Sunday, August 28, 2016

BlackBerry PRIV Experiences

I thought I had owned my last BlackBerry. But the $300 price of the PRIV was too good to pass up. And the big battery suggested long usage. The display is wonderful and the phone is fast. It updated Over The Air (OTA) to Marshmallow after a week or so with no problems. While it came with a SIM unlock code (that worked fine the first time) it does have a locked bootloader and is running an AT&T ROM. It'd been a while since I've used a carrier ROM and it came with its share of bloatware. I just disabled all of the AT&T software and that hasn't been a problem other than Carrier IQ I mentioned earlier.

The big screen is hard on the battery and while I can go all day on the battery I haven't observed the expected looooong battery life. The Marshmallow update did seem to improve it.

Before the Marshmallow update the battery ran down at 4.52% per hour. After the Marshmallow update it ran down at 3.29% per hour.


I haven't used the physical keyboard as I love the Google Keyboard. The keyboard makes it heavier than I expected.

A double tap on the screen wakes it up just like the OnePlus One.

Another carryover feature from legacy BlackBerrys is the holster magnet waking the PRIV when the phone is unholstered. Similarly the PRIV is put into sleep mode when you put it in the holster.

My previous phones have taken a couple of minutes for the Bluetooth to connect to my car. The PRIV connects before I get out of the driveway. I can't explain this. Other than slow connecting to the car I haven't had any Bluetooth problems with previous phones.

The PRIV has been getting Android security updates about a month later than my Nexus 5 does.

I like it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Carrier IQ

One day shortly after I started using the PRIV I decided I should try the AT&T DriveMode app. Let's just say it was aggressive. For example, I couldn't change the volume on Pocket Casts using the steering wheel controls while I was driving. I disabled it after my first drive. And then I noticed a new consumer of the battery that hadn't been present before.

Here's what the battery usage looked like before DriveMode:


Here's what the battery usage looked like after DriveMode:


Notice the battery usage by "Device Health Application" and the GPS activity.

So what is this "Device Health Application?"

This CrackBerry forum post answered that - Carrier IQ.

From my experience it seems that DriveMode triggered something in Carrier IQ that caused the GPS to run almost constantly.

A factory reset helped that but it took the Marshmallow upgrade to completely resolve this.

Here's what the battery usage looked like after Marshmallow:


Battery usage has been fine ever since and I haven't tried DriveMode again!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

SSD Migration

My X201 is getting slow with its 1TB Toshiba HDD. I installed that big drive for photo storage on my trip to Ireland. When I returned, I copied the photos to my primary storage so I haven't been using most of that 1TB.

Monthly I use Windows' "Create a system Image" tool to take an image backup of each of my PCs boot drive.

When I used this on the 1TB drive in the X201 I only selected the C: partition. I had resized this partition to less than 250GB so it would fit comfortably onto an SSD when I was ready to move that way.

2 months ago the monthly backup failed with drive errors on the C: partition of the 1TB HDD.


I pulled out my copy of SpinRite and let it run on Level 2. It confirmed that there were unrecoverable errors on it.

Not expecting much I tried Windows' chkdsk. My expectations were met. It would reboot to a command prompt and then run to 13% and sit there. While you weren't looking it would do something and reboot to Windows.

Windows kept on running fine but I knew it was a ticking time bomb.

I bought a Samsung EVO 500GB SSD and set out to move to it.

I had a Windows system image backup from 2 months ago. I installed the SSD and I booted from my Windows 10 installation USB drive. I went to "Troubleshooting" and chose "System Image Recovery."

I selected the backup image and began the restore.

But...

I got a message that "The disk that is set as active in BIOS is too small to recover the original system disk" with error 0x80042407.


The problem is that Windows system image backup requires a target drive that is as large as the sum of the partitions defined on the drive when the backup was made. This means that even though the partition I backed up was less than 250GB I needed a 1TB drive to restore to.

A word to the wise, test your backups.

As luck would have it I had a 1TB drive sitting around so I restored to it and then used the Samsung Data Migration tool to copy the partition to it.

In retrospect, after I had resized that system partition to 250GB I should have dropped the partition that was just holding a place on the drive before I took the Windows system image backup.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Windows 10 Network Usage

A recent post on Winaero sent me looking at my Windows 10 network usage.

  1. Open the Settings app in Windows 10.
  2. Go to Network & Internet -> Data usage.
  3. On the right, click the link "Usage details".
  4. The next page will show you the data usage collected for last 30 days.


Nice.

But scroll down.


The second highest data usage is "System" and is out of sequence at the bottom. Microsoft, why put this at the bottom?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Trump Backups

When I built "The Trump" I used Windows Storage Spaces to create a mirrored data drive.

On the Storage Spaces I used Microsoft's Resilient File System (ReFS). The 2 TB drives I used had 4096 byte hardware sectors.

While I still believe that this was a solid technical decision it has caused me difficulties in backing up my data drive.

My "go to" backup solution Drive SnapShot didn't support 4096 byte sectors and couldn't give me a date for adding that support.



This sent me on a quest for alternatives.

For AOMEI Backupper Standard:


In summary I didn't find ANY personal backup (read that "free") tools that supported 4096 byte sectors and ReFS.

The best I could find was Macrium Reflect Free.


It supports 4096 byte sectors but treats the ReFS like a fully used GPT volume. With Reflect's compression and differential backups this has been acceptable.


I'm looking forward to the personal backup tools stepping up to these new technologies.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

OTG

OTG stands for "USB On-The-Go."

OTG is a "specification that allows USB devices ... to act as a host, allowing other USB devices ... to be attached to them. ... For instance, a mobile phone may read from removable media as the host device, but present itself as a USB Mass Storage Device when connected to a host computer."

Translation: An OTG drive can be plugged into a PC and then into a phone.

I had never played with these until I came across this one.


Then I couldn't find anything to do with it!

But recently I found a good use case for it.

I had ripped Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt to mp3s and wanted to move it to my Nexus 5.

I put the USB A end into Trump and dragged the mp3s to it. I ejected it and took it over to the phone.

When I plugged it in I got this in the Notification area.


I tapped on "PNY USB drive" and got this.


I long tapped on "Michael Lewis" and then pulled down "...".


I tapped on "Copy to ...".


And I was able to copy the folder to the phone.

To eject it, I pulled down the notification shade again, opened the Settings and ejected it.


If it would just fit on my key chain I'd use it a lot more. By the way, it did get hot while plugged into the phone.

Oh, there's one for the iPhone too with a slight Apple tax.