CosmosEx – Q&A

CosmosEx – Q&A (questions and answers), status


When the devices will be available?

To see the current status of store (devices available / not available), see this page:

http://joo.kie.sk/cosmosex/buy/status/

 


What can be used to power CosmosEx device?

The CosmosEx device can be powered through 4-pin connector, which is inside of your Atari, when you remove the original floppy drive. CosmosEx draws around 0.5A of current when not powering anything through USB, so the original PSU of Atari ST should be able to power it in that case, if it’s in a good shape.

The other option of powering CosmosEx is using an external PSU with mini USB cable, which nowadays is mostly some cell phone charger or something similar. It should output 5V (Thou shalt use one that outputs five, no more, no less ;) ), and at least 1A current rating is recommended, and using one which can output more amps will not hurt the situation.


I’ve found an empty SD card adapter in the package

If you ordered your CosmosEx device with Raspberry Pi already inside, you might have had found a empty micro SD adapter and you wonder if Jookie did forgot to send the card. The SD card is probably already inside of Raspberry Pi, and if your device boots (starts in less than 2 minutes) – front blue LEDs weakly blinking ever second, then the SD card is definitely there and Raspberry Pi boots from it. The (empty) micro SD card adapter in the package is then there just in case you need to write new linux image to that micro SD card, and you have a card reader which has full size SD card slot.

However, if your device has Raspberry Pi inside, but doesn’t boot even after 2 minutes (first successful boot might be longer, others are shorter), please open the device and check if the micro SD card is inserted in the Raspberry Pi and if not, send a photo of that to Jookie.

Similarly, if you ordered device without Raspberry Pi, you should have that micro SD card inside that adapter and if it’s not there, send a message to Jookie.


What SCSI cable do I need for Falcon?

You might probably find the right cable on eBay, or external SCSI drive bay, or something similar.

If you would consider making yourself a cable like that, you would need:

  • on Falcon side of cable something like this:

    http://sk.farnell.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=15001&langId=421&urlRequestType=Base&partNumber=1098644&storeId=10174

  • and on CosmosEx side of the cable something like this:

    http://www.vetco.net/catalog/images/PAN-IDS-50NPK-1.jpg

I don’t follow much these things on eBay, so I can’t give you the direct link to that one. Some Falcon users already have cables like that, some have external cases for the SCSI drives and thus cables like that, and SCSI connectors are still available on the net, so I’ve let the users to solve this one.

I was thinking of trying to make that external SCSI cable using that connector above, I got one sample, but I didn’t had the time to do that yet. Maybe asking on www.atari-forum.com would be also an option…


I registered on your page, but I haven’t heard from you since

This is normal. The only communication I usually send is a batch mail to all registered people when the devices are back in stock and are ready to be bought immediately. The reasons are the following:

  • every mail I send might trigger a response e-mail from the recipient, and with many people registered (while only few of them might be really interested) I then receive a LOT of e-mails, which sometimes require a response, and that’s e-mail hell, I tell ya!
  • by sending this many e-mails I get blocked by some e-mail servers… and the more often I send those e-mails, the more often I get blocked, so I’m trying to avoid that
  • some people don’t like to be contacted unless they want something

Sometimes I do have issues sending some of you e-mail, because I’m blocked by spam filters – my e-mail is about trying to sell you something, and that’s detected by those spam filters… Also the funny name of the product (CosmosEx — just like cosmo SEX ;) ) felt like a funny / good idea when I was considering the name of the product, but after being blocked by the spam filters I changed my mind on how good the name is.

If you need something or want to ask something, just write an e-mail to me, most of the time I answer all of them, even if it takes me day or two to answer it…


I want one device, reserve one for me

I’m sorry, I don’t do reservations… Who pays first gets one, who wants to order one when it’s out of stock has to wait for another batch…
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to help you, but I have had too many:

  • people who registered and didn’t buy one in the end
  • people who wrote a message to me that they will pay for one in the next few days / weeks, but that didn’t happen
  • people who wanted a reservation but never wrote again

And that happens while other people are able to pay immediately. So I don’t like to keep people waiting while other let me wait while I could serve the first ones…


What is the difference between the version with Raspberry Pi and the version without Raspberry Pi?

