Galaxy S6 Day Two

So there’s this bit of Samsung bloatware called Smart Network Switch that is supposed to help with network connections or something like that. All it’s been is a headache. It’s supposed to automatically switch to a mobile network if your Wi-Fi connection is unstable. I noticed this happening when walking upstairs in my house, which is ludicrous. It also did not pick up the mobile network so the device was without connection until it was reset.

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On a positive note, the odd-shaped charger in the box is actually a fast charger, meaning it will charge the phone in a lot less time than a regular charger. I charged the phone when it was at about 50% and it the total recharge took 45 minutes to an hour. I’ll do more testing on it soon to see if it really does make a difference.

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Galaxy S6 In The House

Sometimes you need to make changes in your life that are warranted and needed due to whatever cards you were dealt.

It was such life happenstance that prompted this writer to look into changing phone carriers again. It was less than two years ago that I switched from my grandfathered unlimited plan at Verizon to a low cost, low data plan from Republic Wireless (RW). Yes, I saved my self $50 a month on RW’s 4G plan and then another $20 when I downgraded to the 3G only plan since I was not really seeing 4G speeds so I decided to not pay for it. On that front it was pretty awesome.

But, as time went on, I found myself really hating the service. The key to RW is to use as much Wi-Fi as possible and that’s what was driving me crazy. Making or receiving calls over Wi-Fi is not the most pleasant experience, especially when out and about using free Wi-Fi at whatever place has it. The most frustrating part was trying to switch over to cell service to remake the call. The handover was clunky at best. In actuality, it took more than a minute each time to make the call on cell and, to make matters worse, the call would not go through and subsequent attempts meant that the call would be placed multiple times. It is a stupid system that RW needs to fix…but ain’t nobody got time for that.

Enter my new wife hand her fiscal smartness. She is on Sprint and received a text for a half-price lease on a new Samsung Galaxy S6 with a new line. Looking at the price differential between adding a new line to her service and what I was paying I realized that it would just be an extra $8 a month. Once that realization hit I knew it was time for a change.

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Initial impressions of the S6 are pretty good. I will miss the way the Moto X handles notifications on screen when the phone is locked but I think battery life will be similar and the S6 already has Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, which RW has yet to port to the Moto X. I will say that Google has enhanced Android in a wonderful way…you can now install every app from your old phone through the setup process. It worked well and, unlike the description of the process, only one or two apps actually had the login information. I would still recommend it as a useful tool so you don’t have to think much about which apps to install on your new device. This is also a way to hide bloatware but that’s just one of those things we have learned to live with, right?

One aside…this S6 boots really, really fast. I’ve never seen a device boot so fast….ever. it’s also got a great Wi-Fi radio as seen in the below pic:

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Another quick feature is fingerprint reading. Once it’s set up it’s a quick way to get into your phone and it keeps others out.

More on this new phone soon!

Rooted And Romed – A Tale Of An Old Samsung Galaxy Tab

ac·com·plish·ment /əˈkämpliSHmənt/
noun
something that has been achieved successfully.

When Android phones hit the scene oh so many years ago I was smitten. I don’t know that I’d call myself antiestablishment, but I certainly root for the underdog and try not to be a lemming on as many fronts as possible. Hence why I chose Android over iPhone.

What I liked most, at the time, was the customizability of the platform. I enjoyed reading articles about those who rooted and ROMed their phones to eek out the most power and functionality of the hardware they could. I tried rooting once with my original Motorola DROID and failed miserably. I blame the particular phone I had since there were things going on with it that were not normal…hence the replacement within the first year. But I had such a bad taste from that first experience that it was not something I pursued.

In all actuality, I started thinking of the phone more as a tool and lifeline than toy so I really took care of each of them and this trail continues today.

So let me tell you about my tablet!

In early 2012 I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9. It was the goldilocks of the time; not too big (the large tablets of the day were 10 and 12 inchers) and not too small (the small ones were usually 7 inchers, as they are today). Yes, 8.9 fit the bill perfectly and I got a great deal from Best Buy that included the Samsung docking keyboard! I also purchased an accessory bundle with a stylus, some connectors and a couple of cases including a leather folio that is still in great shape today!

For the last three years, as I am writing this in 2015, this little tablet has served me well. The issue, though, lies in the lack of support from the manufacturer on software updates, which topped out with Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). This causes big issues when you try to get the latest app updates and find out that your device is too old and the app is not compatible with it.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is truly nothing wrong with ICS or any of the apps out there. I still like it today, I am just starting to get to the point where ICS isn’t cutting it since there are things I want to do and can’t.

Si what’s a bloke to do in this situation you ask? Well, there just happens to be a HUGE development community out there who thinks that all devices that can handle the newer operating systems should have them. And!!! There’s a whole section dedicated to my Galaxy Tab 8.9!!!

Through the community and a couple of YouTube videos I found I was able to do the impossible, after a little frustration, and install the latest available Android build on my Tab. No it’s not perfect but it will allow me to do the things I want to do with the Tab and it didn’t cost me anything but a little time. And yes there were a few long moments when I thought it wouldn’t work and that I bricked my little Tab but a little perseverance and educated guessing saved the day.

