Well, a question, on Amy's behalf. Does anyone have an IAudio with rockbox
installed and operating that they could sell for a low price?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Amy" <amy_at_faylen.com>
To: "Rockbox" <rockbox_at_cool.haxx.se>
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:24 PM
Subject: Re: question to all blind rockboxers
>I wish I could get mine working. Still waiting to look for a decent price
>on eBay. I would prefer one with rockbox installed already, but I'm
>thinking it very unlikely at this point. sigh
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <chou.clement_at_gmail.com>
> To: "Rockbox" <rockbox_at_cool.haxx.se>
> Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:03 PM
> Subject: Re: question to all blind rockboxers
>> Actually, just one minor correction if I may, Paul. The fourth whole on
>> the subpack as you described is not a line jack. Rather, it's not a line
>> out jack. It's actually a line in / out jack, ad I believe it can be
>> changed via the firmware and settings. The other jack that is right next
>> to your usb is actually a remote jack. And the slit's purpose is unknown
>> right below the headphone jack. Under the slit is actually a piece of
>> plastic, which reveals the USB 1.1 OTG port. If you feel carefully, you
>> will feel something that is not quite smooth. It should be noticible.. I
>> Thought it was the internal microphone, but you don't want to get that
>> mistaken... that's where you said it was. Just a few things I thought I
>> would point out.
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Paul Erkens" <pjealt_at_xs4all.nl>
>> To: "Rockbox" <rockbox_at_cool.haxx.se>
>> Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 3:48 PM
>> Subject: question to all blind rockboxers
>>> Since I got my IAudio x5, I really had a whole bunch of stuff to learn.
>>> I was rather a novice. The information on the net aimed directly at
>>> blind people is there to some degree, and that's wonderful already. But
>>> it is not very extensive up till now.
>>> I'm writing a document right now, from which other blind folks can learn
>>> what I had to learn. I started writing this afternoon, and I'd like to
>>> know from you guys out here, if you think I should do it differently,
>>> keep going this way, or leave it altogether because I'm completely
>>> If any of you cares to take a look at my first attempts, I am pasting it
>>> below. If the reactions are okay and I can get it finished in the near
>>> future, I'm planning to send it off to the rockbox team, and see if they
>>> find it useful enough to place it on their site for other blind
>>> adventurous souls to use. Rockbox is made by very knowledgeable people,
>>> but introductory docs for the unknowing like myself, I haven't found so
>>> far. Would you as a blind reader find this a useful document? Especially
>>> the section describing the IAudio mp3 player itself.
>>> Comments welcome. It is my first attempt to write it, unfinished nor
>>> polished. I'm not a native English speaker. I just want to know if I'm
>>> on the right track to really make a difference when I get it done. I'd
>>> like to contribute my little bit.
>>> Guide for the blind: rockbox on your IAudio x5 mp3 player.
>>> Contents ideas:
>>> What are we talking about?
>>> -walkmans and accessibility
>>> -what is mp3 really?
>>> Description of the IAudio x5
>>> Hearing the demos on the unit
>>> an explanation of firmware
>>> what is rockbox for us?
>>> How the speech system works
>>> About the files to download and what they do
>>> Welcome. This guide is intended for blind folks, wanting to have an
>>> accessible mp3 player. I am blind myself, and from the directions on the
>>> internet, I finally managed to get rockbox to work on my player. The
>>> information I needed was not bundled in one place, and most documents
>>> were very brief. Now that I have my own player going and now that I've
>>> seen how great rockbox just is for us once it's running, I want to share
>>> my knowledge and experience with you, so you don't have to invent the
>>> wheel again.
>>> In short, if you already know what an mp3 walkman is: with rockbox, you
>>> can now navigate almost all menus, configure almost all options and do
>>> almost anything a sighted user is capable of, using the display screen
>>> on the unit. New functions and possibilities are added constantly, and
>>> what you can't do today, may be possible next week. Rockbox makes your
>>> mp3 player talk, so you will know what you are doing as you operate its
>>> controls. That is what rockbox is all about for blind people. A work in
>>> progress, already working on many different mp3 players, talking to you,
>>> and improving continuously.
>>> This is not a technical document, because I'm not technically inclined
>>> myself. I will explain what you are required to do, why you must do it,
>>> and in our case without vision: how it should be done.
