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Get the most out of your new Touchpad.

You’ve got an HP Touchpad, now what?

August 31, 2011 in Featured, Other

I jumped on the HP Touchpad fire sale bandwagon last week knowing absolutely zilch about webOS, tablets, and Touchpads. Hell, I didn’t even know what I’d do with it. But $150 for a sweet 32GB tablet that retailed for $600? Sold! Now that I’ve had a chance to mess around with it, I’ve gotten a better handle on what the Touchpad can and can’t do. Inside: a list of hacks, patches, apps, and other assorted fun stuff to kick your Touchpad experience up a notch.

I’m going to assume that you’ve already created your webOS (“Palm”) profile and connected yourself to the grand ole Internet. But not much further than that.

Really Basic Stuff: A Quick Primer in webOS Usage

Most of the time, you’ll want to access your Launcher/app drawer. To do that, swipe from the bottom black bezel (the one with the button on it). Note that if you’re already in an application, this will only bring you to your card deck, which shows all of your open apps (aka cards). Touching the currently card and swiping it upwards will close that application, while left and right swipes will go through your cards. Swipe up again from the bottom bezel to bring up the Launcher. Pressing the Home key (that oval button on the bottom bezel) will do the same thing but I’ve found that it’s simply annoying to use in actuality.

To change preferences or get help within an application, check the top left corner. Usually you’ll be able to swipe downwards (this time, starting from the top left black bezel) to bring up the application menu with preferences and other fun goods.

The lock button is located on the top side of the Touchpad. Pressing it once will lock or unlock the pad, while holding it down will bring up the shutdown menu.

Updating Your Touchpad

First things first. Your stock Touchpad is version 3.0.0. The latest is 3.0.2. Time for an update.

Check out the System Updates application in the Settings tab.

The System Updates app will display your current version and let you download the latest one, if there is one. As of this writing, 3.0.2 wasn’t available (probably due to your fellow fire-salers hitting the update servers). However, there’s another way to get your Touchpad updated to the latest version, and that’s the webOS Doctor, a Java application prepared by HP that is supposed to be for recovering your device after bricking it. But it also works as an update alternative.

To see the Doctor, log into your HP webOS account. You’ll be using the same account that you created when you first booted the Touchpad. This page will also let you change your personal options, like your security question and email address, as well as show you your current devices. We’re only interested in the button that says “Device Options”, which is located next to the OS Version. Click that.

That’ll pop up another little box that has three options: I Lost My Phone, Remove From My Account, and Get webOS Doctor. I would suggest getting the Doctor.

The Doctor is a pretty damn big file and clocks in at a little over 220 megs. Once it’s installed, run it. Plug in your Touchpad and follow the prompts.

Eventually, the Doctor will download and install the 3.0.2 update, and reboot your device. Congratulations, you’ve completed the first step…the first of many steps.

Speeding Up Your Touchpad

The 3.0.2 update should speed things up a bit compared to the stock. But there’s a couple of ways to make things even faster and reduce choppiness.

First, you’ll want to turn off logging. Logging is basically storing all of the messages that Linux is outputting (that you can’t see and usually don’t matter) in case someone wants to debug it. Well, considering that the Touchpad is going the way of the dodo, these functions are pretty well useless, unless you’re some kind of super whiz-kid ninja hacker, in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading this post in the first place.

Disable Logging, Part 1

Go to the Apps tab and load up the Phone & Video Calls application. As stupid as this sounds, you’ll need to either log in to or create a Skype account to get this trick working. Assuming you completed that step and you can see the DialPad in front of you (you’ll need to tap it to open it up), type in ##5647# and hit Dial. Presto! You should see a new menu appear that has four logging options. We’re only interested in the last one, Change Logging Levels…, so tap that. You should now see another dialog box with the option Set Logging to Minimal. Give that another tap.

Install Preware

Preware is a software installer/portal application that lets you install a whole crapload of homebrew (aka unsanctioned apps that are generally less friendly and look worse than your typical app store fare but seriously extend functionality). Its real strength lies in letting you install certain patches and nifty utilities, chief among them two patches that can reduce your device’s logging even further.

