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Topics - Daniel W

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1
Hi!

Yes, I know there is a Sell/Wanted subforum here on OESF. Fairly little seems to happen there, so I'm posting here instead. Sorry if that's not the intended way. For logistical reasons, this is mainly directed to people in Sweden. I'm still writing this in English, as it's the lingua franca around here ;-)

Anyway... once upon a time, I backed a Planet Car Mount kit, weird logistics made me end up with two, and I no longer need them.

I briefly used one, with the air vent clamp, but I never used the suctions cups. They still have their original protective plastic attached. Letting them just age in a cupboard, feels kind of dumb, so: Would anyone in Sweden want a car mount kit, or two?

Feel free to ask me stuff below or PM me, if you prefer that.

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Astro Slide - General Discussion / The Astro Accessories
« on: April 27, 2021, 09:28:44 am »
In Astro update #28, a bunch of accessories, now available on the Astro Indiegogo page, were announced. Does anyone here recognize the active pen? I can't imagine Planet Computers had a brand new model developed just for them. I'd rather presume they've put their branding on some existing model.

I have sent an e-mail to Planet, asking for specifications on the pen, such as size, weight, how it's charged, battery runtime, standby time, tip diameter etc, to help me determine whether their pen would be a suitable upgrade from my current pen (an Adonit Dash 3). I will, of course, share any answer from them here.

As I don't really expect to get that much useful information from them, though, should someone here recognize the Planet pen as some existing model, I'd like to know, as that would make it easier for me, and others, to evaluate it. Otherwise, I might back it blindly, but I'd prefer to know a bit more about it, if possible.


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Cosmo Communicator - CoDi / Finer grained notification filtering?
« on: December 03, 2020, 03:42:55 pm »
The CoDi, when enabled, seems to wake up for any and every notification, no matter how insignificant, even if it's just AirMail polling a POP server (I should perhaps use IMAP), Google Play just looking for updates or when the persistent notification I keep on the main screen status bar (showing the date) merely refreshed itself, because midnight happened.

As the CoDi software appears to offer no level of selectivity, can I, in some meaningful way, filter notifications elsewhere in Android? Preferably, the only notifications I'd want to show up on the CoDi are those that might require my immediate attention, such as text messages, new e-mail, Bluetooh file transfer requests, severe weather warnings, hacked account alerts, incoming calls in silent mode and such, basically, the sort of things for which a plain vanilla Android slab phone would decide to wake up its (only) main screen.

Turning off notifications completely in AirMail, Google Play (do they even let you do that?) or some other offending app, wouldn't be helpful, but being able to turn off certain types of notifications, either completely or just for the CoDi, would be a good start. What are my options in Android, if any?

[Edit: 2021-Jun-06: Typos]

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Astro Slide - Hardware / A typo in the specs...
« on: April 18, 2020, 06:31:48 pm »
On the Indiegogo Astro campaign page, the size of the device is said to be 164(W) x 76.6(D) x 15(H)mm.

A Cosmo is (officially) 171(W) x 79.3(D) x 17.3(H)mm, and my ruler seems to agree (when not busy sticking to the magnets in the device). The depth of the Cosmo keyboard alone is pretty much 70mm, so that could perhaps fit in a 76.6mm deep Astro, but as the Cosmo keyboard in itself is 164mm wide, it reasonably can't fit inside a 164mm wide device, lest it had absolutely no side bezels at all, which all the images of the Astro clearly shows it has.

So, maybe they shrunk the keyboard a tad? I doubt that, since the new screen is about 15mm wider (a 6.53" 20:9 screen is about 151.25 x 68.06mm) than on the Cosmo (a 5.99" 18:9 screen is about 136.08 x 68.04mm) and they still need to fit the speakers somewhere.

I'd rather guess the Astro keyboard itself, excluding bezels, will be 164mm wide, while the total width of the phone will be akin to that of the Cosmo and Gemini. Whether it's a typo (maybe the correct width is, say, 174mm) or whether they just put the wrong measurement (the width of just the keyboard - not the entire device) there, or if it is, somehow, correct, remains to be seen. What do you think?

