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Messages - RJLadd

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General Discussion / Zaurus users in the Seattle, WA area?
« on: August 03, 2004, 12:15:59 am »
I'm between Redmond and Duvall; anything on the mid-Eastside would be in easy reach.

August is a very busy month, but perhaps us Seattlites, or at least us Eastsiders, could meet at a cafe some weekend in September.

Linux Issues / linux desktop mobo recomendations
« on: July 17, 2004, 06:32:04 pm »
The real concern is the mobo. I was planing to us an asus board until I recently read that they weren't very compatible or supportive.

I've been assembling my own computers for around 15 years, and have mostly used Asus motherboards. They provide zero support to end-users, and their support for wholesalers is poor. Their support website is very, very poorly organized, but it is often possible to find what info you need there if you dig long enough.

I've never had any problems with compatibility, and I've only ever had one Asus motherboard fail. I'm still using a couple of Asus-based machines I assembled in the mid-1990's.

OTOH, several of the other motherboard companies (MSI, AOpen, Abit) also have execellent reputations for compatibility and reliability.

I'd suggest looking over the reviews at Tom's Hardware ( and AnandTech ( for details. In particular, once you've decided on a CPU, getting a MB with the right support chipset for it can be important.

I'd also suggest finding a small, local store that assembles their own line of custom machines and sells parts. Talk to their techs, and buy the parts from that store, even if they cost a bit more than buying over the net. Having a friendly tech who will answer some questions can be more than worth the extra cost, particularly the first time or two that you assemble a computer.

General Discussion / ROM choices, with a twist.
« on: July 11, 2004, 11:27:03 pm »
The cacko howto tells you to repartition your internal to allow for a 27MB partition. How do you go about that?
There's some additional info in the readme that comes with the ROM:


    1. Extract the 3 files - initrd.bin tools.tar - to the root of your CF or SD/MMC card.
    2. Make sure that Zaurus isn't plugged into AC power.
    3. Remove battery for at least 5 seconds.
    4. Replace battery (replace battery cover, lock cover), plug in AC power.
    5. Press and hold the "OK" button on the keyboard.
    6. Turn the power on, you should see the Japanese service menu.
    7. Now Plug in the Power Cord. (You will get an error if it isn't plugged in!)
    8. Select option 4 (flash/update).
    9. You then have four options (1. USB, 2. CF, 3. SD, 4. Back)
    10. Choose either option 2 or 3, depending on which media you put the files on.
    11. Select "5 Flash repartition", enter 27 when prompted for root partition size.
    12. Flash will be repartioned and Zaurus will reboot.
    13. Repeate steps 2-10 again and wait for the menu start menu.
    13. Now select "1 Install new ROM" and wait - Zaurus will reboot.

Worked when I tried it.

General Discussion / ROM choices, with a twist.
« on: July 11, 2004, 06:48:52 pm »
Hmm, they should be ar (ipkg) files. Does your browser do something funny to them?

Very strange. You're right, it was a browser problem. Mozilla 1.5 apparently recognized the file format, and appended a spurious ".tar" to the file name. I updated to Mozilla 1.7 and that behavior went away.

What was the problem? I just went from Cacko to OZ without any troubles

Going direct, Opie would appear to install. But when it rebooted (or booted when I reset and turned power on again), it would display a splash, with a blinking "." below it, and sit there. Maybe not forever, but longer than I was willing to wait (15 minutes?) I never got the long list of package installs.

After going back to the original Sharp ROM and then installing Opie, it worked.

Unforutnately, the font problem alone is enough to keep me running Cacko for the moment. The other apparent instabilities don't help.

Is there an easy solution for the font problem?

General Discussion / ROM choices, with a twist.
« on: July 11, 2004, 01:13:38 am »
Found here:
Install opie-sh_0.5-20030824_arm.ipk (needed for the graphical interface), then oz-compat_0.5_arm.ipk, then oz-compat-opie_0.1_arm.ipk.

Tried it. Downloaded them, unpacked the tar files, put them on CF, and used the package installer under the settings tab. opie_sh... appears to install ok, or at least without obvious errors. The other two packages get "Invalid magic" in the package installer. I also tried used ipkg directly from the console, with the same result.

A few side notes: I was not able to install the Opie/OpenEmbedded ROM while Cacko was intalled. I had to go back to the original Sharp ROM (via a NAND backup) and then install Opie.