>>> I can only describe the procedure for the IAudio x5 mp3 player. Other
>>> players, I don't have any experience with so far. If you have something
>>> other than the IAudio x5, this document will provide you with background
>>> information so you will understand what's up, but the specific
>>> installation details for other players than the IAudio x5 are not
>>> covered here.
>>> We will begin by providing you with some useful background information.
>>> Only read it if you're interested. We will discuss audio compression,
>>> and similar background topics. Then, we'll dive into describing the
>>> IAudio x5 unit, showing you how to get started with rockbox.
>>> In many cases, I will refer to the IAudio x5 rockbox manual on the
>>> rockbox site. This document is an addition just to get you started; It's
>>> by no means a replacement for anything.
>>> If you have any suggestions for this document, please write me at
>>> pjealt_at_xs4all.nl. I can't provide support for general rockbox problems,
>>> because all I do is write and maintain this document. Please write me
>>> only if you think an important concept is missing from this document.
>>> What are we talking about?
>>> So, what are we talking about in this document in the first place?
>>> Simply put: until rockbox came, we did not have good access to digital
>>> walkmans. But now we do. If you buy yourself an x5 walkman from IAudio,
>>> this document tells you how to set it up for yourself, so that it talks
>>> to you as you operate it.
>>> walkmans and accessibility
>>> If you like music, talking books, radio plays or other forms of recorded
>>> audio, it is great to have a mobile device, on which the audio you want
>>> to listen to is stored. When I was young, I used to have one of the
>>> first walkman players that could play cassette tapes. It weighed almost
>>> two American pounds, which is near to 1 kilo gram in European
>>> measurement. It required six pen light batteries, it had head phones
>>> attached, the batteries lasted less than two hours, and I was extremely
>>> proud to walk around with that brick. But after two months of intensive
>>> use, the tape started to slow down, the sound became bad and I did away
>>> with it finally. Not only had the player been expensive, but it wore out
>>> pretty quickly.
>>> These days, walkmans have improved dramatically. The music is no longer
>>> stored on cassette tapes but on different media. The modern media are
>>> digital in nature. How digital audio works exactly, falls outside the
>>> scope of this document. The advantage of using digitally stored audio in
>>> your walkman is however, that its sound quality is much better. Besides,
>>> it is now much easier to instantly play a song of your liking. You don't
>>> have to change tapes and cue back and forth, to find the song you want
>>> to hear. Instead, you navigate through your collection using a small
>>> display screen on the walkman, to find and play it.
>>> And here is our problem. If you can't read the display on the unit, you
>>> won't be able to access most of its functions and settings. These
>>> devices become more and more menu based, with logical categories in
>>> which you can find the option you want to tweak. Absolutely fabulous for
>>> sighted people, but by far not for us. You know how computers are made
>>> accessible though. The screen is read to us by an electronic voice, and
>>> because of that, we can navigate our files, do text processing and many
>>> other computer tasks, even including installing windows XP without
>>> sighted assistance. If you are determined, that is.
>>> Generally, most manufacturers of modern digital equipment don't really
>>> adapt their stuff such, that people with disabilities can make good use
>>> of them. We can get along some by memorizing key stroke sequences, but
>>> modern devices have become way too complex. This meant, that the
>>> pleasure of digital walkmans was only available for us if we didn't
>>> demand too much. You could buy yourself one, but only 20% or so of its
>>> functions that you payed for, will be usable for you.
>>> Well: no more. Thanks to the time and effort spent by the rockbox team,
>>> we now have the possibility to use these modern walkmans, and not just
>>> that. We can also make a well informed choice among the different models
>>> on which it runs. Rockbox won't work on all modern walkmans, but more
>>> are added over time and what these people have achieved so far, is
>>> impressive. Just take a look on the rockbox site, and see which mp3
>>> walkmans are already currently supported. Go to your local dealer and
>>> get yourself one from that list.
>>> What is mp3 really?
