Archive for April 4th, 2005

The RAM/ROM PDA problem

I’ve got a number of mobile devices and PocketPC is the best of all in terms of usability and stability. Don’t get too hyped up though, Windows Mobile is as stable as Win98SE is: that is, not very much. Thing is though, PalmOS is like Mac OS 8.1, so that makes PocketPC miles better. In the country of the blind men, the one-eyed person rules. 😉

And before you say it, yes, I have seen the Sharp Zaurus crashed, spat up to the… command line, and frozen. Also, Qtopia is so ugly that I can’t stand it anyway (I ran it on my desktop, I went through hell to compile it a few weeks ago as it requires old versions of Qt).

The only thing I really don’t like from Windows Mobile is that it’s too much like the real Windows. It freely allows its developers to put crap on its \\Windows directory, and guess what, these developers do. I went and deleted a bunch of useless duplicated crap that apps put in there, including the whole Netfront 3.1 help files (in html) and bitmaps all tossed in the windows directory even if Netfront was installed on my CF card. Stupid developers. >:(

I wouldn’t this mind much if PDAs didn’t have memory limitations, but they do. When I bought my PDA I had ~51 MBs free RAM for program/data storage. Now, even after having installed stuff only on my external CF & SD cards, the RAM allowance is down to 40 MBs. And I only have my PDA for less than 3 months, if I continue installing apps on my 1 GB SD card (there’s a lot of space there), I will be out of RAM soon.

The whole model of unified RAM/ROM is just flawed. And PalmOS is even worse that WinCE, as it does not allow you to place programs on the storage cards, everything must be installed in the main RAM (only data are allowed on the SD/MS cards). PalmOS 6 solves the problem, but no one wants to sell PalmOS 6 because of backwards compatibility problems with legacy palmos apps and because manufacturers don’t want to alienate their existing devs by learning new APIs.

I am not sure how Linux works in the RAM/ROM situation though. Hopefully, it loads from a storage place to RAM and it cleans up the RAM each time is resetted (just like in a real PC). That would be really nice for users. Problem is, it’s not the cheapest way for manufacturers to do and that’s why we are stuck with such inconveniences and crappy designs.

IrDA done too…

Ok, I managed it. Apparently, the IrDA driver wouldn’t load (nsc_ircc module) if I wouldn’t “setserial /dev/ttyS2 uart none” first, even if the IrDA stack was loaded (bug?).

Now, my very old PalmV is able to browse the internet at 10 KB/sec through my Sony Vaio’s infrared port (and I also made the USB/serial connectivity to work tonight too). I am using AvantGo 4.2 (no other ‘good’ browser exists for PalmOS 3.5.3) and it was really slow loading osnews’ mobile page (28 KBs), and so I… overclocked my PalmV to 24 Mhz (from 16 Mhz).

The PalmV was a wonderful PDA back in 1999, many say that this is the best PDA Palm ever released. Its only shortcoming: just 2 MBs of RAM. Users were really unhappy about that and so Palm the next year released the PalmVx which had 8 MBs of RAM (and was 20 MHz — other than that they are identical).

And now, it’s time to sleep. Time is 8 AM here and I haven’t slept all night, working on this thing.

Sharing connection over IrDA, USB, Serial

What a huge pain in the ass IrDA is. It just doesn’t work properly over here in terms of trying to share an internet connection via Linux and my PalmV PDA.

I was more lucky using the USB and serial cable though –after 3 hours of work– trying to figure out why the PalmV can’t see the pppd…

Apparently it needed the “chap” attribute set in the pppd line, while no tutorial online is using that on their suggested pppd command line.

IrDA is still unresolved though. I tried both through pppd using the ircomm and irnet devices, none of the two work.