Product Review: Siemens' SIMpad SL4
Product: SIMpad SL4Manufacturer: SiemensURL: www.my-siemens.com/simpadPrice: less than $400
Siemens is known to the public mostly for the cellular phones it builds. But Siemens has other interesting hardware that one should discover--like the SIMpad SL4.
The SIMpad SL4 is a beautiful machine. A sleek and polished look is an important feature for such machines, which may be used on the go. It also feels solid and is easy to use with only one hand. The big buttons are placed conveniently on only one side of the screen.
Measuring 10.35 x 7.08 x 1.10 inches, this piece of hardware is incredibly light--only 2.2 lbs.. Forget your heavy laptop; only my Sony C1V Picturebook is as light. All of this makes the SIMpad an excellent companion for long work days, where every ounce matters.
Another interesting feature is the LiIon battery life, up to seven hours according to Siemens. But my tests with a PCMCIA 802.11b Wi-Fi card lasted nearly seven hours, which means the SIMpad without any PCMCIA card may last longer. Now you can really leave the AC adapter at home.
Powered by a 206MHz StrongARM processor, featuring 64MB of RAM and 32MB of Flash memory, a microphone, a speaker, a serial port, an infrared port, a smart card port, a PCMCIA port and a USB slave port, the SIMpad SL4 looks like a grown up Zaurus 5500. Only two details are different--the SL4 has a beautiful 800x600 TFT touch screen, with 65,000 colors supported. While not as bright and crisp as the Sharp Zaurus C700 screen, the SL4 can be used perfectly outdoors.
The other difference between the Zaurus and the SIMpad is the missing keyboard. The SIMpad is not a PDA or a laptop but a tablet PC, and tablet PCs do not have keyboards. Too bad; even a small 5500 keyboard would have been welcome, say, below the screen. You can, however, purchase a serial keyboard, such as the iBiz serial keyboard, which is reported to work with the SIMpad. It connects to the sync cable, but iBiz was not able to provide me such a keyboard for tests.
Perhaps the tablet PC label should be discussed here. Some say only i386 hardware capable of running Windows XP and featuring a touchscreen which cannot be activated by fingers or other objects truly can be called tablet PCs. I think this is far too restrictive; i386/XP requirements are due to the heavy usage of not free operating systems coming from Redmond. In fact, the SIMpad can and does run Linux. As with an iPAQ, you can remove Windows CE to use a handheld distribution, including OPIE or GPE. You also can run standard Linux applications if you have a PCMCIA hard disk on which to store them all and if you can find ARM binaries. But many distributions now release ARM packages, and you can cross-compile from your PC any missing application you may need.
Personally, being unable to use my fingers on the touchscreen is not a feature but a bug. I want to be able to click on the screen with anything I have nearby, like a closed pen. Restricting the use of the touchscreen to fingertips sounds like a bad idea to me.
Initially announced in January 2001 at CES, the SIMpad SL4 was not immediately on the market. An initial $1,500 price tag, when the first Windows XP tablet PC were announced, meant the SL4 was not a big seller in the mainstream market. Now it can be found in Germany and Switzerland for much less, as little as Eur. 199 for the Windows CE version (called Sinus Pad) and Eur. 385 for the Linux flashable version (SIMpad SL4). The SIMpad SLC, an SL4 with DECT cordless phone support, is sparingly available. If you have a DECT compatible cordless phone, go for it because you will not need Wi-Fi. Otherwise, forget the SLC because of possible collisions on the unlicensed 2.4GHz band.
An SL4 itself still can be hard to track down. Be prepared to read and write German (or use Babelfish) if you want to get one. I was able to purchase one from NRG Systems, an Augsburg-based company operating mostly on eBay.de. The service was excellent, and I received my SIMpad by COD in only a few days.
The first thing I did was flash a Linux image from simpad.sf.net; I recommend image-opie_0.9.1 to get a Zaurus-like OPIE environment. OPIE support is being actively developed by Chris Martin, who also helped me with OPIE support.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide