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Samsung Android Phone Problems and Solution

One of the Android phones in my household (Samsung Galaxy S2) started acting chaotically. It showed signs like:

  • stopped charging;
  • showing it was connected via MTP while it wasn’t;
  • was turning on the car mode in a loop during charging;
  • when I was turning it off, it was turning on automatically;
  • when I was plugging the charger, it didn’t vibrate, etc.

The remedy was rather simple – cleanup the microUSB port using a toothbrush. Make sure your Settings/Voice input and output/Text-to-speech settings/Driving mode is unchecked.

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Pain with Routers. Meet Cisco

July 6, 2010 1 comment

A couple of years ago I bought a router Cisco 851W at Buy.com. It is an expensive piece, but has a lot of great features. After I set it up, I decided to upgrade firmware, but I got very quickly disappointed. Yes, you can go and register your router (by the way, it is only for organizations, Cisco does not care if you use it at home), but it does not give ability to download upgrades unless you bought a router directly from Cisco or purchased a support contract from them. The problem is its firmware if not bug free. That means if you do not have a support contract, well, do not just assume your network is secure. If you did not get yet what I am talking about, here is an example. You bought a Toyota Camry. A few months later Toyota finds that it has faulty parts and need to do a recall. Instead of cleaning up its mess, if Toyota were Cisco, it would say, if you want to get our faulty parts replaced or fixed, you as a customer have to buy $10K maintenance contract [to fix bugs we created], and by the way, it is not covered by warranty.

I am not really sure whether this is a good business model. I bet it is successful for Cisco, but I really hope not for long. It is bad for resellers, because they need to realize they sell unsupported junk.

So why am I complaining now? I gave Cisco a good chance and just checked again whether Cisco has changed its mind. Yes! The support site got much slower and buggier, but the support model has not changed a bit. Pathetic state of the company whose primary business is network hardware. This is too much disrespect to customers. I am switching to another brand. Not Linksys. Linksys was great until it was acquired by Cisco.

And not Netgear. I got burned on them as well, when the product did not meet its description. The product description stated that the router supports logging of Internet activities. I thought, this means you can get a log of probes from the Internet. I was wrong, that log is a list of sites I was visiting.  Very “useful” feature, if you do not have memory.

If you have any suggestions, you are more than welcome to comment. I do not have very sophisticated requirements besides basic requirements. Wireless, supported (free firmware upgrades), VPN passthrough, port forwarding, support instant messaging, SNMP/logging (IP/port source/destination). Nice to have: package inspection,  be able to use Snort.

Finding My Way on Mac, SyncToy

April 12, 2010 3 comments

I have not been posting anything recently as I was going through a change. After working 8+ years at one company, I joined today another company to continue to create great things. But the change did not end there. At the new place I got a Mac. I have been a “die hard” Windows user and developer since early 1995 knowing many Windows internals and was exposed to a Mac (v 8.6 or so) in 2001 briefly to test my application. This particular change I guess is long overdue since many of my former colleagues jumped on the Apple bandwagon. I was one of long standing skeptics. Nonetheless, I am embracing the challenge and want to make my environment as much productive as I used to have it on Windows. It includes so many different things – getting fingers hitting right buttons and combinations, getting used to the trackpad (I used a mouse even with a laptop – I just find it more efficient!), and tools. Thanks to a former colleague of mine, who happens to be my opposite in terms of OS preferences and is a “die hard” Mac fan, recommended me a link and another link.

But I still want to do things I used to do where shortcuts do not quite help. I’m talking about tools. For example, I use FAR Manager to copy and move files around, view files, FTP and so on. I know Mac OS is not designed with this kind of freedom, but still this tool is more productive to do many things.

The next tool is Entourage. I do not get it why Microsoft does not allow to run a rule in Entourage against already received messages and in Outlook does. Am I missing something?

The next tool is Remote Desktop Connection. I know there is an option to have a VNC session. Need to explore more.

The next tool is SyncToy. This is a kind of my first Mac gotchas. It does work, in some cases.  If you need to synchronize files between Windows and Mac, you can follow these steps.

  1. Open “System Preferences”.
  2. Open “Sharing”.
  3. Turn on “File Sharing”.
  4. In options select “Share files and folders using SMB (Windows).
  5. Pick shared folders.
  6. Pick and account you plan to use. (Mac may need to store your password, which poses some security risks, even the password is encrypted).
  7. Select users and their access permissions (You cannot get rid of ‘Everyone’, but you can give them ‘No access’).
  8. On your Windows computer in the Explorer type something like \\ipaddress\shared-folder-name. When asked to enter credentials, enter ipaddress\username and the password you specified as the password.
  9. Now you can map that folder as a network drive and you should be ready to use the SyncToy.