>>> Next, we need to understand what mp3 really is. Mp3 is not a walkman, a
>>> player, nor a dvd feature. Mp3 is a file format. Let's see what this
>>> A file on your computer is something you will be familiar with. A file
>>> can contain a letter or other text, it could contain a picture, and
>>> likewise a file on your computer can also contain audio. If you play an
>>> audio file on your computer, you will hear the sound from the file out
>>> of your pc speakers. There are a number of different audio file types
>>> that are currently used throughout the world. Simply put, there are only
>>> two basic types of audio files: compressed, and uncompressed. Let's talk
>>> about what this means.
>>> On a regular audio cd, audio is stored plainly. The original sound has
>>> been encoded into small groups of digits: ones and zeroes, and these are
>>> stored on the compact disk. It is possible to have your computer's cd or
>>> dvd drive read that digital audio information off the cd, and storing it
>>> in regular computer files on your hard drive. This process is called
>>> "ripping a cd", i.e. copying the audio data over from the cd on to your
>>> computer's hard disk.
>>> However, a simple cd contains an enormous amount of data. If we speak in
>>> megabytes, a cd contains roughly 800 megabytes worth of audio data. Once
>>> you have the contents of your cd inside your computer, you can hook up
>>> your digital walkman to it, and then transfer those files.
>>> You should be aware however, that the storage capacity of your digital
>>> walkman is usually quite limited, if you compare it to the capacity of
>>> your computer's hard disk. Audio, in its plain form, is quite big. When
>>> digital walkmans first came to market, we had devices that could contain
>>> 32 megabytes max. Now if you realise that in plain storage format, an
>>> audio file eats up 10 megabytes for every minute of music, you will
>>> understand that in these players, there was only room for a song of
>>> about 3 minutes in length, and obviously, you want more music in your
>>> walkman than just one little song.
>>> Two things have been done to overcome this problem. First, a group of
>>> clever people invented a method of reducing the size of regular audio
>>> files down to a tenth of what they used to be. This is what is now
>>> called: audio compression. It essentially just means, bringing down the
>>> size of the audio file whilst retaining the maximum possible sound
>>> quality. The human ear is not very accurate, compared to a computer.
>>> What audio compression does, is throw away those parts of the audio that
>>> we are not likely to perceive. The more of the audio you throw away, the
>>> smaller the resulting file can be.
>>> And now we have something to work with. On a windows machine, a file
>>> containing plain audio is called a wave file, usually having a period
>>> and the letters w a v at the end of its name. Wave files can be quite
>>> big. Usually, they are uncompressed. Plain.
>>> On the other hand, the most common way of compressing audio these days,
>>> is called mp3. So the word mp3 just refers to the way the audio itself
>>> is compressed. Compressed audio files usually have a dot and the letters
>>> m p 3 at the end of their name.
>>> To summarize: if, for example, you see a file called song.wav on your
>>> computer, you know that it usually is an uncompressed audio file,
>>> because of the dot wav at the end. If you encounter something like
>>> song.mp3 or today.mp3, you know that it is compressed audio, because of
>>> the dot m p 3 at the end of the file's name. This is only a rule of
>>> thumb, because we did not take into account the fact that even wave
>>> files can be compressed, and still be called .wav. But let's not get
>>> lost in the details.
>>> We mentioned before, that mp3 reduces file sizes by throwing away
>>> frequencies in the audio you are not likely to hear. The better
>>> compression you want to achieve, the more audio you need to throw away.
>>> If you keep going, you will get to a point where the audio damage
>>> becomes perceptible. You will hear it. So there's always a tradeoff
>>> between filesize and quality. In mp3 jargon, the compression factor that
>>> determines both the final file size and also the resulting sound
>>> quality, is called the mp3 bitrate. If you are going to create your own
>>> mp3 files from cd's you have, then the bitrate is something you can
>>> configure. Bitrate and compression factor refers to the same thing, as
>>> far as mp3 is concerned.
>>> A song in wave format containing 3 minutes worth of cd quality audio,
>>> would become 30 megabytes in size on disk. If you make an mp3 out of
>>> this, then you will still have a file of reasonable quality if you
>>> compress it down to a tenth of its original size. One song in mp3 format
>>> could then become 3 megabytes rather than 30, and still sound quite
>>> okay. And if you only have 32 megabytes of storage available on your
>>> player, that's quite an improvement. You can now store ten songs, rather
>>> than just one in uncompressed format. In other words: audio used to be
>>> way to large to handle. Mp3 has given us a solution, by drastically
>>> cutting down the file size of our digital audio.
