This company pioneered the notion of a "virtual disk", that is, the appearance of a telephone as a "hard disk" about 17 years ago (1992). GSG obtained a number of patents covering this early technology. The technology transformed an ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) phone into what today we would call an "external disk drive". The ISDN technology offered a transmission speed of two channels at 64 kilobits per second (2x64 kbs), that is, a total of 128 kbs. A puny amount by today wide band standards. However, the software issues involved in transforming the visibility of a phone device into a disk like interface are exactly the same now as what we faced & solved 17 years ago. Therefore, it is quite puzzling that we still do not seem to have phones, smart or otherwise, which can be directly plugged via a cable into a computer USB port and automatically integrated by the Operating System (OS) to look and behave like an external disk drive. For example, Amazon sells a USB connection cable for the Nokia 2760 (the phone we used for our work below). However, it does not provide the relevant software drivers. The difficulties involved are definitely NOT technical.
Motivated by this frustration we undertook to connect the cheapest & simplest cell phone to a Windows XP environment. In other words, we started in the most disadvantaged condition possible. Much more expensive so called "smart phones" should have an easier time of it. We succeeded in the goal of transforming the Nokia 2760 into a device that looks like an external disk on a XP machine. While this can be done with commercially available products, we found that the setup process is unnecessarily complex &, what is worse, ambiguous to a degree that would discourage most people, except well versed hackers, from undertaking it. For this reason we decided to post this description of how to do it. The pay off of this procedure is that one can move files back & forth between the phone & the computer with each doing what is best at.
These directions are for the specific case of the connection of a Nokia 2760 cell phone to a XP PC. The process for other pairs of phone/PC should be substantially similar and these directions should still be a helpful guide. The cell phone needs to be Bluetooth enabled. The Nokia 2760 has only 10 MB of available memory an amount of memory that is soon exhausted after storing a couple of songs, therefore the practical use of the connection is to move pictures, video clips, etc.. produced on the cell phone to the PC. Two ways exchanges are really practical in the case of so called "smart phones" which have memories in the fractional & whole Gigabyte range.
The first step of this process is to purchase a Bluetooth 2.1 (or later) USB Adapter Dongle. This part can be purchased anywhere for few dollars. It is available for the XP & Vista OSs.
Next insert the CD disk that comes with the dongle in one of your PC DVD/CD drives. The software will auto load & present you with self explanatory questions. At some point the software will ask you to insert the dongle into a USB port on your computer. It is important that you do NOT insert the dongle BEFORE the software asks you to. You need not waste a whole USB port, the dongle works fine if plugged into a 4 ports USB hub. It is best if the hub is placed in the front of the computer & not in the back. This can be easily done by using a USB extension cable connecting the USB hub to any USB port, say one in the back of the PC. Both parts are readily available & cost few dollars.
After the dongle is installed continue the installation of the software until it is complete. Towards the end the software asks you if you want to place Bluetooth icons in various places. You should approve at least the placing on the desktop & on the base bar (start menu to time display). We'll say more about these two icons later. After the software terminates your PC is Bluetooth enabled, that is, it will be able to discover any Bluetooth enabled phone which is powered up and within about 30 feet of the dongle.
Once the PC is Bluetooth enabled one must configure it for the services you wish. In this note we'll show how to configure it just for the file transfer service, since this is the most useful & fundamental service.
To do so right click on the Bluetooth icon on the PC's Start bar. You should see a menu with the following entries:
Next click on the "Bluetooth Configuration" you should see a window with the following tabs: General, Accessibility, Local Services, Client Applications, Diagnostics. Do the following:
The only other item on the top menu you need to look to is the "Quick Connect" one. This item, once clicked on, will give a menu listing all the available services. Again click on just the File Transfer item, you should see a list of Bluetooth devices discovered by your PC for the purpose of file transfers.
