Sunday, February 21, 2016

Phone fiddling

Over the last 3 weeks or so I have been battling what I thought was an Android issue on my LG Nexus 5, where the speaker on the phone would not always work.  Long story short, after about 10 reboots and 2 factory resets, I found that it was actually a hardware issue.  Pressing firmly on the back of the phone would make the speakers start working.

I opened the back of the phone (which is relatively easy) and cleaned the contacts.  This seemed to make the speaker happier but left the vibration motor unhappy.  I opened it again, stretched the spring contacts for the motor a bit, that fixed that but later I found that wireless charging wasn't working.  This evening I opened it up again, carefully cleaned ALL the connectors, used an exacto knife under magnification to ensure that ALL of the spring contacts were fully as strong as they could be, then ressembled.  At this point it seems like everything is working correctly.

I was thinking about getting a new back for it since the retention clips get worn when you open it, but the available backs do not have any of the electronics on them, they must be transferred, and there are I think 4 stick-on antennas and a large wireless charger pad, so this is a bit intimidating to get them all cleanly unstuck and re-stuck.  I'll leave it for now and hope for the best.

It was interesting to open the phone. I'm not happy with any phone that comes with a "non-replaceable" battery, but at least I found that this battery is actually very easy to replace and is available for $10, so if the phone lasts another few years I can drop a new battery in pretty easily.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ultrasonic sensor for FIRST robotics

I made an ultrasonic sensor for the FIRST team in town. We're actually modifying it a bit so I'll be posting another one later, but I'm posting this one now in case anyone else wants to use it.

It just continuously sends distance measurements (3 to 5 times a second) back to the RIO using serial.

Here's the Youmagine page:


Over the last couple of days, I downgraded my main PC from Windows 10 back to 8.1.  It's a decision about a month in the making.

I've been running Windows 10 on this machine since the technical preview was released; well over a year now.  It's a perfectly good operating system and I really liked it.  Until they released the actual public version.  The final release version is an operating-system-shaped advertising platform.

It's always trying to sell me something. Office 365 is prominent. I had it pop up an ad for Office 365 on the church's projector shortly after upgrading that machine, in front of the congregation, during a service. Fan....tastic.  Thank you MS.

There are some other issues too.  But honestly, I could probably put up with them, except for one thing: it simply will not take "No" for an answer. I tell it to piss off with the Office 365 ads - I haven't used anything but Google Office for about 4 years now, and it does everything I need.  So I tell it "No."  2 weeks later, it's asking again if I want to try Office 365.

I set my file associations for MP3 to VLC - then a week later when there's been a system update, OH SURPRISE clicking on an MP3 brings up Groove Music again.  Seriously?  That thing is like a 90s Geocities webpage crawling with moving crap trying to get me to buy albums that I wouldn't pick up a CD of off the sidewalk for free.

So anyway, I'm on 8.1 now.  I was going to move all the way back to 7; that was Microsoft's last actual "operating system" - 8.0 started down the path of selling space on the user's desktop.  But for now I need storage spaces (though I'm seriously thinking about buying an external RAID box and going back to 7).

I'm using an app called "GWX Control Panel" which claims to be able to hold the "Get Windows 10 Now!" auto-updates at bay.  I've installed Classic Shell to get back a proper start menu without a bunch of silly Modern panes crawling around.

The biggest problem during the downgrade was that I had set up a pair of 5T USB 3.0 drives in a mirrored Storage Space. Well, it appears that even though Windows 8.1 has storage spaces, it doesn't recognize a Storage Space set created in Windows 10.  So I had to recover my 10 image, spend most of a day backing up about 2.5T of data to old USB 2.0 drives, then recover the 8.1 image, which then was so confused by the 10 storage space that even powershell refused to even delete the "unknown partition type" - GPartEd (linux live CD) took care of resetting the two 5Ts to something useable) - then using 8.1 to set up the storage space again, then a day restoring that 2.5T of data again.

It may be that Windows 8.1 is the last Windows I ever use. But probably not.  Non-Windows isn't really an option for me at present because work uses a VPN with ONLY a Windows client available - the vendor has made it clear that they don't give a damn about non-Windows compatibility. And besides, I do like Windows.  I have tried no less than 5 times to move to a Linux desktop. Each attempt has left me very cold - like, OK, I could live like this, but I "could live" in a tarpaper shack in a swamp too, but I wouldn't actually enjoy either experience.

At some point I'll probably be forced out of Windows 8.1 to something else.  Windows 10/2020 edition or something. Probably I'll have to shell out big bucks to get an Enterprise edition where I can avoid ads.