Re: [NTLK] ATA Support (was: Connecting my Newton-Questions!)

From: James Wages <>
Date: Wed Aug 13 2008 - 09:10:05 EDT

On 8/13/08 10:52 AM, "R A Parker" <Quadzillanet@SBCGlobal.NET> wrote:
> Linear Flash technology is flawed by design
> Experience tells me it is time to move on and buy a new Linear Flash card

Is it just me, or do those two statements contradict one another! :-)

Fact is that I used that card for 2 years without problem. But it stopped
working after a Clarity lockup (which I experience about once a day). I
suppose it could have been a coincidence, but I think it was related more to
the lock up than to write cycles.

> Even our fair Newtons will fail one day as well.

When that day times, it is time to move on.

> I haven't ever had any problem buying good Linear Cards with my salary scale

A statement even Donald Trump himself could make. But I for one have not
seen many 32MB linear cards on EBAY (as flawed as they may be) and the one I
did purchase by some miracle in the past wasn't that cheap. I don't wish to
pay that every two years when these cards fail. That's why I am curious if
the problem really is write cycles or not. PCBman kindly offered to use his
$1,000 machine to test the card and I accepted and shipped it to him. Even
if the card cannot be used, it would still be good to test the card and see
what "science" has to say. :-)

And what do you know, David just sent me an email with a complete report, as


Here are my findings:

The card is physically in good shape except for the back cover. I
noticed it had been pushed in to the extent that the shape of the
chips underneath was embossed in it. Not good. Although there is a
plastic film between the case and the electronics, there is the
potential for a short. However, I don't think that is your problem.

I was able to read and write successfully to common memory (i.e. 32MB)
but all attempts at operations on the attribute memory failed.

A brief explanation:

In addition to the 32MB of flash memory there is a small amount of
attribute memory. This is usually a small eeprom.
It holds the CIS or card information structure. It tells the host
device about the card, how big it is, speed, formatting etc.
When you insert a card in a device, the device reads the CIS and can
then make some informed decisions about what to do with it.

The problem with your card is that the CIS is corrupted and cannot be
written to. So despite the fact that the actual memory is fine, the
Newton cannot read the CIS and so won't go any further because it
doesn't know what you have just plugged in!

It's not software corruption it's hardware corruption. The eeprom is

You could probably still use it with your PC if you get the right
drivers. Something like the True Flash File System would work. The PC
ignores the CIS in this case. Or you could run it under Linux.

Bottom line, I'm sending it back to you. Sorry I couldn't fix it. If
it was just a matter of rewriting the CIS I could have done that but I
can't get the numbers in there.

If you were really adventurous, you could peel the lid off and replace
the eeprom...


So it's not write cycles after all. But alas, that doesn't fix the EPROM.
Ah well, such is life in the fast lane.

A thousand thanks, PCBman!


James Wages

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Received on Wed Aug 13 09:10:06 2008

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