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View Full Version : Does anyone really use PPC as a client?



maxthebuilder
April 25th, 2007, 04:47 AM
I wanted to open a poll on this but couldn't find an option to start a poll..
Anyway, my question is - is there anyone who REALLY uses a PPC as a client to NR? I do use it (Axim x51v). It works in general and looks nice but I find it very slow...
It (NR) is lightning fast on my desktop PC (same PC where the media library is) and very reasonably fast on the laptop (WiFi connection). PPC however is much slower (same WiFi) and I am not sure if I want to use it.
What is the current trend here? UMPC? Tablet PC?
I spent a year or two to design a ccf for my Axim just to find that I would not use it.. :(

theguywiththefunnyhair
April 26th, 2007, 04:30 AM
I use it.

:)

when you say slow, what about it are you referring to?

curtiswren
April 26th, 2007, 06:31 AM
I have a axim x51v and an older iPAQ (i think 4155). I use the iPAQ for my main remote. It is much more responsive than the axim. It does have the lower res screen though. I use the axim for the remote in the theater downstairs because we don't watch down there as often. Sometimes I'll take the iPAQ downstairs too.

pgpg
April 26th, 2007, 08:12 AM
I have an IPAQ rx3715 that I use everyday.

At first my ccf was very slow but I removed all big overlaypanels and put them on separate pages. It seems like it is the loading time of all images that slows it down the most. I guess it helps that the resolution is 320x240 too, keeps down the imagesize.

Thinking of getting another one.

DCKJR
April 26th, 2007, 01:57 PM
I use an x51v as my main remote. NR does run slow on it; painfully sometimes (1-2 secs) for some function like frames that slide in.
My ccf runs great on the PC however so I assumed that it was a horsepower issue with the x51v.

Dudley

Mastiff
April 26th, 2007, 02:05 PM
Hell, yeah! I use my O2 XDA Atom WM5 PDA-phone for around 80 % of my usage. It takes some seconds to get connected to the WLAN and into NR (around 10-12 sec all in all), but from then and on there's no slowness to see. My old PocketLoox, which should have a CPU that's just as fast (both around 400 mHz) is a lot slower, though. Jumps can take 3-4 seconds. I guess newer PPC's has a faster graphics card or something.

maxthebuilder
April 26th, 2007, 02:43 PM
It takes me 2-3-4 second to go from page to page an my Axim x51v which makes me somewhat unhappy. That's why I asked..

Also for some reason it loses connection to media bridge every now and then, and I have to reboot it.

I guess if I used it every day (which I don't) I might get used to this. Right now I mostly use a PC to control my Media Center directly with a remote control or keyboard or with NetRemote on a PC with a wired connection.

Does it make sense to use a 320x240 skin on 640x480 PPC? Never tried..

Also, for cover art - there's an option in MB to select the default image size - I cannot select "Small" for some reason - it stays on "Medium"

zarri
April 26th, 2007, 05:02 PM
I use a HTC Blue Angel for all my remoting needs and it is ok in responsiveness. I connect it over bluetooth because Wireless uses too much power. This way it works for a couple of hours. Frame switching normally doesn't take more than a second. Only the resolution is a bit low 320x240 for my needs. I use a lot of buttons and didn't had yet the time to sort out the bugs to make the sliders reliable.:rolleyes:

theguywiththefunnyhair
April 27th, 2007, 07:06 AM
It takes me 2-3-4 second to go from page to page an my Axim x51v which makes me somewhat unhappy. That's why I asked..


What .ccf are you using?

Mastiff
April 27th, 2007, 01:46 PM
Zarri, my previous WM phone was a Blue Angle (A.K.A. Qtek 9090). The screen is better than on my current Atom, but the atom is faster and more responsive, can live longer on the battery and is a lot smaller. Still the BA is a nice unit.

zarri
April 27th, 2007, 04:59 PM
Hi to the Guy with the Funny Hair... and Mastiff...

