The future of mobile electronics

Every blog and paper already published their summaries and lists of both the previous year and decade. I say let’s forget the past, and focus on the future. At least for a little while. I will tell you what you can (might) expect from the future of mobile electronics, maybe not in a year but in 1-5 this is the development I predict.

Since I got my first smartphone I’ve been convinced that it was only a matter of time before the rest of my friends and family followed me into the modern age (i.e. got themselves one of their own). iPhone started exactly that movement. Suddenly there where a phone easy enough, funny enough and produced by a company with enough market share (I’m convinced that an identical phone from HTC for example never would have had the same impact). So slowly my friends and family is jumping on the wagon. What the iPhone started now has turned into friends with HTC Hero, Windows Phone (old Windows Mobile), iPhones and devices from any and all brands. Of course that means that I’m now starting to plan my own jump off from the same wagon. Here’s what I want, and other will figure out in a couple of years:

  • Standard phone features e.g. calling, SMS (starting to feel very outdated but, for a few more years) and such
  • All my internet needs in a mobile device, including mail (and wave/other collaboration tools), streaming videos, streaming music, reading blogs and news sites
  • eBook reader (no use fighting it, sorry librarians and other “paperback-huggers” time to adapt)
  • Some games and other miscellaneous stuff.

To read books, extensive articles online and browse the web somewhat comfortable I need a bigger screen than my Samsung Galaxy got (3.2”). The problem is that already a phone of this size sometimes feel a bit clumsy to carry around. When I don’t have a jacket/bag, at a party or on the town, going to the beach etcetera. There’s also an economical aspect in this. My phone suddenly cost the same as an average laptop and that’s before the bigger screen and additional features mentioned above. Phones are easily lost, stolen or broken. Nothing strange there, it’s the same with all things we carry with us everywhere. I remember an interview with a scientist researching crime among youths in Sweden a couple of years back. He/she said that one of the reasons for the increase of robbery against individuals is that we carry much higher values on our persona. We stopped having cash in our wallets but instead we got expensive mobile phones, mp3 players and so on.

Solution? As everything gets combined into the same device (do they still sell mp3 players or cameras without a mobile phone included? :) ) I predict an excelling need for different products for different occasions. I will most likely in the coming two (ehm, one if I know myself) years change my smartphone for a “stupid phone”. That phone should be small, cheap and manage just the basic functions like placing calls, simple e-mail and maybe music. A revival of my old Sony Ericsson K750i maybe? :) At the same time I will buy a tablet that is more of a hybrid of today’s:

  • tablets (Archos 5-like);
  • ebook reader (nook-like);
  • smart phone (Nexus One-like);
  • netbook;
  • mediaplayer (iPod touch-like).
Devices
Combined in one?

This baby will follow me to work and longer journeys, but not on short trips to the town and such. Then once again I will be telling my friends and family: This is the future of mobile electronics!

This post was inspired by numerous blogs and news sites over the year and the pictures are standard ones that’s flooding the web. Any objections to me posting this pictures can be sent to me and I will sort it out. Special thanks to the Swedish site http://www.swedroid.se that always keep me in the loop on Android news.

Mac Mini, incoming!

I’ve just ordered my first Apple device, it’s a big day! The device in question is not an iPhone (bah! I would never).


Mac Mini - Wikimedia Commons
My new baby

It is however a beautiful Mac Mini that hopefully will bring my never ending media playback issues to an end. I’ll give you the background today and the update on how it went when I get setup and tried it out a bit.

I have tried multiple ways to playback my media. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable, I just want to be able to play both my digital videos as well as the ones on disc. If possible I would like to be able to play my music as well, all of course through my Home Cinema system (not that fancy but now that I got it, it sure as hell shall be used). So far I’ve tried…

TvIX 6500 HD: A cute little box that was my last attempt at salvation. It should’ve been able to give me Full HD (1080p) both from the internal HD as well as over the network from my server. Well, it didn’t. Not very reliably at least. Xvid/Divx and DVD images worked just fine though. Managed to sell it without a major loss so, problem solved. Music interface was so bad that I only used it a few times, hence a separate solution for that, and no disc drive for DVDs and Music.

Home Cinema system with DVD player: Aside from not playing my digital videos it has so far spent most of the time since my investment back in the shop for repairs. Reason for that is that first the DVD playback wouldn’t work (or the remote), got it back with a new remote. Remote works fine, plays DVDs the first few tries and then both CD and DVD playback stopped working. Back to the shop. The biggest drawback however is that I need another device to play music or digital video.

XBOX360: I have a Microsoft Windows Home Server. One would think that MS figured out that their users might want to use their shining new XBOX as a Media Center (Hey, that’s what everyone did with the old XBOX). But no. XBOX360 is quite lousy as media center. Doesn’t play xvid/divx without some hacking (works but…strangely hard to accomplish), doesn’t play DVD images at all and the music interface is as slow as a turtle without legs. Microsoft, I did everything you wanted me to, got the server, Windows 7 and the XBOX360 and still I need workarounds or 3rd party software to free my files. Not good marketing strategy.

