Saturday, July 24, 2010

Android Update - last weekends 3G problem

I had intended to get an update in last weekend, but I had one thing go really wrong with my Android on Saturday and I really needed to get past that so that I had lots of good to report as well! I hate having to write whiney blog entries.

So first, my bad experience last Saturday.  On Friday evening I'd installed a bunch of apps, went to bed, woke up in the morning and my battery was dead. That should have been a hint that something was amiss, but I didn't quite take it.  I went out later in the day, and as I was about to head into a shop I noticed my 3G icon was on, indicating I was using data.  This is something I had explicitly turned off, becuase I didn't want to be chewing up data on a casual plan.

Well, I sat with the phone in hand for a good 20 minutes, desperately trying to get 3G to STAY off. It didn't matter how many times I changed the APN to an off one that I had defined, something kept on changing it back to Vodafone and re-enabling it. So I renamed the Vodafone connection settings - STILL it kept connecting! Argh!  Well, finally I went and found the codes for getting into what was called the 'testing' menu under Android 2.1, and I forcably turned off the data connection. (see below for details).

Later I uninstalled Twidroyd, which I think was to blame, but I'm still not 100% certain.  Since then it has behaved. And since then, I've also received the OTA (over the air) update to Froyo (Android 2.2) - which has moved that APN control to a menu you can get to it without entering seemingly random codes!

Unfortunately this episode resulted in me using over 50Mb of data!!!  That one is going to ouch.  (Oh, I know how much I used because I had installed 3G Watchdog on the recommendation of a friend. Thank goodness for that.

Well, that's the bad news out of the way.  A few tech details for reference if anyone needs to know, then I'll close this post and move on to the good news and how I'm using my fabulous new device.

OS: Android 2.1
Device: Nexus One

I'd created an "OFF" APN which I had set as my default for data connection. You create this by:
  1. Go to Settings > Wireless and Networks > Mobile Networks > Access Point Names. 
  2. Press menu button then press New APN. 
  3. Set name to "Off", 
  4. set the APN to "blank", 
  5. then press menu and press Save. 
  6. After that press the circle to the right of your new APN so that it is selected as your APN. 
I went one step further and I edited the type field to be Default, and I removed the work 'default' from the Vodafone APN.

I ended up having to do the following to keep the connection off (if anyone can explain why other measures didn't work, I'd love to know!)

  1. Go to the phone dialler and enter *#*#4636#*#*
  2. This will take you to the 'testing' menu.
  3. Tap on Phone Information.
  4. Press the Menu key or button.
  5. Tap on More.
  6. Tap on Disable data connection to disconnect and make inactive any data connection immediately. 
  7. Also tap on disable data connection at boot to prevent any unwelcome surprises.
I also installed 'Quick Settings' which I think does both the Disable Data Connection thing above, and it renames all of your APNs to ensure they don't work.  Others have mentioned APNDroid, but I've read some reports of it not working well on the Nexus One.

More details on unexpected 3G use here :

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Falling for an Android

I just deleted several very eloquent paragraphs for this post because I have soooo much I want to say about this particular story, that I can't afford to dress it up with extraneous words.

The very simple back story:
  • iPhone 4 was announced
  • Simon said 'hey, you've been wanting a new gadget for a while, you should get an iPhone 4'.
  • I didn't protest, funny that
  • Simon brought home a loaner iPad to play with.
  • I was more impressed that I expected to be (and as Simon will attest, my expectations on technology are so high, the result is I'm rarely impressed)
  • I wanted that iPhone 4 more than ever
  • Simon brought home a loaner Google NexusOne Android to play with.
  • I played
  • He took it back
  • I pined
  • I bought a Google NexusOne Android. 3 days later. (and I was a little bit unbearable in my impatience I might add)
In a nutshell, during that weekend with the Android, I discovered a sleek, functional, usable device, with a boatload of free applications available for easy download, a price tag significantly lower than what I'd be facing with the Apple, and an ideology that I have of recent years become more and more a supporter of (working for an employer who is passionate about open standards will do that for you!)

There is essentially nothing I'd have got with the iPhone 4 that I don't get with the Android - with the exception of the Apple brand - an ommission which I'm more than comfortable with.

Like I've been doing with Open Office, I'm going to write a series of blogposts on my experience with the Android, tips and tricks, things I've learnt, things I'd like to see (I always want more when it comes to tech!), and as always, I'm also more than willing to try things out on request if you care to leave a comment.

Stay tuned!