Pine64 is launching a major hardware upgrade in its quest to build a Linux smartphone. After the launch of the original PinePhone in 2019, the organization is now taking preorders for the PinePhone Pro, a new smartphone it’s calling “the fastest mainline Linux smartphone on the market.” The phone was announced in October, and you can now secure a unit. The MSRP is $599, but it’s up for preorder now at an introductory price of $399.

Adafruit’s latest RP2040 based board is a departure from form factors such as its Feather RP2040, ItsyBitsy and QTPy. The $9 KB2040 is designed to mimic the form factor and pin layout of Arduino’s Pro Micro microcontroller boards. But why? The Arduino Pro Micro is often used to create custom user interface devices, keyboards. KB2040 aims to bring CircuitPython into this popular maker project, and open up a world of possibilities via its Stemma QT connector.

The $9 price tag is more than double the cost of a Raspberry Pi Pico, so what do we get for our extra cash, and what can we do with it? We put Adafruit’s KB2040 on the bench and took it for a test drive, including using it to control OBS during our live streamed The Pi Cast show. 

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The CharaChorder is a new kind of typing peripheral that promises to let people type at superhuman speeds. It’s so fast that the website Monkeytype, which lets users participate in typing challenges and maintains its own leaderboard, automatically flagged CharaChorder’s CEO as a cheater when he attempted to post his 500 WPM score on the its leaderboards.

It’s a strange looking device, the kind of thing Keanu Reeves would interface with in Johnny Mnemonic. Your palms rest on two black divots out of which rise nine different finger sized joysticks. These 18 sticks move in every direction and, its website claims, can hit every button you need on a regular keyboard. “CharaChorder switches detect motion in 3 dimensions so users have access to over 300 unique inputs without their fingers breaking contact with the device,” it said.

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I have been avidly following the development of the Librem 5 and PinePhone since they were first announced in August 2017 and in October 2018, respectively. One of the reasons why I’m so excited by these Linux phones is the fact that I can look at their schematics. The Librem 5 and Librem 5 USA are the first phones with free/open source schematics for its printed circuit boards, since the Golden Delicious GTA04 in 2012. PINE64 also releases the PinePhone schematics to the public, but they are proprietary so no one can reuse or modify them.

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I want to say that I don’t intend to knock the Remarkable team. It’s clear how much thought and energy and love they’ve poured into their work. It just doesn’t work or even make sense to me. What am I missing? Clearly something. I’ve met multiple people who swear by this product. So it’s doing something right! I’d love to understand what makes Remarkable work when it works.

While many Linux users were excited years ago around EOMA68 and in part the possibility of an open, upgradeable laptop design, it has yet to ship and looking like it never will – not to mention being very outdated specifications by today’s standards. Entirely unrelated to that prior upgradeable hardware effort but continuing in similar goals is The Framework Laptop. The Framework Laptop is a thin, upgradeable notebook that is Linux-friendly and allows the user to easily upgrade their own components. I was testing The Framework Laptop for a while and from the hardware perspective is a very nice device and running well under Linux.

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I’ve never been a fan of e-readers. I’m put off by the prospect of paying for a book that only exists on a device, especially when the price of e-books approaches or exceeds the cost of physical books (especially the used copies I tend to buy). I also just love physical books – the weight and feel of them, the experience of reading, the look of books on my shelf.

However, I recently got a Kobo Libra H20. I’d been thinking about purchasing an e-reader for a few years. I’d only use it for travel, I told myself, after one too many trips of lugging multiple, heavy books on short trips and not having time to read them. I did my research, and chose the Kobo e-reader over the Kindle – I didn’t want to lock myself into the Amazon system, and was happy that the Kobo offered the best integration with OverDrive (a system where you can check out e-copies of books from your local library) since I planned on just using the e-reader for library books. I also decided that the Kobo Libra H20, the fully waterproof Kobo option, would be nice for reading in the bath or on the beach.

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Since March 2020, I have been using my work computer at home: an HP Z440 workstation.

When I originally took the machine home, I immediately noticed that it’s quite a bit louder than my other PCs, but only now did I finally decide to investigate what I could do about it.

It’s been a long time since we announced the Turing Pi V2, but finally, we are ready to reveal all the details of the new cluster board. But first, we want to thank you all for your patience and for every feedback you gave us along the way. We appreciate the community’s input and support. 

During our development journey, we have made some changes to the initially announced specifications. We would love to add many things to the V2, but the goal to make the board budget-friendly brought us down to the ground many times.

