Treo

Vista Hotsync Success

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I’ve written numerous times about the fact that Palm doesn’t support (nor intend to support!) Vista x64. I have also noted that many people claim to have success with Bluetooth Sync (and Phone-as-Modem as well).

I recently reported getting Phone-as-Modem to work over BT, but have had zero success with Hotsync over BT.

Following the instructions in this forum post, I have finally successfully sync’ed the Treo 755p with Vista x64! The technique uses a Network Hotsync, using the Sprint Network. I couldn’t test it until today when I got home and could put the correct port forwarding comnands on my router.

It worked instantly. The first sync was extremely painful (in length) because the machine correctly noticed that it was a first sync, and that the Treo had previously been syncing with another machine. In total, it took 80 minutes and drained 1/4 of the Treo battery in the process. Still, it worked with no errors or timeouts!

The second sync picked up on other things that were left out of the initial sync, and it took about 20 minutes. The third sync became a more normal sync, and took roughly two minutes (not too bad at all!).

I don’t sync all that often, so I don’t really care about the speed. Even with the cable, I was syncing roughly once a month.

This will be workable for the forseeable future even if I never get BT sync to work. The only downside is that I won’t be able to sync when traveling, because I won’t be able to control the port forwarding to the laptop. I tried doing something clever with a reverse SSH tunnel, but I think there might be some UDP packets involved, and SSH is only forwarding the TCP packets.

Either way, I’m back to being a happy camper, even if Palm didn’t help.

Also, just for the record, I am running the Sprint version of the Palm software, installed off of the Treo 755p installation CD that came with the phone. That CD claims that you need to visit Palm for an updated Vista version (which also runs on my machine). But, as I have noted before, everything seems to run fine on Vista x64, now that SP1 is out, including the Palm software that isn’t supposed to work.

Now if they only wrote a USB driver, I’d be all set!

Semi Bluetooth Success

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For those who read this space regularly, you know that the one thing I’ve struggled with on my otherwise perfect new laptop is getting my Treo 755p working with Vista x64. The USB Cable option simply isn’t available, as Palm is too busy dying to support an up-and-coming version of the most popular operating system in history…

But, many people report success using Bluetooth to sync (and dial up I guess). I wasn’t able to get either working, even though I was able to pair the phone to my laptop (it has a built-in BT radio). I admit that I didn’t kill myself to get it going, but I tried many things.

Today, I decided to try again (given the hassles that I had on our trip this past weekend to Birmingham, where I connected through Lois’ old laptop using ICS). I found instructions on the Palm website for connecting Windows DUN via Bluetooth to a Treo 755p.

When I tried it, I got the same error that I did previously, “modem already in use”. This time, I had a clue (last time I didn’t). In messing around today, I deleted the original pairing, leaving myself without a device. Somehow, that hung Hotsync Manager. When I killed and restarted it, it said that it couldn’t connect to Serial Port COM41, but would connect automatically if it became available!

Aha, that was the clue I was missing, that somehow, Hotsync Manager was successfully grabbing the Serial Port, even though it wasn’t correctly syncing! After re-pairing (not repairing) 😉 I quit Hotsync Manager, and then did the normal DUN dance on the PC (with Sprint, you dial #777 with no username/password). I pay for full Phone-as-Modem (PAM) from Sprint, but on XP I use their Sprint Broadband Connection Manager application (which won’t even install on Vista x64!).

Voila, it dialed and authenticated right away. I had a semi-pokey connection, 341Kbps download and 105Kbps upload, but hey, that’s infinitely better than no connection at all!

At least now we don’t both need to share one connection. That’s not the big win though. At some point, Lois might actually want to switch to her new laptop (don’t hold your breath, I stopped holding mine!) 😉 and when that happens, we wouldn’t have had any Treo connectivity. Now each of us will be able to use our phones via BT if/when necessary. I continue to hope to never need such a connection, but at least I’m not as likely to cancel the insurance premium just yet, now that I know it works.

Sprint will continue to get a crazy premium from me for the moment, until an Android phone that I like becomes available. Now if I can only figure out how to sync via BT (others claim it works perfectly, but my phone hangs every time, instantly)… 🙁

Internet Connection Sharing

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Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) has been around for a long time (formally, and through hack-like methods). I have never had a need for it (slightly amazing) until now. Yesterday I wrote about our current hotel WiFi woes. In that post, I wrote that I wouldn’t need to worry about it today, given that I would only be in the hotel for two waking hours.

After a very early breakfast, I decided to try ICS for the first time, just for yucks. There are a number of ways that I could have set it up, each as easy as the next, but I had one specific scenario in mind.

I set up Lois’ old laptop on the desk in the outer room (we’re in an Embassy Suites, so we have two rooms). I pulled out my small Linksys travel router and plugged it in there as well. I set my laptop up in the bedroom.

On Lois’ machine, I turned on ICS (there is a simple wizard) and told it that the Sprint Broadband Connection (through the USB cable to her Treo) was the real Internet connection. I then told the wizard that the wired port was the shared connection. I then plugged in the Linksys router to the wired port, with the Internet (WAN) port on the Linksys rather than the Ethernet port. So, the Linksys would be getting it’s IP address from the laptop.

