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Socoder -> Hardware and Technology -> Replacing a Laptop with a Tablet

Posted : Wednesday, 15 April 2020, 14:22

Trying out Android

Honestly, I've never really given Android much of a go.

Sure, I've owned plenty of devices, but the majority of those have either been for testing purposes, to check that my games run on specific devices, or alternatively to run various emulators, because that little GPDxd is bloody fantastic.
As for actually "Using" an Android device...?

I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2018 IFuxake, Samsung.. Use names!!) back in 2019, and it was used for ensuring Shoebox and Browsercade ran smoothly on, at the very least, half decent Android devices. I tested things a few times, but otherwise they were a case of "Yep, works" and the device was mostly ignored thereafter.

Last night, a discussion with a friend via email got me wanting to try playing with the Tab once again, with the thought of plugging in a USB controller and trying it out.
But the device has USB C port, and ... Oh, hang on, I now have a USBC dongle.. I bought that for the Switch, so I could plug a USB Keyboard into the USB C port on that.

So, I powered up, hooked up a Wired X360 pad, and ran Browsercade.. Fullscreen gaming, joypad controlled. Niiiice!!!

And that got me thinking about plugging in the USB Keyboard, which (of course) worked remakably well, too.
..And was actually really quite functional.
And that got me thinking...
What else could I use this for?
I essentially have a possible Android Laptop here. Could I ACTUALLY use it as such?
Could I potentially replace my actual laptop with a simple Android setup?


I hopped onto Amazon, and found a nice looking keyboard-case for my tablet, ordering it with an estimated delivery date of Sunday.
Imagine my surprise when it showed up today!!

Amazon Page Price I Paid : £30.99

I couldn't find a compatible one with a trackpad, which is slightly annoying, but the screen's not exactly a mile away, making the occasional tap not too big of a deal.

Comfort wise, it's not quite up to Laptop specs. It's one of those "Not as rigid as you'd like" things, so trying to balance it on cross-legged knees isn't ideal. But it's workable.
Typing's going OK on it. All of the above was typed using it.

The next stage of this trial run will be all about the software. Finding/coding the tools that I'll be needing in order to do all my regular tasks.
Code editor, Pixelart editor, Sound editor, as well as all those little programs I use here and there to skim through files and make thumbnails, lower-bitrate mp3s, recompiled javascript bundles, and things like that.

And.. Can I find a tool to sync a folder on the device with the same folder on my NAS..?
I've quite an adventure, up ahead, I reckon..

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Posted : Wednesday, 15 April 2020, 16:27
Ohhhhhh, that sounds like a crazy challenge there, I'll be interested to see what software exists for it, or will you resort to emulating windows 95 / 98? I dunno how possible that is even!

All the best of luck with this!

Web / Game Dev, occasionally finishes off coding games also!

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Posted : Friday, 17 April 2020, 14:02

File Manager

I'm currently using FileExplorer, because I've been using it on iOS for the past few years, I "mostly" trust it, and it usually works as you'd expect it to.
My main issue is that it's very much "single folder" based.
Trying to shuffle files between one folder and another is a right pain in the arse, since you have to navigate away then come back, and repeat that over and over.

I said on Twitter the other day that Directory Opus would be an absolute godsend, here, but..

For syncing folders, though, FolderSync appears to work exactly as you'd expect.
Pair folders between your device and your NAS, and it'll happily work away ensuring the folder pairs are exactly the same.
So far, this is the absolute best tool that I've found!!

Image Editors

I don't need much out of an image editor. Most editing is done on my iPad. But I do need things that are good for organising spritesheets, scaling images to specific sizes (alarmingly hard on the iPad!), and other "functional" things like that.
So far, I haven't had a lot of luck.
.. or, any luck, if I'm honest.
A lot of the tools either work with "that one pixelart sprite with these 16 colours", or are so advanced they're utterly shit at zooming in and working with tiny pixels on a giant spritesheet.

Pixly is my current favourite, but it's so damn limited, it's stupid, and really doesn't work well with Spritesheets, even though it claims to.
Trying to open my 1024x1024 Platdude Daily Pixelart spritesheet with 64x64 sprites results in it only reading the top row of sprites, and only doing so at 32x32 pixels..