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Cosmo Communicator - CoDi / Just a picture of the subpixels...
« on: March 25, 2020, 04:09:05 pm »
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Well, the title says it, and, as mentioned, it's a really cheap scope, so the image quality isn't that good. Yet, it reasonably illustrates the subpixel layout, which seems to be RGB with every other line (running vertical in this image - it was hard enough to get any image at all) pushed over 1.5 subpixels.

One "pixel" might consist of a little "RGB triangle", but that's just me guessing. I don't really know anything about how the display is driven. If anyone else here have anything to add, I'd be interested.

For some reason the blue subpixels on every other line seems to be brighter (to the point of appearing white in this image). The kind of stripey pattern (running horizontally in this image) seems to affect everything shown on the CoDi. I'm not sure if that's an artifact of my particular unit or whether it's universal. Does anyone else here see this (very fine) vertical stripey pattern on their CoDi?

Edit: Added a second example.

6
Glancing [a href=\'index.php?showtopic=36010\']this[/a] Gemini related post about some outgoing IP connections that turned out belonging to the firmware updater, I found the web site of Ash Wolf (Ninji here at OESF), upon which these two blog articles:
https://wuffs.org/blog/pulling-apart-the-c....temfota-updater
https://wuffs.org/blog/digitime-tech-fota-backdoors
picks apart the Cosmo Over-The-Air firmware updater, and finds, well, questionable content.

A firmware updater, reasonably, must have basically every permission, so we're kind of forced to trust whichever firmware distributor Planet Computers chooses. While I do trust Planet Computers not to be malevolent, they seem, to me, somewhat clueless at times, and, it seems, they've picked a firmware distributor whose other business, apparently, is to, via their own updater, distribute malware. Ouch.

Maybe they're only doing that as a paid service, say, on behalf of dirt cheap phone makers, who might want to make up for their low prices by exploiting their customers in any profitable way they can come up with. I'm quite certain Planet Computers isn't involved in or, as it seems, were even aware of, any such capabilities.

Yet, the way this is implemented on the Cosmo, it seems ANY app can silently get ANY Android permission, by knowing how to ask one of the updater interfaces. While nobody might specifically target such an uncommon device type as the Cosmo, probing for that interface would, to me, seem like something any competent malware author would do, in case their code happens to be on any phone where this interface is available.

As far as I understand, that can't happen, lest I'd install a malware-laden app first, but as those, according to media, once in a while, does make it onto Google Play, no matter how reasonable I'm trying to be, this feels a bit too crazy for comfort. I'm at a bit of a loss right now. After waiting over a year for my Cosmo, intending to use it as my only phone, I suddenly don't know if I could, at all, trust this device, once it arrives. Thoughts, anyone?

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Cosmo Communicator - Android / HTML support when writing in AirMail
« on: December 11, 2019, 02:42:05 pm »
As this is about the Airmail by Planet Computers app, I was a bit torn as to where to post this. As I expect to use it a LOT more, once my Cosmo comes, I put it here.

Anyway... Airmail displays HTML e-mail just fine, so I just supposed it would compose them reasonably well too, but I've found NO such support at all. This threw me off earlier today, when I needed to e-mail a step-by-step instruction with some images in it, maybe bold text in the subheadings, and red text for a warning. On the PC, I routinely do such things in Mozilla Thunderbird. There, I need to enable the HTML support to use it when composing e-mail. Is there a similar setting in Airmail, or is the Planet Computers e-mail client, supposedly specially geared for their devices, supposedly specially geared for mobile creators, really just capable of composing bare bones basic black text?

If so, there will be some e-mails I just cannot send with it, or reply to. If I am to insert snippets of source code into an e-mail, those snippets, but not the rest of the e-mail, needs to use a mono spaced (and, usually, slightly smaller) font. If I'm going to suggest changes to a text, I need , or color, or... [size=]something[/size] to make a clear difference between what I want to remove, and what I want to insert. I need ??????? (hrm... it seems IP.Board can't handle Unicode symbols too well) and super/subscript for basic math notation, or footnotes, lest ?(X2+Y2) is to degrade into SQR(X^2+Y^2). You get the idea.