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The PineNote is one of, if not the, most powerful e-ink device available on the market. It shares in much of the Quartz64’s pedigree, sporting the same RK3566 quad-core A55 SoC paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 128GB eMMC flash storage. The PineNote is also fitted with two microphones and two speakers, a USB-C port for fast charging and data, as well as 5Ghz AC WiFi. Suffice to say, there is more than enough power in the device to serve its intended purpose (more on that later). The inner frame – the midsection – of the PineNote is made out of a magnesium alloy (similar to the Pinebook Pros outer chassis), making for a sturdy construction, while the back features a pleasantly ‘grippy’ plastic back cover with speaker cut-outs. The e-ink panel is covered by scratch resistant and glare reducing hardened glass. The entire assembly comes in at just over 7mm thick, which is approx. 1mm thinner than the Kindle Oasis 3, if you ever held one of those.

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Before I launch into the ergonomics and math stuff, imagine that you’re at a movie theater. If you sit in the front section of the theater, it’s hard to see the whole screen without twisting your neck from side to side. These seats are always the last to fill up and for a good reason.

Okay, now let’s talk about the ultra wide screen monitor trend. Standard monitor widths have been 22-24 inches for a long time, and in many offices we would see 2 of them set up together for a dual screen setup that spanned up to 48 inches. Along with that trend, we saw an increase in neck strain and pain related to static holding of the neck in a twisted position to view the far left of the display. Coincident? I think not.

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While the Raspberry Pi 4 SBC has greater multimedia capabilities, it can also be used for headless projects like mini servers or networked access storage (NAS).

Michael Klements’s DIY Raspberry Pi 4 mini server is especially interesting as it’s cute, and includes a UPS to handle power failures, plus an OLED display to show information. Here’s the final result.

ESP32-C3 RISC-V IoT processor with 2.4 WiFI and Bluetooth LE 5.0 was unveiled in December 2020, and Espressif Systems’ own ESP32-C3-DevKitM-1  board has been available in limited quantities as an “engineering sample”.

But now I’ve noticed third-party NodeMCU ESP32-C3 boards are being sold on Aliexpress for around $4 with ESP32-C3S_Kit and ESP-C3-01M-Kit both based on AI Thinker ESP32-C3 modules announced a few months ago.

So there I was, very happy with my Apple ][plus. But then I saw someone on the internet post, and it seems that my Apple is an overpriced box with a toy microcontroller for a CPU, while real computers use an Intel 8080, 8085 or Zilog Z80 to run something called “CP/M”… but I’ve already spent so much money on the Apple, so can I turn it into a real computer?

init7 recently announced that with their FTTH fiber offering Fiber7, they will now sell and connect you with 25 Gbit/s (Fiber7-X2) or 10 Gbit/s (Fiber7-X) fiber optics, if you want more than 1 Gbit/s.

While this offer will only become available at my location late this year (or possibly later due to the supply chain shortage), I already wanted to get the hardware on my end sorted out.

After my previous disappointment with the MikroTik CCR2004, I decided to try a custom PC build.

An alternative to many specialized devices, including routers, is to use a PC with an expansion card. An internet router’s job is to configure a network connection and forward network packets. So, in our case, we’ll build a PC and install some network expansion cards!

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I used to be a hardcore Android user. It was my second major kind of smartphone (the first was Windows Mobile 6.1 on a T-Mobile Dash) and it left me hooked to the concept of smartphones and connected tech in general. I’ve used many Android phones over the years but one day I rage-switched over to an iPhone. My Samsung Galaxy S7 pissed me off for the last time and I went to the Apple store and bought an iPhone 7 on the spot. I popped my sim card into it (after a lovely meal at Panda Express) and I was off to the races. I haven’t really used Android since other than in little stints with devices like the Amazon Fire 7 (because it was so darn cheap).

Recently I realized that it would be very easy to package up my website for the Google Play Store using pwabuilder. I’ve been shipping my site as a progressive web app (PWA) for years (and use that PWA for testing how the site looks on my phone), but aside from the occasional confused screenshot that’s been tweeted at me I’ve never actually made much use of this. It does do an additional level of caching (which is why you can load a bunch of pages on the site, disconnect from the internet and then still browse those pages that you loaded like you were online) though, which helps a lot with the bandwidth cost of this site.

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Gadgets

All about new and shiny gadgets.

Created on Sep 30, 2020
By @gurlic