Entries Tagged as 'Android'

Re-mount Xoom External SD Card for Read-Write

If you’re having trouble writing to your external uSD card in your Motorol Xoom, you’re not alone.

If you’re rooted the device, the solution is fairly straight forward…

Open up a terminal prompt, then type the following three commands:

su

umount /mnt/external1

mount -t vfat -o fmask=0000,dmask=0000,rw /dev/block/platform/sdhci-tegra.2/mmcblk1p1 /mnt/external1

When you type “su” you’ll have to approve privilege elevation.

The umount commend unmounts the uSD card

And the mount command re-mounts the uSD card with read-write privilege.

You’ll need to do this each time your Xoom is booted; and I’m going to see about creating an application that will do this auto-magically.

Once again, this will only work on a rooted Xoom; and this solution is based on reading on xda-developers.com.

I want to give credit where credit was due, but there’s a typo there (mmcblk0p1 rather than mmcblk1p1 — at least that was the device/partition on my Xoom that the uSD card appeared as).

You can determine the correct device on your Xoom by just typing “mount” in the terminal window and locating the device mounted at /mnt/external1.

Originally posted 2011-11-19 02:00:12.

Smart Phones

If you’re looking for a smart phone, you’ve got lots of great choices now.

Whether you’re interested in an Android based phone, a Windows Mobile 6.5 based phone, or holding out for a Windows Mobile 7 based phone you really want to take a look at HTC.

I believe HTC phones are available on all the major US carries, and most all the smaller regional carriers (your selection might vary).  Internationally you can purchase an unlocked GSM version — and several of the HTC handsets are multi-band, multi-format.

HTC innovated the smart phone interface; and the worlds most popular smart phone (the Apple iPhone) appears to have “leveraged” off the work HTC did years before.  What, you thought Apple created that gesture based user interface all by themselves?

HTC built the first Android based phone; HTC released the first Windows Mobile 6.5 phone (and supplied upgrades for a number of Windows Mobile 6.0 phones); and it looks like HTC will release the first Windows 7 phone (there are already rumors).

Other than the Motorola Droid (which HTC already had shipped a similar phone) HTC phones are the “hot ticket”.

I have an older HTC phone — the 6850, aka Touch Pro — and I love it.  It’s been upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5 and works well.

A smart phone provides me with the ability to keep my contacts synchronized (without having to attach my phone to my computer), get quick answers on to questions on the Internet, be alerted to email (or read and send email for that matter), use mapping software (or act as a full blown GPS since I have Garmin loaded as well), check fuel prices, check the weather, and tether my laptop when I can’t get a free WiFi signal.  I guess I could use my phone for a multimedia player (video and audio); but that’s not a requirement for me (but you could — and I’ve played with streaming audio and video to my phone, so I wouldn’t be limited by the 8GB flash card I added to it).

Today smart phones are a viable solution for people who want more than just voice communications in their pocket, and don’t want to carry multiple devices.  Over a decade ago my friends and I “dreamed” of a convergence device that would give us PDA, data, and cellular all in one — today that dream is a reality.

Originally posted 2010-01-14 01:00:20.

Kit Kat – Android 4.4 / 4.4.2

My Nexus 4 and my two Nexus 7s updated to Kit Kat about a month ago and other than Google+ becoming far more pervasive I can’t say I’ve really seen any improvements that matter much to me (yes, I’m aware that “under the hood” there are some substantial changes)…

Some things I have noticed (that I’m not happy with) are:

  • Bluetooth shuts off and cannot be turned back on until you reboot the device.
  • Bluetooth will disconnect and reconnect (by itself) from devices that worked perfectly under Jelly Bean.
  • Devices reboot periodically by themselves (without asking for confirmation — probably more often than you realize since you’re not using them continuously).
  • Devices freeze; sometimes they respond after a couple minutes — sometimes you have to power cycle them (I haven’t had a case where I had to force a reboot yet).

I’m hopeful I won’t see this on my Nexus 5 (when I start using it after the first of the year), but from what I’ve read in the forums I’m not the only one seeing stability issues with Kit Kat, and it appears to be on all devices that have received updates — including the Nexus 5.

I’m afraid this is another case of people who work on Android not really using (or testing) the product well before it hits the street — and while I don’t feel that Google employees working on Android should be forced to trade out their iPhones, I do feel that a substantial number of the engineers working on Android should have to use the latest release (maybe replace their desk phones with cellular handsets that run the latest Android version to help debug the hardware and software).

