Since I last posted here, I’ve played with Cyanogenmod firmware images – since AT&T is limiting updates to my S3 to KitKat, I needed to take matters into my own hands to upgrade to Lollipop.

In order to install a Cyanogenmod image, I needed to Root the phone first. Rooting is a process where you give yourself elevated permissions on the phone.

I tried a handful of “quickroot” tools that promised a one-click root experience. None of them worked. I ended up installing a recovery ROM image using ODIN, booting into a recovery mode, then running a program to root the phone. Once that was done I was able to load the boot image and boot into my new Lollipop environment.

I like the new Material Design look and feel. Lollipop has some interesting features, like a priority notification mode.

What I didn’t realize was that one of the tools I rely on, Priority senders in email, is a Samsung feature and isn’t on the generic ROM. What I was hoping to do with Lollipop was to improve on mail notifications from specific senders and ignore everyone else. Apple does this well with their VIP feature, Blackberry did this way back when with two levels of notification.

I’m downgrading now to a stock AT&T image and NILS, my previous lock screen solution. While I’m going to miss the eye-candy, KitKat seems to have all of the features I need for work.

Android Repairs

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

One nice thing about the iPhone is the SIM carrier — it’s a metal frame that holds up well under repeated SIM changes. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a thin metal carrier that uses friction to press the contacts against the card. Between my card wearing out and using a SIM carrier adapter, my phone has lost connection with the SIM card.

On an iPhone? I’d probably need to replace the phone. With a Samsung? I bought a replacement SIM carrier online – $1.88, with free shipping. bought another battery with a wall charger, so I can swap batteries and not worry about charging on the road.

Samsung Diagnostic Codes

Samsung Cell Phones – Programmer Codes
Suggested by: GodCube, 11 Apr 2007 | Print version
Type these codes into the phone where you normally would make a call.

#646# then press the Call button: T-Mobile Customers only, shows minute usage.
*#06# : Show IMEI.
*#9999# : Show Software Version.
*#0837# : Show Software Version (instructions).
*#0001# : Show Serial Parameters.
*#9125# : Activates the smiley when charging.
*#9998*228# : Battery status (capacity, voltage, temperature).
*#9998*246# : Program status.

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Chapter 12 – Android Battery Drain

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

I’m moving back to my iPhone for a while — while I’m loving the Android environment, I’m getting about 8 hours of idle time out of my Galaxy SIII, and that’s just not enough flexibility for me during the week.

I’ve tried Qualcomm’s Snapdragon BatteryGuru, tried removing all of the Samsung apps, turned off the motion sensors, turned the brightness down and turned the auto-brightness setting off — and still I can watch the battery icon draining. Oh, I’ve bought a new battery as well, thinking it might be a Li-ion battery going south.

Between the lack of lock-screen notifications in Kitkat and the battery issues, I’m better off with the iPhone for a while. I found a Lolipop ROM for my old Atrix 4G, I’m tempted to try it out on a rooted ROM to see if the notifications are any better in the new OS version.

Chapter 10 – All In With Google

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

Screenshot_2015-03-12-10-42-30The Google Play store has over a million apps available for download, and there are other Android app stores available. There’s no limiting you to one store, as with the iPhone. Trying to find the right app can be daunting.

I decided to try out all of the Google apps first to simplify things, then will compare their offerings to some of the other apps out there. My take on the app offerings are below.

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Chapter 9 – Secure Android Messaging

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

Now that I’ve upgraded to a newer Android phone, I’m testing out secure messaging applications for mobile devices.

Open Whisper Systems make two products I’m trying out – TextSecure and RedPhone. They offer secure texting and voice calls, and both products are open source. I’ve replaced my messaging app wigth TextSecure and have a couple of contacts already using it.



Moto E Review – a nice cheap Android phone?

Motorola Moto E - Good, Cheap Android phone review I’m looking for a cheap 4-inch android phone with a newer OS, expansion, and decent hardware. There’s a ton of no-name import quad-band phones out there, but when digging deeper into the specifications, find out it’s got a 2 megapixel camera. Or it’s 3G only. Or it’s all plastic.

I read this review of the Moto G, and I’m impressed. My Motorola Atrix 4G which was part of my iPhone to Android experience was a great little phone, and Motorola did some interesting things with their MOTOBLUR interface.

Back to the Moto E — the current incarnation is 3G only, but the 2015 model is a solid feeling, unlocked Android phone running Android OS 4.4, 8 GB of storage, a 5 megapixel camera and selling for $119 for the 3G and $139 for the LTE version.

Android for Work program announced

We’ve all been doing it, to the dismay to some of our bosses: Employees have long been bringing their own devices to work, reading corporate mail on the same phone that also is used to run their favorite games, snap their family photos and browse the web at large. Now, Google wants to legitimize BYOD, as the bring your own device is being called within the industry, by making Android more secure for work.

The company launched a new Android for Work program Wednesday that promises to not only make new and existing work devices more secure, but also bring enterprise-strength security to more than one billion Android handsets and tablets that consumers have acquired on their own. “Every employee should have a work-enabled mobile device in their hands,” said Android for Work Product Management Director Rajen Sheth during a press briefing in San Francisco Wednesday.

