Stayin’ Alive

Last post was fun – so many people thinking that my temporary USA ban was some form of political statement, and/or having no clue on how international mail is actually being moved around. Even some of the “you suck” crowd came to chip in. Well, whatever. They see me rollin’, they hatin’.

Facts are: Borders are closed. Well, technically not closed completly but all air and rail traffic is cancelled, foreigners are not allowed in unless they work in Poland, everyone else gets mandatory 14-day quarantine. Again, except people crossing the border to work but I really don’t want to get into the specific details here. The important thing to note here is:

Postal services for all international mail are on hold. There will be no ODE shipping for the next 2 weeks, and frankly it’s pretty much given that time will be extended.

The official statement, use your preferred online translator:

I will send confirmation emails later today, but obviously all the orders are on hold until further notice. Sorry.

And for those who still don’t get it – not all goods are being shipped the same way. Sure, some countries might allow bulk cargo ships (after any quarantine period) but that doesn’t mean I can go to the nearest port, toss the bags over and that’s it. Contrary to some opinions of reddit armchair experts – I’ve been doing this for a few years now, I do have some idea of what I’m doing.

No Clover At All

URGENT: On Sunday Poland will suspend all international air and rail traffic. I should still be able to ship to EU/Schengen because that’s road traffic – but that’s unclear due to 14-day quarantine for anyone crossing the border.

URGENT: Italy is no-go as of today (2020-03-13). Czechia and Slovakia moved to conditional status.

Most of DocBrowns have been shipped, if a bit later than I’ve anticipated. That new virus has several names already and keeps spreading, affecting my operations as well. There are delays in part shipments, various timetables change at a moment’s notice and it’s difficult to keep everything organized and going. I’m afraid this will be the case for weeks, if not months, to come.

Speaking of operations, I will open orders for Phoebe this Saturday at around 12:00 CET – that’s noon for the AM/PM people. Most importantly there will be exclusions this time, due to the virus and air traffic being affected:

  • China and Hong Kong / Macau regions: orders will not be accepted
  • Italy: orders conditionally accepted for now not accepted, see above
  • USA: orders will not be accepted

Sorry USA but with that new ban on travelling there’s too much conflicting info around and I can’t have my packages bounce after being stamped – that’s a lot of time and shipping costs wasted. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing but there’s already less planes and a lot of packages go by sea, and I’m tired of dealing with “Dude, where’s my mail?” questions. If it turns out cargo planes are also not allowed to land then ordering restriction will probably stay for the duration of the air travel ban.

And no, I will not accept orders to ship “at a later date”. I did that once, if accidentally, and I’m not repeating that mistake again. I also don’t want to sit, for weeks, on a bunch of “reserved” devices that I can’t ship or sell to anybody else, sorry.

Italy is a bit of a weird case, some shipping methods are not available now but it seems my class of pacakges is still allowed to go through – so as long as that’s the case, I will accept orders. Delivery times might be longer than usual.

China is still mostly on lockdown and I have a queue of Rhea orders waiting to be shipped, so I’m not accepting any more orders until airlines resume flights and I have all that sorted out.

Well, that’s the situation we are in now. It might get worse before it gets better.

UPDATE: Yes, I know the USA ban is for travel, not for goods. I also know that much of the letter-class mail actually goes into passenger planes as extra cargo. No passengers = no planes = no extra cargo space. That means other shipping methods must be used, not everything will fit into cargo planes and my envelopes were not meant to spend weeks at sea, in salty air, crammed together with heavier packages. And I already mentioned the lack of patience on longer delivery times, the comments also speak a lot about that.

No Leaf Clover, contd.

Pretty much all Rheas have been shipped – except orders from China. These might take a while, latest news are not good and the lockdown might very well be in effect for weeks yet.

I will open orders for DocBrown this Saturday, at 18:00 CET. I will have these in about 2 weeks so it’s a good time to do it. After that, it’s either GDEMUs or Phoebes, haven’t decided yet – will let you know once I have better idea of the production progress.

Also, let me remind you the orders are for one device, per person, per order. The Ordering page was not very clear about that and will be updated soon.

No Leaf Clover

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and pretty much all international flights to and out of China being suspended, I’m putting all orders from China on hold until further notice. This is not my decision, I was informed that any and all packages to China will simply not be accepted at this time. I have no idea what happens to the ones I’ve already shipped in the last few days but I would guess those will be put into storage somewhere until regular flights are restored. Very sorry about this but it’s out of my hands.
Also, this particular restriction is for Mainland China but I’m going to halt orders for Hong Kong and Macau as well since it looks like the situation there is about to become the same soon.

