Friday, December 17, 2010

WeTab recovery, BIOS and stuff

Ok so in my previous post I complained loudly about there being no obvious specialness to the BIOS on the WeTab and that all the WeTab-specific shtuff (including the recovery program) existed on the SDD only.

I rescind that statement, I was...sadly...but thankfully....WRONG!

I was having trouble using the Recovery USB-Stick method because the sticks weren't being picked up by the BIOS process. I'm not sure why, I've had that problem consistenly with my WeTab...when I added the Plop boot  manager and tried to boot from a USB stick, that same USB would in some cases load up fine and in others give me a kernel panic on boot-up. I'm not sure why that happens, I'm thinking maybe the USB ports are a little off, maybe the metal contacts on the USB-stick are a little worn out, I'm not sure exactly why. Anyhow switching to a different USB-stick with the WeTabRecovery image on it worked fine for me and I was able to recover to the updated image offered on the developers website.

That's actually good news because it means no matter how bad I mess around with the SDD contents, I could always recover without having to break the hardware warranty by opening up the device and taking out the disk (I'm not sure how easy that would have been either).

Regarding the update to the Keyboard, I'm actually liking it except for the fact that the CTRL and SHIFT keys aren't there. The ESC now exists as well as most of the symbols you might need for some scripting/programming, though using the virtual keyboard extendedly is just a pain.

I'm still thinking that ergonomically using tablets is not much fun. Something still feels like it's lacking, looking down at the thing for extended periods of time gives you a crick in the neck. Also if your not sitting up straight the weight of the device gets uncomfortable. And then if your lying down in bed you have to keep your elbows bent to be able to interact with the device. Yes yes, I am a lazy SOB.

So here's an idea of how this can all be mitigated. First we have to eliminate the hand interaction altogether, I always thought the idea of a "touch" device was nice because, well, in some ways it's a much more "personal" experience ( wonder if Jim Morisson was that far ahead with all that LSD, I swear, before I bought that Wetab I could almost hear some of those devices call out to me "come on come on now touch me babe" ). Anyhow so here's the first link:

A couple of years from now and that headset will probably be as comfortable as earphones I suppose.

Now once that is solved we need to do something about the weight of the device. When we were in disneyland about some 15 years ago, I was just dazzled by one the rooms that had had some quite nifty holograms with ghosts flying around in a room that you looked into from the side. Actually if you've seem the Second Iron Man movie they've already thought of that idea, personal computer that threw up a hologramic screen that floated around the room. I guess you could call that invention a Holo-PC.

Well enough day-dreaming for one day.

Hmmm...I wonder what the EFI BIOS looks like and how to mess around with that...I never learn...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Latest update

So the latest update completely broke my WeTab, probably because of all the mods I had or possibly because it was doing something integral with system *without notifying me and I must have shut it down while it was chugging away. What happened after that was the Pinboard was just flashing like crazy when it loaded up again. A soft reset didn't help.

I wasn't really upto diagnosing so I followed the Developer notes on recovering: I should add here that if you have trouble with this it may be the USB stick's fault. I had to rummage through a pile of sticks until I could get one that was ok (come to think of it I had to wipe out one of my bigger externals and used that). The directions are pretty clear, you just have to download the recover image, dd that onto your USB (so you should probably keep copies of whatever you had on that stick somewhere else), and then follow the directions (powerbutton + soft touch on startup). It shouldn't take very long to recover the system.

After that I found a nice LiveCD for GParted ( to repartition the SDD so that I could install Meego (
Please note that if you go ahead with the Meego install it will remove the original bootloader that was on the system and you're then at the mercy of the one installed by Meego (it's extlinux, but it doesn't recognize the soft-touch and it doesn't have the recovery mechanism used by the original WeTab. SO BE SURE TO BACKUP ALL OF /dev/sda before you fool around.

Well. I installed Meego and I learned all of the above the hardway. The thing that scared me the most was when I messed up my booting entry for the WeTab OS while it was the default startup entry, the screen would just sit there and reload and reload, it was as if the booter was reloading itself over and over. Well, I took a bathroom break and came back to try again, the softtouch wasn't being registered at all, so I threw out my last hope...the keyboard, worked! I was able to login to Meego again and fix up my extlinux.conf. Of course before that I was trying like a madman to recover using the directions from the WeTab recovery steps mentioned earlier. I'm sorry but I don't see what they mean by a BIOS if that system really just exists on the frigin disk, it's just a loader. Before I jumped head in I thought that there was some sort of save-your-ass ROM routine that responded to the power+soft button trick for recovery and that the recovery program was some how kept in some safe non-writeable storage. Nope, that is not the case. The only way out of this had I really mucked things up would have been to rip out the harddrive and recover the original image onto it using and external harddrive controller.

Anyhow, I'm not too happy hanging in the wind with the Meego loader. I've decided to burn back my original /dev/sda I had made way back when I wrote the post on backing up ( The way I'm doing this...and I hope it doesn't fail me miserably is that I booted up with the GParted livecd I mentioned earlier and ran the system from RAM (which is nice because then you have a free USB port for the harddrive with the backup image and the other port for the Keyboard without which you can't tell it to do the Restore...dd if=/backup.img of=/dev/sda...

I will write back (well hopefully Iwill), in the event that this fails I will probably be crying like a little girl somewhere for a couple of weeks (well not really, I'll probably be voiding my warranty and playing with my WeTab's internals, I guess I could then try the 2GB trick...ah, the possibilities).

Well apart from all the above, I've forgotten to mention that the new update is actually pretty good. It replaces the old crappy virtual keyboard with a much more functional one, though I still like the look and feel of the matchbox one. And also, finally, you can turn off Automatic Updates and regain your sanity in that respect.

Apart from this I'm still trying to sort out whether I like this gizmo, it's far too bulky to sit comfortably with and it heats up like a mother-father. Well, until later folks, adios!