Can any of this be done in Airmail, or can the community, pretty please, suggest a Gemini/Cosmo-compatible e-mail client that does?

It doesn't have to be free, but it can't just be a web mail, and it must work with regular e-mail servers, so some special Gmail-only app, or similar, won't do. I don't need anything too fancy, it's e-mail after all, but, well, I roughly need to be able to send this forum post (and Unicode symbols) by e-mail, without loosing anything. Yes, sure, I can write and attach a Word™ document, but only if I know the recipient has Word too, which they may or may not - especially if they are on a mobile device too - or their organization might be wary of such attachments. In a pinch, I could send a PDF, which almost everyone can read, but those are deliberately designed to NOT be editable. So, yeah, there are painful workarounds, but - just to be clear - I'm not asking for those. I'm asking for somewhat capable e-mail, as I'm used to in the non-mobile world.

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Cosmo Communicator - General Discussion / While we're waiting...
« on: July 13, 2019, 04:37:42 pm »
With Update #20 out and, including today, 19 days left of July 2019, perhaps it's time to start guessing when:
A: The first user Cosmo production run will start.
B: The first user Cosmos leaves the factory.
C: The first user posts on OESF that they have received their Cosmo(s).
D: Most users who backed their Cosmos during the crowdfunding month have received their units.

A: As consumer electronics certification must be fairly streamlined, testing only HAS to find issues that cannot be fixed via software updates, and they're currently waiting for more of the material they've already got for PR1,
Correct answer: Tuesday, September 3 (so my guess was off by 36 days).

B: For the Gemini, the first user mass production commenced around Saturday, January 20, 2018 (Update #44). Three weeks later, on Saturday February 10, it was complete (Update #48). I seem to recall it took longer before units actually were shipped from the factory, but as I hope things will be a bit smoother this time,
Correct answer: Friday, October 11 (so my guess was off by 53 days).

C: The [a href=\'index.php?showtopic=34795\']earliest post[/a] here from a user who received their Gemini, says it arrived on Thursday, March 1, 2018, which is close to six weeks after the first production run was complete, but as I think that was due to some shipment issues,
Correct answer: Friday, November 8 (so my guess was off by 60 days).

D: I got my Gemini three weeks later, on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. While I had to wait a bit, as, apparently they assembled "other" keyboard layouts (such as Swedish) last, I wasn't the last early funder to get mine, but, again, as I hope things will be a tad quicker this time,
Correct answer: Thursday, January 23 (so my guess was off by 115 days).

There. Yes, I've simply guessed "three more weeks" each time, as I think it's more or less reasonable. Naturally, I HOPE things will be faster, but, well, shipping stuff from China isn't typically fast. Now, it's you turn to guess, should you want to. Then we can compare, both to the mass production schedule we're supposed to get "soon", and, later, to actual reality.

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Update #18 gave me some (now dispelled) dark thoughts.
If Planet Computers expects to get the first Cosmo units for certification and Linux development by the end of June, then, I thought, shipping in July, as stated in the latest published (Update #13) timeline, would seem pretty unrealistic. Hoping to maybe get a bit of clarification in some future update, I used the "I'd like more info" reaction button to send a message, posing the above question and also noting that, for the Gemini, it took four months from the T0 samples to the first backer production run. Adding that amount of time to the Cosmo T0 samples, from late May, would, I felt, be a bit disheartening.

So, at 22:36 (British Summer Time) on Sunday June 23, as it happened to be, I hit send and went back to a physics video YouTube. To my surprise, 21 minutes later, at 22:57, I got the following (from which I have removed some blank lines):

"Daniel, Thank you for your message.

