Tag Archives: Nexus 7

PTJ 223: Ahead, Warp Factor Four!

Things down here on Earth may be business as usual — mergers, lawsuits, taxes, paradigm shifts, feature updates and so on — but exciting things are happening Up Above as well as Out There. SpaceX had another successful rocket launch and resupply mission to the International Space Station, the Juno craft decided to take the long way around Jupiter for bonus science, NASA announced the discovery of seven possibly life-supporting exoplanets and Winston Churchill was writing about life beyond Earth way back in the 1930s. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss it all on this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam, so Mr. Sulu, take us out!

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

Android Rooting and Modding: It Hurts So Good

Don’t do it. Seriously, don’t even think about it.

If you’ve listened to episode 95 of Pop Tech Jam you know all about the trouble I’ve had trying to unroot my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and revive my Nexus 7 tablet (Mark 1).

I successfully rooted my Galaxy S4 not long after first getting it but recently realized I no longer needed root access. I could get the same functionality by throwing a few bucks at the problem.

No more tedious and extremely complicated manual updates. No more buggy customized ROMS and strange boot behavior.

If I could just get the darned phone back to factory new my life would be chock-full of unicorns and rainbows. It might even rain Skittles and fun-sized Krackel bars.

I’ll live with the bloatware—for now—until I can put together enough scratch for a Google Play Edition device or a Nexus phone.

The Nexus tablet had also been rooted many moons ago and I was running a CyanogenMod customized ROM that I liked very, very much. It worked fantastically well…until it didn’t.

The tablet sat idle for a few weeks and when I started it up it was bricked. Desperate to find a way to get it working, I started slogging through the seemingly endless amounts of bad information available on the Interwebz.

Most of what I found didn’t help and occasionally made the problem worse.

I’d spent weeks working on finding solutions but in an unprecedented wave of luck on a gorgeous Sunday in early June I was able to unroot the Galaxy phone and go full Lazarus on the Nexus tablet.

(Yes, I awkwardly pumped my fist a few times but don’t you dare judge me.)

The Unified Android Toolkit from a British outfit called SkipSoft looked to be a promising solution for both problems but it was only able to get the Nexus back in business.

For the Galaxy S4 I was forced to resort to more drastic measures. I tracked down a stock firmware image of the Android JellyBean that would work on the phone then used a ROM flashing tool called Odin to install it.

After what seemed like hours the Galaxy S4 was once again factory new, unrooted and happily installing over-the-air updates that has the phone humming along with the Kit Kat version of Google’s Android OS.

If you plan on ignoring my warnings about staying away from Android rooting and modding just PLEASE do your homework before attempting any type of customization.

Your warranty is void as soon as you start mucking around and if you permanently brick the device you’ll have to pony up for a brand new phone.

As I mentioned on the show the XDA Developers forum and Wiki has invaluable information if you decide to dive into the not so fun and incredibly stressful world of Android phone customization.  There’s also helpful stuff at the Phandroid site and forum.

The Wiki section of the CyanogenMod site and the forum has useful data, plus you can grab one of their fancy-schmancy “customized, aftermarket firmware distributions” while you are derping around.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I stumbled across a few blog posts that claim you can mod an old Nook tablet and have it run a full version of Android.

Looking forward to not heeding my own advice…

Episode 58 News: Drive My Car

We’re deep into summer and you know what time that is — it’s time for DEFCON, the annual gathering of hacking enthusiasts in Las Vegas. There have been some announcements ahead of the event, including two researchers who were able to stop, start and steer a car with an old Nintendo handset and also control it with a laptop. (Forbes has some video.)

It wouldn’t be the Internet without malicious trolls, and heinous behavior over in the UK and an online petition recently has led Twitter to promise a new button on every tweet for reporting abuse on a company blog. Critics of the plan have chimed in to basically say it’s time to stop blaming technology and social media for society’s problems like rampant misogyny and racism, and maybe we ought to do something about those. Others worry that the abuse button itself may get abused.

bundroidGoogle popped out a couple of shiny new pieces of hardware last week, including the upgraded Nexus 7 tablet and a tiny, pocket-drive-sized media streamer called the Chromecast. The latter has some bugs to work out and a limited number of services it streams, but it is getting decent early reviews. However, Vimeo and RedBox Instant are also on the way. Google also found time to make big improvements to the old Zagat site, which it owns.

