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Windows Phone Support in Bulgaria: Please, no more bullshiting!

Windows Phone Support in Bulgaria: Please, no more bullshiting!

Disclaimer: I cherish my personal relation and friendship with many of my ex-colleagues from Microsoft and Microsoft Bulgaria (yep, these are different things, you’d know if you were in both). However, I cannot hold my disappointment today, so I needed to post this. Friends and colleagues, I still do love and respect you and I’m your friend. This post has nothing to do with you, it’s not against you personally, it’s against this, which makes even you suffer much at work! 
And now, the post…

Today I red in the Windows Phone Developer Blog that Windows Phone Marketplace support is being extended to support the following countries: Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, and the Philippines. The news filled me with joy, since I always believed that Windows Phone Marketplace support is normally first for the larger economies, then for the smaller, etc. etc. And now since we hit Philippines, it means that Bulgaria should already be a supported country, right? RIGHT?

Hmmm, quick check! Alas, no! Not yet! Can’t buy a rusted penny from the Marketplace, because… my credit card is not supported, my country is not-yet-supported! Almost 2 years since the platform was announced!

Damn!

Let’s do some economics and math: Bulgarian GDP – per capita (PPP) is $13,500 (2010 est.), Philippines’ GDP – per capita (PPP) is $3,500 (2010 est.). WTF, this is like 4 times more than Philies!

Now, please stop telling us that “market size”, “country wealth” etc. are guiding points for all the bureaucracy, which takes decisions about Marketplace support per country. The facts above are rock-stone solid: average Bulgarian is 4 times richer than the average Philippine and Microsoft still prefers to give Philippine the Windows Marketplace, but not to enable it for Bulgaria? Am I allowed it to ask again: WTF?

I am really jealous, of course! But I’m more insulted than the reasoning, which we’ve been given by Windows Marketplace executives, when we asked about Bulgarian support. “Market size”, my hairy a**! I see above how much this “market size” matters.

And it’s not only Windows Phone Marketplace! It’s also XBox Live, it’s Office 365, it’s many other services, which make us “third class citizen” from Microsoft perspective. I’d be offended, if I was not too much insulted by such behavior!

Please, please, oh pretty please, can someone really tell us why? And when?

Disclaimer 2: I’m writing this text before ACTA is accepted and in order in my country. After that I’ll be most probably forced (I do not write “sued” here, because there’ll be no need for court order!) to remove it by Microsoft for infringing their copyright on the name, because that’s how the big companies will be able to fight the criticism: not with expanding their services and keeping their customers happy, but mainly with repressing measures for the ones, dared to mention their name in the critic materials! That’s why ACTA has to be stopped at once!

Image (cc-by) Luca Hammer.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus: the radio crash bug resolution

Samsung Galaxy Nexus: the radio crash bug resolution

Android Open Kang Project
Android Open Kang Project

Two days ago I wrote about my struggle with the first, very serious and very annoying Android Ice Cream Sandwich bug, which causes the phone radio to crash, resulting into behavior like the phone is in Airplane mode and fixable only by phone reboot.

Today I’ve some developments to report:

Switching off 3G mode

When I switched off the 3G, the ill behavior changed dramatically! The phone radio never hung, causing Airplane Mode-like behavior. Instead, the phone started rebooting! With approximately the same frequency, the phone was crashing and causing sudden reboots. I can’t really weight which behavior is “better” in this case: to have the phone rebooting itself, or to have crashing radio. I left it in “crashing” mode, because after I removed the SIM card PIN, at least I was always reachable (when it reboots, usually it restarts OK).

Update to 4.0.3!

In the Google thread about issue 22503, today I found extremely useful comment! The comment suggests that the issue is not seen on 4.0.2! So far I was forgetting to check if there are any updates to the OS. My crashing phone was with Android 4.0.1, i.e. vulnerable to the problem. The commenter stated that after 4.0.2, the issue did not show anymore.

I immediately asked for help how to locate the official update, but alas… it seems my phone is not in the phones, which is being updated by Google (or at the moment). I’ve no idea how this happen, but I was on my own for this one.

That’s when I decided to turn to the good, old xda-developers.com forum!

After some reading there, I’ve got to the conclusion that the only chance to try resolving the issue is to install custom ROM, which is based on 4.0.2 or 4.0.3. After some more reading, I decided to put Android Open Kang Project, a ROM, which has excellent feedback so far and looks like it’s “alive and developing”.