>>> Old mp3 players were equipped with a memory chip and these devices are
>>> still widely used, except that the memory capacity has grown enormously,
>>> which is the second improvement over the first digital mp3 players with
>>> limited capacity. Mp3 walkmans in the form of a small plastic stick can
>>> well contain 4000 megabytes, 4 gig, which is really quite something. And
>>> that's not all.
>>> Modern mp3 walkmans don't store their audio in a memory chip. Instead,
>>> they have a tiny hard disk built in to them. This leads to walkmans with
>>> great storage capabilities. 40 to 60 gigabytes (being 40000 to 60000
>>> megabytes) is no exception these days, giving you ample space for
>>> thousands of songs.
>>> There are many brands to choose from, if you want such a walkman or mp3
>>> player. Before purchasing one, you need to decide for yourself how much
>>> you are going to store on it. If a couple of gigabytes is enough, a
>>> player with a memory chip will suffice. But if you want 40, 60 or 80
>>> gigabytes worth of music, then you should buy a player that has a hard
>>> drive built in.
>>> Description of the IAudio x5
>>> I chose the Cowon x5, which is an mp3 walkman manufactured by a company
>>> called IAudio. This player comes in a few flavours. The things that make
>>> the difference between the various models are the capacity of the hard
>>> disk inside it, and the battery life. If you have an x5l, then the l
>>> stands for long battery life. The player is thicker because of the
>>> bigger battery. Mine has a normal battery life, it is not the thicker
>>> one, and the hard disk can contain up to 60 gigabytes worth of data.
>>> The player is as small as a packet of cigarets. It is a metal casing
>>> that feels very solid. It has only a few buttons, and a joy stick. You
>>> can buy an optional leather protection for it, and even when the player
>>> is inside the protection leather, you can operate it well. Let's
>>> describe the unit, so you will know what is where.
>>> Put the player on a flat surface in front of you. If you feel its roof
>>> and all you encounter is four tiny dots, one on each corner, then you
>>> now have the unit upside down. The side that is now facing the table,
>>> should face the sky. If however, you now feel a very smooth rectangle
>>> and a button inside a circle, then the unit is already half way in the
>>> correct position.
>>> Now, we must make sure that the player is in the same position as I have
>>> it here, in order for the side descriptions to match. As you can feel,
>>> the roof of the player consists of two distinct levels. A thick and a
>>> thin part. Now, the thicker part that feels all smooth, is the visual
>>> display screen. Rotate the unit, so the display is at the top of the
>>> unit, furthest away from you. The bottom part of your x5 contains this
>>> little knob inside a small circle. This is your joy stick, and we will
>>> discuss what it does later on. Now, we can describe the four sides of
>>> your x5 in succession.
>>> The left side contains your head phone connector, and a slit to make the
>>> player act as a USB host. The top has a light, the right has power/hold,
>>> record, play, microphone and reset hole, while the bottom has the
>>> subpack connector. Okay, slowly this time.
>>> We'll start with the left side. Sliding your finger from top to bottom,
>>> so from the top left towards the bottom left corner, the first thing you
>>> encounter is a tiny round hole for your head phones.
>>> A little further down is a slit, which is probably a connector you won't
>>> be using very often. Sighted people can use it to have the x5 act as a
>>> USB host, so they can connect their digital camera to the x5, and
>>> transfer the pictures they have in the camera, over to the x5. This way,
>>> the camera's internal memory card can be wiped out and the photo
>>> shooting can continue again. Rockbox may utilize this connector for
>>> other purposes, but to my current knowledge, it is of no use for us
>>> right now. The rest of the left side does not contain any extra
>>> connectors or controls.
>>> The top side, running your finger across, reveals no more than a visual
>>> indicator, showing wether the x5 is currently charging. If you're
>>> totally blind, this is of no use to you.