The biggest drawback is the keyboard dock. It does not work currently but I’m certain that I will find someone who has figured that one out!

So my accomplishment was me going beyond my comfort zone, trusting myself and others, and to follow through with a goal. Not too bad for a June weekend in 2015.

Android Lollipop On Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

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You know when your device stops getting app updates that it’s near the end of its useful life. This happened to me recently with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 from a few years back. I was not able to install either Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and couldn’t because the OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, was too old. Sad day.

What does one do in this situation…a crafty person like me, who has read all about rooting and roming but who has not done it due to mitigating circumstances, takes to the Internet to see how to do just that. My search did not take long to come across a page on the XDA Developers Forum for my tablet and quite a few strings on how to root and rom it.

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Another reason I was interested in roming my 8.9 was a penchant for slow running, especially when first unlocking it after sitting for a day or two. You see, I like a long battery life so I have the Tab set to turn off WiFi when sleeping. Seems that this was slowing things down when waking the device since it was updating and notifying and doing whatever else it was doing. The bad part is that this behavior was not fixed with Lollipop, leading me to believe that it’s a hardware issue not software. I blame Samsung.

At least with Lollipop installed I know that my apps will run and update as they should. But, that leaves me to the biggest drawback…the keyboard dock I got with the Tab no longer works as it was powered through the device with Samsung software, it’s not bluetooth but rather hard wired. And there are no developers I know of who are working on porting the software so that those of us who have romed the Tab can still use it. This sucks because the keyboard is actually very nice and has a great tactile feel and is easy to type on.

One last little complaint is the Facebook app. The newest update to version 49 will not install on the Tab. Not sure what the issue is and it’s not a game changer, just a little annoying.

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Ah technology. It’s a love/hate thing for almost everyone on the planet; except those who stay away from it.

Battery Life On Moto X After A Year

My last phone was the Verizon Wireless/Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx HD. It’s battery life was phenomenal.

About a year ago I switched carriers to try to get a break on my phone bill, like half the cost. I moved to Republic Wireless and had to give up the best battery in the business for the then-newer Motorola Moto X. How I miss that Droid Maxx.

I seem to struggle daily on getting decent battery life out of my Moto X. Part of the reason is due to the large size difference of the two batteries…yes, in the case of batteries, size does matter. The Droid had a 3300 mAh battery, which could sometimes go 24 hours before really needing a charge. The Moto X, on the other hand, has a 2200 mAh battery that can sometimes get 12 or 14 hours before needing a charge but that’s a stretch.

Another obvious difference is the different carriers, though both use similar CDMA 3G technology and LTE 4G technology. That and the different versions of Android and processors and a whole slew of differences. So you might think that newer technology would mean better battery life since it should be more efficient, right?

It’s a shame since th Moto X is a great phone and works better than the RAZR Maxx could ever hope to.

Here’s a screen shot taken a few minutes ago:

Featured image

And here’s the estimated time left:

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Good thing I am almost always near an outlet with a charger handy.

A New Way To Plan Your Travels

Always looking for an interesting app, I somehow stumbled upon one that is very interesting indeed. Waze is a navigation app that marries nav and social in one nice little package.

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With a community feel, you and your fellow “Wazers” update the goings on out on the roadways, like when there’s a disabled vehicle on the shoulder or there’s a car pulled over or just a police car watching.

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Like most social networks, you can update your mood, your friends and there’s even a scoreboard for all the points you accumulate out on your travels.

It’s a cute system that works well, is user-friendly and adds an element of fun to navigation apps.

Play Store Link

Here’s the official description:

Waze is a fun, community based mapping, traffic & navigation app, 50 million strong. Join forces with other drivers nearby to outsmart traffic, save time & gas money, and improve everyone’s daily commute.

By simply driving around with Waze open, you’re already contributing tons of real-time traffic & road info to your local driving community. You can also actively report accidents, hazards, police and other events you see on the road, and get road alerts on your route too. Find the cheapest gas station along your route with community-shared fuel prices. Waze also makes it fun and simple to meet up and coordinate with friends on the road.

It’s all about contributing to and benefiting from the ‘common good’ on the road, so hop on board and get involved in your local driving community today!

✓ Live routing based on community generated, real-time traffic and road info
✓ Community contributed road alerts including accidents, hazards, police traps, road closures and more
✓ Complete voice guided navigation
✓ Automatic re-routing as conditions on the road change
✓ Learns your frequent destinations, commuting hours and preferred routes
✓ Finds the cheapest gas station along your route
✓ One tap navigation to Facebook events
✓ See Facebook friends driving to the same place
✓ Notify someone you’re on your way by sending a live ETA and a link showing you as you drive
✓ Earn points and move up the ranks in your community as you contribute road info
✓ Live maps, constantly edited and updated by Waze community map editors

Drive safely!

Note: Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life. Waze will automatically shut down if you run it in the background and haven’t driven for a while.

Learn more about Waze’s privacy policy, including what information is accessed and how it is used. With Waze you have full control over your privacy settings. http://www.waze.com/legal/privacy/