Bottom line — you might want to hold off on your move from Jelly Bean to Kit Kat until Google releases a few more updates.


 

Android: Kit Kat

Originally posted 2013-12-30 08:00:58.

Google Voice(mail)

I’ve already made a few posts that tell you how you can use Google Voice to make and receive unlimited free calls (provided your carrier allows you to specify at least one telephone number that’s air-time free), but here’s a way you can use an unlimited data plan to reduce your air-time fees for retrieving voice mail and totally eliminate any carrier charges for “visual voice mail”.

Verizon charges nothing for “Basic Voice Mail” per month; but they will charge you air time each and every time you call your own voice mail (evening and weekends are air time free on some plans, but you cannot put your own number in the air-time free call list [current called “Friends & Family”, it used to be called “My Circle” before the AllTel acquisition).

Verizon charges $1.99 for “Premium Voice Mail” .  You can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Verizon charges $2.99 for “Visual Voice Mail”.  Again you can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Or… you can just setup your Google Voice account to be your voice mail — and then you’ll essentially get all the feature Verizon would love to charge you extra for; plus be able to call your voice mail for free (assuming you have put your Google Voice number in your “Friend & Famly” list) or just read the SMS and/or email message that contains the voice mail transcription or play the voice mail over your unlimited data connection.

There are actually instructions on Google Voice for setting up Google Voice mail as your primary voice mail on your carrier (they will tell you for most any carrier), so this doesn’t only work for Verizon, this will work for pretty much any carrier…

Why throw money away?

While I might have reservations about letting Google have access to more and more of my information, I sort of lump them in the category that the people you don’t want to have access to your information had it before you did…

Anyway, Google Voice mail (and Google Voice) will work with any cellular phone (and actually you can use this strategy with landlines as well).

Originally posted 2010-10-17 02:00:07.

Usability Summary

I think I can sum up the real problem with Linux or any open source system where there’s no real usability mandate…

Developers make arbitrary decisions that suit their needs without any regard to how others will view their decisions or even figure out how to use what they do… the real difference between Windows and OS-X and Linux is that two of those are the cooperative efforts of “experts” who try very hard to address the needs of a target audience who wouldn’t be capable of writing their own operating system.

And, of course, with something like Linux it’s geometrically worse than most open source software since any given Linux is the culmination of hundreds of separate open source modules put together in a completely arbitrary fashion.

It really is funny that what I’ve been describing as a lack of cohesiveness is layered; and I suspect no matter what the intentions of a single developer to try and wrap it inside a nice pretty shell that gives a forward facing pretense of a system that was planned and targeted for productivity, the ugly truth of how much a patch work it is will show through… and we can look back on early versions of Windows and MacOS and see just that… it’s really only been within the last five or six years that those systems have risen to the point that they are in fact fairly cohesive, and designed to be tools for people to solve problems with; not projects for people to build for the sole purpose of developing a life of their own.

Without some unifying direction, the only Linux I can see suceeding is Android; and that my friends is likely to become a collection of closed source tools running on top of an open source kernel.  Trust me, you haven’t seen an evil empire until Google gets on your desktop, phone, settop box, etc…

Originally posted 2010-01-11 01:00:10.

SyncMate 3

I’ve written about Eltima’s SyncMate before, but they released a new version about a month ago, and I’ve spent some time using it and decide that it’s well wrote revisiting.

SyncMate 3 is very similar to SyncMate2; it’s an excellent utility for keeping your Mac synchronized… particularly if you have an Android phone, Windows phone, Nokia phone, depend on Google for services, etc.

Like with the previous version of SyncMate you may find that the free version has all the features you really need; but the low price of the Expert Edition might make you just go ahead and buy it for one of the useful features included with it.

The only major disappointment I had with SyncMate 3 is that it didn’t migrate my sync accounts and setting from SyncMate 2.  That’s not really an issue for most people, but I had a large number of sync devices setup in SyncMate 2 and I had customized the icons and settings quite a bit for each of the test devices.

Beyond that… SyncMate 3 worked, and worked well.

I really couldn’t test the direct Android sync since I use Google to sync my Droid; and I highly recommend you do not try and sync both directly and via Google – you’re not going to be happy with the outcome (and I guess there isn’t any real way for SyncMate to detect you’ve entered the same device twice).

