broken gear chromebook Engineer google

This Chromebook is Dead

Deceased, kaput, no longer of this world – dead Chromebook motherboard

It is with a tinge of no real sadness that I present to you an image of a dead Chromebook motherboard. The Samsung Chromebook too is dead, on account of the non functioning motherboard.

It wasn’t a huge loss because these things are so cheap they are almost disposable. And disposing of it I am indeed doing. The dismembering of the Chromebook, I hesitate to call it a computer because that makes me think Microsoft, has been done for two reasons.

Firstly out of simple curiosity to see what it looks like inside. Secondly although I didn’t keep much data on the 16GB solid state drive there would have been some files of I know not what provenance and so it seemed to make sense to permanently delete this memory. Just what you would have done in the old hard drive days but slightly different.

As you can see the ssd now has a nail in it, driven firmly in by my handy Leatherman Multi-tool. No one should be without one.

The dead Chromebook motherboard itself is worth dwelling on. It’s diminutive nature represents beauty and the plastic shell in which it was mounted, consisting mostly of screen, keyboard and a couple of speakers, evidence of how cheap these things really are to churn out.

It is the future. Low cost, disposable computing resource and User Interface.

I include an earlier photo of the dead Chromebook motherboard for comparison together with

broken gear End User Mobile

Broken S4 screen and Oneplus One availability

Broken S4 screen once again in insurance claim and Oneplus One availability is somewhat of a disappointment.

Broken S4 screen once again. It’s either my second or third breakage since getting the phone. I get it repaired under the insurance that comes with my bank account. Fifty quid.

The last time it went I decided that if it happened again I’d use the opportunity to find a new phone. It’s happened again. I’ve looked around for a new phone.

I don’t need to get a new contract and so would be paying SIM free prices. This is ok except that the functionality of my Galaxy S4 is fine. I don’t feel the need to buy the latest and greatest just to have a slightly more curved screen or an optimised power button position – you know what I mean. These new phones offer very little over and above those introduced a year or so ago. If they offered unbreakable screens that might be different.

So I looked around. My instinctive port of call was the Nexus 5. A Google phone without the bloatware. To my surprise I found a newer better cheaper Android phone called the Oneplus One. Great power consumption, great processor etc and running Android CynaogenMod. Looked perfect on the face of it.

In town I popped in to Carphone Warehouse to see if I could touch and feel one. They had never heard of it. That rang a small alarm so I went home and did some more research. It’s mostly released in the US of A but can be easily imported. However the it has a limited support for 4g frequencies and will only give you the higher data rates on O2 and 3 in the UK. I’m with O2 but don’t want to restrict myself from moving in the future. An issue but not a showstopper.

The showstopper for me came when I tried to order one. I couldn’t. Take a look at their webpage. I either had to be invited to buy one by an existing owner or enter a competition. I’m sure that with my vast array of social media contacts I could find someone, or someone who knew someone with a oneplus one.

Tbh I can’t be bothered. It isn’t compelling enough to go to the effort. I’ve paid the fifty quid to repair my broken s4 screen. I’ll wait. Either they will bring out a version with more UK frequencies and launch it without the faff or Google will bring out a new Nexus 5. I hear they have stopped making the existing Nexus 5.

I’ve got loads of posts on broken phones over the years. It seems to be a common thread especially for the Samsung Galaxy range. Check out the category here.

Bad Stuff broadband broken gear Engineer

Faster Fibre Broadband Internet Connections

Attempting to explain some of the mystique surrounding broadband connections, (mostly) in layman’s terms.

I will attempt here to clarify some of the mystery surrounding fibre broadband connections while also offering suggestions for how to overcome some of the more confusing aspects of obtaining a faster service.

Virgin Media (mainly in urban areas) and BT describe their products as Fibre Broadband, although they both only use fibre-optic (glass) cables up to the street cabinets. Virgin then have a single coaxial cable t provide a reliable connection up to 150 Mbps to many properties along each road, whereas BT’s broadband delivers their services by sharing individual aging twisted pair telephone lines.

The BT solution is crucially dependent on good quality short lines (around 300m) between your new green cabinet (where the faster equipment is located) and your property, to achieve their fastest speeds, though sadly, many have quite long telephone lines that are often in a poor state of repair and some longer lines are not offered any service improvement at all. Poor installation practice complicates matters, and often fails to achieve optimum broadband performance. Note also that the faster services are usually available at an increased cost, with additional costs charged by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sometimes hidden by low monthly usage limits.

The BT Group are responsible for the delivery of both phone and broadband, although you can pay for those services via a number of different service providers to which BT Wholesale offers the services (all of which rely on BT Openreach to maintain and install new services). Repairs are inevitably required, so the quality and ease of fault rectification is an important factor when selecting an ISP. Unsurprisingly, there is reluctance to replace the ageing line plant, and BT along with others’ lower cost options sometimes suffer with “customer diversion” tactics.

Discovering Availability

Surrey CC publishes lists of all the postcodes where their subsidised services are usually available, but exclude the so-called commercial deployment areas. The postcode data includes all properties regardless of quality and sometimes even availability. BT Wholesale offers an estimate for those lines where they currently provide a service, however if you use other suppliers such as Sky and the Carphone Warehouse group (TalkTalk, AOL, Tiscali etc.) you must rely on the BT Wholesale Availability Checker (although the figures are often identical).

There are a number of quite serious errors within the BT Wholesale database, so it’s important to verify the estimates where practicable. Checking both phone number and address is useful, as is checking neighbours’ addresses as well. If you are unfortunate enough to have bad substandard lines, the checker hides the fact that your green cabinet is available but useless; although the estimate page does contain the phrase “Fibre multicast” (for sport, etc.) is available”, so you can detected that you are excluded. It’s a good idea to measure the distance between your property and the green cabinet, too, taking account of the line route if it is known. Surrey CC’s valuable interactive mapping utility includes a distance measuring tool.

BT Wholesale Broadband Availability Checker

The speed estimation is based upon existing line quality and distance from the Distribution Point (DP). This is the point on the cable where multiple services separate down to smaller or single lines fanning out to individual houses. The compromise is reasonably satisfactory where the houses are all grouped a short distance away from the DP, but it is notoriously bad where several kilometres of single cables continue to a small cluster or a single house.

