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Organised Tips, Tricks & Waffle!

If you have any Organised tips, useful information or just waffle, then email me as soon as possible, thanks.

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Some of the tips have now been moved to the FAQ, so now we need some new tips, tricks and waffle to add to this page. If you have any amusing anecdotes, or have an interesting tip or trick, then please let us know!

What's Here:

Hardware Tips.

Software Tips.

Waffle!

Some Miscellaneous Questions.

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Rechargeable Batteries.

Using rechargeable batteries not only saves on cost, but, also they usually have rounded bottom edges which are much easier to get in and out of the Organiser battery compartment!

Remember that rechargeable batteries react differently to normal batteries when they run out. With rechargeables, the power drops quite quickly, so when the low battery error occurs you have less time before the organiser fails to work.

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Cheap Datapaks?

There are plenty of cheap, surplus, Datapaks around now-a-days, but, there is an alternative to purchasing more of these. If you have an old Psion program on Datapak which you no longer use such as Psion Organiser Pocket Spreadsheet, unclip the plastic case containing the Datapak circuit and take a look at the chip inside. If it has a glass window in the top it is an EPROM and can safely be erased, if the program is no longer required.

The chip in my Spreadsheet Datapak is a 27C256 which is a 32k low power (the meaning of the 'C') chip.
I also have a Harvest Data Organiser which has a 27125 which is a 16k chip.

As can be seen from the chip numbers above, just divide the last 3 digits of the chip number by 8 to get the kilobyte capacity of the chip.

Sometimes the chip inside the software pack does not have a window in it. The spelling checker (the older version without the thesaurus) was usually supplied on such chips, and these clearly cannot be reused in this way. It also very occasionally happens that some of the pins are not wired up, so that the Psion cannot write to the chip. This is very rare however.

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Cut Price Power Supplies in the USA.

Zac says: The Psion mains adapter is connected parallel with the battery on my LZ64 and my CM (this makes polarity determination simple). The centre pin is positive (old standard -- ground=shield=outer conductor).
It is unregulated 9V DC at my guess is <300mA. Old Atari power supplies (usually can be found for about $1 to $2 US at thrift stores) will work with a cheap (~$1 US) plug from Radio Shack and a little splicing. This is how I am operating mine. :)

This Tip submitted by: Zac Schroff.

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Centring a line of text.

Rather than counting the characters in a line of text, then subtracting the total from 20, dividing by 2 and adding 1 - why not let your Psion do the calculation for you?

AT 1+((20-LEN(A$))/2),y%

The above OPL positions the cursor so as to centre the text A$ on line y%.
Make sure A$ does not exceed 20 characters though, as no error checking is performed!

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Animating Graphics.

I found out, completely by accident, that if a graphic is defined and printed to the Organiser display, to change it you don't have to re-print a new graphic character, just redefine it and it is automatically updated on screen!

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The Keyboard Buffer.

The organiser remembers the keys that you pressed in the keyboard buffer until that time when it is ready to process it. This is usually a good idea, but sometimes it can be a little problematic.

At the end of an action game for example, you want to be sure that all the key presses have been cleared before it asks if you want to play again. The easiest way to do this is

  WHILE KEY :ENDWH

You may want to use a PAUSE instruction first though (with a positive parameter), so that when the game ends you have time to realise it and stop playing.

One final point about the PAUSE command. If you use a negative parameter, the pause will end as soon as a key is pressed. This key press remains in the buffer, so the next KEY (or GET) will still retrieve it.

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Fixed Random Numbers

This procedure was developed in the days when I used a Spectrum to easily guarantee that no number was selected twice! I needed a random number generator which would produce numbers between an upper and lower limit and did not require any checking for duplicates etc.
I called the procedure Fixed Random Numbers because, although the range of numbers was fixed the numbers chosen would be randomly picked from the fixed sequence.

FIXRND:
LOCAL N$(10),O$(10),R$(1),S$(10),T$(10)
LOCAL B%,N%
N$="1234567890"          :Rem N$ is the fixed range of numbers.
B%=Len(N$)
DO
N%=INT(RND*LEN(N$))+1    :Rem N% is the randomly selected position in the
                          Rem  string A$.
R$=MID$(N$,N%,1)         :Rem These lines slice up N$ and remove the
S$=LEFT$(N$,N%-1)        :Rem  selected number.
T$=RIGHT$(N$,LEN(N$)-N%) :Rem T$=Left string A$. S$=Right string A$.
N$=S$+T$                 :Rem N$ Now=Original N$ less the selected number.
O$=O$+R$                 :Rem O$ ends up being equal to the original A$
B%=B%-1                  :Rem  randomly shuffled up.
UNTIL B%<1
RETURN

The procedure Fixed random numbers can be found in Lotto XP-LZ.zip.