The Atom is for sure a little bit faster, but the BA was my sorted out mobile, so I reused it for the purpose of a portable remote. I am using it side by side with my 15' touchpanel. And if you have a look at the screenshot from my NR Client you can see that I prefer the display as big as possible. And i bet on an Atom you can only control my CCF with a stick, on my BA it's usable by nails.
Had someone of you guy's luck with sliders to control Volume reliable. I use a DENON 3805 and with some Client Builds it worked, with others not and when it worked it wasn't that reliable. After some Volume up's and down's it mostly stopped working.

The CCF I created was built with some parts from the standard one, like the Sound Part, Weather, but was heavily modified because it had Special Effects in it that slowed down the whole thing. The control of the devices is all configured in the GML, so I am sending only Girder Controls to the server, all Serial- and GC-Commands are configured on the server. Perhaps this speeds up things a little bit.

Barf
April 28th, 2007, 04:19 AM
I also use an Axim x51v, and is also not really happy with the speed. Possibly it can be characterized as "acceptable". Worse however is the reliability, in particular when returning from standby: NR just exits, or is stuck, much too often. Also the time it takes to reestablish WLAN connection is close to a KO-argument.

I have made some attempts with a Siemens SimPad SL4 with WinCE4.2. With large CCFs, it is so slow that it is effectively unusable.

rickd
April 30th, 2007, 06:43 AM
Are you guys running Netremote 2 sounds like NR is a dog! Was thinking of buying a ppc but looks like it is not the most realiable option

Mastiff
April 30th, 2007, 04:57 PM
I disagree. The thing is that most of the guys who have problems are running it on ooold PPCs. If you get something newer (which nowadays mostly means a PDA phone) you won't have any problems.

dmavroyiannis
May 1st, 2007, 03:12 AM
I use a Fujitsu Pocket LOOX. it works fine and is fast. The only problem is the time it gets to sync with wi-fi.

If you keep it on it drains the battery.

I am working now in a piece of code that keeps ppc on (with screen off) while I am watching TV or listening to something. after switching the system off, power saving will go back to normal. will see how it works.

d.

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 03:06 AM
I use a home cooked ccf based on pieces of other ccf's posted around here. Not very graphic intense (1mb in size) 480x640. Do use GAC.


What .ccf are you using?

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 03:23 AM
Yeah..
2-3 seconds between pages is bad but acceptable (Axim x51v here too).
But the reliability... I complained about this a couple of times on these forums.
It just hangs (not only on PPC, on PC too) when returns from standby.
Just now the PC instance was working fine, I fired up the PPC to check the last build and it (NR) would not connect to MB. I rebooted the PPC - didn't help. Rebooted the PC (wher MB was running) and only after that it started to work..
Yes, this happens much too often..


I also use an Axim x51v, and is also not really happy with the speed. Possibly it can be characterized as "acceptable". Worse however is the reliability, in particular when returning from standby: NR just exits, or is stuck, much too often. Also the time it takes to reestablish WLAN connection is close to a KO-argument.

I have made some attempts with a Siemens SimPad SL4 with WinCE4.2. With large CCFs, it is so slow that it is effectively unusable.

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 03:33 AM
That was one of my questions in the first post of this thread.
What would be the best NR client?
Yes, my Axim is way old. Almost 1 year old.
Those PDA phones are pretty expensive I guess. And I am not sure I want a Remote Control which rings and has a built in photo camera.
Looked at Fujitsu LOOX. Nice! Never seen them in a local Fry's..
Anyway, really.. what would you guys buy if you had a $1000 to burn? $500?
Philips Pronto TSU9600? :)


I disagree. The thing is that most of the guys who have problems are running it on ooold PPCs. If you get something newer (which nowadays mostly means a PDA phone) you won't have any problems.

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 03:49 AM
How would you do that?
Along these lines?:

-- Function to blank the screen if no button has been pressed for 60 seconds
function BlankScreen( )
if ( tonumber( NetRemote.GetVariable( "Utility.TimeSinceLastAction" )) > 60000 ) then
NetRemote.ExecuteAction( -999, 3, 4 );
end;
end;

-- Create a timer to call the BlankScreen function once per minute
pScreenTime = NetRemote.SetTimer( 60000, BlankScreen );
from this thread http://promixis.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16128



I am working now in a piece of code that keeps ppc on (with screen off) while I am watching TV or listening to something. after switching the system off, power saving will go back to normal. will see how it works.

d.

