29. November 2018 at 0:51 #6433
I’m not sure whether this is an actual bug or just a quirk of my hardware, so hopefully someone can shed some light.
I have a Gemini PDA on which I run a handful of emulators of various old 8- and 16-bit systems, including two DOS-based emulators that I run through Magic DosBox.
Until a couple of weeks ago, if I ran one of these emulators from a Launcher shortcut it would launch straight into the emulator regardless of whether or not Magic DosBox was already running. Then, when the emulator exited, Magic DosBox itself would close (or go into the background) leaving me back at the Launcher Desktop screen.
More recently what happens when I run a shortcut is that if Magic DosBox is already running it will switch straight to it, either to whatever program Magic DosBox was running or to the Main Menu if that’s what was last used. If Magic DosBox was not already running, the shortcut will launch into the emulator as before, but when the emulator is closed it will return to the Magic DosBox Main Menu and not to the Launcher Desktop.
The main thing that changed between the old and new behaviours, aside from Magic DosBox itself going to 1.0.70, was that the device’s firmware was updated with the latest Android security patches (still on 7.1.1) and probably a few other under-the-hood tweaks. My money would be on this firmware change being responsible, but because of the way Android and the Play Store tends to do batches of updates, there were dozens of additional updates to third-party apps in the time it took me to notice this behaviour change, any of which could also be responsible. My current launcher is Nova, which may also have received an update during this window.
At this point I’m basically trying to discover if anyone else has also seen this behavioural change in Magic DosBox or if it’s unique to my setup. Only from that point can I even begin to start digging. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.29. November 2018 at 8:10 #6434adminKeymaster
Hi, try uncheck all three checkboxes in main menu/menu “return to main menu when “29. November 2018 at 10:21 #6435
Oh, man, how did I miss those? Thank you! I must have looked at those options a dozen times while investigating and not realised that they weren’t all checked before. Unchecking the top one fixed it, obviously. It’s right there in the words!
I should have thought to double check every setting because one or more recent firmware and/or app updates managed to change a whole bunch of random settings e.g. Nova Launcher was showing app tray tabs in the wrong order, and one of my calendars had its sync option disabled.
A bit OT, but is this the sort of thing that happens occasionally with Android? That firmware and/or app updates can alter settings? I must confess Android still feels new and confusing to me, despite using it for months now. I suspect some aspects of it always will.29. November 2018 at 12:04 #6436
Usually, data is preserved. I can’t really recall something like that happening to me. But when there are more fundamental changes done to the app’s folder structure for example, things might get erased.
Magic Dosbox has twp options when you’re setting up the data directory, public and private. Private will survive an uninstall of the app, but on the other hand, might get deleted as junk folder by some cleaning apps (never run those anyway, they can destroy important data). When you use the “public” option, the folder will be safe from cleaning apps, but deleted when you uninstall Magic Dosbox.29. November 2018 at 18:28 #6437adminKeymaster
🙂 it is opaque, public folder is vulnerable to system cleaners or to cleaning done often by system updates, many times silent. Android is still toy and far from regular system.29. November 2018 at 21:50 #6438
Thanks guys, much appreciated.
Can I be cheeky and ask one more question that’s only tangentially connected to all this, rather than starting another thread?
I have two sets of keyboard software installed on the Gemini; one is the built-in support for the on-board physical keyboard and the other is SwiftKey which I’ve found to offer better compatibility between the hardware keyboard and various emulators including UAE4ARM and Magic DosBox. (Someone in another group suggested this might be because both emulators use Simple Directmedia Layer which does its own non-native hardware polling, but I’m not sure). Long story short: some of the hardware keys, especially Ctrl- or Fn- modified keys, are easier to read or remap if SwiftKey is selected as the input for the hardware keyboard rather than the default Gemini input.
Prior to these recent behavioural changes I’m almost 100% certain that I used to be able to specify SwiftKey as the input layer for Magic DosBox (via General Settings | Input Method) while leaving the Gemini’s own keyboard as the default for the OS and all other apps. This gave the extra compatibility for the emulators, while preventing SwiftKey from getting in the way of other apps.
