Comments on: Run Apps From Memory Cards with PiDirectVFS

Portable Innovation Technology has unveiled PiDirectVFS, which allows Palm OS devices with VFS support to directly run applications and read-only databases stored on removable memory cards. It costs $30 but is available until December 1 for $20.
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Is this better for AvantGo synching?

robrecht @ 9/26/2001 10:34:29 AM #
"The OS treats the memory card as part of the internal memory and small fragments of data are transfered onto the internal memory upon execution."

Does this present a better solution to the AvantGo debate from a few days ago? As I understand it it seems like Avantage might require more internal memory than PiDirectVFS???

Thanks, Robrecht

RE: Is this better for AvantGo synching?
rldunn @ 9/26/2001 10:48:57 AM #
Since PiDirect only handles read-only databases, you can move the main AG file to external memory but not the databases.

RE: Is this better for AvantGo synching?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 11:15:31 AM #
I stopped to use Avant Go. iSilo 3.0 Beta 2 runs very nice even in hires 320x320 up to 65k colors. It supports card - just create folder iSilo and put documents there.

RE: Is this better for AvantGo synching?
Ronin @ 9/26/2001 4:46:03 PM #
For most people Avantgo is the only way to get access to alot of the sites that are designed for handheld access. Thus iSilo is not a viable subsitute. For example, the handheld content is apparently only accessible through Avantgo and the NY Times seems to change the web address of their mobile channel more and more frequently.

Also Avantgo is set it and forget it which is what the average joe wants. Only us geeks are willing to play with iSilo and Plucker.

Free RAM

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 11:00:12 AM #
Does it copy apps/databases into RAM when they are run, or just move them in pieces? Also, will it allow for the editing of databases (documents) which are larger than free RAM?

RE: Free RAM
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 11:14:25 AM #
It doesn't copy data into RAM. Actually only if required, but usually not. It's replacement for MsMount. Now we have two products - MsMount and PIDVFS.

RE: Free RAM
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 11:17:39 AM #
> Does it copy apps/databases into RAM when they are run, or just move them in pieces?

Your questions will make you look less silly if you READ the article before you ask them.

This is news?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 11:30:25 AM #, I thought you could already do this. I have a M505 and never new you couldn't run apps off the card. I guess I better pull it out of the drawer and use it once in a while.

RE: This is news?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 11:47:13 AM #
You know, this sounds very frustrating to someone who can't afford even a Palm m100 :-)

RE: This is news?
Kaitou @ 9/26/2001 2:11:30 PM #
Actualy there is a difference to the OS4 handling of apps on the card, and PiDirect's way. PiDirect lets you use databases and apps from the card *without* first moving them to the RAM, thus you could do, like I am doing, and have a 10 meg dictionary/thesaurus database for tome raider on the card, and easily use it, despite, obviously, not having 10 meg of ram free.

Can somebody sort this out?

bfishman @ 9/26/2001 12:13:42 PM #
I *thought* I understood what was going on with my m505 and VFS. It *seemed* like I could run applications off of the SD card. I added PowerRun so it would be more seamless (i.e., I could put applications on the SD card into the categories I wanted them in and move the databases, too). Now there are all of these new products, including launchers like Silverscreen and LauncherIII that claim to run programs off cards, and I can't figure out what they do that's different than just the standard set-up or PowerRun.

Could somebody *please* do some kind of overview comparison of all these different "fixes" and "enhancements"?


RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 12:33:03 PM #
In a nutshell:

What most of these programs seem to do is list Flash-based programs on the program list, then intercept the call to run a program and pause for a moment to load the program off of flash, THEN run it.. That means, if you have a 500K program, you need 500K space to run it in.

- PowerRun copies the entire application into RAM and executes it.
--It works no matter how you execute the app (McPhling, for ex)
--It dosen't work on databases, just programs.

-LauncherIII(And presumably SS) do likewise.
--It only works through the launch program - Other methods will not launch.
--It only works on programs.

PiDirect sounds like it's trying to emulate AutoCard for the TRG. What AutoCard does is try to /simulate/ system ram for the Operating system by swapping blocks of data around.

For example(Horribly oversimplified):
Let's say that your program is 500K in size, but you only have 100K free.
AutoCard loads the first 100K in and runs it. When the program jumps out of that 100K, it swaps it out and loads in the appropriate area.

-Autocard(And probably PiDirectVFS) block load-and-shuffle memory from storage.
--It can do programs AND databases.
--It can let you use files that are larger than your available system RAM.

Naturally, this way of doing things is MUCH more complex than the way PowerRun does things. Don't be surprised if you have more crashes. It also uses the external media more - which on the TRGPro at least, means it digs into the batteries, and it's slower. Since CF is the fastest of the currently available media, I imagine MMC will be even slower. I guess it's a matter of your needs, and what you can live with.

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 1:10:38 PM #
Ed --

Can you compare PiDirectVFS and MSMount?