This procedure can be rewritten so that it only uses the string variable N$, as shown below. It uses the same method, except that the result is also stored in part of N$. It is much less clear as the program above.

FIXRND2:
LOCAL N$(10),B%,N%
N$="1234567890"          :Rem N$ is the fixed range of numbers.
B%=Len(N$)
DO
N%=INT(RND*B%))+1        :Rem N% is the randomly selected position in the
                         :Rem  list of still unchosen numbers in N$.
N$=LEFT$(N$,N%-1)+MID$(N$,N%+1,LEN(N$)-N%)+MID$(N$,N%,1)
                          Rem The selected number is placed at the end.
B%=B%-1
UNTIL B%<1               :Rem Repeat until all have been chosen.
RETURN

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How can I detect the shift key?

If you want to know if the shift key is being pressed on its own, the ordinary keyboard commands KEY and GET are useless. This is obviously because the shift key is treated differently to any other key.

You can use the following statement:

  IF PEEKB($7B) AND 128
    REM Shift was pressed
  ELSE
    REM Shift was not pressed
  ENDIF

A completely different method is by disabling the shift function. The command

   POKEB $20C4,0

disables it. After that, the shift key acts just like any other key, i.e. it makes a click when pressed, it auto-repeats, and generates the '?' character (code 63). To enable it again, use

   POKEB $20C4,255

Be careful with this method. As a precaution, put the enabling command on its own in a separate procedure so that you can run it if you have to. It is impossible to enable the shift otherwise if an error occurs (you can no longer type the comma of the POKEB command!)

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The origins of the name PSION.

This is a great anecdote, which might explain what the name PSION actually means. Then again it might not.

"I 'talked' to a guy in London who seems to know David Potter, the founder of PSION, and he has an interesting tale about the origins of the word PSION. It seems that Potter wanted to call the new company Potter Scientific Instruments, or PSI. The banker who was lending him the money to get started objected, pointing out that the title PSI had already been taken by another company. When asked what his preferred alternative title might be Potter reportedly said "Potter Scientific Instruments, or nothing," and the stenographer recorded the name exactly as he said it. Therefore, PSION!"

This bit of waffle was told to me by Jim Mahaffey.

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The Organiser which took a bath!

This is a true story, honest.

A work colleague approached me one day in a mild state of distress - her son had left his Organiser in his overall pocket which she had washed!
She asked if I could fix the squeaky clean Psion. I agreed to take a look at it. It arrived next day with the battery still connected and a 32k DataPak! Needless to say, upon examination, I found the poor Organiser to be in a sorry condition. It was totally beyond any kind of repair.
She claimed on her household insurance and in return not only did I gain a collection of case spares but also a new set of manuals ;-)

The story doesn't end yet, though.

The son went back to work and soon after his return, one day left his Organiser on his work bench where a hammer fell on it smashing the display!
I declined her request to repair it this time as it had a warranty label still intact. The son returned it to Psion who carried out their fixed charge repair.

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What is the Psioneers Anthem?

Bob Marley playing guitar.

Bob Marley - Iron Lion Psion - What else?

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I've forgotten my password! What can I do?

If you have an LZ or LZ64 then it is possible to set a system password. If you have activated it, then every time you switch on the Psion you have to type the password in before you can use it again.

If you have forgotten your password, there is no way to bypass it. The only thing you can do is temporarily remove the battery! You will of course lose all the data in A: when you do this, but you lose the password too.

You can have a password set, but not activated. Now it does not ask for the password when starting up, but it will ask for it when you (or someone else) tries to change the password. If you have forgotten the old password and want to change it to a new one then you don't need to remove the battery. The following OPL command will remove the old password completely:

  POKEB $7FD6,0

It is also possible to set a password on a notepad file to encrypt it. If you have forgotten the password again, then you cannot recover the password easily from the file. However, using standard cryptographic techniques it is possible to recover the text without knowing the password because the encryption is not a very good one (a Viginère cypher using a key generated from the password). Theoretically an encrypted notepad can therefore be converted to an unencrypted one without knowing what the password is, provided the notepad contained enough text for these techniques to be used.

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Find Search Clue.

Is there a way to give a find search clue that searches for this clue in all applications data, word agenda, spreadsheets, in the CM, XP or LZ?

Your ORGII has the same FIND function as is still used in the 3-series Psion organisers. It finds any record containing a specified string. There is also an EXIST function to see if a file name exists, and 6 other powerful data file handling functions. These functions are thoroughly explained in the ORGII Operating Manual, and Example No. 9 is an excellent demonstration of its use.

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