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Adding a Keyboard (and Screen Magnification in a low tech way)

Our story today starts with me using a phone without buttons. Yes, it drives me nuts. What happened was naturally I needed a phone with a good data plan and my phone carrier at the time was all like "no, we don't have a better data plan, sit down, keep using our outdated service and keep sending us money."

So I moved networks. And many other people probably did too because they updated their networks after I left. :D

Now you know how this works. I've been through three phone carriers since 2001 and honestly, they will be good for a while and just get complacent and someone else will come along, offer something better, and people will switch to that network will they become either overloaded or complacent. But competition in networks and people switching like the great herd keeps things from being stagnant forever. So I got the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime, a low end model phone which was the basic model of this network in 2015, they of course have moved on since.

One thing I am enjoying about more modern Android phones over my Galaxy Pocket from 2011-2012 is the ability to more readily accept Bluetooth devices. The projection keyboard works. And I picked up a chicklet key keyboard that feels much like my MacBook Air keyboard, just a bit smaller. Bluetooth is basically the answer to phones with no buttons. There are also USB keyboards but all the apps I've seen required a hack at the root level, so this was not easily done.

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Now, if I had my druthers, I would get a keyboard the size of phone case. You just open up the case and there is a small Bluetooth keyboard. I tried to get the smallest Bluetooth keyboard I could find. Well, for cheap. :D So what I found before moving onto other projects was this keyboard that work work with a tablet.

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Speaking of tablets, I am impressed by what is available for the iPad like the keyboard attachment above. Even seen joystick attachments, things to make iPad part of a drum, part of a guitar, just amazing tactile stuff to give more feel to a tactile-less computer experience.

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But the only problem is when you go to put a protective case on a iPad and then it is too thick to slide in a dock like the one this keyboard stand has. Oh well. :D

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So what I was working with was not quite for the cell phone I had. So what I finally did was put some small metal plates in the back of the rubberized protective case. That way I was able to keep the phone in place with some strong, rare earth magnets from a old hard drive.

[[For those that might remember the Red Green Show, Red had duct tape as the handy man's secret weapon. My secret weapon used for about everything? RARE EARTH MAGNETS! ]]

So the screen is in place, and I have a Bluetooth keyboard so I have actual BUTTONS!!!

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And while the screen is view-able, I add another trick of magnifying the screen. Yes, I am playing with ChromeCast to project the screen onto a HDMI monitor. But a lower tech solution? A magnifying screen bought from Jo-Ann's Fabrics set just a little apart from the phone to magnify it by about ... I'd say 20%. Still an improvement though. So I hold the magnifying screen in place with a drinking straw and binder clips.

So here is a comparison of how the magnification looks:

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Fun trick. So I've been playing with this a bit and it is getting more seamless. I turn the power on to the keyboard and that wakes up the phone when a Bluetooth device connects. At which point I can select on the main menu what app I want using the arrow keys.

Most of the time I use terminal programs for getting on various Atari BBSs through telnet which has been fun. This blog is mostly about devices with buttons or adding buttons to devices so with that I'll end there. But I will be starting ANOTHER blog about my BBSing experience and part of which using my Android to make that happen. Thank you Atariage for the awesome opportunity to start many blogs for us to share many innovative ideas.

And so I leave you with my phone, sitting next to a laptop, trying and mostly succeeding at mimicking a laptop. Phones... they are computers too, just stripped down and dumbed down for the average user. ;)



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