Topic: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Prompted by a member of this forum, I downloaded the latest build of Zurk's firmware. As I hadn't tried it out in a while, I decided to use it. And it turns out, it IS an acceptable solution-to the technically minded. And I don't mean the people who are "Pros" at Windows. I mean the really technically-minded people. And this is coming from someone who has installed Arch Linux (look it up) from scratch. I'll explain. I downloaded the file from Sourceforge, unzipped it to a flash drive, and installed it. Next, I did the initial setup procedure with the Wi-Fi and screen calibration. After that, I logged in to the web-based interface, deleted some widgets I didn't want, and set up the weather configuration. Only to find that it didn't actually have an effect on the weather widgets. I looked on Zurk's forum and found that you had to edit the parameters of the individual widgets to actually get the weather correct. After this, I couldn't figure out how to add new widgets, and there's nothing about it on the forum. Then, the Chumby wouldn't let me connect to the wireless network. At this point, I gave up. From what I could see, however, there were a lot of rough edges. For example, several of the widgets were clearly meant for the 8 inch devices, as the screen was letterboxed. The weather app's text was too small to read, as well. Also, there's no way to adjust how long the widgets take to switch, and I can''t upload .swf files to use as widgets. Because of these faults, as well as the increasing frustration caused by the problems I was having, I am currently back on the test stub server. If Zurk makes configuration better and removes some of these flaws, I could envision using this as my daily driver. For now, however, I expect Duane to get the new servers up and running before this happens.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

nice wall of text. while i dont mind honest reviews of shortcomings clearly dishonest ones need to be addressed.
1. yes you didnt know how to add new widgets. the gigantic add new widget button on the web control panel must have missed you, being that its right front and center and you just have to click it.
2. you couldnt connect to the wifi network with your chumby but you somehow managed to edit the widget weather parameters though the web control panel hosted on the chumby itself.
3. yes there is no way to adjust how long the widgets take to switch other than the text field when you go into the web control panel which says Widget Timeout (seconds).
4. you cant upload swf files even though a web based file manager is provided (complete with upload button) AND a system for copying files from USB disks though the web interface is provided. clearly the web control panel button clicking is too hard for you.
I seriously doubt you have downloaded or even tried the latest version of Zurk's firmware. did you just make all that up ?

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

You are very quick to do what you seem to condemn. There are plenty of people who would come to the same conclusions as nathanm. This doesn't seem to be the place to try to defame people because they have a seasoned opinion. I have not gotten the impression that nathanm is a dishonest person but was trying to use zurk's firmware and give an honest appraisal. A kind thing to do would to actually point out in a civil way where you think he went wrong and give assistance in actually making it work as you envision it can be. Thanks for your consideration.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

I'm sorry for making you mad, delaney99, but some of your criticisms seem to have no point.
1, as well as 4: I did try that button. All it did was make a generic widget, and the only way to add a new widget was to put a flash file on an unspecified location on a USB drive.
2: What I was saying is that while yes, I could connect to a Wi-Fi network with the Chumby, and edit the weather parameters, the Chumby stopped responding to pings and http requests at this point.
3: While such an option could be there, all I found were configuration options for the volume, brightness, night mode, etc. Nothing about widget timeout.

Again, I try to be as open to criticism as possible, and yet at the same time, you seem to act a lot like msharp42. Like demarks51 said, you could instruct me where I went wrong, and maybe even make well-written documentation for other people like me who want to use the firmware but have nowhere to start.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

nathanm wrote:

Chumby stopped responding to pings and http requests at this point.

FWIW, I see this on the standard firmware as well.  If there's no network traffic for 6 or 7 minutes then it stops responding until the next WLAN group key renegotiation, when it _sometimes_ wakes up again.  I think it's an ARP issue; I can see my desktop doing an arp request, but the chumby doesn't respond.  From another machine that still has an ARP entry, I can ping the chumby without problem.

