Saturday, December 06, 2014

Wakelock Detector for Nexus 5 non-root, Lollipop

Earlier this week I had a good discussion and exchange with Max  - mainly on the Moto 360 watch, but also on a lot of Android / phone topics.

We were sort of mentally debugging a battery/power problem he had on his device (1+1), while my own Nexus 5 was lying around as idle as possible: I had to put it into power saver mode because my own battery was down to 5% at 7pm already.

So after all this discussion about Android power consumption etc etc, I decided not only to do some cleanup on my own device:

  • delete two of the 3 calendar apps, because Lollipop Calender + widget is quite OK now (I removed Cal and Sunrise)
  • change email sync frequency in Boxer from Automatic(Push) to 15 minutes.
but also to install the Wakelock Detector app (WLD), to check if any app is blocking my phone from going to sleep properly.

Since my phone is not rooted (and I have not intention to root it - for the time being), I needed to provide a little help and trick to WLD: essentially through local tpcip connection to the adb on the device. Very well documented here.

So, let's see what I'll find out.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

BeyondPod - per feed playback speed

I have two podcast devices:
  • an iPod Nano, where I have the less time sensitive podcasts, because I only synch it through iTunes every second week or so
  • and BeyondPod on my Android Phone (Nexus 5 with Lollipop as of this writing), where I listen most podcasts, especially the daily ones.
A couple of months ago I changed the playback speed in BeyondPod to x1.3, i.e. 30% faster. I found this the ideal speed to accommodate all the daily (mostly tech) podcasts into my daily commute schedule, while still being at a good pace for listening.

However, some feeds, I like to keep on regular (=x1.0) speed. I guess, the less techie the podcast is, the more narrative it has, the more I like to listen to it at it's original, intended pace. Take the Serial Podcast, for example.

So I always went into the BeyondPod app, and changed the speed - simple.
I was pretty sure, that there is a better way for this, like setting the speed on a feed level. Today I remembered to look for this.
And - of course - BeyondPod can do that.
In the feed settings ("Edit Feed"), when you open the Advanced Settings you'll find it:

Nice one.

However, sometimes you need to be very confident that a certain feature/option "just must be there" in order to find it (especially outside the Apple environment).

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Podcast meets longform - Serial

Ok, not strictly a technical topic. But a couple of weeks ago I stumbled over the Serial podcast.
Serial is a new podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial will follow one story - a true story - over the course of a whole season. We'll follow the plot and characters wherever they take us and we won’t know what happens at the end of the story until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we'll bring you the latest chapter, so it's important to listen in order, starting with Episode 1.
I really perfectls combines the podcast format/medium with long form journalism (one whole season!). And the podcast is technically perfect as well.

Hint: it is about an investigation into a Baltimore homicide from 1999. So, if that's not your kind of content, bad luck :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Google Calendar Provider for Thunderbird/Lightning

Finally a Google Calendar Provider for Thunderbird/Lightning has been released that's based on the gdata api, and not just a network XML link.
Problem with the later approach was - to me - that you needed to add each of your calendars separately via their URLs. That seemed to have performance impacts as well. I had about seven such calendars, and it significantly (with my other CalDAV calendars) slowed down Thunderbird start-up time.

When the new provider was released a couple of days ago, I first really noticed, because it forced me - with a separate pop-up - to authorize it for my Google account. With seven calendars this step kept popping up - seven times, of course - but still for the old calendar URLs.
Performance was really nasty...  Thunderbird was unusable essentially.

For some weird reason, I tried a "New Calendar" > "On the Network" > "Google Calendar" and found, that it was actually letting my select Google calendars by account, instead of just letting me add the XML link per calendar like the previous version.

So first thing, delete all my old Google calendars in Lightning, and try the "New Calendar" > "On the Network" > "Google Calendar" again, with my Google account, and voila, it presented all the calendars I had on Google. With the color as on the web. I only needed to select the ones I wanted in Lightning, and that was it.

Should have been like this from the start :)

Thunderbird start-up performance is back to a couple of seconds now (from about 1 minute+)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Broken Google Maps Rendering on Chrome on Windows

The other day, I noticed that Google Maps rendering on my Chrome (v 36.0.1985.125) on Windows (7) was so broken, that Google Maps essentially became useless.
Streets/Roads were mostly invisible - looks like the line for the street has been overwritten by the street name:

At the same time it worked fine in Firefox and Internet Explorer (yes, I admit to having IE on my machine, just to test stuff like this).

So some testing and googling ... ok a lot of googling, since "google maps broken chrome" reveals essentially every rant on google maps there ever was...

Finally with some refining of search terms, I found the following hint.
Turns out, in this case you should disable the video hardware acceleration in Chrome.
Just open the settings, then search for "accel", and disable it, i.e. unmark the checkbox, if it is marked.

Restart chrome, and it works fine again:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

USB Debugging a Nexus 5

It is described all over the internet, so let me repeat it here :)

To USB debug your Nexus 5, first enable USB Debugging in the Developer options.
If you don't yet have the developer options visible in Settings, then enable them like this:

Go to Settings and About Phone, then scroll all the way down to "Build Number" and then tap 7 times on the item "Build number"  (yes, weird)

Once done, in the Settings menu under the Developer options enable "USB Debugging" and connect to the PC via USB.

From a command line check if you can see the phone with "adb devices".
If none shows up, you might want to kill any running adb.exe instance from the task manager and retry.

If this still fails, open the Windows Device Manager, and look for the Nexus device right at the top under "Android devices".

If this shows an error or warning, you need to install the proper driver.
Right-click on the "faulty" android entry in the list and select "Update driver software". Point the update to the android-sdk path on your computer.
So check where you installed the Android SDK into. From the SDK path it is  under extras\google\usb_driver
(e.g.  %appdata%\..\Local\Android\android-sdk\extras\google\usb_driver)
It should find the "Android Composite ADB Interface" driver.

Once this is installed, your Nexus 5 should be visible to the debugger. Again, kill any running instance of adb.exe first, just to make sure)

If not, google is your friend :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

How sorting gets ruined.

Frequent readers - or close followers - of this blog will know, that the share feature (SEND intent) is one of my favourite features on Android.

To recap: it allows any application to share content via (or send content to) any other application, e.g. email, facebook, google+, sms/text, bluetooth, ... You name it.
All that needs to be done is for the target app to register itself for handling certain content types, and then it can be picked by the user, whenever a suitable content type needs to be sent. Android will automatically generate the list of all apps that are available for this content.

So far, so god.

Now in order to be at the top of that list, most apps "fake" and "A" into this name. But this is getting out of hand.

Let me draw your attention to exhibit A:
Exhibit A - the share menu
So this makes the alphabetical sorting totally pointless.
This has to stop.

Next app will probably register itself with an underscore....

Reminds me of my times at Sun Microsystems not too long ago. Obviously a lot of things started with S there ... Sun, Solaris, SPARC, ... but then they created lines of business called Server, Storage, Software, Services.... So even when you sorted a list alphabetically, 90% would cluster under S...