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Messages - Daniel W

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Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 30, 2023, 09:09:49 am »
Edit: @Daniel Have you had any luck with getting the firmware from Planet?
I haven't heard from them since Friday May 26, nor have I tried to reach them. If things went as they thought back then, they should have had an affected Astro to examine since Saturday May 27. I presume they'll get back to me once they have something to share. I don't want to nag them too much, so I intend to stay put for at least a few more days.

Since the same firmware apparently gives different users different results, I don't know, at this point, if a reflash would even help, and I suspect the Planet representative mostly just presumed it would. I mean, he reasonably cannot have know what was the actual issue when he, near midnight, responded to my first email about this.

If these are non-volatile settings in a display controller, that somehow has a greater than zero probability of corruption, perhaps they normally would be left as-is by a non-botched update? If so, it could take some low level specialized software or ADB hacking to restore such settings.

Since undecisive was able to able to wake the screen up (though in psychedelic mode), I'm thinking about forcing a bunch of reboots back-to-back just to see if anything happens. For most of my needs, a psychedelic phone would be more useful than one hooked up 24/7 to my livingroom TV.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 29, 2023, 06:52:23 am »
A factory reset didn't solve the problem...  >:(
Welp... thank you for trying anyway. Though not successful, it's still good to know. If you haven't already, perhaps share the discovery with Planet.

After reading about issues with Planet Backup, I begun backing what I could up to a Micro SD-card, intending to do a factory reset, which I will now skip.

As moving my main SIM would mess with my e-Id, I've forwarded my calls to a SIM in my Comso, so I can be reached and use the internet when not at home.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 26, 2023, 09:18:12 am »
I just got another reply from Planet. They have, thus far, seen about four or five Astros with V07-related screen issues, one of which is to arrive at their office tomorrow (Saturday). That might help them decide the best course of action.

I had asked them about doing a factory reset, but they didn't mention it in their reply. They did say "You can always try to use Planet Backup to try and back up the device." which might be the easiest way to get things back after a reset, but I still don't know if a factory reset would be advisable.

One thing they said I could try is to run down the battery until the Astro turns off (and, presumably recharge it from there). They suspect the screen initialisation went wrong for an unknown reason, but are not sure until they have examined an affected device.

Worst case, I can send my Astro in for repair, but as I live outside the UK, I'd rather not. Reflashing it manually might also be an option, if no easier solutions are found. I'll keep researching for a while and hopefully Planet will know a bit more soon.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 26, 2023, 08:53:23 am »
Trippy colors... whatever this is, it seems to affect multiple users, in different ways.

When I e-mailed an update to Planet today, telling them I can now, at least, get the recovery menu to show up on the external screen, I also shared a link to this thread and mentioned there are others than me having V07-related display issues. Generally, I think it's good if those affected could email Planet and share whatever details they can, as they'd probably need every clue they can get right now.

If I had to guess, I'd say the update somehow messes with the display controller (or similar), perhaps sometimes corrupting some, perhaps non-volatile, configuration in some semi-random way, which, in most cases fixes itself after a reboot or two but, depending on exactly what gets corrupted, may have worse consequences. Oh well... guessing is my keyword here. 

In the name of research, I unplugged the HDMI and rebooted. When I knew the Astro had reached the PIN screen, I tapped around blindly and found a spot that played the tap sound in my headset, so FWIW, my touch screen seems to, technically speaking, work when HDMI isn't attached. With HDMI out active, touch doesn't work, which I presume is by design. Luckily, I have a bluetooth mouse that works with my Astro.

@Zarhan Thank you for explaining fastboot. As I need the left hand USB port for HDMI, unless I can use the right hand port for something else than power, I guess I won't be doing much USB anything. I did try plugging the Planet USB-C hub into the lefthand port, plug the HDMI adapter into the USB-C port of the hub and reboot. As I expected, HDMI out didn't work that way.

@undecisive It should, in theory, be possible to initiate a factory reset blindly, if someone who can see what they're doing would write down the exact sequence of volume up/down and/or power button presses needed to start the reset. Whether it would be feasible in practice is another question. As of now, I do not know for sure that a factory reset would even help. For all I know thus far, it could make things worse, so I'm not willing to just try a reset just yet.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 25, 2023, 11:56:15 am »
The correct way to get to recovery is to power on while holding volume UP. Not down.
(Then, when the "No command" shows up, press and hold power, and again tap volume up to get to the menu).
Well, details matters. Thank you very much.

Right now, even if I do a shut down, during which I unplug everything, the Astro, weirdly enough, spontaneously boots again, but if I do a shut down and holds volume up until it boots again, I get the "No command" on the external screen. From there I can hold the power button and and tap volume up to get to the recovery menu. I haven't yet ventured further.