I'm not asking for too much, am I?!

And, portrait mode..
Fuxake, the number of art tools that open up in portrait, and won't work in landscape!!
Google need to add searches to their Play search doohickey, so it only finds apps that actually work properly on a landscape orientated tablet!!

Text editors

Tried a bunch, found very few to be "almost there.."

DroidEdit was my first favourite, until I tried typing into it..
It has a really odd slowness, like it's trying to refresh the whole screen every frame, and when you try to type it ends up being sluggish.

ACode has an annoying habit of not remembering which folder you're using, so you have to fart about scouring the Android Filesystem every bloody time.

QuickEdit seemed to have that issue, too, but I found that if you slide away the left panel, the previous folder is beneath it..

Also, for reasons I honestly cannot understand, PageDown doesn't work in ACode!
PageUp does.. Home and End do.. PageDown doesn't.. go figure!

So far QuickEdit seems to be the firm favourite, though I could do with a tab-selection shortcut. Have to tap the screen to switch tabs.


Noticed something unexpected, tonight, as I went to hit F5..
.. haven't got one..
This keyboard doesn't have F keys.
It has an FN button, but they only do multimedia keys, not actual F-keys.

.. yeah, not going so well, this adventure!

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Posted : Saturday, 18 April 2020, 04:15
My phone is android, mostly because an apple phone of the same spec costs £500 more. I have my acer tinkerbox set up now, it's only purpose is to play n64 games as my TV really hates my real n64 and they both work well for what I want.

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Posted : Monday, 20 April 2020, 03:54
I made a note of all the things I need, for a morning Blog/Pixelart posting session..
1. FTP proggy
2. Art proggy
3. Ability to open multiple images into the Art proggy at the same time.
4. Browser
5. Proggy to scan through latest pixelart, chop into icons, and render larger for uploading.

So far, I have 1 and 4 on the Android setup.

I'm thinking.. I might abandon this whole thing, and just stick to using my laptop!

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Posted : Saturday, 23 May 2020, 13:02
Well, this hasn't gone down very well at all.

So, tonight, I thought about my original backup plan, and figured I'd try it out.
Setting up Remote Desktop in Win10 is easy, as it's all built in, and MS provide their own remote-apps, too.

I grabbed my Android and keyboard, switched on Remote Desktopping, and gave it a trial.

.. The results were less than ideal.
Although "most" things worked, there was an alarming number of VERY important things that didn't, most due to the fact that Android claims a lot of keyboard shortcuts for itself.
Notably, Alt+Tab, Winkey and others.

The bare essentials are there, but it just isn't something I could honestly use.

And that led to.. "I wonder what the iOS edition is like..?"
Well, a lot of the keyboard shortcuts no longer have issues on iOS (since iOS is Apple, and Apple don't do Windows Shortcuts).
In fact, it's "almost" useable.
There's a couple of slight issues, however.
1. Keyboard input is sent as Unicode, so a lot of programs don't accept them. The Android app has a toggle to "Send as Scancode", but .. oddly.. The iOS edition does NOT have this option.
I've sent a request via the forum, and am hoping they do something about it.

2. I'd need to find an ideal keyboard+touchpad+case setup for an iPad. And .. fuck, those are pricey bastards..

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Posted : Thursday, 28 May 2020, 19:19
Ploughing ahead (slowly!) today I figured I'd make a start on a more permanent Windows Remote Desktop setup, and so did the whole "bootcamp" thing on the MacMini.
I don't "have" a desktop setup, properly, but the MacMini's been sitting there being mostly useless for a good number of years. Might as well set it up to be a Windows box!

FAQ : Why not just use MacOS's Remote Desktop? A: Because MacOS..

So, I spent a few hours doing the whole Bootcamp thing, and got Win10 Pro installed, only to have it whinge at me, because (for some oddball reason) it'd actually installed Win10 Enterprise...!?! A bit of jiggery pokery, and it eventually found that leftover Win10 Pro key in my Microsoft account, and it finally managed to install the right thing. (But I don't mind saying, things got pretty hairy there for a bit, and I sure as hell wasn't about to shell out over £200 for a new Pro key!)

