Wolf's Motorhome Modifications
... and Other Stuff
Staying in Touch When Mobile!
Many of us understand that although talking directly to someone is nice, is often not possible. Trying to line up your schedule with family and friends is often impossible. Email has opened the door to keeping in touch. Time delaying messages and information allows you to share your experiences while keeping in touch with what's going on with others.
Staying in touch via email is getting easier and easier. More and more campgrounds are keeping their business by putting in at least a phone hookup in the office. Others are running telephone lines to the camping sites and offer campers lines for a couple of bucks a day. Neat stuff!
Still, we are often far from an available telephone line and email is not to be.
Not any more!
Sharp makes a small organizer-like device called a TM-20. This device, when used with a service called "PocketMail", allows anyone to stay in touch just about from anywhere.
The device itself allows you to read and write e-mail. There are restrictions. The maximum message length is about 4,000 characters. You can only receive text, no pictures. The keyboard is NOT suitable for touch-typing (although you CAN write messages on a laptop and drop them into the TM-20). Even given these problems, PocketMail really does the job.
The device works with almost any telephone. You call a 1-800 number as often as you need to. Once the call goes through, a voice invites you to start your PocketMail. You use a small lever to flip out a microphone and hold the device against the phone. There is an audible "braaaaapp" sound as the device sends and receives its messages. Lights on the case tell you how far along in the process you are. Eventually, the device beeps twice telling you it's done. You hang up the phone and proceed to read your mail.
You can't use the 1-800 number except in the United States and Canada. There's a regular phone number you must use from elsewhere.
Difficulties with the device come from the poor quality of some pay phones. Once you have a PocketMail you'll realize that many/most payphones that have been out in service for a while have bug nests in the earpieces. Although tinny and garbled, the phones are still usable for voice calls. The PocketMail may fail. You end up finding another phone. Remember the bug part next time you're making a call from a pay phone!
The device costs a bit over $100 at local office supply shops. I bought mine off the Internet for $67. www.ebay.com or a web search at www.google.com will list suppliers. Check for the lowest price that will take Visa.
Once you have the device, you have to subscribe to the service. PocketMail lives at http://www.pocketmail.com where you can obtain an account for about $100.00 per year. This includes an e-mail address that your device will be attached to.
Also from at http://www.pocketmail.com is a service (free with the account) that allows for mailbox consolidation. That means you can set up PocketMail to go out to your normal account, copy every new message you have and put those copies into your PocketMail account.
Unfortunately, this will shove all the spam, junk and stuff you might not want into your account. If you have AOL, the consolidation is the best you can hope for.
BUT! If you have a Unix account and access to the utility procmail, you can do soooo much more. procmail looks at your mailbox just after you get a new message. It takes each message and examines it against a list of message keys you author. If the message meets your criteria, it is then forwarded to the addresses you specify.
For example. I want all my messages from my wife, kids and boss to get forwarded to both my PocketMail account and my pager. If they leave me a message, I get the TO, FROM and a few lines of the message on my pager. I then can almost immediately use my PocketMail to access the account and read the copy of the message.
Setting Up procmail
Let's not get confused. Let's set something right before we go on. procmail is a DIFFICULT program to understand and set up. In fact, it's a darn near rocket science. After setting up my account, I still have no real idea what I did. I just read the manual and the FAQs and used their examples. A friendly Unix operator is a real asset!
RTFM. That means "READ THE FLIPPING MANUAL". You can get the manual by using the command "man procmail" on you shell. Read it a few times. Really something, isn't it? You'll also need to use "man procmailrc" and perhaps a few other man commands.
Now go to the FAQs. The "Frequently Asked Questions" are at
The FAQs must be read, too.
That's all I can offer other than the text of what I did to my files. I've changed my pager number to all "#" signs. My Unix and PocketMail account names were changed to "me".
"|IFS=''&&exec /usr/local/bin/procmail -f- || exit 75 #me"
#set on when debugging
#replace mail with your mail directory
#Directory for storing procmail log and rc files
* ^From firstname.lastname@example.org
* ^From email@example.com
When I'm home, I use procmail. When I'm gone for a period of time, I substitute another .forward file. This file causes ALL messages coming into my account to be forwarded to the PocketMail address. In this way I can get everything. It's composed of a single line:
Monitoring A PocketMail Account
You can monitor a PocketMail account without interfering with the use of the account. This can be valuable should you want someone to check your account for information but still allow you to get that information later. It allows a person to read a message without marking it as being read.
To begin the process, use telnet to connect to PocketMail on port 110. (telnet www.pocketmail.com 110) You then enter the user name in the form "user username" and then the password using "pass password". You then type "list" to list the messages. To read the messages without marking them as being read, use "top <message #> <# of lines>". To read the top 100 lines of message 4, you would type, "top 4 100". If you want to delete a message, use "dele <message number>".
Legend has it that there is absolutely no way you can forward using procmail without (at least once) mistakenly writing a forwarding loop. A forwarding loop is one where a message goes from your Unix account to your PocketMail account and back to your Unix account and back to the PocketMail and loops and loops and loops.
Do you have any idea how many messages containing the single word "test" can fit in a normal Unix mailbox???
It helps to have a friendly system administrator that you can go to for advise and assistance. And for him not to get too upset when the loops are running ... especially if you get lunch just after enabling one.
PocketMail people .. at least the ones answering the phones, are pretty lame in trying to assist with anything other than changing the batteries. The next level up is much better. The top layer are really into things. Unfortunately, breaking through that first layer at PocketMail can be tough.