To start, you need to get your touchpad into Developer Mode. This lets it interface with your PC.

To activate this mode, go to the “Just type…” search box on the top of your home screen and type in webos20090606. You should see an option immediately pop up underneath it, aptly labeled “Developer Mode”. Touch it. Smell it. Like it.

After this, you’ll see a screen that prompts you to submit the developer mode password. Leave this field blank and click Submit.

Now you’re ready for phase two of installing Preware: installing Preware.

But before that, you actually need to download the webOS Quick Installer. This lets you install (duh!) homebrew from your PC to your Touchpad when connected through USB (vs. Preware, which lets you do it straight from your Touchpad). You’re going to use it to install Preware. (make sure your Touchpad is not connected to your PC)

Download the Quick Installer (PC).

Once installed, the program should prompt you to install the Novacom drivers. Do so. Quick Installer should automatically download and install the drivers.

Now you may connect your Touchpad to your PC, but don’t make any selections on the Touchpad. Back to the Quick Installer, click on the button that looks like a globe with arrows around it. This will sync the repository catalog to the installer. Once you have control of the program, type in preware in the search box and hit enter/click the magnifying glass. You should see one option on the left, and a whole bunch of stuff on the right side. Verify that it shows Preware in large letters, and hit Install.

You now have Preware.

Disable Logging, Part 2, 3 and 4

Open up the newly acquired Preware, and you should see a short list of options: Available Packages, Installed Packages, and List of Everything. You want Available Packages (tap). Next navigate to Patch -> System -> Muffle System Logging. Glance over the patch details, and when you’re ready, tap the Install button on the bottom. You don’t need to restart now, since we’ve got a couple more packages to install.

Next up is EOM Overlord Monitoring, available from Available Packages -> Linux Application -> Utilities. Read the description, and then hit install.

And finally, do the same for Available Packages -> Patch -> Misc -> Remove Dropped Packet Logging.

Make Swipes and Animations Smoother

There’s an excellent patch called Increase Touch Sensitivity and Smoothness which will effectively speed up animations and make things look smoother to the touch. Grab it from Available Packages -> Patch -> Misc. There are two versions, a standard version and a 10 version which I’m not quite sure about. Try both and see.

Get Rid of the Ripple Effect

You know the drill by now, right? Available Packages -> Patch -> System -> Remove Tap Ripple gets rid of that water rippling effect whenever you tap the screen, making things that much smoother.

Disable the Keyboard Clicking Sound

Sometimes it’s easy to mistake the Touchpad, with its ultra-realistic PC bleeper click sound, for the 110-key real deal, right? Uh, we’ll let our 10 words per minute speed record speak for itself. Get rid of the infernal clicking noise by going into Settings -> Sounds & Ringtones, and changing the value of “Keyboard Clicks” to Off, and you just might do yourself (and the whole world) a favor.

Overclock Your Touchpad

I remember the good old days of having to use pencils to overclock my PC. Fortunately, on the Touchpad, it’s a lot simpler.

Open up Preware and go to Available Packages -> Applications -> Govnah. Install it. This app lets you configure your maximum clock speeds and view a whole ton of data.

Get back to Preware. Swipe down from the top left corner to open up the application menu, and choose the Manage Feeds option. You’ll probably see a nice list of random feeds that are connected to Preware – these feeds basically populate your application list. Scroll all the way to the bottom, to the section titled “New Feed”. Guess what we’re going to do here?

Tap on the Name field and type in webos-kernels-testing. In the URL field, put in http://preware.is.awesome.com/ (I’m not sure that it matters, but the original thread from XDA uses it). Now hit Add Feed. You should get a disclaimer that you will need to agree to to continue. Now completely restart your Touchpad. (This step is required)

Once your Touchpad has finished rebooting, fire up Preware again. Open up the application menu and select Update Feeds. Hopefully you won’t get any errors here – if you do, delete the feed you just added and redo it.