There are strong indications that BT Wholesale recently increased the threshold, to prohibit the poorer lines from obtaining any faster service at all. As well as line distance to the green cabinet, there are large differences in line quality, depending upon the conductor thickness and the number of joints sometimes damaged by water ingress (and, no doubt, many other causes). Also, line routings do not always follow the most direct route, especially if there has been property development since original phone lines were installed, and though it may be very frustrating for the end user, it would be quite impossible from a cost viewpoint for BT Openreach to re-wire even a fraction of the UK. If the UK, though, is to prosper the entire country must somehow install true fibre to every property. Of course, this is almost impossible within the current Political and Commercial climate, except for a few tiny commercial ventures and some quite remarkable rural Community efforts like

It should be noted that the BT Wholesale Broadband Availability Checker figures are not used to justify repair activity by BT Openreach until the actual speed has deteriorated well below the lowest estimated speed. In some cases, the estimate is dropped when repair activities have not met with full success, presumably to avoid a repeat site visit.

If a property does not have any BT phone line, the BT Wholesale Broadband Availability Checker won’t provide any estimate at all. In such a case the unfortunate resident may have a lot of bother and obfuscation to obtain a faster service as without a BT Wholesale estimate it can be near impossible to obtain a faster service. One approach is to contact BT Care via twitter, even if you have no intention of selecting a BT retail offering.

As a last resort you might ask for a helping hand from your MP.

Installation Procedures

BT Openreach often employ subcontractors to install new faster broadband services, personnel who for the most part are not equipped with any expensive test instruments nor trained in their use. A subcontractor’s remit is to observe the DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) connection light that indicates that the modem has synchronised (i.e., connected) to the green cabinet at any speed. The modem and cabinet equipment then observe the line performance over a period of at least one day. up to the 10 days “training period” BT Wholesale quote. Unsurprisingly, line speeds rarely improve over time without a BT Openreach repair visit, which must be arranged by your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP) after you have completed your own investigations.

Importantly, subcontractors do not examine the end user’s house wiring (it isn’t BT’s property), which can leave the end user ignorant of whether their house wiring may be causing severe line performance problems. Of course, BT Openreach do offer a line improvement service…at some cost.

Optimising House Wiring

Many houses have quite complicated line extensions, some of which can be wrongly connected. As the faster services are much more fragile, it is imperative that the new modem be connected directly to the master socket, possibly with a new extension socket, but without any other house wiring involved. All extensions must be connected AFTER the new master socket integral filter, which should be provided as part of the installation. It follows, naturally, that many problems are best avoided by optimising house wiring BEFORE installation day.

BT Openreach Maintenance

Even a casual observer can see that the Public Switched Telephone network is not being adequately maintained in some cases. The BT Group only have a “Universal Service Obligation” for a phone line; all domestic broadband services are only provided on a best endeavours basis.

Modem Speed Operation

Discovering how a broadband modem operates is not an easy task as there are many complex factors involved. Some aspects involve the Dynamic Line Management (DLM) function, which attempts to maintain an optimum speed but that can be confounded if an intermittent line fault is present. DLM will then reduce the line’s performance in an attempt to maintain a stable connection.

Matters are made even worse as BT Openreach lock their modems down so the end user is unable to monitor the line condition in sufficient detail. Most users are probably limited to recording speed tests at various times of the day and night. A specialist, though, can unlock one modem giving access to vast amounts of data recorded continuously. The BT Group also has access to similar data available for every line connected through one of the new cabinets. Finally, BT Openreach engineers have test instruments that allow them access to some of the parameters, but not usually over the long periods necessary to investigate intermittent noise-induced problems.

Apps Bad Stuff broken gear End User gadgets H/W internet

Fie on Eye-Fi

Transferring photos directly from your digital camera to a hard drive via wifi. A sweet idea, to be sure, and a functionality that now seems to be built into pretty much every new digital camera model coming off the producton lines. This was not the case just a short time ago, though, and this is the raison d’etre for Eye-Fi.

For those of you not already in-the-know, Eye-Fi is a company that produces SD and SDHC memory cards that supply digital cameras with secure wifi capability in addition to the usual photo file storage. They also produce software that works in conjunction with their product line, helping their customers to facilitate the use of their Eye-Fi cards (read: essentially owning the process of wirelessly transferring their customers photos and video from camera to computer). Eye-Fi memory cards work with just about any digital camera that makes use of a SD or SDHC memory card. They come in a variety of different storage capacities, are powered via the camera itself, and — supposedly — work up to a range of 90+ feet outdoors and 45+ feet indoors (yeah, that made me go “Huh?” too). Setup is quite easy, though due to configuration necessities it is a bit more complex than just pop-in-and-go. Of course, with so many different cameras in Eye-Fi’s purview it simply is not possible to offer a single file transfer performance standard, however to the company’s credit they do offer copious information and support on their website that is granulated down to the camera maker model level. And the associated Eye-Fi software extends the basic functionality of an Eye-Fi card, allowing for fine-tuned file organization, real-time file transfer, and file geotagging.

So all in all, Eye-Fi offers one handy-dandy, extremely cool, and very useful piece of digital photography tech…none of which is going to keep me from slagging it from one end of this page to the other.

Regular readers (and understand, please, that by ‘regular’ I am not implying normalcy) know that I have something of a propensity to slightly anthropomorphize objects to which I assign high value. My computer, my bicycle, my moped, certain knives…all tactile things that I have given names to, might in rare moments utter a conversational word to, and which I have kitted out with high-quality accessories. Naturally this extends to my go-to digital camera, my beautiful and beloved Leyna the Leica D-Lux 5, which over the years I have adorned with an EVF (Electronic Viewfinder), a lens adaptor tube, various filters, extra batteries, and a handcrafted leather half-case. And because I adore the lovely Leyna both outside and in, last summer I bought her an Eye-Fi Pro X2 16GB card.

Fie on Eye-Fi

Finally! Wireless file transfer…the one essential feature Leyna did not have! I can take a picture here…and it will render over there! No longer would I need to remove Leyna’s SD card to experience the fruit of her labor. Now I could just navigate to the date-stamped directory created by the Eye-Fi software or open iPhoto and there my photos would be, ready for editing, viewing, sharing. Internet-age technology at its absolute zenith!

