7.4 Infrared File Transfer

Imagine that you are at a conference and would like to send a couple of files to someone that you have just met. There might not be a network available, and it is unlikely that you lug a serial cable with you when you travel. If both of you are using notebook computers, the best solution is to use infrared to send the files.

When two computers are within communicating range of each other (with the infrared port of each computer pointing at each other), Windows XP will automatically activate the irFTP application, which is found in the C:\Windows\system32 directory. The irFTP application allows two computers to exchange files using infrared. You can use this utility at the command prompt. To see a list of options, enter the command irftp /h.

Exchanging files between computers using infrared is similar to doing so with a Pocket PC; this is demonstrated in the following section.

7.4.1 Computer to Pocket PC

Most Pocket PCs contain a built-in infrared port for communicating with the outside world. Using the infrared port, you can transfer files from the Pocket PC to the computer (and vice versa) without using a cable. Figure 7-4 shows the iPaq 3870 with the infrared port located at the top.

Figure 7-4. The infrared port located at the top of the iPaq 3870

When you align the infrared ports of both the Pocket PC and your computer, Windows XP will inform you that a Pocket PC is nearby (see Figure 7-5).

Figure 7-5. Discovering a nearby computer using infrared

The Send files to another computer icon (a shortcut to the irFTP application) also appear on your desktop (see Figure 7-6).

Figure 7-6. The shortcut to the irFTP application

You can double-click on the icon shown in Figure 7-6 to send files to your Pocket PC (see Figure 7-7).

Figure 7-7. Sending files using infrared

Select the file that you want to send and click on the Send button.

7.4.2 Pocket PC to Computer

To send files from the Pocket PC to the computer, go to File Explorer on the Pocket PC, then tap and hold on to the file that you want to send, to bring up the context menu. Select Beam File... as shown in Figure 7-8.

Figure 7-8. Sending a file on a Pocket PC using infrared

On your computer, you will receive a prompt seeking your permission to accept the file. Click on Yes to receive the file, or click Cancel to reject it (see Figure 7-9).

Figure 7-9. Requesting permission to accept or reject a file

On the receiving computer's end, you need to click on the infrared icon located in the tray to accept the incoming file. Windows XP does not always automatically display a window for that. If you do not click on the icon manually, the sending computer continues to wait for a reply.

You can configure the default directory for file transfer by right-clicking on the infrared icon in the tray (shown in Figure 7-10) and selecting Properties from the pop-up menu.

Figure 7-10. The infrared icon in the Tray

This brings up the Wireless Link dialog, shown in Figure 7-11.

Figure 7-11. Configuring the properties for infrared communication

If you did not configure a default location for received files, the incoming file(s) will be saved on the desktop.

7.4.3 ActiveSync

Another use of infrared is synchronizing your Pocket PC with your computer. With ActiveSync, you can use infrared to connect to your Pocket PC without a syncing cradle or cable.

To use infrared for ActiveSync, launch Microsoft ActiveSync on your computer and click File Connection Settings.... Turn on the "Allow serial cable or infrared connection to this COM port" checkbox (see Figure 7-12) and click OK.

Figure 7-12. Configuring Microsoft ActiveSync for infrared communication

Align the infrared port of the Pocket PC to that of the computer and on the Pocket PC, launch ActiveSync and select Tools Connect via IR... (see Figure 7-13).

Figure 7-13. Invoking Microsoft ActiveSync using infrared

Microsoft ActiveSync should now start connecting to the Pocket PC.

7.4.4 Connecting to the Internet Via Infrared

In this section, I illustrate how you can connect to the Internet using a mobile phone. The phone used in this example is the Nokia 6610 (see Figure 7-14), which supports GPRS data access.

Figure 7-14. The Nokia 6610

For more information on GPRS, please refer to Chapter 8.

Invoke the Infrared option (go to Menu Connectivity Infrared) on your mobile phone.

Align the phone's infrared port (see Figure 7-15) to that of your computer's.

Figure 7-15. The infrared port for the Nokia 6610

Windows XP will automatically detect the Nokia 6610 (see Figure 7-16).

Figure 7-16. Detecting the Nokia 6610

Windows XP will also query the device for the services that it provides. In the case of the Nokia 6610, a classic phone (with modem capability) is detected, and Windows XP automatically installs a standard modem over the IR link (see Figure 7-17).

Figure 7-17. Installing a standard modem over the IR link for the Nokia 6610

You are now ready to set up your computer to use the Nokia 6610 as a modem:

  1. Right-click on My Network Places and select Properties.

  2. Select Create a New Connection.

  3. A wizard will appear to help you set up the connection. Choose the following options in each dialog:

    • Connect to the Internet

    • Set up My Connection manually

    • Connect using a dial-up modem

A list of available modems will be displayed (see Figure 7-18). Choose the standard modem over the IR link.

Figure 7-18. Selecting the IR modem for dial-up access

You will be prompted to enter the ISP name, username, and password. You need to obtain all this information from your ISP.

Finally, turn on the "Add a shortcut to this connection to my desktop" checkbox. Double-click on the connection icon, and a connection window appears as shown in Figure 7-19.

Figure 7-19. Dial-up access using the Nokia 6610

7.4.5 Sharing Internet Connection Using Infrared

Using an infrared connection, two computers can share an Internet connection. Assuming that one computer with an infrared port is connected to the Internet via an Ethernet connection, another computer that is also equipped with an infrared port can establish a connection with it and share the connection to the Internet.

On the computer that is connected to the Internet:

  1. Right-click on My Network Places and select Properties.

  2. Select Create a New Connection.

  3. Select Set up an Advanced Connection and click Next. The Advanced Connection Options dialog appears.

  4. Select Accept Incoming Connections and click Next. The Devices for Incoming Connections dialog appears.

  5. Choose the devices for the connection. In this case, you should choose the Infrared Port (IRDA3-0); see Figure 7-20. Click Next. The Incoming Virtual Private Network (VPN) Connection dialog appears.

    Figure 7-20. Selecting the infrared port for Internet sharing
  6. Select Do Not Allow Virtual Private Connections and click Next. The User Permissions dialog appears.

  7. Select the user accounts that should be allowed to connect to this computer (see Figure 7-21).

    Figure 7-21. Selecting the accounts for sharing the Internet connection
  8. Finally, select the protocols to be installed for the connection. Accept the default settings (see Figure 7-22).

Figure 7-22. Installing the protocols for the shared connection

That's it! Your computer is now ready to accept incoming connections.

On the computer that is going to use the shared Internet connection, you need to perform these same steps. However, in step 4, instead of configuring an incoming connection, select the option "Connect directly to another computer" (see Figure 7-23). Click Next. The "Host or Guest?" dialog appears. Do the following:

Figure 7-23. Creating a connection to the host computer
  1. Select Guest and click Next. The Connection Name dialog appears.

  2. Give the host computer a name and click Next. The Select a Device dialog appears.

  3. Select the device to be used for the connection. In this case, use the Infrared port (IRDA3-0); see Figure 7-24. Click on Next to complete the installation.

    Figure 7-24. Selecting an infrared port to be used for connection
  4. You now see the connection window (see Figure 7-25). Enter the username and password that corresponds to the account name that you selected for access in the last section.

Figure 7-25. Connecting to the host computer

You can now connect to the Internet using the infrared port. Subsequently, you can connect to the Internet by aligning the infrared ports of the two computers and double-clicking on the icon bearing the remote host computer's name (located in the Network Connections window).

You may need to configure your web browser for Internet access. For example, if the host computer requires you to specify a proxy server for Internet access, you also need to specify it in your web browser settings.