Sunday 8th March – Coolangatta & The Three Worlds Fire Twirling Competition
Bronwen and I drove to Maz’s and then down to Coolangatta with him and Emmi, where we went for a swim, ate some chips, and then watched the Three Worlds Fire Twirling Competition.
Saturday 7th March – Maz
I got up a little before half past six and drove to the Woolworths near the airport and bought a chocolate milk and waited until Maz—who had just arrived back from America—called to say he was ready for pick-up, and picked him and Emmi up from the airport and drove them to Maz’s place.
I spent a quiet afternoon at home.
I took a few test photos of water droplets—first by dropping a macadamia nut into a small bowl of water, and then by dripping water into it. It worked relatively well.
Friday 6th March – The Phone of Hate and Evil
All Day Long
I just opened the Telstra website, and my browser (and its 125 currently opened tabs) unexpectedly quit. This pretty much sums up my day.
After spending half of yesterday “installing Cyanogenmod on my phone”, I have now spent the entire day “trying to get it to work”. While it’s probably not something your average iPhone user could do, it should not be this difficult and normally takes less than half an hour.
First there were the dramas yesterday actually installing Cyanogenmod in the first place. Then, after managing to get it installed, the dramas finding that I ran out of space (which causes some “interesting” instability), which, combined with the excessive heat, made me exhausted and unhappy.
Then today I made the stupid mistake of deciding to re-partition my phone’s storage. For reasons which I’m sure are a terrible idea, the “16 GB” Note comes with many, many partitions (20 MB EFS, 1 MB SBL1, 1MB SBL2, 8 MB PARAM, 8 MB KERNEL, 8 MB RECOVERY, 210 MB CACHE, 17 MB MODEM, 893 MB FACTORYFS, 2GB DATAFS, 12GB UMS (confusingly known as “sdcard”) and a 537 MB HIDDEN)—but by far the most annoying of these is the 2 GB “data” partition, which simply isn’t large enough to install much on. Back running the stock Samsung firmware, I was just able to install everything I wanted, with great difficulty, so long as I jumped through many hoops to do so, but with Cyanogenmod, I wasn’t able to install many of the apps I need on a day-to-day basis (like my Hungry Jack’s app which I shake every time I’m near a Hungry Jacks in case I win something vegetarian—for some reason it’s a huge app).
Anyway, the obvious fix for this is to repartition the Note’s internal memory so that the data partition is larger, and the “sdcard” partition is smaller. Unfortunately, what actually happened was this:
First, I rebooted my Note into “download mode”, and connected it to my laptop via USB, so I could repartition it. However, my laptop said “OMG USB BROKEN. DEVICE UNKNOWN”. Considering it’s made by Samsung, this isn’t that unusual and the internet is full of porn people complaining about it and offering various incorrect solutions on how to fix it. I followed all of them, rebooted several thousand times, tried different USB leads, installed and uninstalled drivers, Samsung Kies multiple times—even tried a different computer. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it must be the kernel on the phone, so I flashed another kernel—the supposedly good “raw r4” kernel. This caused my phone to not work at all—though in a quite interesting way. When it first turned on, it would scroll wildly, like a broken old-school CRT TV, and then slowly pixels would randomly turn on, until the screen was a bright white.
While undoubtedly amusing and interesting, I was not impressed. I tried rebooting into recovery mode, but the same thing happened. Becoming worried that I had now permanently ruined my Note, I tried rebooting to download mode, which still worked. If only I could actually connect it to a computer… which I tried, and found out I could. Apparently it had been the kernel stopping that from working after all.
Naturally, and as one would expect, download mode—even though it now connected to my computer—didn’t actually work. I tried flashing a few things to the Note, but they all failed with a variety of errors that roughly said “can’t write to NAND”. Eventually, in a mixture of desperation and sweat, I retried booting the phone (which didn’t work, of course—though the “look, I’m so broken, look at me fade to white” effect was soothing on the nerves), and managed to boot into recovery mode (I suspect it probably worked all along, but I didn’t hold the numerous buttons down all at the right time to get into it the few times I tried before—a common problem, often considered to be the cause of the mars lander crash).