Heh. No. Eye-Fi started breaking its promises from the get-go, without even a brief “Honeymoon” period. Dingy slow file transference, an inability to circumvent Leyna’s power savings settings when doing its work, a need to be in a direct line of sight with the network router (thus partially explaining the “outside” versus “inside” transfer distance “Huh?” listed in the specifications…numbers that were wildly exaggerated, too, I must add), dropped connections…it all made for a lot of expectations swallowing on my part, while also forcing me to change workflows and camera settings just to get some semablance of usable functionality from my new handy-dandy, extremely cool…yeah, whatever.

I persisted with Eye-Fi in spite of the distinct lack of satisfaction I was getting from the device and technology, believing that I could adapt to the workarounds I had to put in place to get it working in my digital photo scheme of things. Perhaps a future firmware update would smooth out the kinks between Leyna and Eye-Fi, I thought (hoped), or maybe the two devices would spontaneously comee to work better together over time (OK, I didn’t really believe that, but I’d spent $99 on the darn card and really really REALLY wanted it to work as expected…as promised). And a firmware update did come along, as did a software update, and I boosted the wifi in both the flat and at our Normandy maison secondaire…but still, the relationship didn’t markedly improve. A few months in, frustrated yet again with Eye-Fi’s slow and spotty performance I found myself (gasp!) taking it out of Leyna and putting it into AppleKory’s card reader to more quickly grab the files therein. Purpose defeated, and now I was the owner of an extremely expensive 16GB SD card.

And that is the way it was with me, Leyna, and Eye-Fi tech until just recently when I became just a little more serious in my photography, making the leap to shoot in RAW and migrating from Apple’s game-but-wanting iPhoto to Adobe’s magnificent Lightroom 5. Now, a passionless relationship mired in apathy has gone downright cold. When asked to transfer jpeg files via card reader the Eye-Fi card and software proved up to the task, performing as well as any other SD card. With much larger RAW files, though? This past Sunday evening upon returning from a 4-day weekend I removed the Eye-Fi card from Leyna and set it up in the card reader for file transfer. It had been a few weeks since I had last offloaded the card and in the interim I had snapped about 2000 photos (the result of a conspiracy involving a glorious spring in France, three stateside visitors, a two-day London excursion, a day at Futuroscope, and a three-day weekend spent in and around La Rochelle). 14+ hours. That is how long it took Eye-Fi to empty 12GB onto my hard drive. 14+ hours, a speed of just under 2.1 mbps, and this via card reader…I shudder to imagine how long it would’ve taken via wifi!

I know a lot of people are quite satisfied with their Eye-Fi cards and have been for some time — did my due diligence, I did — and that one man’s bad experience does not a product assessment make. That said, with all of the problems and disappointments I have endured, and following the utter debacle of my last file transfer, I will soon be turning my own Eye-Fi card loose on the ravages of eBay, and let the buyer beware!

Related posts:

broken gear End User

Breaking news – I bought a Microsoft PC – 5 broken laptops in our house

asus windows8 laptopI bought a new Microsoft PC. It isn’t really breaking news because I mentioned it in a post last week. Ordinarily I’d keep quiet about such an acquisition because it is an embarrassment to have to resort to such retro technology. I only bought it because I have a single application that needs to run on Windows.

However I am prompted to discuss it because in our house 4 out of 5 Microsoft laptops have gone wrong in one way or another over the last few weeks.

Kid4’s screen went – he has now inherited my old work Dell laptop which being a Dell i5 he is happy about. Has to use an external sound card though because the internal one is broken.

Kid3’s screen is getting decidedly dodgy. Not the screen itself but the hinges are coming apart. Kid3 is starting to think the unthinkable and is looking at Macbooks (urggglergnffs££££).

Kid2’s screen broke a few weeks ago. This follows a repair job we had to have done to get her fan to work. She has seen the light and purchased a Chromebook. The Microsoft laptop now acts as a lampstand or some other similarly useful function.

Last week we have had a flurry of communications from Kid1, the heir, who needs his laptop for work but which now doesn’t work. Something has gone wrong with Windows 8 that prevents it from properly booting. His only recourse has been to spend £110 tvm on installing a new hard drive and a new instance of Windows 8.

My wife Anne’s laptop picked up the Chatzum adware crap and is looking pretty terminal. From previous experience with similar problems it isn’t worth trying to fix. It is either going to be totally rebuilt using a copy of XP sourced from an as yet undetermined location or like as not consigned to the great electrical scrapyard in the sky. The new laptop, used largely for that single application has been designated as hers for the purpose of performing occasional tasks that aren’t so easy on her iPad. Uploading stuff to eBay mostly.

The problems with Kids 2 – 4 laptops are down to build quality. They were all reasonably cheap purchases.  This is no excuse in a mass production world where quality should improve not deteriorate with time. You might say “what do you expect with cheapo laptops” but who is going pay top dollar for a teenager’s computer? And when I say cheap I mean £350 to £400 cheap. These low cost laptops were still almost twice the price of a Chromebook.

The Chatzum problem is in my mind a legacy of an old order, a decaying Microsoft bug ridden world which will eventually disappear from our communal consciousness. Ditto Windows8.

In the meantime life goes on, broken hinge or no broken hinge. I haven’t had the Chromebooks long enough to make comparisons but they are lighter, have solid state hard drives and just feel better and if one does break it isn’t going to break the bank to get a new one.

The age of the Windows PC is coming slowly but inexorably to an end. In a previous post I forecast that the death date to be sometime in 2022. Gut feel is that it is still on track although as the end approaches things tends to accelerate, like falling off the edge of a cliff.

What is interesting about that new PC-less world is that all applications will have moved online. The only reason Kid4 needs a PC is to run games. The day surely can’t be far off where all his games are available as a service online. Many of them already are. Another argument for having hardware is for video processing. I already use for my photo editing. Why shouldn’t there be an equivalent service available for videos. Probably already is.

Having everything in the cloud makes so much more sense from many aspects – reliability, cost and convenience. All I have to do is make sure that there is adequate connectivity. I realise that this will immediately raise the hackles of the rural broadband activists amongst you but that is a completely different discussion.