Once the decision was made, I had to get the tools for updating. In the forum, there’s already plenty of useful Google Galaxy Nexus information about rooting the phone. I had to use the following resources in order to do the job:

It took me about hour, hour and a half from start to end. The whole thing was 5-6 hours ago, no sudden restart of cell hang so far. The phone is cold, no battery overheat and the battery discharge rate looks times better than before.

I hope this is the end of the saga, but if there’s more on this topic, you’ll most probably read about it here.

The first quite serious Galaxy Nexus bug

The first quite serious Galaxy Nexus bug

Samsung Galaxy Nexus (cc-by-sa) Sham HardyIt’s my 3rd week (or 4th? It doesn’t matter!) with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone.

Since few days it started to show pretty weird problem: suddenly it starts reporting that Airplane mode is on and I can’t make any call. If I press and hold power, the menu there says the airplane mode is on. If I click to switch it off, it grays out and nothing happens. At the same time, in Settings the Airplane checkbox is not checked. Pretty weird and very annoying problem, solvable only with reboot of the phone. The worst thing is that you can’t know when the problem will popup, so you may end up without coverage for hours, until you see that your phone is off again (already happened to me!). The issue is also discussed in Radio randomly goes off and [Q]Airplane mode keeps turning itself on and won’t turn off threads at XDA Developers forum.

Today I got sick and stopped uninstalling applications, but started the research. Pretty quick I came to the fact that the issue is also discussed in Radio randomly goes off and [Q]Airplane mode keeps turning itself on and won’t turn off threads at XDA Developers forum. Which led me to the thread at Google, which looks like acceptance of this as an official bug. The priority of the bug is “Medium”, which simply means that… well it means that it won’t be fixed anytime soon. I doubt Google guys are out of bug with high and critical severity, so they can fix that Medium one 🙁 .

I’m pissed :(! Let’s see what will happen, but I’m not very optimistic!

Windows 8 DP Bug: Overwriting Credentials when in HomeGroup

Windows 8 DP Bug: Overwriting Credentials when in HomeGroup

Well, it’s been almost a week with Windows 8 Developer Preview. I installed it on a brand new, purchased just for this purpose, Dell Inspiron Duo netbook. As expected, installation was quick and easy. Network setup came up and then I made a call, which revealed this very interesting bug in the Developer Preview version.

Then I decided to join my machine in my HomeGroup. My HomeGroup consists of few workstations and my Windows Home Server 2011. WHS, of course, has most of the data.

Immediately after joining, I wanted to see the shares on my network. Obviously, that could not be done with my current, Windows 8 credentials, since they were with my Windows Passport (WHS does not recognize Windows Passport). I had to enter an additional credentials, but I could not see how, initially. In Win7, if a login fails, I was presented with a dialog, where I could put different credentials. For some reason (maybe even by design), Windows 8 did not show me such dialog, it directly popped “Access Denied” kind of message.

I asked in the Windows Developer Preview forums. And I got my answer there: the Credentials Manager seemed to be the key to my success. In the Credentials Manager I’d be able to put credentials on per-server base, which credentials later on will be used to access the specified server.

I put my correct credentials there, and retried. Nope. Does not work.

Then I dug a bit more. Tried other different things (verified once again that I do have access from Win7 machine). Still nothing. Finally it enlightened me. I restarted my explorer and somehow automagically the credentials worked and I was presented with the contents of the share. At that point the Credentials Manager looked like this:

Correct Credentials

I was glad. Then I restarted and… the problem came back. “Access Denied” kind of message, yuck!

I started the Credentials Manager and I was quite surprised to see this:

Credential after Login

As you can see, my previous credentials were replaced by the default HomeGroupUser$ system-wide share, which of course did not had access to that private share, available only for my user and not for my whole Home Group.

I fixed the credentials again, it worked. Then I logged out, logged in and… it again replaced the credentials.

So here is the bug title

When joined in Home Group, Windows 8 Developer Preview incorrectly replaces any custom credentials with the default, HomeGroupUser$ credentials.

Steps to repro

  • Windows Home Server 2011 might be a prerequisite, can’t confirm that at the moment, but the problem was found in a setup with Windows Home Server 2011.
  • Create share on the Home Server and set special permissions to that share. Disable access to anyone, but a custom Windows Home Server user.
  • On Windows Developer Preview, login using Windows Live based login
  • Using the Credentials Manager, set custom access privileges for that server/share combination.
  • Verify that the credentials are working
  • Log off, log on with the previous credentials
  • Try to access the same share. Access fails with “Access Denied” error message.
  • Open the Credentials Manager and verify what are the access credentials for the specified server/share. The access credentials are reset.

