Archive for the ‘Mobile Computing’ Category

TURN OFF two-factor authentication before restoring an Android phone

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Android phones have this awesome feature whereby your list of installed applications, your application settings, your Wi-Fi settings, etc., are backed up automatically inside your Google account, such that when you set up a new phone and link it to your Google account during the initial setup, all that stuff gets restored automatically, making for a lot less work for you returning your phone to the condition you want it to be in.

However, if you have two-factor authentication enabled on your Google account, it doesn’t work properly, or at least it didn’t for me. Here’s what happened:

  • I turned on my newly factory reset phone.
  • During the initial setup process, I entered my Google account username and password.
  • The setup app told me I had to log in on the internet (i.e., through the browser) because of my two-factor authentication.
  • I logged in on the internet, including entering the two-factor authentication code I received as a text message.
  • The setup process proceeded to completion.
  • I discovered after it was done that my Google account had not been successfully configured into the phone.
  • I configured the account again. This time it worked, but my apps and settings were not restored.
  • I couldn’t find any way to tell the phone to restore my apps and settings at that point.

Moral of the story: if you’re setting up a new phone or resetting and rebuilding your old one, and you want your apps and settings to be restored, then turn off two-factor authentication completely until the phone is set up, and only then turn it back on.


A journey of searching and renewal

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Today, I embarked upon a magical journey, a journey of discovery, a journey of oneness with the environment. In a word, a journey of recycling.

For several years, I’ve been accumulating junk of various sorts on a shelf under my workbench with the intention of eventually figuring out how to dispose of it in an environmentally sound way. Today, I decided to throw it all into boxes and try to get rid of it.


UPDATED: Awesome flash charger for portable device power on the road

Monday, June 24th, 2013

UPDATE [2013-07-31]: I have withdrawn my recommendation for No More Rack, and I discourage you from patronizing them.

It’s rare for me to be so pleased with a particular merchant that I feel compelled to rave about them on my blog, and even rarer for me to feel that way about a particular product, but now is one of those times.

I recently spend more than $20 on a flash charger from CVS, which (a) turned out to hold only 500mAh of power, which is a pittance, and (b) worse, turned out not to be able to hold a charge for more than a few days when not in use. This was obviously not acceptable!

Then I saw an ad in my Facebook feed (yeah, I know they’re incredibly annoying, but surprise! sometimes they actually advertise things you want) for a 2600mAh flash charger from No More Rack. I bought it, and I just had the opportunity to use it for the first time, and boy, does it deliver the goods.

I was on a five-hour bus ride from NYC to Boston (traffic! ugh) and the charging outlets weren’t working. I was down to less than 30% charge left on my phone. I had nothing else to occupy myself, and there was no way the phone was going to make it all the way to Boston with constant use. I whipped out the flash charger, and it was able to bring the charge on my phone up to more than 90% while I was streaming Netflix. That’s a lot of power in a little device.

Seriously, if you’re ever on the road worrying about if your phone or tablet battery is going to make it, and you don’t want to lug around a big charging brick, this is the deal for you. And it’s a great deal! You won’t find a comparable charger for less anywhere else.

If you’re interested, go to No More Rack and search for “2600mAh Flash charger” to find it.

Dropbox — easy, fast personal file sharing between computers (and even iPhones!)

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A friend of mine (thanks Bruce!) pointed me at a totally cool personal file sharing service called Dropbox.

In a nutshell, Dropbox smartly and automatically synchronizes a hierarchy of folders among any number of Windows PCs, Macs, Linux PCs and iPhones.  All of the synchronized changes are automatically backed up on Dropbox’s servers, and you can go back into the past to retrieve previous versions or deleted files.


Now Google Maps is right, but MBTA Trip Planner is still wrong

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Tiggit Mail: Good program, great author

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

TiggitLogoI recently set out to find a decent IMAP client for my BlackBerry Bold, since although the BlackBerry has native IMAP support, my employer’s IT department has disabled it.

I found two to consider: LogicMail, which is free, and Tiggit Mail, which costs $30.  Both are under active development.  I evaluated them and found them both to be inadequate.

I sent feedback to the authors of both applications describing the bugs I’d encountered and the missing functionality which I felt was essential.  The Tiggit issue list was significantly longer than the LogicMail list, ~20 items vs. ~5, and I really didn’t expect a fast or substantive response from the author.

