discussion Digest, Vol 38, Issue 2

lee jones slothpuck at gmail.com
Sun Mar 3 09:13:10 EST 2013


>My impression is that you cannot upgrade the USB capabilities on the board because they are part of the Ingenic SoC


A Pity that the usb controller just "can't be changed" on the
nanonote. Was hoping it was a simple case of removing a chip and
replacing it. Ack! I guess that dosen't stop any new manufacture of
nanonotes from using a different SoC that does have usb host and is
usable. If it's too expensive to redesign the nanonote just make as
few changes as possible?


>As I said before, I don't think there's a shortage of hardware that you could
put together as a concept, but the challenge is to make it into a product.

Quite agree there's no shortage of bits 'n' pieces out there. The
biggest problem with all that hardware seems to come with the drivers
for the software; propietary boot loaders and video drivers. Currently
I've not seen (unless I'm wrong!) any new ARM based device for example
that dosen't require a propietary video driver. Occasionally some
gnu/linux distros (eg ubuntu) might be 'blessed' with having such a
propietary driver but a)  you can't modify it and b) it won't work
with anything else other than the 'blessed' distro. Not good.

That's one of the big reasons I like the nanonote as it has no or as
close to no propietary drivers at all.


>I
remember the defunct computer manufacturer Acorn Computers having to
settle for previous generation laptop cases from Olivetti ....

I remember this too -- up until fairly recently you could still buy a
second hand one from a company called CJE micros! Those old acorn
machines are the ones I used at school, starting with the ancient
Acorn/BBC B and later the Acorn archimedes. It seems a very long time
ago now!


>....and by that  I don't mean 3D printing, which is promising but not really suitable for even moderate levels of production

Pretty much agree, there seems to be a lot of talk about it but
strange shapes and printed out cups aside there dosen't seem to be
much else. Guessing 3d printing on any sort of scale and becoming a
regular thing is still some time off. The whole 3d printing seems to
have been discussed somewhat in the popular press just recently and
it's been shown on TV more than once, but it's definately not ready
for production level stuff.


>One sees remarks of minor ridicule about projects like Open Pandora and the mistakes  they've made

They did indeed make some mistakes and I remember those well. To be
fair though not all of them were their fault, others were prehaps
50-50 -- for example they sought funding for their project at a time
when the banks were collapsing and all the debt was starting to come
home to roost and then we had the bank bailouts....x.x


>Why don't you just buy a supported Sansa and install it yourself? It's
usually pretty simple and well documented.

As for me here, I do have a sansa based player. The older sansas seem
to have been better made and easier to get into (physically) than the
newer ones which seem to be more "plastic fantastic", so to speak. To
get into my old sansa to change the battery it's almost as easy as a
phone -- remove 4 screws and pop the battery out. On the newer ones
it's quite fiddly with lots of plastic clips.

One of my reasons for getting the nanonote in the first place was
originally to replace the sansa. The sansas although not exactly free
work fine with rockbox.

But there's only so much you can do with a sansa; like most other
things these days it'll inevitably pack up and stop working and given
its age other things (such as if the battery fails) won't be
replacable all that easily. Plus the recording quality isn't
incredible and there's no usb host, so no chance of using it as a
note-taking device.

To date the nanonote has been the closest thing so far that I've
managed to find to replace the sansa. There's a lot of other stuff out
there but they all have their problems. Take your pick -- either they
are missing some function, or you're forced to have android, or it has
ropey battery life or it has to be a 'phone to name a few. And after
that there's the propietary software bits and pieces to deal with.


