Pebbles PC

Pebbles Chat

From the Pittsburgh Pebbles PDA Project     

by Ben Bostwick and Brad Myers


Sometimes in a meeting, it would be useful for attendees to be able to send side messages to each other, without necessarily interrupting the meeting. As an example, an attendee might ask the meeting facilitator to tell the current speaker to finish. The PebblesChat application allows users to communicate with other PDA users connected to the same PC. Messages are composed using the regular text input mechanisms on the PDA, and will appear in a scrolling text area on the PDAs of the sender and recipients as in conventional PC-based "chat" programs. In this case, the PC is just serving as a conduit, and does not display any evidence of the chat messages.

Downloading and Running PebblesChat

The PebblesChat is downloaded with the rest of the Pebbles applications in one big zip file. See the main downloading instructions.

The PebblesChat program, pebbleschat.prc, should be installed into the PalmPilot using the conventional mechanism. Then, the PebblesChat application can be run on the PalmPilot by clicking on its icon:


Chatting with Other People

PebblesChat allows you to send message to the other PDAs connected to the same PC. One current limitation is that the other PDAs must already be running PebblesChat -- there is currently no way to use Pebbles to signal the other users that they should switch to PebblesChat.

When running PebblesChat, the "Send To:" field will show "All Users" by default. this is actually a drop-down menu, and if you click on "All Users" area, it will display a list of all the other users who are currently running PebblesChat connected to the same PC, as shown at right. When the "Send To:" displays "All Users", then the text you enter will be sent to all the users running PebblesChat.

Alternatively, you can pick an individual user from the list, and then PebblesChat will send a "private" message just to that user. All messages you send will appear in your top area. Also in the top area will be all messages sent to you or to All Users. Messages sent specifically to one person will be marked "(Personal)" followed by the name of the sender.

The names displayed in the pop-up menu are the names associated with each user in the PC's "PebblesPC" window (see the discussion of PebblesPC).

To enter text, you can use Grafitti or the regular PalmPilot pop-up keyboard to enter text in the usual way. The text will appear in the bottom two-line input area. Hitting the "Send" button sends the message and clears out the outgoing message area to make it ready for the next message.

Note: If nothing happens when you enter Graffiti strokes, or the Palm beeps when you try to pop up the keyboard, you probably forgot to click in the text field first. You can select text in the upper area to copy it (for example, to resend content someone chatted to you, or to paste it into a Memo). But after clicking or selecting in the top area, it is necessary to click into the 2-line composing area before typing a new message.

Your outgoing messages should appear in the top window after you hit the send button. If they don't, then the Palm is probably not connected to the PC, or the PebblesPC side cannot find the appropriate dll.

The top area scrolls if it gets more content than will fit.

Menu Commands

If you hit the Menu button (next to the Graffiti area), the PebblesChat menu bar will be displayed. The Edit menu contains the full set of editing commands available for text areas, such as Cut/Copy/Paste. These only work if the cursor is in the two-line input area. The "Keyboard" command pops up the keyboard, and the "Graffiti" command pops up some help on Graffiti. Under the Options menu is the usual "About" dialog, and the Connection dialog tells how to connect the Palm to the PC.

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Maintained by: Brad A. Myers