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
- Nothing happens on the PC when I run RemoteCommander or other Pebbles
application on my handheld.
I can't seem to get the Serial connection to work. What do I do?
- 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
- 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
I can't seem to get the Infrared connection to work. What do I do?
I can't seem to get the Network 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
- 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
- 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.
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.I have a USB cradle or cable on my device
that isn't working with Pebbles.
- (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
- If you are using a WindowsCE or PocketPC devices through ActiveSync
in its cradle, then use the special network number of: 192.168.55.100,
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
- 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:
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).
"Please add a feature"
- 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
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.
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)?
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.
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.
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
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
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
remote controller by PDAwin.com.
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
Can I use Shortcutter to change from one application to the next on the
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.
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.
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.