It's _possible_ this is a router issue, but I've seen it with 2 different routers (WRT54G, TP-Link) over the past couple of years and it's only the chumby that's affected (both of them), so I think it's likely a driver issue in the chumby kernel.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

nathanm wrote:

you seem to act a lot like msharp42

Yes. What a shame delaney99 didn't appear on the forum until after msharp42 was banned. They seem to have so much in common and I'm sure they would have got on so well together...
And, to return to the actual thread topic, I have just bought another CC and was wondering what to do with it. Now I think I might try the zurkware on it.
My programming experience started and finished with learning about the z80 microprocessor in 1986 (and all I can remember of that is that I did it - I can't remember what it was that we programmed the z80 to actually do, or why, and I certainly have no idea of how it was done, other than that it was done in a little plastic suitcase called a Fox Trainer) so we will see exactly how far one can get with the zurkware just by following the instructions provided, without any relevant knowledge or experience.
I will report back later.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

OK, I've got the zurkware running on my Classic. It took a long time because I ran into a number of tangentially-related problems.
1) My new Chumby was still on the 1.7.1 firmware. I found the link on these forums to the newer versions and upgraded it.
2) I couldn't get the zurk download to work properly on Firefox. It did work on Chrome.
3) My USB stick was formatted FAT16. The zurk Read Me says it needs to be FAT32. I didn't know if the difference was important or not, so I reformatted it. This took longer than you might think because I have a Mac and I don't know how to make Disk Utility format in FAT32 - I think it makes up its own mind depending on the size of the drive. Anyway, I spent some time trying to work out how to do this before just doing it in Windows.
4) My USB stick was only 1GB - the Read Me says this is sufficient but after a very slow unpacking I got a message saying there was not enough space on it.
5) So I started again on an 8GB USB.
6) This didn't work when I put it in the Chumby because I had forgotten to take the files out of the top level folder.
7) Once I did this, then it worked.
Obviously, none of these problems has anything to do with faults in the zurkware itself - but they will, perhaps, serve to illustrate the type of problems that people can encounter even within the seemingly simple task of ''unzip it onto a USB drive, plug it into the Chumby and reboot".
The next thing to do is to tackle the configuration of all those weather widgets. Although maybe it won't be necessary - the AccuWeather widget is telling me it is 60 degrees, mostly cloudy with calm winds in Pitt Meadows, BC and, amazingly, it is also 60 degrees, cloudy and calm here in Sydney, Australia.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Mine, too, continued to tell me the weather in Pitt Meadows, and I could not get it to change.

My experience is much like nathanm's.  I was able to get my chumby to boot from the zurk software, but could never get much farther than that.  I made a modest (but unsuccessful) attempt at eliminating widgets and updating my weather location, but decided the time that I would need to spend to figure this out was better spent on other pusuits.  Besides, even in current form, the little device makes a really nice clock radio and my two have found other uses around the house.

For the most part, I have moved on to old android cell phones and tablets.  If the chumby ever starts to work again as designed, I will re-engage.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Well if you guys have a huge number of problems unzipping a 400 meg file to a 1GB USB stick and plugging it into your chumby then I apologize.
Obviously your technical abilities are far inferior to my present opinion of your abilities so I shall readjust my expectations accordingly.
Sorry but Zurk's firmware is too difficult to install or use for you. Please continue with the Space Clock and avoid trying any offline firmwares on your chumby. You might brick it.


MODERATOR:  Please be nice. There are a number of reasons it might not be working. The zip file might have been corrupt, there could be a problem with the USB stick, or his Chumby just might not like that USB stick. I am sure there are other possibilities other than PEBKAC.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Actually, I was considering another alternative: I may move to Pitt Meadows, BC to solve the problem.

Brian, #1 Joan Jett Fan

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Joan Jett wrote:

Actually, I was considering another alternative: I may move to Pitt Meadows, BC to solve the problem.

Like! smile

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

delaney99 wrote:

Well if you guys have a huge number of problems unzipping a 400 meg file to a 1GB USB stick and plugging it into your chumby then I apologize.
Obviously your technical abilities are far inferior to my present opinion of your abilities so I shall readjust my expectations accordingly.
Sorry but Zurk's firmware is too difficult to install or use for you. Please continue with the Space Clock and avoid trying any offline firmwares on your chumby. You might brick it.

