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.

Weatherman: weather from command line

I have found a nice piece of software that can provide current weather data and nice forecast for 7 days from command line. It is the Weatherman and it is a bash script which uses data from the Of course it uses external program (the curl) for the actual download of the data.

Trees on Smrk 3

The use is very simple:

weatherman -x budapest,hungary                    

Extended Forecast for budapest, Hungary

TUE       2 C  50% Chance of Light Snow    -2 C  windy
WED       1 C  Mostly Cloudy               -2 C  Mostly Cloudy
THU       4 C  30% Chance of Frozen Mix    -1 C  50% Chance of Rain
FRI       4 C  Rain                        -1 C  Mostly Cloudy
SAT       6 C  Partly Cloudy               -1 C  Rain
SUN       6 C  Rain                         0 C  windy
MON       9 C  Partly Cloudy

Data provided by

If the -x is not used then the current situation is shown:

Current Conditions for budapest, Hungary
Reported by Budapest (Ferihegy) @ Mar 25, 2013 9:30 PM

Temp: -2 C
Today: 50% Chance of Light Snow
Tonight: windy

High: 2 C          Wind Speed: NNE 13    Rain: 0.00mm
Low: -2 C          Gust: E 29            Rain/Month: 0.00mm
Feels Like: -6 C   Avg Wind: NNE 13      Sunrise: 5:36 AM
Humidity: 100%     Pressure: 1007.12mb   Sunset: 6:02 PM
Dew Point: -2 C                          Moonphase: Full

Data provided by

One can save the default site with the -S parameter. An it is possible to customize the output (the details can be found in the manual page).

I think that it’s a very nice tool.

Czech trains vs Ben NanoNote WiFi

I only have used the WiFi connection on the Ostrava-Prague railway so far. There are three companies but I have personal experience only with tho of them.

The setup for Czech Railways:

iwconfig eth0 mode Managed
iwconfig eth0 essid CDWiFi

echo "nameserver `udhcpc |grep dns |grep server |cut -d' ' -f5`">/etc/resolv.conf

The last line is needed to fix DNS problems on my setup (it may be unnecessary on your).

The setup for the RegioJet:

iwconfig eth0 mode Managed
iwconfig eth0 essid ZLUTY
echo "nameserver `udhcpc |grep dns |grep server |cut -d' ' -f5`">/etc/resolv.conf

Of course you have to have the WiFi card for your Ben to be able use these settings…

Ben NanoNote news: DOSBox, ubbctl

As you may noticed, there are several new pieces of software available for the Ben NanoNote:

  • A tool for easier work with the UBB expansion card – the ubbctrl. Also a library for this purpose is available.
  • The DOSBox (a DOS operating system emulator: it might be little slow but it still can be useful for old software and games). Also some native (non-DOS) games are available from the same source. Unfortunately my OpenWRT install is too old to be able to run it – may I have to update it?

Ben NanoNote VGA output attempt

I have tried to solder the UBB-VGA card.

UBB-VGA test

Probably due to my soldering incompetence the result is not good: I can see (an imperfect) 640×480 or 800×600 testing image. I will need to investigate what I’m doing wrong.

Office in train

I was recently in Prague (it’s about 3.5 hours in train for one way) so a have taken a picture of my mobile travelling setup.

Office in train

Actually I had a 12″ laptop in my backpack but I didn’t used it during the travel. Next time I will leave it at home.

I new have a working WiFi card for my NanoNote so I was able to read/write e-mails and download RSS/Atom feeds to the NanoNote. I also used my usuall offline tools (vim, octave, hnb,…) and also the Gmu music player.

The Neo Freerunner phone has been used for few SMSs and as a GPS after I leaved the train.

Raspberry Pi

There is a hype about this thing and probably there is a bunch of users with unrealistic expectations (at least here in Central Europe – I have find many offers of second hand Pis on local auctions server).

Nanonote + Raspberry Pi + Freerunner

So I got one. With a Debian port (called Rapsbian) it is very good for connecting of my Ben NanoNote to the Internet, for sharing of USB sticks with computers without USB ports and it can also run software which I can’t or don’t want to install on other machines (the Octave or the OpenSCAD, for example). It is powerful enough for that so I am happy and satisfied user ;-)

There are also other uses for the Pi which I may explore in future, of course.

!11-PDP eht ni deppart m’I !pleH

Well, I just have tried to compile and run of my code on a real PDP-11 computer. Sander Reiche has been so kind to make public acces to his MicroPDP-11/83 computer with 2.11BSD UNIX (it’s the real UNIX, you know?)

Connected to PDP-11

I have had problems with telnet access (telnet port is mostly blocked in networks around me) so I have had to use the simh emulator to try my code. It is mostly written from scratch (but it reuses some parts from my MicroDef) because C compiler on 2.11BSD only supports the old K&R syntax of the language (of course…). The program is of course mostly non-interactve and produces only textual outputs.

But at the end I has been able to connect to the PDP and recompile and run my code on the real hardware.

If you are interested, the code is on usual place.

By the way, the code can be compiled also for DOS platforms (and of course it compiles and runs on any Linux). So I can enjoy it on my HP 95LX or on my Ben NanoNote (but I can run a bit more advanced MicroDef on the Ben).

TuxBrain is going to close shop

One of the main NanoNote distributor is closing the on-line shop.

They will focus on project development (on what projects?). They are also producers of the UBB, the atBen and the atUSB boards. Hopefully the Tuxbrain guys will continue their work on NanoNote-related stuff.

Traveling with NanoNote

There is nothing important in this post.

Recently I have used my Ben NanoNote during several shorter trips.

The first one was a trip to Prague to attend the Openmobility conference. I used the NanoNote as a music player, as a notetaking device and also as a source of sound for the Milkymist One during a short demo at the Openmobility.

Gmenu2x on NanoNote

I’m routinely using the Ben for taking of notes so I have used it also during my trips to several conferences and meetings (Brno, Kosice). It’s very practical because the Ben is small and compact so it can be always available. The only problem is that I’m not able to connect it to WiFi networks (my WiFi card died before some time) so I have to carry a phone for e-mails and for www browsing.


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