Saturday, September 30, 2006

Treo 700p Saga

So I finally ordered a new phone at work, a Treo 700p to replace my Motorola StarTac ST7860W with the battery of 30 seconds of talk-time. At Telecomm, they were joking that this was such a large step, I wouldn't know what to do.

On the Palm side, I'll retire (maybe) my Tungsten T3. With the slider expanded, the T3 has more pixels (320 x 480) than the 700p (320 x 320), although the Treo has a finer dot pitch. A finer dot pitch is bad news for squinting, but with the really bright screen, it just looks smoother to me (and I don't squint).

The SK6688 keyboard driver IrDA is really bad: when it's installed (not active, mind you), I can only use left 1/4 of touchscreen in any app!

I can't run TimeCopy (I've been running it for a while, and it comes with The Missing Sync), which makes sense since the Treo syncs time from the cellular network. My Treo went into a reset loop when I sync'd with it installed. That's added to my blacklist, but not to my badlist unlike the SK6688 driver.

Last night I decided it was time for The Sync, to move my data from the T3 to the 700p. I don't know if this was the fault of The Missing Sync or of some old software, but when the sync was "done," so was my Treo! It was on an endless cycle of reboots, and when I got it out of that (by a system reset; soft reset didn't do it), it didn't know how to be a phone. Great! That's its job. The Palm software is just a bonus for me.

However, a hard reset AND erasing all data got it back to phone status, thank goodness. Now to put my data back ... It's probably cleaner this way, putting apps back one at a time, and testing Calendar, Contacts, Phone, and the new app for functionality. But it does take longer.

These are the apps that I installed right away:

Graffiti Anywhere and Graffiti ShortCuts.prc from my T3 (no way to change shortcuts on Treo, I guess I must keep T3 for that)

Blazer Bookmarks.pdb from before the hard reset

NoteTaker aka MacNoteTaker

HandyShopper and HS2*.pdb from T3

Patience (solitaire)

Toast Timer

NFP and Unicycle (each is better at different aspects of fertility awareness)

The Core Pocket Media Player - TCPMP

FileZ (and maybe later IdeaPad that I think has a Mac conduit and desktop app but that might be a different Idea Pad?)

Plucker (hasn't been updated in a while ... wondering if I need to switch offline viewers, but I'm not going back to AvantGo)

Yahdice (yahtzee)

Cribbage (in color on T3, now B/W even with fresh download)

The Missing Sync for Palm OS

I don't think The Missing Sync is worth as much as its price tag, but it does let me use iCal without having all of my Palm calendars lumped into one iCal calendar as a one-way trip. Too bad I decided that iCal was part of my GTD plan! I decided to justify The Missing Sync's cost to myself by counting up the Palm software I didn't need to buy for Mac-Palm GTD. Most of all, I wish The Missing Sync would show me the HotSync error number -- and let me know there was a HotSync error! I did a reset on my T3 shortly after I bought The Missing Sync, the IrDA driver is enabled by default after a reset, and all of my (missing) syncs failed without errors until I reverted back to Palm Desktop sync, saw the error number, and recognized what it meant. That's just not good software programming! I took that course, and it's better to fail all over the place with error messages than to fail silently, because subtle errors are the hardest to find. (Plus you should check both input and output data for validity, and always try to give good error messages. How hard are those concepts?)

If the reset-loop problems had persisted, I would have used ResetEmu to find the culprit. However, that's for the "what should I remove" approach, and given that I get a new Palm maybe every three years, I prefer the "add what I still use" approach as a way to get rid of the cruft that otherwise builds up.

After I installed Palm applications, I moved on to productivity applications for networked Palms. Top of the list, secure shell (version 2)! The first one I tried,pssh works with my servers, so that's good enough. I could imagine using a VNC viewer as well, like these: palmVNC 2.0 GPL, PalmVNC 2.0 (didn't work on first try; $10 registration requested), PalmVNC 1.40 (free, but might be a bit old since it's for PalmOS 3.1), ╬╝VNC for Palm for $19.95. I don't need VNC (yet) so I haven't gone through them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Treo 700p: First Impressions

I couldn't believe that my new Treo 700p didn't allow me to write Graffiti all over the touch screen (like my Tungsten T3). Thanks to Mr. Google, Graffiti Anywhere came to the rescue! That's on my short list of must-have Treo applications. I'm much happier now that I can use graffiti again. (All this does is enable the Graffiti that's in the ROM already. It's not some nasty hack that could do terrible things to your Treo's memory.)

The built-in keyboard isn't as bad as I expected, but I'm better at Graffiti or on full-sized keyboards. Not surprisingly given its history [1] [2], the SK6688 keyboard driver kills my Treo. Even when that IrDA driver (latest 2.30 version) is not active, I can't use the right 75% of my touchscreen. Quickly deleted and placed on my black list! In theory, my Treo 700p is supported, but I'd like to talk the QA person who said that! I started with a Treo 700p that didn't have any custom installs, and I had problems. I could see that being the only test case, and the only case that works, but when it's a case that doesn't work, the QA group is asleep at the wheel. (Note: this is not a complaint about the Treo 700p, but a diatribe about a bad driver for an external keyboard.)

The whole Treo is smaller than I expected, but it has a certain heft. It does weigh 50% more than my StarTac it replaces as a phone. I don't think it's heavier than my Palm on a scale, but because it's smaller, it's denser, and I notice that heft. The 320 x 320 screen, physically smaller than the Tungsten T3 screen in 320 x 320 compact mode, obviously has a finer dot pitch. However, the screen is very bright, so I'm not squinting at the screen. In fact, I like the smoother appearance of this screen, even though I expected not to like the smaller screen.

