the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Category Archives: Mobile

android 9 pie… in your face

System upgrades are a tricky thing. You do them, mostly because you have to, but when they change things, it takes a while to get used to. Especially Google’s latest Android 9 “Pie.”

  • Time is now displayed on the left, in what was previously for every Android version the so-called “notification area.” So while our brains have been trained to not worry if something was there, we now need to be retrained that the time will always be there (reportedly because “notch” design doesn’t leave enough room on the right). Bad.
  • Bluetooth doesn’t work with my — and a lot of others — Fitbit. I have to go to bluetooth settings, pair the device, then quickly return to the Fitbit app to sync. This appears to have been going on since Pie’s debut over a week ago. And there’s no bluetooth icon in the notification area. Really bad.
  • To close unwanted apps, I still click the square button on the left bottom of the home screen, but now I have to swipe up to close. Is this better?
  • Notification area is now huge blue for on, grey for off icons. Is this better?
  • I have to admit that my Pixel 2’s out of the box experience with Android 8 was hands down the most elegant experience I’ve had on a smart phone. This latest upgrade however seems more change for change sake, and, pie in Google’s face.

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google pixel 2

With $250 off — $150 trade-in on my “warranty repaired” Nexus 5X plus $100 discount for being a Google Fi subscriber — I couldn’t resist upgrading to the Pixel 2. It’s the same size as the 5X, and honestly, not much different other than the price tag. Excellent battery life and 64GB of storage popped out instantly, as did the “swipe up” home screen, but what I like the most about it is that it’s the purest Android experience yet. And it’s not repaired. ūüėČ

no phone

I was at a Xmas party the other afternoon, and after taking my just-over-two-year-old phone out of my front breast pocket, noticed that it was not on. I tried to turn it on, but nothing. No battery? When I got home a few hours later, I plugged it into multiple chargers, went into recovery mode, cleared the cache, tried a factory reset, but same result: wouldn’t start. I chatted Google Fi (my carrier), was transferred twice, then eventually talked to LG, the manufacturer of the LGH790, aka Nexus 5X.

Long story short, it stopped working, stuck in some kind of infinite reboot. LG offered to repair the phone for free (cross-fingers). I then went to their specific website for repairs, filled out everything (including IMEI), went back to Google to get a proof-of-purchase, printed out that and the Fedex label, and have been slowly watching it traverse its way to Texas via ground service. Estimated 8-10 business days for the repair. Over the Xmas holiday, too.

No phone and no camera. Only a computer at home and a computer at work. How do I check my Fitbit? How do I get text messages? What about that ongoing thread about the next “sniding” (record listening event)? What about my Facebook friends? How do I show off my kids’ pix?

Oh first world problems. Sure, it’s liberating not getting work email 24/7 or habitually checking my phone for… well, because that’s what we now do.

I feel anxious, though, like something’s missing. How long can this go on? Evidently much longer…

UPDATE: I received the phone back on Friday 12/22 (using Fedex’s Ship Manager to have it delivered to a local Fedex/Kinko’s). No cost to me and a perfectly new-looking phone.

LG

uh-oh, what bricked my nexus 5X usb

I did the July 5th, 2016 Security Update for my Nexus 5X running Marshmallow 6.01 and guess what – no usb connection. The phone charges when connected, but no USB menu when I swipe down from the top. My better half also happens to have the same phone, which with the same cable still connects to the same computer. Her Android security patch level? June 1, 2016.

Called Google to tell them yet all they wanted to do was a factory reset. Oh the woes of level 1 support…

Screenshot_20160712-212941

Ends up that I did finally backup my phone to my google drive and do the factory reset.¬† USB still not working so thank goodness my phone was still under warranty. Replacement on the way. So what bricked the USB? Bad cable? Bad USB port? Or was it that security patch? I’m thinking I need a warranty…

Update: USB still not working with the replacement phone, so Google is sending me another!

project fi from google

I dumped T-Mobile. Not because there was any issue, rather, since upgrading to a phone that supports LTE I’ve been quite please with them. No, this was strictly based on price. Instead of paying $64 per month, I am now down to $38 for the same service: unlimited talk and text, plus 1GB of cellular data.

What’s Project Fi? It’s Google’s virtual wireless service. It uses the chip inside the Nexus 5x or 6 to pass calls between Wifi and cellular networks. Of the latter, it includes T-Mobile, Verizon and now US Cellular. So that’s the catch: you have to use their specific phones, which for me was fine because I already had one. If you don’t have their Nexus phone, Google offers a no-interest payment plan.

Upside? It’s less expensive for at least equal service. I do notice that in buildings where cellular service was spotty (you know, those dark back stairwells and basement tunnels), Wifi can fill in the gaps in coverage. Downside? Well, when the kids start youtubing on a cellular network. Since you only get charged for the data you use, if you have a month where you’re under what you signed up for, you’ll get a credit on your next bill. The flip side however is that you’ll also get charged (at the same data rate) when you go over your data limit. T-mobile would allow me to go over my data limit for the same cost, but at excruciatingly slower speeds.

