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Troubleshooting Tips and FAQ

Please send us feedback on these questions and answers. Did the answers help? If not, do you have other answers that we should add? What other questions should be here?

  1. Nothing happens on the PC when I run RemoteCommander or other Pebbles application on my handheld.
    • Are you sure that PebblesPC is running on the PC? You need to run RemoteCommander on the handheld, and PebblesPC on the PC. PebblesPC allows the handheld to communicate with the PC. See discussion of PebblesPC.
    • If PebblesPC is running, are you trying to connect using a serial cable or cradle? See answer 2.
    • If PebblesPC is running, are you trying to connect using a infrared? See answer 3.
    • If PebblesPC is running, are you trying to connect using a network or wireless network? See answer 4 and 5.
    • If PebblesPC is running, are you trying to connect using a USB? See answer 6.
  2. I can't seem to get the Serial connection to work. What do I do?
    • Be sure that the connection option on your handheld is set to "Serial". See how to connect the PDA to the PC.
    • Are you sure that the cable or cradle is plugged into a serial port of your computer?
    • Have you made sure that PebblesPC is listening to that port? See instructions above for adding ports to PebblesPC using the "Add Port..." button. Usually the serial ports on computers are com 1 and com 2.
    • Are you sure that HotSync for Palm is not using that port? The easiest way to make sure is to exit HotSync. Alternatively, you can go into Setup... and then to the Local tab and pick a different Serial Port from what PebblesPC is using.
    • Are you sure that ActiveSync for WindowsCE/PocketPC is not using that port? There isn't a good way to make ActiveSync exit, so instead, you have to tell it not to use the serial ports. Go into "Connection Settings..." and make sure the following option is not checked: "Allow serial cable or infrared connection to this COM port."
    • See also how to connect the PDA to the PC using a serial cable.
  3. I can't seem to get the Infrared connection to work. What do I do?
  4. I can't seem to get the Network connection to work. What do I do?
    • (See also point 5 below about Firewalls.)
    • Setting up networks is notoriously difficult. Here are some things that may help, but you might need to have your system administrator help.
    • Be sure that the connection option on your handheld is set to "Network". See how to connect the PDA to the PC.
    • Be sure that the "Allow network connections" option is checked at the bottom of the PebblesPC window on the PC. See a discussion about PebblesPC .
    • How do I get the IP number for my PC?
      • It should be displayed in the bottom right corner of the PebblesPC window on the PC.
      • The IP number of your PC should be typed into the Network field of the connections dialog of the handheld. See connections above.
      • If you are using a WindowsCE or PocketPC devices through ActiveSync in its cradle, then use the special network number of:, as discussed in how to connect the PDA to PC using ActiveSync.
      • Otherwise, you will need to know the real IP number of your machine. One way to get this on a Windows machine is to bring up the "MSDos Prompt" or "Command Prompt" from the Start/Programs menu on the PC, and then type "ipconfig". It will print out the IP Address for the computer. You can ignore the "Subnet Mask" and other lines. The number after the "IP Address...." is the one you want to type into the handheld's network field.
    • When you exit the connections dialog, the handheld will try to connect to the PC. The IP address of your handheld should appear in the PebblesPC window.
    • If the IP address appears, but then communication doesn't seem to work, this means you have intermittent network problems, like interference or unreliable transmissions. See your network administrator.
    • If the IP address of your handheld does not appear, then there may be some kind of connection problem. Here are some things to try:
      • Does Internet Explorer or other browser work on the handheld to let you browse web pages? Pebbles uses TCP/IP like Internet Explorer, whereas other programs might use different protocols.
      • Is there any kind of firewall or proxy between the handheld and the PC that might not be passing the Pebbles packets through?
      • Advanced users might try loading some network debugging utilities on the handheld. For example, for PocketPC, the following tools are available: NetForce (http://www.ruksun.com/ mobile_computing/ WindowsCe/ Products/ NetForce/ index.html)  or vxUtil (http://www.cam.com/ vxutil.html) which is free. vxUtil provides ping, traceroute, and even a port scanner, so you can see if the PC responds to pings and if it has port 4343 open (that's the Pebbles port).
  5. I am having Firewall problems with connecting using a Network. Windows XP Service Pack 2 installs a Windows Firewall, which may block Pebbles network connections. You should allow Pebbles to communicate using the network. Windows XP may ask if it is OK when PebblesPC is first run, or else you may have to reconfigure it afterwards by opening the networks connections window from the Start menu (or from the Settings menu) and going to properties of the network connection, and clicking the advanced tab to enable communication over port 4343 which PebblesPC uses.
