Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Landscape 1.1 Looms, Sony HHE Graphics Engine hacked!!!

Click for a larger picture

Being one of the beta testers for Mobile-Stream, I am able to get some inside information about their products. At this moment on my Sony TH-55 I have version 1.1 of the Landscape application installed. This version includes many updates, the most noticable of which is the preferences panel. I can definitely say that this update will solve alot of problems. The preferences panel allows you to set "locked" applications, which will keep the landscape application from interfering with their orientation. You can also set a number of other options, including which APIs it supports (Palm or Sony). It is also possible to set the orientation that each application uses when it starts. This may allow Clie users to successfully use Media Launcher, but I have yet to try it. I will post an update on this later.

Now, if you thought that was good news, there is even more, and this is even more exciting. This applies specifically to Clie users who have the a TH, UX, or VZ pda. Before the landscape application was released, there were two really big problems that Clie users wanted fixed. We always wanted to be able to choose our device orientation (Landscape or Portrait), and we wanted someone to hack the graphics engine on the HHE chip. Some said it couldn't be done, but most just believed that it would never happen because of the difficulty involved. Well, Mobile Stream released an application to make Clies work in landscape, and now they are trying to acheive the second task. You heard me right, Mobile Stream has told me they are going to hack the graphics engine, allowing developers to use it for media decoding. To give a little background, I asked them if they could fix the bug that keeps things like LJP and TCPMP from working when the system is in the landscape orientation (I know the technical reason, but I am simplifying it here). They responded,

"We already had a conversation with Gabor Kovacs (The developer of TCPMP) and this will be fixed. Also we promised him a reverse-engineered interface for the HHE GE2D library. Hopefully it will allow for better movie playback on TH/UX/VZ."

Depending on the way that the "engine" works on the Clie devices, Gabor Kovacs (Picard in the TCPMP circle) may be able to optimize the codecs for this chip. If he is able to, it should lead to Clie (TH, UX, and VZ) devices being able to acheive much better video and audio playback.

Stay tuned for my next update, there is one other feature I may keep for another article, but dont get too excited, its not news for Clie users.

Note: I added comments in parentheses in the quote.

Also, I merged the pictures with GIMP. Im not that good with GIMP, if it looks sloppy. Im a "Paint" junkie, but I am stuck on my Mac for now.


Blogger Dmitry Grinberg said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

You are right of course, but in a roundabout way they are hacking the chip. They are taking the easy path, accessing the libraries instead of writing their own api for the chip and hacking it, but I wouldnt expect anyone to try to do that.

Thanks for posting,

1:55 AM  
Blogger Dmitry Grinberg said...

What they are doing is not hard, just very time consiming. What needs to be done is first find all apps that potentially access this(movie player, flash player, jpeg decoder) Then make full dissasembley of all the code in them (hard due to complex ARM-Thumb interleaving sony uses, but with time possible) and then look for SysLinkerStub call with appropriate CREATOR and type (SeGe and aexo). Then they can compute then number of funciton in the lib by looking at its ARM app header. Then the hardest part: look how the library is called, and at library's dissasembley to try to figure out what each function does. If they know OS5 well enough they know that functions are in alphabetical order so Library open will never be before LibraryClose, this might help a bit.

As you see it is not hard, just very time consiming.

3:15 AM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

Thanks for clarifying Dmitry.

3:57 AM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi Dmitry,
thank you for the long and interesting post!
Best regards
Tam Hanna

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Larry Miller said...

I have never posted to a blog before, but the Landscape utility interests me. I use a Sony Clie NX80V handheld and my launcher is ZLauncher. The one thing that stops me from purchasing the landscape utility is that it prevents me from launching utilities when I swipe the status bar icons. When the virtual grafitti is compressed and I am looking at a full 320 x 480 screen, the status bar at the bottom of the screen shows the home, menu, find and silkscreen icons plus the current time. The landscape utility disables the status bar from launching QuickLaunch (a ZLauncher utility) and SnapCalc (a calculator utility) when I swipe from Menu to Home or Home to Menu on the status bar. These swipes work fine on the virtual grafitti Home, Menu and Find icons when it is open. This is likely a special situation specific to Sony handhelds, but this functionality is important to me. Can one of you more technically sophisticated folks shed some light on what causes the status bar swipes to be neutralized by Landscape?

I look forward to more updates.



11:32 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

Okay Larry, I did some messing around, and I have found that this can be fixed in the new version. If you look at the pics, you can see that you can select which API is used. If only the Sony API is checked, then this will work with quicklaunch, though I dont seem to be able to get snapcalc to launch this way. It will still launch with the command bar, which is what I have always used. If you need to launch the command bar, hit the home button, and swipe diagonally across the screen. As I said, quicklaunch does work.

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Larry Miller said...


I appreciate the quick response. I will look for v. 1.1 as soon as it is available.


1:38 AM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

It will probably be available in the next week, if Mobile Stream can knock out the last few bugs.

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