I suspected that somehow the keys got remapped. I wanted to see if mame was running or if it crashed. There are only two ways i could think of to do that- hit the power button, if the system isn't crashed then it should power off obviously. It doesn't i'm forced to soft reset.
I also enabled "show framerate" and i can see the framerate changing in the upper right corner as the system waits for me to hit ok (left/right), but only for a few seconds after which it (no matter what game i try to load) stays at 100% without flickering or changing.
Pocket pc type: Jornada568