You might wonder, what kind of people have and use an OpenPandora, because it is made for such a seemingly small niche. I am not one of the technical versatile nerds you’d imagine and call myself a n00b sometimes when being in this community, which is rather very highly educated when it comes to technology.
[ Note: This is a guest post by Klumpen ]
Maybe I am not what you would expect. I was a normal Windows user that liked to play games as old or even older as himself sometimes or games hat completely went by without being noticed or properly attended to. I make my (extremely humble) living by making musical instruments.
Besides my job, my hobbies are making folk music on various uncommon instruments, singing classical music in a choir, reading rather old and very old books, learning and teaching the art of historical fencing in very old German styles, watching good movies from all over the world and of course gaming. The only occasions on which I used Linux were inserting my old “Knoppix Linux Live CD” when my operating system was malfunctioning or infected again up to a point where I had to rescue as much data as possible onto external drives to swipe it and set it up again.
Sometime around 2011 I stumbled over a video on a famous streaming platform about a little linux based device that was meant to play my old SNES games on the go. It was named “Dingoo” and seemed to have some problems emulating some of my favourite games at full speed but I was interested nonetheless. After some research I found the current version of the GP2X which was named the “Caanoo”. A new version of its Super Nintendo emulator was just released and “Donkey Kong Country” finally seemed to run very good on it. After reading, that it even can play all my old games for GameBoy and most of my ancient collection for the famous C64, I decided to buy it. The best shop in my country was the “Gp2x Shop” which is called “Dragonbox Shop” by now.
While gathering software, I already heard about the OpenPandora project on the Gp2x boards of course, because it was very related and the shop owner was one of the guys handling this whole project, but since it was not really available and too expensive for my taste when it was, I just enjoyed my Caanoo starting to learn a bit about stuff that was new to me like “Open Source”, “ARM”, “RISC-Processors” and especially “Homebrew Games/Software”. Surprisingly I ended up playing homebrew games like “Puszion”, “Animatch”, “Hex-A-Hop” and “Guru Logic Champs” rather than emulated games or the games that came with my Caanoo.
The Super Nintendo-Emulator had some problems though. After finishing some of my old classics like “Prince of Persia”, “Super Mario Kart”, “Super Mario World”, “Rock’n’Roll Racing” etc…, I ran into some severe bugs like not seeing where I go in Super Castlevania IV sometime later in the game, having weird colors with “The Magical Quest” and not being able to start “Mystic Quest Legend”. Although I was able to play my C64 favourite “Archon” on it, many other games had problems there too and the battery life was not really good and I ended up playing with the charger plugged in a lot. Although the analog stick was really great, I missed a digital-pad quite often.
Somewhere along the road in the beginning of 2012 a member from the boards that was in my city wanted to get rid of this rare device called OpenPandora which was not yet easily available but did seem to fix the minor problems I had with the (still great) Caanoo, so I lowered the price at 320€ for this used Classic OpenPandora (The “Rebirth” version was not even announced yet) and got it rather spontaneous although it was a lot of money for me especially in that particular time of my life. I did not regret it a single second afterwards. Having a real desktop environment was so great, that I never really used the Mini Menu at all.
The Firmware back then was still beta and called “Hotfix 6” but it already was a great device despite of its flaws, that included a wobbly hinge and some cracks in the old black case. To cut it a bit shorter, somehow I got attached to the related community, learned more about Linux, was extremely happy when a Playstation emulator was finished that could play more or less all games very well and even more happy when it was optimized to play them in a higher resolution on the go than was possible stationary back in the nineties. I even use Linux Mint as my main operating system now and am surprised how good looking and how easy to handle Linux has gotten over the years.
On a normal day, I have my Pandora and some headphones for it right beside me on my nightstand where it has gotten its resting place back then when I played it when not being able to sleep and not wanting to disturb my girlfriend. If I have a lazy day or just lots of time until work, I flip the switch and awaken it from its power saving mode in a second and look if there is something new on the boards, got some mail or play a bit of MegaMan. I always loved MegaManX for SNES and after finishing MegaMan and MegaMan2 for NES on my now sold Caanoo I somehow play through the rest of all these titles since then and am currently at MegaManX6 for PSX. After that, I take my Pandora with me to the workshop where I browse around or watch some movie when waiting for my colleagues to give me more work or waiting for some glue to harden.
Since there are good SMS services on the net, I use it for sending free SMS on a regular basis, the hardware keyboard is quite handy for that and way better than my ancient but very reliable clamshell phone. Since I never stop at home between work and training or rehearsal, communication via eMail and SMS is quite important sometimes while at work and I do not want to buy a smartphone out of various reasons.
Back at home I usually look into the repository or directly start PND-manager and see if there are any new updates or programs, surprisingly most days, there actually is something new in it.
If ptitSeb released a new port of some 3D game like “Arx Fatalis”, “Jedi Knight 2+3”, “Smokin Guns”, “World of Padman”, “Quake 3 Arena” etc… I usually start the download right before cooking myself a tasty vegan meal after having relaxed a bit from work.
Since I am more or less never on vacation, I waited writing about a day with my favourite and most mobile device until I used it out of town and noticed, that it managed to give me the possibility to take my desktop routines with me, so I loaded a lot of music, some more games and some videos on my two 64gb SD-Cards and took it with me together with a good pair of headphones and my mobile speaker. Since it was a rehearsal weekend with my choir, I set it up as an audio system in the hostel room and made some nice playlists to relax in 30min breaks. In longer breaks I used it to watch a movie or finally finish an old game which lay dormant for too long and begin playing the next episode of it right away. In some idle moments I used the touchscreen with MyPaint to try some designs I always wanted to apply to my musical instruments and managed to create one that fits quite well.
When going to bed, I listen to some audio book until I am finally sleepy enough like the ones I got from a recent Humble Bundle. Finally I flip the switch into standby mode and see to getting into the next day in a relaxed mood and maybe charging the battery sometime this week if I have to.