Looking for a Wi-Fi-capable, ~30MHz, preferably Linux-compatible pocketable device
I am very sensitive to electromagnetic and radiofrequency radiation and most electronic/"computerey" devices stress my nerves out, tend to make me angry/combative and leave me unreasonably tired all the time, and for this reason I sadly can't really use computers and the like on a long-term/consistent basis (despite my interest in and aptitude for technology in general) if I want to avoid these issues, which are irritatingly consistent in their occurance.
This has been a big problem for me for some time particularly with regard to communication: I've frequently needed to be able to communicate ad-hoc with my family when they and/or I need to split up for whatever reason, but because of my sensitivity, even a basic cell phone would not work for me long-term to the fact that the cellular radio network is by design "always on" and thus always transceiving (see very end of post for more details). This issue has had me scratching my head for a few years now, a little while ago I came up with a possible solution.
About a year ago I found an Ericsson Mobile Companion PDA-type device in an op-shop, and grabbed it thinking I might find it of historical interest at some future point in time when I might be "fixed", fully expecting it to tire me out (or worse) if I tinkered with it. Happily, though, as I tentatively then more confidently used it for longer and longer, I was surprised to find I suffered no ill effects as a result of using it. (Note that the device incorporates a web browser and email program, but actual radio connectivity was originally accomplished via an IrDA connection to a compatible cell phone.)
As one of the first "computerey" devices I think I can actually use on a consistent basis without problems and which does not seem to fatigue my nervous system, which is abnormally sensitive to practically everything electronic for some as yet unfortunately unknown reason, this PDA has opened up a world of possibility to me. It may not surprise you to hear that I actually typed this post on it... but I had to transfer it to a PC via a CompactFlash card in order to actually post it. Wi-Fi connectivity, which I know from experience I am okay with for very short intervals, would be a real boon to have: I not only wouldn't need a full computer to be able to browse the Web, but most importantly, I'd be able to employ the growing myriad of free Wi-Fi hotspots in urban centres to connect to some kind of chat or communication system. This idea might sound like something insignificant in this day and age, but it would be revolutionary for me.
Sadly, however, I have one major concern about my MC218 which leaves me very reluctant to try and get Wi-Fi working on it (although I *probably* could find a way, thanks to the fact that it seems to run Linux (2.4) reasonably well): durability. This PDA is almost freakishly delicate. I read shortly after finding it that the LCD ribbon cable on the Psion Series 5 (which the MC218 is a licened clone of) - which is is flexed every open/close cycle - has an artifiially limited lifespan due to a silly manufacturing design decision, and since I've no idea if I'm susceptible I try to leave the lid/screen open whenever I can, and I am particularly careful with the device in general, but despite these efforts - and the fact that this device was actually in practically as-new condition when I found it - over the few months I've had it, the case, which is made of very solid-looking but thin, brittle plastic, has cracked in about 5 or so places, the most disasterous being the entire screen-hinge-foldback mechanism (which I managed to fix with thin wire hidden inside the chassis, so thankfully I can still close the lid perfectly if I need to), and the DC power input socket (thankfully it has one!) has recently started to play up as well (I think it's at the beginning stages of coming unsoldered :(). I guess this is to be expected of a 13 year old device though. :P
So with fixes in tow, this PDA is still puttering along, but I'm on a (slightly urgent!) quest to find PDA 2.0, something as electronically identical as possible to my current device but with a slightly tougher, more rugged design and which I can *somehow* cram Wi-Fi connectivity into, if it's not already on board. Additionally, it needs to be self-contained enough that I don't need a computer (or a perpetual Wi-Fi connection to one - I did say "short intervals" before, meaning a few minutes or so) to maintain the device and (of paramount importance!) write apps for it like I can with the BASIC-like OPL programming environment on my current PDA (which is IMHO its awesomest feature and star attraction). Ideally this would be an on-device C compiler....I can hope (and I really do). :)
I've done some digging to see what's out there that might fit, but Google isn't particularly good at abstract/horizontal/categorical searches like "find really slow devices that have had Linux - or something just as relevant and flexible - hacked onto them regardless of what OS they officially run" (or shortened search phraseology thereof), and so far I have been presented with PDAs and gadgets which are ~70MHz but only run Linux 2.3 and are highly likely incapable of having Wi-Fi added; run Linux 2.6 and are freakishly obsessed with 300MHz+ CPUs (meep), color screens (meh) and some form of accelerated graphics processing (nooooo); or which are 75MHz, run Linux 2.4 and incorporate Wi-Fi but only work (driver-wise) with a commercial Linux environment (ack!) and which would be particularly fruity to hack a touchscreen and battery onto. *Give up* *Formulate post* *Locate likely-looking forums* *Submit* :P
I've also found that most of the things I've seen which I did consider for a moment or two often don't seem exist anymore or are inaccessible to buy today. Thus, I'm particularly interested to hear from people who remember and/or have experience with specific, obscure/unorthodox/out-of-the-way, not-so-simple-to-find devices which might work out for my requirements. In other words, I want to hack something together. :P
So... my current PDA's specs, and PDA 2.0's requirements:
This is by far one of the trickiest, most difficult questions I've ever asked on/of a forum, and while I have absolutely nooo idea what you'll all come up with, I'm open-minded, and am certainly looking forward to your responses and ideas.