I appreciate the hot sync button on the sync cable. My Tungsten T3 only had a hot sync button on the cradle, so when I brought the smaller hot sync cable on a road trip, I had a laborious process to get Hot Sync-ing. It's a nice touch.

The Verizon belt clip case for it is obnoxious: I don't need a case that holds my phone an inch away from my body! Egad, what were they thinking? I'm used to clipping equipment to my belt or to my pocket. I've found that clipping those items farther from my body just gives them a chance to build up momentum when they do whack into me, and I'd prefer to keep them snug. Less chance of knocking them off when I dart through a small area (like between racks in the data center when I'm working on my servers). (Again, this is not a complaint about the Treo 700p itself!)

Overall, I like this gadget so far.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Make a Windows-bootable CD on a Mac

Guess what? I actually can make a Windows-bootable CD on my PPC Mac! It's not easy, it requires X11, and you probably don't want to do this, but it's possible! The application is X-CD-Roast (the 10.3 version works on 10.4 for me), and I winged the process from the directions in the X-CD-Roast Tutorial and in this TACKtech article.

While X-CD-Roast was running, I couldn't launch any applications, so you really need to heed the warnings about it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

MySQL index lesson

There's a lot to be said for shortcuts. When it comes to making a quick database for my own use with a web interface, I like the Knebel.Net Form Builder. You fill in the form, and it gives you the PHP code to display the MySQL -- and it even gives you the SQL code to create the table! The problem is that the SQL always returns an error, #1067 - Invalid default value for 'id'.

The first line of SQL reads

CREATE TABLE YourTableName (id int(20) DEFAULT '0' NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,

and it happens that you can't have both a default value and auto-increment. So you need to take out the default part.

The first SQL line becomes

CREATE TABLE YourTableName (id int(20) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,

and the rest works! Back to simple shortcuts.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Easy Diaper Stacker

We've been using a Reebok shoebox as a diaper stacker, pretty much ever since Karston came home. It sits on the dresser corner with its flip lid, very convenient. It's been a great diaper stacker, especially before he started wearing size 3 diapers. I thought about using something else for size 3 diapers, but the shoebox is so easy. And cheap. Size 3 diapers have to go in the shoebox on a diagonal, but so what? We're still using it.

gnuplot and DarwinPorts

Software: DarwinPorts 1.3.2 with gnuplot Portfile v1.17 2006/04/30 05:51:36

Problem: I tried to install gnuplot with DarwinPorts, and I got checksum errors instead. Google shows that I'm not the only one with this problem, but I didn't see any answers out there.

Solution: Some of the checksums are missing, so you'll need to add them to the Portfile in math/gnuplot under dports (wherever you installed DarwinPorts). I followed the "make your own Portfile" directions (specifically, running sudo port -d -v checksum in the same directory as the gnuplot Portfile) to get through the checksum stage. The lines you need to add are in red below.

checksums ${distname}.tar.gz md5 66258443d9f93cc4f46b147dac33e63a \

${name}.tar.gz sha1 a862bc311724c263aa1ef1c646291d73dc37c978 \

${name}.tar.gz rmd160 7b1fc84c161c132c776269b6e9a49abd29251a18 \

${name}.pdf.gz md5 51c6d737bf76c18db844c96bc27e22c6 \

${name}.pdf.gz sha1 1063e3769b80d04aaf437fae7ac3bdd95f62e333 \

${name}.pdf.gz rmd160 f04fbdf2b596acf65fdfce503c0456c120d07138 \

gpcard.pdf md5 3042331d0801c31bf423428d9be66924 \

gpcard.pdf sha1 85a1de6c589f2f9dbcad7dad3480d9bfad4372d1 \

gpcard.pdf rmd160 9d38d9f96f9d3a127188772cb3bda1d20a80270f \

datastrings_4.0.patch md5 7d2c4015f15f96e3a0f8063c2199ab6f \

datastrings_4.0.patch sha1 2120db8d3c3ca9f084b46a573e944e06556c855a \

datastrings_4.0.patch rmd160 600f404d6a46bab736db44b1f99d93443896b0c3 \

histograms_4.0.patch md5 ba87f28e4aed68637e7b5160e7151919 \

histograms_4.0.patch sha1 f75be94691af021e9d5eeeaaf707a09eb1d19ae6 \

histograms_4.0.patch rmd160 ae51ca48deda330953fdb521835601b9e68c544a

All but the last line end with \, so if you don't see that, you'll need a wider frame; it was cropped for me too until I removed most of the leading spaces I had copied in from the Portfile.

After that, the install just works. Back on track!

(BTW, the octave install takes forever! Like hours. I know this is only a PowerBook G4, but it's not that old and slow.)

Monday, September 4, 2006

Banana Split Pie

It's important to start with all ingredients refrigerated or soft frozen! Room temperature ingredients cause the pie to melt more than you'd like.

1 crumb pie crust, graham or shortbread

1 quart vanilla ice cream or fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt

2 bananas, refrigerated

1 pint strawberries, refrigerated

dribbles of chocolate syrup

dribbles of caramel syrup

Slice the bananas into 3/8" coins, and layer on pie crust.

With a large spoon, take shallow scoops out of the vanilla ice cream. (Sometimes ice cream is too hard to scoop easily, and that's when frozen yogurt shines! It's always a bit softer, so you can more easily make your own banana split pie or blizzard.) Place a layer of ice cream covering the banana slices.

Slice and layer the strawberries on the pie.

Cover the strawberries with another thin layer of ice cream.

Drizzle chocolate syrup and caramel syrup on top.

Place in the freezer for 15 minutes or more if you started with refrigerated ingredients. Otherwise this pie will need to freeze overnight, and then the strawberries will be frozen solid little bricks. (Strawberries don't take freezing as well as bananas!)

Simple and tasty!