Maybe a different option might be to somehow 'scale-up' the nanonote
and produce something along the lines of the efika MX smartbook? That
wouldn't be bad -- no moving parts, quite small and t hin although the
smartbook as a very major thing against it with its propietary video
driver. The lemote yeelong did better though its main problem was the
poor battery life -- 2 hours.


ljones


On 3/2/13, discussion-request at lists.en.qi-hardware.com
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> Today's Topics:
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>    1. Ya nanonote (lee jones)
>    2. Re: Ya nanonote (James "Xakh" Lynch)
>    3. Re: Ya nanonote (Paul Boddie)
>    4. Re: Ya nanonote (Andrea Bolognani)
>
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Message: 1
> Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2013 00:34:06 +0000
> From: lee jones <slothpuck at gmail.com>
> Subject: Ya nanonote
> To: discussion at lists.en.qi-hardware.com
> Message-ID:
> 	<CAKwpmo+W1x3M2FrNCt17acT5okEq2hYgTnGSL0qv79F+kz17BA at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
>
> Hello all!
>
> First of all sorry if I make any mistakes or errors in this, as I'm no
> hardware or software expert!
>
> I've read through the ya nanonote thread and been following this for a
> little while now off-and-on.
>
> Me personally I must say I quite like the ben nanonote overall. It has
> quite a good battery life and for its size I cannot even think of
> another device which is even remotely similar. Those are pretty good.
>
> One thought did occur to me though. If the ya nanonote is not going to
> be possible how's about doing something like this for the interim
> perod until a new device is made. First of all .... well, are there
> any large quantities of ben nanonotes still lying about unsold at all?
>  Would it be worth upgrading and selling them?
>
> Here's the idea - and I don't know if it is at all possible. How's
> about (say) doing an upgrade to the existing (unsold) ben nanonotes,
> let's say do something important such as (say) removing the usb
> controller chip and making it a usb host chip. Then prehaps - say
> 50-50 you sell half the upgraded nanonotes  as - let's say "nanonote+"
> and the others you sell the boards so others can upgrade existing
> nanonotes, with the screens/cases/keyboards/batteries being kept back
> as spares. Good or bad idea, or not possible?
>
> But going back to the ya nanonote if some hardware should ever emerge
> for it that would be good :) . Only thing I'd wish for is half decent
> battery life and some sort of CPU which isn't horribly slow as soon as
> you use it. This seems to be the problem with a lot of ARM based
> devices (the other problem being mandatory propietary drivers) - take
> your pick -- cheapo chinese tablets, netbooks, arm computers on a usb
> stick they all have similar problems.
>
> It is possible though to produce some sort of usuable computer which
> is reasonably good, has wifi, usb host, decent battery etc. Just look
> at the open pandora. While it isn't 100% on being exactly open, it
> does have all those things. I bought one of these, one of the old
> 256MB early devices the first ones made a few years back now and it
> proves very useful being a) small and b) long battery life.
>
> One last thought though. If it's impossible to go for a ya nanonote
> for the future, how's about going in a different direction and making
> a differernt device. How's about (say) a media player/recorder device
> but which can have USB devices attached. I'm thinking of something
> very roughly along the lines of the old sansa e200 music players.
> Indeed thse older players run an open source program called "rockbox"
> which can supplant the propietary firmware (to an extent).
>
> Imagine a device which could then run either rockbox or gnu/linux, but
> be a tiny music player/recorder but which could then interface up via
> USB (host). Such a tiny device could double up as a note taker and
> music player. Anyway, just a thought going 'round my mind.
>
> ljones
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 2
> Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2013 19:37:51 -0500
> From: "James \"Xakh\" Lynch" <superstuff7 at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: Ya nanonote
> To: "English Qi Hardware mailing list - support, developers,	use cases
> 	and fun" <discussion at lists.en.qi-hardware.com>
> Message-ID:
> 	<CAK0UVRfbbo6LsSD48HmrTz4pAZFa5LBuyLMDJYaeBvvqe5hHpg at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
> I would love a rockbox mp3 player
> On Mar 1, 2013 7:34 PM, "lee jones" <slothpuck at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Hello all!
>>
>> First of all sorry if I make any mistakes or errors in this, as I'm no
>> hardware or software expert!
>>
