the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Monthly Archives: May 2013

google nexus 4

T-Mobile recently came out with the "un-plan" – no contract and unlimited talk/text and data (up to 500MB at 4G) for only $50 a month. Considering I was paying $49.99 for considerably less service, it was a very good "upgrade" for me. It also coincided with my two year anniversary with my old LG Optimus-T. A good phone, it was getting a little long in the tooth, especially once I started using my Google Nexus 7 tablet, which features Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean).

I purchased the Nexus 4 from Google direct, and the number one reason for my choice was price: $299 for the 8GB model (which was really $341 by the time it got to my door). No contract, no monthly payment, no waiting for an anniversary, I straight up bought the phone. It's comparable in features to the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and probably even iPhone 5, but make no mistake, price was the deciding factor. The phone is made by LG, and known as their LG E960. You can read all about it's features at the link below.

And after two years with the Optimus-T, yes, I did have a change of heart with "cheap phones". So, yes, I did pay a fair amount for the Nexus 4. Maybe it's because of the Nexus 7, or maybe the maturity of the Android operating system, but cheap phones don't cut it anymore. I wanted a phone that can do everything, quickly, and I want the full-features of a top-of-the-line phone. Nexus 4 fit the bill.

Ordered over the weekend, it arrived to my door by Wednesday. I was eager to set it up, but that quickly was dashed when I realized that I needs a micro-sim card, and not the regular sim (Subscriber Identity Module) card from my old phone. I called T-Mobile and they assured me that I could go to a local T-Mobile store and they'd replace mine, without charge. Good thing he put a note in my account record, as the guy at the store first quoted me $30 for one (which was more than the $22 the guy on the phone quoted!).

Okay, got the new micro-sim card, used the tool to stick it in the Nexus 4, and then had to call T-Mobile to get it activated. Was a little disappointed when the rep asked for the sim number, as the guy at the store didn't give me the card the sim was mounted to (requiring me to take it out of the phone and squint like crazy to read the numbers).

When I started the phone, it immediately asked me if I wanted to sign into my Google account, and have Google manage my phone backup. I happily did, and after downloading a ton of stuff (yes, I was on Wi-Fi), most every app that was installed on my Nexus 7 tablet was now installed on my phone! I suppose you can argue whether that's a good thing or not, or about privacy concerns with having everything linked to the big G, but what's the point? It's just too easy.

I had a favorite ringtone (Neu's Euphoria) on my old phone, but when I plugged the Nexus 4 into my computer running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to copy the mp3 file, it didn't mount. That's because the Nexus 4 uses MTP (Media Transfer Protocol). Fortunately, it was an easy fix, I just installed the Gnome virtual file system and rebooted.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:langdalepl/gvfs-mtp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Now, if I would have only known to copy the file to the Ringtones folder on the Nexus 4…

On the web:
Nexus 4 Tech Specs

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drupal, simile and breaking free of external api’s

If you are using the Simile Widget for a timeline on your website, you'll know that there is an external api that needs to be accessed for the thing to work. It was hosted by MIT for many years, but seems to have gone "poof" very recently. It's still available, now located at simile-widgets.org, and it's easy enough to change $timeline_api in timeline.theme.inc, but another solution is to not use an external api at all.

First, disable the Timeline module in Drupal under Site Building. Then…

1. Download and install the Libraries module.
2. Download Xamanu's timeline libraries for the simile widget from Github. He's the current maintainer of the Drupal module.
3. Create a directory sites/all/libraries/simile_timeline
4. Copy the folders timeline_js and timeline_ajax to that directory. Permissions 755 for dirs, 644 for files work for me.
5. Change line 159 of timeline.module as follows (has to do with write permissions):

from:

if (file_check_directory($timeline_path)) {

to:

if (is_dir($timeline_path)) {

Go back and enable the Timeline module, then go to Site Configuration>Timeline and change the Location of Simile Timeline libraries to "Local Folder".

Timeline is back!

raspberry pi and vnc

Not sure why I didn't do this before, but VNC is the low-cost option for accessing your Raspberry Pi. Most everyone uses TightVNC as the server, and on my Mac here in the office, VNC client is built right in to OS X, as well as a RealVNC plugin for the Chrome browser. But I'll use the java-based TightVNC jviewer because it supports ssh (those VNC passwords are easy to snoop).

Here's instructions on how to run TightVNC server at boot, no sense to reinvent the wheel (thank you to penguintutor.com), as it's everything you need to getting your RPi headless:
Remote GUI access to [RPi] using Tightvnc
TightVNC
VNC Viewer for Chrome