Installed Android 4.0.1 on my Cortex A9 (First impression)

3. January 2012 20:59 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

The Cortex A9 I bought comes with Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) but that is not really a tablet OS. Google did not
release the source code for Android 3, the tablet version, so there is no Chinese tablet with this version available.

Zenithink, the manufacturer of the ZT-280 C91 (the official name of the A9) released a Beta version of
Ice Cream Sandwich.

Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0, is the first hybrid Android OS. It can be used on phones and tablets. I could not
wait to install it and test it….

So I did:

I charged the tablet fully and started flashing it with the 4.0.1 image. After installation, takes about 2 minutes, it
boots up with the known blue Zepad screen.

After booting I had to complete the setup wizard and enter my Gmail account to complete it.

The locked screen looks a bit different from the previous versions:
You have to swipe the lock to a position that is shown when you touch the lock.

As you can see the information bar is now at the bottom of the screen, with the previous versions it was at the top of the screen.



The home screen is similar to what we know, icons on the background. The icons are a bit bigger and you can not but them at the edge of the screen but it  still looks nice.

The icon to go to the drawer is at the right top.


Inside the drawer the icons are also a bit larger and widgets can not be found by holding your finger at the home screen but can be found in a tab in the drawer.

Also a shortcut to the market can be found at the right top corner of the drawer.



shot_000005 The markets looks just as before on the tablet.



The settings tool looks a bit different, better.
as you see on the screenshot it keeps track of your data usage, can come in handy..



shot_000008 I took it of the charger 11 hours, 42 minutes and 32 seconds ago and still I got 69% left.
Today I used it to communicate with MSN, read some mail and installed some software.
Just an average day you could say.

Not too bad for a cheap ass tablet.



I left the tablet standby during the night and turned it on at 6:35 this morning.
As you can see it has now 19% power left after 21 hours, 51 minutes and 34 seconds.

Looks good after one day, not sure if I found any bugs…

Happy 2012 for everyone

1. January 2012 15:20 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

2011 was the year of the Tablet Computer (TC) and Android. Not sure what next year will bring but lets hope that it will be just as exciting as last year.

In 2011 I have tested some Chinese build, very cheap, gadgets and next year I will do the same.

I hope you all enjoy reading about these cheap Chinese goodies and see it as a cheaper alternative for the, mostly expensive, American and European gadgets.

Have fun all,



Cortex A9 ZePad (Review)

13. December 2011 07:51 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

Last week I ordered a Cortex a9 10” ZePad tablet from China.

Yesterday it arrived and of course I had to write about my findings.

I opened the box at the office and everyone who looked at the device said that it looked and felt nice and solid (the picture is taken after I used it).




The Specifications in the description are promising:

  • 10” Capacitive 1024x600 multi touch screen
  • 1 Ghz CPU
  • 512 Mb RAM
  • 4 GB storage
  • Wifi 802.11b/g/n
  • HDMI out
  • Camera
  • SDcard slot
  • USB connector
  • Android 2.3 touch optimized

After charging it I could play with it, it took about 2-2,5 hours for a full load, not too bad. The first thing I noticed was the bright screen, it looks great, the size is just right (22,5x12,5cm) and has an exact 16:9 dimension so it is perfect for watching movies.
The touch screen response is fast you actually do not have to touch it it responds even when hovering your fingertip 1 mm above the screen.

There are some differences in software if you compare it with previous Chinese tablets, this has no Chinese software installed, it is a nice clean installation with only the basic software and no bogus, unneeded, unwanted software. It is already rooted with a command shell installed, I like that..

I think I will have a lot of fun with this tablet.


Of course there are some things that are not so great, the charger that came with the tablet is a UK charger and will not fit in the European main land sockets:


But I got a power socket converter to make it fit (thanks Maarten).

Together with this order I also ordered a keyboard case and that came with a screen protector for the tablet.


It looks great and solid but it does not really fit, as you can see on the right photo and the one below.


The screen protector is also not fitted for this device



Not sure what the hole does there and why it is 2 sizes too large, the camera is not even near by.

The case could work but the protector can go right in the trash.


The tablet seems to be worth the money, the case I do not think so.

New page look

8. December 2011 18:36 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

The old look of the site was already a couple of years old. Today I decided to change it so I did..

Hope you all like it.