>> I've read through the ya nanonote thread and been following this for a
>> little while now off-and-on.
>>
>> Me personally I must say I quite like the ben nanonote overall. It has
>> quite a good battery life and for its size I cannot even think of
>> another device which is even remotely similar. Those are pretty good.
>>
>> One thought did occur to me though. If the ya nanonote is not going to
>> be possible how's about doing something like this for the interim
>> perod until a new device is made. First of all .... well, are there
>> any large quantities of ben nanonotes still lying about unsold at all?
>>  Would it be worth upgrading and selling them?
>>
>> Here's the idea - and I don't know if it is at all possible. How's
>> about (say) doing an upgrade to the existing (unsold) ben nanonotes,
>> let's say do something important such as (say) removing the usb
>> controller chip and making it a usb host chip. Then prehaps - say
>> 50-50 you sell half the upgraded nanonotes  as - let's say "nanonote+"
>> and the others you sell the boards so others can upgrade existing
>> nanonotes, with the screens/cases/keyboards/batteries being kept back
>> as spares. Good or bad idea, or not possible?
>>
>> But going back to the ya nanonote if some hardware should ever emerge
>> for it that would be good :) . Only thing I'd wish for is half decent
>> battery life and some sort of CPU which isn't horribly slow as soon as
>> you use it. This seems to be the problem with a lot of ARM based
>> devices (the other problem being mandatory propietary drivers) - take
>> your pick -- cheapo chinese tablets, netbooks, arm computers on a usb
>> stick they all have similar problems.
>>
>> It is possible though to produce some sort of usuable computer which
>> is reasonably good, has wifi, usb host, decent battery etc. Just look
>> at the open pandora. While it isn't 100% on being exactly open, it
>> does have all those things. I bought one of these, one of the old
>> 256MB early devices the first ones made a few years back now and it
>> proves very useful being a) small and b) long battery life.
>>
>> One last thought though. If it's impossible to go for a ya nanonote
>> for the future, how's about going in a different direction and making
>> a differernt device. How's about (say) a media player/recorder device
>> but which can have USB devices attached. I'm thinking of something
>> very roughly along the lines of the old sansa e200 music players.
>> Indeed thse older players run an open source program called "rockbox"
>> which can supplant the propietary firmware (to an extent).
>>
>> Imagine a device which could then run either rockbox or gnu/linux, but
>> be a tiny music player/recorder but which could then interface up via
>> USB (host). Such a tiny device could double up as a note taker and
>> music player. Anyway, just a thought going 'round my mind.
>>
>> ljones
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Qi Hardware Discussion List
>> Mail to list (members only): discussion at lists.en.qi-hardware.com
>> Subscribe or Unsubscribe:
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> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 3
> Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2013 17:08:46 +0100
> From: Paul Boddie <paul at boddie.org.uk>
> Subject: Re: Ya nanonote
> To: discussion at lists.en.qi-hardware.com
> Cc: lee jones <slothpuck at gmail.com>
> Message-ID: <201303021708.47046.paul at boddie.org.uk>
> Content-Type: text/plain;  charset="iso-8859-1"
>
> On Saturday 02 March 2013 01:34:06 lee jones wrote:
>>
>> Me personally I must say I quite like the ben nanonote overall. It has
>> quite a good battery life and for its size I cannot even think of
>> another device which is even remotely similar. Those are pretty good.
>
> It does stand out against the backdrop of touchscreen devices of different
> sizes, continuing the tradition of the palmtop.
>
>> One thought did occur to me though. If the ya nanonote is not going to
>> be possible how's about doing something like this for the interim
>> perod until a new device is made. First of all .... well, are there
>> any large quantities of ben nanonotes still lying about unsold at all?
>>  Would it be worth upgrading and selling them?
>
> I think the previous discussion about this concluded with people disagreeing
>
> about how this would work, but accepting that it's obviously up to Wolfgang
>
> to decide what to do with the remaining stocks. Look at the archives for
> December for a few different threads about this and other ideas:
>
> http://lists.en.qi-hardware.com/pipermail/discussion/2012-December/date.html
>
>> Here's the idea - and I don't know if it is at all possible. How's
>> about (say) doing an upgrade to the existing (unsold) ben nanonotes,
>> let's say do something important such as (say) removing the usb
