by Egbert Verbrugge
Recently I had the opportunity to use a program called Z-Em@il, an add-on software product for Zaurus. Z-Em@il allows Zaurus ZR-5XXX and ZR-3XXX owners to conveniently send and receive Internet email. The email can originate from anywhere and go anywhere, including UNIX-land, PC-land or Zaurus-land.
It can even be used as a way of passing data files from various computer environments to the Zaurus. In the past, I have steered a number of my Zaurus contacts to Z-Em@il, with a suggestion that they check it out. Now you can read all about it from a guy who depends heavily on Zaurus to be organized at home, work and play.
The Z-Em@il software installed into my ZR-5700 without any problems using my PC. The installation and setup procedure are well documented in the User Guide. It took me a few hours to work my way through the setup, mostly because I was being careful to follow each instruction exactly. Setting up Internet addresses, usernames etc. is not something that I do very often. Slow and sure, is how I go.
The software occupies 352 KB of memory in the Zaurus. Since I was already familiar with Internet email on my PC, the process of creating, sending and receiving messages was as I expected. The software is easy to use, stable, and very well integrated with the existing Zaurus applications. You can even send Zaurus sketches and image files to your Zaurus friends! I was able to use my existing main CONTACTS database as the address book for emailing.
The software is geared to creating and reading messages offline. Dialup, transmit, and receive sessions happen swiftly and simply, with options that I am used to having with my PC based email software. Even for a first time Internet email Zaurus user, it would be a manageable task to install and become familiar with using it. Based on my testing, I certainly recommend Z-Em@il for Zaurus owners who want to email using their PDA.
I have been a user of Internet email for several years. I have depended mostly on the Eudora email package loaded on my desktop PC at work and at home. For the limited amount of international travelling that I have done, I have used a laptop for email. In my early days of owning a Zaurus and using the Internet, there was simply no email software available for this PDA. By the time it did come along, I was quite happy using my PC for email.
For this evaluation, I used my ZR-5700 with an Apex Data Model 2496 Fax Modem PCMCIA card. Even though the modem's top speed is 2400 baud, I like it because it has a low enough power drain that I can run without an AC adapter. Also, I only planned on sending and receiving small Internet email messages locally, so speed wasn't an issue. If I did intend to dial long distance and had larger files, then I probably would have used my Megahertz Model 4144 PCMCIA fax/modem. It runs nicely at 14.4 Kbps in my Zaurus.
The Z-Email software package contains a single 3.5 inch diskette and a 32 page paper User Guide. The user guide is well written, giving the installation steps in detail, for either Windows 95, Windows 3.11 or DOS. Under the system requirements section, they should have given the minimum amount of free Zaurus memory needed to load it. I found it to be around 400K by trial and error.
Once loaded, the software occupied 352K. For a ZR-5700 user, this really means that extra memory is required to have room for both the email program and regular Zaurus data. Using a 1 MB SRAM PCMCIA card and a Sharp 'side-car' modem should be fine. Since I was using a PCMCIA fax/modem card, the SRAM card route was not an option. For most ZR-5800 users, the built-in RAM is probably sufficient, because of the 1.6 Meg of total user accessible RAM.
From the time I first sat down until I had sent and received my first Zaurus email, 2.5 hours passed by, rather quickly I might add. At the start of the installation I archived my current Zaurus data to my Maxtor MobileMax 2 MB Flash RAM PCMCIA card. This turned out be a good thing, as I will explain later.
For Windows 3.11, such as I have on my home office PC, the Z-Em@il user guide recommended running the installation from DOS. I was tempted to use my old 286 desktop PC, though I resisted the temptation. It now just sits in the corner of my cosy office, longing for attention.
The physical link that I used for the install was the Sharp RS232C Level Converter Cable, Model CE-133T. I then ran the 'Install' routine directly from the supplied floppy in drive B:. As expected, the Zaurus first has to be kicked into the PC Link utility, which is under TOOLS in my Zaurus. The installation program allows the Z-Em@il to be downloaded into either the main memory or into a PC card in the Zaurus. For my work, I loaded it into the main memory of my Zaurus. I tried a few 'goofy' things on purpose, such as setting the destination as PC Card, with no PC card installed.
