IBM Research

Update:

Go to the ModAL page to see the latest support for Palm Pilot. The Pilot Proxy that is described on this page is no longer supported.

The T Spaces Pilot Proxy Page


We are strong believers in hand held devices. It is quite possible that in the near future every (non-third-world) person on the planet will have a computer assistant of some sort -- either embedded in a watch, a cell phone, or an older style PDA. One of our favorite devices for experimentation is the 3Com Palm Pilot Professional (we picked the "pro" over the other Palm models because we need the TCP/IP communication its abilities).

Although we're anxious to run Java code inside the Pilot, we don't have to wait until a JVM exists for the Pilot before we can make it a T Spaces client. We've created a Pilot Proxy program (written in Java) that acts as a T Spaces client. The Pilot Proxy is the intermediary between the T Spaces server and the Pilot itself.

A TS Network with various clients

The Pilot Proxy speaks to the Pilot via PPP, sending simple "C" language types over a TCP/IP socket connection. The proxy receives tuples from the space and creates "C" type messages from it which it sends to the Pilot. Similarly, it takes messages from the Pilot and creates tuples which it then sends to the T Spaces server.

The PilotWhiteBoard application is a simple application that shows what is possible. It takes a machine name (or IP address) and some text. Then, the two buttons instruct the Pilot Proxy to create either "print" tuples or "paste" tuples in the T Spaces server. The applications listening for these tuples do the appropriate thing with them (the cut/paste buffer application takes the tuple and pastes the contents of the data string into buffer 3 -- yes it's hardcoded for this application and the print application takes the tuple and prints the data string).

The Pilot Whiteboard app

What makes this relatively simple setup so exciting is that the large number of services that are attached to the T Spaces server (building-wide printing, scanning, faxing, paging, program invocation, remote device control, etc) are made available to the Pilot through a simple interface.

Let's Get Started

So, want to try out this really cool mechanism? Good! There's a small catch, of course. You have to get your computer ready to talk to the Pilot. We've tried this with Win 95 and Win NT. So far we've been able to get the Win NT system completely working, which is annoying since it also has the most complicated setup instructions. Matthias Eichstaedt was kind enough to create a web page with the instructions of installing RAS (remote access services) on Win NT so that it could talk to the Pilot via the serial port.


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