We still expect to start Cosmo production in July if all is well. As you know, there are many certifications to complete as well as completing the firmware in a very short amount of time. So, there may be further changes in the timeline, but only if there are unforseen delays. And we will publish any changes in the timeline. I agree its very tight, but we have been there before. The T0 production samples are were very good, so some of the time is compressed from the published time schedule.

Why the shorter time period this time? With Gemini, we had to retool the Gemini keyboard several times, which caused a long delay in initial production. We don't have this problem this time, as there is prior knowledge that helps us.

I hope that this answers your question.
Thank you for your support.
Best regards,
Janko

[a copy of my message]

Sent from my Gemini PDA with the Airmail® app. Please excuse my verboseness - I have a great keyboard and just cannot resist. Get a Gemini PDA from Planet and type on the move! www.planetcom.co.uk "

That's the quickest action I've ever observed from Planet Computers, and it came right when I had begun to doubt a bit. It certainly answered my question, and pretty much put me at ease again. Of course, the actual schedule could still slip a bit, for any number of reasons, but to read that the CEO, at this point in time, thinks the timeline from April is still feasible, was uplifting to read. As I presume others, like me, might be wondering what to expect right now, and since the above, as far as I can tell, isn't sensitive in any way, I felt sharing this here, was the appropriate thing to do. I hope Mr. Mrsic-Flogel agrees. Not sure if I should be impressed or worried to find him at work on a Sunday night, but, in any case, it seems progress is being made.

/Daniel

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Gemini PDA - Hardware / The car mount kit
« on: March 18, 2019, 05:46:42 pm »
While this is more "Hardware for the Gemini" rather than "Gemini Hardware", I felt it would be appropriate to mention it here.

Over at the Gemini page on https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gemini-p...bile-device--2/, a car mount kit for the Gemini (which will also fit the Cosmo as well) has been added. There are some details in Update#69 available on that page, for those who doesn't get the updates by e-mail.

I'm not sure if linking to an image over there will work, but here goes...
[img]https://c1.iggcdn.com/indiegogo-media-prod-cld/image/upload/c_limit,w_695/v1552927628/kwymfh5osue8qmxawieh.jpg\" border=\"0\" class=\"linked-image\" /]

There are a few more pictures on the indiegogo page, but basically it seems to be a clamp wide enough to hold a Planet Computers device and a few mounting options intended for cars. I don't have a car, but I figured a clamp like this might be my next best option in lack of a proper tripod mount for my Gemini or Cosmo, so I've backed one, hoping that securing the clamp to a table with the suction cup will be sturdy enough, lest I find a way to put the clamp on a tripod.

Other pictures over there shows that the clamp has an opening for a charger cable, which might be helpful for actual car use.

Edit:Yes, it does fit the Cosmo too, text above updated.

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Gemini PDA - Hardware / Right shift + backspace doesn't become delete
« on: February 19, 2019, 02:08:03 pm »
The rightmost key on the top row is, on its own, supposed to be backspace and, in combination with shift, to be delete. That works fine when I use the left shift key, but with the right shift, I get a somewhat strange behavior.

When the cursor is at the very beginning (in the first position of the first row, if it's a multi-line edit) of somewhere I can type, right shift + backspace, as expected, works like delete, but whenever the cursor is somewhere inside a text, right shift + backspace doesn't become delete, but just backspace.

The behavior seems consistent across the apps I've examined so far, such as AirMail, Agenda, Messaging, some notepad apps, and even in oddball locations, such as when editing a filename in the FM Radio app, so this seems to be a keyboard issue rather than a problem with any particular apps.

The only exception I could find, was when I used the Microsoft Remote Desktop client to log on to a Windows computer. There, none of the shift keys made backspace work as delete, probably because Windows itself doesn't think shift + backspace equals delete.

My Gemini has a Swedish keyboard and the "Integrated keyboard" is set to "Gemini Keyboard - Swedish", though I doubt the selected layout matters, as delete, presumably, is supposed to work the same across all locales.