Thank you for the helpful post

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

delaney99 wrote:

Well if you guys have a huge number of problems unzipping a 400 meg file to a 1GB USB stick and plugging it into your chumby then I apologize.
Obviously your technical abilities are far inferior to my present opinion of your abilities so I shall readjust my expectations accordingly.
Sorry but Zurk's firmware is too difficult to install or use for you. Please continue with the Space Clock and avoid trying any offline firmwares on your chumby. You might brick it.

Yes. That's all you need to do. Because EVERYBODY needs to view the weather radar for the other side of the US, view the weather forecast for Pitt Meadows, and know what the day of the month is in German. The fact you have to understand is that not everyone is msharp42. Instead of telling me and other members of the forum what they're doing wrong, you're taking the same route as him.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

i dont know who this masharp42 person is. You should email him directly to talk to him.
I am located in Sweden and the local weather here displays fine on the firmware. I also get local swedish weather radar using väderradar at http://www.vaderradar.se/
There is a large gap in your technology knowledge and the knowledge requirements for running the firmware. Therefore you should work with what you know (default Chumby with Space Clock) instead of trying something which will not work for you.
Hope this makes sense for you.

15 (edited by bobsz 2013-06-14 23:27:26)

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

I was an old-time advocate of zurkware, and I still believe it's potentially valuable. The problem for me now is that the documentation is so fragmented, because zurk's made basic changes to the architecture over the versions. Things mentioned above like USB size and changing weather parameters are good examples. A forum member made a handbook once but it was quickly outdated. To fine tune a lot of the settings, you'd have to read through a lot of his forum topics, and find the most recent method.

I did have a couple of early, simple versions of zurkware that worked. Since I could copy info from my own channels, I even got the weather for my own town, not Pitt Meadows. Since there's no legitimate source of widgets now, I guess for new members it's a moot point. I never tried using stuff off the octopus download, but I'd guess that's the cause of things like wrong-sized widgets.

Honestly, if there was comprehensive documentation,  I would like to try newer zurkware. Since only about 40 people have downloaded his new C1 version this week, I'd guess others have found this "progress" too much for them, too.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

bobsz wrote:

A forum member made a handbook once but it was quickly outdated. To fine tune a lot of the settings, you'd have to read through a lot of his forum topics, and find the most recent method.

Oy, was it a steep learning curve for me! I like to reply to geeks who say "All you have to do is X, then Y, then Z..." with this: "You left out step A. 'Be obsessed with computers your entire life.'"

I got Zurk's firmware working for me, with most of the widgets I wanted (plus a whole new flash clock) after much gnashing of teeth. But without a proper handbook, or even a sticky on the forum that links to relevant posts, I really feel for the users who just want to make a few alterations to, say, the weather widgets. Digging around for that info was exhausting.

17 (edited by dovaleh 2013-10-21 09:43:25)

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

delaney99,
just looked at the thread, from my experience I would ask  real professionals to try to react different, and be more helpful to fellow chumby owners

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Zurks software isnt bad.  Only problem I have with it is that it loses time.

Up 5 days, clock is off by over 7 minutes

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

philhu wrote:

Zurks software isnt bad.  Only problem I have with it is that it loses time.

Up 5 days, clock is off by over 7 minutes

Same here sad

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

I am writing some posts on how to use Zurk's Firmware. I did find adding new widgets to be rather difficult and doubt that too many people would be successful doing so. I am hoping that I will be able to write an informative step-by-step guide to help others.

You may view the blog at http://chumbydev.blogspot.com/.

Please comment if there is an easier method to accomplish the same thing in any of my posts. I do ask that if you do comment on the posts that you add as much information as possible and be constructive. I want to help others to get more life out their Chumby devices.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Thanks for your blog entries, Rich. Like you, I have found Zurk's firmware to be full of unrealized potential. I especially love your description of the time sinks. I have also spent some time trying to modify various files, assuming they would do something, only to find that nothing happens.