I'm not beyond building this device myself, but it does still need to be able to fit in my pocket ;)
Due to the fact that I don't have this device right now I won't be able to check this thread particularly frequently (catch 22!), although I will try to poke my head in at most a week or so from now.
PS for anyone who might raise the issue of cellular radiation vs. Wi-Fi radiation:
From an RF testing perspective, AFAIK most tests measure Wi-Fi radiation at a few meters, and cell radiation (from the tower, not the phone!) quite a bit further away, so of course the cellular radiation levels in such tests always measure lower. Just what I've heard.
At the end of the day, a cellular solution would *probably* actually work out okay from a RF sensitivity perspective, since the RF bursts would be intermittent and very short (a few seconds every 30-45min. or so).
My real problem is this: the average "basic" cell phone is built such that that the cell radio and its associated microcontroller(s) can notify the phone's main CPU of incoming calls at any time, and also so that keypad actions will wake the screen up instantly. As such, it would be completely irrelevant for a phone CPU to go to "sleep" in the way I've talked about in this post, so no phone firmware would incorporate the capability. Also note that the CPU in a basic cell phone is I think nearly 100MHz. Furthermore, only the newest, fanciest 400MHz+ CPUs provide the "oomph" neccessary for sufficient on-device functionality to justify a software cell-module off-switch. Thus, the only type of cellular solution I'd be able to use - one I could completely switch off - would likely be some kind of geometrically overgrown slow-as-molasses serial-to-cellular GPRS modem module type thing, and this would very much be a last resort because it would not only be so insanely slow (Wi-Fi is very attractive in this regard! ~54Mbps+ vs. ~25kbps? Ha!), in this 4G-obssessed day and age it would be nigh impossible to find a cost-effective data plan for it - I'm aware that telcos offer obscure yearly-prepaid plans for miniscule amounts of data or SMS transfer, but I'd also want to use the wireless link for occasional web browsing and data synchronization, which would not only crawl with GPRS, but it would boot me out of the "minimal data transfer" category, my only recourse being to pay for a 3G SIM card with a data cap I'd never be technologically capable of fulfilling (a lot of mobile plans specify "no continuous downloading", which would be my first requirement if I were to try and fill out a 100MB limit at 20kbps). In other words: circumstancially speaking, it would never work out. :P And Wi-Fi is freee :D
since you are open to suggestions but this belong to a health forum but you may like to google EMF protection etc
I was interested in the comments in this post
I like cheap solutions
see reply 35, simple to do, cheap to do, no big deal if it is bunkum
Heh, I've actually crossposted this message onto a few forums; I find it extremely interesting that every single response so far has been EMR-sensitivity related.
Some facts to get an idea of what this sensitivity means:
- It all started when I got a secondhand PS/2 in 2009. After using it for a couple of days I felt adrenally "dead". That's the best way I can put it. I was almost completely emotionless, the mental equivalent of a Windows BSOD caused by insufficient system resources; "nothing left; must halt." Not an emotional "oh-I-can't-take-it-anymore" must-die thing, just a nothing nothing left sense of drainedness. No. Not fun. Not going there again. =P
- Prior to the PS/2, which "toppled me over", I had insomnia so bad I was going to bed an hour before the night/day before. I have previewed all possible shift-worker sleep options. :P I was also behaviorally very stubborn, felt that my capacity to learn/"keep up"/stay mentally focused was a dead piece of chewing gum, and I was chronically fatigued and perpetually depressed. The PS/2 basically showed me that all this actually *could* get ten times worse... to the extent that I've not used a computer seriously for the past 5 years - and have been insomnia- and chronic-fatigue-free since getting off computers. I was able to use this 800MHz Duron for a few months from the start of 2013, but beyond that, my PDA has pretty much been it for me.
