The HP Prime saga - Part II



#2

Many of you have read my previous posts ranting about the many problems I was having with my HP Prime, and how I finally contacted HP Customer Service for a replacement. Well, today I received the promised replacement and things are looking up. First, it should be said that HP service in this matter has been stellar, and whatever else I might say about the product, I have no complaint whatsoever in the way HP has handled it. I was sent a new unserialized calculator w/o accessories, which needed to be charged before use, but was otherwise in perfect working condition. So far it has not had any issues and runs all my programs and Apps properly w/o crashing or errors. Yes, it will do an occasional reboot/reset when making an illegal operation or encountering one of the many firmware bugs, but the only outcome is loss of work done since the last normal power Off. No frozen keyboard or display, no rebooting Apps or Esc key, no random Settings changes, no slowdowns and most importantly no reformatting the flash drive to recover the OS and proper calculator operation. Also, the auto power down function seems to be working now, whereas before it would seem to randomly cycle between shutting down every couple of minutes and not shutting down at all.

The first thing I did after charging the battery was to do C F O On and performed the 5. Evaluation 4. CHK BAD FLASH test, with the result that there were 4 bad blocks on the flash drive, whereas there were 7 bad blocks on the first Prime. So, I'm really thinking that this has nothing to do with the problems I was having, and is just the result of the factory low level format. These bad block have been cordoned off, and no data or programs are ever saved on them. More likely RAM is getting corrupted and then written that way to the flash drive. To prevent or at least minimize any future corruption of the OS that would require another reformat of the flash drive, I am taking the followings steps:

1) Do not use the Connectivity Kit (CK) backup/restore feature. It simply does not work and corrupts the OS. Instead, I copy/paste/save all my programs as ANSI text files from the CK to Windows Notepad. If I need to restore them, I reverse the process.

2) Switch off RPN entry mode except when working in the Home screen, since it really isn't very useful outside of Home and will actually crash the calculator and even lead to a flash drive reformat if used in a Spreadsheet.

3) Avoid using any CAS commands or functions in a PPL program, if a non-CAS alternative is available. For example the CAS sqrt() function gets all messed up when using LOCAL variables, so I simply use ()^.5 in its place. Also, if you do use any CAS commands or symbolic forms in a PPL program, first debug the expression in the main CAS screen, and use the form CAS("<expression>") in the program. This will create a mini CAS environment when executed in the program, much like the Command Prompt in Windows creates a DOS box.

4) Develop and debug any new program in the Emulator, and then transmit it directly to the physical Prime, using the Send soft key on the Emulator. Note that the CK must not be running when you do this. Unfortunately, this procedure does not work reliably with Apps, such as saved Spreadsheets, so I typed all mine in manually on the new Prime.

5) Do not do a firmware update. The factory version is the most current, and you just risk bricking the calculator if you do. It could be many months before HP issues a firmware update, which would hopefully address the most serious firmware bugs.

6) If you are having serious reliability problems like I was, consider contacting HP Customer Service and requesting a replacement. You may have a lemon.

The Prime is definitely a work in progress, and I hope they can catch up with the potential of this platform.


#3

My Prime just totally died, after starting to act up a couple of days ago with random warm starts.

The screen stays dark, no matter what I try . . . disconnecting/reconnecting the battery, resetting with a paper clip in the hole in the back, plugging the calculator into the charger, trying all the known key combinations . . . nothing seems to bring it back to life.


#4

Definitely sounds like a candidate for replacement.

#5

Your instructions are based on too few samples, I don't like them. Mine don't show any bad flash sectors but from time to time I got a reboot, or it just powers itself on while is connected to the USB (not sure why), or some minor phenomena like not deleting/reappearing programs but nothing that forbids me for using it, it is kinda the experience you get in an old win9x with some broken drivers, it's usable but you *may* lose your work once every day.

Saying everyone to avoid updating the firmware, doing backups, etc is just like supporting paper recycling or watching out for global warming. Nobody knows for real if is really doing something good.


Edited: 30 Nov 2013, 2:58 a.m.


#6

It sounds like you largely misunderstand what I said. First off, I said that I did *not* think there was any relationship between the problems I was having with the original Prime and bad flash drive blocks.

Second, I said not to do firmware updates until there are actually any new updates available, because they can cause serious problems and there is no benefit to simply reflashing the calculator with the same version of the firmware.

Third, I said not to use the backup/restore function in the CK, because it is 100% certainty that it will corrupt the calculator based on not just my experience but those of many who have posted on this forum. Making backups using the CK just gives you a false sense of security, which is why I advised the alternate method of saving programs as text files with Notepad.