Workaround

    If the machine is disjoined from the Home Group, the bug cannot be reproduced.

    Conclusion

    The workaround is good for me at this point. I disjoined the machine from the Home Group and I’m cool. But if this bug confirms, it’s a must-fix. So far I’ll do the only thing I could: will report it. And then we’ll see.

    Prior publishing this, I tried to locate the official feedback page, so I can post the link there too. It seems there’s no such page right now, but I keep searching. If you know it, I’ll appreciate telling me.

Home Server 2011 and its Backup Madness: Complete and #epicfail so far

Home Server 2011 and its Backup Madness: Complete and #epicfail so far

imageI’ve used to be Developer Evangelist at Microsoft. It was not that long time ago. But even then I was getting quite mad, when I had to fight with the stupidity of crazy (and/or incompetent) people or decisions. Yes, it happens, it’s 90K+ employees, there’re some stupid there, and since most of the people there are quite smart, the stupid ones are easily noticeable. Their decisions – too! So about one of these decisions I’m about to rant today!

Recently I bought Windows Home Server 2011. This is Windows Server 2008 R2 based, fine tuned for home users server operating system, which comes with lots of goodness for everyone, who needs reliable server at home. WHS 2011 is a direct successor of Windows Home Server, which is Windows Server 2003 based.

I was eagerly waiting for this upgrade. My previous WHS, although running good enough, was quote old as technology. My friend Jivko, an old-timer-Microsoftee warned me that I might be having troubles with WHS 2011, but I was very devoted to upgrade. So I obtained Windows Home Server 2011. Unfortunately it does not sell in a box, so the only way to get it as software is either to break the license agreement (“buying” it from a company, which on the first place is not allowed to sell it in a box), or get it as a gift from someone. Fortunately, I have plenty of such “someones” who’d gladly gift me with it. Thank you, you special person, once again!

“Upgrade” of WHS actually does not exist. The only way to “upgrade” is to backup your precious data, install the OS, then copy back the data once you reconfigure the storage. Old WHS had “drive extender” service, which allowed you to plug any drive and use it as storage, but because Microsoft never succeeded to make Drive Extender bug free, we (I was “we” at that time) just decided to scrap the whole thing out of the WHS 2011. Another Crazy Decision (if you ask me), most probably coming as a result of mad discussions in a mad times. Of course, there’re some 3rd party options surfacing, but it’s not Microsoft, you know…

So I copied the data, reconfigured my storage (I had to configure a RAID0 array now), added a new drive to my server and installed WHS 2011. It installed like a charm (I told you, it’s WS 2008 R2 based setup, works great!). Then I copied the data, created my family members’ accounts and it was ready to go. The whole process forced my server to be offline for like 4 hours, and in total got 6 hours of my time (4 hours backup, setup and data restore, and 2 additional hours of management). Not bad, if you ask me! No hardware issues whatsoever, no weirdness, worked like it was supposed to work.

The new WHS 2011 console (called Launchpad) is much, much better, although they might have added an option to get rid of this sick “offline mode” popup message, when I have to login on  my laptop while at work. Come on, colleagues, we’re 2011, popup messages are soooo 2001-a (even today you can see a proof for that on any Apple iPhone Winking smile).

imageAbout a a month after the upgrade my special, super-duper-Western-Digital-3TB-USB-Hard-Drive finally arrived. I was one happy person, since now I’d be able to backup all my precious data on an external drive and be more secure from sudden disk failure. You know: it’s not a question will a disk fail, it’s a question of when it will fail! So my server backup was more than necessary, in order to secure all my home PCs backups and my server data too. The 3TB drive was great choice for keeping all my files, pictures and backups, so I was quite happy.

Alas! Someone (I suspect a PM!) at Microsoft failed me!

After I plugged the drive and configured my backup, all went smooth and nice. The first backup was scheduled for the night, so I left in the bed with the expectations that I’ll see everything OK on the morning.

Nope! Ain’t gonna happen! No candy for me!

On the morning (actually, on the 2nd morning after that, I forgot to check on the first one), I logged to my WHS 2011 box to find out that I had… 3 backup failed messages in my log. Backup Failed, Backup Failed and Backup Failed. This is straight from my Event Log:

The backup operation that started at ‘‎2011‎-‎XX-‎XXT15:10:45.877458300Z’ has failed with following error code ‘2155348010’ (One of the backup files could not be created.). Please review the event details for a solution, and then rerun the backup operation once the issue is resolved.

