the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Category Archives: Mobile

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!

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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

the joy of a good wireless router

New router time here at the itjerk homestead. Year by year, I’ve got more gear that needs a wireless connection, and with the big remodel of the man cave, the TV and Chromecast are two big additions: multimedia streaming. Truth be told the old wireless router wasn’t showing enough bars, and I suffered dead spots in various spots in the house.

Off to Microcenter and $20 later I came home with the Trendnet N300. Two antennae, 300mps rating, and a fresh power 5V supply, I’m in wireless heaven. It supports Dyndns, something I actually use, and was simple to setup, once I figured out my AT&T PPPOE password. Added a few DHCP fixies, and viola, more bars and less drop outs.

Note I didn’t spring for a dual or AC band router because I don’t have any wireless adapters that utilize the 5Ghz frequency. That saved me some money too!

On the web:
Trendnet TEW-731BR

ubuntu edge

It's a tall order to crowdfund a very high-end smartphone, especially when the goal is $32,000,000 – yes, that's 32 million dollars. But why expect anything less than stunning from Ubuntu? The idea is "to provide a low-volume, high-technology platform" device, namely the Ubuntu Edge. It will run (the very latest?) Android OS out of the box, but soon after launch (and through a planned update) the phone will provide the so-called integrated Ubuntu experience, "seamlessly between the two environments" of your desktop and smartphone. Here's Mark Shuttleworth:

The fun begins in mid-2014, but funding must be met by August 22nd 2013. I'm in! Please visit:

On the web:
Ubuntu Edge Indiegogo

Update 08/22/12 – Funding, while achieving $12,814,196, did not reach the intended goal. Next…

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