Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jelly Bean 4.3

It seems like I just finished upgrading everything to Jelly Bean. Now here comes Android 4.3. Another flavor of Jelly Bean.

As usual CyanogenMod is awesome. They started releasing CM 10.2 nightlies for a small set of devices and my Samsung Captivate was among them.

All I thought I had to do was to go to "Settings" / "About phone" and look in the "CyanogenMod updates".

From there I changed the "Update types" setting to "New versions (incl. Nightlies)" and I was shown the nightlies.

I chose cm-10.2-20130817-NIGHTLY-captivatemtd and let it download and install.

I was doing good until that point.

What I didn't realize was that they had to repartition the NAND storage. When the CM Updater tried to flash the ROM I got the following screen.


At that point I backed out and went to RTFM.

As usual there's a thorough thread on Obviously I should have started there.

I had missed 2 things that I should have done in preparation for this update. First, I needed to have a nandroid backup of /data before I started. Second, I needed new gapps (Google apps).

Fortunately I had just taken a nandroid backup and written it to my external SD card so I was ready with that.

The second post in the above thread had a link to the new gapps. I downloaded those and Bluetoothed them over to the Captivate.

So back to the CM Updater. This time I was expecting the prompt for repartitioning. What I didn't expect was to have to go searching for the "" referred to above.

It's not called It's /storage/sdcard0/cmupdater/ At least now I know. So do you.

So the repartition and flash worked. Before I left recovery I restored /data using these instructions and rebooted.

Then I went back into recovery and installed the gapps.

Here's the result.

I thought I was finished.

I kept having various problems with a couple of apps. The first post in the above thread said to "WIPE (wipe data/factory reset + wipe cache partition)". CM Updater didn't do that.

I uninstalled and reinstalled YouTube, Voice, Drive and Chrome and everything has been quiet.

There's a new camera app called focal but as of the 20130817 nightly it is not complete.

I'm looking forward to TRIM running.

Subsequently I've upgraded to the 20130824 nightly and now focal works (so far).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

To Be Fair, Again

To be fair, Google's services went down recently as did Microsoft's services, again.

To be fair, this is what Microsoft's Dashboard looked like:

To be fair, this is what I got when I went to Google's Dashboard:

To be fair, Microsoft's lasted 40+ hours compared to Google's 2 minutes.

To be fair, both probably had lingering effects.

To be fair, this is what life in the cloud is going to be like for the foreseeable future. But there is a pattern here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On the Way to VoIP - Part 1

In some ways I'm still old fashioned. I still have POTS. And I have DSL. I've had my challenges with DSL but I'm living with it. I just go to my daughter's house to upload my videos and I've come up with an alternative to cloud backup. But I'm just making excuses.

And the cost.

$52.11 for voice service. And $42.95 for Internet.

Yeah, there are places where I can make minor savings. I can get the POTS down some and drop long distance. Then we could use our cells for long distance. But that requires re-training. I went and sat down with AT&T and they couldn't come up with any savings. I did learn something that I'll raise later.

In my news feeds I'd come across several articles on VoIP.
These inspired me. I've been using Goole Voice for my business line and was very satisfied with it.

The Obihai devices keep coming up in these discussions. There are several models including OBi100 and OBi110.

Where I'm headed is to:
  1. Move my Internet connection to Comcast (from AT&T DSL)
  2. Cancel my AT&T DSL
  3. Port my POTS number to Google Voice (not quite that simple)
  4. Use OBi100 to deliver the Google Voice number to home phones
Years ago when Google was more liberal with their Gmail account names I got a Gmail account that is [myhomenumber] That was fortunate. Don't use your normal Gmail/Google Apps account for the Google Voice number. I added a Google Voice number to that Gmail account. I just let it assign a random (temporary) number for now. I'll fix that later.

Then I bought an OBi100.

That's a quarter sitting on top of the device.

Following the instructions here I setup the Google Voice account on the OBi100 in less than 5 minutes.

I plugged a spare phone into it and played with it. It worked fine.

My normal house phones are cordless Uniden CLX485s that only use one RJ11 connection. To give the OBi100 a real life test, I plugged the Uniden CLX485 base into the OBi100 and plugged the spare phone into the house RJ11. Remember that I can't unplug the house from the POTS due to the DSL services.

Then I forwarded my POTS number to the temporary Google Voice number.

Works like a charm.

There are even some unexpected benefits. When a call comes in to my POTS number, the spare phone will ding one time as it forwards to the temporary Google Voice number. Sometimes we would hear that ding and the temporary Google Voice number wouldn't ring.

I logged into the associated Google Voice account and there was nothing in the inbox. But there were entries in the spam folder. Google Voice was sending those calls directly to spam. Since I made this switch I have received NO telemarketer calls.

My plan is to continue with this configuration for a month to make sure I understand it completely.

The next steps are to install Comcast Internet and cancel AT&T DSL. Then port the POTS number to Google Voice.

Sunday, August 04, 2013


Every now and then my propeller beanie comes out.

This is one of those times.

This time the recent announcement of Android 4.3 triggered it. AnandTech discovered that buried deep in the code was TRIM. And that the lack of TRIM was the cause of various Android devices getting slower as they get older.

Stop and think about that. How many Android devices have you had that you felt like got slower as they got older? And you thought you were just crazy?


They really were getting slower as they got older.

Here's the story in a nutshell.

Remember that Android smartphones use the same technology as SSD devices for internal memory. SSD devices read fast. They write to an empty block fast. Writing to a used block is slow. Really slow.

So when all the unused blocks in an SSD device get written to subsequent writes get really slow and the device slows down.

Why don't SSD drives in PCs and laptops exhibit this phenomenon?

One word: TRIM

Do you have an SSD in your PC? Try this.

Run Command Prompt (cmd) as an administrator and type: "fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify".

I'll bet you got a "0." I did. That means your device and operating system support TRIM.

So what does TRIM do? Watch out for the spinning propeller.

SSDs are smart enough to know that they are slow writing to a used block. So the SSD will write to all the unused blocks first. Eventually it will have written to all the blocks. From that point forward, all writes will be slow.

But wait you say. My SSD isn't full. I've deleted lots of files. But when an operating system deletes a file, it doesn't really erase the data. It just nullifies the pointer to the file. So the blocks on the disk (SSD in this case) retain the data. Remember DOS Undelete programs?

So deleting files doesn't fix the write problem.

What to do?

TRIM enabled disks and operating systems have a protocol where periodically the operating system passes a list of blocks that were contained in deleted files to the SSD. Then in the background the SSD goes and clears those blocks.

Problem solved.

Crucial has a deeper discussion here.

Remember the ThinkPad X40 that I put an SSD in? It was so fast. At first.

Then it slowed to a crawl. My thread on the ThinkPad forums is here.

Now think about your Android tablet having that problem.

The solution? Get to Android 4.3 as fast as you can.