HTPC: Tried some different solutions (running the PC version of XBOX Media Center was one) under different OS version (XP, Vista and Windows 7). The media center capabilities are still crippled and I often found a need for a full keyboard to make things work. What I haven’t tried is to buy a full HTPC of the shelf. Since my experiences from running both stationary and laptop computers as HTPC isn’t exactly great I’m not that keen to pay the huge stack of money that a decent looking, decently quiet, remote controlled and working HTPC costs (in Sweden you’ll have to pay roughly 800-1000$). The reports on usability issues, regular playback problems and angry family members not being able to start a simple DVD didn’t encourage me either.

So what do I use today then? Feels ridiculous but I’m back to using my old XBOX. Yes, that’s correct, the one launched in 2000-2001 something like that. It’s huge, ugly, sounds like a tractor, can’t play any HD material and cheap me hasn’t got the cordless remote. I use the regular joypad instead. It does however presents all the capabilities I ask for in a media center, plays (almost all) DVDs and digital video files. Since it’s really quite outdated it’s not exactly foolproof but it works most of the times, it even plays videos in compressed archives. The music interface is not awesome but works, it’s just that the joypad isn’t that great as a remote.

I write to extensive for a blog, shame on me and poor readers. That was the background, the next time I might have become a Mac fanboy, who knows? :)

Stumbled on this review when I tried to decide if Apple really should get my hard earned money, sure pushed me over to the order button! http://www.mrobsession.com/osxmbc-review/

404 Errors

Just wanted to acknowledge that the move from my old blogger account obviously didn’t go as smoothly as I thought. As a result some links and referrals gave a 404 Error, page not found. Sorry! Good news is that the 100 or so pageviews of 404 made me react and now everything should be back to normal. :)

Unlock Android phone after too many pattern attempts

In the FAQ category: Unlock Android phone that is locked after too many pattern attempts. I’ve seen the question so many times in the Google Mobile Help Forum that I felt that a post could help someone out.
Pattern lock
The pattern lock screen (in Swedish)

On Android phones you can activate a feature called pattern lock. This feature can be compared to a Windows computer asking for password after the screen saver kicked in, only instead of a password you use a pattern. You get a screen with 9 dots and you draw a pattern of your choice with 4 of them. If you forget your pattern (or have kids that likes to play with phones) you will after 3 faulty attempts be unable to use the pattern to unlock it. Instead you are asked for your Google account and password (that is setup with the phone of course). This is where the problem starts.

For many, many users providing the username and password won’t change a thing. For some people changing the password via a computer has worked but that is uncommon. Most people ends up with a very expensive paperweight. Have no fear, there are solutions to almost everything!

Update

Google has a decent article on how to regain access to your account here:
That will still not solve everything but start there and then go through the bullets below.
Some workarounds to try before reading ahead:
1. try entering null as password. (together with your google username)
2. try entering your username without @gmail.com
3. Combine 1 and 2
4. Call yourself from another phone, answer, without hanging up press the home button, then menu button, settings, try to disable pattern-lock
5. Call yourself from another phone, answer, hang-up, directly after hanging up start pressing your buttons like a madman for <30-60 seconds ending with your home button (might take a while to get the timing right). Go into settings and disable pattern-lock.
6.  Try the normal recover password routine from GMail.com and start over from 1.
7. Perform a factory reset. YOU WILL LOOSE all not-synced DATA (SD card will be left untouched).
1-6 are possible workarounds, these doesn’t work for everyone but can be worth a try to avoid factory reset. 6. is what should work but hardly never does. 7 – The factory reset always work

End Update

In this case the solution is to make a factory reset (sometimes referred to as hard reset or wipe). This will erase all data on your phone (not on your SD-card). Your contacts and mails should be in sync with the Google servers, no problem there then. Downloaded applications needs to be installed again but there is a list of your previous downloads in the Android Market->My Downloads. Other things though are lost if you haven’t backed them up manually with a 3-rd party application. Example on things you will lose: Call logs, text messages, application settings.

This is your 3 step solution

  1. Factory reset your phone (links to Android device manuals can be found below, it differs between devices)
  2. Setup your phone just like you did the first time you unpacked it (use the same Google Account if you want your old contacts back!)
  3. Restore any manual back-ups and install your previous applications from the My Downloads list.

How do I factory reset? HTC leads the way and put this information in their manuals, other manufacturers should learn from this!

Dear readers, as much as I would love to keep a directory on how to factory reset every single Android device out there, it’s just not possible. Use your rights as a customer, go back to the store and ask them to help you factory reset your device!

