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Old 08-20-2009, 08:54 PM   #1
Kralik
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Posts: 602
Karma: 1013897
Join Date: Jul 2009
Device: Rooted NST
Chinese firmware: A tale of woe and redemption

"What's the worst that can happen?"

That's how it always starts. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.

I decided on a whim to try flashing my jetBook with the Chinese reader (Dr. Yi) firmware. On an old thread, Nate the Great said he was going to try going the opposite direction (M218A reader --> jetBook firmware). Apparently he wasn't successful... but I found those results after my experiment.

Why? Well, for starters, just because it sounded like an interesting challenge. Sort of like taking the jetBook apart and dyeing it. But another reason is that the Dr. Yi firmware has some features that I wanted, such as improved PDF support. The option to set a custom zoom percentage (1% to 6400%), the ability to follow PDF hyperlinks, etc. A bunch of interesting pictures from the Chinese website looked especially enticing (Hint: Use Google to translate). Plus, it supports some oddities like HTML with Flash animation. How cool is that?

...

*crickets*

Well, I thought it would be cool.

Even though the Dr. Yi firmware lacks the format variety of the jetBook, the only two formats I have been really using are PDF's (my own files and certain scanned books) and ePUB's (freely available classics). Since the free classics can be generated as nice PDF's by FeedBooks/ManyBooks, I figured I could stick with ONLY PDF and be just fine.

So here goes... downloading the M218A firmware. Copying it to the card... reset, hold power and right arrow... and... and...

What's this? Error message?

"This is not the correct firmware. Please use the M218B firmware."

Interesting...

So it looks like the jetBook is a M218B sans the wireless module! That would explain the wireless entry in the self-test menu. OK then. On to the M218B firmware.

Reset... hold power and right arrow... aha!
To upgrade firmware, press OK. Sounds good to me!

Upgrading... upgrading... upgrading...
Upgrade successful! Woot! Reset!

Turn on and... umm... uh-oh.

You know that look your TV screen shows when you are flipping channels and get nothing but static? Imagine that fuzz all over the jetBook screen... but without the uniformity. Basically a bunch of fuzzy gray lines, varied shades, splotches, specks... it looks like someone took a handful of sandy gray pixels and threw them on the screen. Err... not good.

I waited, and waited and... nothing. A couple blinks when it turned on, but that's it. Key press? Not even the hyperactive LED was there for me! Power, Menu, Zoom buttons? Self-test menu? Nope. Sadness ensured.

Bad Kralik! Baaaad baaaaad Kralik. STUPID STUPID STUPID!

After giving myself a concussion, I stared at the screen in woe. But maybe there was some hope! Back to the old firmware--after all, wasn't that the plan all along if it didn't work out?

Loading blessed English jetBook firmware... on the SD card! Power button, right arrow, and... and?

Nothing. I held it for a couple minutes. Waaaaaah!

But, what's this? Just when I had given up hope, after minutes of pain staring at the static gray mess... the firmware update screen! I was saved!

Updating... Success! Reset!

On the new boot, I got... a bunch of Chinese logos and M218B on the screen. Interesting. And then... nothing. But, the self-test menu worked! Reset defaults, reflash nor, format mtd6, mtd7...

Back to Chinese logo land. Hmmm... The LED light would flash a bit and stop. No "book pile" from jetBook or anything else. Stuck on logo screen. But hey! It registers button presses! The LED loves me again!

...

Wow, you've read this far? OK, time to make it short. In the end, I got it back to the real jetBook after flashing it a SECOND time with the jetBook firmware. I am so happy to have my jetBook back to normal! On top of that, right after flashing it to 33c, 33g was uploaded. But let this be a warning to you all... Don't... umm... flash your electronic device with firmware in a language you can't read!

But now I wonder... what if I had flashed the M218B firmware TWO times?

No, stop. Baaad baaaaaaaad Kralik.
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