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 1:23:53 PM #
Anonymous wrote:

- PowerRun copies the entire application into RAM and executes it.
--It works no matter how you execute the app (McPhling, for ex)
--It dosen't work on databases, just programs.

That isn't true. PowerRun works with both apps and databases. Whatever is in the corresponding program's folder on the card gets copied into RAM and run, apps and DBs alike.

Just keep in mind you cannot keep databases ALONE on the card using PowerRun. For instance, you can put just the app into PowerRun or the app and its corresponding databases, but not just the databases by themselves. Perhaps this is what the poster meant...

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
rldunn @ 9/26/2001 1:24:58 PM #
The nutshell was good, but I need to clarify a few things.

PowerRun can be used for databases along with apps.

Launcher III's method can be used with other launch methods (McPhling, etc), since it allows a shortcut to be created.

The example, and I realize it was oversimplified, was a little off. PiDirect and MSMount don't check to see how much RAM is available to see how big the swap blocks should be. Rather, they let the app decide how much of it's database it wants to see. Some inefficient programs like Noah Lite request the majority of the full dictionary if you request certain words (and less if you request others), so you need more available space in RAM to have full functionality. Efficient programs, which would use the information, then release it back to flash memory once it's done, need less available RAM space.

And for the last person's question, PiDirectVFS and MSMount work in the same manner, differing only in their technical details. Due to these differences, PiDirect is faster and more stable than MSMount.

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 1:42:25 PM #
OK this question inspired me to write an article to straighten it out.

Here you go...


RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 4:06:16 PM #
thank you Will!!
Your article was most informative.
I hope i can still remember when my HandEra arrives.

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 6:01:31 PM #
You're most welcome, it's nice to see some curtesy in this crazy rough rude, yet amazingly informative world we call PalmInfocenter.


RE: Can somebody sort this out?
Christian @ 9/27/2001 7:00:16 AM #
Dear rldunn,

as you now explained the good working part of all these programms, i'd like to know if you can help with real problems and corrupted files on the expansion cards.

my experiance is that there is no file-explorer which is able to interpret palms file-system correctly. Even filez shows the file information differently from mcfile. This results in undeleteable files!

For example if you like to use msmount together with adobe's acrobat-reader for palm:

you copy using mcfile the converted pdf-files to the subfolder msmount on the card (for example a filename like "brennpunkt_kundenwert_od.pdf.pdb" which has been created by the adobes desktop conversions tool. Afterwards mcfile will neither be able to copy, move rename or even delete this file. Every previously installed application using the folder msmount will be unable to run als the whole palm locks whenever you activate msmount, and the only way out is to reformat your memory card using hours of deinstallation of updatend apps in the powerrun folders each portion back to the free ram and afterwards to desktop and of installation back afterwards - or - you rename the corrupted msmount subfolder to corrupted, vorget about the previos working apps, you had placed there and create a new folder msmount and reinstall the working apps again there. This leaves you with a new corrupted subdirectory whenever you install a non working new application.

By now I've not met anyone with an solution for that. Great! Any new Palm-User might look for an ipaq, when he sees, how expansion cards are introduced in the palm-world.

Read my unsolved thread:

Greetings from Switzerland
Christian Stocker

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2001 7:51:16 AM #
Did you hve a SD Card reader on your PC to look at the card?

I've noticed I cant read jpgs with my Palm on a SD card made by a Ricoh digital camera too. Cant read it, but I can beam it to my laptop using McFile and then beam it back and then it's fine. weird.

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
Christian @ 9/27/2001 9:39:11 AM #
I'd like to try that. I don't have a sd-card-reader for the desktop :-(

Are there any special IR settings on the notebook (i'm using win2000 an hat to set some settings for the ir-hotsync with the palm)?

Do I need any software to receive files on the notebook or send them from there?

Thank you!

Greetings from Switzerland
Christian Stocker

RE: Can somebody sort this out?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2001 12:37:47 PM #
The IRDA on Palm is natively compatible with Win2k. Just line it up and beam it with McFile (for SD) or the basic launcher.

You get a file appear on your laptop. rename it to *.pdb or *.prc and beam it back.

If you cant get IR going on the laptop then play with your BIOS settings, if that fails, look around to make sure there's an IR port :)



I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 12:13:49 PM #
A big leap for VFS users. Time lag compared to MSMount/PowerRun is much less. My irritation with VFS has decreased greatly because of this- I really can't tell the difference in the speed of launches or closes between a 3MB program in RAM vs VFS. My launcher is now super-fast too. One you really need to try. It doesn't put those stupid squares in the icon either, as PowerRun does. It allows you to choose among several markers, or even select NONE!

$20 until Dec 1, 2001

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 12:50:38 PM #
The article says the $20 (instead of $30) is until the end of the year, but the web site says Dec 1st.

RE: $20 until Dec 1, 2001
Ed @ 9/26/2001 12:59:15 PM #
You are correct. Thanks, I edited the article.