If mains power is plugged in when Opie suspends itself after enough inactive time, it doesn't come back on again when the "on" button on the spine iof the c860 is pressed. I had to unplug mains power before it would respond.

Perhaps its just a matter of being older than the Opie developers, and perhaps there is a package that will help, but many of the default fonts are hopelessly too small to be readable.

A few times, Opie completely blanked the screen for a second or two, and then came back, for no obvious reason. The screen also seemed to blink sometimes when it reduced the blacklight after enough inactive time.

Sigh. Back to Cacko for the moment. Don't have enough time this week to install the development kit and try to fix any of these problems, although a few of them (fonts?) should be easy.

General Discussion / ROM choices, with a twist.
« on: July 10, 2004, 04:11:13 pm »
Not hearsay; personal experience. But perhaps the problem is lack of (findable) documentation.  Which compatibility libs? Where can they be found? How are they installed? I saw a mention of them, and tried to install what was needed, but I still couldn't run KDEPim on Opie.

If there's a set a libraries that allow Opie to run most of the Cacko applications, I'd certainly give it another try.

Lack of documentation is a very common problem in the Z community. Us newbies spend a certain amount of time searching for it, and eventually settle for what we can find. That's not a criticism; the project teams are very small, and generally concentrate their limited resources more on code than on documentation.

Still, making it easier for newbies might attract new developers (like me) to their projects. Once I've got the use of this marvelous toy sussed, I expect to contribute to some of the open source work for it.

General Discussion / ROM choices, with a twist.
« on: July 10, 2004, 04:10:20 am »
Yes, those look like changelogs. But I've spent entirely more time than I like to consider trying the different ROMs, and I agree with ev1l. What would really be helpful is not a changelog from one version of a ROM to the next, but a list of the differences (operational, software support, hardware support) between the original Sharp ROM and the other ROMs that are available.

ev1l: I'm a newbie, too, but so far it looks like:

The current Cacko ROM is essentially the same as the original Sharp ROM, with some small but useful improvements. Mainly, it is entirely in English, is very stable, and has a Console application built in. Cacko seems to be compatible with the largest set of third party software.

pdaXrom seems fast, but not too stable. Screen rotation is partly supported, but not enough to be useful in portrait mode, and it does not come with any handwriting recognition. A fair amount of software is available for it, but some of the applications have not yet been adapted too well for the small screen and other limits of the hardware.

OpenEmbedded/Opie looks great, but the current version is not compatibile with very many third party applications, and its also somewhat unstable. Openembedded sounds like a good idea, but it may be too ambitious for the size of the team they have working on it.

KDEPim has not been fully adapted to the Z yet, but already it is a very useful PIM, particularly in combination with the KDE Desktop versions. I have it running on Cacko, but was not able to get it to work under pdaXrom or Opie.

Cxx0 General discussions / Where to buy a C7x0?
« on: July 10, 2004, 03:45:20 am »
My c860 also came from K. The price was good, and he shipped within 24 hours of my placing the order. I had some trouble with the USPS (they lost the package for a few days, and then found it again), but that's not K's fault.

I also did not pay any customs fees or duty on it. But K underinsured it (for $200). When the USPS misplaced it, I was left wondering who would bear the cost if it completely disappeared. Never got an answer from K about that.

If you are going to buy from him (and I see no major reason not to), I suggest insisting on full value insurance, even if it leads to some customs fees.

Second the recommendation for the Cacko ROM, too. I've tried pdaXrom and Opie. Both look promising, but neither is quite ready for prime time yet. Cacko is 100% English, and seems to be stable.

theKompany provides tkcROM for the 5xxx series, but there is no c760/c860 version. According to the person I spoke to there, the ROM is apparently now abandonware. They have not been able to contact the author for a few months, and don't seem interesting in providing any further support, not even to the point of finding the sources and making them available.

I'm new to Zaurii, so my usage may change. For now, I find that I do PIM-style functions and write short notes in portrait, using handwriting. I'm currently trying out Opie; after some training, its handwriting recognition seems to be very good.

For more serious, portable-Unix-machine uses, and for reading etext, I generally work in landscape using the keyboard.

Cxx0 General discussions / Clamshell warranty repairs
« on: June 29, 2004, 02:58:12 am »
A shiny, new, SL-c860 arrived from K last Thursday (June 24).