The PC is dying. Long live the cloud.

Other really good reads but totally unassociated with this subject:

Spot the difference – Brandon Butterworth
A day at the races

agricultural broken gear food and drink fun stuff Weekend

Saturday Snapshot (10-May-2014)

Corner anyone in France and ask them what the first thing is that comes to mind when they think of Normandy. Will they answer “The cream/butter/cheese/crepes/Calvados!”? Maybe. Will they answer “D-Day!” or “French liberation!” Uh…probably not. “Le Mont St. Michel”? I’d be shocked. No, the first word that typically comes to the lips of any self-respecting French person in association with Normandy is “rain”.

Of course, for the purpose of this website and its primary intended audience, all French person enunciations are translated into English. Glad to get that out in front here. OK, continuing…

Yes, Normandy is notorious for being one extremely rainy place, and not without good reason. I cannot offer any statistics (and it isn’t as if anyone reading my words here would really want to trudge through them, anyway), but after nearly 8 years of part-time residency in Pays d’Auge — Normandy’s finest area, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise — I can say with authority that anyone coming to the region unprepared to deal with the wet stuff has their head in the clouds.

Oh, don’t be afraid to laugh. Sure, that crack was a little on-the-nose, but that doesn’t mean it is undeserving of your smile. Really, is it wrong that so much of why I enjoy writing is the opportunities it presents for entertaining myself?

My Missus and I planned to head over to the regular Saturday farmer’s market in Lisieux, and no grey skies or drizzly misty rain or unseasonal May temps (for non-Normandy France places, anyway) was going to keep us from doing so. There were Orbecs to be had — reason enough to throw on a slicker — and other delectables as well. Fresh-pressed apple juice..cream so magical it should come with its own fairy tale..a tub of those remarkable slow-cooked potatoes with lardon that make me want to do handstands, somersaults, cartwheels, and other gymnastic acts I no longer have any hope of completing. We would not be daunted.

Arriving in Lisieux, My Missus headed to a parking lot in which we usually have success, and slipped our tiny rental car into the last visible spot, skirting just ahead of some noodnik who was just a little too interested in his phone at just the wrong moment. Survival of the fittest, baby. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that our rental was an itty-bitty Fiat Panda on this day, a “car” that wouldn’t survive collision with a good-sized rodent let alone any vehicle on the road.) So soon enough we were walking — singing? — in the rain, the market in our sights.

Overcast skies and dark clouds are lousy conditions under which to take photos (color photos, anyway), so at first I figured I wouldn’t be adding to my collection of market photos. Still, I had our Olympus TG-1 in tow (a “tough” camera, a possession of my father-in-law’s that My Missus came to when he passed on about a year ago) and megapixels are really cheap, so I resolved to snap, just to see where my eye fell on such a day. Tentative at first — no matter how alive and colorful a bunch of radishes seems, there would be better Saturdays for that kind of image — I shortly found myself firing at every marginally interesting umbrella that fell within view.

Only once before can I recall spending more than a minute-and-a-half considering umbrellas, that being back in the first semester of my first year of university (1983, nosy reader) when I wrote a one-page essay for an Introduction to Creative Writing class on the necessity of having one on a rainy night walking around midtown Manhattan (lest one fall victim to those in the hands of others). I have owned umbrellas, of course (though I don’t think I’ve actually ever paid for one), and I have never had a bone to pick with one (though I never think to grab one when leaving my dwelling on a rainy day), but other than that long-ago-lost five-paragraph throw-down I have never paid them much mind. Perhaps, then, this is why all of a sudden on a rainy Saturday Normandy morning I was finding umbrellas to be so devastatingly curious.


At first I just waited for the umbrellas to come my way, content with serendipity’s role. Before much time at all had passed, though, I was on the hunt, leaving My Missus to take care of our market needs.

“That one is boring so I won’t bother.” “That one must’ve come from some trade show or other.” “Wow! that is one big-ass umbrella!” “Strange the high percentage of mostly-broken umbrellas people seem content to continue putting to (hardly good) use.” “I wonder, is the fact that her umbrella matches her purse and shoes intended or a just happy accident of fate?” “Funny how I don’t know what My Missus’s umbrella looks like…I wonder if she is wondering where I am?”

The mind, once focused, can be a powerful, dangerous, slippery place, indeed, and there are puddles everywhere!

Related posts:

broken gear End User phones

Day 8 without the SGS4 – all callers are anonymous and Spitfire-less posts

sgs5 logoThere is light at the end of the dark tunnel of phonelessness. Emails have been received:

(from the insurance people) Good news, Your mobile phone has been repaired and is on its way back to you by our courier DPD.
Kind Regards,The Repair Team.

(from the courier) Your Lifestyle Services Group order is due to be delivered on Tuesday 6th May by DPD. Please ensure that someone is available to sign for your delivery. Lifestyle Services Group

(from the insurance people) Good Evening,Your handset has been repaired and will be despatched within three working days by courier and will need to be signed for.Kind Regards,The Mobile Phone Insurance Claims Team

This is indeed good news although the third email also mentioned that I “should receive a text or email from DPD confirming your one hour delivery window”. The text didn’t provide me with that window and I have a meeting in town that morning so I could miss them. Will have to look into that one.

In my Day 5 without a phone post I mentioned that screen size and response time were the two main factors going against the Galaxy Mini. A few more days and I now realise that the fact that I don’t have my address book in the phone is a real nuisance. I don’t know who is calling or anyone’s number when I want to call them. Now I could stick my Google credentials in and get all that but it will confuse the phone as it already has Kid4’s info in and I don’t want to mess it about. To all intents and purposes I’m treating it as a good old fashioned mobile phone (a GOFMP – the POT of the mobile world).

Perhaps more significantly is the lack of a camera. Yesterday I spent the day at the Lincoln RFC grand opening with former club captain and TV sports anchorman John Inverdale cutting the tape. There were loads of photo opportunities. Blokes  struggling to play rugby again having hung up their boots years ago for example. It was a hot day!

