A communication and file-transfer program can be used to link a portable computer to a remote computer. The portable-computer link program displays on a user's screen a dynamic icon. The dynamic icon changes appearance as a connection to a remote computer is made, thus indicating to the user the progress of making the connection. Since most users of the portable-computer link program are not communications experts but casual business users, the dynamic icon employs the universally-known paradigm of a traffic light. The traffic light icon dynamically changes appearance from red to yellow to green as the communications link is being established. The red light indicates that no data is able to be transferred, such as when the media link is not plugged in or not configured. The yellow light indicates that some data is being transferred over the media link, although data errors may be occurring. The green light signals that file transfers may proceed across the connected link. The program runs under the Windows O/S, and includes a connection establish module called by a connection resource manager to open a connection. The connection establish module notifies the connection resource manager of activity, which then may cause a traffic light controller module to update the traffic light icon in the frame buffer of the video subsystem. Once the connection is made, a data transfer engine is used for file transfer.