Most of the functionality is done by Raspberry Pi, so without that it works only as SD card reader (like SatanDisk / UltraSatan). I offer the option to get the device without Raspberry Pi, because it’s easier for me to sell the devices without it (less of buying things, less manual mounting, less caring when your Raspberry Pi is broken) and some of you can get the device for a better price, so I don’t mind – you’re doing me a favor by buying your own Raspberry Pi and mounting it there your self ;)


What is the difference between ST version and Falcon version?

The ST version has ACSI and FDD connectors nicely sticking from the back so you can access them without opening the device.
The Falcon (SCSI) version has the 50-pin SCSI connector sticking from the back, and the ACSI and FDD connectors are accessible when you remove the top cover. This is due to the SCSI connector being to wide to have the other connectors side by side to it, and some people wanted to have SCSI and ACSI option in a single device…


The device is too complicated, you have to be a rocket scientist to configure it…

Yes, it’s more complicated than a simple hard drive or a floppy drive, it’s more complicated than SatanDisk or UltraSatan… because it does more stuff! It has too many features, and that means that many things can go wrong, or need a specific configuration… If you’re configuring a shared drive between CosmosEx and your PC or Mac, you might have different versions of OS there, and each version of that might behave differently…

Sometimes I have trouble to share stuff between two versions of Windows, and MicroSoft has much more developers than the CosmosEx team ;)
Sometimes you just need to fiddle with the settings a little, sometimes you need to google things until you get it working. I thought that most of the Atari folks are very skilled in computers handling, but with the growing number of customers it reached also people who are not that good with computers, or don’t speak English well and thus can’t google for the solutions, or even can’t google well (or at all)…

The device itself relies on linux and its services (e.g. accessing the shared drives from other computers), and as we probably all know not everything works perfect there, or even the error messages / hints are not so simple… If you might have issues with googling for stuff when configuring the network sharing, that this feature and / or device might not be the best for you… I’m sorry to say that (as it’s not a thing that would boost my sales) but I rather will have a customer who knows there might be issues when configuring network sharing or other stuff and he:

  • either decides to buy the device, because he knows he can figure stuff out,
  • or he knows he has hard time to figure stuff out or don’t have the time and nerves to figure stuff out, and decides to NOT buy the device

What I don’t like is when people over-estimate their computer skills or have expectations that everything will work to 100% without their effort, or they expect that there won’t be any bugs, or any compatibility issues, they get the device, and that’s when the hell starts…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bitch about people, I do have understanding for their questions when they are trying to get things going, I try to answer their questions and try to solve their problems through e-mail and through forums, but I can’t solve every case of problems. The devices are tested at my place, with my computers, with my network, but there’s too much of variability, and I can’t cover all the cases of testing, documenting, and so on.


Documentation is missing / More documentation would be nice

I totally agree – there could be a ton of documentation about each use case there is, there could be web pages, video tutorials, blogs, and so on, but I can’t do it – I don’t have any spare time for that while doing other stuff… There’s a wonderful document about CosmosEx by DrCoolZic, it’s called ‘CosmosEx User’s Guide’, you should get it… But it’s too technical for some people, and a simple list of steps for some use-cases would be better for many people. Did you know that YOU (yes YOU!) could make any documentation about it to help others?


You are making (too much) profit out of it

Yes, I am doing this for money – I do have a profit out of it. I don’t like to pay for software (too much, or at all ;) ), that’s why all the software I make for it (including updates) is free. The story is different with hardware, because:

  • I have to buy electric components, PCBs, card boxes, metal boxes (the case), and that costs few thousands of Euros, which I hope / wish to get back — I guess that nobody would just play with thousands of their Euros just for fun, while risking loosing part of them
  • I have to deal with legal stuff – paying taxes, doing paper work, dealing with silly PayPal and their silly policies
  • I have to invest my own time, which I could use for… sleeping! During the day I’m at work, then with my wife and kid (3 years old in 2015), and when they both are asleep and I’m able to wake up, I set my alarm clock to 03:00 AM or 04:00 AM (to have 3 or 2 hours of time for this before going to my normal work), so I could finish the devices (mounting in the metal cases, testing, writing firmware to chips, packing to cardboard boxes), or I try to do some development and / or bug fixes. I can’t do this every day as I’m not a robot and I can’t drink more than like 6 coffees per day (as after morning like that I’m tired as hell)
  • my wife complains that I don’t spend enough time with her, sometimes even threatening me with divorce :-/ If I would tell her, that I’m doing all this for free, she would kill me and then probably divorce me ;)
  • I have to handle possible warranty repairs, product returns by unhappy customers and do the refund while PayPal takes part of the money, I can’t do this without any profit… and I can’t tell how much of profit is too much or too little (or just OK)
  • with everything above in mind – this has become a second job to me, which I do instead of sleeping like a normal person, it lost most of the fun part it had… And I don’t like to have a 2nd job without profit and without fun.
  • There aren’t many HW developers around for Atari computers, and the profit part of the whole keeps me being a developer for Atari, instead of just a enthusiast :-/ This isn’t fun anymore.
  • Even with this profit I can’t quit my main job – this is just a fraction of my income, and it’s too irregular to be a main one even if it would produce larger amount of money at some time.