Apple released its iTunes 11.1 beta software to its registered developers this week along with the fourth version of its iOS 7 beta. As for hardware, the rumor mill is still grinding away with talk of a possible lower-priced iPhone arriving with the annual high-end upgrade. The new top-of-the-line model may also include a biometric fingerprint sensor, according to programmers looking deep into the iOS 7 betaware. Apple has a few legal issues to deal with this week as well. A Chinese labor rights group has a report out with new allegations against one the contractors used to make iPhones and other devices; Apple told the Wall Street Journal it was working with the group and investigating. Closer to home, some former Apple Store employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Mother Ship claiming retail workers routinely had to wait around for up to half an hour without pay while managers searched their bags.

In Star Wars news, composer John Williams will be returning to score the seventh film in the series, having done the music for the previous six installments. Over Doctor Who way, the 50th anniversary episode — the one which current companion Jenna Coleman says changes everything — will air November 23rd, with plans for the show to be simulcast in 200 countries around the world. (The show is broadcast at 7:00 p.m. in the United Kingdom, so make the calculations for your time zone here.)

And finally, Radio Times is reporting that Netflix will temporarily remove Star Trek III: The Search for Spock from its streaming inventory while it adds authentic subtitles for the film’s dialogue that’s spoken in the Klingon and Vulcan languages instead of having missing subtitles or the lines dubbed in English. This has been a complaint from fans of the film for quite awhile, although some may not need subtitles anyway. yIn nI’ yISIQ ‘ej yIchep!

Episode 24 News: Cautionary Tales

Who’d have thought Gmail drafts and online privacy would be tangled up in the current US military sex scandal that’s rolling through the news cycle like that big boulder bearing down on Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark? For anyone who still thinks Webmail accounts are a good cover for anonymous online activities, InformationWeek’s “Petraeus Fallout: 5 Gmail Security Facts” is worth a read. The Google Transparency Report, which counts user data requests from courts and government agencies, also adds perspective.

Speaking of courts, a judge in the United Kingdom has found Apple’s apology to Samsung less than sincere and ordered the Cupertino crowd to cough up some bucks for bad behavior. Also shaking things up on the Apple campus: Scott Forstall, who handled the iOS platform over at Apple, is parting ways with the company early next year.

Microsoft has its own personnel changes — Windows and Windows Live president Steve Sinofsky is leaving the company, an announcement made in the same week as the modest sales (so far) of the company’s new Surface tablets and Windows 8 system. Although Apple’s Mountain Lion is clawing
Windows 8
in the upgrade race, some executives still think Windows tablets will eventually outpace Android devices, as the flat system of choice for businessfolk — once they get some apps, that is.

Tablets still continue to be the object of affection for many people, including Linux lovers who have successfully gotten Ubuntu Linux up and running on the Google Nexus 7 tablet. Development is still early, but signs point to the Ubuntu desktop software making a concentrated the jump to mobile devices over the next few years. Ubuntu has appeared on other devices before, including Android smartphones with multi-core processors and a Samsung Chromebook. A TV set-top box version is also in the works. For those keeping track of the animal code names, the next version of the often-updated Ubuntu system, version 13.04, has been dubbed Raring Ringtail.

Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone sold out in less than an hour after it went on sale across the pond — a bit of good news for a company that may be facing a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission for stacking the search-results deck with its own services. (But YouTube is cleaning things up: the the site is weeding out about 60 percent of its channels from last year.)

For those still firmly gripping their BlackBerry phones in hand amidst the onslaught of Android phones, iPhones and Windows Phone handsets, the future is on the way. Research in Motion is planning a January 30th, 2013, launch event for its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

While the BlackBerry platform has gotten shoved aside by those other phones in recent years, many people still hang on to it for the BlackBerry Messenger service, which, like Apple’s iMessage system, has taken a big bite out of text-message volume over the wireless carrier networks. In fact, a new report shows that old-school SMS text messaging in the U.S. is in decline for the first time. But no matter how you direct your text traffic, be sure to do it safely and not in traffic. As a TV sage use to say, “Let’s be careful out there.” Same goes for using Webmail, making apologies and unlocking the bootloader on your Nexus 7 so you can Penguinize your Google tablet.