We also had the best Spitfire flypast it has ever been my privilege to see. We get these a fair bit in Lincolnshire as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is based here. I often find mysef running out of the hause to look up to the sky when a Spit or the Lanc flies past. Yesterday we knew exactly when the plane was due and it duly arrived to order. It flew in low as if on an attack run. Did this three times then after the last waggled its wings and off it went. The Spitfire was low enough to very easily read the wing markings and would have been a perffect photo or video opportunity for sharing with (avid) readers of the weekend section.

Alas this was not to be as I will not get my SGS4 back until Tuesday. As you know.

It has to be said I miss my phone. I realise that there was once a time when we walked the earth without such appendages. People will say it didn’t seem to harm us but consider this. Average life expectancy has gradually increased during my own lifetime. This will be down to a combination of many factors and some of these factors will involve the mobile phone.

I’m not talking about a device I can use to make phone calls on the go. I’m taking about the all singing all dancing computer I use to track my walk times to work, send highly relevant and often amusing tweets and Instant Messages to friends around the globe, monitor the movement of shipping across the maritime world, post interesting blog articles from wherever I am, read the papers, send and receive emails, mark emails as spam (:)), translate menus into a recognisable language, check my finances, help me find a destination when I’m on my way somewhere for the first time, find train times, book train tickets, plan holidays, serve as a timer for the perfect poached egg, find bbq recipes, watch TV, get involved in video hangouts, research business opportunities and contacts, take photos and make videos. I’d better stop. The list is endless. I do it all from my mobile phone. Making phone calls is a very minor part of its functionality.

I have missed my phone.  The one thing I haven’t missed is checking the damn thing every other minute to see if there has been an update! Nevertheless I am very much looking forward to getting it back which will, I’m told, be sometime on Tuesday. Hooray


Seriously mixed up of Lincoln

Follow the broken SGS4 screen saga and other related posts:

Day 5 without the broken SGS4 – big screen/little screen/responsive screen
Day 3 without a phone
First night without a phone
Mobile phone insurance claims
This iPhone is dead

broken gear End User phones

Day 5 without the SGS4 – big screen/little screen/responsive screen

sgs4Almost sounds as if I’m someone talking about being in rehab when I say it’s day 5 without the phone. I still find myself picking up the temporary replacement, the Galaxy Mini, as if I’m about to use it to access twitter and my other regular internet haunts. I don’t use it for anything other than voice and sms.

Kid4, whose phone the Mini is, has now adopted Kid3’s old but cracked GalaxyS3. Kid3 in turn is using my Nokia Lumia 920 which he seems happy with (must get it from his mum – I never got on with Windows Phone). Kid4 walks around clutching the S3 in a way that he never did with the Galaxy Mini.

I asked him what was better about the S3 compared with the Mini and the answer was “bigger screen and more responsive”. I think that, in a nutshell, is also my perception. Although for me the S3 is old tech it is still better than a small fistful of a phone because it is more usable. Handset manufacturers have been pushing the boundaries of screen size because clearly the punters prefer bigger.

The limitation is the size of people’s hands and their thumbspan, if such a term exists (if it doesn’t it does now). The responsiveness of the phone is a combination of the design, processor and software, and its speed of access to the outside world, ie the internet. Using the SGS4 over 4G as opposed to 3G is generally a much better experience.

I am informed, via email channels, that my S4 is now in the hands of the repairers and expect it to be dispatched within three working days. That must mean I get it next Wednesday which will be good timing because I’m off to London on Thursday and won’t want to carry any baggage aka Chromebook – lightweight baggage though that may be.

S4_thumbI have generally tended to have three sorts of problems with my phones: something wrong with the USBport/charging mechanism, broken screen and recently a software issue that destroys the micro SD card. One assumes that the latter will get fixed with revisions of software. The USB issue would go away if I used contactless charging. I don’t know where that tech is at. Does anyone use it?

The broken screen could be solved by using cheap disposable screens that don’t necessarily have to be part of the actual phone itself. I assume Bluetooth has the bandwidth to manage the interaction between screen and processor. I’ve discussed this before and the more I think about it the more obvious it is.

Why do we need to bother taking the phone out of our pocket or bag? It would be much safer there. Less likely to get left on the table at the cafe and less likely to get smashed or dropped into a bucket of water.

The one scenario where this probably doesn’t work is when I’m using the phone as a camera. In this case I’ll need a bit screen on the handset. There has to be a way to make it work. I use the camera a lot.

Come next Wednesday I doubt Kid4 will want his Galaxy Mini back. It looks destined for a drawer. I will hopefully have a perfectly serviceable S4 back from the menders and move forward with a nagging doubt that what I really want is a native Android phone without Samsung software clutter but with a detachable disposable screen and a great camera with at least 10x optical zoom, though 20x would be better.

There ya go…

broken gear End User phones

Day 3 without a phone #broken #SGS4

sgs4This is my third day without a phone. It isn’t completely true to say that as in Kid4’s Samsung Galaxy Mini I do have a means of making phone calls. It just isn’t much use for anything else and even as a mobile telephone it has limits – the battery life is totally pants. I’m sure I could buy a phone that was just used as a phone without needing to even think of charging it more than once a week.

Although I normally use social media channels for communications more than voice, funnily enough I did use the Galaxy Mini a fair bit yesterday. Kids needing to talk, me needing to phone accountants & Mrs Davies for who social media is something she just uses by proxy. ie asks me to do it.

The email from the menders with instructions on where to send the broken SGS4 arrived whilst I was in the office yesterday. It has some sort of voucher for me to include when sending the phone away for repair. Not having a printer in the office I emailed it to the one at home and the voucher was waiting for me when I got home together with the form for the school trip that had needed handing in that morning but had taken quite some time to get from Anne’s iPad onto the paper.

So this morning on my way in I am swinging by the Post Office to send the phone off by registered post. It should take another week or so, if they hold to the SLA. That’s one phone charge for a phone or seven for a Samsung Galaxy Mini. It’s no wonder Kid4 wants an iPhone! My brain tells me to hold back on that one though I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do it.

Today is supposed to be the launch date of the Samsung Galaxy K – the version of the S5 with an optical zoom camera. I may yet be tempted but will wait and see. Votch zis space.

Related posts:

First night without a phone
Mobile phone insurance claims
This iPhone is dead

broken gear End User gadgets H/W phones

SD card unexpectedly removed SGS4

It’s not looking good. Just had notification on Samsung Galaxy S4 that “SD card unexpectedly removed”. This is the same message I was getting before the last SD card was wiped.