Screenshot_20160613-120248

On the web: Project Fi

 

nexus 5x

New phone time! It’s been three years of 3G phone service on my Nexus 4, so I wasted no time to pre-order Google’s Nexus 5X when it was announced a few weeks ago. Offering LTE service was the main reason to make the purchase ($349), but having a new “modern” phone was the real enticement. The phone is again made by LG, and while the specs aren’t that amazing (those are reserved for the pricier Nexus 6P), they present an upgrade in processor, screen resolution, and significantly, camera from my old phone. Let’s face it, our phones OUR are cameras!

unnamed

I did have to walk down to my local T-Mobile store to purchase ($15) a nano SIM card in order to activate my phone, and I’ll need to replace all my USB cables with “c” type in order to connect/charge it with my computers. Speaking of which, there’s a menu now to select what type of connection you want when you connect the phone to a computer:

Screenshot_20151021-092828

The Nexus 5X has the latest Android, Marshmallow 6.0, which wanted to update itself immediately upon starting the phone. I was impressed with the lack of crap-ware preloaded on the phone, and having an extra 8GB of storage is great for my use. The fingerprint sensor took me a little bit to get my head around exactly how it works, but it works like a charm. After scanning a fingerprint and entering another security method for backup (if your fingerprint doesn’t work, or for another user), you just touch the senor on the back of the phone and viola! the phone is both on and unlocked. As one who hasn’t every used a lock on my phone because of the hassle of entering it, this is indeed an upgrade.

Anyway, I chose to install everything from scratch (and not transfer devices) because a clean start is great. But with Google Play, going to My Apps and the All tab shows what apps you’ve put on your other devices.

I received my $50 Google Play credit received three days later, and purchased a case from Amazon. All set.

On the web:
Nexus 5X at iFixit

the joy of a good wireless router, redux

Internet connectivity was going in/out today, so guess what. That the joy of a good wireless router was short-lived. November, December, January, February, March, April, May… what’s that 6 months? Oh well, bought the same router for $12.99, uploaded my saved settings, flashed the firmware and let’s hope that Trendnet won’t fail me in another six months!?

Update: Well, it was AT&T, probably messin with my DSL – the dreaded “Subscribers in the Chicago area may be experiencing…

I did pickup that range extender, $24 Trendnet Extender N300. WPS setup did not work, probably because I was three floors away from each push, but an ethernet cable and laptop did and I quickly had it running. It doesn’t survive (at least for me) a power off, so kids stay away. Now I’ve got great coverage all throughout my house. Highly recommended.

TEW-737RE

lollipop battery issue

Upgraded my Nexus 4 smartphone to Android 5.0, aka Lollipop. Not without issues, especially some app that’s draining the battery, take a look:

Screenshot_2014-11-26-19-30-53

On the web:

https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=80950

https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=79907

chromebook acer

Finally got fed up with the girls’ iPad. Fixed one too many times, it’s just time to move on to something different. My oldest told me that she uses a Chromebook at school, and having been impressed with my Nexus tablet and the Android universe, I decided to give it a look.

A Chromebook is a laptop. Sort of. It basically boots to a built-in Chrome browser, and includes everything¬†Google – Drive, Docs, Play, Books, etc. While the offering of Apps is nothing near what’s available for the Android OS, that’s okay as¬†they mostly stick to Youtube and I’m kinda over them playing Candy Crush, Fruit Slice, etc. Plus, I want them to have a laptop with a keyboard, ostensibly so they don’t have to use the wife’s, but in actuality because they’re just getting to that age.

81xTJR-HCGL._SL1500_

Off to Amazon, I found the Acer¬†CB3-111-C670 for a super cheap $179.99. It’s got an 11.6″ screen, with a 16GB SSD, 2GB of RAM and an Intel 2.16Ghz Dual-core Celeron processor. It sports an 8.6 hour battery life, 802.11 AC wireless, SD card reader, two USB and one¬†HDMI port, and a built-in camera. In other words, it’s a notebook computer! And hopefully the hardware will be a little more durable than the iPad wasn’t!

I login with my Google account and viola, it already knows who I am, has my synced apps and bookmarks. That’s not that big of a deal, my Android phone does the same thing. But¬†here’s the coolest thing: I can then setup Supervised Users. These are accounts for my kids that I can total be big brother about. When I browse to http://chrome.com/manage, I get a full report of their browsing history, and the ability to block whatever websites I want. Perfect for a parent. Santa delivers it on Xmas eve, more about this in the new year.

Capture

On the web:
Acer Chromebook

att dsl