I started to dig around. I thought the drive is DOA. But no, the drive was alive and kicking, so that would not be it.

I kept searching… until I found it. It turns out that Microsoft, in our (I was still part of it at that time!) great wisdom, failed to create an OS, which is capable of backing up to drive, which has 4096 bytes per physical sector. And this precious USB drive is one of these, it’s 3TB capacity, after all, how can it squeeze it in 512 bytes per sector without being thicker than 17” automobile tire?

So I started to dig more. First I found KB article 2510009: Information about Microsoft support policy for large-sector drives in Windows. It led me to KB982018, an update that improves the compatibility of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with Advanced Format Disks, which was promising to fix the issues on my server. Alas, the update was already installed, so it seemed my case is in the “Known compatibility issues” part of the KB 2510009:

If you are using a logical sector drive of a size other than 512 bytes, Windows system image backup and restore operations may fail, and you receive the following error message:

One of the backup files could not be created.
Details: The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.

Error code: 0x8078002A

At least from the updates I was able to find my hard drive capabilities (not that it helped):

C:\Users\XXXXXXX>fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo F:
NTFS Volume Serial Number : 0x9220d6de20d6c7fd
Version : 3.1
Number Sectors : 0x000000002ba95fff
Total Clusters : 0x000000002ba95fff
Free Clusters : 0x000000002b00fd8f
Total Reserved : 0x0000000000000000
Bytes Per Sector : 4096
Bytes Per Physical Sector : 4096
Bytes Per Cluster : 4096
Bytes Per FileRecord Segment : 4096
Clusters Per FileRecord Segment : 1
Mft Valid Data Length : 0x0000000000100000
Mft Start Lcn : 0x00000000000c0000
Mft2 Start Lcn : 0x0000000000000002
Mft Zone Start : 0x00000000000c0000
Mft Zone End : 0x00000000000cc820
RM Identifier: 0621AB62-D248-11E0-96F1-00155870BD33

The yellowish part is the one, which screwed me up. Also the BPS value should not be 4096, but WHS 2011 does not allow (or at least I found no way to make it) to change that, when you’re setting up disk backup. If you’re really eager on the low-level stuff, you can review the MSDN article “512-byte Emulation (512e) Disk Compatibility Update”. I’m technical myself, but I had no nerve to read it thoroughly. WDK stuff, yuck! I need no reasons why this is not implemented like in other OSes, I need the fucking drive working, alright?

And that concludes it. So far (approximately two months after the upgrade) I still have not had a way to make successful backup. In my to-do list I have the following:

…and my options end here.

I’m still quite pissed off, and I beg all my colleagues at the Big Brother to excuse my frustration. But I had to take it out of my system. I have not yet asked the best Windows Server expert I know, since I had no way to get in touch with him, but I doubt he’ll be able to help me fix this issue. By any means, if I succeed to fix it, I’ll follow-up with a post here!

imageMeanwhile, I’m researching stuff like “Media Server in a cupboard”. Sick, I’m telling you! I do not want to go there, but I might need to, if I want my data safe! And Ubuntu is the last thing I want exposed on my firewall… I just do not have the time (and effort needed) to keep it up to date and tremble all the time if someone has not Zero-dayed such installation.

DHCP nightmares at Kamelija hotel

DHCP nightmares at Kamelija hotel

It’s your first hours after arriving at a (questionable) quality 2* hotel. You look around a bit scared, but at least there’s hope in you: there’s (some) free wireless Internet access in (some) designated areas around the bar.

You see happy people using it and also your friend’s phone (HTC Desire S) is doing more than fine. You think: now it’s the right time to go and complain (or brag, depending on your state) that I’m finally on vacation!

Alas…

When you try to connect with your Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, you see that it finds correctly your wireless network, authenticates without any problem, but hangs on “Acquiring IP address…” state. And it never finishes connecting.

You think “well, it’s because the wireless router is quite busy, I’ll wait”. You keep waiting for some time, and retry. And you get the same. Then you restart your tablet, hoping that it’ll fix the issue. It doesn’t.

Shit!