If we recall, the SGS4 was launched on 26th April 2013.  This means that my SGS4 is less than 1 year old1 and it looks a if it is about to destroy a second SD card. Notwithstanding the fact that the phone is less than a year old and it is already my second SGS4. My first had a faulty USB socket.

Frankly this is totally unacceptable. These are very expensive devices. The reliability is atrocious. I am going to take this up with Samsung as a point of principle. Stay tuned…

1 in fact I got it on 13th May 2013.

broken gear End User

This is a broken badminton racket

a broken badminton racketBorn in a factory somewhere in the manufacturing world of a design by Carlton this badminton racket survived only two outings before it met an untimely end. We shall shed no tears. Mourn not. We have to move on. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on what may have been. It is what it is. It is no more.

RIP Carlton KINESIS. Length 670mm, frame weight 86g, balance even, flex medium. Delivered on a Monday, smashed on the following Saturday.


broken gear End User mobile apps storage backup & dr

Credit where credit is due – Windows 7 networking

Trefor Davies photo storage requirements ytd 2012Yesterday my SD  card blew up on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Not literally of course otherwise the nature of this post would be different. It would probably be ringed with a thick black border mourning the passing of one of the brightest prospects ever to have graced the Morning Star. Either that or it would be quite short as I might well have been typing one handed having been removed from the operating theatre via intensive care to a big ward where I would have felt quite out of place being young and full of life.

Last night I spent some time on the Netgear ReadyNAS retrieving files. Except

broken gear End User phones

Content of SD card appears to have been wiped on Samsung Galaxy S4

As an additional note to my previous post it would appear that all the content on my SD card has been wiped. I’ll have to check it when I get home in case it is just the phone not seeing it. It’s not just the music but around 1,200 photos and videos.

Is this a problem? Nooo. It is an irritation because I’ll have to reload the music from my NAS box backup. The photos will also be safe on the NAS box and also in Google+ (I’ve checked). Doesn’t engender confidence though.

At the same time I said yes to a Samsung software update and now some of the cookies have disappeared. I’m having to re-enter credentials on Twitter though not on Facebook or LinkedIn. Odd. Must be having a bad hair day. I need a haircut anyway. Perhaps I’ll nip out this pm and get it done:).

Bad Stuff broken gear End User

SD card unexpectedly removed from Samsung Galaxy S4

sd card removedI’m getting a message from my Samsung Galaxy S4 saying SD card unexpectedly removed.

My thought go something like this. “Omg not more hardware problems with a Samsung Galaxy.” In the past I’ve had a plethora of USB connector problems, “water damage” problems (not!), screen problems. I’ve even had an SD card problem where I hard to replace the SD card becasue it was corrupting some of my photos including some imporatant ones with the kids at a Test match at Trent Bridge.

Now it looks like another but different SD card problem looming. I’m not naturally a pessimist but nowadays Samsung phones seem to do that to me. I’ve gone from a big fan, principally because they were the main alternative to me becoming an Apple zombie, to looking forward to when I have to change to a Nexus.

Reality is that all these gadgets are probably made in the same factories, looking down on a rice field somewhere where the a green eyed yellow idol casts its shadow1. I doubt there is much difference in reliability between brands.

The point is that whilst they tend to only last a year or two these devices are not cheap throwaway gadgets. They typically cost four or five hundred pounds each (doing a quick conversion that’s four or five hundred dollars to American readers).

They must think we are mugs. Or zombies. We probably are. There is no point in fighting it. Yes master.

It has to evolve to the way the Chromebook is going. Devices have to be cheap enough for it not to matter if they break, drown, are lost or stolen. You might think that mobile phones are already a commodity but at he high end and at those prices I’m not sure that is accurate despite the fact that the devices are manufactured in very high volumes.

I guess the problem there is that one you move to just competing on price you have to find other markets to grow your business but it will inevitably happen in the mobile word and perhaps the sooner it does the better. They are already finding it hard to introduce new ideas whenever a new model is launched so innovation must be slowing down. Bring on the disposable mobile phone and beam me up Scotty2.

Other relevant posts:

Samsung Galaxy S3 not charging problem
Samsung Galaxy S4 faulty USB socket

1 Now I’m starting to lose the plot – I heard the poem the green eyed yellow idol on Desert Island Discs this week and I couldn’t think of any another flowery  vegetable related words 🙂
2 In other words it’ll probably be a while yet – I’m sure if I was that bothered I could work when. It’s just a manufacturing cost curve.

bitcoin broken gear End User

Broken Cashpoint/ATM #Bitcoin & the cashless society

This morning on my way in to work I bumped into Tom, kid3’s piano teacher. He reassured me that kid3 was doing very well which is good. We chatted for a bit as we walked along and went our separate ways.

Had I had  to drive to work I would not have bumped into Tom. Nor would I have seen this notice over the ATM cashpoint outside Lloyds Bank. Now the vandalised cashpoint was not any particular inconvenience. The dusty old fiver in my wallet will do me for some time yet.

This does make you think about how much life is left in the “real” money game. The only place I absolutely need cash now is London, where not many taxis take cards or the Morning Star pub where Ness the landlady has a shiver running down her spine every time someone mentions “plastic”.

The offices are in Sparkhouse at the University of Lincoln, right next to the Tower Bar and the Engine Shed. Being a student gaff the beer is very cheap but you always have to queue because all the students use cards and pay for drinks individually – a real bummer if there are ten of them in the “round”. A quick and comprehensive poll of the family student1 reveals that the breed typically only carries a fiver2 around in their pocket/wallet/purse/wad.

I still haven’t got round to setting up that Bitcoin wallet. That’ll be my next job. Hopefully my fiver will last until then.
vandalised lloyds bank atm

More student posts:

What do students and CEOs have in common?
The changing entry-level job market

More Bitcoin posts:

HMRC gives green light to Bitcoin
Bitcoin bet or bubble bursting?