This has recently changed, and now whenever I select SwiftKey from within Magic DosBox it changes the default for the whole OS. I have to use the little keyboard icon on the Navigation Bar to switch it off again in other apps, which also switches it off in Magic DosBox.
A quick search for “android keyboard per-app” shows a multitude of third-party apps that seem to offer this functionality, suggesting that it’s never been a natively supported feature of Android. But I’m puzzled because I would have bet good money that it was working independently a few weeks ago.
I’m really hoping it’s another silly switch that I’ve missed, like the one for auto-close, but I suspect this one might be a bit deeper and outside of the scope of Magic DosBox itself. The latest Gemini firmware had a slightly updated keyboard wizard for setting the hardware keyboard’s language following a reboot, so it’s likely other things have also changed under the hood. If I had to take a wild stab at a culprit, I fear it might be this. But since I’ve had better answers in here than I’ve had elsewhere (even if the initial question turned out to be a ridiculous self-own) I figured I’d mention it just in case there’s an Android expert in the room who can offer me an equally face-palmable answer to this one.
Thanks!29. November 2018 at 23:23 #6439
I don’t recall this has ever been possible. I just tried with an older version, and I was also only able to change the global keyboard setting. ?
But it’s a very good suggestion, maybe this could be implemented in a future release?
What is possible is to chose between the Android IME, and a custom Magic Dosbox keyboard.30. November 2018 at 10:37 #6441
Yeah, the more I play around with this the more convinced I am that I may be misremembering, which is frightening as we’re only talking about a couple of months ago. Even the documentation and Facebook posts I made while playing with the emulators are non-specific enough to be interpreted either way. I’m wondering whether I simply spent so much time inside the emulators that I didn’t notice it was also changing the system default.
If I get the chance at the weekend I’ll have a play with some of those “per-app switching” apps.
I would be great if Magic DosBox could have its own input method that could directly read and translate arbitrary hardware buttons/keys. The button mapper is useful but limited by whatever it sees when keys are pressed, and it’s unclear why SwiftKey generates more consistent and detectable scancodes than the default keyboard (at least on the Gemini). Most of the third-party IMEs, even those aimed at external keyboards, aren’t as consistent as SwiftKey.
But to be fair the Gemini keyboard is a bit of a kludge itself, and I don’t expect its creators gave much thought to it being used in emulating other entire operating systems. It works really well with native Android apps, even those obviously not designed with anything other than touchscreens and virtual keys in mind, so it does its job.
Of course I’m also aware that Magic DosBox itself, and the bulk of of the software (mostly games) run on it, wouldn’t normally expect to see more than a half dozen inputs so maybe I’m expecting too much of it and the Gemini hardware.
My main reason for using Magic DosBox for all this is the fantastic support for custom on-screen graphics and virtual buttons, and for that it doesn’t disappoint. For the curious, this video is something I cobbled together to demonstrate usability differences between the Agenda app on three platforms (emulated Psion 3a, emulated Psion 5mx, and native Gemini). The first 23 seconds shows the 3a emulation. The icons at the bottom of the screen are all Magic DosBox virtual buttons replicating the softkey button bar of an original Series 3a, while the rest of the screen is the DOS-based emulator, scaled and positioned above it. The visuals are seamless. Only Magic DosBox can do this! 😉
The second emulator is Windows-based and mouse-driven, so its button emulation is built in. It normally runs in a window though, so Magic DosBox came to the rescue again with its custom scaling making it fit the screen perfectly. I can’t praise the customisation available in this program enough.30. November 2018 at 11:14 #6442
Lol, that’s pretty cool. I like geeky stuff like this.?
If you’re looking for a really good keyboard app to use with Dosbox (if you don’t want to use the built-in Magic Dosbox keyboard), you can try Hacker’s Keyboard from Google Play. It’s 100% free, and don’t worry – it doesn’t hack anything. I guess it’s named like that because it features all buttons imaginable from a real pc keyboard.
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