While waiting for the Cosmo, I'm trying to use my Gemini for most mobile-related things (except photos/video, actual phone calls and messaging) and thus I'm increasingly typing on it. I can press left shift + backspace even with one hand (say, when holding something edible in the other), though it's a bit awkward and sometimes a stray knuckle brushes against the screen, causing random results.

Does anybody else experience this, and, if so, is there a fix for it?

12
While I'm largely looking forward - for reasons beyond this topic - to replace my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with a Cosmo (provided the camera isn't terrible), I'm not looking forward to loosing my S-pen. For plain text, the Cosmo keyboard will be better than any pen, but for manually solving simple equations, doing basic sketches or as a rudimentary mouse, the S-pen is great. For those unfamiliar, it's an active inductive (thus requiring the phone to have some extra hardware) pen with about the resolution of a ballpoint pen, miles ahead of fingers or a "rubber crayon" type stylus. I used to say that using a smartphone without such a pen is like being forced to use a very small typewriter, which will probably be very true for my Cosmo, keyboard and all.

For some time, I've been using an Adonit Dash 3 with my Gemini. It's an active capacitive pen made from brushed (probably anodized) aluminum, using battery power to cause stronger interaction with a regular capacitive touch screen, thus allowing a substantially finer tip than would be possible for a passive stylus. Below is a picture comparing some different tips:



As can be seen, the Dash (middle left) has a tip about as fine as a fairly blunt pencil (top left). On the top right is a fine ballpoint, below which is my Note 8 S-pen. I no longer own a "rubber crayon", but the finest such tip I got working reliably was about the size of that round blue-green eraser on the bottom right. It did help me type a bit better on a small on-screen smartphone keyboard than when using a finger (bottom left), but that was it. While the S-pen gets its power inductively from the Note, a "generic" active capacitive pen needs a battery, so it can't be as small. Here's the Adonit Dash 3 compared to my Gemini, a pencil and a small Bluetooth mouse I used to carry around:



So, how is the Dash to use? Well, it's a lot worse than an S-pen, that's for sure, which shouldn't come as a surprise. For one, the Gemini doesn't appear to sample its touch screen as often as the S-pen digitizer does, so unless I'm slow enough, fine details gets lost. Strictly technically, the Dash probably doesn't offer much more accuracy than a finger BUT it lets you see what you're doing. Here's a simple problem I solved with the Dash. I mostly had to zoom to 200% and pan around:



As you can see, it makes my handwriting look I'm five years old again. This is partly because a pen of this type can't support palm rejection, so I can't rest my hand on the glass while writing. Thus, the experience becomes a bit like when trying to write small text on a whiteboard. Here's the same problem, using just a finger, at the same zoom level (except for the title, I think I used 500% there):



At first blush, it's not a huge difference, but, honestly, while I, in the first case, actually SOLVED the problem, latter, my main struggle was to COPY the already known solution in a somewhat readable manner. I'm not sure if solving it using just a finger would have been viable. For reference, here's the same problem from my Note 8, using the S-pen:


I can't show how the Dash 3 works as a mouse. Obviously, it can't have buttons, so unless the OS you run can take a tap as a click, a long-press as a right click and a press-and-drag as a click and drag, a pen like this can't do all that much, but in Android, it's effectively a noticeably sharper finger, which has allowed me to leave my small mouse at home.

One thing I don't like, is how easy the Dash 3 is to turn on by mistake. Much like a ballpoint pen, it has a button at the top. Press once and a little green LED sequence shows that it turned on, press again and a red LED sequence shows that it's turning off. Simple as that. If the Dash hasn't been used for fifteen minutes, it's supposed to turn off, but just keeping it clipped to my shirts chest pocket apparently turned it on by mistake often enough for fourteen supposed hours of battery life to be all gone in two days. When the battery is low, by the way, it uses the red LED for the turn-on sequence. While your mileage may vary, I chose to sacrifice a suitable pen cap I happened to have, to make a sleeve:



The button is now a bit recessed, which solved the issue for me. That was a few weeks ago, and I haven't had to charge it since (though I haven't been using it heavily either). The Dash 3 is charged from any powered USB type A port in about 45 minutes, using this little included dongle:

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It has a magnet strong enough to hold the pen in any orientation (the picture shows the closest they would be and still stay apart). As the dongle is mostly plastic, one may need to be a bit careful with it. I don't carry mine around, but keep it stuck to a metal part of my desk at home. Should I bring it, I'd put in inside something, not just shove it into a pocket.

