Executing Gummiworms The trials and tribulations of a grumpy curmudgeonly old git


Model T as a serial keyboard for a Kaypro II

[ Sixteenth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 18/08/10]

Model T as serial keyboard

As i've mentioned before I am working on a case mod (working very slowly as i'm still researching rather than doing) for the ZipitZ2 using a Tandy Model 100 case and I want to use the Tandy Keyboard as the input device for the ZipitZ2 so i've been googling and binging alot and I stumbled across a page about Phillip Avery and his usage of a Model 100 as a Serial Keyboard for a Kaypro II. It isn't quite what I want but it is still quite interesting and might be useful for some other projects I am mulling.



A blast from the past

[ Fifteenth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 15/08/10]

When I was younger and dinosaurs roamed the earth I started a new job that required a 109.37 mile, 105 by car but I didn't have a full driving license then, bus, train and tube journey twice a day (Oadby, Leicestershire to just south of Covent Garden, London) and I needed something to do other than play Bridge and drink coffee, whiskey & canada dry  or gin and schweppes slimline tonic, I was watching my weight :) , or read the paper in the dining car. I wonder if you can get any of the decent schweppes mixers any more? i've never found the slimline tonic or bitter lemon here in the states, at least not in the stores i've checked. Anyway when I got my first paycheque after giving my parents a third for rent, buying my monthly bus,  train and tube tickets and putting aside money for beer I had enough left to get myself a treat. As a longtime TRaSh-80 fan, I used Model 3's at college and I used to hangout in the Tandy Computer Center most weekends I decided to buy myself a Tandy Model 102 which at that time was about £600, give or take a few quid. I would have bought a  Model 4p but I didn't have several thousand pounds :( so the Model 102 had to do.

I used the Model 102 everyday for about 6 years and it went with me to Amsterdam, France, Belgium, Italy a few times and to Germany every summer for 5 years as well as to the States a few times. It was very well traveled and I loved it.

When I moved to the States I left my other computers, which included a Sinclair Spectrum, Grundy NewBrain, Camputers Lynx and Harriet, my Olivetti M15 with my parents, but I brought the Tandy with me. I had been planning on having the others shipped to me but in the end that never worked out and over time my parents disposed of them :(

I used the Tandy for most of the first half of the 90s although only for messing about on and coding rather than online stuff as I didn't bring my acoustic coupler with me and from about 91 to 2001 we didn't have a home phone. I rejected phones as I was burnt out with regard to phones from all my activities in the 80s, I'm still not that keen on phones even now. My wife and son have smart phones but I prefer the most minimal phone I can get, which isn't very minimal unfortunatly as it's almost impossible to get a phone without a camera, mp3 player... builtin but i ignore those functions as much as possible, I don't even text and only use the phone for calls to/from the wife and kid and a couple of other people.

The Tandy chunked along quite nicely for years and then someone, i'm not sure who smushed it and the keyboard broke. By then I had put together several desktops using garbage day finds so I wasn't particularly bothered and put the Tandy on one side with plans to deal with it later. Later of course never occured and we moved 2 times and the Tandy followed. Then during our latest move a couple of years ago I assigned the "trouble and strife" to the room that the Tandy was in and I suspect she binned it as a few months ago I went looking for it with plans to reserrect it and couldn't find it :( . I thought that was it no more tandy's for me. Then i was trawling ebay, I never normally buy anything but i like to window shop and I saw a couple of Tandy Model 10X cases, one came with LCD and keyboard and the other a keyboard and I had a little brainwave. I have wanted to do a case mod for the Zipit Z2 for ages and thought "hang on a sec it might be possible to use a Model 100/102 case for the Zipit Z2 and it would be really cool if I could interface the Tandy keyboard to the Zipit Z2 and even cooler if I could use the LCD too", although that I suspect is not going to be doable, the keyboard is a possibility though. So I bid on the cases not expecting to win, but surprise surprise I did. The cases arrived and I put them to one side until I had time to sit down and work on the mod without distractions. Before that happened though I saw an auction for a working Tandy Model 102, the case was really manky though, looked like someone had buried it in peet and the peet had stained the case and the keyboard looked really bad but there were no bids on it and the postage looked reasonable so I bid on it and ye gods and little fishes I won that too, doing well on ebay i've gone 2 for 2 in 2 months :)

