Results tagged “Mobile Phone”

The past week has been a very interesting and productive one for me.

In terms of education this week is the last week where I've been busy with a project assignment at the university where we had to check a webshop for security. To make it short, the webshops walls fell after roughly 2 hours of work. This was my first real attack on a webserver and I never expected it to be so easy. After this I'm more surprised not of the simplicity of the breakin but that real hacks on other webpages do not happen more often than it's visible in the media. Since these two hours would not be worth a lot of project work we continued with our efforts and tried to find other holes in the server. The second hole took a bit more time and research but nevertheless it was worth much more doumentation. Some more attacks were also unsuccessful or not applicable because we had to target a virtual machine which was not completely reserved for us. Nevertheless, this project work was a very interesting one and we even had fun during the process.

The second interesting topic is that this week I was finally successful in compiling my own working kernel from scratch for my LG Optimus 2x smartphone. In the end it boiled down to having the wrong compilation options for my environment which was resolved when I received some help from an experienced kernel modder in the forum. I also created a small guide on how to set up a compilation environment for compiling stock kernels for the LG2X. Maybe it can help others in also taking up some development on this phone. What I already recognized in the kernel is, that it is compiled with a lot of unneeded features and fully turned on debugging features. Nothing which is really needed in a production environment and therefore leaves quite some room for tuning.

The last thing I've been busy with was the launch of the Raspberry Pi. This is a nice little computer on a PCB which provides HDMI output at an incredibly low price. This new device was so hyped and limited (only 10k pieces) that the webservers of both worldwide electronic component distributors went down within moments after the official announcement that they will be responsible for selling the thing. I also participated in this "DDoD" but was (as most others) unsuccessful in the morning. Later in the evening one of the shops was reachable again (more or less) and I could place a preorder. The other shop only allowed a "registration of interest". Just received a confirmation of this an hour ago :) I hope that I don't have to wait too long for this to be available for me. As if I had time to play with it...

Ah yes, one more thing. I got promoted at work, finally. I hope it also materializes well on the paycheck and not only in officially increased responsibility.

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I've been modifying my phones from the instant I had the possibility to run custom software on it. While it was still somehow limited with my Nokia E50 things became quite interesting when I got my HTC Magic. With Android the possibilities for optimization and modification which were possible grew enormously.

Until yesterday I've been pretty lucky. All my modifications on my HTC Magic or recently on my LG Optimus Speed (P990, yes it's back in the meanwhile and working as expected, yay!) never required me to roll back to a backup before my modifications (or were required because for convenience reasons). Well, until yesterday. I did some modifications on the filesystem and aparently in the process some system files were corrupted and not recoverable by e2fsck anymore. When I tried to recover the state before my modifications I was struck by lightning as I realized that I had forgotten to take a backup before. I remembered that I had to wait some time before the backup and I had already been in the correct menu where backups are performed. But out of some reason I didn't do it anymore. Crap.

Well, this little incidend required me to completely reset the device to factory state (by reverting filesystems, applying operating system updates manually, etc.) and reapply the last working backup I had at hand. Which was a week ago. Furthermore I lost all contents of the internal sd-card during the reverting process which I didn't expect to happen. Meh...

As I've been pretty consistent with performing backups before my experiments and modifications I'd like to rephrase the #1 rule for all hackers a bit:

Rule #1: Don't forget to perform and check your backup before applying any changes!

Nevertheless, I'm taking this risk because as the modifications have proven to me with the E50 and the Magic that I can prolong the usual end of life (the point where they're just too old or unusable because of apps) of my mobile phones for 1-2 years compared to the stock and unmodified versions. I wonder, how much life I can squeeze out of the LG dual core...

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This is the 6th posting in this year now. My output so far is quite below of what I expected from myself. While I blame stress and lack of time for that until the beginning of July, there should have been some time for an update since then. So the only thing preventing postings has been my own lazyness... Ah well...

Ok, what's changed or noteworthy in the last months? Maybe the most important thing for me personally is that I've purchased a new (used) car. I've been passively looking for potential new cars for quite some time now although I've been very pleased and happy with my car so far. But this time the costs for the required servicing and repairs approached almost 2k Euros without a guarantee that the costs will be lower for the next service intervals. So I decided to take the lemon, say goodbye to my old loyal and reliable companion and pick up something with lower regular costs. Welcome my new car, a blue Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 JTD Emotion with 90 HP. It's in excellent shape and I hope it'll be an as good escort as my previous Fiat which carried me over 180k km in the the almost exactly past 6 years.

