|McAleely.com -> EPOC -> Wireless Internet in California||Search | Site Map|
|Published: December 1999|
There is something totally liberating about handling email without a wire - it truly changes the paradigm. It is not just the lack of the wire - it is the fact that checking email requires no special effort. I routinely carry my PDA and mobile phone - and that is all I need to read my email. No wires, no desktop workstation, no phone jack, no power cord. A seat (or space on the floor) is pretty much it.
Having reached that state, I thought it might be useful to review how I did it. The solution I have chosen has only recently been made available in California (somewhat ironic in the home of Silicon Valley!) and so this article includes a 'how-to' if you want to follow suit.
First of all, a quick review of the other options:
Here in California one of the local digital phone providers is Pacific Bell, and they have finally started to offer a 'new' (don't laugh at the back there - we know its been available in Europe for a while) Ericsson phone - the I888. Whilst this phone has many neat features, including roaming in Europe, the one that caught my eye was a proper infrared based modem. That and a PDA should get me on the net anywhere...
Psion Series 5mx Palmtop: ($499)
|An excellent PDA, with a built-in email program oriented to mobile use. I also use the office package (Word processor, spreadsheet) and database a lot. The only surprise to you may be the OS - EPOC is not a Microsoft product, and is owned by a company (Symbian) that is in turn owned by the major mobile phone manufacturers (Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola). The 5mx worked with the phone right out of the box (OK, I tweaked one setting...), and is generally a very high quality product.|
Ericsson I888 World Phone: ($249)
||This is a nice digital PCS handset, about the same size as others on the US market and with a default battery that gives several days of standby, and 2-4 hours of talk time. About the only feature it doesn't have is analog roaming compatibility - but then Pacific Bell doesn't offer that service anyway.|
After placing these two items on the desk with their IRDA eyes in sight of each other, I opened the Psion's web browser and entered a URL. It prompted me with the details of my current ISP (IBM.net, but any phone based ISP will work), I changed the location (to 'Mobile') and modem (to 'Infrared Modem') and it almost connected. Visiting the settings for 'Infrared modem', I unchecked the 'Carrier Detect (DCD)' option (I had to do this for my land line modem also), and then tried again. No fuss, no messing, I opened http://my.yahoo.com/, checked the status of my stocks, my news headlines and yahoo email. Yahoo!, indeed :-)
Since web-email means connect time even when you are reading, I next fired up the Psion email program, and connected to my ISP's POP3 servers (I have several). Easy as that, I was reading and replying to my mail.
Now I can sit pretty much anywhere (the parking lot of a customer in Seattle, the show floor at Comdex, Starbucks...) and get email and web browsing. There are other options too - this is a full internet connection, so there are FTP, Telnet, ICQ and other programs available.
One final item worth mentioning is SMS messaging. This feature of GSM-based PCS phones enables short text messages, like two-way text pagers. The Series 5mx has a built-in program that lets you type and read these messages on the larger keyboard and screen that the 5mx has compared to the I888. Pacific Bell also offer a gateway between their SMS network and internet email, providing a cheaper, quicker option for brief communications. SG Software produce an excellent package called PhoneManPro that adds several features over the built-in SMS software, and also lets you link the PDA's address book with the phone memory. Very useful, and worth the registration fee!
Psion Series 5mx, Ericsson I888 - Pacific Bell Wireless Service, IBM.net (Now ATT Business).
nFTP, RMRFTP, JTelnet, Hermes, nICQ, PhoneManPro.
Psion, SG Software, Symbian, Microsoft, Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, Palm, Metricom, Sprint, Starbucks (!).