Tag: Tech

Wifi calling issue on Note 2

Searching for articles on problems with using T-Mobile’s wifi calling on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note 2 returns multiple results, including an enlightening good discussion on the XDA forum. The phone doesn’t keep a consistent connection to the wifi calling service. I get an ERR Connection Refused, invalid certificate, and other errors. Some times the phone has trouble staying on the wifi network even though the phone is sitting on my desk. This issue started two days ago.

Wifi calling problems come up periodically. There were some days when it never seemed to work properly on my G2 either. I’d get connection errors, invalid certificate errors, and times when the phone just couldn’t seem to connect to the wifi calling services. Rebooting would usually correct those issues. The G2 also suffered from the same wifi signal fluctuation: I could watch the wifi calling ready mode blue icon turn red while the phone sat on my desk.

It’s hard to trouble shoot the problem right now because the wifi network in my building is being revamped. All of the routers are being replaced and the placement density of the routers is being increased. I’ve watched the signal strength rotate in intensity with the Note 2 simply sitting on my desk. I’ve connected to two different networks (one open and one secured) and had the same issue with signal strength fading in and out. The weird thing about this problem is that it’s inconsistent. Sometimes the calling works fine. Other times, I’ve had the phone say “wifi calling ready” and tried sending a text message or calling out using my phone (or calling it) and the calls have not connected. Other times it works immediately. I can’t find any consistent factors between it.

I also tried turning off the wifi signal power saver mode that is activated on the phone by default. I did that last night and watched the phone this morning. The signal strength really got messed up after I did that. I rebooted the phone and it seems to be behaving. Go figure. I don’t understand.

When I read on the T-Mobile support forums about the dropped wifi calls, several posts said that T-Mobile has been aware of the issue on the Galaxy S3 since August and is supposed to be working on a fix (we’ll see if that happens). I should probably see if the Note 2 uses the same chipset for wifi as the S3. That would explain a lot.

T-Mo and AT&T are supposed to be releasing a OTA update for the Note 2 that will enable multitasking and multi-window use on the device “sometime soon”. Verizon has already released the update. Hopefully T-Mo’s update will include a fix for the wifi calling bug.

I have two weeks from the day I purchased the phone to return it if I choose to. This Friday is the last day I can return the Note 2 on the buyer’s remorse program. If the wifi calling issue keeps up, I’ll probably ask for a Note 2 replacement instead of going with a different phone model. The only two phones I could easily type on are the S3 or the Note 2.

New Precious: Samsung Galaxy Note 2

I was bad. Couldn’t resist the precious. Told one of my friends at work about the Note 2. We’ve both been talking about replacing our trusty Android phones. It’s funny how all you have to do is mention quad-core, lots of usable RAM for applications, and 64 GB microSD support, and suddenly someone is keenly interested in the phone. 🙂

We both went to the T-Mobile store after work and are now the happy owners of Samsung Galaxy Note 2s. We sat over dinner and played with our new shinies. Oh my, this phone is spiffy!

Too much temptation…

And I could not resist. I have had a T-Mobile G2 for almost two years now. It’s been a solid little phone with a good keyboard and Android 2.3. For the past few months, I’ve been getting notices from T-Mobile that I’m eligible for a phone upgrade. Nothing has really interested me, except for the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Note 2. They are both lovely devices on paper but neither one has a physical keyboard. (There is nothing more frustrating tome than trying to type on an iPhone screen.)

The Note 2 is affectionately called a “Phablet,” a strange lovechild of a phone and a tablet. The screen on this phone is 5.5″. It’s quite the monster and dwarves most of my other friend’s phones. The G2 with the heavy-duty case I use is like a small brick. I’ve been intrigued by the size (either love it or hate it, according to reviews) and also that the phone has a styles (S pen) that uses technologies developed by Wacon. Very very interesting. But would the phone be too big or feel awkward? Could I stand typing on the screen?

One of my friends from work and I went to the T-Mobile store during lunch to check out the S3 and Note 2. I was very impressed with the device. It felt so light. The G2 seemed a brick. The Note 2 did fit in my back pocket and was incredibly responsive. So fast (quad cores will do that). Really lovely device.

T-Mobile is having a sale on the Samsung phones this weekend. Oh my. I shall be so very tempted.

Phone wierdness

I have a T-Mobile G2 (HTC Desire Z) for 18 months or so and have been very happy with. It’s my first Android phone (version 2.3.3). My favorite part of the phone is that it has a physical keyboard and comes with (almost) stock Android. No funky manufacturer overlay on it like you have with most HTC, Samsung, or Motorola Android phones.