HTC Hero manual:
http://member.america.htc.com/download/web_materials/Manual/HTC_Hero/091201_Hero_HTC_English_UM.pdf

HTC Magic (a.k.a. My Touch) manual:
http://member.america.htc.com/download/web_materials/Manual/HTC_Magic/090507-HTC-Sapphire-UM.pdf

HTC Tattoo manual:
http://member.america.htc.com/download/web_materials/Manual/HTC_Tattoo/091009_HTC_Tattoo_English_UM.pdf

HTC ERIS manual:
http://member.america.htc.com/download/Web_materials/Manual/DROID_ERIS_Verizon/DROID_ERIS_Verizon_English_UM_11_5.pdf or:

  1. With the phone turned off, PRESS and HOLD Volume down and Send buttons CALL buttons (the manual says SEND and with that they obviously mean Call)
  2. Press the END/POWER button. You will see a screen with three Androids at the bottom of your screen
  3. Follow on screen instructions

Samsung Galaxy (note old Galaxy i7500, Galaxy S further down):
1. Turn off your Galaxy.
2. Hold volume_down+call+power button.
3. After boot, press menu button to start recovering.

Motorola Droid (a.k.a. Milestone): 1. Turn the Droid off. If it won’t turn off, take the battery out then place it back in.
2. Open the keyboard and press the X key while pressing and holding Power. The device will power on. Keep holding the buttons down until a yellow triangle appers.

3. Press the Camera and Volume Up buttons at the same time to get to the menu.
4. Use the direction pad to the right of the keyboard to select the Format option.

Nexus One:
1. Turn the phone off. If it’s frozen in the on state, pull the battery.
2. Press and hold both the Home and Back buttons simultaneously.
3. While continuing to hold the buttons, press the Power button.
4. Release Home and Back.
5. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the hard reset.

T-Mobile Pulse
If you want to do a Hard Reset but can’t do it through the menu, please use the update from T-Mobile UK website: T-Mobile – Help & Support

But use the file from the “Android updates” section and the following piece:
November 2009: T-Mobile Pulse software

This software update should be used ONLY when your T-Mobile Pulse has been security locked and you do not have a valid password.

  1. If you right-click on your mouse here and select the “Save target as..” option – it should take about 2 minutes to download depending on your internet connection speed.
    PLEASE NOTE: Installing this update will remove all existing data on your T-Mobile Pulse.
  2. Then in your pc format the SD card. then copy the folder dload to your new formatted SD card. So the folder with the two files will be on there.
  3. Insert your SD card in the phone
  4. Then when your phone is off, do the following:
    Vol + key & “hang up button” – keep them both together pushed and then turn on the phone. Then the update will start automatically. Once the update is finished it might hang to long in the “phone will restart automatically”. If so, take out the battery again and turn the phone on normally. then it all will go as normal.
  5. Once the update is done, you will have to configure your phone again, which also means you can choose the language again.

T-Mobile Pulse instructions from “inge75” in the Android forums.

Sony Ericsson X10 -mini, pro etcetera

  1. Go to: www.sonyericsson.com
  2. Click the support tab and then Download Software
  3. Download the Update Service application
  4. Run the application as administrator, choose your model and follow the instructions.

Sprint (Samsung) Epic 4G and Samsung Galaxy S

  1. With your phone turned off. Pull the battery out and reinsert it if needed.
  2. Press and Hold “Volume Down” button
  3. Press and Release the “Power” button (while still holding “Volume Down”
  4. Your phone should now boot to a menu where you can choose Fastboot, Recovery, Clear Storage, or Simlock
  5. Select Clear Storage by pressing the “Volume Down” button
  6. Press the “Power” button
  7. Confirm your decision with “Volume up” (Cancel with “Volume down”)

Motorola (Nextel) i1 – Now confirmed, working!

  1. Make sure your device is turned off, pull the battery if needed
  2. Push and hold: “Volume Up” + “Volume Down” + “Call” + “Center button”, press “Power”

Micromax A25, A54, A57, A60  and A89 (confirmed)

  1.  Press and hold volume up + home button and power on/off shows the android logo
  2.  press home button one time
  3. Entering android system recovery mode… use volume key to select wipe data/factory reset

LG Nexus 4

  1. Make sure your device is turned off, pull the battery if needed
  2. Push and hold: “Volume Down” + “Power”
  3. Push “Volume Down” twice and then select with “Power” taking you to the Recovery menu.
  4. Follow the instructions in the recovery menu and make your way to Wipe data/Factory reset

Carbon Android A2

  1. Turn off your phone
  2. Push and hold [Volume up]+[Volume down]+[Power]
  3. Follow the instructions to get into Recovery mode and then choose Factory reset.

This is information I gathered from both here and there, manuals and end users. The usual suspects: Swedroid, Android forums, xda-developers and knowyourcell