A couple of days ago the working 102 arrived and after getting the cats out of the way and kicking the wife off to work and the kid off to class I swapped the case and keyboard and cleaned up the battery bay and lo and behold I have a reasonably good looking working Model 102 again, this time I put it in a strong cardboard box so hopefully noone will squidge it and be tempted to throw it out thinking it is rubbish, i'm looking at you dear :)

Now what should I use the Tandy for? At minimum a serial terminal for one of my Zipits. I still have a Model 100 case and keyboard and a 102 LCD and the judicious use of retr0brite might clean up the manky 102 case so the Zipit case mod is still a possibility and/or a mini-itx pc case mod or if I can scrape together enough cash the VZ806P case mod. I'll have to see which I end up doing or see if I can get more Model 10X cases, keyboards and LCD's


Finding Old Web Pages

While I was trying to recover as much of the old blog as possible because of my own carelessness I discovered Warrick. Warrick works pretty well, but it does cause problems when running against Google because if you make too many requests to Google in a certain time period, approx 100-150 in a short period of time they will blacklist your IP address for around 12 hours. If you were making a lot of requests manually this wouldn't be a problem because Google asks you to prove that you are human and if you successfully prove that you are (using the CAPTCHA) then you can continue to make your requests. But Warrick is a perl script that is screen scraping Google so you never see the request to prove you are human so with sites that have a largish number of pages Warrick will fail to get any meaningful content, the file will just contain the request from Google  to prove you are human. So Warrick is great for giving you the basic content from the Internet Archive, Google, bing and yahoo caches automatically but you'll need to fill in the gaps. To fill in the gaps you'll need to know how to query the search engine caches manually. most people know how to do this for Google, site: and cache: but other search engines use different methods. I stumbled across an interesting website about using search engines while I was looking for automated methods of recreating the blog using wget, cURL and warrick and in particular this page. It's a bit out of date (2008) but it is still mostly correct and useful.


New version of setup-wifi.sh

[ Fourteenth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 3/04/10]

absamide from the #zipit irc channel has been using my version of IZ2S and requested I add the option to use the current wifi settings rather than have to set them up each time (he actually asked for the ability to have profiles too but that will take a bit longer to do). so I have made a quick update to setup-wifi.sh to do that. I have also fixed up the WEP stuff so you can use either hex or ascii keys (i've not been able to do much testing other than it writes the correct wpa_supplicant.conf as there are no WEP ap in my location and mucking around with my wifi configuration on my router would not pass the W.A.F.). you can find the new version at http://russelldavis.org/ZipitZ2/setup-wifi.sh

just download it and put it in /mnt/sd0/bin


Proper release of IZ2S (enhanced)

[ Thirteenth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 02/04/10]

I've just uploaded a proper release of my enhanced version of IZ2S.

( http://russelldavis.org/ZipitZ2/IZ2S205beta-enhanced-020410.zip )

from the README

IZ2S (enhanced)


This is the second release my enhanced version of Ray Dios Haque's IZ2S. It features some simple power management,

a dialog based wifi setup script, some addition fonts including the new default one that gives 53 columns and some

other tweaks and changes. Other than my changes everything that works in IZ2S will work in IZ2S (enhanced).

The major differences are that my power management & wifi setup utilities are the latest versions.

lcdoff, lcdon                      turns the lcd on and off

kbledsoff, kbledson        turns the kb leds on and off

powerbuttond                  is the daemon that checks if the powerbutton is pressed

and if yes powers off the zipit (takes about 5 to 10 seconds)

powerd                                is the daemon responsible for turning off the lcd (and kbledsif the lid is closed while the zipit is running.

lid                                          checks if the lid is closed (also at the beginning of  z2script  so  no more powering on while in your pocket)

battery                                 returns the battery status (new versions are coming   that do much more but they are still in testing stage)

dialog                                   static version of dialog, used by my setup-wifi script

links, glinks                        these are the scripts to start the links browser, they take the url as a parameter on the command line and solve the cursor problem on the 2nd+ uses of glinks.

keymap.map                     makes the alt key sticky (does not work in graphic links)

There is also the ability to brand the zipit by changing the logo.ppm and brand.cfg files in /mnt/sd0/etc

Any other changes are either minor or non-user visible but i'm sure you'll find them.