  6. I have a USB cradle or cable on my device that isn't working with Pebbles.
    • If you have a Palm with a USB cradle or cable, it is just supposed to work automatically. It may be more reliable to do these steps in order: (1) Reboot both your PC and your Palm. (2) Make sure your Palm can Hotsync with the PC successfully. When you HotSync you should hear from the PC a "device connect" sound, followed by the Hotsync start sound, the Hotsync finished sound, and then the device disconnect sound. The device connect and disconnect sounds are the same as when you plug and unplug a USB mouse to the PC. (3) Right-click on the Hotsync icon and Exit Hotsync (Pebbles is supposed to take care of turning hotsync off and back on automatically, but sometimes this doesn't work). (4) Start PebblesPC on the PC. (5) Last, start the Pebbles application (e.g., RemoteCommander) on the handheld. You should hear the device connect sound from the PC, and the Palm should beep to signal connection. (6) When you are all finished, first (a) exit the Palm application (like RemoteCommander). Then (b) exit PebblesPC on the PC. And finally, (c) remember to start up Hotsync again (Hotsync will be in your Programs / Startup folder from the Start menu).
    • If you have a PocketPC or Windows CE device with a USB cradle or cable, it is pretty easy to connect using ActiveSync as a network. See discussions of how to connect the PDA to PC using USB and using a network connection
  7. "Please add a feature"
    Hey, we are developing the Pebbles applications as part of a research project, and while we appreciate all your ideas and feedback, our priority is to add the features that are interesting to us, or which further our research goals. What do you expect for free? However, if you really want us to add something, please consider giving a grant of money or equipment to the Pebbles research project. Contact Brad Myers for details, and see question 8.
  8. Do you support Macintoshes or Linux machines?
    Sorry, we have no plans to support Macintosh, Linux, or any other operating systems besides Microsoft Windows. However, if you would like to make us a grant of money, we might be willing to create it for you (see answer 9). Alternatively, maybe you want to do the port for us (see answer 10)?
  9. Where can I send a check?
    The Pebbles software is distributed for free. However, we appreciate corporate donations of money and equipment to support the Pebbles research project. Donations are tax deductible, and checks should be made out to "Carnegie Mellon University" and sent to: Brad Myers, HCII, CMU, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Please include a note saying that the check is in support of the Pebbles research project. See the list of other companys' contributions to Pebbles.
  10. Can I help add a feature? 
    The source code for the Pebbles project is not generally available, but if you would like to help us by adding a feature or porting Pebbles to new platforms, let us know. We have released the code to other universities and corporate research labs. See conditions under which the source code is released.
  11. Why isn't the source code for Pebbles being released?
    We have licensed some Pebbles applications for commercial sale, and we are in discussion about licensing others, so it wouldn't make sense to give the source away for free. We have released the code to other universities and corporate research labs for research purposes, however. See the answer to question 10.
  12. Why isn't Slide Show Commander still available for free?
    People liked Slide Show Commander so much, and they keep asking for features that we are not able to supply. Installigent offers Slide Show Commander for a very inexpensive price, and they can supply support to you and help you with problems and with adding requested features.
  13. How can I control my television with Remote Commander?
    You can't. Remote Commander is only for controlling a PC. We are doing research on how a handheld can be used as a "Personal Universal Controller" but this is not likely to result in systems that you can use in the short term. If you want to control appliances from a PalmOS device, see OmniRemote by Pacific Neotek or the Sony CLIE PEG-T415 or NoviiRemote from NoviiMedia. If you want to control appliances from a PocketPC device, see the TV remote controller by PDAwin.com.
  14. How do I do the reverse of RemoteCommander: Type into my PDA using my PC's real keyboard and mouse?
    Pebbles software doesn't help with this, but we did a search with Google and came up with some alternatives. Let us know if you find better options: For Palm, we found two program. Mocha W32 Keyboard, which is commercial and has a little Palm emulator on the PC, and a Palm program called keyz, which is described in an old article. For PocketPC, thanks to David Topps from the University of Calgary who sent us pointers to the following programs: Pocket Controller-Professional V3.01 and Virtual_CE 2.2.
  15. Can I use Shortcutter to change from one application to the next on the PC?
    This is really easy. Just assign a Shortcutter button action to be the key "Shift-Alt-Tab" and it will go to the next application.
  16. What does Pebbles stand for, anyway?
    Pebbles is an acronym and stands for PDAs for the Entry of Both Bytes and Locations from External Sources.
  17. What's new with the Pebbles Project?
    We try to keep the Pebbles web pages up to date. Most new work is reported as new publications which are listed in our List of Publications in chronological order. Just look for new articles at the end. We send up updates to the Pebbles mailing list rarely, so check the Pebbles web pages periodically. The changes for the latest released version of pebbles are listed in the change log. Our current research focus (Winter, 2005)  is primarily on the PUC and Assistive parts of Pebbles.
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