My keyboard quit working today. I opened the phone to slide out the keyboard and the screen goes black. Change the orientation on the screen with the keyboard open and the screen goes black. I have to close the keyboard and press the power button to (hopefully) get the passcode screen to display. Searching around on T-Mobile support forums revealed several posts from other G2 owners with the same phone issue. Apparently, this keyboard acting up is a hardware issue.

Yay for phone replacement programs! T-Mobile is sending me a new phone. I should have it in a day or so.

Severely dead Mac

My poor little Mac died a painful death. What had apparently started weeks ago with random DVD drive openings, ended today with the machine going into an endless boot cycle.

Today was not a good day for this to happen. I was already annoyed from idiots on the drive home and from running errands. I was hungry and had had low grade-cramps all day.

When I first opened the case I smelled burning soldering wire. It’s a metallic, tangy smell. Not like burning, melting plastic, which is what happened when my old Windows PC’s motherboard short circuited and fried the hardware.

A friend came over and we disassembled the system: physically took everything out except the hard drives (which were disconnected). The machine still wouldn’t come up even to see the bios on a screen. Nothing appeared on the monitor because it never even got a signal.

This Mac (really a hackintosh) ran OS X 10.5.8 on a Shuttle SG35 barebones system with 4 GB Corsair RAM, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6 gHz processor, DVD-RW, dual 500 GB 8 MB cache drives, a JMicron IDE controller (which can be a world of hurt for a hackintosh), and a 384 MB nVidia 8800 GTS graphics card. Once the kinks were worked out of the system, it ran very well. (I always bought full copies of any software I installed on the Shuttle, including copies of OS X 10.5 and 10.6.)

From November to yesterday, it was almost perfect in fact. (With one blip back in December when it wouldn’t boot.) Aside from the internal and external DVD drives opening and closing some times, everything seemed to be fine. Until this morning when I came in and the machine was offline. It booted once when I got home tonight and that was it. After that, it was an endless boot cycle: power on, CPU fan and power fan came on, and then it would power down and start up again.

My friend and I concluded that the motherboard or one of the chips on it was dead/fried. On top of everything else that I’d gone through today and the hours of frustration spent on the Shuttle, I had had it. I had spent probably close to 100+ hours over the space of 18 months getting the system tweaked so the OS ran smoothly, digital sound out worked, Quartz Extreme graphics engine was enabled, and game window resizing didn’t freeze the system. Oh, and OS X never recognized the virtualization capabilities of the Intel Core 2 Duo, even though the chip supported virtualization. I never could run virtual machines with Parallels 5 (which checks the CPU for virtualization technology). (I might post the list of drivers I used, if anyone is interested.)

I learned a lot about Macs by creating a hackintosh. I feel confident that I could resolve most system problems on a real Mac because of my experience digging into different kernels, plists, drivers, and other internals. Good learning experience for being a tech writer in an IT department.

What I really learned was that I didn’t want to waste my time (and therefore my billable hours) customizing yet another hackintosh system. I wanted something that would work and be reliable. Or “stable” as it were…

So… I’m looking at a shiny new low-range iMac. The main terabyte drive has been reformatted and partitioned. The application/system partition is called “Stable,” the larger working file partition is called “Pasture.” I’m transferring my files right now (300+ GB from my old secondary partition, mostly mail, photos, videos, and writing). While that material slowly copies over via USB2 and 32,000 files download for Guild Wars, I’m going to head off to bed. (I miss the eSATA connection!)

Rest in pieces, poor little Shuttle.

Dead Mac in the middle of the road…

I installed several updates on my desktop Mac last night: Java update, another minor application update, and then two update packages for a firewall. I wasn’t expecting any problems… of course that’s when you get trouble.

The Mac will now come up to the point where the gray apple logo appears on the screen. And then it didn’t progress any farther.

I dropped in the installation disk to restore from the Time Machine backup. That would work fine, if the installation disk recognized the time machine backup drive. No clue why it quit working.

Luckily, I keep two hard drives in my machine, both with nearly identical copies. I have booted off of the second drive and backed the entire system up to my spare external drive. The backup finished in about two hours. I repaired disk permissions on both disks (just in case something got messed up).

After about eight hours of trying to figure out what was wrong, I rebooted with the OS disk in the external DVD drive and forgot to stop the bootloader from automatically loading the default drive. And it worked.

Go figure. Not a fun day.

New N900 Arrived and Unboxed

The N900 arrived and I’ve finally processed the pictures. I’ve been using the N900 about a week now and absolutely love it. It’s perfect for what I want to do.