@Daniel W: Damn, sorry to hear you've had such issues!

I recall kinda similar behaviour with my Cosmo (prior to installing multiboot?), where if I held the Esc button for too long when booting it up, it would boot into Android but with the screen disabled - I take it that it was then booting from a secondary boot partition which had something wrong with it. You're not doing that, are you? In my case, iirc, the screen was active during the bootloader, but turned off after that - does yours display anything at all at boot? (it doesn't sound like it)

I wrote up instructions for entering all the boot modes in the wiki. Does booting into any of the other modes show anything? Does it display your charging state when it's turned off and you press Esc?

Well, at the moment, the Astro spontaneously turns itself back on a few seconds after a shut down (I'm not doing a restart and it says "shutting down" while doing so), even from the recovery menu. As far as I can tell, neither the Escape key nor the power button appears stuck (as they both work normally once the Astro has booted again).

Before the Astro begun doing that, I don't think I held the power button very long, just barely until the Astro vibrated (as that's the only indication I get when the internal screen doesn't work). In any case, when I rebooted from inside the updater (and the internal screen went dead) I didn't hold or press any physical buttons at all. But well, as my Astro is stock, if it tries to "multi-boot" anyway, that might be a piece to the puzzle?

As I stated above, I can now get to the recovery menu, but haven't dared doing anything there yet, except reboot and shutdown. As the screen is an OLED, it could on principle show a black image and I wouldn't know. As far as I can tell, the screen appears to be off. Once when I forced a reboot, I think I saw a brief flash of white in a corner, but that could have been a reflection.

Both when the Astro is on and (briefly atm.) off, it shows the charge state when I have a charger connected (on the right hand side, as the HDMI dongle uses the left hand port). When I do a shut down, the LED briefly changes to red, even though I'm above 80% charge, but it soon turns green again, about when the Astro boots itself.

When I, erroneously, held power + volume down (which the Wiki says should be "Fastboot") I didn't even get a picture on the external screen, but I may have fumbled somehow, so maybe I should try that again. I have not yet tried safe mode.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 25, 2023, 07:39:37 am »
When, after a shutdown, booting with the HMDI cable attached, the Astro first vibrates briefly, then the LED next to Q comes on in blue for a few seconds. After that, HDMI kicks in, sometimes showing some binary garbage, followed by a generic Android logo and after that, the SIM PIN screen, the lock screen and, finally, the home screen, all in glorious 720p (which is very cramped and looks weird on a 50-ish inch TV...)

When I, after a shutdown, held volume down and turned the Astro on, with the HMDI cable attached, I never got any HDMI out.

It is quite possible I did something wrong. As I recall, I slid off of the volume down button a few seconds after the Astro powered on, so maybe I should try again and hold volume down pressed for longer? Is volume down + power on even the correct sequence to get to the recovery mode on an Astro? I basically just noticed I didn't get any HDMI on the first attempt, forced a reboot and e-mailed Planet.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 25, 2023, 07:14:16 am »
If you access the external screen, try a factory reset on your phone.
I might. I should be able to initiate a reset from within Android and should that work, I should be fine...

The scary bit is that the HDMI doesn't seem to kick in until Android is actually booting, so it seems I can't see things like the recovery menu. Would anything I do disable HDMI out, I could be kind of hosed.

I have never used the ADB (Android Debug Bridge) over USB before, but I suppose turning in on before seriously messing with anything, might give me a second way in, should I loose video out. Things like flashing tools and scatter files are also just a haze to me, so I might need to ask some n00b questions, should I need to reflash.

For now, I'll wait a bit and see what Planet says. As can be seen in the picture I posted above, I have, for now, set my Astro up as a "stationary mobile". That's not ideal, but at least I can handle phone calls and use my e-id to pay bills and such. Should I need to, I can move that id to my old Cosmo (which now serves as my bedside clock again) but I'm trying to not get ahead of myself right now.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 24, 2023, 06:14:58 pm »
Well... I sent the email to Planet Computers 10:51PM local time, which is 9:51PM British Summer Time. A guy called Jeff replied 61 minutes later (at 10:52PM BST) so apparently someone works late over there (and I'm up late, over here. ;-)

The reply mostly said they'd ask their ODM for advice first. If that doesn't help, they could try sending me software for a full reflash. We'll see. I've hooked up an external screen, power, mouse and headset a bit better now, so I should be able to use it landline-style until this is resolved.


Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 24, 2023, 04:57:23 pm »
Now I have emailed Planet. In my past experience, they have replied fairly quickly. Let's hope they do so this time too.

