120813 Learning about Android
Where should I begin?! Ok, on Wednesday night Abie approached me and said, "Happy Birthday!" and presented me with five newish twenty-dollar bills. Oh, don't judge her! I'm very hard to buy gifts for. When I need something badly, I probably delay about a day before getting it. If I don't really need something, I watch for sales, and purchase it probably a year before I actually need it. So getting me something I will use requires knowing me well, and good timing.
Well, Abie has had less and less money to work with, and so her sliding a hundred dollars to me like that is a major thing. "Get yourself something nice," she said.
That didn't take us very long. You see, I took time off work so I could attend Toronto's Taste of the Danforth festival. So I'm about to tell you about Friday now.
Poor Jeff. When we don't feel well, it's hard to do anything that isn't absolutely required. He's not been feeling well. Still, he got together with us, and just guessed exactly which Mobilicity store we should visit: the big store at Kennedy and Lawrence East.
Gawd, it was so busy there; the parking lot was almost full! When we got someone's attention, he told us about the specials. It seems that to get most cellular specials, you have to be a new customer. I've been around since Mobilicity came to Toronto, and don't really want to mess around with my monthly pricing. "Do you have anything used?" we ask, more or less together. Well, this particular store has refurbished phones, that is, ones that have been sent for warranty repair. What happens when you send a phone? They promptly send a new one to you, and take their time to repair the other one. That gets reboxed and sold to someone like me.
I didn't want to take too long with decision making. I generally go for low price, and in particular, a good price-to-performance ratio. Jeff reminded me that the sale-price-to-non-sale-price ratio was wrong. He had a phone for $80. As long as it worked, I was a customer. Spoiler: I wasn't a happy customer, but didn't know that just yet.
Normally, I like to make sure a used product works before I leave the store. I wasn't able to perform that test because the battery was so exhausted. I should have taken that as a clue to get another unit, even perhaps another unit of the same make and model. Anyway, this one didn't fire up, but for reasons I cannot recall now, I was happy to pay for it and go.
To the phone's credit, it charges very quickly when connected to a transformer (rather than a computer). It went from zero to 60% in probably 15 minutes. That's really amazing! To the phone's discredit, it can use up battery in a quick way as well. I'll tell you that story eventually.
Even though we were on our way now to Taste of Danforth, we made a stop at Wendy's. You see, it was threatening long and heavy rain. I might be crazy, but not so crazy to walk in the rain for hours to go to the fair. So after our stop, we proceeded to Danforth.
My sense of direction is getting weak (perhaps I'm getting old). I noticed some vacant parking spots near Main Street and Danforth, and eagerly suggested we could park and walk to the fair. Jeff took umbrage with that, and each time I suggested anything afterwards replied "says you" or equivalent. Apparently, that little mistake cost me my security clearance as a navigator. Oh, for you who don't understand what happened, let me elaborate. Main Street is four subway stops from Donlands Station, perhaps a two-mile walk. It's lovely you know! I haven't been along the Danforth for ages. It has many unique stores, and is definitely an ideal road to walk and talk for hours. My logic didn't convince him. Abie would have done the walk; in fact, we have.
So we got to Donlands, and wonder of wonders, there is a vacant metered spot. Uh, meters in Toronto aren't like meters in other cities. You walk to the pay station, give it money or a credit card, bring the timed receipt back to your car, display it in the windshield and lock the car up. We carried out most of these steps. I thought I left the slip where it could be seen, but it was completely hidden though in the right place. Sigh; Jeff got a parking ticket.
This was Jeff's first Taste fair. One might think that you can only get international treats at a Greek Fair, but most of us who attend are of miscellaneous heritage, and making your food amazing and not too authentic is good marketing. Oh, there were still lots of things you might not get elsewhere. Quail, pork, chicken, calamari and shrimp were everywhere. The air was full of charcoal smoke (few people used propane).
My first stop was Lick's Hamburgers. It's normally a costly thing, but it was $5, and they had beautiful tomatoes, perfect hot peppers, lovely salt pickles. In a way, that was probably a mistake, because I got full quickly, and The Taste is about checking out lots of places, lots of items.
Abie remembered the Greek pastries, so we got a spinach pie and a cheese pie next. Amazing stuff. Next to it was Il Fornello. They had mozzarella balls - a dozen for $4. Jeff and Abie got them. We went back there a few times after that, and they were sold out, and continued sold out on Saturday too.
Across from there was the old IGA store, now called Foodland. They had lemonade for $1, watermelon for $1, and lots of other things. I loved their melon so very much. I did go there twice on Friday and twice on Saturday too. I usually have bad luck buying whole watermelon, and getting a 16oz wedge for a buck was why street fairs were created.
