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Old 25th July 2008
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Default searching for a SP/PDA like device, advice needed

Table of Contents:
0. Abstract
1. Details
2. Question




Abstract:

A mobile device that can edit text files and provide storage accessible from FreeBSD. Something that I can jet over source code from a project, take the device with me to work and edit code in my idle time. Then transfer back to my laptop when I get home.


Details:

Ok.. This is (hopefully) a stupid thread but please bare with me for a moment (You may wish to skip to the question part). Simply put my family drives me up the walls and I've tried just about everything short of a shotgun. Which is not something you do to people you love.


They are like the Borg, find one way around the problem and they adapt! Over the past several years I've been shoved from working on projects in the evening (like homework) on a desktop PC, to working after dark on a laptop (good bye homework). All the way to working on things all night long until I pass out, then going to work in the morning a couple hours later... Now they are cutting apart my time for working at night, and between the hours of 0000 and 0900 there is only so much I can do and still be ready to leave for work. I work with my mother, so tinkering with stuff at work is no problem. Actually getting anything done when I'm not at work, is a problem.


Many times when I am at work, I have stretches of idle time. When I have nothing to do because I am either done already or waiting for her to finish something (i.e. get out of my way). Example, yesterday I was stuck standing at ease for at least 20 minutes, today pacing back and forth for almost any hour. If I had some way of bringing a text editor and non-volatile storage tow ork. I could sit and work on stuff, rather then having to wait 2-12 hours for everyone to get squared away before I can actually put my ideas on disk. My laptops to big and too valuable to bring with me, so this only leaves smart phones and PDAs as the remaining options I guess.


Question:


So far I have not been able to find squat that I can use and be sure that I can use. The onyl decent find is a model of Zaurus PDA supported by OpenBSD but it's about $700 imported and my budget is about $220.


Does anyone know of anything (hopefully in such a price range) that would fit the bill? Regardless of price is this even a feasible idea? or am I just hopelessly screwed. I'm in the United States and our cell carrier is T-Mobile.



The gizmo has to be able to edit textual files and store them locally. And absolutely has to have someway of transferring it to a FreeBSD machine, such as via USB as a mass storage device, through a removable memory card, or even over a telnet/ssh connection via 802.11b/g. And a keyboard that can actually be used for typing code (e.g. a-z, A-Z, 0-1, and Cs common operators). Stuff like cameras, internet/e-mail, instant messengering, phone, and every thing else is just a luxury for me not a feature. In fact, I utterly hate cell phones with a passion but whatever works is good enough.



I've searched around online but nothing seems to be able to do this, that I can be sure of from the safety of not buying it. I've checked into some of the Blackberry 8x00 models and some of the high tech phones on T-Mobiles website but so far, nothing that seems to do exactly what I need but just about every other dang thing I could possibly dream of needing. Except edit source code on the run... Does anyone have any practical experience, advice, etc, or am I just totally up the creek with out a paddle?



Just for the records, the last time I actually used any sort of PDA like device. The storage capacity for user data was measured in Kilobytes and cell phones less then "everywhere".
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Old 25th July 2008
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Why not buy a secondhand PC and put in on your room? A P3 or something should be fine ... You can always upgrade incremently.
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Old 25th July 2008
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Currently, I have one PC with dual heads in the living room, one PC (headless) in my room, another PC (also headless) waiting for me to hook it up, and a laptop sitting on an impromptu desk where all of my work is usually done.
Collectively giving me a Pentium D, 4, 3, and Sempron Mobile and >700GB of storage space between them.


Unfortunately my room is also within a 100 metres of my family and there is no where else at night to sit and work 'til I drop.
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Old 26th July 2008
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Does the device require a keyboard? wasn't sure if that was a requirement... are you able to use touchscreen devices?

The Nokia 770[link] might be an option... or the Nokia N810 which has a tiny keyboard, but it's expensive.. both devices run Linux.

More searching found the "Zipit Wireless Messenger 2", it's very cheap, plenty models are on Ebay for less then $50 CAD, again, runs Linux.

EDIT: Not $50, looks like those Ebay items might not give you an actual unit.. not sure, regardless, they have community portal site..http://linux.zipitwireless.com/

Review here: http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS5942157201.html

Last edited by BSDfan666; 26th July 2008 at 01:24 AM.
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Old 26th July 2008
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To be honest BSDfan666, I don't really mind if there is no keyboard as long as I can 'type normal' enough to pass off the output as ordinary textual files on a PC. So far from the sounds of it, the Zipit looks like it would be of more solid service in it's next generation.


The Nokia N770 looks bleeding awesome, I searched and found a copy of the user manual and some flash based demonstrations. She looks capable enough for transferring data, as far as editing files there seems to be a notes application that supports ASCII and a subset of HTML. I assume it has access to the devices file system when used with a memory card.


Does anyone have have any experience with it?


So far the only big problem seems to be finding a trust worthy seller. Looks like getting it used off Amazon or eBay might be the only way to nab one. I've also seen a few sites that I trust but they only offer the N810 for around $400 :\
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Old 26th July 2008
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Well, There is a xterm port to both the 770 and the N810.. N800 as well I'd assume.. (See here and here)

I found this as well:
http://tuxmobil.org/mobile_bsd.html

Some of the HP Jornada (Win CE devices, some supported by NetBSD) might be worth looking into.. grab one of those puppies, probably cheaper.

Last edited by BSDfan666; 26th July 2008 at 03:57 AM.
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