The basic idea behind Android for Work is to offer enterprises and their employees a secure area within their Android phones and tablets that can be managed by a company with dedicated policies and easily accessed by a user. For example, users can access a work-specific version of Google’s email client, and then simply switch back to their personal email client. Work apps are visually set apart from personal Android apps through a small suitcase icon.

[via gigaom ]

Chapter 8 – Android OS on Modern Hardware

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

I’ve traded in my Motorola Atrix 4G for a Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. The Atrix 4G is a 4 year-old Android phone with an interesting design that included a dual-core CPU, fingerprint reader, a “webtop” app that let you use it docked like a desktop PC and media center, and a laptop shell that used the phone to drive a keyboard and screen in an ultrabook laptop form factor.

While I liked the form factor (smaller than an iPhone 5, although a bit thicker) and liked the flexibility of being able to load other launchers and the variety of apps available on multiple app stores. I missed a couple of applications that weren’t supported — the Atrix 4G ran Android OS 2.3, a far cry from the current state of the OS.

The Samsung is running Android 4.4.2 on modern hardware – a quad core CPU, HD display. While I still have a soft spot for the Atrix, I’m going to try this out and see how the newer OSes compare. Already in the first few hours of playing with it, a handful of apps installed that wouldn’t work on the Atrix, and while I haven’t found the VIP notification capability on iOS, I can pick separate alert tones for incoming emails from selected contacts.

Chapter 7 – Switching Gears

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

I’ve spent the past two weeks with a 4 year-old Motorola Atrix 4G phone instead of my almost-latest-and-greatest iPhone 5. I started using an iPhone in 2011, about the same time the Atrix was manufactured.

While the comparison was stacked in favor of the latest and greatest iPhone OS, The old AndroidOS showed promise.

Android Wins:

If you like a wide open ecosystem for a computer platform, Android is it. There are several app stores to choose from, and there’s no requirement to settle for one. I chose the Google Play store and the Amazon store and found an astonishing number of free and paid apps. If you make a security setting change to your phone, you can load your own apps by copying them to the system.

Android media support was simple — plug the phone into a computer via USB cable, and drag and drop media onto the phone. Ironically, having to use iTunes over the years forced me to organize my media to the point where copying the files over to an Android phone would be a workable solution.

I bought music during this experiment on Amazon, and unlike the iTunes store, the music is primarily DRM free.

Firefox for Android. I use Firefox at home and at work, and having my bookmarks and environment synchronized across home, work and my phone was helpful.

iOS wins:

Notifications — iOS’s VIP feature is a close approximation to BlackberryOS’ ability to filter what email gets forwarded to your handheld. ActiveSync is an all-or-nothing sync protocol, but with the VIP feature of iOS, you can set up stakeholders in your work life as VIPs, have their email notifications sent to the lock screen and not notify if anyone else emails. This one feature has allowed me to take my weekends back by prioritizing my off-hours contacts.

Connectors – the Lightning cable, while seemingly part of the connector conspiracy, is a nice connector. It’s small, fits either way, and feels solid. Micro-USB, while widely used, is more fragile and more difficult to connect.

Podcasts – iOS comes with a full-featured podcast client and the iTunes store is the largest collection of podcasts. I had to search for an Android podcast client, and didn’t find one that met my needs.

Next, I’m planning on moving my data and plan to a modern Android phone and compare it to its predecessor and to the new iPhone.

Episode 6 – Messaging

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

If you search for the phrase “Can’t receive picture text messages” on the web you’ll find a ton of pages – about 9,000,000, according to Google. I ran into that problem this morning — I could receive text messages, but MMS (Multimedia messaging Services) messages wouldn’t appear. I’d get a box asking me to download the message, then it would time out without downloading the text.
Some pointers suggested turning off wifi, but another suggested checking the APN (Access Point Name) settings. The phones use APN settings to tell it how to connect to the mobile network.

A look at my phone revealed a possible problem — the APN settings pointed to Cingular, a previous incarnation of AT&T wireless. Since this phone is 4 years old, it’s entirely possible that the setting are no longer valid. Another quick trip to Google turned up this page, intended for someone bringing  a phone from another carrier to AT&T. I created another APN under Wireless and Networks -> Mobile Network Settings->Access Point names, and set the new one to default. Picture messages now work.


Name ATT Phone
APN phone
Proxy Not set
Port Not set
Username Not set
Password Not set
Server Not set
MMSC http://mmsc.mobile.att.net
MMS proxy proxy.mobile.att.net
MMS port 80
MCC 310
MNC 410
Authentication Type None
APN type default,mms,supl,hipri
APN protocol IPv4
Bearer Unspecified


Episode 5 – Notifications

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

It took iOS several iterations to get notifications right. When I first moved from a Blackberry to iPhone, there were several instances where my iPhone alarm didn’t go off because I’d received a text message that was waiting acknowledgement.

iOS has configurable notifications for each application, and can include a popup, a message in the notification area or some combination of the two. Either are available when the phone is locked.

Android 2.3 has a notification bar that is available when unlocked, but you have to pull it down from the menu.

