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The Spam Thread!

[Image: Lexi-The-Tablet-reborn.jpg]
While at my mom's house over the Independence Day weekend, I started going through more of my old junk and found this old Android tablet. It's the Pandigital Novel, and it was given to me for Christmas 2010. It's the first tablet computer I ever owned (well, 2nd if you count my college issue Gateway laptop/tablet hybrid), and it wasn't designed to be a tablet in the first place.

https://web.archive.org/web/201207270009...ital_Novel

Initially, it was strictly an Android-based eReader, trying to take a piece of Amazon's pie. The original firmware had this rather kludgy bookshelf interface with a separate app drawer. You were limited to the built in apps only and couldn't add any more. Sometime the following spring, Pandigital decided to replace this UI with a mostly stock Android 2.0 interface, and released the firmware on their support page. I went and installed it and was initially happy to have the tablet a bit more open, but there were limitations. There was no Android Market or official Google apps. You instead got a third party app store called SlideME which is rather sketchy. The processor was a bit slow for web browsing even for the time, and you couldn't play Angry Birds. So this particular tablet got replaced the following Christmas season with a no name Black Friday tablet that could access Google services. And lastly, no capacitive touch screen. You have to use your fingertips for touch. No stylus.

The upside is that this tablet is easy to open. There's a panel on the back you can take off, but on initial opening, you need to remove some double sided tape. Besides the tape, it snaps into place easily. It has a removable Li-Poly battery which still charged up after all these years and hasn't bulged. The cool thing is the upgradable internal storage. The Android system is stored on an internal flash storage but the main storage is a microSD card. The archived Wiki above states it can support cards up to 32gb. I lost the original 1GB card so I swapped in an unused 8GB card for now, but the ROM only sees half of the storage for some reason. External storage is a full size SD card. Charging requires a rather large 12v AC adapter. No charging over USB yet.

These days, you really can't do much with this old tablet other than look at pictures, listen to music, or browse very basic old-style web sites. I don't even know if the online bookstore app even works anymore. But since it was my very first tablet, I decided to revive it just because.

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Not to mention that Android 2.x and below weren't designed with tablets in mind. At the time Google was focusing more on Android as a smartphone OS, not the all-encompassing thing we know and love; OEMs shoved in Android on a tablet merely to cash in on the nascent craze of tablets designed more for media consumption than a slate-style PC. 3.0 Honeycomb came in the picture but it didn't seem to catch on as it was a tablet-only release.

And then Android tablets declined as there just wasn't anything worth competing against iPads; the fact that kids nowadays prefer cellphones seem to corroborate this.

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(07-19-2020, 03:23 PM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  Not to mention that Android 2.x and below weren't designed with tablets in mind. At the time Google was focusing more on Android as a smartphone OS, not the all-encompassing thing we know and love; OEMs shoved in Android on a tablet merely to cash in on the nascent craze of tablets designed more for media consumption than a slate-style PC. 3.0 Honeycomb came in the picture but it didn't seem to catch on as it was a tablet-only release.

And then Android tablets declined as there just wasn't anything worth competing against iPads; the fact that kids nowadays prefer cellphones seem to corroborate this.
The whole iPad craze is likely the reason Pandigital decided to change from the locked down eReader firmware to the slightly less limited Android 2.x one.

I recall that at one point I wanted a Toshiba Thrive tablet, which ran Honeycomb and IIRC got an official update to Ice Cream Sandwich. The Thrive was one of the few tablets that had a user removable battery. I never got the Thrive though and stuck with a series of low-end knockoffs.

You can still find some Android tablets today but they aren't as numerous as they once were because the younger generation prefers phones as you mentioned. And the only Android tablets that are worth getting are the Samsung ones.

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The final round of fixes will come soon to Bluebell, the 2009 White Macbook. Just placed the order for the 8GB RAM and new set of bottom case screws. The replacement bottom case showed up in the mail today but I won't install it until the other parts arrive.

I also did a change with Rusty. I wiped out OpenSUSE and installed Ubuntu MATE instead. As much as I like KDE, I prefer the speediness of the MATE desktop. Unlike regular Ubuntu, the display doesn't glitch out. I'm starting to think the default GNOME desktop doesn't like Rusty's RX580, or the version of Ubuntu I tried simply had buggy drivers.

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Yeah I use MATE on my build server. Seems good enough for a resource-constrained VPS imho.

Also...

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I’m going to give the iCab browser a good trial run for the next week or so. The allure is iCab’s continued support for older versions of macOS. Recently, Mozilla announced that newer versions of Firefox after 74 will drop El Capitain support except for ESR. Firefox ESR gets ElCap support until July of next year. I don’t use Firefox currently, but just in case Google Chrome also drops support, I need to try viable alternatives for the older iMac.

I could just use Safari 11, which still renders sites alright and has better video playback than Chrome. The security risks are too great however.

iCab is a rather interesting browser. It’s one of the few independently developed browsers that exist, and the only one that I know of that is still shareware. The cost is affordable, at around $10 USD. The only limitation is an occasional out-of-the-way nag box asking you to register.

I’ve noticed smoother video playback on YouTube, which is a good thing. Page rendering quality depends on the site. I’ve already used iCab every now and then, and while most sites render fine, some others do have display issues. I’m getting flashbacks to the early 2000s when I was trying out the old non-Chromium Opera browser.

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And... scratch the iCab test. While iCab itself gets updates, I found out it still relies on the WebKit that comes with macOS. So if the WebKit in your specific OS release no longer gets updates, then any unpatched security holes will also be available in iCab.

I'm going to try Vivaldi instead. Maybe now it won't randomly freeze like back in April?

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I'm running recording tests with the HDMI dongle on Rusty. That system might be the best way to record things.

I'm using the latest OBS release. I also discovered some things that could be a deal breaker for some. I'm only able to get 60FPS recording with 720p mode. 1080p is capped at 30. I can also access advanced video image settings that aren't present in QuickTime. OBS also makes use of the RX580's hardware encoding too.

I didn't fully check out the advanced settings for OBS on the Macbook, but I'd imagine they are the same or similar. You have to manually set the FPS value for the device or else you won't get the proper 60fps framerate in recordings. Buffering must also be enabled, at least with my setup.

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Further tips on recording with OBS. If using an external device with audio input, make sure to mute the Desktop Audio before recording. You'll get audio from the device along with the desktop audio too, creating a weird echo effect.

Hidden menus in your cable box are also neat. Since I connected my HDMI splitter, I noticed my cable box output would be stuck on 720p at times. After a bit of Googling, I came across a support site that showed you how to access a hidden user menu where you could force 1080i output only, enable pillarboxing of 4:3 channels, etc.

Let's see if the cable box keeps the 1080i setting...

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Protip: disable "Enable device timestamps" in Desktop Audio, even if muted or hidden. This was on and it was causing the HDMI audio to gradually go out of sync. Turned that off and no more sync issues.

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