You now think “Yes, but I have my top-notch Samsung Galaxy S II phone, which will save the day! You try the same with you phone and… you get the same result. The phone “performs” (if that can be named “performance”) the same like the tablet, hanging at “Acquiring IP address…” message, and giving up after some time. You even discover (and that’s for another anti-Samsung rant!) that your phone after restarts allows itself to auto-enable your roaming data access, so it can check for its shitty Samsung updates. Bad, bad, BAD! It’s good I captured that on time and completely disabled mobile data access (they made it sane enough not to auto-enable that as well)!

And then you start getting desperate. Internet abstinence starts building up and you no longer enjoy your time here!

Luckily, you have also your notebook. You pull it out, and it works like a charm. Since the beginning. All great and smooth!

You think “well, at least my PC is OK”, but you’re not one of the people, who get comfortable with such compromise. After all, your Foursquare mayorship on this hotel depends on the ability of your Android devices to get some bits from this damn wireless router (otherwise, your overpriced roaming internet fees will enslave you for ages). Plus, you use you mobile devices more often than your notebook and they (logically) have more battery juice for you!

So you start looking for solutions. 

Firstly, you scream to all your Facebook and Twitter friends, hoping that someone will help.

Secondly (until you wait for the help), you go to XDA Developers. You build up your best search query and dig. Then you dig more. Then you dig even more, until you find this forum post archive. Inside there you read that:

  • It’s an existing issue with the DHCP client of (some) devices. Obviously, Samsung’s devices you have are part of the problem;
  • And also that if you delete “/data/misc/dhcp/dhcp_list” from your device, you might get it working.

However, both your devices are not rooted and obviously the forum post is too old, because even if they were, you cannot find such file, residing at this place. Not to speak that this is “too much of a Linux way of solving things”.

Although you’ve no problem resolving things “like in Linux”, you prefer to make it in a saner way. That’s why you kept reading, until you discover WiFi Static: the soluiton of Android DHCP issues. This great application allows you to specify static IP addresses for given wireless networks, already in your wireless network list.

Why this works?

The problem, as it manifests itself, is with the fact that your device (or your router, since it could be a router issue too, and I think that’s what is in this case) cannot get (or give) an IP address correctly. Your authentication and MAC-address-level communication works, but you can’t get to TCP/IP, since you can’t get the precious address (sorry, my TCP/IP guru friends, that’s how a developer explains TCP/IP Smile). By default you’ve no way to specify “fixed IP address” in Android, and you’re screwed!

This app fixes that deadly case. Once you add the setting for the given Access Point, after you connect to this access point, the “Acquiring IP address…” is skipped or cancelled and the parameters, which you specify, are set instead. This simply means that if you set the parameters correctly, it works. If, however, you specify the parameters incorrectly, you can get screwed even worse Smile. But we all hope that once you decide to mangle with such things, you know what you’re doing. Not “Linux way” of resolving things, but still requires some advanced user magic there.

The router at the hotel had standard “192.168.1.xx” setup, which means:

  • IP Address is any address you luckily guess (I user 192.168.1.111-192.168.1.114, since I saw that the router gives 192.168.1.50 and above for the “legal” devices that can get it)
  • Gateway is, of course, your router at 192.168.1.1
  • Network mask is the default 255.255.255.0
  • DNS1 is your gateway 192.168.1.1, and for DNS 2 I set the Google DNS server at 8.8.8.8

Conclusion!

  1. My friends at Facebook did not fail me. They pointed to the same solution, just at the same time when I was reading about it in XDA Developers. Which made me feel great, because first my friends care for my pain and second, because it proved that Facebook can be of some help sometimes Smile.
    Thank you all!
  2. The same problem manifests itself on the following devices:
    1. My friend’s Windows 7 notebook. She could not connect unless I set her up with static IP configuration (and reminded her to tell me to remove that setting at the end of our holiday).
    2. My both Android devices (fixed with WiFi Static already).
    3. My wife’s HTC 7 Trophy Windows Phone 7 phone. Unfortunately, this is the only device which I could not fix and I doubt someone would. Microsoft decided to cut our arms in this direction, wisely knowing that no one can configure a router that stupidly, so their mighty OS would not work with it. Wrong!

My final conclusion is that the router at this hotel sucks! Like most of the things here, it’s not configured correctly (or it just sucks as a device) and its DHCP server works quite selectively. I do not know how many other people have the same problem, but my egoistic nature pushes my hopes high. The more people have the issue, more bandwidth will be free for my holiday needs Smile.