In the end, for me, this was $50 well spent. It solves a real problem sufficiently well. While I can't say for sure until I've actually used a Cosmo as my daily driver for a while, I think this pen will allow me to not also carry my Note 8 around just-in-case, and it has already allowed me to leave that Bluetooth mouse at home when I bring my Gemini (which I currently mostly use for e-mail on the go).

13
Just noticed the $549 Early Bird Special is back again. As of now 831 of 999 are claimed.

From what I understand, the three or so that backed the $595 perk, can just cancel and back the Early Bird again. I guess this extension is final, as they went with 999, rather than 1000.

14
As I kept an eye on the campaign, I saw it reach 100% funding at 12:35 GMT (on nov. 5 2018), and I was really tempted, but I thought it would be irresponsible to replace a perfectly good Gemini after such a short time, especially since it's "just" my secondary/spare smartphone (as I'm a too much of an S-Pen addict to commit to just a Gemini). So I made a "devils pact" with myself, saying IF they extend the Early Bird campaign, then I'll bite. And they did. So I did. I guess we're going to need a new YouTube player in the living room some time next summer (as the current Windows 10 tablet struggles as soon as there's an update pending) . Oh, well. Enough ranting. Got get a Cosmo (reasonably cheap) while you can. I'll be here, contemplating what I just did, hoping there won't be any "first batch" issues this time.

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Gemini PDA - Hardware / Pictures of and with the camera module
« on: June 28, 2018, 09:24:07 pm »
My rear camera module came in the mail today. Here is the packaging



The actual camera module measures 8.5 x 8.5 x 4.0mm.
Including the connector cable, the total length is 17.4mm.
The connector itself is about 7.6 x 1.5mm.



To make it sit securely, this piece of plastic, confusungly called "connector", is needed.

It has a bit of rubbery material on the back, pressing on the camera connector.

For protection, there's also a plastic front cover.

Let's get installing. Here are the instructions.

There's a slot for the camera module under the top cover.

The module is attached via its connector.

It's held in place with that plastic piece.

Then the new top cover is mounted.

And finally, with the front lens cover mounted.

Before my Gemini was 15.2mm at its thickest point.
Now it is 17.0mm when measured at the camera hump.

Now for some pictures, here's a B4 page of text in reasonable light
The rear camera has auto focus, but isn't all that sharp.

This picture is taken at dusk, about one hour before sunset.

Here is the same picture, but with the front camera.

And, for comparison, a picture from my Samsung Note8 @ 5MP.

Here is the sun setting over the neighborhood.

The same picture with the front camera.

And, again, with my Note8.

So, what do I think? Well, the rear camera is clearly better than the front camera, but that doesn't mean it's good. It resolves very little detail for 5MP. The pictures looks more like 1MP stretched to 5MP. As the camera module claims it can record video in 3840x2176, which would be 8.3MP, it seems the module itself isn't afraid of some interpolation. This makes me think even the 5MP it reports to the camera API might be after some interpolation, but without knowing the exact specs of the module, I'm just guessing here.

Anyway, I find it reasonable for what it is. Sure, I would have preferred a camera at least as good as the 2MP camera in my 2006 Sony Ericsson K750i cellphone, but this is an add-on for a first generation crowdfunded device, bought in very low quantities, and the price paid must cover everything from the new front cover to international shipping and, presumably, UK VAT, so I'm not going to complain. If sufficiently large, it reads even the biggest QR codes without issue and it can make a page or screen of text readable. That's likely the most I'd demand from it, so, yeah, I think it's ok. That said, don't buy this if you need actually good pictures.
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