The Psion 3 FAQ

The Psion FAQ at netogram.com

4. TIPS & TRICKS FOR GENERAL USAGE

4.1 Known hardware problems & solutions

4.1.1 Battery warnings (see also below: "problems when opening the machine")

The contacts to the main batteries are poor in many machines. This causes the machine to report low battery power inappropriately, and may cause automatic switchoff. The fix is to ensure the contacts are clean, and making firm contact with the battery. Different battery brands can be slightly different sizes, so pick a larger one. Batteries with dimples in either contact are more prone to problems. You might consider kludging a fix by bending the contacts, or decide to return your machine for replacement. Note that when replacing dead batteries with NiCads, you may see the REPLACE warning for a few seconds after the new cells are inserted. This is normal, and will go away on its own.

4.1.2 Problems when opening the machine

Opening/closing the older Series 3's can cause (possibly intermittent) problems to the machine's power supply, which in turn can manifest several problems mentioned in this FAQ. The constant twisting of the lead connecting the main board to the battery contacts can cause damage. This problem is the most serious one and is know as the "dreaded battery lead problem". Psion will repair this in warranty. You can fix yourself if your machine is out of warranty. Remove the screws behind the batteries. Sometime re-seating the two-pin connector will give a permanent fix, otherwise, if you're handy, replace the wires. This should not be a problem on newer Series 3a's, but one never knows...

4.1.3 Automatic dialling

The built-in dialer is reported as variously as excellent, through unreliable to un-useable. Sometimes it will work on internal phone systems but not BT - sometimes vice versa. The recommendation for improving performance is to place the Series 3 on a flat non-resonant surface, and holding the phone just above it - not against it.

4.1.4 Alarms replaced by odd beeps

Not a bug, but a response by your machine to low battery power. When there is insufficient power to play the chosen alarm, it makes this noise which is designed to be loud but economical on power. Low available power can also be caused by poor battery connections or by the "dreaded battery lead problem" mentioned earlier.

4.1.5 Alarms come in pairs

Several people report that their machine can get into a mode whereby alarms sound - and need to be acknowledged - twice. This problem can be fixed by doing a soft reset.

4.1.6 Display problems

The Psion display flickers in bright sunlight - use an umbrella.

The LCD display works in such a way that the reflected light is polarized. If you wear polarising sunglasses who plane of polarization is at odds with that of the Psion, you'll see a blank screen. Fix: Take your shades off, or get some which are not simple polarizing lenses. Ray-Bans, for example, do not polarize in a single plane.

Some people have noticed problems with odd pixels, lines, rows or patches of pixels (usually in a corner - usually the lower right corner). These remain on (dark) all the time. In each case, there is no real fix but to return the machine for repair or replacement.

4.1.7 An area of darker pixels appears in one corner of the LCD (by Nick Craig-Wood)

This just seems to happen with ageing of the LCD. It doesn't appear to get any worse, and if you have your LCD replaced it is likely to happen again. It may be related to the stresses of the LCD in the case but this is unverified.

4.1.8 Lifting button bar

Older Series3's had problems with the button bar at the top of the keyboard, which has a tendency to lift off. Also, some often-used buttons could stop working. Replacement is the best option. Glue might help those with no warranty. See the manual for key presses which can in all cases duplicate the function of defunct buttons.

4.1.9 Left hinge breaks

This might be due to excessive wear and tear on the extension port (but unverified). It seems that it is a design flaw which Psion doesn't want to admit... whatever the case, there is no other solution than glue or replacement!

4.1.10 Key marks on display

This is a quite common problem when the Psion is new. The upper and lower body of the case are a little too tight so when you open it again, you see some key marks on the screen. Apparently it also has something to do with the "oilness" of your fingers... To fix this, either put something between the two or clean the screen with a soft cloth.

From Philippe Lebreton:
"It is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY to clean the marks on the display regularly (or I'm a very strange guy), it appears that the "oilness" can be "acidness", at least in my case. Because the marks on the S3a where much much less visible than they where on the S3, I did not bother to clean them, and my screen is now permanently marked (I can feel the dent with my nail)."

4.1.11 Keys rubbing off

Unfortunately this was quite common with some older Series 3 and 3a. Actually there seem to be several different keyboard types, so it is not predictable if it will happen to you or not. There is no simple solution to this problem. If your Psion is not in warranty anymore, you can contact Psion PLC which offer a "cosmetic upgrade".

4.2 Known software problems & solutions

4.2.1 World phone numbers wrong

Apparently, a number of the country codes are wrong. You can fix this by editing the country information as required, though there is a limited number of slots available in the database. Also note that a complete change in area codes was done in the UK during 1994/5. See the Phoneday program at the IC or on CIX for details and a suite of programs to fix your databases.

4.2.2 Area codes causing problems

The Psion will dial all of the number you select. In some countries, (not the UK) dialling the area code for a local call causes problems. Psion's recommended fix is to have two entries for the party - specifying the number both with and without the area code.

4.2.3 Data security with link connected

If you have the link switched on, then files can be copied from your machine even when it is password protected. Be sure to turn the link off to remove this possibility. Note also that the link can turn the Psion on when it is off, and will transfer data even as the password screen is being presented.

4.2.4 Security affected by the Macro System

Users of Tom Dolbilin's Macro System should be aware that macro key presses work even on a password-protected Series 3.