News Editor

...Compare to AutoCF / AutoCard?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 3:11:53 PM #
How does this compare to TRG's (Handera's) AutoCF / AutoCard? I have a TRgpro and have been using AutoCF or AutoCard for quite a while now with no complaints. what benefits would this have over AutoCF / AutoCard?

Thanks for any info...

Doesn´t work for Sony N610C ?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 3:36:08 PM #
I wonder why this "killer app" wouldn´t work with Clie 610 C if both 710 C and palm 505 (which also use OS4) are compatible. Any idea someone ?

RE: Doesn´t work for Sony N610C ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 3:43:54 PM #
It works with everything that has VFS, meaning all Sonys, the TRGpro (with new OS), He330, Palm m50x, and in the future, more. I might have missed some too.
As a rule, if it has removable media and OS4, it has VFS.
If it has removable media and OS3.5 it probably have VFS. (Sony/Handera)

RE: Doesn´t work for Sony N610C ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 3:49:19 PM #
The site says, "Sony Clie series (N600C, N610C) are incompatible" Please don't make assumptions without checking.

I'm curious too why it doesn't work with the N6xx.

RE: Doesn´t work for Sony N610C ?
gtiberghien @ 9/26/2001 3:52:21 PM #
In the home page of Portable Innovation Technology , they explicitly disclos that the program is not compatible with N610C

RE: Doesn´t work for Sony N610C ?
rldunn @ 9/26/2001 5:31:55 PM #
From my discussions with the developer of JBBackup, Sony used a slightly different VFS implementation for each of their models, so I would suspect that this may be the cause of the imcompatibility.

File limit

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2001 6:36:52 AM #
Did you read this in the release notes?

- Exceed 20 files limit may result in unstable of PiDirect, user should delete exceed files to avoid potential crash.

I've MsMount working with more than 40 files without any problem.

What do you think?

RE: File limit
Wilson @ 9/27/2001 7:30:00 AM #
I think you should read again.

The 20 file limit refers to the eval version only.

I have found that it is much more stable and much faster than MsMount.

RE: File limit
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2001 8:20:48 AM #
I have 120 file from 20k to 5MB in palm/pidirect folder and it is MUCH faster than MSMount and have had no chashes yet. (knock on wood)

RE: File limit
Wilson @ 9/27/2001 8:48:22 AM #
I am still using powerrun though, as PiDirect loses my categories after hotsynch. I hope they fix this soon.

PiDirect though is much nicer for databases though than MsMount was.

RE: File limit
rldunn @ 9/27/2001 10:36:28 AM #
The category loss thing is not the fault of PiDirect; it's the launcher's fault. Some launchers, such as Launcher III and Launch 'Em, do not have this problem at all with PiDirect.

Another VFS Fatal Exception Generator!

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2001 12:47:23 PM #
I tried this with my big RAM hog Mapopolis and it generated a Fatal Exception every time I tried to run with PiDirect. I tried both versions 2.0 and 3.0 after taking out all hacks, Launcher III, etc. Save the $20!

RE: Another VFS Fatal Exception Generator!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/28/2001 7:43:02 AM #
Thanks for the heads-up. You could put your maps into palm/launcher instead of palm/pidirect. Not as convenient, but you still can keep them out of RAM.

Looks like HandEra/TRG is blowing another opportunity.

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2001 9:53:04 PM #
As a longtime TRGPro user, I'm amazed at how HandEra/TRG seems intent on sabotaging their own potential to succeed. Had they bothered to develop AutoCard for other VFS-capable PDAs, they could have cornered the market and probably have sold AutoCard to the hardware manufacturers like Palm and Sony.

Instead, they bumbled along and lost any advantages they may have had. We now have MSMount, PowerRUN, PiDirectVFS, Launcher III, etc. - all released before a working version of AutoCard for Palm and Sony PDAs was ever brought out. It now seems unlikely that AutoCard will ever gain a foothold - no matter how good it might be/have been. What are the odds that HandEra will be out of the PDA scene within a year? Probably pretty good...


RE: Looks like HandEra/TRG is blowing another opportunity.
JET8810 @ 9/30/2001 2:07:02 PM #
Sure, Handera might have been able to sell Autocard to palm and make them pay fees, ect. Who does that remind you of? Thats right! The big monopoly hog, Microsoft. That is something they would attempt to do. Handera wants to satisfy the customer, have good customer support (it really is great!) and be a nice company. Sure goes higher in my book than Palm's bad customer service, lack of innovation, but hey, they own the os. So, Handera is trying to get up to the top through good customer service and great products, not my monopolizing the industry. Sure, it may take longer to get to the top that way, but hell, it sure beats taking the shortcut and creating a monopoly where then, your main objective is rip as many people off as possible. As a Handera 330 user, I say that Handera is doing the right thing, perhaps not for now, but certainly for the long run. WAY TO GO HANDERA!!!

Great App.

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/29/2001 11:03:17 PM #
I tried it, liked it, purchased it, and am very satisfied! :-)



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