I recently wanted to buy some MP3 files from Amazon (a whole album in my case, but you can also just buy single MP3 files if you want). Digital music downloads from Amazon are often much cheaper than buying the physical CD (from Amazon), and you can also instantly get the stuff within seconds, without having to wait for the physical CD to be shipped to your place.
The good thing about Amazon's MP3 downloads is that the files are not infested with any DRM-crap (if that were the case I wouldn't spend a single penny on such useless junk, of course). This allows you to burn the MP3 files on CDs and/or play them on any device you like (MP3 player of choice, laptop, hifi-system, car, e-book reader with MP3 playback support, etc. etc).
Granted, you can not re-sell the digital files on eBay later, this is the one little drawback you have when compared to physical CDs, but I guess most people can usually live with that. Also, it would be great if Amazon would provide Ogg Vorbis files instead (or in addition to) MP3 files, of course.
Anyway, in order to download the MP3 files you buy from Amazon, they suggest to install the Amazon MP3 Downloader, which (surprisingly) is even available in a Mac and Linux version (only 32-bit though), but is (unsurprisingly) closed-source. This is no-go, of course, but luckily there is an alternative.
The clamz tool (GPL, version 3 or later) allows you to easily download single Amazon MP3 files, or whole albums. First, you need to login to your Amazon account and then visit a certain Amazon page (which sets a special "congratulations, the Amazon MP3 Downloader has been successfully installed" cookie in your browser). See the clamz website for the respective URL for your country. For Germany, use this URL.
The clamz installation is easy enough on Debian:
$ apt-get install clamz
IMPORTANT: It seems you need at least version 0.5 for recent Amazon files as they apparently changed something, see #647043. Current Debian unstable as of today already has 0.5, though.
After that is done, the rest is easy: In Amazon, click on "Buy MP3" or "Buy MP3 album", which will download a special AmazonMP3-1234567890.amz file. You can then let clamz download all the MP3s by typing:
$ clamz AmazonMP3-1234567890.amz
Wait a few minutes, and you'll have a bunch of non-DRM MP3 files in your current directory. Easy.
See the manpage for a bunch of options which let you configure clamz to your preferences.
There a many, many, e-book reader devices available these days, and they're quickly becoming pretty affordable. The currently cheapest device in Germany (that I know of) is the TrekStor eBook Reader 3.0, model number EBR30-a, at 59.- Euros via Weltbild or Hugendubel.
The device has an 800x480 7" TFT (yep, no e-ink), 2100mAh battery, it can display PDFs, EPUB, and TXT files (and Adobe DRM crap, which I don't really care about), it has an accelerometer which allows for landscape/portrait switching, it can play MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA audio files (headphone jack), it can display pictures (BMP, GIF, JPG, even PNG, though that's not mentioned in the vendor's specs), and it has 2GB internal storage for books/music/pictures. Uploading of (non-DRM) content is done by a simple file copy, it enumerates as a standard USB mass storage device with FAT filesystem. It's a relatively nice reader for the price, I've read a few PDFs (datasheets, presentations) on it in the subway/train while listening to music from the device and it's quite OK for my purposes. So much for the review part.
However, I didn't really buy it for reading books on it, I was more interested in taking it apart, of course ;-) My hope was that it would turn out to be a really cheap device running Linux/U-Boot which would be perfect for playing around with embedded Linux stuff. Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky (it seems).
I've posted a few photos of the device and its hardware components on my flickr account and over at randomprojects.org, together with all the information I was able to find out so far. Here's a quick summary:
There are public datasheets for most of the hardware components (see randomprojects.org for links), but unfortunately the most important one (for the CPU) is not yet found/identified. I was told that the CPU/SoC is probably based on an ARM9 (ARM926EJ-S) core and the firmware running on it seems to be some uCos-based RTOS (not Linux, unfortunately).
So far I was not able to find out the vendor name or website of the "FI E200" CPU/SoC (let alone any datasheets), any hints would be highly appreciated. I checked arm.com: Processor Licensees, but the only two companies whose name starts with "F" having licensed an ARM9 core are Fujitsu and Freescale, which doesn't fit, I think?
I could (and probably will) check the PCB for RX/TX lines on an UART and/or JTAG pads (none are obviously labelled), and given that it's and ARM9 core there is a good chance that OpenOCD can be used and that a standard cross-gcc toolchain for ARM will work. However, that is all pretty pointless until it's clear which SoC exactly is used, and thus whether there is already Linux and/or U-Boot support for it and/or whether datasheets are available so that the respective code could be written. Without datasheets, this is going to be a pretty painful experience, not really worth investing much time, IMHO.
If anyone knows more about the vendor/device and respective datasheets, please let me know. Thanks!
