Ubunt On the Vye S41 – New Penmount Drivers

Posted in LINUX!, Reviews and whatnot with tags , , , , on September 17, 2008 by rdubz

Well, it seems my blog is a little boring these days.  Not many views, so I thought I’d write some news about the Vye S41 I have.  It seems to get a pile of hits on google :).  To recap, the Vye S41 is the same as the Kohjinsha SR8.  Its a tiny little 2lb tablet pc.  ITs unique in the sense that its the smallest UMPC to contain a built in DVD Burner.  As mentioned it is a touchscreen tablet.  I’ll also mention that the specs are an Intel Atom 800mhz with 1gb of ddr2.  From what I can tell, most of the internals are USB based.  I’m pretty sure the HDD is IDE -> USB, and I know the wireless is of a USB rt73 chipset (thank god for serialm0nkey).

Anyhoo, fact of the matter is, it runs LInux a HELL of a lot better than vista home premium with just the 1gb of ram.  So… as we all do, I want the touchscreen to work as well in linux as it does in Windows.  I installed a beta penmount driver for hardy (ubuntu 8.04) a while ago, and I wasn’t SUPER happy with it… again it was just a beta driver.  So I had the epiphany to check the website last night for new drivers, and new drivers I did find.  They were up to version 2.2.

Let me say its a MASSSIVE improvement.  No jittery cursor, everything is riiight where I touch… so its good.  The only thing I did notice is that I cannot touch the very top or bottom of the screen.  I hide the taskbar at the top and use a AWN at the bottom of my screen to try and get as much realestate as I can, I notice when the taskbar at the top comes down from being hidden, I can use that normally without issue, but I can’t bring it down by placing my mouse at the top of the screen.  This may also cause issues with people using screen edges to do things with Compiz and the like.  I’m going to keep trying with this, perhaps I messed up the settings.  But if you have a Vye, or anything with the penmount 6000 USB chipset touchscreen… Fly on over to penmount.com and get the newest hardy driver… its totally worth it!

Navigon 7100 – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized on September 15, 2008 by rdubz

I finally bit the bullet and bought a GPS unit for the car.  I’ve never really done a lot of distance driving in my life.  But have started recently with commuting and with what I’ve gotten myself into lately.  Being that I have a pile of UMPCs kicking around, my original plan as to add a GPS receiver to one of these units, and use an open source GPS mapping program for linux (as mentioned, I try and use windows as little as possible.

Research, research and more research led me to the conclusion that the open source map software doesn’t have my area mapped out very well.  My best option would be to a) use google earth with GPS, and pay for it.. not very “OPEN SOURCE” or “Linuxish” if you ask me.  Don’t get me wrong, there are decent free map programs out there, but not much that is user friendly, or I could pass along to any of my clients.

Enter the Navigon 7100.  You’ll notice that Navigon is not a “Magellan”, “Tom Tom”, “Jim Jim” or “Bob Bob”.  From what I’ve read the company is European, and recently (within a couple years or so) entered the North American market.  European companies are the bomb, as there is a LOT more HEALTHY competition over there, if you don’t believe me… take a look at their cell phone market, TV market, or even internet… some of it may be pricier than over here, but the plans are a lot more reasonable.. and companies have to give a crap about what their customers say/think to get any money.

So why choose Navigon?  I read that they have

  • The only free traffic updates system, no subscription, no monthly fee, no cell phone hookup required.
  • Quarterly Map Updates
  • Cheap Map updates (I think its about 79 bucks U.S. or Canadian gets you 3 years worth of map updates.
  • Last, but certainly not least – it looks cool!

Now that’s out of the way, let’s see how she works.  Of course you have to charge it for 6 hours before playing with it…. That it the absolute worst part of battery powered tech toys…. I like to rip stuff out of the box and have instant gratification.  I’ve done a lot research on it though, and the reviews were 50/50.

6hrs later….