By this time all I wanted was a phone that could receive phone calls and SMS so I could pick Maz up from the airport tomorrow morning, and I’d go and buy a new Note after that and throw this one very, very hard at the first person I saw who looked like they could be a software developer, so I restored the backup I’d wisely taken this morning before starting any of this, and booted into that. To my relief, it booted—and seemed to “work” (though of course, with hardly any of my apps installed, and all sorts of amusing little quirks—such as the lock screen crashing over and over—due to having run out of storage), so I left it at that.
Except I didn’t, because it froze up entirely and I had to reboot it… and of course, it didn’t boot. So back to the recovery screen I went (after three attempts at holding all the buttons down the right amount—no wonder people haven’t colonised Mars yet), and for want of anything more logical to do, I tried to restore the same backup again. Interestingly, and to my great amusement, it failed to restore this time—some pretty error about being unable to write to a secure partition. However, it did boot after that, but was even more broken—Google Play Store crashed every minute or so, and hardly anything ran—but I could still make and receive phone calls, so I left it at that.
Except I didn’t, because it occurred to me that I should re-flash the ROM from scratch, in case that might work. So back to the recovery screen I went (after another three attempts at holding all the buttons down—it seems you can’t do it while the phone is charging, or all it does is turn on and off the pointless charging animation the phone displays while it’s turned off—you can forget Mars, it’s a wonder people manage to get to the corner shop without being killed by faulty software) and reinstalled Cyanogenmod from scratch. Nothing seemed to go wrong, so I restarted the phone, and it seemed to boot as expected, and then I noticed that it had no “SD card” (which, as mentioned earlier, is not the sd card, but actually a partition on the internal memory—confusingly, the actual SD card was present and working just fine, albeit entirely useless at this stage). This led to the next interesting discovery—that it now had a 6 GB data partition. Apparently at least one of the many attempts to flash anything to it while it was in download mode had actually worked. Unfortunately, while this was terrific news, it also meant I now couldn’t use my phone, because without the internal “SD card”, not much worked.
However, this was a fault I could actually Google for—and I found many ways to fix it, none of which worked. After giving up on Google, I booted back to recovery, manually mounted the missing partition—which I’d been unable to do any other way—and formatted it, then rebooted, and voilà, it worked.
I now have a Note running Cyanogenmod, with a 6 GB data partition—which should be enough to install all the apps I could want on.
Of course, it’s still unstable and crashes a lot, and probably still too slow, so I’ll probably still have to buy another one.
I then drove into town to get Bronwen, and we had curry at Top in Town in West End, before going to bed, exhausted.
Thursday 5th March – Cyanogenmod
Very Hot Day
I didn’t work today. It was incredibly hot. I spent half the day installing Cyanogenmod on my phone in a last-ditch attempt to see if it’s possible to magically make it fast enough again, or if I need to bite the bullet and buy a new one. As usual, everything went wrong—my recovery wasn’t able to install the ROM, but by the time I’d already made my phone unbootable, and I didn’t have ADB installed anywhere (and for complex reasons not worth going into here, to do with having already broken the Android developer tools some time ago, I couldn’t easily or quickly install it either), so I was nearly screwed… until I remembered I could pull the battery out and remove the SD card, put an updated version of the Clockwork mod recovery on it, and install the ROM that way…
Then I ran out of space. I can’t install all the apps I had before—or even the bare minimum amount of apps I probably need—because I’ve run out of space. I’m going to have to repartition the device, which is hard and risky and annoying and it’s so very very hot today, and it’ll mean I have to start from scratch again and install everything again and oh, the pain and effort. I’m starting to figure that buying an $800 Note 4 might be the easy and obvious option, and even if a fantastically good Note 5 comes out towards the end of the year (who knows, Samsung does seem to be changing with their new S6?), I could just buy that then too, because it’s too hot to deal with this sort of rubbish.
Wednesday 4th March – Working
I worked, again. This is becoming a habit.
Tuesday 3rd March – Working
I worked. Having not worked for some time, this was a novelty.
Monday 2nd March – Sizzler
As I wasn’t working, I drove into town, got Bronwen, and we went to Sizzler for lunch—where, unusually, we watched Question Time.