The price is high / higher than previously

Yes, this might be… I needed to change (and add) some components because of the version 2.0 which supports also SCSI interface, also the batch is smaller than the previous one, which results in higher cost per device. There’s also a 2nd and 3rd reason for the smaller batch:

  • the end of year is near, financial stuff for companies in Slovakia is counted from January until December, and it might be better / safer to make less devices and sell them all this year, then manufacture too many of them, not sell them this year, move them to next fiscal year in which they would seem like too much of a profit from the taxes point of view….
  • my wife will deliver our second child around 7. of December 2015, and I’m not sure whether I can continue to do this during the nights in the following 6 months while the things will go crazy around the smaller child…

How many devices did you sell? Did you sell many?

I would like to not tell that… Some people might have a guess how much profit there is per device, they also might do some sort of calculation like:
devices sold * estimated profit per device = Jookie, you are one rich mother-lover, you are making too much money, or whatever…
It doesn’t work like that – the money comes in smaller batches, as devices are being sold, and I’m pissing my pants in panic at some moments because I’m not sure whether I will get everything I invested in the current batch of devices…

I know you are asking for the count of devices, because you want to know if you’re not the first one (or one of the first) who will get the device and thus might have something that’s not perfect, but I can tell you that during the last 2 years I’ve sold enough devices to get enough bug reports, and then did enough bug fixes to improve the situation a lot, so the device which you will get is much better than the one people received 2 years ago :) Don’t worry, they are fine, the bug fixes were in software and firmware, so their device is now working just fine, like yours will…


What’s the feedback on the device been so far? Many problems…?

Well, some people like it, some people don’t. Some have small issues or no issues at all, some had so huge issues that they returned the device (yes, returning purchased item is possible, PayPal requires that). Many bugs have been fixed, some people say that it was almost unusable at the beginning but after few fixes and updates it works just fine. Some people say it’s too complicated and they should have bought UltraSatan (my previous device) instead. So I would say some people like it, some people don’t like it.

 

Are there bugs?

Yes, of course there are! Even TOS in your Atari has bugs, and they might interfere with some functions of CosmosEx… With the number of different Atari computers, TOS versions, different games and different software there always will be some bugs related to CosmosEx, some of them even can’t be fixed (e.g. it will probably never work with TOS 1.00).

 

Is it a finished product?

This depends on what you define as ‘finished’:

  • if by ‘finished’ you mean ‘Will you do more bug fixes, or this is the last version?’ — no, I will do more fixes and features in the following months / years
  • if by ‘finished’ you mean ‘It has all the major bugs fixed and can be sold to end customers’ — yes, it’s being sold to people since the half of 2014, but there are always some bugs reported, some might be even major ones.
  • if by ‘finished’ you mean ‘Are you confident with this device, so you have a good feeling when selling to people?’ — no, I am never confident, this might be a bug in my personality :) I always sell each device with fear like ‘What if this exact piece is broken?’, or ‘What if it gets broken when shipping by post?’, or ‘What if this guy needs to run it with some software which might have some serious issues with it?’

 

Did you had any rude / angry / unsatisfied customers?