I did find a problem that SyncToy fails to synchronize an Entourage script if you chose to synchronize your home directory. I do not have an explanation for that yet.

Noteworthy news, Nov 20, 2009

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Intel: Chips in brains will control computers by 2020

While I like the idea to gain additional brain power, I wonder what’s going to happen if you get a computer virus or, say, your brain get DDoSed.

Categories: hardware

My Box. Shipment. Pictures

October 25, 2009 Leave a comment

I am late with pictures. But finally I’m starting to put some images of what I have been talking for so long. These are pictures for this post. I took them on Sept. 9.


I got a bit impatient and opened the box

I got a bit impatient and opened the box

The box was very thoroughly packaged

The box was very thoroughly packaged

One more layer

One more layer

Front looks sleek

Front looks sleek

Back. Notice it allows to use up to 4 monitors

Back. Notice it allows to use up to 4 monitors

General view

General view

Top. Notice the power button

Top. Notice the power button. Very handy

I’ll try to put more pictures soon.

Categories: hardware, pictures

Home Office. The Story

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I gave some bits of information about my home office, but did not have time to put a long story.

Here is a quick recap. I moved to my new place and my old computer did not survive the move. I bought a new workstation and the monitor with three screens.

The whole setup appeared to be pretty heavy. I was rather naïve to find appropriate furniture in local stores (Staples, Jordan’s Furniture, and so on). The furniture I saw fell into two categories: small or fragile to hold 3 screens, but convenient or it was sturdy and stylish, but inconvenient and took a lot of space. I had to turn to the Internet to find what I was looking for. This is where I got another boost of inspiration – I came across a few web sites of home office enthusiasts: Stefan Didak, Mitch Haile, Dennis Klein to name just a few. A special “Thank you” to Mitch Haile as I followed his example and purchased a few pieces from the Bush Furniture Series C collection (Auburn Maple finish).

Buying furniture on-line is a bit tricky process for a few reasons. One reason is it is hard to make sure all pieces come together with well. In my case a pencil drawer was conflicting with a file with a drawer file. Another reason is how the furniture is delivered. This is not a FedEx envelope. For some reason a person from the delivery company who was handling my delivery made me to believe that they just planed to deliver a portion of the purchase with small pieces. I think somehow this person was also successful in making the delivery guys to believe in this idea as well. Since I live in a high-rise building I need to reserve the freight elevator when I get large pieces delivered. Of course I didn’t do that because I had been under impression that only small pieces get delivered first. So what I got with my furniture which was delivered in full? I got two very angry delivery men that managed to have an argument with a concierge and were about to die. Boxes were very heavy even for two people.

Nonetheless the furniture was assembled about a week ago. I have some work to do in the cable management area. I work at my new workstation and even published one screen shot and plan to upgrade it to Windows 7 as soon as I get a DVD.

As a note aside, my home office is not that impressive as once I listed above, but it is very convinient for me.

 A few good words about the company that assembled my workstation – Digital Tigers. I got what I was looking for and, I think, with the best experience feeling personal attention. I was in contact with Geoff Amthor. I did not know I was talking to the CEO of the company, until I google’d the name (sorry!). The company made a very successful penetration into a very tough desktop market. It is so successful that it got Dell as a customer. Yes, the company that assembles desktops and laptops. Another notable customers are Microsoft C-level executives including Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Balmer, Ray Ozzie and others. The key is knowing what customers need and listening to customers, not pushing customers stuff that unlikely is going to be used, but is profitable to the business. I got things I wanted to install (Open Office), but came pre-installed without even asking me. I think this company deserves to be included (as a good case study) in the books that teach how to do business.

Categories: home office

Problems with Cables

October 12, 2009 1 comment

I was trying to improve connectivity between my devices at home over the weekend.

New desktop and Printer.  My new desktop does not have a parallel port. But my printer is old and does not support USB. So it was very straightforward to think that a USB-to-parallel port cable would solve everything. Yes, this is true, but at what price? It appears that this kind of cable costs around $40 at Best Buy. It’s just enough to think to upgrade a printer. It wasn’t in the list of my planned upgrades as the printer has been working pretty well, but the price of the cable, makes the upgrade an attractive alternative. I think I’m more interested in a scanner than in a printer to make my home office as much paper-free as possible. Features I’m looking for are: auto duplex scanning with a feeder with an option to scan from a glass, OCR, Ethernet connection, affordable, reasonable size for a home office.

TV and Keyboard. Getting to content in the Internet on my Sony XBR9 proved to be very cumbersome. The menu is more or less user-friendly. But entering text using a remote is really painful. So this weekend I bought a USB-to-PS/2 cable hoping that I can use a keyboard with my TV. Nope. XBR9 does not support a keyboard. I’m wondering if Sony could upgrade its firmware to support an external keyboard.

Categories: hardware