The USPS screwed things up. I placed the order on June 19. The EMS tracking website showed the package getting on a plane in Japan on June 20, but the USPS site did not show it getting off again in San Francisco. The USPS folks were very unhelpful, bordering on rude, when I called to find out what had happened. K started a trace from his end on the 22rd, and on the 23rd, the package magically appeared on the USPS tracking site. It was delivered on the 24th. The USPS carrier apparently signed for it himself, and left it in my mailbox (1/4 mile from my house).

None of this was K's fault; the USPS managed it on their own. However, when I saw the shipping label, I noticed that it was underinsured. I had asked K to send it insured, but I didn't explicitly say "fully insured". I wasn't charged any customs fees, but I had to wonder who would cover the loss if the package vanished. K did not respond to my email asking about that.

I decided to buy it from K mostly because Dynamism is $180 ($850 / $670 = 1.27) more expensive, and that seemed like too high a margin. If it fails during the warranty, Sharp USA claims I can send it to Sharp JP myself. Even if that's not true, I'm pretty sure I can find people either in the Japan office of the company I work for, or otherwise in the Seattle area, who can help with the shipping.

If I manage to brick it, I may regret the decision, but as a old timer systems software engineer, I think the odds are in my favor.

In the meantime...having started writing software in the card punch / paper tape days, it is almost unbelivably cool to be writing shell scripts / Perl / C / C++ on a handheld *nix device.

Not to start a war (ok, not much chance of that here :-), but I had occasion to look at the Sony clamshell today. It felt like a cheap toy compared to the c860.

Next...there's just a few tweaks I want to make to Opie...

Cxx0 General discussions / Clamshell warranty repairs
« on: June 19, 2004, 03:01:43 am »
Got a response from Conics. The phrasing is not entirely clear, but it may be that they don\'t assist with Zs after the warranty period. They say that anyone can send one to the Sharp Japan service center, as long as it has a Japanese return address.

I also tried Sharp USA. They claim that as long as one has the warranty card and sales receipt, it can be sent to the service center in Japan; no Japanese return address required. They also say that it is the policy of the Japanese service center to have English speakers available. OTOH, the people I talked to were in the US (unless they were in India :-), and may not have perfect info.

Living the Pacific Northwest, in the worst case I can probably find someone with a friend/relative in Japan.

General Discussion / Zaurus users in the Seattle, WA area?
« on: June 18, 2004, 12:05:19 am »
A bit far for periodic meetings, but perhaps not unreasonable for occasional special events.

I wonder if any of the Seattle area Linux/Unix groups would be interested in sponsoring a hand-held devices meeting or workshop? I\'ll check with the ones I know about.

Cxx0 General discussions / Clamshell warranty repairs
« on: June 17, 2004, 11:59:18 pm »
I sent email / left voicemail for most of the vendors I know about, and/or heard privately from a couple of people.

Japan-Direct said that the repair plus shipping cost is usually more than the cost of a new Z, so they apparently don\'t provide any kind of service support after the warranty period.

I\'m told that Dynamism\'s service is good, but only for Zs bought from them. No service at all for Zs bought elsewhere. This is second hand info, though.

No info about or from the other vendors yet.

Cxx0 General discussions / Clamshell warranty repairs
« on: June 17, 2004, 03:26:24 am »
Ok, I give in. After resisting for months, I see a C860 in my future, to finally replace my trusty HandEra 330. I\'m an old school Unix developer, so the software part doesn\'t worry me too much. Having at least a limited ability to develop Linux s/w using a pocket device is very appealing.

I know of several places that sell the C860: K on eBay, Dynamism, Japan-Direct, Conics, Amazon JP, Mercantile Computer, ShirtPocket,  etc.

Ghu forbid that a Z should need service, but ghu is a fickle diety. Amazon obviously does not handle any repairs, warranty or not. K disappears sometimes. Dynamism has good service, and charges a lot for it. ShirtPocket is in the UK, and I\'m in the upper left corner of the US; sending it to the UK to be sent to Japan seems almost Monty Pythonish.

Of those (few, I hope) folks here who have sent their Zs back for service, where did you buy the Z? Where did you send it for service? How good was the service? Has anyone sent a Z back for non-warranty service? Will any of the dealers assist in getting non-warranty service (which ones)?

K has good prices, and seems to provide quick shipping, but the disappearing act is worrisome. If I buy from K, need service, and can\'t contact him, what are the options?

I\'ve wandered around these forums, but don\'t see many mentions of actual experiences with service support.


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