Yes, of course. Some were blocked by some bugs which were major for them but minor for others, some just couldn’t configure it properly, some had compatibility issues, some couldn’t understand english well and didn’t want to fiddle with the configuration and expected everything to work just perfectly out of the box…

I tried to help all of them, I tried to be polite, I guess I never been too rude to a customer over the internet. It didn’t help in all of the cases. They returned the device, I returned the money, and I feel like having the device back but also having finally the peace from this sort of e-mail / forum hell was worth it. Sometimes it’s just better to return the money and make them feel fine instead of trying to make it work for them, even if it might be just a configuration issue…

All of those issues keep me busy, often frustrated, and always keeps me reconsidering if it’s worth the profit at the cost of nerves, sleepless nights doing this 2nd job…


Is CosmosEx something that you’re likely to be supporting for a long time to come?

My plan is to continue with CosmosEx SW – features + bug fixes:

  • if there will be interesting features to add
  • if there will be major issues which definitely need a fix
  • if my free time at home will permit that (did I mention having a new child in december 2015?)
  • if those things can be done / simulated / fixed at work (at the cost of some slacking off :( )

Will there be more devices?

My plan is to continue with CosmosEx HW manufacturing and selling:

  • if my free time at home will permit that (did I mention having a new child in December 2015?) – the HW has definitely has to be made at home, and it has to be packed at home – I can’t do this in my normal job ;)
  • if there is sufficient interest in the device – enough people willing to pay the price of the device, even when the batches will be getting smaller – the more people will buy it, the better price it has and vice versa
  • if I’m able to optimize my ‘company’ fees sufficiently – once this optimization runs out, the cost of having a ‘company’ in Slovakia per month is so high, that with this small profit most of it will be eaten by the mandatory payments to the state (social insurance, health insurance, tax)

Bugs are not fixed / Software + OS compatibility

This device has so many features and it interacts with so much software and hardware and OS, that there are bugs and there always will be bugs. I don’t want to pretend that it will be perfect one day. Things that currently don’t work:

  • TOS 1.00 support
  • MagiC support
  • MiNT support

 

What can you do about it?

Help me with the software and bug fixes! This is not a joke, but a serious request! Often I see on YOUR LinkedIn profile, on YOUR FaceBook profile, on YOUR Google+ profile, in YOUR e-mail footer, in YOUR e-mail address that YOU ARE A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER, SOFTWARE ENGINEER, or something related… Instead of JUST complaining about the bugs please DO some actual help and fix something! I know you DON’T HAVE TIME for that, well that’s normal, nobody does, not even me. We all have our personal and professional life, but if you want to see those bugs go, you have to help… Otherwise you leave everything to me, and it takes me longer because most of the time I work alone :-/ Help, please? Pretty please?? Anyone??? Someone????


Who is behind CosmosEx?

Developer of hardware (HW), chips firmware (FW), software (SW): Jookie (Miro Nohaj)
Manufacturing / producing of hardware, testing, orders & payments processing, packaging, sending: Jookie (Miro Nohaj)
Bug fixing, adding new features, releasing new versions:

  • mainly Jookie (Miro Nohaj)
  • CE_DD skeleton and some fixes – MiKRO / MSB
  • web interface, code fixes – tIn / absence.
  • TT compatibility, code fixes – ggn / KUA

User support (configuration, problem solving, bug reporting) on atari-forum:

  • mainly Jookie
  • other volunteers – greatly appreciated!

User support (configuration, problem solving, bug reporting) through e-mail and facebook messages: Jookie (Miro Nohaj)


What is the ordering process?

  1. You register at the buyer’s page, wait until the device is in stock (available for immediate buying)
  2. If the device is out of stock, you wait – either you notice it’s available, or you will get a batch e-mail from me, or something like that
  3. You fill in your order – what you want, how many you want, where to send it
  4. You proceed to payment – PayPal or bank transfer – through the button on buyer’s page
  5. I receive the payment, mark your account as paid, I don’t send an e-mail about it, but you can see your status as ‘Paid’ in the buyer’s page
  6. You wait… I will test, pack and send the device within few days (1 to 5 working days)
  7. Once I send the package, I set your account as ‘Sent’, I don’t send an e-mail about it, but you can see your status as ‘Package sent’ in the buyer’s page
  8. You wait some more, then the package arrives. If you are in Europe, you should get it in week or so, if you’re outside of Europe, it can take up to 4 weeks to arrive.
  9. Retrieve the package from post office, test the device, report to me if there’s a problem so we can fix it….

I don’t currently sell the device through eBay (they have another fees, which get added on top of PayPal fees).

 

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