Photo (cc) ETC@USC

Great Read: “Zero Day”, by Mark Russinovich

Great Read: “Zero Day”, by Mark Russinovich

I’m die-hard computer fan. I’m also a Microsoftee. Well, an ex-FTE, but that doesn’t matter much. Once a Microsoftee, forever one. You all know about The Powers Of the Dark Side, right 🙂 ?

During my 6+ year Microsoft career I’ve met many bright minds and many great hackers. That was one of the things, which made it great to work at the company. I knew Mark Russinovich’s name (wikipedia, blog) long before he became Microsoft Technical Fellow, but I never believed I’ll have the chance to get to know him in person and to have some good talks with him. This is one of the big things, which a Microsoft career can give you: opportunities like that.

I never missed Mark’s talk, when I was attending (any) conference he was speaking at. Each time it was great experience and lots of fun. I’ve attended his “The strange case of unexplained” talks more than 4 times in total and each time I found it great experience and lots of fun. I’m using Mark’s tools and techniques more often than I even realize. Maybe weekly, if not even daily.

So it was more than natural to me that I preordered “Zero Day”, the first non-technical book he wrote, as soon as I’ve discovered the book is coming.

Unfortunately, the book came and I never found enough time to read it as it deserved: carefully and with full understanding. English is my 2nd language and as such I’ve developed strange “quick-read” ability, which us good for 90% of the cases, but not for this book. This had to be red thoroughly! So I waited, until this Greek vacation, when I had the chance to enjoy the book to its most.

To me reading “Zero Day” was pure (hacking) pleasure. I found it intriguing, brilliant and easy to read. Each page, each chapter was computer action with pace, which only Mark can create. If you’ve seen his presentations, you’d know it. The fact that Mark “knows the stuff” to its core makes the book events quite believable. And scary. Because despite the book is Fiction, the story it tells is surprisingly real. And something, which could happen. And something I hope will never happen.

Computers are very important for our way of life. For our well being, for our security, for our life. Both at “single person” level (i.e. life support system in a hospital) and globally (i.e. nuclear power plant control system). “Zero Day” makes you start seeing the things in quite different, very sharp angle. And if you’re paranoid, it may make you start digging your own underground shelter in you backyard.

However, what I disliked in the book was the “hacker’s slang” of all e-mail and chat there. It’s hard to believe that bright, intelligent people will use keyboards with all vowels taken out. Or that they’ll be so lazy they would prefer to write “brllnt”, instead of “brilliant” for example. They’d be smart people and they’d know that skipping the two vowels would not save then much time typing, but’ll significantly increase their peer’s reading time. So every time I had to read this “hacker text”, I was feeling irritated, because I found it unreal and stupid.

Apart from this, the book is great. Anyone can learn a lot from it about how badly we’re protected. And make some conclusions. And remember it, when his Windows-expert-neighbor tells him how normal and ubercool is to have its Windows Update turned off.

Another interesting thing here is the fact that the book is painting the picture of cyber Apocalypse, based on computers with Windows OS. I know Mark is not a person, who’d eat any marketing bullshit (he’s just too high at Microsoft for someone to start nailing his book script), but I also wonder if anyone from the Company approached him “on time) with demand to change something regarding that. It’ll be very interesting to know, but of course we’ll never know :).

To conclude: “Zero Day” is highly recommended cyber-crime, cyber-security novel, which any computer geek will enjoy for sure. About non-tech geeks I can’t tell you yet, but one non-tech geek already requested to lend her the book, so we’ll see quite soon 🙂

Samsung/Google Nexus S Battery and Processor Drain Issue

Samsung/Google Nexus S Battery and Processor Drain Issue

This turned out to be very long post, go here if you just care for the summary, not the details!

Recently, I obtained my new (company) phone, Google Nexus S. I was very excited, because all reviews, statistics, etc. showed that it must be great, full with newest OS and functionalities device. I got the phone from DeliveryShop, who delivered it to me directly from USA’s BestBuy shops.

The first days I was quite happy pal, I had great, new toy to play with and I had not seen any issues so far. I loaded the phone with many apps, and it was behaving more than satisfactory. Plus, the device is very slick, with nice black, curved design. Very, very nice looking.