Win10 Pro installed, I got the Remote Desktop up and running, and then tested it against the iPad.

View on YouTube

Gud Gud!
A little stuttery, but doing fullscreen gaming isn't the point. It's meant for easy file access, as well as the tools that I rely on in Windows.

Not sure what happens when it goes to sleep. Can Remote Desktop wake it up?
(Have since tested this : No.. Hmmm..)

Next up will be trying to find a good keyboard/mouse. I'm wondering if my Logitech USB Keyboard+Trackpad will work on iOS, but will need to grab a USB to Lightning connector to test it.
If it doesn't work, no biggy. Handy dongle for future experiments.
If it does work, then I'll need to find a case for the ipad with some kind of kickstand. Hmmm..

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Posted : Saturday, 30 May 2020, 09:53
Keyboard Test One : Logitech K400+ using a Lightning to USB dongle

Issue One : Fuck me, does that dongle get HOT!! Like, super insane, rather worryingly hot.
If nothing else, I reckon that's draining the fuck out of my battery!

However, iOS IS at least working with the Trackpad, to a point. The cursor (A dot, because, iOS!!) moves and taps are generated by tapping.
The left mouse button performs a tap/hold, but the right mouse doesn't do anything at all.
That's a bit of a shame.

In addition, the FKeys seem to be being grabbed by the OS. I can tap the F11 key and my iPad's music will stop and start.. FN+F11 doesn't seem to transfer to actually be F11, like it's supposed to..

I'll have to dig deep into the settings and see if I can find a way to make that.. .. "Normal"
The PageUp/Down/Home/End aren't working, since they're "FN+Cursors", so are stuck with the same issues as the FKeys.

Oh yeah, and @ and " are inverted, ffs, and I have NO IDEA where my hashtag key's gone to!!

.. But...
Alt+Tab works..!
Alt+Tab doesn't work on an Android, because it Alt+Tab's through the apps on the Android, instead of the apps on the Windows system!!

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Posted : Saturday, 30 May 2020, 10:09

I'm currently using FileExplorer, because I've been using it on iOS for the past few years, I "mostly" trust it, and it usually works as you'd expect it to.
My main issue is that it's very much "single folder" based.

If it has a Google playstore, then try searching for "Total Commander". linkage
I'm using it here on my galaxy s6 phone.
Posted : Saturday, 30 May 2020, 10:15
I'm well beyond that point, now!!
Posted : Tuesday, 02 June 2020, 13:44
You know when you spot a decent looking keyboard on Amazon on Saturday, so you order it, and pay extra for next day delivery, so they ship it using fucking Royal fucking Mail, and then Sunday it doesn't arrive, and then Monday it doesn't arrive, and then Tuesday it doesn't arrive, and all the Royal Mail tracker says it "This will update once the package has been delivered"

LOL. That's so hilarious.

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Posted : Tuesday, 02 June 2020, 14:30
Yep, had loads of deliveries like that. Average for me has been 8-9 days. Frustrating
Posted : Tuesday, 02 June 2020, 20:26
They now have Krita for android : https://krita.org/en/item/first-krita-beta-for-android-and-chromeos-in-play-store/

This Image editor is quite nice for pc. My phone has no space for trying this one out!
Posted : Wednesday, 03 June 2020, 00:53
Surely Amazon will refund the extra charge? They failed to fulfill that promise.

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Posted : Wednesday, 03 June 2020, 09:32

OK.. Keyboard turned up.
A Texet device, BTK-Slot, obviously for the imaginative "BlueTooth Keyboard with a SLOT in it".

1. The trackpad does indeed work with iOS
2. The keyboard also works with iOS!
3. The keyboard allows you to register two devices, and has a physical switch between them.

The keyboard is wonderfully weighty. I wasn't expect it to be as heavy as it is, It's roughly 3 times as heavy as the iPad, which sounds hefty, but means it's not "top heavy" when you add the iPad. It's wonderfully comfortable to use on your lap, even cross legged, and the little yellow gap is an empty rubbery area, which holds the iPad great, at just the right angle for typing with.
Honestly, as far as random picks from Amazon go, this is definitely up there with the best of 'em!