The next noteworthy news is that this year I'm a contestant in the Zw�lfkampf which is organized by some friends. It is a series of twelve games where an overall winner is calculated over tracks of 4, 8 or all 12 games. The main event on Sep. 24/25th is preceded by some "sideevent" games in which I made a not too bad impression but they don't count for the finale ;)

Communication is the next topic. Back in May I purchased a new smartphone, the LG Optimus Speed (or P990 or LGOS/LG2X). While It worked for some weeks without a hitch at one day it began to show a very special defect where I could not place or receive calls when I'm registered in the 3G network of my provider. I borrowed some other SIM cards from different providers but the problem only exists with the network of mine. Since I'm denied service for it at my provider (it doesn't have this phone in its portfolio) I have to handle everything myself. Currently (yes, it's August now!) it's on its 4th trip to the LG service from which I hope it will eventually return completely replaced. The previous three times the device was only "serviced" and at one occassion the mainboard (without baseband module) and the camera module (wtf?) were replaced. Of course without effect. At the moment my seller and I are just hoping that LG just relents to sending me a new phone instead of useless servicing of the defect one.

On to the university stuff. Not much to report here, since the last exam in July and last hand-in also in July I pretty much left everything in a standby mode. But I'm warming up already as the next key-dates are approaching and there is still a bit of work to do, exams to prepare for and documents to hand in.

Some holiday-related stuff now. I took two weeks summer holiday at the end of July. Originally I planned to use that time to firstly do the car stuff and to finish building some concrete walls for a terrace behind the house. The car business took sadly longer than expected as my first seller let me down and sold the car to somebody other. I could get my hands on another one as you already read above and retrospectively this was a lucky coincidence as my first candidate car was not in an as good shape and more expensive. The wall works also could not be finished in these two weeks because the bricks we ordered took longer to deliver than planned and also it rained the whole two weeks but for two days.

And finally the work news. Project work in the company is running as usual with maybe some changes for me personally in the near future. But as it's not complete determined, this is all I'd like to say so far. After my holiday I returned in a modified team with three new people and it's still changing as soon one of our colleagues will change to another team and tomorrow we'll receive assistance with another new team member. Yeah, bit of change ;)

Well, that's it for now. I hope that I can raise my posting interval in the future again but I wouldn't bet on that as it didn't work in the past six months....

P.S.: Ah yes, I'm on Google+ too meanwhile. This time with my real name, those who know me are of course invited at any time to show me their presence ;)

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It is possible to use the more advanced and comfortable implementation of the screen-keyboard from the HTC Hero on the HTC Magic without having to get root access on the device.

There is an excellent german description available how to Use the original HTC HERO Keyboard on the Magic, G1, Galaxy and Pulse without rooting (german readers should head there instead). I also tried to find an english description for this but since I did not find explainations without rooting the devices here is the translation for the curious.

  1. download the file HTCIME.apk(for Android 1.5) or HTCIME.apk(for Android 1.6 - Donut)
  2. make sure you have an application installed which can install APK files (for example eoeAppInstaller or the ASTRO File Manager)
  3. copy the HTC_IME.apk to the SD-card
  4. accept applications from unknown sources in Settings > Applications
  5. start the eoeAppInstaller (or ASTRO File Manager) and locate the file HTC_IME.apk
  6. long press the entry and choose to install the application
  7. after successful installation reboot your phone
  8. go to Settings > Locale and Text and activate the entry Touch Input
  9. now bring up some text-entry box for example in the SMS messages
  10. long press on the entry-field and choose "Touch Input", voi'la

Now you should have the new keyboard active. There are more variations of this keyboard layout available in the settings to try out. Furthermore if you're using tools to kill your running apps make sure, to set the keyboard application on the exclusion-list otherwise it takes longer to launch it every time.

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Now that I've been playing with my Android phone for some time, I'd like to share my experiences how to minimizing battery drain to maximize the phones runtime. These are roughly sorted by their impact on the energy consumption with the most energy-hungry features first.

