Palm III(s) Update

Recently I have updated some of my Palm handhelds. I also wrote a gopher post about this upgrade.

The smaller change has been done on my “main” Palm, the Palm IIIx. I replaced the non-transparent screen protector with a translucent one. It looks better now and also I can actually see the screen when the protector is used. It looks line unimportant thing but it isn’t. I have hat to turn off Palm’s system sounds (even the “low level” is too noisy at night) so now I have no acoustic information is something is wrong during the syncing with the computer (Palm synchronization takes some time so I usually start it and then switch to other screen to do something useful). But the translucent screen protector allows to control if the synchronization is still under way or if it is stopped on a problem.

2x Palm III

The older Palm Pilot has been updated much more. I first have to select the best working one (a Palm Pilot Personal made in Malaysia) and then complete it with a stylus and the battery doors with other ones. Then I removed the old memory card (512 kB) and replaced it with the Palm-branded “2 MB upgrade” kit. It also includes a flash memory with Palm OS 3.0 and an infrared (IR) port. On the picture above you an see this thing on the left. It means that this old device is now compatible with my “main” Palm (it can run most of the applications that I use and it can communicate with it via infrared protocol).

There are also other improvements: the main one is that the Graffiti recognition is more much more tolerant (I have had problems with text input on the Palm OS 2.0 – my writing style has been always terrible and the number of errors was much higher than it is on devices with Palm OS 3.0).

At the moment I transferred (via IR, of course) some data (ToDos, Memo notes and AddressBook entries) and some applications to the upgraded Palm. So I can say that the CSpotRun, the KeyRing and the DopeWars works well. And I probably don’t need more here 😉

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Palm III(s) Update

1600SW, adapter and ODROID

Thanks to care of one good person I now have a working SGI Multilink adapter for my SGI 1600SW displays. It is very useful thing as the 1600SW has a non-standard digital input (it is quite old and when it was designed then there was no DVI at all) so by default it can be only connected to a few SGI workstations (and even these might require a special add-on card).

The 1600SW is relatively nice even today (17.4″ screen with 1600×1024 resolution). It’s colour space is somewhat limited (by today standards) but this is OK for me. I am not a fan of high-resolution displays (at work I have a 12.4″ screen with 1920×1080 resolution and even with a contemporary OS the whole thing is too painful) so I with to use my old LCD screens as long as possible.

Near original SGI Setup ;-).

I still have one non-resolved issue in my home computing: my secondary desktop (that web-browsing one) was the Intel Compute Stick (Ubuntu version) and it died last year. I have replaced it by the Lenovo X61s laptop but I still don’t thing that it is an optimal use of a ultra-portable PC (and it’s even a PC).
Last year I have got a 3D-printed miniature of the Silicon Graphics IRIS Indigo computer from Dodoid. I had no particular use for it, I just wanted to have that toy.

But the device is designed to fit the ODROID-XU4. So I have obtained a second-hand one in order to try to replace the X61s. At least is’s not PC-based.

The first attempt to used it failed as I haven’t been able to make it work with my ViewSonic VP171 LCD or any other LCD with 1280×1024 resolution. It seems to me that there is no easy way to make the Xorg (or the hardware itself) to send a proper signal – the image was something like 1116×1024 instead.

So I decided to try the wide-screen 1600SW with the ODROID. So I prepared the testing setup (pictured above) in a separate room, connected everything together and it simply worked! So now I should re-arrange my working desk to put the new stuff on in (hopefully it will not need further year…).

The pre-installed OS on the ODROID is the Ubuntu 16.04 (MATE Edition) which is actually not too bad. The MATE seems to be quite fast (and it is basically an updated GNOME 2.0 which is probably the last usable desktop environment for the Linux – it’s uncomplicated and configurable enough). So I will probably continue to use it.

1600SW, adapter and ODROID

GPD Pocket

I have got one from the IndieGoGo project. It’s very nice. Of course, it’s the Ubuntu version.

GPD Pocket (Ubuntu version)

But it’s not perfect. The fan is noisy (not in the values in dB but the sound is not nice) and it is spinning quite often. And the Atom CPU is … the Atom CPU. But it’s OK in most cases, except the Firefox rendering modern WWW pages… But even the FreeCAD is running rather smoothly.