Turn it on… I live in a concrete apartment building on the top floor.  So I took it onto the balcony and fired it up.  I read that I have to be standing away from any tall buildings or trees the first time I turn it on to get a good signal.  Not true, I turned it on, under the roof of concrete on the balcony, and within about 30-45 seconds, I had a connection with 4 satellites.  Couple more seconds, I had my location, and 9 satellites.  Pretty good so far, the 5 year old magellan we have takes about 5-10 minutes to acquire a signal and it’s usually wrong anyways.

After waiting 6 hours, it was about 22:00, and I had to work the next day, so I powered it down, and put it away.

The next day, I hooked it up on the drive to work, I work about 20 minutes from my house, so no destination set, I just drove to work.  I really like that this lets you have all the POIs up as you drive.  So if your hungry… you can see that food is around, or the closest gas station if your on a highway…etc.  No more looking for those signs on the side of the highway, as you whiz past them at 120… trying to decide what to eat.  Let the GPS decide :).  You can even tap on the POI with the stylus, or a finger nail, if you have one.. and get the info.. phone #, actual address, etc.

After reading one of the reviews talking about a free update, I popped on to Navigon’s website and downloaded the update.  People on tiger direct said the update process was not user friendly… but even running Linux, this was a snap.  Download the update, jam your SD Card from the Unit itself into the computer, erase, copy, paste, reboot the unit with  the card back in, and wa-la… done!

The update provided a little better usability… more up to date maps (I’ve come across a road change that was completed last year, but is not in the update… but a) Like I said, my area is pretty small compared to Toronto or other big cities, so no biggie… I like driving my car into the white nothingess on my GPS screen.  And the ETA and Speed algorithms were fixed up a bit.

Traffic Updates -> again, small area, haven’t had a single one pop up for the 2 weeks I’ve owned this Navigon.  I took my first drive with it on the QEW yesterday, and I picked up traffic info from downtown Toronto, without being anywhere close it it.  How does this work without connecting to your phone?  It uses something the Europeans have had around since the 90’s.  I can’t remember exactly what it’s called, but its something like “TTC”.  How it works (in my eyes) is that Traffic info is broadcast on FM channels by the station you are listening too.  Sort of like how REALLY good car stereos will tell you what your listening to on a FM radio station -> automagically.  My old Sony deck does this, and I bought it from a guy who brought it over with him from England.  This radio is Circa 1990s, and it has functions built in for TTC traffic info.

I was a LITTLE worried that the traffic updates would not work in Canada, or around my area.  I’m about a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto if there was 0 traffic.  I was delighted to see that it manages traffic updates perfectly.  I don’t get anything where I live, but as soon as I get near Toronto, or if I plan a route around Toronto, or through it… this little baby starts giving me the low down on everything in the area.  PLanning routes around traffic is pretty good as well.

** I started writing this a month ago, and after a few long trips, and a few with my employer to the States, this unit was a perfect purchase.  I have one HUGE gripe, and that is that this device DOES NOT show Tim Hortons….

This is almost a deal breaker….  of course.. I may be exagurating a little bit… but still… if you want to sell this in Canada, I stongly suggest the next map update comes with TIM HORTONS as POIs.  Its like life blood.. GPS, Coffee, and the ROAD!!!!!!

Hope you enjoy this, Please comment or ask questions… Reviews to come include Blackberry Bold, and Logitech Z-5500s (I know their not the newest thing on the market, but I just upgraded from my logitech z-41 4.1s from about 6 years ago, so I’m LOVING them!)

Super cool post about hacking airport wifi

Posted in Other Site Stuff with tags , on August 12, 2008 by rdubz

I Stumbled across this post about getting wifi for free at airports.  It may not be perfect… but if you’ve ever experienced an “Unexpected Layover” for one reason or another, this may save your life.  Read, and enjoy, and thanks to Felix for letting us know his discoveries!

sudo !! and !! in general

Posted in LINUX! with tags , , on August 10, 2008 by rdubz

I’ve been using linux or BSD in some form or another since I was a kid… at least trying it out… I like a challenge.   I’ve just started using it mainly in the last couple of years or so…. and I’ve switched all but one of my machines to linux, and haven’t dual-booted back to windows in over 6 months.  I like it that way.  Wine can run most of the stuff I need anyways, and I have a Xbox 360 for games.

As long as I’ve been running these forms… I did not know about “sudo !!” and “!!” in command line.  Often you go through typing some HUGE line of code, or feeding in some command to run mplayer, remotely, while linking through japan for some reason.. just to see if you can… and you get “you do not have sufficient privileges!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IDIOT!!!!!!!!”

Or something to that effect… well instead of going to the front of the command again, just type sudo !!.

!! repeats the last command you typed in, and sudo !! does it with a bit o’ SUDO action… so enjoy if you didn’t know already… and if you did… why didn’t I get the memo?

For the love of god…..

Posted in Rants with tags , on August 10, 2008 by rdubz

Well… this can be my first rave post… love it… leave it… This needs to be said.  THEY ARE BRINGING BACK 90210?  I’m watching Tommy Boy on tv right now (great movie by the way… one of my personal favorites), and I just saw a commercial for the New and Improved 90210?  After “Dylan’s” wild career of Fifth element, and… a parody appearence on the simpsons, I’m sure these guys have all but spent their lost fortunes on drugs, booze and geriatric products left, right, and center.  Ok, I’m not as mad about it now that I’ve calmed down a bit… but Why the FUCK would they bring this back… LEAVE THE DEAD ALONE!!!!!!!!  Anybody got any comments on this?  Do you think they really need to bring back this show?  Are the writers of the world that tapped for material, or that pissed off that they don’t make enough money, that they had to bring back this idea???

“Housekeeping…. you want mint for pillow?”

Ubuntu Hardy on the Vye S41 (Kohjinsha SR8…Ithink)

Posted in LINUX!, Reviews and whatnot with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2008 by rdubz

So here’s a good topic to get into on the geekery, UMPCs.  I really like these small form factor laptops.  So much I’ve got 2!  Of course I’m paying them off, but I like the idea of being able to bring a computer with me everywhere.

I’ve had a computer since I was 13.  Thanks to one of my parental units working at one of the local universities, we were able to get a 386SX20 back in the day.  I don’t remember much about it, but I remember playing block out, and something called BEAST.  IT WAS A BEAST.

Fast forward to the present.  I’m slightly pasty from spending many years in my cave, sitting in front of a computer.  I go through what I like call “cable withdrawl” if I am not able to see a computer screen.  Sure, I might be over-exagurating a bit, but you know where I’m coming from.

Enter the Vye S41.  For the full specs, check out http://www.umpcportal.com but in basics:

  • Intel 800mhz Stealey
  • 1gb of Ram (Upgradable to 2GB)
  • 80gb HD (I got a prototype with 100g)
  • 7″ screen with touchscreen and 1024×600 resolution.
  • A lot of cool buttons around the bezel.
  • Built in DVD/RW (very few if any other umpcs have this option)

I was a little worried at firs that the processor would hurt this machine.  800mhz doesn’t seem like much when I’ve got a 3ghz X2 desktop, and a Flybook V5 with a 1.2 Core Duo (more on that machine later).  The machine ships with Vista Home Premium, and as we all know, Vista is a resource Pig.  It does work with vista, albeit it boots a little slow, but I didn’t do too much with it as I’m not a windows guy lately.  So I fired up the first Ubuntu 8.04 cd I could find (and thank the lord for the built in dvd drive on this one.  A lot of reviews I’ve read ask the question: “Why use a dvd drive on a machine that is supposed to be mobile?”, Well I think its been REALLY convenient so far, and I’ve burned a CDR and it worked really well)

Upon boot I was pleased to see that wireless was detected, resolution was correct, keyboard was good (although I set it to US, whereas this machine has a UK keyboard).  Also, It had detected the touchscreen and though it didn’t work well, and was terribly calibrated, it worked.  I’ve not been so lucky with Ubuntu on the Flybook.