In each case the installation program handled my 'goofy' gracefully without locking up. The installation program did a check of the available memory in the Zaurus before attempting the download and stopped with an error message of insufficient free Zaurus memory. However, it didn't tell me how much short I was! That is when I started erasing things.
Since, I had already archived all of this data to my flash RAM card, I wasn't concerned since I knew I could readily restore it after my testing was completed. After several erasing sessions, I found that the installation program needed about 400 KB free before it would proceed.
The download from the PC diskette to my Zaurus went well across the serial link. It took 10 minutes exactly to transfer 327 KB of data. The program ends up as an attractive Z-Em@il Icon under the MORE area.
Now that the software had been downloaded into the Zaurus, it had to be configured. My advice is that you gather in advance the limited amount of information you need. The User Guide has a nice form for doing this. It has the added benefit of recording your settings for the future, as part of 'Murphy proofing'. I know from experience that if you record things, then you won't need them.
After starting up Z-Em@il from the MORE area, by touching the Icon and selecting the SETUP menu item from the top menu bar, the Profiles screen shown next appears.
Figure 1: Profiles Menu
There are 10 different profiles that can be set up so that later, several different email accounts / providers can be accessed by a single menu pick. Many people will have a personal email account and a business one. If you are a traveller, then it is a way to have at least 10 cities setup and ready to go. As you can see, several popular Internet providers are already partially set up.
For my tests I set up only one account named EV-ISTAR-EMAIL. I picked my name by touching the Rename button on the bottom of the screen and entering the name. Touching the E-mail button took me to the next screen shown here.
Figure 2: SERVER Tab of E-mail Setup Menu
It has a tab at the bottom for SERVER and a tab for IDENTITY. You can see the data that I entered for the SERVER except the contents of my Password, of course. The next screen shows the IDENTITY data that I entered.
Figure 3: IDENTITY Tab of E-mail Setup Menu
From here, I went back to the Profiles menu and picked the DialUp button. This resulted in the next screen which has a MODEM tab and a DIAL-UP tab.
I set the Speed in the drop down dialogue box to 2400 to match the maximum speed of the modem that I was using. I set the Port: button to Internal Modem since I was using a PCMCIA card, rather than a Sharp side-car modem. The other items are standard data communication parameters that I have dealt with many times before. The specific values required depend on what the Internet service provider requires. The next screen is with the DIAL-UP tab selected.
Figure 4: MODEM Parameters Menu Tab
A default script is shown in the lower half of the screen. It comes with a default 4 line script in which I had to change each line. It is described in the user guide what to do. It was easy to figure out and do. I have blacked out the last line, which contains my actual login password. Again I went back to the Profiles menu and picked the Server button. This resulted in the next screen with a SERVER tab and a PAP/CHAP tab at the bottom of the screen. Screen Shot 6 goes here
Figure 5: DIAL-UP Tab
I entered the two DNS addresses of my Internet service provider. For the PAP/CHAP screen there was nothing that I had to enter there. Hence I haven't shown it. If I had experienced setup problems, I could have gone to the SETUP menu and selected Comm's Check. At this point in the setup, I didn't do it. However, later in my playing my curiosity got the better of me and I was able for the first time in my life to see all the low level TCP/IP server commands that go on behind the scenes. By my standards it is really not a pretty sight. I am glad that I didn't have to delve into any of it. The last thing I did was to go into the SETUP menu item and selected Contact 1 database as my Address Book for emailing. The software made an intelligent and correct decision about what fields to use for the contact name and the email address. This was despite the fact that I had changed the field names from the standard defaults. I show how the address book is used later in this article. This is just one example of how nicely the email software is integrated with the built-in Zaurus applications. Here ends the setup. Now that was simple enough wasn't it? In my case I only had to go back to the SETUP menu once to make a minor correction, before I was successful to actually send and receive email etc. OPERATIONS: Next I went through the process of creating a message, sending a message, receiving a message and reading the received message using Z-Em@il. It all worked very well and here are the details. The main screen for Z-Em@il is shown next.