Russell K. Davis



[Additional: the two SDL envvars required for running my binary of prboom are already set so you just need to download

my binary plus the doom zip archive from linux.zipitwireless.com to have a correctly rotated doom session -- note: sound in doom is still not currently working]


CP/M on an AVR

[ Twelth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 27/04/10]

cpm-avrI think I might have seen this before, but it's still quite cool anyway. I love the Z80 and CP/M.

Tagged as: , 1 Comment

Debian binaries of my lid, acpower and powerbtn utilities

[ Eleventh in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 23/04/10]

Thanks to dTal from the irc who very kindly compiled my little utilities on his debian based zipit (aliosa27 debian, rootnexus, sidetrack) I now have binaries of my lid, acpower and powerbtn programs. They are compiled static so are a little large but they work. Basically they return 0, 1 or 255, where 255 means that there was an error opening /dev/mem, which normally means you need to run them as root.

lid returns 0 for closed and 1 for open, powerbtn returns 1 for unpressed and 0 for currently pressed (this is currently pressed, not has been pressed) and acpower returns 0 for on battery and 1 for on mains.

thanks dTal


Skins and accessories for the ZipitZ2

[ Tenth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 23/04/10]

I was just browsing Ebay (window shopping) and saw some auctions for ZipitZ2's (expensive), ZipitZ1's (expensive considering) and a few other bits and pieces. Among those bits and pieces were somethings I didn't know existed and which didn't last time I had checked the Zipit Wireless Store (about 8months to a year ago) Skins. There are four choices and while not my personal cup of tea they do look quite good if you are into that type of thing. The things that really perked my interest though are the accessories, particularly the USB SD Card reader/writer. It's a a little on the expensive side considering I can go to radioshack and get one with more functions for less BUT it does come with free shipping and if it works with virtualbox on windows with a linux guest for writing (the ones you can get from radioshack and other stores don't) i'd pay almost any price for it.


Two new utilities for IZ2S/IZ2S(enhanced)/Z2shell

[ Ninth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 22/04/10]

If you are using either Ray's or my version of IZ2S or the original z2shell from Zipit Wireless you could probably do with some lcd and kb leds brightness functions. volia I have knocked up a couple of utilities to let you. I haven't done much in the way of error checking or testing so far so you'll need to enter the 3 values on the command line, no more, no less but i'll eventually get around to adding some error checking and default values when I get time. I am releasing these but I make no claims to whether they will work for you and I can not be held responsible if your zipit melts into a puddle of molten plastic and metal or your dog dies.

the lcd brightness takes 3 paramters period, prescale and dcycle, if you don't already know what those mea don't worry about it all you need to know is that to set the brightness you need to run lcdbrightness 511 63 brightness

where brightness is a number between 0 and 800 or so and 300 is about 50%

the kb leds brightness utility also takes the same 3 parameters and the values are same, 511 63 and brightness in a similar range i.e. kbbrightness 511 63 brightness.

If you decide to use these utilities you will probably find that my previous utilities lcdon/off, kbledson/off, screenon/off and the lid close screen blanker will no longer work. this will be fixed in the next release of IZ2S(enhanced) which is planned for early next week.


keymap.map for IZ2S/IZ2Senhanced…

[ Eighth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 02/04/10]

This is the keyboard layout for the keymap.map (which for some reason people have been linking to for debian based ZipitZ2 rootfs's although this is for the console not X and thus isn't correct) for IZ2S (enhanced). If you wish to change the mappings of the keys you can find keymap.map in /mnt/sd0/etc

Anything should to be green is ok to be remapped, anything in black can not be used, the rest are pretty self explanatory e.g. press Shift to get blue characters, press Alt to get red characters and both Alt and Shift at once to get purple characters.

[note: there is actually one error on the image. the [] on the side rocker should be red and not purple. i'll fix that in the next version of keymap.map/keymap layout]

links-keymap.map (also in /mnt/sd0/etc) is the key mappings for the links browser which is slightly different as the keyboard driver in directfb which is used to build links for graphics mode doesn't like the use of sticky keys and keymap.map sets the Alt key to be sticky.

keymap.map layout

IZ2S (enhanced) keymap.map layout