Cross-platform standards are always fun (at least for readers of this type of column) because it gives you the chance to let different types of equipment communicate with one another. Such is the case with IrDA, a standard for infrared communication between devices which is promoted by the Infrared Data Association. Several Apple computers, such as recent PowerBooks and early iMacs, support this standard. Unfortunately, other devices, such as the Palm VII and Visor, don't. Enter IrLink.
IrLink offers IrDA support for devices which don't normally support it. If you are running an iMac with OS 8.x, you'll need to download Apple's IrDA IrCOMM driver. Otherwise, you can install the IrLink package on your Palm. Once you do, you'll then want to tell IrLink to redirect the cradle to the IrDA driver. You'll also need to tell your Mac's HotSync software to use the Infrared Port.
Now You Don't Need to Use a Cradle!
Once you've done this, put your Palm near your Mac, with the infrared ports facing one another, and tell the Palm to perform a HotSync. If all goes well, in a few moments your Mac will come to life and start the HotSync operation, just as if you had the cradle connected. Don't worry, if you put the Palm in the cradle, it will sync with that instead.
But IrLink does more than just allow previously unsupported devices to use IrDA. It also has a nifty AutoSync feature, where you can tell the Palm start a HotSync operation at a predetermined time. If you'd like to sync only certain data via IR, in order to shorten sync time, you can specify which applications and data should sync via the cradle, and which should sync via the IR port.
IrLink can also communicate with certain cell phones which have an IrDA port, eliminating the need to physically attach a modem to the Palm. Rounding things out is a Device Discovery feature, which will let you identify any nearby IrDA devices.
Take full advantage of the IrDA abilities of your Mac and Palm, and check out IrLink today.
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John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at