Sunday, May 25, 2014


In my Moto X post, I mentioned that I had gotten a MediaDevil Simdevil 3-in-1 SIM card adapter kit.

I wasn't quite sure how it would work but I tried it the other day to put my nano-SIM in my Skyrocket after I flashed it with KitKat.

It worked perfectly. The Simdevil has a very thin film on the non-contact side of the nano-SIM.

The nano-SIM is a press fit in the Simdevil. I actually put the Simdevil and the nano-SIM on my granite kitchen counter and pressed them together.

MediaDevil is a British company and they included a couple of sticks of Maoam in the package. Nice!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

KitKat for Everyone

After I got the Moto X, I got brave about flashing the Skyrocket. As usual I went looking to CyanogenMod.

With my new bravado, I looked at the unofficial CyanogenMod Android 4.4 (CM 11). The TeamChopsticks group hasn't released an Alpha since December 2013 but they keep building nightlies so I went with the latest nightly ( Why not?

The release notes are here. As is typical Step 1 is an understatement.
Look carefully at that referenced file ( ".zip" is the crucial part.

The reason is that the standard recovery won't let you flash a new recovery so you have to use ODIN. There's the catch. ODIN won't flash .zip files.

Here we go again. It would really be nice if Step 1 discussed the intricacies of that.

A little Google searching and I turned up this that describes how to install CWM (ClockWorkMod Recovery) on the Skyrocket. That works like a charm and it takes longer to read it twice as it demands than it does to perform the flashing of the recovery.

But there's a catch. The recoveries referenced in that post aren't the ones that are referenced in the Release Notes.

I wasn't the only one lost in the wilderness. I found this post that asked the question and got a good answer.
You can only flash the zip in a custom recovery. If you don't have a custom recovery you need to install it with Odin. You'll need a .tar.md5 recovery file to flash in Odin.
Nothing is ever simple. So I used ODIN to flash twrp_2.7.0.0_skyrocket_vincom.tar.md5. I used TWRP to take a nandroid backup of the Skyrocket's 4.1.2 and copied it to my laptop via USB. That was the longest step in the whole process, about 20 minutes. While connected I copied the, the CM 11 ROM and the gapps package to the root of my internal SD card.

Then I used TWRP to flash

I already had the required radio so I restarted in CWM recovery did the wipe as instructed. Then I just flashed the the ROM and gapps in sequence and rebooted.

BINGO! KitKat. My boot only took a few seconds.

While this isn't hard, there has to be a more direct way to get there.

Anyway, now I'm off!

Since I use Google Backup and Restore, all my apps started downloading and installing. I sat back and watched them for an hour or so and began playing with it.

I have to say that it is awesome.

So now, Google Now Launcher, Google Camera, ...

Now all my Android devices are KitKat.

But what do I do with the Moto X?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Moto X

My Skyrocket is getting long in the tooth. And slow. I think that the slowness is due to the lack of TRIM. And we know what the cure for that is don't we? Android 4.3. But wait, AT&T hasn't pushed 4.3 to the Skyrocket and never will. I can't complain. AT&T has upgraded the Skyrocket twice since I've had it.

So I turned to my favorite ROM, CyanogenMod. Hmmm, they haven't released Android 4.4 (KitKat) for the Skyrocket. There is a stable version of Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) for the Skyrocket but it hasn't been updated since December 2013. I don't want to go to an old Android.

Sounds like a good enough reason to purchase a new phone!

You'll remember that I'm sensitive to size. That's why I chose the Skyrocket (Galaxy S2) over the Galaxy S3. So I went looking for a Galaxy S4 Mini. AT&T hasn't offered that yet so I was going to have to get it unlocked. That's already a generation back compared to the S5 and Samsung hasn't pushed KitKat to it. That didn't sound like a good place to land so I kept looking.

What I found was that newer phones than my Skyrocket have actually gotten smaller while increasing the screen size due to the smaller bezels. I could have my cake and eat it too!

I ended up with the Google Moto X.

Motorola was having a May Day sale for $325 for the unlocked GSM model with 32GB so I went for it. It's marginally smaller than the Skyrocket with higher resolution.

Do you think I have enough frequencies?

I used Moto Maker to build my own Moto X. I chose "Woven Black" (looks like carbon fiber) for the back, a black front, "Metallic Silver" for an accent color, and a personalized signature.

I found a carbon fiber wallpaper to match the back.

An amazingly quick trip to the local AT&T store got me a free nano-SIM with no activation charge and I was up and going.