>>> Then the right side of the player. Again, slide your finger from top to
>>> bottom, from upper right to bottom right. First, you will find a switch
>>> that you can slide up or down. Initially, it is always in its middle
>>> position. This switch has many functions, but to begin with, remember
>>> this as your power switch to turn the x5 on and off. Push upwards and
>>> let go. Then listen closely if you hear the hard disk spin up. If not,
>>> just try again until the device switches itself on. After a few seconds,
>>> the hard disk will shut off again, but the device is still awake. Making
>>> the hard drive spin, takes power from the battery, so as soon as the x5
>>> is done reading and writing to the disk, it stops to save power. To turn
>>> the x5 off again, do the same thing. Push the switch up and let go,
>>> until the device switches off.
>>> This power switch has yet another function. If you slide it down, it
>>> won't flick back to its original position in the middle. After sliding
>>> the switch down, it just stays there. In this position, the unit is on
>>> hold. This means that none of the other buttons perform any function.
>>> Very handy if you want to tuck away the x5 somewhere in a pocket, and
>>> you want to be sure the battery won't go flat by accidentally starting
>>> playback without head phones, which obviously wastes battery life.
>>> Note: you can test wether the device is on or off, by making sure this
>>> switch is in the middle so that the x5 accepts key strokes, and then
>>> attempting to play, see below. If it playes, then the unit is still on.
>>> This is no guarantee that the player is on or off indeed, but is is
>>> something to begin with.
>>> Further down the right side, just below the power/hold switch, you will
>>> find two rectangular buttons. The top one is rec, the bottom one is
>>> play. More on these later.
>>> Further down, you may feel a couple of teeny weeny holes in the metal
>>> strip. The top hole is the internal microphone, and the bottom hole is
>>> reset. To reset the unit, you can stick a long, thin object into it,
>>> which will touch the hidden reset button. Use it in case your firmware
>>> crashes and you want to start over.
>>> Finally, the bottom side. In the middle, this side contains a metal slit
>>> that almost feels like a slot for an sd memory card, but that is not
>>> what it's meant for. This is the connector for the subpack, being a
>>> small plastic device that you got together with your x5. One side of the
>>> subpack plugs into the x5, and on the other side of the subpack which,
>>> when connected, is now the bottom side of the device, you will find a
>>> number of connectors.
>>> From left to right, the connectors on the subpack are as follows: AC,
>>> USB, line in and line out. The last two I am not sure about. They may be
>>> line out and then line in.
>>> Hearing the demos on the unit
>>> If you are like me, before doing anything else, you will want to hear
>>> what your x5 really sounds like. If all goes well, you won't be
>>> disappointed. Wear your ear phones and plug the cable into the socket on
>>> the top left side of your x5, as described earlier. Then, turn the unit
>>> on as described. When the hard disk spins up, wait for it to spin down
>>> again and then press play. If you don't hear anything, try play again. I
>>> heard music immediately and it sounded just awesome. Not that I love the
>>> demo itself, but the quality is pristine.
>>> Now, feel your joy stick. This joy stick can be moved in all four
>>> directions: east, west, north and south, or three o'clock, nine o'clock,
>>> twelve o'clock and six o'clock if you prefer. Place your finger south of
>>> the joy stick, six o'clock, and push upward, away from you. The volume
>>> will increase. Likewise, place your finger north of the stick and gently
>>> pull the stick towards you, down. The volume will decrease.
>>> Pushing right will move to the next file on the player. Moving left
>>> first goes to the start of the current song or, when done in the first
>>> few seconds of the track, moves you to the start of the previous track.
>>> You will notice that the demos more or less all sound the same. There's
>>> video together with the audio, but just forget about that because it's
>>> useless to us.
>>> What is firmware?
>>> You may wonder, how your mp3 player is capable of playing digital music.
>>> Your pc has a micro processor to read from disk, process sound, create
>>> video etc. But what about your mp3 player? Well, your x5 is a computer
>>> on its own. It too has its own memory, its own hard disk and a micro
>>> processor. The operating system is usually stored on the hard disk. In a
>>> pc, that is usually windows (sorry linux lovers, just by means of
>>> saying), and on mp3 players, the operating system is going to be
>>> Now to understand what we are actually changing to make the player go
>>> rockbox, we need to go over some concepts first. You know that your
>>> computer has a processor and that it has memory too. If you turn the pc
>>> on, it loads its operating system from hard disk, and then waits for you
>>> to do something with it. But let me ask you. How does your pc know that
>>> the operating system to load is stored on hard disk? You know that the
>>> computer can only do something if it has software that tells it what to
>>> do, and the operating system is exactly the piece of software to do
>>> that. But, when you first turn on your computer, the operating system
>>> still needs to be loaded from hard disk first. So, how can the computer
>>> how to perform its very first steps, if the operating system has not
>>> been loaded yet? The computer tests its memory for errors right after
>>> you turn it on, but at that time, the hard disk has not even been
>>> touched to start loading the operating system. What makes the computer
>>> perform its startup tasks?