Here are the pictures of the unboxing. First, obligatory picture of the box. There are several progressive pictures: opening the box, the support letter from Nokia, box contents, and the first boot screens.

I loves the Precious.

Day in the life of a Geek

I am working from home today using a virtual private network (VPN) connection. I can then connect to my desktop Windows work machine using remote access. All of these connections are done through browsers so it’s pretty straightforward.

Unfortunately, the VPN system we use is primarily setup for Windows and not Macs. Once I had heard about the weather forecast yesterday evening, I grabbed one of the IT guys to help me get my Mac laptop working on the VPN. We were (mostly) successful, enough so that I felt I could reproduce the results on my Mac desktop at home.

I tried for quite a while to get the VPN to work using Firefox and Safari and failed. Even though the VPN works through my portable, I wanted the monitor real-estate of my desktop.

I installed Parallels 3.0 so I could create a virtual machine with Windows XP. Unfortunately, Parallels doesn’t recognize the external USB DVD drive. (The internal DVD-RW causes system issues when it’s used other than for booting the machine. This is being worked on.) I tried several Windows installation disks, and each time, Parallels did not recognize that a disk was in the drive. I verified that the virtual machine’s settings said to use the external drive and to boot from it.

And then I saw the option to use an ISO image instead of a drive. Using Disk Utility, I made a DMG image of the Windows XP Pro Upgrade disk. I then used the command line utility, hdiutil, to convert the DMG image to an ISO image that Parallels could use:
hdiutil convert /path/to/filename.dmg -format UDTO -o /path/to/savefile.iso

I started a new virtual machine and used the new ISO image as the DVD drive. And you know what? It worked.

Once XP was running, Internet Explorer connected to the VPN without any hitches. Except I still got an error message when trying to access my desktop system. After a lot of instant messages, I tracked down a friend who was at work. He checked my machine — and discovered that remote desktop access was turned off. He turned it back on and I was good to go.

This work from home day could not have happened without the help and support of the gaming group at work. These guys are programmers, IT/IS, and tech support. They checked my machine’s IP address, provided suggestions, and helped me resolve the VPN-related issues. I owe them brownies!

Concern over giant UK database

The BBC web site today reported that the Home Office of the UK is proposing development of an large communications database — greatly reducing privacy in net or mobile communications. The Communications Data Bill, due to be introduced in November in the Queen’s Speech in the UK, will create a database holding “communications information” on people’s phone calls, email, web browsing (pages visited, etc.) and other data. Allegedly, this database will not retain the content of the communications, only information about them. So while the sender, recipient, and date/time stamp of an email might be kept, the content of the email would not be.

The government is considering setting up a single database holding all the information, which would include numbers dialled and websites visited.

read more | digg story

Read More Concern over giant UK database

Desktop Solution

The guy I purchased the Acer Aspire One from Craigslist also had an OS X desktop system available. He originally quoted me a very good price. However, from the time I bought the Aspire One to when I emailed a few days later about the desktop system, the price had gone up by $150. The system specs were okay, but the sudden price increase put me off.

I decided not to get the pre-built system. I figured I could get a much better system for about the same price — assuming I’m willing to install the operating system and can actually get it running.

After work on Monday, a fellow conspirator and I went to Tiger Direct to pick up a hard drive for him. I wanted to look for a bag for the Acer Aspire — all of my bags are way too big. Any way, I ended up coming home with enough stuff to build a system with much better specs. I ended up paying about $600 for $700 worth of stuff (manager took $100 off of the Shuttle bare bones system display model so it was $250 instead of $349).

Read More Desktop Solution

Gmail Account Hacking Tool

If you use Gmail, beware: a new account-stealing tool is being released in to the wild. Just in time, Google is updating the web mail service with an option for usering secure-socket layers (SSL). If you have Gmail, you should turn this option on.

Article summary:

A tool that automatically steals IDs of non-encrypted sessions and breaks into Google Mail accounts has been presented at the Defcon hackers’ conference in Las Vegas.

read more | digg story

Problem Fixed

I had two problems with WordPress since I updated to 2.5.1 last week: the trackback field disappeared and no one could leave comments on the posts. The issue turned out to be an incomplete upload of the wp-admin/inludes folder. Once I re-uploaded the folder, the trackback field and comments-enabled options re-appeared on the Write New Post page.

If you encounter any posts that do not have comments enabled, please let me know. I’ll have to verify that things are still working okay. After a database conversion to 2.5.1 and having to re-upload the inludes folder, I wouldn’t be surprised if something else needed to be tweaked.