4.2.5 Word hangs on "busy" when saving a text file forever

This is a quite annoying bug which has still not been resolved by Psion. Actually, it is a limitation: the first paragraph should not be bigger than 512 characters. Either start your file with a CR or make a small paragraph ;-)

4.2.6 Size limits of inbuilt programs

The Psion Series 3(a) have a limited memory for each process they run of 64Kb. This means that the program and it's data must always stay below this limit. Usually you don't need to worry about this, but some people have found out about it the hard way: they couldn't save their document anymore. There is no way around this except to split your big document into smaller ones. Be extra careful with the Agenda program, make sure you regularly compress it to regain space.

4.3 User groups

ARPUG - Amateur Radio Psion User Group [International]
This is more of a mailing list than a formal group. We discuss various topics concerning the Psion and radio in general over the packet radio network. Contact me (Daniel) for more infos or alternatively mail me a message by packet at: HB9VBC @ HB9IAP.
Club Series 3 [France]
Contact Alban Debeaupuis for more infos or write to:
Club Series 3
6 rue de Fecamp
75012 Paris
Phone: xxx
Fax: xxx
<URL: xxx >
PEAT - Psion Enthusiasts Association of Toronto [Canada]
Email Lloyd Wasser for more infos or call him directly at: xxx
PSILOG [Switzerland]
Fluelastrasse 47
8047 Zurich
Phone: x
Fax: xxx
Psion Users Group Netherlands (Psion gebruikersvereniging Nederland)
Postbox 82
8700 AB
Bolsward
The Netherlands
Fax/BBS: xxx (upto & including 28K8, 8N1 24H)
Sysop: Alex Brandsma.
Contact Edgar Blom for more infos.

4.4 Online services

See also "Connecting your Psion" elsewhere for information on how to connect your Psion with modems.

4.4.1 Internet

There is a Usenet group called "comp.sys.psion" in which even Psion employees lurk around. There is also the "comp.binaries.psion" group for binaries. Before posting, it is considered good practice to read the messages and "feel" the group for a while (apart from thoroughly reading through this FAQ ;-)

The comp.sys.psion group is entirely archived at the IC FTP site in the packages/psion/comp.sys.psion/ directory. The comp.binaries.psion group is also archived at the IC FTP site in the packages/psion/comp.binaries.psion directory.

4.4.2 CIX

Psion is also on CIX. Check the Palmtop A forum. There is an offline reader for the 3a (only) called "ReadCIX"

4.4.3 Compuserve

There is a Psion discussion group (looking for more infos please!). There is an offline reader for the 3a (only) called "ReadCIS".

4.4.4 Microsoft Network

Who has experience here?

4.5 Bulletin boards (BBSes)

All numbers are given in ITU format. To dial numbers outside your country, replace the + by your international code. To dial numbers inside your country, replace + and the country code by your national dialling code. Note that the Psion 3a at least knows how to do this. (Clive D.W. Feather)

  • Crystal Tower [UK]
  • Dacom BBS [UK]
    Sysop: Andrew Morrow
    Notes: Psion Dacom, updates for PCMCIA Gold Cards
    Location: Milton Keynes, UK
  • Ellis BBS [France]
  • Flightpath [UK]
  • Lonely Times [Germany]
    Sysop: Marko Schuster
    300-14k4 Bds, 24hours
  • Metcom BBS [UK]
  • Pacific BBS [UK]
  • Psychotic Mouse [UK]
    Sysop: John Portwin
    Time: 9am-4pm GMT
  • Psion BBS [UK]
  • Psion GmbH BBS [Germany]
    Sysop: Matthias Hlscher
    Notes: Series3/3a software, PCMCIA Gold Card updates
    Location: Bad Homburg
  • The User Group [UK]
    Sysop: Adam Taylor
    Notes: Privately run, but Psion UK have an account there
  • LTS Datalink [UK]
    Sysop: Francis Creese
  • RAT Databank [BE]
    Sysop: Patrick Freyssen
    Notes: Psion freeware & databases

4.6 Magazines

4.6.1 Palmtop

This is an excellent publication entirely devoted to the Psion. It is called (quite rightly IMHO): "Palmtop, the journal for Psion series 3 and 3a users". It is an independant magazine in the B5 format running 64 pages (minimum) bimonthly. It is run by only one person in his spare time, thus it doesn't print on regular dates. This situation should be getting better soon, but for the moment, expect some delay. Only available by subscription, credit cards accepted. For more info contact (see also his Email address):

Steve Clack
25 Avocet Way
Bicester
Oxon OX6 0YN
England
Phone: xxx

4.6.2 PDADevelopers

As the title says, this is a magazine clearly devoted to developers on Personnal Digital Assistants (PDAs). This is a general denomination and covers a wide range of machines, amongst which the Psion (although this could be arguable...). It can get quite technical at times but always very instructive with loads of examples and source code. Only problem: being an american magazine & Psion not being too well known over there, it tends to get quite thin on Psion articles. Published bimonthly. For more info, contact:

PDADevelopers
293 Corbett Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94114
USA
Phone: xxx
Fax: xxx

4.6.3 Mobilis: The Mobile Computing Lifestyle Magazine (by Jason Savage)

This on-line webzine found on the World-Wide Web is devoted mainly to all palmtops and PDAs currently on the market including the beloved Psion series 3. Like PDA Developers, the Psion specific articles are sparse but having Steve Clack on staff as the European Correspodent and Psion Editor should ensure a steady flow of articles and best of all the magazine is free. (Well almost free. You still have to pay your service provider for connection time while you read it on-line). >


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