I’ve gotten spoiled being able to sit my iPhone up near my desk and use the locked screen meeting/calendar reminders to keep me on schedule. This is something I’ll look forward to testing with of the operating system, as I’ve seen screen shots that look like what I’m looking for.


Episode 4 – Gingerbread

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

I’m trying to do a fair comparison between my year-old iPhone 5 and an Android phone, but a disclaimer would be appropriate — my Android phone is almost 4 years old.

I didn’t want to buy a new phone to start this experiment off, so I thought I’d start with a used phone, learn the environment, see where it came from, and then look at the differences between Gingerbread and the new OS on a new phone.

Google’s “Gingerbread” OS was released in February of 2011, and is still in use on low-end phones manufactured today. While missing some of the features of newer phones, it’s still a viable release. I’ve found versions of most of the programs I use on a day to day basis, Firefox seems to do a good job rendering web pages on the phone, and there are theme add-ons to make Gingerbread look like the newer releases — or iOS if you’re so inclined.

There are some software compatibility issues with Gingerbread; I had to do a search to find OneNote 2010 and side-loaded it onto the phone; OneNote 2013 wouldn’t run on it. Dropbox wouldn’t either, but I can work around that. Snapseed, my favorite iOS photo editing app wouldn’t load, either.

Episode 3 – Sync

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

Being able to bring my contacts, calendar items, notes and tasks into my phone is what makes it a Smart Phone. Android uses ActiveSync to connect to Exchange mail servers, and the capabilities are on par with other ActiveSync clients like iPhones and the new Blackberry phones. With it, my mail is synchronized, as are my contacts, address lists and calendar items.

I looked at my phone this afternoon, needed to pull up some information I had saved in my Outlook notes and remembered that ActiveSync doesn’t support notes. iPhones don’t support notes via ActiveSync – there’s a feature in iTunes to sync notes.

I found a program called Tasks and Notes for Exchange, which offers notes sync as well as offering support for David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, outlined in the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

My phone is a Motorola Atrix 4G. Motorola offered a service called MotoBLUR, which appears to be a way to sync data and applications between phones and through a web site. Annoyingly, you need to create a MotoBLUR ID before logging into the phone the first time. I did so, and while the phone works just fine, the information didn’t make it across to the web service. All of the sync features sold in the marketing documents are gone from the site, and all they’re selling is device wipe features. I spent 45 minutes on chat with Motorola tech support and got the distinct impression that the application’s best days are behind it, and that Motorola has moved on.

The MusicLink service appeared to be a way to sync music from iTunes to the phone. it’s been replaced by MOTOCAST, which also appears to be down; the domain is valid but there’s nothing there. The Music app is hardcoded to look to podcast.com for content, and there’s only a handful of podcasts listed. The domain is for sale. I’m reminded of online ghost towns like Myspace and Tribe.net — the servers are plugged in and online but no one’s there.

Android phones shine when connecting to Google services, I’ll document setting up my personal accounts to sync to the phone in a later post.

Apple has a thriving store for all content and can sync all content from Outlook either directly through ActiveSync or through iTunes.

WINNER: Apple.

Episode 1 – Making the Switch to Android

This is a series of blog posts documenting my switch from iPhone to Android. To read the whole exciting saga, click here.

I’ve been an iPhone user for several years. I like Apple’s application support, and I’ve learned to work around the quirks in iTunes, the quirky support for Outlook connectivity and ActiveSync, and quirks with reminders and alarms that I never had a problem when I carried a Blackberry.

Back in my Blackberry/WinAMP days, I kept my music arranged by folders and didn’t pay attention to metadata. iTunes made a mess of things and I spent the better part of a couple of years adding metadata to my music files – including album artwork, using programs to scrape lyric sites to add lyrics to songs, adding genre information, learning how to make a compilation of 300 songs by 300 artists show up as a compilation instead of 300 1 song listings…

I’ve spent a lot of time working around the Apple ecosystem, and wanted to see how Google does things with Android. I picked up an older Android phone from work and will document my findings here. I’ll need to migrate my music to my new phone, migrate personal applications to Android, come up with a photography workflow with equivalent apps to what I have on iPhone and migrate my work email, contacts, tasks and chat/IM to the new phone.

I’m using a Motorola Atrix 4G for my Android phone experiment. The phone was pretty impressive in 2011, but showing signs of age in 2015.

WCDMA 850 / 1900 / 2100
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Weight 4.77 oz   (135 g)
Dimensions 4.64″ x 2.5″ x 0.45″   (118 x 64 x 11.4 mm)
Battery Talk: 9 hours max.   (540 minutes)
Standby: 250 hours max.   (10.4 days)
1930 mAh LiIon, Removable
Display Type: LCD (Color TFT/TFD)
Resolution: 540 x 960 pixels
4″   diagonal
Colors: 16.7 million (24-bit)
OS / Platform Android
version 2.2/2.3
Processor 1 GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 AP20H
Memory 16 GB internal storage, raw hardware
SIM card size Traditional / Mini (2FF)
FCC ID IHDP56LS1 » (Approved Jan 20, 2011)
IHDP56LS2 » (Approved May 25, 2011)