One of the things I use SyncMate for is to synchronize multiple Google accounts; actually I had one main account, and prefer to have the contacts from it pushed to the other account (which are used mostly for Google Voice).

The list of features is long, and you’re much better off to view them on Eltima’s web site than have me try and list them here.

While the software is very easy to use, you’ll find that it supports a number of sophisticated features — and really what you do with it is limited to your imagination more than the software.

This is a company and product that I believe is well worth taking a look at.

SyncMate 3

Originally posted 2011-02-19 02:00:59.

Goog-rola

What does $12.5 billion get you in today’s economy?

For Google, it just might get them Motorola Mobility.

For me, I’m wondering what’s going to happen to the Open Handset Alliance.

Motorola is a very large manufacturer of mobile devices (cell phones, smart phones, and tablets) — and it’s roots are over 80 years old.

Google’s CEO Larry Page stated that (at least for the time being) Google intends to run Motorola Mobility as a separate company, and that there will still be the exchange of license fees for Android, and that they will need to bid on manufacturing future Nexus phones just as every other vendor would.

Right…  I believe all that.

My gut tells me this is all subject to change (quickly) that Google will use it’s acquisition of Motorola to change the landscape of Android devices and they won’t be a separate company; while they might not be tightly integrated into Google they will be very coordinated with Google.

One has to wonder, what’s next for Google — a cellular carrier (or maybe a few)…

Originally posted 2011-08-15 10:00:59.

Color Nook

Barnes and Nobel showed it’s color Nook Tuesday in San Francisco – the press seems to like it; 15.8 oz, 7” screen, 8GB storage (plus uSD slot), WiFi, uUSB power, Android based…  available for pre-order on 19 Nov.

Not clear that you have access to Android marketplace, but it sounds like it (since there were references to installing games and such on it)… this could be real competition for the iPad (and the Kindle).

Barnes & Noble Nook

Originally posted 2010-10-26 20:00:42.

Sprint 4G Surcharge

So I was looking at Sprint devices, plans and coverage — they have the Samsung Galaxy S 4G handset, and their model includes a slider qwerty keyboard (I really like keyboards on smart phones)… of course we’re talking about Sprint’s network, which has marginal service in this area and no 4G within about 300 miles (and likely no 4G for a very long time any where around here) but the interesting thing is they still insist on charging a $10 4G surcharge for plans on 4G phones even when the phone is used in 3G service areas…

Personally I feel that if a cellular company is going to charge me a surcharge for enhanced speed (and features) that I should be getting those features…

I don’t think I’d be too keen on Sprint for anyone of a number of reasons…

Let’s see, first and foremost would be a horrible experience with Sprint and Sprint’s billing practices when they first started.  And their CEO can keep apologizing about it, but the bottom line is I wouldn’t tend to try Sprint unless they offered me a deal that was just incredible (and charging me for a service I’m likely never to get isn’t a way to make me feel like it’s a deal I can’t refuse).

Then there would be the fact that their service and coverage here is abysmal — even worse than AT&T!!!  In fact, their service is so spotty they actually caution you about it on their web site when you go to browse phones and plans.

Then, they choose WiMax rather than LTE (like the rest of the world).  Though since they’re depending on Clearwire for WiMax services and Clearwire has been showing more and more interest in LTE (and ditching WiMax — which probably doesn’t make Intel happy) who know if Sprint will actually really keep rolling out WiMax or shift to LTE.

Anyway; I like the Galaxy S… but I’m holding out for HTC to make a high end Android phone with a slider and I’d prefer it to be a CDMA/GSM/LTE handset.

Originally posted 2010-10-15 02:00:34.

Grip of Death

The proverbial feces has hit the proverbial fan in iPhone 4 “antenna-gate”…

Personally I think it’s sad the way Apple CEO Steve Jobs treats his customer’s (and the world) with so little respect.

Jobs is now telling the world that all phones suffer from the same problems that plague the iPhone 4, and he’s showing numbers to prove it.  Now, Job’s hasn’t commissioned a large study performed by an independent testing firm; he’s not using numbers published by each phone’s manufacturer; he’s not basing his claims on customer complaints; he’s not performing tests of large statistically sound sample sets of handsets… he’s just (as usual) running off at the mouth and trying to tell his customers what they should be thinking and what they should be buying.