1. The keyboard is (from what I've read online) sending Unicode characters, not scancodes. For most operations this is good enough, but Javascript isn't picking up keypresses.. Meaning all my lovely browsercade games aren't playable. Bugger.
2. FKeys are still broken. This may or may not be the same issue as the above Scancode one, so I'm still hopeful that an update from Microsoft will fix this issue..
3. Page up and Page down don't appear to be functional at all. Again, probably due to lack of Scancodes.
4. The keyboard's a little bit .. Sticky.. Although I think that might be down to the keyboard being A) Bluetooth, and B ) Attached via RemoteDesktop. The combination is a little teensy bit laggy (about 0.2 seconds, perhaps!?) but just enough to make for a few wonky typing errors.

Could Go Either Way
1. Since things are a teensy bit cramped, the far right edge of my hand occasionally glances the trackpad. Thankfully, the hardware has a physical key enable/disable the trackpad, so when doing a lot of writing (eg, right now!) I can happily tap it off for the duration.
2. Windows apparently has a wonderful gesture which brings up the Start Menu every time you swipe down on the trackpad. To disable this, go into your trackpad's settings, and disable gestures. .... Except Remote Desktop's interface doesn't include a driver for the trackpad, so you can't do that.. .. Which means every time I try to move the "mouse" cursor down the screen quickly, I inadvertently end up popping up the Start Menu. And that's happening a LOT!!

I've only spent about an hour with it, so far, and most of that has been quick tests and the like.
I'll let you know how I get on, better, with it.. Later!!

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Posted : Wednesday, 03 June 2020, 16:06
OK.. Let's give this a proper go, then.
Tomorrow's going to be day one, Laptopless.
I'm going to attempt to do as many of my daily chores as I can without once touching the laptop.
I don't *think* it's going to be too hard, but the daily Platdude Pixelart needs pixel-precision, and uploading that and the blog are also complicated matters.

One thing I've already discovered is that it's far far too easy to accidentally drag&drop a folder in FileZilla, because you thought the interface was going to scroll, but "this time" it decided to drag the file, instead..
(A huge chunk of AGameAWeek went dead for a couple of minutes, there!!)

I tried to send FileZilla/Mozilla a feature request, but their feature request server appears to have crapped its pants..

Anyhoo, tomorrow is the trial run.
Lots to do on a Thursday, so should be interesting to see how well things work out.


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Posted : Wednesday, 03 June 2020, 17:31
Good luck with this Jay, just caught up through the thread, seems like quite the undertaking!

Web / Game Dev, occasionally finishes off coding games also!

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Posted : Thursday, 04 June 2020, 04:44
Day One

Tasks Achieved.
1. Newsletter (Requires BlitzMax convertor program)
2. Weekly ALChoon (Requires BlitzMax scanner to scan for new .wav files, which then runs Lame MP3 encoder to encode them, and an MP3 tagger to tag them.)
3. Blog (Just the browser.. Easy enough)
4. Daily Pixelart (Requires BlitzMax scanner to convert from 64x64 to 512x512, as well as the daily scrawl startpoint, and then I also use PaintShop Pro to make a 1920x1080 desktop image to go along with it)
5. Daily stupid 4-line poem thing (More BlitzMax toolage!)

I've been accessing the FTP, running Blitz proggies to convert things, and using PaintShop Pro on my iPad!

1. File Explorer doesn't let you Ctrl+Select when you're using touchscreen, and since both the trackpad and touchscreen both equally act as touches, that's pretty much dead in the water.
You CAN toggle "Mouse mode" in Remote Desktop, but it's stupidly unintuitive. It isn't direct Mouse to Mous, and instead you have to hold+drag on the screen to move the mouse, then stop and tap to tap, then stop and tap and hold and drag to move the mouse again. How silly and unusable.
Touch mode is infinitely better, but .. like I say, it's lacking ctrl/shift clicks, for some reason.