To my surprise, he responded the same day: “Thank you for this very useful list of issues… I am happy to extend your trial period until such time as the defects are resolved… It is very helpful to get honest feedback like this, and if there are any other thoughts you have, please don’t hesitate to email.”

With this, he and I started a discussion which has continued for over a month.  Our exchanges spanned several beta releases of the application, each of which addressed more of the issues I’d reported.

Yesterday, I installed the most recent beta and found to my delight that all of the issues that I considered showstoppers were fixed.  This didn’t stop me from sending the author a laundry list of previously reported issues that still weren’t fixed and several new issues as well :-), but since all the major ones were fixed, I went ahead and purchased a license, as I’d promised the author I would do as soon as I felt the application was useable.

A few hours later, Paypal notified me that my license fee had been refunded.  I wrote to the author and asked him what was up, and he responded, “I could not take the money after all the constructive feedabck you have given.  The license is of course yours, free of charge as a token of my appreciation.  I hope tiggit will serve you well, and you will continue to provide helpful comments.”

With his prompt, courteous, and effective response to my feedback, the author of Tiggit Mail transofmred my initial, negative experience into a positive one.  He took my feedback seriously, recognized and acknowledged the validity of my concerns, and addressed them quickly.  He made it clear that he values his customers and understands that the point of what he’s doing is to make them happy.  Finally, refunding my license fee was a perfect example of what Jeffrey Gitomer talks about in Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless: when trying to turn around a dissatisfied customer, always give the customer more than he expects.

I heartily recommend Tiggit Mail to anyone who is looking for an IMAP client for the BlackBerry.  It’s well worth the $30 license fee, even if you don’t receive a refund. :-)

FAIL: Microsoft “My Phone”

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Microsoft apparently feels the need to offer a Windows Mobile equivalent to MobileMe, but of course the Microsoft version will have the advantage of that legenday Microsoft reliability.

I just got this email from Microsoft (click for a larger image):

My Phone Email Message

And here’s what I got when I tried to visit the My Phone Web site.  You can click through to see the full-size image, but I’ll tell you what it says and save you the trouble: “The Microsoft® My Phone service is temporarily unavailable due to system maintenance.  Please try again later.  We apologize for the inconvenience.”

My Phone Web page

So *that’s* why no one visits Sharon!

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

AT&T Tilt continues the tradition of crappy Windows Mobile phones

Monday, October 27th, 2008

So, I know that I said that when my phone contract expired I was going to switch to PalmOS or BlackBerry, because the software on the AT&T 8525 (a.k.a. HTC Hermes) was so sucky.

But when push came to shove and I needed to buy a new phone (because I dropped the old one for the nth time and the LCD broke), I looked at all the options and decided, despite my misgivings, that I was going to have to go with the Tilt, AT&T’s Windows Mobile 6.1 replacement for the 8525.  Here’s why:

  • As cool as it is, the iPhone is ruled out because tethering my laptop to the network through my phone is a non-negotiable feature, one that the iPhone doesn’t offer (well, it does if you jailbreak it, but I’m not willing to jailbreak a phone paid for by my employer and make myself dependent on features that the vendor doesn’t support).
  • PalmOS and Blackberry are both ruled out because none of the AT&T PalmOS or Blackberry OS phones support 3G.  Given how heavily I use the network through my phone, EDGE-only is simply not an option.  There are other reasons, too, but this is the biggest one.

(I’d love to go with the Google Phone, but it’s not available yet from AT&T and I don’t know if an unlocked T-Mobile Google Phone would be fully functional on the AT&T network.  Even if it would be, I’m sure it would take me a buttload of time to make it work, and that’s time I don’t have.  Really, I just want to be able to buy a PDA Phone from AT&T that does what I need out of the box and doesn’t suck.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently, yes, it is.)

And so, although my gut was telling me that I was not going to be happy, I went ahead and ordered the Tilt.  “How bad could it be?” I thought to myself.  “Surely in Windows Mobile 6.1 they will have addressed the stability problems in Windows Mobile 6.0, right?”  Yeah, right, pull the other one.

(more…) rocks!

Monday, May 12th, 2008