Samsung Galaxy S II SkyrocketMotorola Moto X
Device typeSmart phoneSmart phone
OSAndroid (4.1.2, 2.3.6, 2.3.5) TouchWiz UIAndroid (4.4.2, 4.4, 4.3, 4.2.2)
Dimensions5.15 x 2.75 x 0.37 inches (131 x 70 x 9 mm)5.09 x 2.57 x 0.41 inches (129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm)
Weight4.66 oz (132 g)4.59 oz (130 g)
Physical size4.5 inches4.7 inches
Resolution480 x 800 pixels720 x 1280 pixels
Pixel density207 ppi316 ppi
TechnologySuper AMOLED PlusAMOLED
Colors16 777 21616 777 216
FeaturesLight sensor, Proximity sensor, Scratch-resistant glassLight sensor, Proximity sensor, Scratch-resistant glass
Camera8 megapixels10 megapixels
   Aperture sizeF2.6F2.4
   Focal length (35mm equivalent)30 mm
   Camera sensor size1/3.2"1/2.6"
   FeaturesAutofocus, Smile detection, Geo tagging, PanoramaAutofocus, Touch to focus, Digital zoom, Geo tagging, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), Panorama
Camcorder1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps), 1280x720 (720p HD)1920x1080 (1080p HD) (60 fps)
   FeaturesVideo light, Video calling
Front-facing camera2 megapixels2 megapixels
System chipMotorola X8 (Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro MSM8960)
ProcessorDual core, 1500 MHzDual core, 1700 MHz, Krait
Graphics processorYesAdreno 320
System memory1024 MB RAM2048 MB RAM
Built-in storage16 GB32 GB
Maximum User Storage28 GB
Storage expansionmicroSD, microSDHC up to 32 GB
Talk time7.00 hours12.00 hours
Stand-by time10.4 days (250 hours)10.0 days (240 hours)
Capacity1850 mAh2200 mAh
Not user replaceableYes
Music player
   Filter byAlbum, Artist, PlaylistsAlbum, Artist, Playlists
   FeaturesAlbum art cover, Background playbackAlbum art cover, Background playback
SpeakersEarpiece, Loudspeaker
YouTube playerYesYes
Built-in online services supportFacebook, Picasa/Google+, TwitterYouTube (upload), Picasa/Google+
GSM850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
UMTS850, 1900 MHz850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz
FDD LTE700 (band 17), 1700/2100 (band 4) MHz700 (band 13), 850 (band 5), 1700/2100 (band 4), 1900 (band 2) MHz
DataLTE, HSDPA+ (4G) 21.1 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s, UMTS, EDGELTE, HSDPA+ (4G) 42.2 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s, UMTS, EDGE, GPRS
PositioningA-GPSGPS, A-GPS, S-GPS, Glonass
NavigationYesTurn-by-turn navigation
Bluetooth3.04.0 LE, EDR
Wi-Fi802.11 a, b, g, n802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac
   Mobile hotspotYesYes
   FeaturesMass storage device, USB chargingMass storage device, USB charging
HDMIvia microUSB
OtherNFC, DLNA, Computer sync, OTA sync, SyncMLNFC, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA sync
NotificationsHaptic feedback, Music ringtones (MP3), Polyphonic ringtones, Vibration, Flight mode, Silent mode, SpeakerphoneHaptic feedback, Music ringtones (MP3), Polyphonic ringtones, Vibration, Flight mode, Silent mode, Speakerphone
SensorsAccelerometer, Gyroscope, CompassAccelerometer, Compass
Hearing aid compatibilityM3M3, T3
OtherVoice dialing, Voice commands, Voice recordingVoice dialing, Voice commands, Voice recording
Officially announced31 Oct 201101 Aug 2013

According to Steve Jobs that would be a "retina" display.

The Moto X is smaller than the Skyrocket in every dimension other than thickness (0.04 inches). And it's lighter.

I got the Seidio Spring-Clip Holster (HLMTXPAS). I used to buy cheap holsters but then one broke and cost me a new screen on the Captivate.

And just in case I wanted to play with a different phone using that nano-SIM I got a MediaDevil Simdevil 3-in-1 SIM card adapter kit.

Now I'll go flash my Skyrocket anyway.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

21st Century Video - Part 2

I recently retired my SageTV box and moved to the 21st Century with my video recording. However there are still a lot of steps required so I kept looking for a modern replacement to the SageTV. (If you don't remember what happened to SageTV read this.)

Over the holidays I came across a Foxconn nettop box and a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime. That looked like the parts I needed to start with.

Since the Foxconn system was barebones I put 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HD in it and installed Windows 7 Professional expecting to run Windows Media Center (WMC).

I started with the HDHomeRun Prime setup. It references WMC so I just played along for now.

I may still get to WMC but it is so much bigger than I need and I keep bumping into problems (mostly of my own doing).

WMC is a tremendously rich solution but I just want to record TV video just like I did with the SageTV. WMC is expecting to be a complete media center and therefore is picky about its video capabilities. Even with the latest drivers for the Intel video in the Foxconn system it wouldn't pass WMC's tests. I found that I wasn't the only one with this problem and there's even a registry hack that overrides WMC's check. That got me to the next step but WMC still complained that there was a "serious problem." I expect that that is because I'm using a VGA monitor not an HDCP compliant HDMI monitor.

As I don't really want to watch video on this system I moved on.

I found NextPVR and that seemed to be a good fit. There is a good article on Lifehacker and a follow-up blog here. After you download and install NextPVR be sure to load the patches before you start NextPVR even for the first time. Otherwise you'll have to go into Windows TaskManager and kill off the NRecord process to get the patched DLLs to copy.

There was a saga with Comcast and the CableCARD but that's nothing new. This thread on SiliconDust's forum was a huge help. Read that closely as one of the contributors notes that CableCARDs don't "scan" for channels but rather get a "map" from the provider. If you want the clear QAM channels as well you will need to scan and I did that before I inserted the CableCARD.

Comcast seems to send all the video down in MPEG2 format with AC3 audio. I used the Microsoft DTV-DVD Video Decoder and installed the LAV Filters for audio decoders.

Getting a program guide working is my next challenge.