Update 2012-04-19: I found the UART TX pin a while ago, a bootlog is available. The CPU and all other chips are also known now: The SoC is an Allwinner Technology F1 E200, the orientation sensor is a MEMSIC MXC6225XU.
Forgot to mention this here: We released flashrom 0.9.4 a few days ago, the latest release of the open-source, GPL'd ROM chip flashing software for Linux, *BSD, DOS, and partially also Windows (work in progress, though).
Here's a quick summary of the release announcement. Some of the noteworthy news items include:
$ svn co svn://flashrom.org/flashrom/trunk flashrom $ cd flashrom $ make
I already updated the Debian package to 0.9.4 (it has also already migrated to Debian testing and Ubuntu), other people have updated Fedora, Gentoo, NetBSD etc. etc.
There's already a huge amount of patches queued for the next release, including support for even more programmers, PowerPC support (tested on Mac Mini and others), and of course the usual "more boards, more chips" items...
I recently got myself a FONIC account for mobile Internet. This (German) prepaid-provider offers a "daily flatrate" for 2.50€ per day. After the 10th day of usage (i.e., 25€) you don't pay any more. This means, even if you need mobile Internet access 31 days a month, you only pay for 10 days. After 500MB/day or 5GB/month you're throttled down to GPRS speed (but you can still connect, and you don't pay more).
$ apt-get install usb-modeswitch wvdial
Recent versions of usb_modeswitch (and matching udev entries) already support the Huawei E1750 out of the box, a few seconds after attaching the device it's automatically switched into modem mode. After this has been done you should have three new serial devices, usually /dev/ttyUSB0, /dev/ttyUSB1, and /dev/ttyUSB2. You'll need /dev/ttyUSB0 for talking to the device using AT commands. The lsusb output should look like this (see here for full lsusb -vvv):
$ lsusb Bus 001 Device 045: ID 12d1:1436 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
(before usb_modeswitch was run, the USB IDs were 12d1:1446)
The required settings for connecting are documented at fonic.de, specifically the APN (pinternet.interkom.de). A username and/or password is not required. You need to provide your FONIC PIN though. Dialing is done using the *99# number and using the ATDT command.
I'm using the following wvdial config file:
$ cat /etc/wvdial.conf [Dialer Defaults] Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0 Baud = 460800 [Dialer pin] Init1 = AT+CPIN=1234 [Dialer fonic] Phone = *99# Username = foo Password = foo Stupid Mode = 1 Dial Command = ATDT Init2 = ATZ Init3 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","pinternet.interkom.de"
For mobile Internet access you would do the following:
$ wvdial pin --> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.61 --> Initializing modem. --> Sending: AT+CPIN=1234 AT+CPIN=1234 OK --> Modem initialized. --> Configuration does not specify a valid phone number. --> Configuration does not specify a valid login name. --> Configuration does not specify a valid password.
$ wvdial fonic --> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.61 --> Initializing modem. --> Sending: ATZ ATZ OK --> Sending: ATZ ATZ OK --> Sending: AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","pinternet.interkom.de" AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","pinternet.interkom.de" OK --> Modem initialized. --> Sending: ATDT*99# --> Waiting for carrier. ATDT*99# CONNECT --> Carrier detected. Starting PPP immediately. --> Starting pppd at Mon Aug 1 xx:xx:xx 2011 --> Pid of pppd: 18672 --> Using interface ppp0 --> local IP address xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx --> remote IP address yyy.yyy.yyy.yyy --> primary DNS address 188.8.131.52 --> secondary DNS address 184.108.40.206
If everything worked fine you should now have connected successfully.
There are other alternatives for achieving the same result, including umtsmon (Qt3 in the last release from 2009, looks a bit unmaintained), kppp, the GNOME NetworkManager, and others, but wvdial worked OK for me.
For more details about the Huawei E1750 device (e.g. lsusb -vvv and more photos), see my wiki page at
Update 2011-08-03: My measured download speed for a Debian ISO (over HTTP via wget, at night, roughly 22:00 o'clock) is 350-470 KB/s in case anyone is interested. During this download the blue LED on the stick was enabled, which denotes a UMTS connection (green == GPRS/EDGE, turquoise == HSDPA).
It's been a while since my last blog post, and also quite a while since my last item in the "Testing stuff with QEMU" series, so here goes.
I'm using this QEMU image to do compile-tests on the PowerPC architecture for various software projects, especially flashrom (open-source flash ROM programming software).
So here's how to install Debian GNU/Linux on PowerPC (in QEMU):
See the screenshots for some system info. By default an OpenBIOS firmware and the quik bootloader is used, the emulated "machine" is g3beige (Heathrow based PowerMAC). You can use QEMU's -M and -cpu options to select different machines or CPUs.
Hope this helps.