The OS support is acceptable – after some updates the most of stuff work well (except the build-in speaker – it’s strange that headphones works but speaker does not). The only – small but stupid – issue is that the device boots in portrait mode and the (proper)landscape mode has to be set in the Ubuntu settings. The BIOS (or what it is) is also in portrait mode.

The keyboard is relatively good. One can write English texts with ease but the keys required for the Czech language are partially located in the tiny upper row and the “ú” and “ů” are located in unusual and remote positions. I often use the device for taking notes at work so it is an issue for me.

At the moment, I use the device for most of my work outside the office, thus replacing both a PDA (the Sharp Zaurus or the Ubuntu phone for PIM functionality – as the phone has to be turned off on most of meetings it makes little sense to carry it) and the laptop (the Lenovo X260). It is small and light (0.5 kg), it’s very solid and it’s battery life is good (it’s surely better than 6 hours but I haven’t an opportunity to use it for a longer time; the producer declares up to 12 hours).

GPD Pocket

Ubuntu Touch after it’s end

As you may know, the Canonical (the company which develops Ubuntu) halted all development of the Ubuntu Touch earlier this year. That is, no new devices (phones, tablets) for the Ubuntu Touch systems, no system updates, no new applications. Some users already reinstalled their devices with the Android. And Canonical also halted development of the Mir display server and their complete Unity desktop (all these things were the base of phone GUI system for the Ubuntu Touch).

But there is a great effort of UbPorts folks – it was initially a group interested in porting of the Ubuntu Touch to other devices.
They not only released updated system images for most of previously supported devices but they also working on further development of the system and it’s applications.

Ubuntu Touch on a big screen

There is also a new App Store – the OpenStore was initially meant for applications that cannot obey security rules defined by Canonical (for example apps that need direct access to some hardware) but now it’s a home for all Ubuntu Touch applications. And there is a good flow of new applications: not only most of the interesting applications from old official App Store has been migrated here but also new ones have been appearing.

Of course, there are no new devices but the old can be still used.

Piel Frama Case + Jorno keyboard

I personally have wo Ubuntu devices: the phone (the bq Aquaris E4.5 – the low-end one) and the tablet (the bq M10HD – the best one available) and both are still useful. The E4.5 is my sole mobile phone and serves me very well. Actually, I haven’t noticed any stability nor other problems in last 12 months. There are some issues with Bluetooth input devices (the GUI may restart after the device is connected) but I haven’t used the keyboard with the phone for a long time (I even lost the keyboard and didn’t noticed that…). The Bluetooth speakers seems to work without such problem. To be honest, I finally have managed to remove all unnecessary stuff from the phone (to save space – it has only 8 GB of storage for everything * including the OS) and not there are only applications that I really use on the phone.

The tablet is an another story – the last update of the Ubuntu (in January 2017, I think) broke the external screen support. So now the X11-based applications work well on an external screen but the native (mostly) fail. So one can use the device in the desktop mode only if the internal (10″) screen is enough for his/her needs. There is also still the issue related to virtual keyboard for X11 applications – only specially prepared ones can use in. So the Firefox and the OpenOffice are OK but applications which are installed by the user can only work with an external hardware keyboard. And it limit’s the device usefulness on the move. This is not ideal, but for light work it may be OK.

So I actually use both devices: the phone on a daily basis and the M10 tablet mainly for testing of new applications and for lighter tasks (for example, it’s still better for WWW browsing than any of my computers except the Lenovo X61). During holidays I even used it as a desktop (on a stand with a keyboard, a mouse attached and speakers attached) without issues. It can use also the USB keyboard and mouse the GUI works without restart if no Bluetooth is involved…) but then it cannot be charged at the same time.

I’m still not brave enough to reflash my M10 tablet with the new system image from UbPort…

So things are not that bad as they may look.

Ubuntu Touch after it’s end

Slovak Paradise

This year we decided to visit the Kysel gorge (or valley) in the Slovak Paradise. It’s the place which was closed in 1976 after a huge fire and re-opened just in 2016. The most of paths in the Slovak Paradise are equipped with ladders, chains and other supporting elements which helps tourists to go there.

The Kysel is different as there is a via ferrata. So some equipment is required here. But it’s not so hard (in my opinion it’s A/B level).

We decided to start in the Píla and go through the Piecky gorge and then to Kláštorisko (there is a pub and they offer also an alcohol-free Radler). Then we dived to the start of Kysel (yellow path to the Biely Potok) and entered the ferrata. There is a big board with instructions (the same as on the http://www.npslovenskyraj.sk).

Well, the start is rather boring:
Kysel 1

But some time after the start the actual ferrata starts (with a steel rope and a steel steps which are similar to the ones used for other paths). And there is a lot of old wood:

Kysel 2

One has to climb through the wood. But it’s easy on all such places. There are two small waterfalls (its said that they are much bigger before the fire) and after many nice places there is a close part of the gorge – it’s called Temnica (“a dark place”):

Kysel 3

This part is not very short and there is a creek at the bottom (sorry for image quality but there wasn’t enough light and my 14-years old camera had problems here):

Kysel 4

There is still a lot of space, actually (I wasn’t able to take picture of the tightest place):

Kysel 5

After some time, there were sighn of sunlight:

Kysel 6

And then, there was a light part. Just a nice walk along the creek. We thought that it was the end:

Kysel 7

But the final part is climbing by the Obrovsky Vodopad (the Giant waterfall) which is probably the biggest one in the Slovak Paradise (only the lower part is on the picture):

Kysel 8

Higher part of the waterfall is here:

Kysel 9

The bridge at the top includes also a warning that this is on-way path only (from the bottom to the top) and the doors that can be easily opened only if person goes in the right direction.

Even there, one is still not at the end of the gorge:

Kysel 10

We continued to go through the Maly Kysel gorge (which is smaller and shorter). There is even a geocache but I forgot about it. Then we continued to Palc place and back to Píla.

I have tried to prepare a map of the walk and the result is here:
Kysel - túra z Hikeplannera
Show on the map (Hiking.sk)

Unfortunately, the Hiking.sk application ignores the via ferrata so it connected some points outside it. If you see the map on the lik then you can find the via ferrata between the places “Kysel, ustie” and “Obrovsky vdp. mostik”. An the yellow path to the “Kysel, ustie” is a rather descent path (not very comfortable one). We needed under 10 hours for the whole path (including the via ferrata). The linked schedule does not include about 2,5 hours which are needed for the ferrata.

Fortunately, there was a nice refreshment place in the Pila village in the place where the path enters this village.

Next time I have to find the cache at Maly Kysel…

Slovak Paradise

Holidays in Austria

Idylic Austrian village

We (me and my wife) were (once more) in the area of the Salzkammergut in Austria. We came by train (about 6 hours with 2 changes from Ostrava to Obertraun) and spend time in some light hiking and visiting of via ferratas (klettersteig) near the Obertraun.

Hallstatt from the viewing platform

The first nice thing is that Hallstatt city is very close so one can go there by walk (3-4 km). Thus we visited the salt mine with its attractions (sliding on wood and the train inside the mine…) and then walked to a waterfall on the Waldbach stream. The walk is pretty nice and the waterfall is even better.

Waterfall over Hallstatt

There are other nice things (caves inside Krippenstein mountain, a small klettersteig jus near the Obertraun and two more near the Hallstatt and even three more at the Krippenstein). But in the limited time we only visited the caves and then the Katrin klettersteig near the Bad Ischl. It’s accessible by a cable car from the city (a 45 min of walk on a forest path is required from the cable car station) and it is relatively light (B/C) and with nice views (many lakes are visible, and the Bad Ischl, too). At the cable car station there is a nice restaurant with great food (please note that after the klettersteig I can eat and drink anything that I can see so my assessment of the quality can be influenced by this fact – but I still thing that the food was great) and there is a possibility to hiking to several surrounding hilltops (about 1200~1400 m, the cable car is around 1200 m)

Bad Ischl

P.S. For the computing: the phone (with Ubuntu Touch) is enough for checking weather forecast and the Palm III is fine for reading. We have had a tablet here but find no use for it…

Holidays in Austria