This problem is in fact known to HP and they are working to fix it. If and when HP issues a firmware update that fixes the CK backup/restore problem, then it will be time to do a firmware update and begin using the backup/restore feature in the CK.

Finally, I am not the only person here that has experienced serious problems with the Prime, including some that have become totally bricked.

#7

I've been reading this forum for about 13 years. In that time the most useful posts have been like Michael's, and Han's, where someone documents an action and the result (or problem) that follows. That way; the next guy stands on the shoulders of the ones before and things get worked out and discovered.

If someone here doesn't "like" those notes then he (or she) adds the exact conditions that wouldn't cause that reaction, or they find a fix. People from HP read that kind of post and use us as beta testers. So did the developers of the 34S.

#8

Erwin,

Quote:
Saying everyone to avoid updating the firmware, doing backups, etc is just like supporting paper recycling or watching out for global warming. Nobody knows for real if is really doing something good.

I don't know where you live and I won't speculate. But paper recycling has proven to save energy. And at least (!) people living on the Maldives and Greenland and in Canada can show you something about global warming.

HTH

d:-/


#9

Walter; The forum says that he's in Chile, but it sounds like he's been listening to American foam-at-the-mouth right wing radio. I don't know what it's like in Europe but in the states there is a whole "show biz" industry: entertaining the gullible while indoctrinating them into believing things that are !surprise! good for the oil industry's short term profits.

Be glad you live in a place where the vast majority have evolved enough to be able to look around them, and ahead. If you mention empirical evidence like rising sea levels, disappearing glaciers, increasing anomalous weather, and actual warmer average temperatures to the Humvee owners here, you get "liar liar pants on fire" for an answer.


#10

Quote:
Be glad you live in a place where the vast majority have evolved enough to be able to look around them, and ahead.

Not so. As in the USA, politics is targeted at supporting capitalism in terms of unbounded growth, just the industry is different. The 'vast majority' (I'd say, it's much less than 50%), celebrates what politicians throws at their feet, like heavly supporting solar panels (gifts to those who wouldn't need it) and low-energy devices and cars (by raising taxes on energy instead on income). BTW, the exhaust of Diesel cars has been proven to cause cancer (accepted by WHO). Still, people feel great to drive them since they are so environmental friendly and, well, supported by politics. Oh dear ...

As a result, the span between the poor and the rich is constantly growing, more and more people need more than one job. The system works as long as this span can be streched, and then collapses. In 20 years, the last solar panel has been burned out. Where will the money come from to replace them? We were lucky to have a strong economy when things started (otherwise, they wouldn't IMHO).

#11

The Front Fell Off

Edited: 1 Dec 2013, 7:13 p.m.

#12

Quote:
I don't know where you live and I won't speculate. But paper recycling has proven to save energy. And at least (!) people living on the Maldives and Greenland and in Canada can show you something about global warming.

I just said that nobody knows for sure. If it saves energy in some areas (without incentives?), nice for them.

Here (in Chile) they just mix all in the dumpster so it is mostly worthless.

#13

>It could be many months before HP issues a firmware update

I suppose it *could* be many months...

TW


#14

Quote:
I suppose it *could* be many months...

And, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush...


#15

And a bird in the hand is safer than one overhead.


#16

A bird in the oven is safer than a bird in the hand.


#17

I don't want to alarm anyone, but --

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3788920


#18

Hey, Egan just made a statement about a bird in the oven, and you are picking just one of many possible consequences ...

d;-)


#19

You're right. Here is a more immediate possible consequence of a bird in the oven... especially when Mr. Bean is the cook :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7fe3bIml-I

Edited: 1 Dec 2013, 12:51 p.m.

#20

Quote:
A bird in the oven is safer than a bird in the hand.

Not from the bird's perspective.

#21

Quote:
>It could be many months before HP issues a firmware update

I suppose it *could* be many months...

TW


Oracular.
#22

For the time being, avoid using custom apps on the actual calculator. If you have a custom app, I recommend only using it on the emulator. I know, from having tinkered around with my own custom app, that there are many issues in the current firmware that would lead to corrupt memory.

Hopefully the next update -- whenever it comes -- will fix the issue.

Oh, and one other thing: the calculator state (on the real HP Prime) is not saved until it is powered off. So if you create anything on the calculator and have not had the chance to back it up, save it by power the calculator off and then back on. That way, if things should go wrong, you are less likely to lose work.


#23

Just to add to your thoughts, I've found some weird bugs in the Spreadsheet App that cause a reboot of the physical Prime, but do not crash/restart the Emulator. Normally anything that reboots/resets the physical Prime will crash/restart the Emulator, provided they have identical settings and content.


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