For now, I do have one version of his firmware running on a Chumby 8 and another running on an Infocast 3.5. Both are running widgets that access the web quite successfully (various weather images, Yahoo weather, and a Clock/Temp widget). The C8 runs the same widgets all day with no problems. I configured the I3.5 to run different alarms that  trigger different channels at various times. But, it also reverts randomly (or at least I have not been able to identify a cause) to the offline channel. I have never been able to figure out why. I hope you have better luck.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

@richteel- THANKS for taking on this project. As it grows it may give me the courage to try zurkware again some day. I've used older versions. Some of the problems you mention did not happen with older versions, eg it was easy to set the order of widgets. Too bad zurk chose not to archive his older versions. Unfortunately, most of my adaptations of zurkware died with my last PC. I know recent zurkware installs on the Chumby SD rather than USB as the early ones did. I'd appreciate it if your blog could eventually cover the process of uninstalling a newer version (like your v29 instructions) and reverting to the stub server. (Other than copying the SD as you described.)

@ehertz - what versions of zurkware are you running? Any chance you could post or send me copies of your profile xml's, or parts of them, even as text files? I've been running an early version of nathanware on my C1 with absolutely no problem, but would like to expand it. The only thing I have for my C8 is the most useless profile I made, one that's totally game widgets. That survived on a USB when all my other zurkware got pickled by salt water from Hurricane Sandy last year! I still have the widget component swfs etc just can't seem to get a channel to work.

Thanks to both of you guys for reviving this thread.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

ehertz wrote:

For now, I do have one version of his firmware running on a Chumby 8 and another running on an Infocast 3.5. Both are running widgets that access the web quite successfully (various weather images, Yahoo weather, and a Clock/Temp widget).

Sounds very similar to my setup. I have an Infocast 3.5 in the home office -- mostly for internet radio streams while I'm working -- and a leatherbound Chumby by the bed as an alarm clock. Both run an old version of Zurkware, both have Yahoo weather and some clock widgets. I managed to get a new clock .swf installed as a widget, remove the weird clock overlay and that robot voice welcoming me to Zurk's Offline Firmware, all of which took days and days of experimentation and searching the forums.

My final modification was to alter the CBS podcast HTML files so I could listen to my favorite podcasts, and I decided that's enough. I'd like to have multiple channels, but I weighed the potential results against the time I'd have to spend on it, and I decided against it.

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

Any way to make Zurks firmware not lose significant amounts of time?

I mean, this is a clock.  But having to reboot every few days because it loses 5 minutes a day seems counterproductive

Thanks

Re: Thoughts on Zurk's Firmware

bobsz wrote:

@ehertz - what versions of zurkware are you running? Any chance you could post or send me copies of your profile xml's, or parts of them, even as text files? I've been running an early version of nathanware on my C1 with absolutely no problem, but would like to expand it. The only thing I have for my C8 is the most useless profile I made, one that's totally game widgets. That survived on a USB when all my other zurkware got pickled by salt water from Hurricane Sandy last year! I still have the widget component swfs etc just can't seem to get a channel to work.


I wish I knew what versions of zurkware I am using. When I checked my archives, I see I have versions going back to January 2013, going up to August 2013. I am happy to post the old versions for you to download; I just can't tell which versions they are.

As for posting the profile xml, that really won't help you. At least for the newer version of zurkware, the channels are controlled by what is located in the directory ...\zurk\lighty\html\zchannel\channels.c1. For each channel, there is a subfolder in this folder. Then each subfolder has a separate sub-subfolder that contains the files needed for each widget.

Each widget will have at least three files: movie.swf, parameters.txt and thumbnail.jpg. Then there are two optional files, template.swf, which is used to modify the parameters file, and timeout, which contains a number telling how long to run that widget.

You need to rename the files to use that specific naming convention. If you have the swf file for your widget, just rename it movie.swf and put it into the appropriate subfolder.

If you need more specific information, let me know. (Frankly, I would be surprised if you did not, it took me quite a while to get the zurkware working as it currently does.)