- Not blaming anybody (it was a great test!), but a DVD player was accidentally left on overnight recently. *Next morning* "Hey, the power button's in..!!" *Some time later* "OH THAT MIGHT BE WHY I COULDN'T SLEEP LAST NIGHT" and I felt depressed and unable to think clearly that day.
- When I got a set-top box in 2009 as an experiment I happily set it up and queued half the EPG (it had a little HDD inside). It got left on overnight (some of the programs came on at 2AM and 6AM) and after coming home from going out the following day I was so distressed by its electromagnetic presence that I proceeded to manually delete each show one by one, for the very reason that I didn't want to do that, and that I wanted to keep them. This is an example of the annoying "combativeness" distress response that EMR generates.
- I recently tried listening to my iriver S10 (through speakers), one of the smallest MP3 players in the world. I was quite irritable for a day or so afterwards. :/
- The Australian analogue TV signal will be cut on December 3rd of this year, in two weeks or so. That is when I - and sadly the rest of my family - will stop watching analogue TV. I seem to be fine with analogue CRT TVs, but as stated above, STBs are a nightmare.
- The Casio CFX9850GB+ scientific calculator uses a 4MHz ZX933 CPU and a tri-color (blue/orange/green) 3-layer LCD. I **seem** (!!) to be okay with it at the moment, but when I used it a few months ago I was only able to use it for a few days or my brain would start to become so spaced out I would not be capable of really engaging in anything. I remember going on a bus ride home after having used it for a while and feeling like if I was going to talk, I'd say something inappropriate - not "bad attitude" inappropriate, but self-conscious/"out of place" inappropriate. I've since learned that the front of the brain controls speech and the appropriateness of our conversation, based on context; ie, it's on overdrive at formal functions, but reasonably relaxed around friends and family. Thus this shows that my communications with this area of the brain was somehow impacted. I also found myself visually perceiving some kind of "flopping" sensation in front of my eyes after using the calculator for a time; I didn't "see" an object as such, but rather percieved it as a visual sensation, that something was physically up with my eyes. I'm using an LCD screen at the moment though, albeit with a CRT screen glare protector on the front (which looks hilarious but means my eyes don't feel like they've swallowed a hive of bees after I've used the computer for a while).
I started thinking about faraday cages weeks or at most months after behing hit with this sensitivity in 2009. I concluded that because cables would need to come out of the cage, the effect would be neutralized.
In addition, sound or images radiated out of the cage also fall within the electromagnetic spectrum and I think these can be "entrained" with the frequencies from the rest of the equipment/setup, and this would thus be exported and radiated too. I think I'm sensitive to this kind of radiation also, although I'm not sure (if it even exists).
In short, my PDA is quite (!) simple, but one of the first things I've found that really actually does seem to work out for me. I say seem; I'm half-waiting for the day I start feeling tired from using this PDA, and that won't be a nice day. I think EMR makes my nervous system go ballistic; half becomes fatigued, the other half goes hyper. The two duke it out for a time, like an air conditioner sat next to a heater. Eventually, in the same way the proverbial homeowner encounters the resulting energy bill, my nervous system finally gets fed up, shuts down, and I start going wobbly. The first thing to go is my behavior; I have a curious tendency to beeline the most argumentative or contentious aspect to a communication or conversation, and I fuel it. It's weird. Then, depending on the frequency/amplitude/whatever-else-it-is-that-I-don't-like, I either get angry (as with iPads, their insanely huge graphics buffers/processing DSPs make me want to go find some sledgehammers and walls to throw the sledgehammers at), sad or tired, or some combination.
I *am* open-minded, but... *wrinkles face* yea. Bit problematic. =P
Get yourself an agent!
You'll be a millionaire when you prove your ability to panels of sceptics. Go to somebody like Penn and Teller and you'll make so much money you won't have to worry about which computer equipment you use.
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