running PalmConnect on a pen computer (Brian Smithson)
From: (Brian Smithson)
Message-id: <>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1993 21:48:29 -0800
X-Mailer: Z-Mail (2.1.1 01dec92)
Subject: running PalmConnect on a pen computer
Status: OR
Well, since PalmConnect wouldn't run on my lowly UltraLite model 1, I got
an NCR 3125 pen-based notebook from JEM.  It's a 386SL with 8MB of RAM
and a 20MB disk, and (ugh) Windows for Pen version 1.0.

Anyhow, I loaded up PalmConnect and tried to do several things:

Get the pen to be recognized as some kind of mouse
This worked just fine.  At first, I selected "", but
I found that I needed to chase the arrow into a corner with the pen in
order to calibrate it each time I started PalmConnect.  Then I selected
"generic digitizer", and it works great -- it's perfectly calibrated right
out of the chute.  So far, so good...

Get the virtual keyboard to work as an input device to PalmConnect
NCR provides a pop-up keyboard (available from DOS applications).
It pops up okay, but when I tap out some text and "send", it doesn't reach
the application.  When I exit the application, the text is sitting there on
the DOS command line.  I'm still looking into this.

Get a pop-up keyboard to appear in PalmConnect the way it does on the Zoomer
What I really wanted to do is get the Zoomer keyboards to pop up on the NCR.
As it happens, in PalmConnect's GEOS.INI file there is a setting "noKeyboard"
which is normally set "= false".  I set it "= true", and lo and behold, that
makes the keyboard pop up whenever text input is required!  It seems to have
a few problems, at least on the NCR 3125:

- If you select the normal QWERTY keyboard, it seems to work just fine.

- On some of the symbol keyboards, it is difficult to tap some of the
  characters and get them to display.  I'm not sure why.

- The writing grid is mainly broken. No matter where or what I wrote, it was
  recognized as a single character and overwritten into the left-most character

Maybe rev 2 of PalmConnect will fix these (please)?

I noticed another thing in GEOS.INI which I found rather confusing.  There
are two places with an option "penBased".  In the first one, it is set
"= true" and in the second one it is set "= false".  I tweaked both of them
and it never seemed to make any difference.  Hmmm...

Extra credit...
Feeling lucky, I perused the GeoWorks Ensemble 2.0 GEOS.INI file to look
for similar options to mess with.  There's no "noKeyboard" option, but
what the heck, I added one (as a second option in the "[input]" block).
It worked!!  The regular keyboard pop-ups work as in PalmConnect, but
since there's no handwriting recognition built into GWE2.0, the writing
grid doesn't do anything.  Still, this means that you can use GWE2.0 with
no keyboard if you're willing to tap out characters on a tiny on-screen pop-up.

What does it all mean
Well, it looks like the NCR 3125 could be sort of a poor-man's Sharp PT9000
(or maybe a Zoomer with a weight problem?).  NCR has surplussed them out
and JEM has models as cheap as $399 (2MB RAM, 20MB disk, and PenDOS 1.2).
If you want more info, call JEM at (617) 254-5500 -- they'll FAX you data
sheets and prices if you want -- and/or subscribe to the notepad-list
mailing list by sending a request to

It makes a nice accessory for the Zoomer, yes?

What's next?
I'd love to get PalmConnect and GWE2.0 rolled into one package.  If nothing
else, I'd like to save some disk space!  And handwriting recognition would
be a nice addition to GeoCalc :-).

-Brian Smithson