>> controller chip and making it a usb host chip. Then prehaps - say
>> 50-50 you sell half the upgraded nanonotes  as - let's say "nanonote+"
>> and the others you sell the boards so others can upgrade existing
>> nanonotes, with the screens/cases/keyboards/batteries being kept back
>> as spares. Good or bad idea, or not possible?
>
> My impression is that you cannot upgrade the USB capabilities on the board
> because they are part of the Ingenic SoC, and although the SoC actually does
>
> support USB Host, it isn't exposed in the package used on the Ben. See here
>
> for some information, at least (as I don't have the other details to hand):
>
> http://en.qi-hardware.com/wiki/Block_diagram
>
> I've been playing around with a USB Host controller via the 8:10 port, and I
>
> hope to get a bit further with this than my previous efforts, but I don't
> really see an easier way of getting USB Host. See here for details of the
> 8:10 port and its use for experiments:
>
> http://en.qi-hardware.com/wiki/UBB
>
> I seem to recall issues related to upgrading the screen involved things like
>
> the sizes of screens for different resolutions, so if you want VGA there may
>
> not be anything compatible in the same size/shape as the LCD currently used,
>
> and thus any replacement necessitates a change to the casing, which is
> probably the least convenient thing to change.
>
>> But going back to the ya nanonote if some hardware should ever emerge
>> for it that would be good :) . Only thing I'd wish for is half decent
>> battery life and some sort of CPU which isn't horribly slow as soon as
>> you use it. This seems to be the problem with a lot of ARM based
>> devices (the other problem being mandatory propietary drivers) - take
>> your pick -- cheapo chinese tablets, netbooks, arm computers on a usb
>> stick they all have similar problems.
>
> As I said before, I don't think there's a shortage of hardware that you
> could
> put together as a concept, but the challenge is to make it into a product. I
>
> remember the defunct computer manufacturer Acorn Computers having to settle
>
> for previous generation laptop cases from Olivetti (their sister company) in
>
> order to ship a laptop based on their own hardware back in the early 1990s,
>
> and I don't think the situation is too different today: people who can do
> electronics are quite able to make that part of the hardware, but completing
>
> the physical product seems to require larger investments.
>
> All this having been said, I hope that someone can point out something I
> have
> overlooked that makes such endeavours a lot easier (and cheaper), and by
> that
> I don't mean 3D printing, which is promising but not really suitable for
> even
> moderate levels of production or for every aspect of the physical form of a
>
> device, as far as I understand it.
>
>> It is possible though to produce some sort of usuable computer which
>> is reasonably good, has wifi, usb host, decent battery etc. Just look
>> at the open pandora. While it isn't 100% on being exactly open, it
>> does have all those things. I bought one of these, one of the old
>> 256MB early devices the first ones made a few years back now and it
>> proves very useful being a) small and b) long battery life.
>
> I think there's a lot that everyone can learn from each other. One sees
> remarks of minor ridicule about projects like Open Pandora and the mistakes
>
> they've made, but if you can't learn from other people's mistakes, you're
> likely to make them yourself at some point, and quite probably they'll be
> mistakes that you didn't even notice.
>
> Paul
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 4
> Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2013 15:52:55 +0100
> From: Andrea Bolognani <eof at kiyuko.org>
> Subject: Re: Ya nanonote
> To: "English Qi Hardware mailing list - support, developers,	use cases
> 	and fun" <discussion at lists.en.qi-hardware.com>
> Message-ID: <20130302145255.GB6255 at priya>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>
> On Fri, Mar 01, 2013 at 07:37:51PM -0500, James "Xakh" Lynch wrote:
>
>> I would love a rockbox mp3 player
>
> Why don't you just buy a supported Sansa and install it yourself? It's
> usually pretty simple and well documented.
>
> I've been running RockBox for a few years on my 1st generation iPod Nano
> and, honestly, I don't think the interface is all that good. One of the
> reasons why I bought a NanoNote was actually to investigate using it as
> the base for a media player, think iPod Touch except of course way better
> ;)
>
> --
> Andrea Bolognani <eof at kiyuko.org>
> Resistance is futile, you will be garbage collected.
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> End of discussion Digest, Vol 38, Issue 2
> *****************************************
>


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