Since my laptop is already configured to connect to the travel router, I didn’t need to make any changes to my machine. I went into the bedroom, and poof, I was on the Internet! This time, the Treo had a better connection than the day before, and I was getting 757Kbps downstream and 124Kbps upstream. That’s a faster downstream connection than I had yesterday on the paid WiFi!

I have heard that ICS on a Mac is brain-dead simple, and I have no doubt that it is. I can now confirm that it’s pretty darn simple on Windows too (Lois’ laptop that was serving the connection is Windows XP). You have to pick which network device is the real one, and which is the shared one, but other than that, nothing else to do.

I now don’t need to consider the hotel WiFi dilemma. Once Lois changes to the new laptop, I’ll have to consider getting an Express Card version of the modem, now that I know we can easily share that connection when necessary. It will still end up being an insurance policy, since we almost always have a free wired or WiFi connection wherever we are.

Victory! 🙂

Internet Connectivity Insurance

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In the house, we have Verizon FiOS service (triple play, Phone, Internet, TV). In the apartment, we have Time Warner Cable (Internet and TV). Both services are very reliable (in terms of availability). Beyond that, Verizon FiOS is so dramatically better, I keep praying for when they’ll figure out how to deploy it to large apartment buildings in NYC.

The biggest difference in the service is the speed. On the FiOS link, I have 30Mbps downstream, and theoretically, 5Mpbs upstream (though no site seems to accept data at that rate, so it’s somewhat meaningless). On the TWC link, it’s between 4-5Mbps downstream, but a poky 364Kbps (yes, K, not M) upstream. Most of the time, that’s OK, but when sending large attachments, or updating a large blog posting 😉 it can be reasonably painful.

The other difference (for me, not between the services) is that at the house (on FiOS), I’m wired the entire way. At the apartment, I use WiFi. Lois uses WiFi at both places, and it’s rock solid at the house.

At the apartment, the WiFi is often flaky, even though we’re not all that far from the access point (it’s in another room, and there’s one wall between us, but it’s not more than 20 feet away). At some times, it’s rock solid, at others, it can drop out completely.

It’s possible that the router itself (a Linksys WRT54G) is flaking out. On the other hand, sometimes, it can go for days on end without a problem. Slightly more likely is the fact that we live in a heavily populated area, and there is likely a crazy amount of interference of all types on the 2.4ghz band.

So, this past Wednesday we drove in from the house to the apartment because we had tickets to see Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood at MSG that night. (Completely unrelated to that post, here is my review of that concert…)

We got to the apartment mid-morning and immediately logged on. The weather was horrible outside, and it’s possible (though I can’t imagine how) that it affected the WiFi signal as well. Within minutes of being logged on, we were experiencing tons of dropouts on the WiFi. The TV signal was fine, and I was able to make VoIP calls (which bypass the WiFi) without a problem, so the basic Internet service was definitely up as well.

After about an hour of complete frustration on our part, I decided to put the backup plan into action. As the name of the post implies, I have insurance for just such situations. For a few years now, I pay for an unlimited data plan with Sprint to use each of our Treos (I have a 755p, and Lois has a 700p). It’s not cheap, and I would probably save a ton of money if I paid only when I used it (because it is, after all, just for emergencies), but I really hate metering, and getting smacked with out-sized bills, even if overall, it would be cheaper.

Years ago, when few hotels had free WiFi, it was a very good deal, as we often both used our phones as modems for hours on end. Now, it’s actually rare that we stay at a place that doesn’t have free WiFi. Therefore, it’s also rare that we use the Treos to connect our laptops to the Internet.

On Wednesday, I pulled out both phones, connected them with USB cables, and connected via Sprint. We both stayed connected for at least six hours, never had a single drop of the connection, and neither of us felt that it was sluggish in the least. I didn’t measure the speed that day, but in the past, in the apartment, it has averaged roughly 400Kbps downstream and 100Kbps upstream.

I would hate to see what that one day bill would have been, which is I pay the set amount each month. Ironically, this is the second time this month that we’ve used the service. When we were visiting my folks on February 6th, Lois needed to do a ton of work (thankfully, I didn’t). She was using the WiFi in their apartment, and it was working fine for everything, except sending mail. Obviously, it was critical that she be able to send emails.

I realized fairly quickly that Bellsouth (excuse me, AT&T) was likely blocking outgoing SMTP that wasn’t going through their servers, but I wanted to visit with my folks, and I didn’t want to dork around with her machine, or my server. So, I just plugged her in to the Treo, and connected to Sprint, and she was fine for hours.

The next day, I just changed her settings to send through Bellsouth and that worked fine too.

So, while I’m definitely overpaying, I’m very happy to report that at least on the rare occasions when I need it, it not only works, but it works flawlessly, and provides a very satisfactory experience in terms of speed as well. That’s exactly how all insurance should work. 🙂