You now have the ability to download new kernels, which provide you with overclocking powers.

In Preware, go to the Available Packages -> Kernel -> All. You should see a couple of options here, like F4 Phantom, F15 Eagle, Warthog, etc. I opted for F4 Phantom, but you can choose really any of them. Install it.

If you’ve gotten this far, then all you need to do to overclock your Touchpad is to change some settings. Load up Govnah.

The default page in Govnah is your at-a-glance profile view: it shows the frequency of both of your CPU cores, as well as some battery temperature and current data. Tap on the Profile option, and then tap on Advanced Settings, and then CPU Frequency. This should bring you to yet another list of options, although these options will be your bread and butter for overclocking.

Your Governor option (the first one in the list) should be ondemandtcl, unless you want both of your CPU cores to be constantly overclocked (probably not a good idea). Pay particular attention to the Min Freq and Max Freq options – they directly control your CPU frequencies. If your Max Freq is a mere 1.242 Ghz, you may change it here to 1.512 or even 1.728 if you so choose. I’ve been running my Touchpad on 1.512 Ghz and it’s been rock solid, but you may want to go deeper. Three levels deeper. Heh.

The Min Freq is the absolute lowest frequency that your Touchpad will go, even when idling. I’d suggest keeping it at 192 Mhz.

Congratulations, you’ve successfully overclocked your Touchpad.

Making Your Touchpad Look Cooler

Change Your Background Image

Hit the Settings tab again, and this time select Screen & Lock. Here you can Change Your Wallpaper (drop your images into /Wallpapers) and adjust brightness and auto-dimming.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Get Rid of the Default Email Signature

By default, the email client will attach a signature to all of your emails, even if it’s a reply: “Sent from my HP Touchpad”. This always seemed like a douche-y sort of move on phone/tablet companies’ parts, so let’s get rid of it and make the world a less douche-y place.

With the email client open, open up the application menu (swipe downwards from the top left corner, near the area that says “Email”) and select Preferences & Accounts. This’ll bring you to email preferences, where you can toggle whether you want to be prompted whenever you delete an email. In the middle of the page, there should be an Accounts listing, with all of your email addresses. The nice thing is you can change the signature for each account, and not just all of them at once. So tap on the email account that has the offending signature, and you’ll be at the Account Settings screen. And again, near the center of this screen, you’ll see a Signature field. Tap that to edit your sig.

Take a Screenshot

Hold down the Launcher button (that lone button on the bottom bezel) and press the Power Button. This will take a screenshot and store it in your /screencaptures folder.

Touchpad VNC and Remote Desktop Apps

Did you know there’s a very usable, free VNC client for the Touchpad? It’s called Rcontrol (beta), and you won’t find it on Preware or the HP App Store. Instead, mosey on over to here to download it. Install it with the WebOS Quick Install java application (see above, Installing Preware).

Splashtop is a remote desktop/VNC alternative that works really well with the Touchpad. Besides letting you control your PC from afar, Splashtop supports streaming music and user-configurable desktop resolutions. Note that it uses a proprietary protocol, which means you’ll need to install a separate application, called the Splashtop Streamer. You can find the Splashtop Touchpad app on the official HP App Store (it’s $9.99).

In my opinion, both of these two applications open up a new world of possibilities for Touchpad owners. Having access to your home PC from any place with wi-fi means you don’t necessarily need to lug around a laptop any more. That’s huge.

Improving Your Touchpad’s Battery Life

First, make sure you follow everything in the Speeding Up Your Touchpad section. The stuff in there will also improve your battery life, except for the overclocking part.

Battery Saver

If you’re unnaturally lazy like me, you probably don’t dutifully turn off your Touchpad every day before you go to bed to save battery life. A Preware app called Battery Saver (originally created for use on the Pre, but it still works, whatever) automatically puts the device in airplane mode during the hours that you specify. On the Touchpad, this equates to turning off the wi-fi, great if you have your device continually fetching mail every 5 minutes. Grab it from Available Packages -> Applications.

***

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