PDP-11 for a (big) pocket

Do you think that PDP-11 computers can only work in a conditioned rooms? And that they are not portable. Well, you are almost right. But in the Soviet Union everythink was possible. They even had a portable PDP-11! It was called Elektronika MK-90.

Well, it is a bit limited machine: it has a LSI-11-compatible CPU and it run an ancient version of the BASIC interpreter. No UNIX can be used here because of a very limited memory (16 kB) and storage (up to two MPO-10 battery-backed memory moduli of 16 kB each).

Portable PDP-11 computer

Anyway, it is a cool little computer with graphical capabilities and other nice features. Ant it runs on four AA batteries.

So I finally have my very own PDP-11!

Geocaching in Armenia

I visited the Armenia recently (I was near all time in the capital city of Yerevan). I visited several geocaches but with a very limited success (many of these geocaches were damaged or missing).

Garni Temple

Anyway, it is a very nice country with very friendly people.

Cascade, Yerevan

And there are many interesting places and the country has a very rich history. So there is very much things to visit and to see.

30 years of GNU Project

The GNU Project is 30 years old now!

[ Celebrate 30 years of GNU! ]

Do you remember that the gcc and many other basic (and advanced, too) tools more are parts of the GNU project?
So I don’t understand the silence in news…

Geocaching once more

It looks like the geocaching is a nice way to find interesting places.

Geocaching with my bike

So I somewhat update my equipment – now a have a bike mount for my GPS.

Beskydy from Palkovické Hůrky

I also visited Palkovické Hůrky (a nice tiny hils not so far from my home) for the first time due to the geocaching. And I was really surprised how nice they are.

Psion laptops: MC400 and MC600

This post was written just to show you the picture of both machines.

Psion laptops: MC400 and MC600

The boxes are near identical externally (the MC400 has a large touchpad just near the screen and the MC600 has additional button and small display instead of the touchpad).

The rest of hardware is mostly identical (the MC600 has more memory due to DOS requirements) except some I/O connectors.

I still haven’t used my MC400 too much because it’s software is somewhat unusual (even the interface and keyboard shortcuts are different from later SIBO machines, like the Psion Series 3). At least it is good for development of non-interactive OPL codes.

NanoNote vs Zaurus

My collection also includes the Sharp Zaurus SL-C3200 pocket computer. It’s Linux pocket computer (it uses the Qtopia for the GUI) and it is quite nice.

This machine is no longer produced (about 2008 the Sharp abandonet its line of Linux handhelds). It is somewhat similar to the NanoNote, but not too much. It’s more sophisticated (it has a touchscreen, a convertible screen – it can be used in a tablet mode, it has a full SD slot and a PCMCIA slot and it also has an infrared interface). The building quality and the used materials are better that these used in the NanoNote (it was of course much more expensive and even today an used Zaurus costs at least two times more than the new Nano). Of course it is somewhat bigger and heavier.

NanoNote vs Zaurus

The hardware of the Zaurus is still somewhat better than NanoNote’s: RAM 64 MB, 6 GB harddisk (and 128 MB of a fash memory), 640×480 screen and 416 MHz ARM CPU. It also has an USB host support. It also has a proper suspend mode – it can survive weaak or more on battery (as you probably know, the NanoNote can’t do this – it must be turned off when not used).

The problem of this machine is that it is less or more abandoned today: the software is mostly not developed (I use the Cacko ROM which is from about 2008) so there is a limited support for new pheripherals and services (for example I’m not able to make work my CompactFlash WiFi cart and use of SD card bigger than 1 GB causes system errors).
Also some pieces of software, that were ported to the Zaurus, are no longer available (LaTeX distribution, for example) and it is sometimes quite hard to compile them.

Anyway, it still is a usefull pocket computer. It can be used for light office work (it has onboard – but limited – a word processor and a spreadsheet), as a PDA, e-book readed (the FBReader is of course available) and there are some other applications and games. The gcc is still available so light software development is also possible here.

Of course, I have no plans to replace my NanoNote by this machine.

Psion MC400

I have got the PSION MC400 laptop. It’s externally (and internally, too) very similar to the MC600 machine that I have had already (see the photo below). There are two main differences: it has a huge touchpad (an early one, it’s a bit strange) and it runs a very early version of the EPOC/Symbian operating system.

Psion MC600 and Workabout vs Ben NanoNote

I have been enthusiastic about the DOS-based MC600 machine but I am much less happy about this one. It’s a nice example of engineegging work, it can be usefull even today but it’s closed operating system and a very limited number of available applications (my machine has just the englisth version of the “Word” application, even the Agenda and the calculator applications aren’t included) so it’t real use is too limited. The much more primitive and non-graphical operating system of the MC600 is much more supported and I can easily write new applications for this machine if I need them (in the C language, for example). The MC400 can be programmed only with use of an early version of the propietary OPL language with a limited support for the GUI features of the machine (it was open-sourced a very long time after end of life of the MC range of machines) :-(

So it’s a nice piece for my collection but it’s surely not a computer which I am able to use.


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