Thanks Tylernt. In fact, I just wrote a VB front end GUI today going from the example at : http://www.acraigie.com/programming/firmatavb/firmatavb.html
to replace the NetLab front end if I had any more problems. Netlab is pretty spiffy and easy to use, nice html5 and flash controls when used with Arduino , but it's still a little too limited now with Xbees FYI. No output sliders or such work for direct connect of a Xbee for transmitting through Firmata within Netlab, but it receives just fine. Philip over there has done a good job though, and I definitely support the NetLab effort despite it's current shortcomings with Xbees. Widgets that access Internet of Things (IoT) Cloud Services could be extremely useful depending on what you wanted to accomplish. In any case, I guess I will try both - maybe the modified VB front end for local connects and then web connects with stuff like Netlab later as the toolkit matures some. Nice to meet you and thanks again. I often forget about the examples...ha! Never needed a s/w serial on Arduino , not once , before now so had no idea that it's pass-thru like that.