REX Manager User Guide for REXsharp

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Ok, so you've followed the Quickstart guide, and got your REX# installed, and you want to get the most out of your unit. Or maybe you are having problems, and need further guidance. This guide will cover both topics. Before you begin, however, make sure that you have properly installed REX# as per the installation instructions. If you cannot insatll REX# due to some unforseen issue, the second half of this guide will walk you through the steps to re-flashing your REX# chip.

Using REX#

Using your new REX# is very simple. Upon installation, a file called 'REXMGR' is installed. Simply cursor over to the REX Manager program, and press enter. After a very brief delay, you will be greeted with the REX Manager program, which allows you to move between the two main menu catagories, RAM and ROM.

[TAB] = Moves you between RAM/ROM Menus
[ENT] = Selects RAM/ROM block for use
[E]   = Hints on <ENTER> key functions
[B]   = Block number information
[S]   = Toggle sort order
[I]   = Display version information
[F1]  = Access built in REX help file
[F2]  = save Image under cursor to TPDD device or load image from TPDD
[F3]  = Copy block to another block
[F4]  = Kill (delete) a block, freeing memory
[F5]  = Change block name
[F7]  = De-install, used to uninstall your REX
[F8]  = Exit REX Manager
[Arrows] = move around the REX Manager screen.

Ok, now that you've got a cheat sheet in front of you, let's play around and see what we can do. First off, you should see (if you haven't touched anything) a screen that looks like this (block, date and time will differ):

 REX#1.0      Group<TAB>: RAM	FREE 18

 backup*   ------

                          08/04/09 01:01

 Help Save Copy Kill Name      DeIn Exit

Let's have a look. In the upper left is the version number for the REX firmware, to the right, the Group text indicates that we are looking at RAM images, and indicates that we can change this by pressing <TAB>. The upper right indicates free blocks.

Below, we get to the important stuff. You see a RAM image called 'backup'. This is the built in default RAM image, which you can refresh at anytime by SAVEing to it. Next to it is a blank block '------'. Below this are the date and time, and the standard Model 100/102 Function key menu, as detailed above.

Now go ahead and hit <TAB>. The screen changes to the ROM group, as indicated up top. This should show you the active TS-DOS ROM block(indicated by the asterix), and a blank block of empty space '------'. Tabbing again will show you the OS menu, which just shows a blank block. This grouping is for special option roms that operate independantly from the main ROM, like CP/M for example. A seperate entry on the wiki will detail this at a later date.

Using RAM Images

Let's tab back to the RAM menu. This is where you will save, create, switch to and load your RAM states. Basically, these are copies of the entire 32k Model 100 memory (assuming you have that much) to REX's flash memory. This allows you to back up the contents of memory, and to have multiple blocks of saved memory you can switch between. For example, my Model 102 has a block for use with Ultimate ROM 2, a block for work, for Multiplan, and a block reserved for an ongoing game of Portal. This feature allows you to easily swap out the contents of memory to and from REX#, as well as your storage device.

Let's try it. Cursor over to the '------' field and hit [ENTER]. REX asks you 'Create new backup (Y/N)?'. Hit 'Y' and REX will ask you 'New Name?', this being the name your new block will be listed as. Enter a six character name, and hit [ENTER] again. We'll call ours 'WORK' (see figure below) After a few seconds, REX will create a new RAM block with the current contents of your Model 100's memory, and selecting the new block as the active one, denoted by a '*'. Simple, no?

 REX#1.0      Group<TAB>: RAM	FREE 18

 backup   WORK*   ------

                          08/04/09 01:08

 Help Save Copy Kill Name      DeIn Exit

To switch to another image, just cursor to it and hit [ENTER], and the manager program will install that block to memory, completely replacing it's contents. Killing an image is just as easy. Just cursor over to it and hit the [F4] key and confirm. The block will be deleted from memory, and that particular 32k chunk of flash will be open for future use. Note that REX can have a total of 16 blocks in use, of any mixture of ROM/RAM or OS files.

Now, if you want to SAVE or LOAD an image from your TPDD compatible device, simply move to a used block and hit [F2] to save, and to an empty ('------') block and hit [F2] to load. Note that to load to load a file from storage to a block currently in use, you must kill that block (see above)first. Before you save or load, make sure that your TPDD device, or one of the PC<->M100 file programs is running and 'visible' to REX. If it's not, than the file operation will time out.

