Sunday, May 19, 2019

Amazon Fire HD 8

I know that Android tablets aren't really a thing but I use one every day. I've been through 2 Nexus 7s. My first was a Nexus 7 2012 and then a Nexus 7 2013.

I liked the size of the 2012 but it was soooo slow, even after I upgraded it to Nougat. It stays in my car now.

The 2013 was fast enough but the battery has just played out. It will indicate 100% battery available and then just cut off.

Then I came across an Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) without special offers for $50. I didn't know much about Fire tablet but for $50 it was worth playing with.
Maybe...

The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) is a favorite with hackers. There are instructions on how to install the Google Play Store on it. That was easy.

But then Google Contacts didn't work. There's a fix for that.

And the Amazon launcher was odd. There's a fix for that.

But...

The launcher "fix" is still flaky. Amazon blacklisted the apk and it quit working. The creator rebuilt it with a different name. That's working for now.

Kinda...

Recently Amazon pushed an OS update. Suddenly the navigation buttons and the notification bar disappeared. You could navigate to an app but couldn't get out of it. Reboot and you still didn't get the navigation buttons and notification bar.

I suspected the launcher "fix" app. So after a hard reboot I uninstalled it and rebooted. That took me back to the Amazon launcher and the navigation buttons and notification bar were back.

Then the rest of the OS update kicked in. Afterwards I reinstalled the launcher "fix" and it worked this time.

That's pretty much the story of the Amazon Fire HD. It always seems to need something fixed.

That would be tolerable if it was blazingly fast but it's not.

It only has 1.5 GB of RAM so apps are constantly restarting. The launcher "fix" works by letting the Amazon launcher run then running the alternate launcher so you get a noticeable flash every time you press the Home button.

I'm just not sure.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

AT&T Does It Again

On May 3, 2019 at 5:15AM I was at the Memphis Airport. My daughter took a picture on her iPhone XS and added it to a long running iMessage thread (using MMS, not iMessage service, i.e. green bubbles).

I didn't get the text. That began a problematic weekend of missing some texts from that thread and, actually, any MMS thread. Sometimes I would get the message. Sometimes not. Sometimes I would get one of several pictures in a message. Sometimes none.

I spoke to a relatively knowledgeable rep at AT&T. He gave me the standard, and probably usually correct, advice of deleting that thread on an iPhone and rebuilding it. That wasn't going to happen. That thread has YEARS of pictures in it.

That was the response I got from Apple several years ago when I couldn't get my number disassociated from iMessage. Eventually something happened at Apple and I started getting messages.

So I was just going to ride it out and hope it fixed itself.

Then during the day on Monday, I got a notification from Essential that the May 2019 update was available. I went to the reddit subreddit to see the comments. Everything seemed good so I planned to apply it that evening.

While I perused that subreddit I came across this thread.


Turns out I wasn't the only one having this problem and it wasn't specific to Essential phones. Here and here are threads on the AT&T forums.

I applied the workaround suggested and all is well.

Obviously this was something that AT&T did in their network, apparently with no regard for non-iPhone users.

This reminded me of the situation back in August 2016. We were in Bar Harbor and Campobello Island and there were plenty of places that didn't have any AT&T coverage. Every time I would enter one of those areas, my BlackBerry PRIV would lose cellular connectivity and then not reconnect until I rebooted. Similar to this week's issue, there was a workaround to change the cellular connection.

BlackBerry finally pushed out a fix for it but AT&T never owned up to what they did.

Then in September 2016 Apple announced the iPhone 7 with an Intel modem.

BINGO!

I suspect that the iPhone 11 is going to only have a Qualcomm modem. Although iPhones have had Qualcomm modems before, since the iPhone 7 Apple has deliberately slowed the Qualcomm modem to be the same speed as the Intel modem.

I'm wondering if since Intel is pulling out of the cellular modem market that Apple is going to let the Qualcomm modem run at native speed in the iPhone 11. And if this is causing AT&T to adjust their network accordingly.

We'll find out in September.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

R.I.P. Dropbox

I have a long and varied history of file sharing tools. I've used FolderShareAllway SyncLive Mesh, and most recently Dropbox.

The Dropbox ride was a good one. I used referrals and got over 20GB of Dropbox space. I shared folders with my daughter and my mother. I even put my laptop's Desktop folder into Dropbox.

Then on March 1, 2019, without forewarning, Dropbox limited the number of devices for basic (free) users to 3. There was an uproar but Dropbox hasn't blinked.


I have over 20 devices linked. Most of these are obsolete entries but 1) 3 is way too few, and 2) reconciling the active vs. inactive devices is a big task. To relieve this restriction Dropbox wants you to upgrade to Dropbox Plus for $10 per month. Not gonna happen.

So I'm outta here.

I looked around at Box and OneDrive. Due to the kindness of a co-worker I have a free 50GB Box account. With OneDrive I exercised several promotions and have 40GB.

Given my experiences with a number of Microsoft syncing offerings I was reluctant to look at OneDrive.

But Box still requires a client on each device. And OneDrive's client is just built into Windows.

So I'm taking a run at OneDrive. I'm moving slowly though. As I touch a file/folder in Dropbox I'm moving that to OneDrive.

So far, so good.