Pretty much all VA0 Rheas have been shipped so I’ll now move to VA1. I also plan to have some DocBrowns near the end of this month, as usual I’ll let you know about the ordering window once I have everything sorted out.

Lastly, the new GDEMU FW is not ready yet but it’s close now. There is still more work to be done on the upgrade program, so that it can be safely applied to all previous versions. Thank you for your patience.

New Memories, contd.

Rhea ordering window will be open this Saturday, 2020-01-18, at 18:00 CET. So this is another USA-friendly one.

I was away in December and otherwise pretty busy, and have a huge email backlog that I’m slowly dealing with. This prompted some less patient people to send their message several times – in case it got lost or something. While I understand the reasons, it forces me to try and filter out the copies and, shall we say, less important content from the actual requests for help. So if you don’t hear from me until Februrary and you have a problem that needs my attention, please email me again. But not before the end of January, pretty please.

Oh and about the OLED idea and devices other than GDEMU, I get asked if it’s possible to add that to Rhea/Phoebe and DocBrown maybe. The answer is yes but it’ll take some time – so GDEMU first, then I will work on the rest.

And in case it wasn’t clear, the OLED display is completly optional, and not part of the device. In fact I don’t want to make it a permanent part of the device as this would require cutting holes in the case in places you might not want to touch, not to mention adding power draw and heat even if you were never to use it. However some people do like features like these so that’s why I’ve made it an option.

New Memories

Happy New Year 2020, everybody! GDEMU shipments will soon commence. I’m running some final tests on a new bootloader code that will support 128×64 OLED display based on SSD1306 chip:

Getting that new code, and font definition, to fit in the already very memory starved MCU was no easy task. In fact it took me so much time that I’m not yet ready with the new FW for GDEMU – that will come in a month or two. This new FW will also have OLED support and will require the new booloader to work – though in general GDEMU will be somewhat limited in what it can show and when. Updating the display takes time and drive emulation takes priority, obviously. Note, I’m using a display with split-color screen but that’s not a requirement (looks nicer though).

Since I want every existing GDEMU owner to be able to use the new FW (and I mean all of them, including the early v4/v5 units on green PCBs) I will also prepare an “upgrade FW” that can update the bootloader code in older units.

Every device sold from 2020 onward will already have the new bootloader. The devices I’m about to ship will come with a hybrid FW that works with it, but doesn’t yet have the improvements. Do not attempt to flash them with any older version, that won’t work and you’ll be stuck with a non-functional device until I have the new FW ready.

Will other devices also receive OLED support? Yes, in due time, since that also requires some code changes and testing. And if you don’t care for the display, no problem, you don’t need it, the ODE will work without it.

I’ll update GDEMU page with some more info on what OLED screen to get and how to connect it soon. Keep in mind that some soldering will be required.

Out of Time

I’ve removed all download links to the FW files. I’m probably going to take down the whole Updating section of the site down eventually. The concept of allowing users to update the ODE on their own kind of backfired – I’ve had to help more people bring their devices back to life after a failed FW update process than there were ever any serious bugs in the software to begin with. And I mean, WAY more.

  • I wanted to make sure I have the lastest version.
  • Something didn’t work right after installation.
  • I had problems with my SD card that works OK in other device(s).
  • Games kept crashing and my console reboots on its own.

These are NOT valid reasons to update the FW. Especially not if you have power supply issues, SD card issues, or have made installation errors.
Plus, too many people just can’t follow simple instructions. If step 1 says to rename the file first, and then step 2 to copy it, then you are supposed to do exactly this, in that exact order. And it’s not a language barrier either, but I’ll leave it at that.

With that rant out of the way – GDEMU orders will open next Saturday, around noon CET.
It was supposed to happen much sooner but… reasons. The actual problem now is I will, again, not be shipping anything in December if I can help it. Trust me, that’s a bad idea, even if you’d want a nice XMAS gift. Shipping will resume early January, this worked pretty well this year so let’s try it again.

More Rheas are on their way as well, in fact I’m hoping to ship most of those out also in January. Haven’t decided yet when to open orders, I’ll let you know once I have some idea how many GDEMUs will need to be shipped.

PS: Pretty please keep the comments civil. I know some people have rather strong opinions about these devices, and me in general. Let it go. These are merely toys you can do without (especially if you find the price too high) and I pity the fools who think otherwise.

PPS: It would seem what is obvious to me isn’t always obvious to everyone else. To answer the question of “What if there is a bug or a new feature that needs FW update?” – well, you bought from me, you have my email. Why not ask for the update that way. In fact I’m flabbergasted people would rather complain about their installation problems in the comments than email me.

UPDATE: GDEMU orders are now open closed. As usual, I need a few days for processing and after that I’ll send out confirmation emails.