2Like father like daughter eh? 🙂

broken gear Engineer gadgets

External USB sound card to replace broken laptop card

usb_sound_cardPicked up this cracking little USB sound card off eBay for less than two quid, including postage and packaging. It’s for my old Dell laptop. I knocked it off the arm of the settee a year or so back. It fell on the floor and rammed the headphone socket right inside the machine. Ah well.

I’ve lived without sound since then but whilst I rarely use the Dell any it has become Mrs Davies’ machine since hers played up and it seems reasonable for her to have sound, especially for the price.

I’ve only tested it on some old vid on YouTube and it did sound tinny but that might well have been down to my choice of content rather than the actual sound quality. For two quid who is going to complain anyway.

That’s all. Two quid!!?? I’m going to plug in a set of speakers for her so that she can listen to her favourite radio programmes.

Tbh she rarely uses a laptop anymore, It’s all iPad. I’d tell you what make the USB thing is but I can’t tell from the packaging. It looks pretty generic. Made in China, fair play.

Apps broken gear Cloud End User

Breaking news – Kodak Hero 7.1 printer is broken again – error code 3527

My Kodak Hero 7.1 All in one printer is broken again! Printers have always been a bit tempermental haven’t they?

I bought this one on 21st January 2012. At the time Kodak were going into administration. The printer looked a good deal so I also bought the 3 year “Instant Replacement” warrantee as a bit of a guarantee against things going tits up with the printer manufacturing.

On 5th January 2013 I took it back to PC World. The print head carriage was jammed and there was nothing I could do to fix it.

Today I’m taking the replacement back to PC World. Identical problem. Kodak’s support pages unhelpfully suggest I remove anything that might be jamming the print head otherwise to get in touch with their support (presumably not free).

It’s OK. I can take this second Kodak Hero 7.1 back to PC world and swap it for another. I quite like it’s functionality. Cloud printing etc. Bit of a nuisance having to go through the whole registration process again but hey.

I paid £129 for the original printer and £32 for the extended WHATEVER HAPPENS warranty. £129 a year for a new printer is not good. £161 for a new printer every year for three years isn’t so bad  I guess.

PS before anyone says anything is a paperless business but my family isn’t – homework etc.

broken gear End User phones

50% of smartphones have broken screen

50% of smartphones have a broken screen. This is based on an extensive survey of the six phones in the Davies family.

The sceptics amongst you will say huh, what kind of sample size is that? My response is that we are just a normal family & I’d like to bet that pretty much most of you out there have had a screen go on their phone at some stage or other.

My kids use protective cases for their phones and despite this one of them has just had a crack in their screen. He hadn’t dropped the phone or bashed it in anyway to his knowledge. This isn’t good enough. Glass tech needs to improve.

It might be interesting to conduct a little survey here. How many of you have had a screen break on their phone at some stage? This isn’t a scientific survey but it will be interesting to see the results. I might also ask people to let me know if they have never had a screen break.

Let’s see what the results look like – answers as comments please.


broadband broken gear Business

Broadband speed bits or bytes, no bones broken, just the advertising agency

Broadband speed bits or bytes – ISP PRs gets it wrong

I just lurve it when I see technical cockups in advertising & pr blurb from technical companies selling technical products – broadband sped bits or bytes.

It happened in this blog post ostensibly written by TalkTalk CTO  Clive Dorsman.
Now it’s BTs turn. On page 8 of today’s Times their half page advert tells us that with Infinity for business you will be downloading a big 200Mb file in less than half a minute. That’s because Infinity is “as much as 6 times faster” than the UK average broadband speed which the BBC told us in March of this year is 12Mbps. So a 72Mbps broadand service can download a 200Mb file in under half a minute. By my calcs it should take less than 3 seconds, ok a bit more if you chuck in some packet overhead.

If I were BT I’d get a new advertising agency. This one’s rubbish. Even if you accept that very few people get the max advertised “up to” speed of “Infinity” broadband it would not be unreasonable to say “(up to) less than 5 seconds”.

You can check out our broadband here. According to BT it’s a lot faster than theirs 🙂 Broadband is broadband is broadband, right? Wrong.

Photo is of the BT ad. Serendipity eh. I only read a hard copy paper about once a year. I’m only doing so today cos I’m en route to Laandan on a rare trip without my laptop. ISPA council, AGM & awards. Wish us luck:)

Update 6/7/2014 This subject is getting almost boring as I periodically meet people who get their broadband speed bits or bytes mixed up. When I point out the error of their ways they shrug it off. However to us purists it does matter 🙂


This blog post comes to you courtesy of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the excellent WordPress for Android app.

broken gear End User phones

Samsung Galaxy S4 faulty USB socket #SGS4 problem

sgs4My Samsung Galaxy S4 has a faulty USB socket. I got this phone on 13th May 2013. Today is the 30th May 2013. The phone has lasted 17 days (I know, I’m sharp).

dead Samsung Galaxy S4 sgs4The picture of the phone is on the right. Looks dead doesn’t it. That’s because it’s switched off. It isn’t totally kaput yet but it was about to become so. I plugged in the charger but didn’t plug in the charger. It wouldn’t fit in the socket.  I tried three different cables. None of them would go. I tried them in another phone and they all fitted in as designed. Ergo something is wrong with the socket on the SGS4. The highly efficient gang in the Timico logistics department has taken control and are sending it back. I had to switch it off to conserve battery settings before making sure it was fully backed up (it now is) and reset to factory settings so my precious personal data was not accessible to whoever is going to fix it.

Ok I know what you’re saying. S*&t happens. You are right. However it seems to happen on a disappointingly regular basis with the Samsung Galaxy phones. The last one I had, a Galaxy S3 had a problem with the USB socket and separately with the headphone socket. Data transfer was dodgy and the actual charging was very intermittent, It was clearly about to go. I got it fixed. Before then I had a screen go dead on me and “water ingress” problems despite the fact that I know darn well there hadn’t been any water ingress.

I am a Samsung Galaxy fan but I have no hesitation in saying that the build quality on the Samsungs must stink. You’re not telling me I can have had all these problems and I’m the only one. In fact I know I’m not. Having written blog posts about each problem as it happen the “Samsung Galaxy S3 problem” search term in one guise or another has become one of the most popular reasons for people reaching this site. In fact there have been around 51,000 page views on the subject in the last 6 months.