After turning the phone on, select the main Menu. Next select on it the "settings" entry (tool box icon). Scroll the settings menu until you see the connectivity entry. Select connectivity this will show a menu with three entries: Bluetooth, Packet Data, Data Transfer. Select Bluetooth. Select the first entry of the new menu which is "Bluetooth" again. Select the "on" entry. Go "back" and select the entry "My phone's visibility". Select on the new three entries menu the "permanent visibil" entry. Go back and scroll down to the "Paired devices" entry & select it. It will show a list of Bluetooth devices which are "paired" to your phone. Initially this list should be empty. Select the options menu this should show the following three entries: Settings, Delete pairing, Pair new device, Selecting "Pair new devices" will cause the cell phone to search for other Bluetooth enabled devices in its (30 feet) neighborhood. It will discover the Bluetooth enabled PC & it will display its name.
Next select your PC from the list of discovered devices. This will yield a new menu. Select the "Pair" entry. Next the phone will ask for a password to be entered. The same password will have to be entered from the PC side on attempting the first connection. It is thus a good idea to keep the password short & simple since this minimizes the odds of a first mis-communication between the phone & the PC. The security risk associated with a short password are small due to the short range of Bluetooth communications which facilitates establishing physical security. Once the password is entered the pairing is in effect & the PC, on requesting communication with the phone, will display a window that will ask for the password. This window is poorly designed & it is not clear at all that it is asking for a password. It does not even show the customary typing slot. It just shows a thin vertical line, but once you type the first character it displays it in black & with quite a large font. Typing the next character the first becomes a black dot & the second displays fully, and so on until all the characters of the password are typed. Once the last character is typed the pairing of the two devices is completed & file transfer can be initiated (see next section). The pairing can also be checked on the PC by double clicking on the desktop Bluetooth icon & then double clicking on the "Find Bluetooth Devices" entry. It should show the paired phone. On the phone you can check by executing the following series of steps: [main] Menu->Settings->Connectivity-> Bluetooth->Paired Devices. Selecting the last one should show the name of your PC.
Once Bluetooth is properly configured on both the cell phone & the PC one is ready to transfer files ("objects") from one to the other. For the transfer to be possible a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) process must be running on the PC. This process is automatically launched as part of the [initial] "pair" command. However, once the phone is turned off the PC's FTP process is also stopped, therefore, it is important to note that on any subsequent attempts to transfer files between the two one must first fire up the PC's FTP process. This is simply done by copying a file from the phone to the PC, The file in question must not have changed since the last PC to phone conversation. In fact, the PC knowledge of the phone file folders is only updated after a file transfer. Alternatively, one can copy a file from the PC to the cell. Either way, upon this first transfer the PC knowledge of the cell phone folders is updated and unrestricted both ways exchange of files can be started.
Given that an active FTP process is on, a file transfer is simply done by opening, in the customary way, the pertinent PC's file folder and opening the proper cell file folder by double clicking on the Bluetooth desktop icon. This will generate a window which will have a "File Transfer" icon. Double clicking on this icon will produce a window with a number of cell phone's file folders, one for each type of object the phone handles. Open the pertinent file folder in the usual way (for instance if one is transferring pictures it is best to use the folder "images"). Once the proper cell phone folder is open files can be transferred between the two folders (phone's & PC's) in the usual drag & drop way.
Note that many of the usual file folder operation, such as renaming, deleting, etc.. can not be done easily or at all on the phone. They are best done on "corresponding" file folders on the PC, once one has the desired structure on the PC, one can simply drag & drop the reconstituted folders onto the phone. Deletion of unneeded phone folders can be done once they are empty.
A final warning: if a phone's file is selected, a menu will appear which has a send entry, selecting it will display a list of methods for sending the file. The last entry is "Via Bluetooth" if that is selected a local Bluetooth "paired" device is searched for. Once the local device so found is selected a connection is attempted and it may fail since the PC may not be connected to a phone line.
Copyright Ugo O. Gagliardi 2009