Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Factory un-fresh

This'll be a techie, nerdy post. I've been dorking around with my cellphone, finding out the new-ways-to-do-old-things, and hit one of those binary brick walls.

One of the critical activities I like to do with my phone, is use it as a cellular modem. "Tethering" my phone to my laptop through a USB cable, allows me to surf the internet on my wireless provider's signal. The advantage is that I can be online anywhere I can get signal bars. The disadvantage is the additional cost...that is, if I were on some non-SERO, charge you by the kilobyte, limited data plan....which I am not.

But back to turns out that, while my phone could tether to my laptop successfully, I would always get the error message on the phone that the battery could not charge while being tethered. That seriously put a limiter on my otherwise unlimited broadband activities. I ensured that the usb cable I was using was high-speed/2.0 certified, and that my phone was loaded with the most-recent firmware. I also started seeing application slowdowns and java-incompatibilities with the browsers. The next step was to totally wipe the phone.

Now, when you wipe a phone, you erase all the installed applications as well as all the locally-stored music, photos, and contacts. For me, all of my music is stored on the microSD card (eight gigs...can you believe it), and the contacts are kept safe on an Exchange server. Using the appropriate button-combination, my phone was lobotomized back to the day it emerged from HTC's build plant. It re-connected to Sprint's CDMA signal, initialized itself, and (more-importantly) was able to charge it's battery while sharing the Internet. I can now surf all day, and still have battery life.

Here's another one. I'm also exploring DLNA. I've got Windows 7 and a Samsung LCD television. The TV has media players built in to it's firmware, along with an ethernet jack. Last night, I was successful in establishing a media playlist specifically for the television. I can drop any number of video, photo, or music files into the TV's playlist on my server, run over to the Samsung, then access that content via the built in applications. It's got pretty good codec awareness and I no longer have to copy content to a usb thumbdrive just for the TV.

The next step is to fix the "Play On" feature in Windows 7, where I can click on my file, and send it directly to the television instead of the TV's's not activating for me yet, but this may also require a firmware upgrade for the television (I'm one revision behind).

And in closing, Father's Day is coming up. I've asked for one of these. My Roku Soundbridge suddenly DIED in the middle of the night and I have no alarm clock now. I did an autopsy on it, but could not revive. There are plenty of iPod/iTouch docks out there that will function as an alarm clock....but you need an iPod....and owning one of those is strictly against my religion. Chumby is open-source, has an active discussion forum, founded on hackability, is priced right, and contains a snooze button. This will be exciting.