First I read up on the touchscreen calibration.  Ubuntuforums had a thread going at:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=517816&highlight=kohjinsha

And Vye’s are just rebranded Kohjinsha for the western world.  So after reading that, I’ve got a fully functioning touch screen, with a few slight issue, but I’m using beta drivers from Penmount.  I’ve always got to have the newest thing, and from what I’ve read, the touchscreen would be a little better with Gutsy or Feisty Ubuntu, but I like hardy…. so there,

Now of course, there’s no sense plugging a UMPC into ethernet unless you need to do a big transfer or some jazz, so I started to notice that the wireless was SHIT.  I’ve got a 2 bedroom apartment, and even sitting in the same room as the router, I was connecting at 1mb/s.  So reading more granted salvation at ubuntu forums.  Turns out the Vye uses an RT73 USB based wifi chipset.  Ubuntu drivers are crap for this apparently, and I came across serialm0nkeys drivers.  Following a thred on Ubuntu about installing those, and I am back up and running.  Perfect wifi connection anywhere in the apt.

I installed VLC, and am able to play Divx movies and TV with 0 lag, no issues there, and the speakers are actually pretty loud for their size.  Surfing is no problem at all, I’m writing the blog post on it was we speak.  Which brings us to typing on the small keyboard.

As mentioned I’ve had a Flybook V5 for about 6 months before owning this Vye.  So I’m getting used to typing on small keyboards.  The vye is a little more tactile than the Flybook, which is nice.  It does come with a UK layout as mentioned, which does take a little more getting used to than usual.  BUt once you’ve got it figured out, and you can remember which keyboard is which (two small keyboards doesn’t make this easy) than you should be typing at least 75% of your regular speed in no time.

I’m running some of the Compiz eye candy that comes with Linux… obviously not overkill, as with a small screen, whats the point of filling it with crap… but the cube, and opacity stuff I use works just fine.  Word processing and office work is fine in linux, haven’t tried on windows yet….

In short, I’m quite happy with this Vye as a personal PC for travel and day to day stuff.  It’s not a gaming machine by any means, but I don’t need one.  The burner makes it easy to burn dvds on the road, so if I go to the cottage, I’m never without something to watch if the days or nights are rainy.  I think photographers would be happy with this machine.  Take a wedding for example, you could have all your photos on your pc (with the built in SD/Memory Stick and compact flash, sort through the good, burn to cd and have your entire session complete before you even leave for the day.  Not bad.  I’ll of course keep those interested posted with anything else I come across, and how this thing performs in day to day life.  But right now…. I LIKE IT…. I’m also a dealer for Vye and Flybook, so if you’re interested, drop me a line or leave me a comment.

My first real Linux Conversion….!

Posted in LINUX!, Uncategorized on August 6, 2008 by rdubz

It’s wednesday, gorgeous outside, and I just got back from the dentist (one of the things in life I hate the most).  I’ve got a buddy coming over today, who wanted me to fix his computer.  He’s a typical computer user… no master, but he’s got a grip on what he needs to do… and I’m always on-call of course ;).

So when he mentioned the issue with virii, etc… I said, why not try Linux?  I showed him my current setup on my desktop machine, with all the eyecandy Compiz has to offer.  The cube was first, then the Atlantis plugin with the fish inside.  I don’t use animations on my windows, cuz they usually run like crap, so I just showed some basic compiz… and he loved the idea… then I started in on the topic of virii and how you’d have to be in rough shape to crash you ubuntu system with an actual virus.  I’m re-doing my Flybook V5 with linux now… it was time for an re-do… and I’m workin on a “user friendly” touchscreen method to get it working…

My buddy will be here shortly, so I’ll let you know how it goes!