After few days with the phone I noticed the first issue: my contacts suddently became very slow to search through. It was taking literally 5-10 seconds after I type the name to get the first (not so narrow) results, and another 5-10 seconds to see actually what I was looking for. It seemed I was not alone: the same issue “My nexus S runs out of battery real fast and slows down on contact search” you can read at the Google Mobile forums (and more than once, actually). I was very astonished why this happens, I was also quite irritated. Come on, they’ve got to be kidding me to wait for more than 10 seconds for search! And on a phone, coming from the considered to be top SEARCH company in the world!

Two days later, however, I had more issues to worry about! My phone battery was draining like crazy. Imagine this scenario: I unplug my phone at 98-100% at 07:30, then I travel to work. When I sit on my desk at 08:15 (45 min later), my battery is at 88-90%. I.e., 10% for 45 minutes. Isn’t that just great?

The contacts issue was bad, but at leats bearable (to a degree). This second thing, however, seemed ridiculous! 4 hours battery live for top-notch 2011 model phone is just a big no-no! And I mean – BIG no-no!

The only thing I could research during the week was the phone’s battery report statistics. I saw that the app, which was draining the battery, was… “Android OS”. Great, isn’t it? And the phone tools so far (the system built-in tool and Processor Monitor Widget) did not give me any more information past that. And just “Android OS” using processor at 100% was not good and detailed enough information to me. I needed to know what’s exactly there, but I had no time to research the issue during the week (I noticed the problem Tuesday).
Additionally (and of course), the phone was getting quite warm. It was good, if I needed ellectrical pillow, but since this was just a phone, it was not good at all. The device was getting very warm just above the “Google(tm)” sign, where the camera was placed.

Three days later, however, my irritation was beyound any imagination. I had to constantly seek power source when I was not on a go. And even then, the phone seemed not to be able to charge well via USB: the battery drain was bigger than the USB charge current in most of the cases, so while connected to USB, the phone just… discharged itself slower! But still discharged! During these two days I ended my working day one time with 8% charge, and another time with just 5% charge. No-no!

So I decided that I have no other choice but to start researching the issue. I could not find better analytics app at that time, so Friday afternoon I just did factory reset of my device, paired it to brand new Google account, dedicated to the phone, and installed the minimum set of applications I needed.

Apart from that, I also installed one of the recommended analysis tools: OSMonitor seemed quite good choice. After I installed it, it showed (on the factory reset phone) that the processor usage is normal. OSMonitor also supported notification icon with the current processor usage, similar to the Windows applications Process Explorer or Task Manager. Which was also good, because just with the power button and lighting my screen I could check if the processor is being drained.

After Friday reset all seemed OK, until… this morning (Sunday morning). I woke up just to find out that the processor is again at 100%, my contacts are slow than hell, the phone is sluggish (what you’d expect from computer with 100% idle time going to some app?) and the battery is being graciously drained. This time I was furious! However, this time I also had the right tool installed!

OSMonitor showed that the processor is being busy with the “init” process. If you’re curious what this process is, Wikipeia has very good article about the “init” process. XDA-Developers confirmed my opinion that by no means the “init” process should constantly be at 90-100% processor usage, so I had my main suspect!

Although I had the suspect, it seemed invulnerable. Killing the process immediately brought it back (which is normal for the *nix architecture), again at 90-100%, hungrier for power and battery than ever. Reboot of the device, however, seemed to resolve the issue. Further digging in the XDA forums showed me that some users actually used this technique to “resolve” their problem, other users just returned the device to BestBuy.

The “resolution” did not work for me, neither did the BestBuy return (although I’m almost sure that if I insist, DeliveryShop would assist me with the return and getting new device). But I did not want that, so I continued my search.

My searches immediately pointed me to the Google Code Issue 13130: The process “/ INIT” uses between 70% to 98% CPU. Although having its root from HTC Legend Froyo devices (Nexus S is with Gingerbread), the issue seemed the same like what I was experiencing. In the discusion there people suggested to turn on USB Debugging option (found at Settings => Applications => Development). Somehow this option mitigated the problem (at least to the major amount of people complaining). My option was not switched on, so I did switch it on.

During my searches I also found information that “Google are aware of this issue, but we’re still waiting for the patch”. Well, daaah! I hope they’re fast enough.

I also found one quite interesting speculation about the possible root cause of the issue: in (archived) Google Nexus One Support Forum they’re connecting the init processor usage with pending alarms. I.e., if you have pending alarm set (which I did not had Friday evening and my phone was OK Saturday morning), then the issue does not arise. If you have any pending alarms set (which I had Saturday evening), then you have quite good chance to see the 100% processor usage on the next morning (which I did see this morning, although my alarm was for Monday). So in case the USB Debugging does not resolve my issue, it seems I have still one shot left: to switch to another “alarm application” rather than the included with the phone. But again, this is just a speculation (but still worth checking).

