Monday, July 20, 2015

Installing the x86 Android distribution onto the Wetab

Hi folks, Long time no see. So I've put away the WeTab almost for good but then a couple of days ago I got to thinking it could be a nice central system to just spend a few minutes maybe browsing around some cooking videos on youtube in the kitchen. So I got up to my tinkering business again and whaddya know I actually learned something new in the process.

First off I downloaded the latest release of the Android X86 distro which looks like it's some port of the cyanogenmod system.

So previously I had mentioned in some install blog that with USB sticks it is a hit or miss...well apparently it is nothing physical, it's actually just a silly magic set of bytes that needs to be written someplace on the USB stick. I found this out when I started getting an Error 17 (or was it Error 7, I forget). In any case, according to these nice people at the WeTab community the USB stick needs to have that written somewhere in the first 400 bytes or so.

I finally managed to write the code on to the stick but not with the printf examples I found on-line.

Instead I opened up Hexfiend and created a file with the sole 4 bytes I needed: 9d 2a 44 7b

I named the file test.bin and then used dd to write the code where it has to go.

I'm not sure if I was just running into some silliness on my part but I was doing this on a mac and apparently there are two ways to refer to the physical device, either raw by /dev/rdisk2 or some other layered way with /dev/disk2.

Of course this needs to be done only after you've figured out what the proper path is to your USB stick by running

hdutil list

Anyhow, once you have that test.bin file created, you can then DD it to the write spot on the USB stick boot record.

sudo dd if=test.bin of=/dev/disk2 bs=1 seek=440

Use hexdump then to ensure that you see those 4 bytes where they ought to have gone:

sudo hexdump -s 440 -n 4 /dev/disk2

First impression is I like this better than Windows on the WeTab because of the lesser performance hit. But it looks like the video rendering drivers are whacked. I still have to look around a bit to see if that's something that can easily be fixed with some boot setting. Well, enough tinkering for now, enjoy cracking open your old junk closet and digging the WeTab out :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wetab reloaded

Hey there everyone. I apologize for the long absence, I've noticed this little blog really did actually come in handy to some people out there and for this I am glad. To those whom sent me but never received a response, I am truly sorry.

I had given up a bit on the wetab seeing as how hot this little tablet can get. The fan blows out the heat from the vents and after a while it could get pretty uncomfortable if you're using it as a tablet. In fact, I started using it as though it were a laptop with a touch screen which was somewhat ok. This worked out best when I bought a a cover-keyboard for it:

This really helped make the tablet somewhat useful in the past year or so. But as work picked up the pace, this gizmo went into the dark corners of oblivion and I just simply didn't pick it up anymore. Although, whenever I did and started using it again, it felt awfully nice to be able to just point and click on the screen and drag windows around.

Anyhow, today I went back and decided to crack it open again. I had seen the Windows 8 touch-screen laptops lying around in every electronics shop I've visited in the past year or so, flaunting their so-called novelty at the hapless consumer. I figured, why not see how it fairs on the Wetab. I had gone through a few websites here and there and many talk about installing Windows 8 on the ExoPC.

First, as most resources indicate, you will need to get a USB version of the Windows 8 ISO. To do this you will need to download the Microsoft Tool for doing this here.

You will then need to install this on any Windows machine you have lying around and feed it your Windows 8 ISO to create the bootable Windows 8 USB disk.

Once you have this, you are set to go. If you think you might like to go back to your old system in the future, then first load up your Wetab system and attach an external USB with enough space to copy your whole storage for backup.

You can then run the following dd command:

   dd  if=/dev/sda of=/media/USBWhatever/wetab-bakup.img bs=4096

That will take a bit of time, maybe around 20 minutes.

Now to install Windows 8, I advise using Plop boot to get your Wetab to boot from your USB drive. Although on the Wetab website (and also on this blog elsewhere), it is written that you can actually boot directly from the USB by doing some evasive combination of things (quicktouch while holding down power as soon as the blue led comes on), this has proven to be quite frustrating and only occasionally effective at best. Therefore, I truly advise you to download Plop Boot manager here, install it, and use it to select the USB option at start up after you load into plop boot manager.

One thing to note is that plop for some reason doesn't really recognize your Keyboard or anything so you will have to make do with single-clicks on the quicktouch button to toggle between options and a long-click-hold on the quicktouch button to select the option you want.

Finally, having installed plop boot, attach your Windows 8 USB drive, reboot and boot into Plop. Select USB from the menu and follow along the Windows 8 installation screens. The rest seems to be quite mundane. You shouldn't have to worry about the drivers as Windows 8 seems to pickup everything on the Wetab including the touchscreen and wireless device.

I haven't had much time to play with it but if I get to try something interesting, I'll be sure to post. And of course if you have new and interesting ideas to share, please share!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Twofing Acceleration/Easing

I've found Philip Merk's twofing daemon to be quite a useful feature to have running on the Wetab. I've occasionally had some beef with the acceleration and easing feature where I'm always overshooting the point in the document that I am trying to scroll to simply because the thing won't stop scrolling. Also sometimes it thinks that I'm doing a quick flick when all I'm doing is removing my two fingers from the screen.

A quick patch helped remove the ease effect. Open up gesture.c and do a find on startEasing. Comment that line out and recompile and install. You won't get the easing effect any more. I'm not sure if I will be content with this, the easing and acceleration helped me get through long scrolling adventures but I've also had a few frustrated experiences where I just can't get it to stop scrolling once I've reached the point I want. We'll see how things go from here on.

I'm also enjoying a different layout with the Cairo-docks panels, that along with the metacity composite manager give a nice look and feel for things. Also I've found that opening up the system fonts and cranking those up makes all the menus in firefox and all the other apps a lot easier to deal with, what with my clumsy fingers smudging all over the screen.

Over and out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I find it very difficult to stick with any one situation or setup for too long. If you ever visit my office at work, you will find me moving my furniture around atleast once every month or two. Well, I grew tired of the regular old ubuntu panels so I went ahead and downloaded Cairo dock from the Ubuntu package manager. I'm liking it so far although it does lack a few essential applets in my opinion; for example, ther is no wifi / network manager plug-in.

You should also know that it will need a composite manager, if you ever need to turn that off, use the gconf-editor (just run the command from a terminal) apps->metacity->general->compositing_manager and uncheck that checkbox to turn the composite manager off. Sometimes I find that these could really hog up resources and knowing how to turn it off comes in handy.

I've also found that using the florence virtual keyboard is much more comfortable, because you can play with its opacity and still see thru it to the windows below. I am though having a bit of a nasty time with these search suggestions that firefox keeps dishing out when I'm trying to fill search forms and other fields; the suggestion box steals the focus from the keyboard and i find myself having to re-type several letters that get dropped off while I'm typing. If anyone figures out how to deal with this please don't hesitate to clue me in!