the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: Android

data saver? unlimited data?

Now that things are getting back to normal in the post-Covid world, I noticed my family’s data usage spiking. I guess I could just switch to one of Google Fi’s unlimited plans, but where’s the fun in that?

Turn on Data Saver for Android by swiping down, go to the second panel and then press and hold Data Saver. There are two apps that request Unlimited Data, but I only allow Carrier Services.

Facebook and Instagram are hogs, but if you go to Facebook’s Settings & Privacy, there’s a Cellular Data Usage item that you can crank down video usage and limit auto playback to Wifi only. Messenger also has a Data Saver under your account. Instagram hides it under Settings>Account, where you’ll find Cellular Data Use. You can turn on Data Saver and limit high resolution to Wifi only. Twitter has its Data Saver under Settings>General. Lots of options.

Reality check: I have two teenage daughters that live on their phones, are addicted to Snapchat and Tik-Tok, so yes, an unlimited plan is in my very near future. Google Fi as some pretty reasonable options, as below.

On the web:
Google Fi

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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

google nexus 7 tablet

On order. I'd been contemplating one of the $100 Chinese tablets that run ICS, but considering the price of Google's own tablet, with the fact that it's got great hardware (Quad core TEGRA proc, 1280×800 graphics) and some seriously engineering on the firmware (Jelly Bean), AND despite its lack of i/o (no HDMI, no microSD), I sprang. Watch this space.

On the web:
Goolge Nexus 7

archos child pad

"ARCHOS Announces the Availability of the Child Pad, a 7" ICS "Alvin and the Chipmunks 3" Themed Tablet for Kids. The colorful chipmunk themed Child Pad provides kid's with a safe and fun tablet experience only for $129.99"

More an more tablets are breaking the iPad price barrier and getting below the $200 mark. Archos, well-known electronic-maker, adds this Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich "Child Pad" (probably a rebranded Archos 70) to the mix. It's a real (little) tablet and the specs are the specs (see below). More apps (and hopefully a new theme) can be had from the AppsLib, which I know nothing about!

Do I spring for one? There's no Kindle app, and similar spec'd tablets can be found for under $100 (why pay for chipmunk licensing???), so probably not.

Tech Specs 
Capacity • Flash memory: 4 GB* • Expandable via micro SDHC Slot 
Operating system • ANDROID 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich 
Processor • ARM Cortex A8 @ 1 GHz 
RAM • 1 GB 
Display • 7 inch - Resistive screen, TFT LCD, 16 million colors • 800 x 480 screen resolution 
Video Playback • H.264 up to 1080p resolution  30 fps • .avi .mp4 ,mkv, .mov, and .flv 
Audio Playback1 • MP3, WAV, APE, OGG, FLAC 
Photo viewer3 • JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG 
Interfaces  Micro USB slave 2.0: Mass Storage Class (MSC) • Micro SD slot (SDHC compatible) Up to 32 GB 
Communication protocols • WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) 
Miscellaneous • Front camera • Built-in speaker • Microphone • G-sensor 
Power source • Internal: Lithium Polymer battery • USB Power Adapter 
Dimensions & weight • 223 mm x 142 mm x 12.2 mm - 380 g 
Compatibility • Microsoft® Windows® 7, Vista, XP, or higher, Mac OS or Linux in mass storage mode 
Computer Interface • USB 2.0 interface 
Package includes • ARNOVA ChildPad, USB cable, USB Power adapter, Quick Start Guide (QSG)

On the web:
Child Pad
AppsLib