DCKJR
May 2nd, 2007, 01:49 PM
If you want to turn the screen off on the PPC to increase it's battery life but keep the WiFi connection up, insert the following code into your ccf lua:


-- Function to blank the screen if no button has been pressed for 60 seconds
function BlankScreen( )
if ( tonumber( NetRemote.GetVariable( "Utility.TimeSinceLastAction" )) > 60000 ) then
NetRemote.ExecuteAction( -999, 3, 4 );
end;
end;


-- Create a timer to call the BlankScreen function once per minute (only on PPC)
if (NetRemote.GetVariable('NRCFG.Platform') == 'WINCE') then
pScreenTime = NetRemote.SetTimer( 60000, BlankScreen );
end;


This works if you are running Windows Mobile PPC.
Credit for the above goes to tmorten and help from Ben S and Avid.

Dudley

DCKJR
May 2nd, 2007, 02:00 PM
The above, of course, doesn't do anything to improve the response time of NR to button pushes.

I have assembled a ccf using bits and pieces from others as you have and experience 1-3 second delay going from page to page (on Axim x51v). The 3 second ones are large sliding frames so I am guessing that those are more processor intensive. The Axim x51v has a 624 MHz processor and I thought that it would have been enough but it is pretty obvious when I run the ccf on my server versus the PPC that processor horsepower has a dramatic effect.

I think the choices are: 1) try to make my ccf more "efficient" or 2) find a higher horsepower PPC. I will start with 1) at some point by seeing if I can find some NRD coding best practices in the forum.

Dudley

Mastiff
May 2nd, 2007, 03:39 PM
1000 bucks? An XDA Atom Life, with 1 gig built-in flash memory, 3.5 G phone and just about everything else you can think of. Pronto doesn't even get a serious consideration.

ajocius
May 2nd, 2007, 04:48 PM
but XDA Atom Life runs on same speed CPU - 624MHz. Why would one expect significant improvement over Axim X51V model?

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 05:59 PM
Thanks! but I was actually referring to the same piece of code (I have it running on my PPC for quite some time now).


If you want to turn the screen off on the PPC to increase it's battery life but keep the WiFi connection up, insert the following code into your ccf lua:


-- Function to blank the screen if no button has been pressed for 60 seconds
function BlankScreen( )
if ( tonumber( NetRemote.GetVariable( "Utility.TimeSinceLastAction" )) > 60000 ) then
NetRemote.ExecuteAction( -999, 3, 4 );
end;
end;


-- Create a timer to call the BlankScreen function once per minute (only on PPC)
if (NetRemote.GetVariable('NRCFG.Platform') == 'WINCE') then
pScreenTime = NetRemote.SetTimer( 60000, BlankScreen );
end;


This works if you are running Windows Mobile PPC.
Credit for the above goes to tmorten and help from Ben S and Avid.

Dudley

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 06:02 PM
Yeah.. That's something I don't understand either.


but XDA Atom Life runs on same speed CPU - 624MHz. Why would one expect significant improvement over Axim X51V model?

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 06:03 PM
:)
You guys from Europe are spoiled with superior technology...
BTW, why not get a UMPC - bigger screen, Windows XP...
Battery life?


1000 bucks? An XDA Atom Life, with 1 gig built-in flash memory, 3.5 G phone and just about everything else you can think of. Pronto doesn't even get a serious consideration.

zarri
May 2nd, 2007, 06:49 PM
UMPC isn't really an alternative, at least mine not. (ASUS R2)
compared to my Blue Angel
- It's heavy
- It doesn't last longer than my ppc
- It has a fan inside!

I will give my UMPC the next try, when my VISTA Upgrade arrives.

Till then I use my little Bluetooth Blue Angel.

DCKJR
May 2nd, 2007, 07:15 PM
Thanks! but I was actually referring to the same piece of code (I have it running on my PPC for quite some time now).

Slightly different. The line:


if (NetRemote.GetVariable('NRCFG.Platform') == 'WINCE') then

allows the routine to run only when the ccf is being used on a Windows Mobile platform. This allows you to develop and test the ccf on a server without producing an annoying error message every 60 seconds.

