1. Keyboard in palmtops

    Few days ago I shared my thoughts on replacing Zaurus palmtop with other device. According to comments few people do not understand why hardware keyboard is so important for me.

    Collie

    Nearly 4 years ago I bought my first Linux powered PDA — Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 (codename: “collie”). One of nice features was hardware keyboard:

    Collie keyboard
    Collie keyboard

    It is thumb operated keyboard but usable after a bit of learning. You have everything needed to operate in console, writing text — even Vi is usable (“Cancel” key works as Esc).

    c7x0

    Time passed and I got another Zaurus — this time it was clamshell model — c760 (codename: “husky” or “c7x0”). This device has great keyboard. Keys are small but there is separate row with numerical keys so it is improvement from “collie” one.

    C7×0 keyboard
    C7x0 keyboard

    Those Japanese keys right to “Fn” one are mapped as “Control” and “Alt” so user can even try to use Emacs :) For Vi lovers there is “Cancel” key which works as Esc.

    Tosa

    Another months passed and another Zaurus arrived at my place — this time is was SL-6000L (codename: “tosa”). It has keyboard similar to “collie”: but more comfortable due to size of keys:

    Tosa keyboard
    Tosa keyboard

    Esc” is on “Cancel” like it is in collie.

    N810

    Recently one Finnish company released new product from their line of tablets: N810. It was their first tablet with integrated keyboard. Thanks to photos provided by Koen I can comment a bit on it too. It it similar to “collie” and “tosa” keyboards when it comes to mapping (no numeric keys, lot of symbols available only with “Fn” key) but it also lack “Tab” key which can make shell using a bit harder.

    N810 keyboard
    N810 keyboard

    There is “Esc” key — one of side keys works as one (not visible on photo).

    Summary

    For now the best keyboard is “c7x0” one — all needed keys are available, lot of others can be made available by editing keymap. And when I have to hack something on device good keyboard is one of most important things. I can not count how many times I ended with having 3-4 consoles running on my c760 with miscellaneous applications started due to amount of hacking required by projects.

    Akita/Spitz

    UPDATE: Matthias ‘CoreDump’ Hentges reminded me about Zaurus SL-Cxx00 keyboards (used in c1000/c3000/c3100/c3200 models):

    Spitz keyboard
    Spitz keyboard

    Yes — they are similar to “c760” one but have changed cursors into 4-pad and each key is separate one — they are no longer parts of membrane. Many people found that one more comfortable then “c7x0” one but I am not one of them — used both and still prefer older one.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  2. Hrw Big Blue theme for WordPress 2.3

    Few months ago I switched my website to“Big Blue” theme created by Bob. Then did some changes to it:

    • Wordpress tags are used instead of categories
    • Post author is shown
    • Doctype changed to XHTML 1.0 Strict
    • Home” link removed
    • Archive/search/category views use full contents of posts instead of excerpts
    • removed default sidebar contents (use Presentation->Widgets to set them)
    • single post view does not show tags

    Also CSS changes:

    • removed extra font-family settings - only body, pre & code has font family set
    • comment form is scaled to 80%
    • Calendar widget takes 100% width and has properly aligned Prev/Next links
    • blockquote is more visible
    • quotes are italic
    • BSuite plugin highlighting of search entries
    • Author comments are marked

    Download archive is no longer available.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  3. Reading books for children

    There is lot of talk about reading books for children. In Poland there is a big campaign on that subject called “Read your child for 20 minutes, daily” (which has some rhymes in Polish language).

    I started reading very early and have no problems with reading (even in languages which I do not fully understand which was useful during our trip to Slovakia in 2005). And I plan to read books for my daughter.

    But I wonder what kind of child she would be if I would read computer books instead of children books…

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  4. How to replace Zaurus PDA?

    My Zaurus c760 is nice ARM based palmtop. I use it for testing miscellaneous things during my work days.

    It was device where I hacked some Python based applications to fit in 10 megabytes of flash (it was fully working console system with Python and those apps). I test Ångström and Poky on it, tested different combinations of software etc…

    But it shows age — batteries (950mAh and 1700mAh ones) started to lose capacity (one of them gives less then 60%) so sooner or later this device will stop booting (as battery is needed to boot even on AC).

    But how to replace this device? There are lot of ARM palmtops in a world but most of it lack one or more features which c7x0 has:

    • ARMv5t instruction set
    • Linux support
    • VGA screen
    • working keyboard
    • 128MB flash
    • 64MB RAM

    Due to first one all devices powered by Samsung S3Cxxxx processor can be ignored. Most of today WindowsMobile powered devices lack VGA screen (not to mention that they also usually lack Linux support). But at least those ones are available in normal shops in Poland.

    I already considered few options but each of them has minuses:

    • other Zaurus (but they are few years old technologically)
    • HTC Universal (hard to get in good state, still boots from WinCE instead of flash)
    • Finnish tablet N810 (impossible to buy in Poland and lack any warranty/service)

    In worst situation I will slowly switch to using QEmu ARM emulation instead of real device.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  5. Bluetooth + phone == remote control

    During holidays I found another usage for my current phone (SonyEricsson k750i). It is Bluetooth Remote Control functionality.

    Basically it turn phone into HID device but the good thing is that user can create own profile for this. There is a tool for it (Microsoft Windows executable) and also those files can be created by hand (instructions are provided by Stefan ‘tommie’ Tomanek as part of his excellent guide about using this cellphone with Linux).

    I do not know does it is possible on Neo1973 (IIRC BlueZ only has HID daemon) but I will miss it if it is not…

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  6. 2007 timeline

    2007 is ending. It was very good year for me. I am now married man, waiting for daughter birth. Have own company, working as contractor for one of biggest companies in OpenEmbedded world.

    January

    February

    March

    • Vernier LabQuest got released. I was one of members of OpenedHand development team working on Poky for this device.
    • Pingwinaria 2007 — I was there with one talk about OpenEmbedded. Then decided that it is time to buy laptop to be able to read mail, do some hacking etc.
    • My Neo1973 GTA01Bv3 arrived. Added was Debug board, 128MB MicroSD card, pen/stylus and few other things.
    • Three years of using OpenEmbedded.

    April

    May

    June

    July

    • GUADEC — I was going there with thinking “what I would do at GNOME conference” but it was also occasion to meet OpenedHand gang and people from other projects. I still remember how badly I lost on first day… and I did it twice ;(

    August

    September

    October

    • OEDEM 2007 took place. Nice event, lot of OpenEmbedded developers.
    • Maemo started developer program for Nokia N810 tablet. Due to limitations I was unable to take part of it. ARGHH!

    November

    December

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  7. CompactFlash card problems - why it is worth to report them

    Few days ago Ångström distribution was released. Currently machine mentors tests images and release them so their devices will be also supported and ready for users.

    Users often have CompactFlash cards which we (developers) do not have. Some of them will be hit by miscellaneous problems. For example their WiFi card which was nicely working with HostAP driver now works only with Orinoco one so they can not connect to WPA encrypted access points.

    How to solve that? Such users should report those cards. What report needs to contain:

    • pccardctl ident output
    • information does card was working with other distribution (it can be any Linux distribution — I test cards under Debian on my laptop)

    What developer has to do then? Creation of patch to in-kernel driver is simple — there is one table per driver in source and few simple macros. Examples can be found in my submissions to kernel tree.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  8. Zaurus kernel config generation

    During last months I did few attempts to unify kernel configuration for all PXA Zaurus models (so no collie). As last one did not generate working ones and I do not have time to fix it (or devices for testing) I decided to release last version so maybe someone will look at it and try to get it fixed.

    To generate configuration files run make.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
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