palm and its freeware. Assoon as I test it out, I will discuss it in one of my articles.

Kishore Bhargava
is a technology consultant with Linkaxis Technologies

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