2 Paintshop Pro 7 is completely unusable. The little buttons are teensy tiny and the whole interface just no longer works with the new methodology.
I've installed the Paintshop Pro 2020 Trail. Lasts for 30 days, and should (*) only cost about £30 if I decide to buy it. I probably will, since I've wangled it into being something that's actually useable and now acts quite a lot like PSP7.. .. Except the ludicrously longer load time.. Grrr.

3. The Letter O button on this keyboard is slightly "crunchy", and I occasionally mis-type because of it. Grrr...

4. I've had to make the Windows Taskbar double-sized!!
The slot in the keyboard for resting the iPad is a teensy bit too deep, and when you reach to tap the bottom of the screen, although it IS visible, it isn't quite tappable.
I think it was made with older ipads in mind, with their larger bezels around the edge.
Making the taskbar 2* height means I can now tap the tasks!!

5. I'm tapping a lot.
Although the little trackpad's there, the annoying "Swipe down = Bring up the Stat Menu" is annoying the crap out of me, so I'm constantly reaching for the screen instead.
My arm is already quite sore.


Other than that however, this morning has been relatively smooth sailing.
I got all my daily tasks done, and the whole setup sits great on my cross-legged lap. The weight is just right, the thing's not keeling over, and for the most part, Windows and iOS are working really quite well together.

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Posted : Friday, 05 June 2020, 14:48
Well.. That's that, then.
Note to all : Do not try to do gamedev (whereby items move around on the full-screen) using Remote Desktop, and doing lots of flipping between the browser and the code, and jumping and hopping, and constantly needing fullscreen refreshes.

Remote Desktop doesn't like it, and it starts off stuttering, then gets stutterier and stututterier, and aaargh!!!
I gave up, tonight, and I've booted up the laptop for the first time in a couple of days.

Mr Laptop is thankful, and showed me his happiness by going "Wwhwhhhhheeeeew!!" with his fan. Something I certainly haven't missed!!

.. And the constant tilting of the screen to find just the right view that isn't too dark/light.
Yeah, laptop kinda sucks.
But Remote Desktop has more issues.

Aw well.
I'll leave the setup running. It's handy for a lot of cases, just not complex gamedev!
Maybe use it for morning blogging, tidying up my blog, that sort of stuff.
But ... Not gamedev.
Nooooo, no, no, no!!


Incidentally, though, bonus points to Microsoft for the recent Remote Desktop update, which now lets my new keyboard do proper mouse control, including Left AND Right Mouse buttons, and Shift-clicks, too!!
So, that's nice!!

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Posted : Saturday, 06 June 2020, 06:59
Oh god..
I've gotten used to prodding a screen in front of me, and now going back to my Laptop, it doesn't do that!!!


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Posted : Saturday, 06 June 2020, 14:10
Time to upgrade to a touchscreen lappy?
Posted : Saturday, 06 June 2020, 14:33
Good on ya for sticking with it.

I remember hearing from somewhere a while ago that people had win95 and 98 running in android. Exactly how well, I don't know but that might be another avenue?

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Posted : Saturday, 06 June 2020, 14:35
Nah. The whole point of this was 'cos I knew that if I was to upgrade the Lappy at all, I'd want a decent boost.
And that costs.

And no!!

I think in general day to day use, this will probably be enough.
Just not for any decent amount of gamedev.

Web tweaks, quick doings. It's good enough.

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Posted : Saturday, 06 June 2020, 14:41
Posted : Monday, 08 June 2020, 02:45
My wrist is fucking killing me..
I keep "trying" to use the iPad setup, but with the touchpad constantly doing that "swipe down = Start!" all the bloody time, that's more irritating than it's worth putting up with, so instead I'm relying on tapping at the screen..
.. And, boy, let me tell you.. My wrist is fucked!!!
After just the past few days of doing it, there's a whole new realm of RSI that I never knew existed.

Don't do it, guys..
Seriously.. DO NOT use a touchscreen, in a vertical position, for more than a couple of days..

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Posted : Monday, 08 June 2020, 05:16
Oh no, I had a bad feeling RSI might be the true bane of this endeavour.

Hope your wrist recovers quickly dude.

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