>>> The answer is: the bios. Bios, b i o s, stands for basic input output
>>> system. It's a small piece of software, not stored on a hard disk, but
>>> on a tiny chip somewhere on your motherboard, deep down inside your pc
>>> case. When you turn on your pc, what happens is that the bios first
>>> checks to see if all hardware is connected properly, and the bios then
>>> takes care of loading the operating system, windows. The bios only knows
>>> a few very basic functions to communicate with the hardware, enough to
>>> get the computer started. The operating system does the rest.
>>> The same goes for your mp3 player, your x5. When you turn it on, the
>>> first thing that happens is that the microprocessor starts running the
>>> program code, stored in the player's rom memory. After initializing the
>>> hardware, this code is responsible for loading the rest of the operating
>>> system from the hard disk.
>>> Because software is something created by humans, it can always contain
>>> errors, called bugs. Every now and then, computer manufacturers release
>>> new versions of this code on the internet. But as I said, bios code in a
>>> pc is stored on a chip inside the computer, not on the hard disk. Well,
>>> it is easy to download a new version of a certain file, on to your
>>> computer's hard drive. But how would you reprogram the contents of a
>>> special bios chip, deep inside your computer? Luckily, you don't need to
>>> worry about it, because the computer has a mechanism to do this for you.
>>> If you want to update your computer's bios, for example when USB
>>> functions strangely and you read on the manufacturer's site that the
>>> latest bios version fixes this, then you can simply download a file
>>> containing the new code. You then put this file in a special location,
>>> turn your machine off and on, tell it to look for the new bios file, and
>>> let it reprogram its own bios chip as you wait a few seconds.
>>> Now. Your x5 also has sort of a bios, and an operating system. When you
>>> first buy your x5, it's got startup code and an operating system inside
>>> it, provided by Iaudio. The code programmed into the rom memory of the
>>> player itself, is called the firmware. According to wikipedia, firmware
>>> is embedded software, but this can be a confusing and difficult term.
>>> Firmware in your x5 is like the bios code in your pc. It runs when you
>>> start the player, and makes the player react to your key presses and joy
>>> stick movements.
>>> However, this initially provided operating system from IAudio is not
>>> blind friendly at all. It does not speak, and you'll have a hard time
>>> remembering how many times to push your joy stick left, down, right etc,
>>> in order to get to a certain function.
>>> What rockbox is, is a complete replacement for the player's internal
>>> operating system. From the ground up, it has built in support for
>>> speech, so that we can use it as well. Part of rockbox must live inside
>>> the player's rom memory, and part of rockbox resides on the hard drive.
>>> So we need to get rid of the original IAudio operating system and
>>> startup code in our x5, and replace it with startup code and the
>>> operating system from rockbox. There are two separate processes to carry
>>> First, we need to put the disk part of rockbox onto the hard drive of
>>> our player. Next, we need to replace the boot code, so that the player
>>> knows how to load rockbox when we turn it on. A property of this x5
>>> player is, that the original firmware can not continue to exist in the
>>> player after rockbox has been installed. On other players, at startup,
>>> you can choose to either run the IAudio firmware or the rockbox
>>> firmware. On our x5, this is not possible. Once you install rockbox, you
>>> loose your original firmware. No problem, because rockbox is better for
>>> us than Iaudio's firmware.
>>> Which files to get?
>>> Everything you need can be downloaded off the internet, from
>>> www.rockbox.org. For blind people using screen reading programs to
>>> access the information on the computer screen, this site is not easy to
>>> work with. If you need to, ask some sighted assistance if you can find
>>> someone willing to help you some. It's up to you to know what to get and
>>> where to look for it. You don't want to frustrate your helper by leaving
>>> it up to them to hunt for something they haven't read or learnt about.
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Received on 2007-05-18