the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Category Archives: Mobile

google hangouts to google chat?

Hey Google, I understand that for whatever reason you are switching Google Hangouts to Google Chat, but please do not forget to transfer the Group Hangouts over. I have one for my family, it’s how we communicate, you know, as a family.

Hangouts was a nice solution for communicating with my wife and our kids. We use it exclusively for intra-family communication. No messages, no texts, no messenger, etc., just Hangouts. So when that green bubble notification comes up, we immediately all know it’s a family matter. In addition to the app, it also sits conveniently at the bottom left of Gmail.

C’mon Google, do the right thing. Convert the Group Hangouts over to Chat!

Edit Jan 27th – Our family hangout appeared in Google Chat under Rooms! thanks Google!

pixel 5

Santa brought me a Pixel 5 for Xmas. The old Pixel 2 was a venerable phone, but “typing” had become more than troublesome, and knowing I had just performed the last Android update, I got the bug to upgrade. Didn’t get much of a deal, $50 off an unlocked model, plus I traded in my daughter’s Pixel 3a (more on that later). I had thought about a Pixel 4a, but the cheaper glass and plastic case made me think otherwise – and no, I don’t care about a headphone jack.

To be honest, the two phones are incredibly similar. In fact, I prefer how the Pixel 2 felt in my hand – the slightly rectangular bezel made it easier to grip. Sure, the Pixel 5 has 5G, another camera, etc, but what I notice the most is that the screen bleeds to the very edge of the phone case. Whoopdedoo. It’s uncomfortable to reach my fingers down to the bottom edge. Thankfully I found out how to restore the three-button navigation at the bottom (Settings>System>Gestures), I sure was not up for “swipey-swipey-hold” all the time. Switching between phones was nearly perfect – only my VPN and SSH clients need to be setup from scratch again.

The $649 question: Was it worth it? Not really. I probably should have held off until next year to upgrade. If you really ting about it, the smartphones are a mature product. The hand is only so big, and there’s really not much to add to improve the experience. Another camera? More storage? 6G network? Better screen? These are all incremental at best. In the future let’s hope that phones are more about longevity – having the ability to keep getting software updates – rather than just replacing hardware every few years. Ho-hum.

microsoft surface go 4/64

I have had a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for quite a few years now. It’s a “hand-me-down” from work, that gives me access to Active Directory, etc. when I’m not in the office. Nice computer, but it’s showing its age, type pad is glitchy, front camera doesn’t work – but what do you expect for free?

I’ve been using that and what amounts to be a terrible tablet (Lenovo Tab 7) – painfully slow, always needs updates, poor battery life – in my man cave for running Roon controller, and that old Surface for running REW, Room EQ Wizard software. Here’s the thing. This room is my sanctuary. Once I’m at home, I leave my phone in the kitchen, not to be bothered. I want to sit in the sweet spot when I play digital music, and not get up; one must get up to play vinyl! So, the desktops won’t do. Plus, I need the portability of a notebook or laptop for room correction. So having a Windows computer that can do all that, and a few other things – having a working webcam – is a real bonus. Yes, the itjerk loves Windows, and that old Surface.

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I looked on CDWG’s site and found the Microsoft Surface Go 10″ Pentium Gold 4415Y 4GB RAM 64GB EDU in stock for $390. Wow. In stock! Plus, as an EDU edition it comes with a license for Windows 10 Pro. So a couple days later, here I am settling in with my new Go. It’s very elegant hardware, with a screen that’s great on my eyes, though maybe a bit small. But the kickstand and touch screen are fantastic! I didn’t initially get the cover type pad, but will, eventually.

The Surface Go was only current to Windows build 1809, which meant a ton of updates. I know what I’m getting into with a Pentium with 4GB RAM. It’s just fine to run a few applications and surf the web; after all, I’m not planning on using Adobe Creative Cloud on it. But updating to the current 1909 build took a long time. The tablet has one USB-C port and one 3.5mm audio out – minimal to say the least. Thankfully it doesn’t use that USB-C for charging; speaking of which, that’s one universal ding the Surface Go gets – battery life. Another thing to look out for is disk space. 64GB is pretty paltry, especially considering I only had 14.5GB free after all those updates (though running Disk Cleanup freed 38GB, including 32GB from the Previous Windows version). TGFTC? (Thank God For The Cloud)!

All in all, it’s great solution because as a Windows notebook, I can do more than I could with an Android tablet, and as a tablet it’s much more convenient and less expensive than a notebook.

One the web:
Meet Surface Go – Portable Power – Microsoft Surface

android file transfer

Happy New Year!
When the year changes, I make a concerted effort to backup and archive my digitalia. While some backups are easily defined, others are becoming more and more cumbersome – mainly the thousands of photos on my phone. What to do? Google no longer syncs my photos to my computer. Do I really want to leave them on Google cloud forever? This actually works:

1. Unlock your phone.
2. With a USB cable, connect your phone to your computer.
3. On your phone, tap the “Charging this device via USB” notification. Under “Use USB for,” select File Transfer.
4. A file transfer window will open on your computer. Use it to drag files.
5. When you’re done, eject your phone from Windows.
6. Unplug the USB cable.

Another recommendation: Completely clear your browsers of everything, cookies, saved info, etc. Sure it’s a pain to log back into everywhere, but that doesn’t stop this from being a good idea.

Sony Walkman 40th

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To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Walkman, Sony will release a specially branded edition of the NW-A100 Media player. The coolest feature, undoubtedly, is the Cassette Tape UI, a nod to the original Walkman, the TPS-L2. The NW-A105 base model is an Android 9.0 based music player that supports just about every format (including hi-res and flac), and with wifi, bluetooth, USB-C and a stereo mini-jack, it’s nothing short of awesome. Full review when I receive it (first order from eBay was cancelled by seller).

I purchased my first Walkman in the summer of 1981, while living in Germany. For many years, it was a trusted companion, and I still have some of my cassettes from back then. Be sure to check the first link, it contains a video with the story of the creation of the first Walkman. Congratulations, Sony. You did good.

On the web:
Sony Global – WALKMAN 40th anniversary
NW-A100 Walkman® A Series Media player with MP3 and Hi-Res Audio | Sony Asia Pacific

another bricked nexus 5x

My wife head out of town for work and unfortunately her Nexus 5X promptly bricked. Props to her hotel for giving her a ride to the office. When she returned, I got on the phone with Google Fi who in turn got me on the phone with LG. Sent the phone in with prepaid labels, they replaced “the board” and a week later she was back in action. So that’s 2 of 3 Nexus 5X’s I own that have used had the “extended warranty” from LG.

Props also to LG for taking care of business?

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.

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. 😉

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…

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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!