Well, I certainly don’t see any appreciable difference in my signal strength dependent on how I hold my HTC smart phone… in fact, I didn’t see any problem with the previous two HTC handsets I had either — so maybe Mr Jobs needs to consider the possibility that designing a phone based on aesthetics rather than performance might be the root of his problem; and that maybe some of his customers want more than just a fashion accessory or a “me-to” statement.  It’s funny that I really couldn’t find any Apple marketing material that was centric on signal performance of the iPhone 4 — of course, since Apple still only offers the iPhone on AT&T it might just be an assumption that anyone who buys an iPhone really doesn’t consider reception or network performance to be a real concern (remember, AT&T’s network has been plagued with over subscription, and their solution was to stop offering unlimited data plans).

The other absolutely ridiculous thing about Job’s is he can’t seem to get his story consistent.  I mean, is it a hardware design flaw correctable by a rubber phone bumper (which will increase the size of the iPhone), is it a software glitch that your programs will resolve (by what — removing the call to “if (grip-of-death) then drop-call” — or just changing the signal display so it’s less of a indication of reality than it is now), or is it just something that any and all smart phone users have to live with (why aren’t there lots of complaints from owners of other models, brands — and why didn’t previous iPhones suffer from this problem).

The really interesting thing is that “antenna-gate” has grown from a bit of grumbling by tech-savvy users online, to getting the notice of online tech magazines, to crossing over into mainline media, to now causing a stir by at least one elected official.

HTC, Samsung, and Research In Motion (RIM) have all categorically stated that the problems that the iPhone 4 are displaying are not an endemic problem with other smart phones in the market place.  And Consumer Reports stated that it couldn’t recommend consumers purchase the iPhone 4 (but their reports did indicate that a rubber bumper, or even a piece of tape placed over the “gap” between antenna sections would greatly resolve the issues).

And while Job’s might be trying to put any spin he can on this to make other smart phone vendors look bad — in the UK, Samsung is providing disgruntled iPhone 4 users with free Galaxy S Android based handsets (all they need to is post their displeasure with the iPhone, contact Samsung, and the next day they’ll have a Galaxy S handset).

My personal belief on this is that Apple is running scared.

They know that they’ve shipped over three million handsets that have a manufacturing defect; and that they realize that forcing individuals to accept a material different product than they purchased is going to end up backfiring.  I mean, let’s face it — iPhone 4 users purchases an iPhone 4, not an iPhone 4 with a rubber bumper around it (changing the size and aesthetics).

Apple’s based in Cupertino California — California is one of the states with a lemon law which clearly states that if the manufacturer is unable to fix the problem in three tries, they have to provide a full refund for the item.  And materially changing the size and appearance is probably not something they can choose to do… so I’m really surprised that the legal beagles aren’t initiating litigation against Apple for recovery of actual, consequential, and punitive damages.

But this isn’t a concern to me — since I’d never purchase a phone without a keyboard; so I’ll never have an iPhone — and I don’t think anyone who’s serious about a communications device would ever purchase one either.


Senator Schumer’s letter to Steve Jobs (at Apple):

July 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I write to express concern regarding the reception problem with the Apple iPhone 4. While I commend Apple’s innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe it is incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner. According to Consumer Reports’ review, released Monday on its Web site, the iPhone 4’s signal-strength problem is a hardwire glitch triggered by gripping the device in a particular manner. This finding, according to Consumer Reports, “call[s] into question” Apple’s recent claim that the problem is “largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software.” Consumer Reports declined to recommend the iPhone 4 because of this hardware design flaw.

Given the discrepancy between Consumer Reports’ explanation of the reception problem and the explanation provided by Apple in its July 2 letter to customers, I am concerned that the nearly 2 million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete information about the quality of the product they have purchased. The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device. To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge. The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called “death grip” malfunction–such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it–seem to be insufficient. These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones.

I also encourage Apple to keep its promise to provide free software updates so that bars displayed accurately reflect signal strength; I further urge Apple to issue a written explanation of the formula it uses to calculate bar strength, so that consumers can once again trust the product that they have invested in.

I look forward to Apple’s swift action on this matter, and once again laud Apple for its innovative efforts and service to millions of Americans.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

Originally posted 2010-07-31 02:00:45.