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Wikipedia in your pocket

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aka. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, v1.0 :)

This Instructable will set out how to construct what I believe to be a unique implementation of Wikipedia in an offline, portable device. It involves installing a stripped-down distribution of Linux on a Psion 5mx handheld, and installing a static HTML version of Wikipedia for use with one of two browsers. Most importantly, you do not have to be a Linux wizard to achieve this. I will assume a basic familiarity with computers, but you do not need experience with the intricacies of filing systems, compiling source code and the stuff that traditionally puts people off using Linux. Following the steps in this Instructable should let you create your own HHGTTG- I will explain what I am doing but also try to give as explicit instructions as possible.

(For this reason, seasoned linux hackers can take the "skip this step" instructions provided at the top of the steps involving partitioning the CF card and unpacking archives to it)

Also, I apologise deeply for how dry this Instructable is. I have tried hard to make the bulk of it readable without skimping on detail or being overly prolix, but explaining how to partition a removable volume and unpack .tgz archives to it is difficult to make amusing. Sorry.

Lastly, but by no means least, I could not have done this without the efforts of:
My hack pales into insignificance compared to any of these achievements. (This lengthy grovel is mostly lest anyone accuse me of taking credit for the work of others. I emailed Adrian on the 22-04-2008 to ask if he objected to me reproducing his works here, but had no response)
 
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kbhasi2 years ago
Can I use a old windows ce palmtop instead?
PKM (author)  kbhasi2 years ago
Yep, as long as it has some form of web browser and sufficient storage for the ridiculously big HTML (several gigabytes, you'll need a big flash card), any portable computing device should work.
flio1912 years ago
Why is the Z and the Y switched on that device? Just wondering
PKM (author)  flio1912 years ago
Well spotted- the photo for step 11 was "borrowed" from WIkipedia and it's actually a German Psion, in Germany they use the QWERTZ keyboard. I guess Z is a much more common letter in German so they moved it more to the middle of the keyboard.
wow this is like a mini laptop i want one
Super_Nerd2 years ago
About the umm uh oh yeah!
false pixelated metaphysical computer plane and cannot be touched and tasted and felt and smelt and seen

you can feel it... You just need to hook up the data output to a high voltage source and touch the high voltage data

LOL

Quite a cool instructable for its time. Too bad modern smart phones have killed it. Sadness.
Mr Williams4 years ago
 do you know of any devices with color or touch screens that can do this?
perhaps a palm pilot? i havent googled or anything but it may be possible
 You know what would be cool...write and iPad app that has this format...
as cool as that would be, dont remind me of the ipad. ipods are okay, but since i am a mac hater (no offense to those who like macs) i say down with the giant ipod. aka the ipad. but i think the ipad uses some new sort of code only apple knows... thatd be something to google
no i don't like macs either but its a cool concept
An apple product being useful? Such a thing is impossible.
Really? The ipad is useful for a pianist who has sheet music on their ipad And for cats to play with virtual fish...
zack247 dombeef3 years ago
a cat playing with a ipad... can anyone else see the problem?
dombeef zack2473 years ago
Yeah but the pianist who has sheet music on their ipad?
I'm sure there are lots of other uses as well... potential uses anyway.
yeah, like a shiny paperweight
A very shiny, very expensive, worthless, paperweight. 
finally! someone else who sees the ipad as the worthless piece of s*** it really is!
dombeef zack2473 years ago
It is just advertised as a better tool than it really is, but is is a good portable computer in some terms
zack247 dombeef3 years ago
some terms? the only good thing about it is that you can listen to music on it. otherwise, (no mean to offend anyone) its a overrated, overpriced, shiny reflective paperweight.
I'm pretty sure that there would be a way to install linux on it, then it would be a very functional paper weight.
but a peperweight nonetheless
PKM (author)  zack2473 years ago
OK, I think we've had enough discussion on the relative merits of the iPad for now. If you want to continue this discussion I'm sure you can start a forum thread for it.
zack247 PKM3 years ago
ok then... i will
i was thinking more along the lines of using it to store and view documents, and things like that, but i suppose if you wanted a really over priced paperweight, that's fine too...
Yeah I now have a black berry pearl paperweight once a friend sat on it...
I HATE Macs, but the only reason I'd get an ipad is because of the constellation thing. I'm an astronamy nut, but my hate for Apple outweighs my love for astronomy.
Wow! A working psion :) ! I remember when I was just a kid and dreamed about having one (no idea what for... but they were just wonderful theese days), nice project, congrats!
PD: Sorry for my english
unanonymous3 years ago
any idea how to do this to a Palm Tungsten E?(by the way been designing ideas for a hitchhiker's guide, and ive got an idea but idon't think it'll work).
dbh9373 years ago
could this work on something other than a psion? I looked on ebay, and the cheapest one was 120 bucks.
possum8883 years ago
I've just bought a Psion 5mx Pro and I'm going to try it. The touchscreen doesn't work, and everything is in German, but I've found an English ROM and as soon as I can get my hands on a CF card thats bigger than the included 15MB I'll try it!
Saturn V3 years ago
Is there something other than the Psion 5mx that I can do this with?  Perferably somthing that doesn't cost a hundred USD?
Saturn V3 years ago
As soon as I build this, I'm going to look up 42 on Wikipedia.
I did that one day on my computer, and somehow I got from 42 to Stargate Atlantis.  So weird.
itsthatsguy4 years ago
Awsome project, i am going to make one using well, more modern tech. is there a way i can build a search function into the program? not very linux-y
PKM (author)  itsthatsguy4 years ago
A search function could be difficult.  I suspect Wikipedia indexes their pages to make fast search possible, and they are operating on the article database- this stores the actual HTML.  You could do a text search over the HTML, but that would be non-contextual and take forever on the Psion's processor.  I have no idea how long (because I broke my Psion :$) but consider there are gigabytes of HTML in thousands of files- that would take an appreciable time on a desktop PC, never mind a decade-old palmtop.  There might be a way to index the pages and search against that, but if there is I'm not familiar with it.

Alternatively, you could buy one of these, which my boss emailed me this morning under the heading "Contact your lawyer" :)
hintss PKM3 years ago
no, it stores the wikicode, which is parsed on demand by mediawiki
itsthatsguy PKM4 years ago
Thanks for the help, an indexer would be the way to go, "contact your lawyer" haha, although i am much more of the - why buy it... when you can make it - type.
hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy roooocks !!! 'read all 6 books in 2 months.
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