Dudley

maxthebuilder
May 2nd, 2007, 07:28 PM
I have that line too. Thanks anyways!


Slightly different. The line:


if (NetRemote.GetVariable('NRCFG.Platform') == 'WINCE') then

allows the routine to run only when the ccf is being used on a Windows Mobile platform. This allows you to develop and test the ccf on a server without producing an annoying error message every 60 seconds.

Dudley

Mastiff
May 3rd, 2007, 07:06 PM
Man this thread is a mean mishmash of talk and code! Should be split... The reason I want the Life is the 3.5 G and the 1 gig of built in memory. Didn't say it was faster then the later Axims, but it's a lot faster than older 400 MHz models. And remember that the graphics chip can mean a lot to the jumps as well. Newer PDA's has faster chips. As for UMPC - no thanks! When I want to get some serious work done (like forum posting...) I use my laptop. The PDA is my phone, and it's always with me. I can send short E-mails, but anything longer I want a full size keyboard and monitor. The UMPC's are a bastardious thing that just isn't interesting to me at all.

tmorten
May 3rd, 2007, 09:27 PM
Regarding PPC performance: my sense is that it would be possible (in a future version of NetRemote) to optimize performance. That said, it should be possible to throw hardware at the problem in the mean-time. A UMPC should do the trick (at some financial cost, and at the loss of quick start-up times and long battery life). I suspect the forthcoming graphics-accelerated PDA's (such as the O2 Flame) would also do the trick, again at some financial cost.

I too use a 624mhz Axim, and CPU speed doesn't seem to be the bottleneck... the volume of text and individual graphic elements seem to be the culprits. I believe that using a single graphic for each screen (as opposed to individual text and graphic elements) would be one optimization we as end users could do, though this obviously limits the ability to provide graphical flair with sliding frames or animated buttons. As a partial-step, reducing the amount of individual text and graphics on each screen should help.

Cheers,
Tim

DCKJR
May 4th, 2007, 05:13 PM
Tim -

Thanks for the suggestions on improving PPC response. I'm not clear on how to implement the suggestion of "using a single graphic for each screen". Right now I create a page with a bunch of buttons and text on it. The attached is a worst case example ( - amazingly, switching into and out of this page happens very quickly, though).
Is there some way to create a "single graphic" version for something like this that I'm just not seeing?

Thanks

Dudley

Mastiff
May 5th, 2007, 05:02 PM
Man, I didn't even know about that O2 Flame! Colud have been an alternative as my next PDA instead of the Atom Life, but it's too big. 2 cm longer and wider doesn't fit my pockets. The Atom form factor is just too perfect. But the Flame has a "Long Range IR Transmittor", probably something like the CIR in the old Ipaq's. If NR could use that one...

tmorten
May 8th, 2007, 11:10 AM
To use a single graphic, you would create one image that fills your whole screen, and then put invisible buttons on top. You'd lose your up/down button appearance, but it should improve performance. As you increase the number of graphics (and the amount of text), you should see an incremental performance hit for each element added. You may want to experiment and find a sweet spot between performance and appearance.

Best,
Tim

DCKJR
May 8th, 2007, 01:57 PM
Ah, I get it. Thanks Tim. I have built a ccf that is more complicated than it needs to be because I wasn't paying attention to the effect on the CPU. Time to go on a diet.

Dudley

tmorten
May 8th, 2007, 06:29 PM
To summarize/expand on a few of the issues raised:

Solutions For Now:

1. Performance - Based on the experiments that I've done profiling, speed can be improved three ways:

(a) Make sure your PDA is set to always run at its highest clock rate (most default to variable clockrate when running on battery)

(b) Store your CCF on a RAM disk on your PDA (article here: http://www.mobilitysite.com/forums/pocketpc-tips-tricks/30719-wm5-ramdisk-compatible-almost-every-wm5-device-here.html)

(c) Reduce the number of individual graphics and text elements on each screen (potentially consolidating them into a single static background image).

Using the tips above, I've got my Axim performing adequately with NetRemote. As a side-note, I've noticed that screen resolution is a factor -- the Axim x51v has four times as many pixels to push around as a 320x200 PDA, so folks with QVGA PDA's may actually get better performance than those with fancy VGA PDA's like us :). There is a profiling thread here http://www.promixis.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15478 if you're interested in running some objective tests.