Figure 6: SERVER Tab from Profiles Menu
The menu buttons across the top are VIEW, SETUP, UTILS, EDIT, FIND, MAIL. There are 3 tab menus showing IN, OUT and SENT. It comes preconfigured with an email message to Rupp Technology to register the software. That is why there is already an email in the OUT box. To create a new outbound email I just hit the NEW ENTRY key on the keyboard from this state. This popped up the next screen.
Figure 7: Z-Em@il Main Menu
To address my email message, from here I picked the To: button at the left side of the screen about half way down. This popped up the next screen, which is my choice of address book that I had picked during the last part of the setup process.
Figure 8: Preparing an Outbound Email
By highlighting the name that I wanted, "me" in this case, and touching the To: button in the middle of the screen, it filled in the Name: and E-Mail: boxes showing near the top of the screen. I could have typed directly into the boxes, if I didn't want to use the address book. Next I touched the Done button, which sent me back to the previous screen. From there I proceeded to key in the text of the message, resulting in the screen looking like the following one. I could have used the cut, copy and paste text from the other Zaurus applications, if that had been more efficient.
Figure 9: Address Book
While I only set up a simple short message, there can be attachments such as a document, spreadsheet or scrap book drawing. PC attachments can also be accommodated both for sending, receiving, and Zaurus use, providing proper attention is paid in advance to formats etc. This would be a round about, but perfectly fine way of transferring files between Zaurus and other computer environments. At the right side of the screen, beside the top of the text area, there is a Full button that will change the screen so that the full screen is used for the text. This facilitates the input and reading of long messages. At the bottom right of the screen you will see the familiar Zaurus 'A' , change text size button. I prefer to operate with this at the medium size from the selection of small, medium and large screen font sizes. To send the email message, I touched the MAIL button at the top of the screen (not shown) and then chose the Send Only option. This pops up a Send Mail screen (not shown) with the EV- ISTAR-EMAIL profile selected by default. Another option at this screen is to select either of Current Message, Tagged Messages, or All Messages. Then I touched the OK button to initiate the transmission. Zaurus then did its dialup thing beautifully and when finished logged off and returned to a Communications Finished Screen (not shown) giving a 4 line summary of the session. Having touched the Done button, I was returned to the main IN, OUT, SENT Screen above. From this point I chose to receive the email that I had just sent to myself. A touch of the MAIL menu item, followed by selecting the Receive option, popped up a Receive Mail screen (not shown) with the EV-ISTAR-EMAIL profile selected by default. Another option at this screen is to select leaving the messages on the mail server or not and a setting to receive messages less than a given size. The default size was set at 1.5Kb which was ok for my testing. One touch of the OK button from here and Zaurus quickly and perfectly dialed in, picked up the earlier sent message and logged out. After a few send and receive trials, the IN box was as shown in the next screen.
Figure 10: Entering Text for the Email Message
By highlighting the desired email entry and double touching it, the last and final screen pops it open for viewing.
Figure 11: IN Box of Main Menu
While I haven't shown the SENT box, it is similar to the IN box, showing and retaining the messages that I sent earllier. As expected, the software allows you to manage your messages using the standard Zaurus folders methods for opening, closing, deleting files. For a description of these types of operations, please refer to my earlier Mobilis articles in the newstand section. OTHER MENUS: There are some nice additional features including a FIND menu item for finding text and a UTILS menu item to transfer emails to documents etc. I hope that you now have a good appreciation of how the earlier Zaurus models can be upgraded for Internet email. I do. I found Z-Em@il to be good useful software! If you are already using it, I would be interested to hear how you like it. If this article prompts you to get set up for Z- Em@il, I would be interested to hear how you get along, also.
Figure 12: Reading an Email Received
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, Zaurus questions or your PDA story.