Star A5000 Android phone (continuance)

8. December 2011 07:47 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

Almost 6 months ago I bought a Star A 5000 Android 2.2 phone from China and I still use it.

It is much better than the Star A3000 I had before and if you look at it you would see it is still not damaged in any way you would think if you consider the origin and the used products to build it.
The screen and body are still unharmed even after I dropped it on the floor a couple of times in the last 6 months. The battery does still last 48 hours on average use, I am a heavy user and charge it every day.

I have 2 sim cards installed, 1 for personal use and 1 for business use. I text and use whatsapp a lot and have several phone calls a day, about 1,5 - 2 hours talking time.

Up until now it sounds like the perfect phone but off course a cheap ass phone like this can not be all good.. and it is not.

The down side of this phone is:

  • When you bring the phone to your ear the screen should lock but that does not happen, have to push the top button to do it by hand. 
  • The CPU should be a bit faster, for normal use it is a great phone but playing games is almost not done.
  • There are no firmware updates available.


Conclusion: I am still not thinking of buying another phone and still use this one daily so you could consider this a good buy for the 125 Euro it costs.

R.I.P. Steve jobs

6. October 2011 08:00 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments





Steve Jobs



Today Steve Job died at the age of 56, that is too young to die.

For me there where two man in the last 30 years that change all our lives, Steve Jobs was one of them, he competed with Bill Gates to make the best product ever and in that process they changed the world and I do not think they could have done it without each other.

Apple products are often no technical exiting devices but the design is good and the marketing is superb. We have to wait how the death of Steve Jobs have influence on the future of Apple, Steve was the motor behind every step they made.
The period he was no longer working at Apple the stocks dropped, the products sucked and Apple almost went bankrupt and Bill Gates had to save Apple by a money injection.
Apple did find it’s way back to the top but only after Steve Jobs came back as CEO. At present time many people buy apple gadgets and standing in line for hours to get the latest, Apple is a strong company again.

Knowing all of this you can say that Steve Jobs changed many lives but also that Apple needed him to carry the company to it’s current level. Will the company survive without Steve?
Only time will tell.

I must say that I do not own an Apple product and maybe I never will but still.. Steve also changed my live, his way of thinking changed technology as we know it today.

Too bad that someone dies that young, he could have done so much more.



Opendedup first impression

14. August 2011 10:17 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

Usually I show some findings about gadgets I bought, mostly from China, but this time it is a software review..


Some time ago I found the Opendedup project on The software package is called SDFS, SDFS is java based and runs on Linux or Windows (both 64-bit).

Some notes from the Opendup website:

Using deduplication has two big advantages over a normal file system.

  • Reduced Storage Allocation - Deduplication can reduce storage needs by up to 90%-95% for files such VMDKs and backups. Basically situations where you are storing a lot of redundant data can see huge benefits.
  • Efficient Volume Replication - Since only unique data is written disk, only those blocks need to be replicated. This can reduce traffic for replicating data by 90%-95% depending on the application.

Using SDFS adds a couple additional advantages based on its achitecture.

  • Scalability : SDSF can store huge amounts of data (over a Petabyte) and can deduplicated at block sizes as small as 4k.
  • IO Performance : SDFS can be setup in a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Nodes (RAIN) configuration. In a RAIN configuration SDFS can stream reads and writes, in parallel, across multiple nodes allowing for huge IO performance increases.

I have tested SDFS on CentOS 6.0 because the needed Fuse 2.8 is supported on this..

I used a virtual machine on VMware with a 20 GB disk for the OS and mounted an extra 135 GB disk to /opt, SDFS stores the dedupe chuncks in /opt/sdfs/volumes/<volumename>

The needed packages; Opendup Binaries and Java JDK 7
Just download them to an empty directory and run “yum install jdk-7-linux-x64.rpm SDFS-1.0.7-2.x86_64.rpm” all needed dependencies will be installed.

After installation you can create a volume with the following command; “mkfs.sdfs --volume-name=sdfs_vol1 --volume-capacity=100GB” you could change the block size, I tested the default 128k, 64k and 4k blocksize but with the 4k blocksize java crashes.

After creation you can mount the virtual volume to any path you want but it has to be empty. I mounted it to the /home directory; “mount.sdfs -v sdfs_vol1 –m /home

All files stored in /home/<user> directory is inline deduplicated.