2. WiFi StartUp Time - Use the screen blanking code posted earlier in this thread (originally discussed here: http://www.promixis.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16128), and simply leave your PPC on all the time. With an extended battery, I can get through watching multiple movies without running out of juice. Note that you have to adjust the power settings on your PDA so that it doesn't automatically turn itself off.

3. Freezes Resuming - Again, use the screen blanking code posted earlier in this thread, and simply leave your PPC on all the time. I can run my CCF for months without crashing, as long as I don't turn off the PDA.


Longer Term:

- New hardware will alleviate the graphics performance issues; the O2 Flame uses an nVidia graphics chip that supposedly has massive horsepower (video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kLFPfaxQ6U). Many more PDA's will start to adopt this technology in the coming year.

- Software optimization is possible; the Promixis team will surely explore this on future versions of NetRemote :). Use of PPC DirectX, using multiple screen buffers, overdraw reduction, consolidation of text calls, caching loaded screens, etc... there are lots of avenues to pursue.

Mastiff
May 9th, 2007, 05:21 AM
folks with QVGA PDA's may actually get better performance than those with fancy VGA PDA's like us :).
That would explain why I never have any problems, even though there's a lot of buttons on some of my pages.

tmorten
May 9th, 2007, 11:46 AM
Yeah, I've almost been tempted to down-grade, but everything looks so much crisper at 480x640, I'm not sure if I can go back! :)

I'm really looking forward to the hardware that rolls out over the next year:
1. The low-power nVidia chips mentioned earlier
2. The new ultra-low power x86 chips (to replace xscale) announced at the last Intel Developer Forum
3. Double-capacity Lithium based battery breakthrough announced yesterday

It seems likely that we will have PDA's that are every bit as powerful as today's lap-tops sometime in the next 12 months, and that they will have battery life in the 8 to 12 hour range. I'm sure they won't be cheap when they first appear, but the long-term outlook for software-based remotes in general, and NetRemote specifically, seems excellent.

Cheers,
Tim

PS - That said, no one would be more excited than me if an optimization pass were to be made on the NetRemote codebase! ;) I wish I had more speed NOW!

Mastiff
May 10th, 2007, 06:37 PM
Sounds very interesting! I may wait until next year to upgrade my Atom, then. New batteries and more powerful CPU's isn't bad. Btw my current Atom is actually faster then my six first notebooks. The first one was not a notebook, but more a "dragable" computer, Amstrad PPC 512. Two 3.5" floppy drives (couldn't afford the $ 1200 20 MB hard drive), and it had an 8088 CPU with a whopping 8 MHz speed! Blistering in Word Perfect with DOS 3.2.

rpalmer68
May 13th, 2007, 07:45 AM
PS - That said, no one would be more excited than me if an optimization pass were to be made on the NetRemote codebase! ;) I wish I had more speed NOW!

Here, here!

I've got a x51v too and would love it to be just a bit quicker switching between pages.

Richard

davecherry
May 25th, 2007, 02:05 PM
I have a x50v with WM5 updated. I find the time between pages fairly slow, although usuable.

I'm interested in trying the RAMdisk to speed things up, but confused about what happens if I need to soft reset. Is there an automatic way to reload NR and my ccf to the RAMdisk or does this have to be done manually with ever soft reset?

tmorten
May 25th, 2007, 03:37 PM
I'm planning to use a free utility called MortScript to do just that:

http://www.sto-helit.de/index.php?module=page&entry=ms_overview&action=view

You can create a script to launch the RamDisk, copy the CCF, and launch NR, and then put it in the startup directory off Windows, and I believe that should start automatically after a soft reset.

Cheers,
Tim

davecherry
May 29th, 2007, 05:05 PM
Can you post the script here when its working.