By booting without HDMI, logging in blindly and then calling my Astro from another phone, I've confirmed that my Astro does boot without HDMI. It is still rather useless in that state though. It rang as expected, but without the screen I couldn't answer.

For the short term I'll plan to have it tethered to an external screen and a bluetooth mouse. That will probably get cumbersome really soon though...  :P

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 24, 2023, 03:40:59 pm »
I tried connecting the HDMI adapter and force a reboot. That gave me signal on an external screen. That way I could log in and verify that Android itself isn't broken. If I reboot it again without the HDMI adapter, the internal screen still won't turn on.

Since I, at least, has the external screen working, I'll experiment some more. Probably I'll end up contacting Planet.

Astro Slide - Android / Re: Astro update to V07
« on: May 24, 2023, 02:18:42 pm »
Well, I'm in trouble... after installing the update, I tapped on reboot in the updater. The screen turned off, the LED next to Q came on in blue for a couple of seconds, but the screen never turned on again. I waited a while but nothing happened. I held down Esc for ten or so seconds, which seems to force a reboot, since the vibrator buzzes briefly and LED next to Q comes on in blue for a couple of seconds again, but the screen doesn't turn on.

Right now, the charging LED, the keyboard backlight and the shift lock indicator works. Pressing the up or down buttons makes keyboard clicks, but only at most five in each direction, as if the Astro was showing a menu on its turned off screen. Forcing more reboots just seems to return the device to that state...


Well, the 9to5Google article links to a Samsung security statement that lists six particular Samsung chips, perhaps including variants, and decribes the problem as an issue within their embedded software.

Since no other chip brand is mentioned, we can conclude that Samsung didn't license the affected technology to anyone else. Thus, this issue can reasonably only affect devices built around these specific Samsung chips, which also must run a vulnerable version of the embedded software.

While any phone may contain off-the-shelf Samsung parts, such as RAM, flash, sensors, amplifiers, power management stuff etc, the SoC and the modem contains intellectual property, which the phone manufacturer must license, before they are even allowed to buy the chips.

The factory Planet Computers employs, are (only) licensed to use MediaTek, so a Planet phone cannot legally contain a non MediaTek modem. Even if it could, it would probably neither be technologically feasible nor financially viable to combine a MediaTek SoC with a Samsung modem.

As far as I know, the SoC models Planet has used so far, all has their modems integrated into the SoC itself (which, reasonably is the cheapest option).

Astro Slide - Hardware / Re: Pixel peeping (main screen closeups)
« on: March 07, 2023, 04:32:47 pm »
While trying to sleep, I begun wondering, if - indeed - the Astro screen, in landscape mode, has a 2340 sets of RGB triplets horizontally, but "only" 720 of them vertically, wouldn't it then be possible to nicely depict a simple pattern consisting of every second pixel horizontally and every third pixel vertically? In theory, depending on the mapping algorithm, every second physical RGB triplet vertically should line up with every third logical pixel.

So, I drew this and took pictures.

That looks like a clean match to me. We're looking at the screen lighting up every second RGB triplet, both horizontally and vertically. If in any doubt, we could try to take exactly the same image with an off-black background, to see the in-between triplets. As that's beyond what I can reproduce, here I have digitally superimposed an approximation of how it would look like.

It should be evident that the black gaps are one triplet, both ways.

There should only be a 1/3 chance for things to line up this neatly vertically. In the other two cases, the logical pixels would be 2/3 of a physical RGB triplet off vertically, in which case this, too, should be blurry, depending on how, in particular, the mapping algorithm works.

One slightly weird thing I noticed, was that I could only get a "clean" match, while dragging the image around (which made getting a good photo of it even harder, with one hand of the camera and one on the phone) inside the image editor (Photo Editor by dev.macgyver) I was using to show the image at 100% (since it turned out that the regular Android photo album didn't show my test picture at exactly 100% on my Astro).

As soon as I let go of the image, it would settle in a slightly blurred state every time. I can't know for sure whether this is a behaviour in that app or not, but the app shouldn't (need to) know what type of display the device has, so my best guess is that the display driver tries to even things out by always making the image a tad blurry "at rest". Perhaps this is a tad too CPU intense to do while  something is being dragged around, but well, now I'm just guessing, so I think it's time to declare this little foray into the physical screen layout done.

We seem to have 2340 x 720 x 3 = 5054400 individual OLED segments on our Astro displays. I wish they were 2340 x 1080 x 3 = 7581600, but perhaps it isn't yet feasible to do at 400+ DPI at a reasonable cost? My laptop, that has a triplet per pixel "only" needs to do that at around 320 DPI, and even it has some funky offset business going on with its blue segments, so maybe "clean" OLED screens, at these densities, just aren't quite here yet?