Oh, I want to tell you about the garbage! In the past, they have not been able to keep up with mess made by the millions who attend. This year every trash center we went to had at least 50% available capacity. You could find people dressed in orange working in threes keeping the bins perfect. I found some workers on bikes too: they were looking for things on the roadway, and collected that. If any of the organizers for Taste of Danforth read this, I want to convey how pleased I am with your organized trash pickup this year. I use gmail, and I am daveb416.
I could continue to post food reviews for you, but trust me and visit the fair next year.
When we finally got home, I started working with my new phone. It is a Motorola Spice XT300, running Android. It's not the new OS that phones come with now, so it doesn't include tethering. Tethering is getting your internet from your phone service. The word suggests plugging it in, but getting a wireless internet connection is fine too. I started doing some reading, and got into a sullen mood quickly. It's not easy to do at all.
It has the problems of other touch screen phones- just handling the device tends to start something you don't want it to do. Or similarly, while setting up options, a casual touch makes your options screen vanish, and something new and unexpected takes its place. I had trouble manually giving the phone my contacts because I had the old phone open in one hand, the new one in the other hand, and I just kept touching things that made my life miserable.
So Friday and Saturday were Taste days. I should have gone today (Sunday) too, but was just so slow and moody. I didn't actually get out the door until 630pm, and it all gets shut down at 800pm. So when I got to our local McD, I just bought a coffee, and fiddled with my phone, but was miserable because I wanted one last visit to the fair. I had a headache for the whole phone thing at McD. Oh, perhaps it was because I've been staying away from sugar. All of the walking, and no sugars would get me into ketosis (state of weight loss) but that comes with a headache (free of charge). So I don't know if the concentration and looking into a small screen caused my upset, my diet, or something unrelated, but I wasn't happy.
I'm irritated that this phone uses so much power. I found places to stop the use. I have to turn off WiFi, Location sharing, Email, Background data, and stop services which are trying to talk to someone (nobody in particular) when I'm walking around. All I want the phone to do is idle, wait for phone calls, wait for text messages. If I'm using a service, it should do that, but it shouldn't assume that I want that program to start each time the phone is turned on!
So I continue my research on tethering. I'm told I need to "Root the Phone" and then install a wireless tethering program. I found a video showing z4root. It is a file which ends with the letters APK. That gets copied onto the memory card in the phone.
I have to run that program now, but that isn't possible without installing an app which does that for me. I need a real file manager which allows me to install programs arbitrarily. I chose one with the unlikely name of Astro. It did the job. It let me run z4root, and then I clicked the button marked "root."
It didn't to the Root thing. I'm not used to 'root' being used as a verb this way. I come from a time when Root meant the beginning of the file system. So E:\ might be the root of your CD or DVD drive. Now, to root means to run an exploit program, that is, a program that finds a flaw in the operating system, so that when it is done, you now can have superuser priviledge on your phone. Until it's rooted, the phone may seem like it is yours, but it really belongs to whoever knows that password, so it's probably your phone's service provider.
Back to the internet, and to searching. I found a site, theunlockr.com, which is a site dedicated to cellular news items. They have a lot of How-To, and that included how to root.
theunlockr.com/2010/10/11/how-to-root-your-android-phone-superoneclick-method/ is well written, has some videos, and helps the reader to see that rooting your phone is a process which requires multiple attempts and some patience. There are different ways to get the job done, and volunteer geniuses offer their programs and techniques as best they can.
I'm a technical guy, but I still managed having to read it over, over and over again. It is just so easy to miss the little tips. They reminded me to remove the memory card, to leave the USB debug mode off until I ran the program, but turn it on so the program could see the change; later to turn it off on off again for something else, and to reboot now and then if things didn't go quite right. In my case they didn't go quite right the first eight times. On the ninth try, it responded that my phone was now rooted! And then wanted to know if was could make a donation. I will send him money because he doesn't ask much. Even a dollar. It did the job, and is worth it.
So I installed Barnacle, the app which provides WiFi tethering. It saw the superuser set up, but froze. I am starting to get used to the procedure, and rebooted my phone rather than give up. The second time I got a little error message about skipping a step next time (it made the settings change for me, but required another reboot of the phone). The third time I ran Barnacle, it offered my computer wireless, SSID Barnacle.
I'm happy enough now. It means I can have some internet tomorrow during the business day.
Oh, I'm going for a G-I exam tomorrow at 100pm. I'm not going to be a very happy camper.
Below is a picture of the X-Latvians, a dance group. Behind them are the Ex-pendables, a men's fight-dance group. Taken 2012 Aug 11.
Gawd. Has facebook really taken over the personal web log? It's scary.