Thanks

tmorten
June 2nd, 2007, 02:08 PM
This did the trick for me:

1. Install MortScript on the PDA

2. Create a text file called NRBoot.mscr that contains the following:

# First, execute the shortcut to create the RAM disk
RunWait( "\Windows\ramdisk.exe", 8192 )

# Wait ten seconds so wi-fi can come on-line
SleepMessage( 10, "Pausing for Initialization", "Wait...", 0 )

# Next, copy the CCF and LUA files to the newly created RAM disk
XCopy( "\My Documents\NRCCF\*.*", "\Ramdisk" )

# Finally, boot up NetRemote
Run( "\Program Files\NetRemote\NetRemote.exe" )
3. Copy NRBoot.mscr to your PDA's "\Windows\Startup" folder

Voila... NetRemote should start up automatically with the last executed CCF every time you reboot your PDA. Note that I'm copying ALL files from NRCCF to your RamDisk, so either keep that folder clean or change that line to copy just the files you want.

The pause is in there because NetRemote was unhappy being started before WiFi. Depending on your PDA and your network, you could experiment with shortening/lengthening this pause as appropriate.

One final note: Make sure the last time you ran NetRemote, you loaded the CCF off the RamDisk -- otherwise, you will still be running out of (the painfully slow) main memory.

Cheers,
Tim

tmorten
June 2nd, 2007, 02:35 PM
As a side note (related to our earlier discussion on performance), I just tried a utility called xcpuscalar 2007 (information here: http://www.immiersoft.com/).

I was able to overclock my Axim to 728mhz, which did produce some speedup in NR. That said, my page jumps are still pretty slow -- which seems to validate that the bottleneck is graphics, not CPU.

Now if only someone made an overclocking utility for the 2700G graphics co-processor that's in the Axim!

BTW, the O2 Flame started shipping, but from the benchmarks I've seen posted, the baseline bitblt graphics performance is no better than the Axim. I expect 3D performance will be better (with its nVidia chip), but it's disappointing that the 2D performance is still slow outside of DirectX.

Cheers,
Tim

PS - My second Axim would only go up to 664mhz... 728mhz froze it up every time. Still, every little bit helps!

davecherry
June 3rd, 2007, 02:57 AM
Thanks for the script. It does create the ramdisk with my ccf file, but when NetRemote restarts after the soft rest it still asks which ccf to open -- i.e. it forgets which ccf it last opened. Any way around this - eg. is there a command line paramete for NetRemote to specifiy opening the ccf in ramdisk?

tmorten
June 3rd, 2007, 12:11 PM
I didn't have that problem, but I suspect that just means that the files didn't finish copying over to the RamDisk at the point where NetRemote launches. Try putting a delay in between the file copy and launching NetRemote:


#Delay time, in milliseconds
Sleep( 5000 )

This would provide an extra five seconds to copy the file over.

Cheers,
Tim

rpalmer68
June 11th, 2007, 05:39 PM
Can I ask how much difference the RAMDisk actually makes in speeding NR2 up?

I'm thinking of trying it, but thought I'd see if it's worth the time/effort.

Cheers
Richard

tmorten
June 12th, 2007, 12:35 AM
See this thread for an objective answer: http://www.promixis.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15478

Using a RamDisk can be almost twice as fast...

Cheers,
Tim

Barf
July 15th, 2007, 01:51 PM
Possibly only vagely related, but here it goes:

Recently, using my Dell Axim x51v, NR just dies. Dies, without any error message, and returns to the operating system. This does not happen deterministically, but triggered by different events, like key presses. Probably something with the hardware or operating system is to blame, but what???

Any hints? I am getting frustrated...

llafriel
July 19th, 2008, 02:45 AM
Reviving an old tread here.. I've managed to install everything but I'm failing to load the ccf from the ramdisk. Netremote seems to default to the 'My Documents' folder. I can't point it to the 'Ramdisk' folder. Am I missing something obvious?

llafriel
July 19th, 2008, 06:04 AM
My fault. ccf didn't copy to ramdisk as it wasn't big enough. I'm unable to create a ramdisk bigger than 1 mb. If someone knows a solution please post it. :) OS is wm6.0.

VicVonDoom
July 20th, 2008, 05:05 PM
i use a dell axim x30 (30 from the mighty ebay)

solely for controlling zoomplayer via wifi, battery life is pony. But it beats getting up to go to the kitchen to hit pause....Damn wallmounted touchscreens!

connects within 5secs usually. Once connected, there's no noticable delay in response.......