  • Reduce the backlight intensity and active-time. When lit, this is the number one energy consumer so reduce the brightness and lower the timespan until automatic turnoff. Save even more, if you manually turn off the screen earlier when you don't need it anymore by pressing the red hang-up key.
  • Turn off GPS. If you don't really need it, your phone doesn't constantly need to know its exact location. Use GPS OnOff to quickly toggle the GPS status.
  • Turn off WLAN. WLAN detection and connectivity is another power-hungry feature. Turn on WLAN only if you need it. Use the WiFi OnOff widget for a fast toggle in case.
  • Use 2G instead of 3G network. 3G is faster, sure, but it also comes with an energy-penalty. If you don't need a fast internet connection all the time, use 2G instead. The 2G-3G OnOff widget allows a fast toggle.
  • Turn off Bluetooth. Mostly only used for Bluetooth headset anyway, just activate it when you're in your car. Fast switching is available through the Bluetooth OnOff widget.
  • Turn off Internet access via mobile networks completely, if you don't need it. Apndroid allows you to toggle it with just one or two clicks (depends on the version).
  • Prefer audible notifications. Vibration notification drains more power than a notification sound. And a loud notification drains more than a quietly notification or no audible notification at all. Use only as much as you really need to be notified.
  • Disable Auto-Sync if you don't real-time notification of emails and so on. Again, there's a one-click-widget for this, AutoSync OnOff.
  • Don't leave applications running in the background when you're not using them. In general only leave those background services active which you really need.

Of course, locking down your phone with all these measures won't be the ideal solution for all of you. I don't use all of them either. Just keep it to the minimum you really need to be comfortable with your own personal usage pattern of the phone.

A great application to automate many of those tasks is Locale. It allows a lot of custom settings for many of your phones settings depending on various conditions like current location, time, battery status, etc. When setting rules for locations it always requests ultra-accurate location detection via WLAN and GPS, but I found it accurate enough for me when I left it with only GSM cell detection. To give you some ideas how it can be used for minimizing energy-drain and location customisation, here are some of my rules. Many use the apndroid-plugin for locale to shut down the network access. This is not yet on the Android market but only available in the apndroid download section.

  • at-work: a time and location based rule which turns off all network access, auto-sync and makes all notifications more quiet. I've got internet access all day anyway, no need for it on the phone to use it there.
  • at-university: even more strictly this one turns the phone into silent mode and locks network access and auto-sync if I'm currently studying.
  • at-night: when I'm asleep it doesn't make sense to sync mails or anything. So turn off network and autosync again between 10pm and 7am to preserve some battery. In case I'm still using the phone during that time, the screen brightness is furthermore reduced during the no-sun time.

Be creative and try find conditions during your average day where you do not need certain functionality of your phone, there is almost always something where it does not make sense to have your phone synched with your online account or to get notified about anything.

Update 2009-10-16
Also have a look at the excellent Lifehacker article An Exhaustive Guide to Saving Your Smartphones Battery which covers also the other mobile platforms like Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Symbian, Palm Pre and iPhone and gives some more general tips.

Update 2009-10-31
With Android 1.6 you now also have the possibility to check the components and applications running on your phone for their energy requirements. Go to Settings->About phone->Battery Use to check the energy hogs of your phone.

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Yesterday evening I went to my mobile provider and changed some parts of my current contract with them. Reason for this was that I wanted to pick up a new mobile phone, the HTC Magic featuring the operating system Google Android.

I took this step because I've tweaked and enhanced my previous phone up to the point where it cannot improve anymore. And I was really pushing it to the limits with a load of custom applications for my personal usage patterns (custom alarm/scheduler/note-taking/profile applications, completely customized main interface, etc.). But with my increased usage it also became more unstable, probably because of the large amount of data not because the custom applications. In the last few weeks I almost had to reboot it daily as it began to lock up when sending SMS.

Since I wanted to keep the possibilities of customisation and easy application development, Android mobile phones have already been on my radar for quite some time. Also the tight integration of enhanced management capabilities with the Google applications has been something which raised my interest. Yes there is the point of mistrust to Google because of its information-harvesting behaviour, but for now I'm willing to take it. But I'll stay careful.

Since yesterday evening I've been busy investigating applications and addons which get me back to at least the point of productivity where I've been with my old phone and I'm quite near now I think. The most difficult part has been (and is still, as I'm having a SIM card from the first generation with many limitations, eg. 8-char contact names) to transfer my contacts and other phone data to the new device.

Until now I'm quite happy but I'll still have to check back to the store for some advanced questions (regarding insurance and details of my contract) and maybe an exchange of my SIM card.

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