To see what the status is of your volumes use; “sdfscli --volume-info” it shows the deduplication ratio etc.

Something not mentioned on the opendedup website is that when you copy a large amount of files to the virtual volume java could encounter a “too many open files” error and your chucks can get corrupted. To fix this problem I edited /etc/security/limits.conf and added the following 2 lines:

  1. * soft nofile 4096
  2. * hard nofile 10240

This changes the default max open files amount.

I added the line “mount.sdfs -v sdfs_vol1 -m /home/” to the /etc/rc.local file to make sure the virtual volume is mounted at every boot.

If you follow above steps you should be able to build a storage device with a dedupe filesystem, I added SAMBA-Server myself to use the dedupe filesystem as a Windows fileserver..


Some stats:

[root@backup-01 ~]#  sdfscli --dse-info
DSE Max Size : 136 GB
DSE Current Size : 15.2 GB
DSE Percent Full : 11.17%
DSE Page Size : 131072
DSE Blocks Available for Reuse : 0

[root@backup-01 ~]#  sdfscli --volume-info
Volume Capacity : 135 GB
Volume Current Size : 21.8 GB
Volume Max Percentage Full : Unlimited
Volume Duplicate Data Written : 25.7 GB
Volume Unique Data Written: 432.6 MB
Volume Data Read : 9.1 KB
Volume Virtual Dedup Rate (Dup/Total Bytes Written) : 98.38%
Volume Real Dedup Rate (DSE Size/Total Bytes Written) : 41.73%
Volume Actual Storage Savings (Unique Blocks Stored/Current Size) : 30.26%

As you can see I have a 135 GB volume but the stats are a bit confusing Smile

Star A5000 Android phone

14. July 2011 20:24 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

Last phone I bought was the Star A3000 from China, the phone works great but does not look that fancy and it has a resistive screen.

Time to get myself a better looking phone with a capacitive screen.

I like Android, works smooth, lots of free software, easy to use etc..
So it had to have android again..


  The Star A5000 is the newer version of the Star phones from China with some additional features the A3000 does not have
  but mostly it is similar. You can order it with a resistive or capacitive screen, I got the capacitive one.

  As you can see the phone looks much better than the A3000, it looks like the HTC desire Z (but without the hardware keyboard).
  Something that is better than the old one is that the battery gives more power and lasts a bit longer, I guess the screen uses a
  bit more power than the resistive one.




+ Looks
+ Battery lifetime
+ Capacitive Screen
+ Dual SIM

- Top button hard to press.

I would definitely recommend this phone

Openbox S10 satellite receiver

14. July 2011 20:10 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

Ok, I know.. It has been some time ago that I posted something..
It has also been some time ago that I bought something from China..Smile


Some time ago I bought a Dreambox DM500 clone, that works fine but does not receive High Definition channels, I needed something that understands HD television..

I bought an Openbox S10, it is a cheap HD receiver, small and also capable of using cardsharing services like the Dreambox does.
The Openbox is less used and it is less open than the name would suggests.

This box also is PVR capable, just insert an USB stick and done..


The Openbox is also very small and looks even better than the Dreambox does.

The cardslot is behind the right side of the front panel, there is even place for another common interface module.



+ Cheap
+ High Definition
+ Looks
+ Internal power supply
+ No fans (no sound)

- Not as open as the Dreambox

I would recommend this receiver.

China phone (review)

30. March 2011 22:32 by Ron in   //  Tags:   //   Comments

On January 17th I wrote about the Star A3000 that arrived from China, today a bit more comments about that..


As you can see on the photo I use the phone with 2 SIM-cards, 1 for T-Mobile and 1 for KPN.
That works great, when dialing a number I choose the card to dial out from and when a call comes in I see which number is used to call me..

Now I only carry 1 phone in stead of 2, I have to have 2 numbers, 1 for personal use and the other is a business number.

The dual SIM option does not have any influence on the battery time, I still think it should last longer.. With normal use I have to charge it every day but I do not think that is a major problem.

I use a Star A-3000 Android phone for a couple of months now and I still like it a lot and I have not find any problems that would make me want to buy another brand/type phone.

I do not say it is perfect but it is good enough for me..
The quality of the casing could be a bit better, the plastic feels and looks like plastic and the battery lifetime could be better.