In the meantime this morning I have reverted to my Nokia Lumia 920. It’s functionality is some way behind that of Samsung/Android and even, dare I say it Apple despite not being an Apple fan for unzombie-like reasons (good word structure there). What we need is the Android software running on Nokia build quality. I do accept that I haven’t been running the Nokia much but I did give it a chance for at least a month and in that time it didn’t stop charging, the headphone socket carried on working, oh and it didn’t have a dent in the casing which the SGS4 did after a few days despite, and you have to take my word for it here, me not banging it about or dropping it.

The Samsung build quality is not great. That’s all. Got it off my chest. tune in later for more mobile phone fun and frolics (though I have to get on and revise a guide to migrating to SIP trunks now so it will be a while)

Ciao amigos.

PS to make it easy for those who are interested I’ve pasted links to all the other posts that talk about Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3 problems:

broken gear End User

Apple iPhone faults

An apple - grown in my back garden at homeWe have an excellent team in our logistics1 department. Phillipa has efficiently found me a temporary HTC One S whilst my trusty Galaxy S3 is sent back for a new screen. This time it wasn’t a fault of Samsung – the last two times were faulty headset socket and a faulty connector that meant the phone wasn’t charging, or at least only intermittently.

This time the phone was accidentally dropped on a hard floor and unfortunately the display smashed. Ok s*&t happens. It’s gone off to the menders for a week or so and in the meantime I have a temporary HTC One S.  The One S is ok but smaller than the Galaxy S3 so I keep hitting the wrong keys. It’s also not quite as high a spec but hey, I only have it for a week or so.

Setting up the One S was very simple, as for all Android phones though I note that with Samsung all the apps I have previously downloaded are re-installed on a new phone whereas this hasn’t happened with HTC. This is probably a Samsung service that might well be replicated by HTC but I clearly haven’t signed up for it.

Anyway when I handed the S3 in to Phillipa in logistics1

broken gear End User phones

Galaxy S3 mended under warranty – faulty USB socket

Y’all will recall that I had to send my GalaxyS3 back because it wasn’t charging. Well I’ve got it back and they have mended it under warranty. The USB socket was faulty so all is now well. If it had been water damage I would have been cross.It wasn’t water damage.

That’s all…

broken gear End User phones

Samsung Galaxy S3 not charging problem

Samsung Galaxy S2 water damageShort news bulletin to inform you that this morning my Samsung Galaxy S3 is not charging. This follows on from the same problem I had with the Galaxy S2.

The diagnosis for the S2 was water damage despite my assertion signed affidavit that it has never been anywhere near water.

It looks as if I’m going to have to get the S3 sent away for repair/analysis. Not good. All I can say is if the same diagnosis comes back  as for the S2 I’m going to be hounding Samsung. It’s too much of a coincidence or at the very least poor reliability in the design. Note this is already my second Galaxy S3 – the first had a headset connector problem.

The header photo is the “water” damage on the old Galaxy S2. Stay tuned for updates on this hot news item.

PS to make it easy for those who are interested I’ve pasted links to all the other posts that talk aboutSamsung Galaxy S2 and S3 problems:

broken gear End User

Aargh it’s 30 degrees and the Eastcoast train aircon is broken!

the temperature in London today hit 30 (feels like 32 according to my phone) and the train aircon is broke!It’s the hottest day of the year so far. People are frying eggs on car bonnets and the homeless have left London for cooler climes – it’s too hot underneath the arches for a comfortable kip.

The suits are sweating buckets and wishing it was acceptable to turn up for work in shorts. The ladies are looking lovely in the summer sun.

Most people are complaining about the heat. Those that aren’t are taking the mickey out of friends  just packing for their annual holiday in Marbella or Benidorm  or Lanzarote or Torremolinos – you know  – places less warm than London.

School’s out. Urchins run wild in the radiatingly hot city streets, shrieking under plumes of water escaping from broken fire hydrants. Their parents, sapped of care, languish in the little shade afforded by the concrete tenements they call home. There is no breeze. There is no letup from the infernal heat.

In fact neither is there any air conditioning on this train – the 18.30 Eastcoast from Kings Cross to Edinburgh stopping briefly to let me off at Newark to get my connection to Lincoln. I’m on my second can of diet Coke and second bottle of sparkling water with ice!

This must be what it is like on the Chennai to Bangalore Express (dep 13.00 arr 14.45 daily). At least those in steerage can catch a little breeze sat on top of the carriage

Ah well.

Yes please love – another bottle of mineral water with plenty of ice. Thanks…

PS I realise there are no fire hydrants in London. These are images more typical of New York in summer. Also the choice of Indian train service was purely random. However they both made the cut for artistic effect. Final answer.

broken gear End User

Water water everywhere? Mobile phone water damage Samsung Galaxy S2 S3

Samsung Galaxy S2 water damageJust as I took ownership of my Samsung Galaxy S3 my S2 died on my. Good timing? The battery ran down over the weekend and it would not recharge.

I still needed the phone. I sent it off for repair. The repairers came back and said it had evidence of water damage. I can tell you that that phone has not come into contact with water. However you can see problems if you use the phone in a damp environment. I my case it is likely to have been listening to BBCRadio4 using the Tune In Radio app over the internet whilst having a shower. The phone has not been “in” the shower – just in the shower room.

This is somewhat unacceptable. Phones should not be this vulnerable. For now I don’t think there is anything to be done but designs need ruggedizing for the future. I’m going to see if I can fix it myself. Stay tuned but for the moment keep your phone out of the bathroom.

broken gear Engineer internet

Broken internet

“The internet is broken”. Uh? This is a common complaint a) from my wife who isn’t particularly technology savvy and b) from people whose broadband connection has gone down for whatever reason.

Yesterday this complaint, slightly tongue in cheek, came from our development engineering team. US network operator Level3 had a problem with a bug in it’s Juniper routers. This affected access to quite a few websites worldwide and is certainly likely to have hit more than a few ISPs. Word is that this was BGP related and leads to the need to reboot the Juniper kit. In fact a number of ISPs issued emergency maintenance window alerts last night so that they could upgrade to newer versions of their Junos operating system.

Most of the time you can live with a bug – design around it perhaps.I’m sure the problem will get sorted. My observations here though relate to the