Using OPTION ROM Images

 REX#1.0      Group<TAB>: ROM	FREE 18

 TS-DOS*   ------

                          08/04/09 01:01

 Help Save Copy Kill Name Cksm DeIn Exit

Now hit [TAB] again, and let's delve into the real power of REX, switching Option ROM images. Let me give you an example of why this is such a big deal. I'll use myself as an example. I regularly use (as I am right now) the Ultimate ROM II for word processing and the occasional BASIC program, because I love the 60 column font option. In the past, this caused one very annoying problem: using URII occupied my optionROM socket, and prevented me from using a real TS-DOS ROM. I had to choose between Teeny (which is small but very basic and it must be load via serial cable from a PC) and the RAM loaded URII TS-DOS, which was buggy, unreliable, and a memory hog. Not so good. With REX, those days are over. I user URII to write my articles. When I'm done, I simply run REXMGR, and swap out URII with TS-DOS. Two seconds later (it's that fast), and I'm in TS-DOS and I save the file to my NADSBox's flash card. Then, I swap back to UR-II and keep writing, all of which is faster than loading URIIs crappy RAM based TS-DOS. Pretty useful, huh?

First off, make sure you know what the ROM menu looks like (see figure above). The Group tab needs to display ROM, and not 'RAM'. If you are in any other menu when you try to load an option ROM, it will not work. Remember, you change groups by hitting [TAB].

Before we start though, let's get you set up with all of the current option ROM files that work with REX. You'll find these readily available on the Wiki as a zipped file. Download that, and unzip it to your TPDD device of choice, whether PC or NADSBox. Make sure that if you are using something that uses directories (my NADSBox for example, has several sub directories for stories, poetry etc), that you have switched to the directory the option ROM files are in.

What's that, you say? You don't know how? We'll, let's use it as practice. You should be in the ROM group of the REX manager program. If you are not, get there now. See the block labeled 'TS-DOS'? Select it and hit [ENTER]. REX# will ask you 'Install Option ROM (Y/N)?'. Hit [Y], and a second or two later, you will be in TS-DOS. How's that for simple? Go ahead and switch to your TPDD via [F4] (in TS-DOS) and select the directory you unzipped those option ROM files to and [F8] to exit, and re-run REXMGR. [TAB] back to the ROM group, and select the blank '------' block. See how the menu changes from SAVE to LOAD for the [F2] key? That means you are ready to go.

Hit [F2] now. REX# will ask you the name of the optionROM file you want to load. Let's use my favorite Ultimate ROM II, so go ahead and type 'UR2100', which is the file name for the ultimate ROM. REX will tell you to hit any key when your TPDD drive is ready, so when it is, hit [SPACE]. If you've followed the above directions, then thirty seconds or so later, you will have a new block of memory named after the Option ROM you just loaded. Switch to it by selecting it and hitting [ENTER]. Deleting blocks is identical to deleting RAM blocks, as detailed above. You can also save an option ROM to disk by selecting a used block and hitting [F2].

Quick Menu Features

For commonly used functions, now some shortcut keys are available in MENU. This avoids the need to start REXMGR to perform simple operations like ROM switching and backing up your RAM.

Summary of commands:

  • <CNTL-O>: Switch Option ROM - REX will display available Option ROMs, and the user can use arrow keys to move the cursor to the desired selection. <ENTER> to activate the new selection and start that ROM. <ESC> to exit. The Active Option ROM is indicated with a *.
  • <CNTL-B>: Back up RAM - REX# will prompt the user to confirm, and if confirmed will copy RAM to the active RAM image, performing a backup.
  • <CNTL-R>: Restore RAM - REX# will prompt the user to confirm, and if confirmed will copy the active RAM image to RAM, performing a restore.
  • <CNTL-X>: Hooks removal - REX# will prompt the user to confirm, and if confirmed will remove all hooks relating to REXMGR from the laptop operating system, effectively disabling REX#. REXMGR remains in the MENU, so REX# can be easily reinstalled. Also, the Active Option ROM is accessible using the usual ROM start procedures. This feature is useful when it is desired to run the Option ROM without REX# active.

Final Words

That's it! You should now know enough to set up all of the ROM images you like to use, and to make RAM banks storing different files in memory, however you like. You'll find that REX# makes Model 100 computing truly useful again. The ability to switch , on the fly, to whatever ROM or RAM bank you need a simply indispensable tool. For a writer like me, owning the one-two punch of a REX# combined with a NADSBox make the Model 100 or 102 the most bulletproof, long lasting, foolproof solution for simple text editing on the go. I think you'll find it is the same for you.