I hope very much that at least one of the workarounds works for me. I will really hate if I have to return my nice Nexus S phone. I really love the phone and I’ll really miss it!

To Summarize

The issue manifestates with Froyo and later based phones (Samsung/Google Nexus S, HTC Legend) with the following symptoms:

  • The phone discharges its battery very quick, approximately for 4-6 hours in my case
  • The phone gets significantly hot and stays hot.
  • The phone contacts search (or any other activity, which counts on idle processor time) is slowed down a lot

The issue has no official hotfix from Google at the present moment (Feb 20th 2011).

You can try one of the following workarounds:

  • Switch on “USB Debugging”, which you can find at “Settings” => “Applications” => “Development”. This is used for development purposes mainly, but mitigates the issue for most of the people.
  • If you use standard built-in Clock alarms, you must delete them all (turning off might not work!) and use different alarms software.

At the moment I’m trying the “USB Debugging” option only. Will keep you posted (if I have nerve and time) about how it’s going.

But at the moment I can only say (ironically): “Good job, Google”! It was more than five years since I had to spend almost full day trying to fix an issue, which I should not find at all in a high-class device like your Nexus S! By the way, when my wife saw what I was doing, the only thing she cared for was: “No matter how this turns, you will NOT get back from me my phone, right?” (she’s using my Windows 7 Phone, HTC 7 Trophy).

Image (cc) rakh1

Austrian Airlines – the Best Service Ever!

Austrian Airlines – the Best Service Ever!

I wrote this few weeks ago. I still want to publish it: first because it’s the first post, entirely typed with my Galaxy Tab, and second: because I really want to tell how satisfied I am with Austrian airlines service!

“You may now use your electronic devices”. I heard the phrase and I immediately pulled out the tablet, because I just needed to share my recent experience!

I’m on my way to Copenhagen, got some private stuff to handle. Since the direct flight is not that usefil for my case, I’m flying Austrian. Logically – via Vienna.

Unfortunately, these days Vienna got some snow. Lots of it, judging from what I saw on the airport. Because of that, my inbond Vienna flight delayed about 40 minutes.  That wouldn’t be an issue, if I did not had exactly 40 minutes to transfer myself from gate B35 to gate C37 – a distance, which required at leasr 25 minutes on foot. I was quite worried, because I really needed 2 days in CPH and it seemed I will definitely miss my connecting flight…

So far I have at least 200 flights in my career,  with more than 20 different airlines. Maybe some day I should try to make the list precise. I thought I already knew what to expect: a lot of nerves while waiting in the buss, then running, then shortcut through the security lines (if people allow me), then again running and at the end – mosy probably excuses on the service deck and different flight, most probably tomorrow.  There was no way to catch a plane, which leaves the airport at 20:00, because my plane opened its doors on bus gate at 19:45.

However, OS made it happen. I was quite surprised to hear just before leaving the plane that all passengers to FRA, CPH and * must contact the ground crew outside the aircraft. Hmmm, this sounded like a new jope for the good.

We were total of 5 people to these 3 critical destinations. We had a dedicated mini bus and person, who took us through all necessary procedures (passport check and security) as quick as possible, without wasting a single minute. Then she drove us directly at the service entrances of each gate (mine was 2nd, since FRA guys were delaying even more) and we went directly in the waiting aircraft.

I almost gave up that flight, but thanks to the great service, I succeeded to catch it and to go normally through the rest of my CPH tasks.

From now on, when considering any flght optons, I’ll check Austrian first!

Facebook Connect за моя блог

Facebook Connect за моя блог

Днес ми светна къде и какво миналата седмица ме е обърквало, че да не мога да си настроя Facebook Connect плъгина! И като ми светна, всичко взе че тръгна от раз. Какво точно беше ще пиша на английски, в следващ пост.

Сега накратко искам да помоля всички коментиращи, освен стандартните “common sense” правила, да спазват още едно – ако ще коментират, да го правят през Facebook акаунта си, ако имат такъв. Само 2 клика е, спестява писане по поленцата (ако вече ги нямате), а е много удобно.

Всички останали, които имат акаунт в моя блог, може да си “вържат” акаунта с техния Facebook акаунт, за да им е още по-удобно при коментиране.

Предварително ви благодаря!

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