Oh, before I leave, here's the "raw" test image I've been using, in case anyone would want to peep at their own pixels.

Edit: Added the "raw" test image.

Astro Slide - Hardware / Re: Pixel peeping (main screen closeups)
« on: March 06, 2023, 07:54:35 pm »
Getting anything useful out of my primitive gear wasn't easy for me. Here's my best attempt though, which seems to suggest there are shenanigans here. Let's, for starters have a look at a 12x12 pixel gray square. I'm not sure which of these pictures is the "best", so here's two:

This is the most magnification I've been able to eke out. Both pictures are rotated as if the phone is held in portrait mode. The first picture comes from pointing at the blu-tacked loupe with my $4 flea-market USB microscope. It is only 0.3MP and the usable part is even smaller in this case, so I have digitally scaled it to 200% to make it easier to see anything. The other image is from photographing the loupe with my handheld camera. That gave prettier colours and a few more pixels, but also more distorsion. In either case, I think these images starts looking a bit like "Alternating BGBR" described in the Catalog of Subpixel Geometry mentioned by Zimbix.

Had there been a full RGB triplet dedicated to each physical pixel, this layout would likely be fine, if hard to write subpixel anti-aliasing for, but there seems to be a bit of foul play. Along the vertical axis, one can indeed find twelve groups of a red subpixel atop a green subpixel, with a blue subpixel on the side, but as each such triplet is two subpixels wide, we'd need twenty-four columns of subpixels in total horizontally, to represent twelve pixels, but in the image, there are only fifteen fully lit subpixel columns and two weakly lit. I suppose this corresponds to about 16 subpixel columns instead of 24.

That would suggest that this screen, rather than having a true resolution of 1080x2340 square pixles, has a resolution of 720x2340 rectangular pixels, onto which a 1080 by 2340 pixel image gets mapped. Since the sample area I can capture like this is so small, there is room for error in my method, but let's look at some more tests. In the following, all pictures are taken with the Astro screen in its normal landscape mode. Here are some striped patterns of single pixel wide lines and some 8x8 pixel single colour blocks.

Well, that's a bit rubbish, isn't it. Now let's try a single pixel dot pattern (and some more single pixel lines)

It's just a mess. Here are just some single pixel lines.

The lines are a single pixel wide and eight pixels long, but gets weirdly spread over multiple rows or columns.

Here's some small text

Horizontally, we have the "correct" number of subpixels, but, say, five pixels would need to become ten subpixles vertically, with (a properly proportioned version of) this layout. Here, the case is rather seven.

In conclusion, it would be possible to make "true" RGB with this kind of layout, but the subpixels would need to be square and not rectangular for that to work. As an example, here's a closeup of my laptop (also OLED) screen. In the second image the horizontal lines are eight pixels wide, while the vertical are nine pixels tall.

Edit 2023-Mar-07: Added a second photo of my laptop screen.

Astro Slide - Hardware / Re: Pixel peeping (main screen closeups)
« on: February 25, 2023, 05:09:20 pm »
I'm glad you liked them. I'm glad I could capture them. My rudimentary equipment shouldn't be able to produce results like this.

Once upon a time I picked up a "30x triplet loupe", for a few tens of dollars. That is the round thing you can see a hint of in the first picture above. Here's a better picture of it.

For scale, the lens is about two centimeters or 4/5 of an inch.

I can attach it to the screen with small dabs of blu-tack (or similar from another brand). Then it turned out that a digital camera I have,

a (now) old Sony DSC-HX60V, which I got once to get real optical zoom, could lock focus onto that loupe, even when zoomed in almost 5x, from a much closer distance (the front lens is almost touching the loupe) that its technical specifications says, so it seems this camera and loupe, somehow, gets along better than one could expect.

To be fair, only a tiny portion on the image comes out actually sharp, while the rest is heavily distorted, but for things that either gives off its own light (like the screen) or things I can backlight (say, by putting them atop my phone, showing a white picture, at max brightness), I can get a few millimeters square reasonably magnified.

I agree that PenTile layouts tends to be ugly, since such screens (by design) has too few subpixels of one or more colours. As you can see in the last close-up above, the Astro screen appears NOT to be a PenTile variant. While its subpixels are arranged in a triangular pattern that reminds me of the phosphors in certain old CRT screens, there is an equal amount of red, green and blue subpixels. I guess they are arranged like that for practical reasons. I don't think it is feasible to make OLEDs into the narrow elongated strips one would typically find on an LCD.

As long as there's one full RGB triplet for each supposed pixel, the specific arrangement of them shouldn't matter much, provided the display driver knows what it's doing. I may have to draw some test images and (try to) take close-ups of, to verify that a full triplet per pixel is actually used.

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