Android and Linux

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Woe is me...

Since getting the Galaxy Nexus, I've had a little trouble and have been flashing ROMs like crazy and spending enough time in recovery that I could have put Betty Ford's kids through college. Wait... I'm not sure that made sense.

Anyway, I assumed the problems were from hacks being rushed to the public with little testing, but I think I actually got a lemon and am going to swap it for a new one.

To begin with, I kept losing root after an hour or two for some unknown reason. I noticed that the file manager I was using was registering battery usage almost as high as the display after one such unrooting, so I stopped using it. That helped me get through a day or two with root intact, but I'm not entirely sure that was the problem because I was working in the terminal last night and lost root again.

I've also had random shutdowns and really bad slowdowns, and I've spend a couple of days trying, and failing, to get ssh to work. Oddly, I can ssh from the phone to my computer from anywhere on the cell network, but it simply will not work when connected to my router.

On the router, I had assigned the phone a certain IP address but it seemed to connect at a different one for the past few days. I kept setting it, thinking maybe I had kept forgetting to hit "apply" or something, until I finally realized tonight that I had set it yesterday for a different MAC address.

A little investigation revealed that my phone's MAC address changes on every boot. Oops, MAC addresses aren't supposed to do that! It's a pretty neat trick but not only troublesome for IP reservation, but could be causing a lot of other problems as well.

I found someone else on XDA who had the same problem and Samsung said it was a hardware problem and swapped it for him. Verizon's phone number is right there on the charger and I didn't know Samsung's so I called the big V and they were a little puzzled. They called Samsung and they were puzzled too, but the Verizon guy told me to swap it.

I'm going to swap it at the store tomorrow so I don't have to wait for one to be shipped.

It nearly brought a tear to my eye, but I just typed "fastboot oem lock" in a terminal and brought my phone back to stock. But hopefully I'll be ready to start playing with the GNex for real after tomorrow.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Galaxy Nexus

I finally got a Galaxy Nexus. I went Thursday at 11:15, walked in and told them I wanted a Galaxy Nexus and they said "We don't have them yet. They're coming in via UPS today. We're getting 8 of them and can save one for you if you want."

Yes, I live in a small town.

I didn't get around to buying one until yesterday afternoon. Since I enjoy voiding warranties within an hour of purchase, I promptly rooted it but didn't have time to do much else. Last night, I was a little upset because I kept losing root. I still don't know what the problem was, I'd flash the recovery and su binary and I would be doing something as root in a terminal when suddenly it would tell me "only root can do that" and I could no longer su. The root checker app said I had root, and the superuser app showed that certain apps were allowed and logged them as allowed when I opened them, but they still reported that they couldn't gain root.

It kept losing root after numerous flashes and rootings until I flashed this ROM this morning, and that seems to have cleared it up.

Anyway, my impressions on the Galaxy Nexus...

This puppy is huge! I'm charging the battery on my digital camera to try to get some comparisons of the Nexus One and Galaxy Nexus, but if you want a good idea of the size, it's almost the exact same size as a dollar bill, except a little shorter.

You ever go to a cell phone store and look at the flip phones and think "awww, such cute little screens, but I don't know how you could get anything done on that tiny little window." I felt that way when picking up the N1 after 20 minutes with the GNex.

The N1 had a habit of turning in my pocket, the GNex stands tall and it's thinner, so although it's much larger, it rides in my pocket better than the N1.

There are some things I don't really like.

The phone has very few features and it's easy to pull it out of your pocket and try to use it upside down. The earplug is on the bottom, which may or may not be a good thing, I'm not really sure yet.

The battery cover is a cheap piece of plastic that snaps in place instead of sliding. It's not what I would have designed, but it does raise the possibility of easy replacement, so there may be some cool looking battery covers showing up soon.

There are no hardware buttons for "back" "menu" "home" and "search", instead there are software buttons for "back" "home" and "recent apps". Three small dots are used for settings, and they may be at the top or the bottom of an app. I miss being able to always find them in one place.

And no trackball. Oh, how I miss that, but no other phones have them either. I've really been dreading the loss of the trackball, but I'll have to adapt.

With the launcher, you can't add widgets by long pressing the home screen, you have to do it from the app drawer. The app drawer has tabs for apps and widgets, and everything side scrolls now, which takes some getting used to.

LauncherPro still works, so that gives you the old school feel with long press widget adds etc, but it hasn't had an update in forever so it will surely stop working one of these days and old fogies like me will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

I really do love the phone. My gosh, when I pull that thing out it feels like I'm using a tablet. I have a lot of setup to do to get things working the way I want, so that means a lot of playing with this cool phone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Android blues... and cheers.

The bad.

My Nexus One is dying. About a month ago, I was having problems like my favorite keyboard kept being reset to the Android default and my email sync kept turning off for no reason. So I upgraded to the newest Cyanogen and had even more problems. First it took several attempts to install, then a couple more wipes and attempts and some tweaking, hacking and tricking to get the Market to work, and I've been having random reboots and lock-ups since.

When you have a broken power button, a random lock up means you have to plug it into a charger then pull and insert the battery a couple of times to trick the sucker into booting.

I'm pretty sure there is something wrong with the phone's hardware somewhere. The upside is that it gives me an excuse to get the new Galaxy Nexus. The downside is that Verizon is dragging their feet about putting the darn thing on sale, so I'm stuck with a dying N1 for the time being.

There's nothing cooler than having to leave a party to go outside and plug my phone into the car charger to tease it into a hard reboot when it suddenly locks up in the middle of a conversation.

The Good.

If you haven't been to the web version of the Android Market lately, they've added some handy filters to search results, and they're also having 10 cent app sales to celebrate their 10 billionth download. The downloads have been changing daily and there are quite a few worth picking up. I've grabbed a bunch because, although I don't really want them now, I may have a use for them in the future.