Monday, December 18, 2017

Fix for broken wifi tethering on Google phones updated to 8.1

Hi all, just wanted to post a fix for the broken wifi tethering on Nexus devices post the 8.1 update.

This is from the offical Google big thread found here:
After changing the APN Type string from 'default, supl' to <blank> for the internet APN in mobile network settings tethering unexpectedly works again. Not clear how these settings got there (part of the 8.1.0 upgrade?), but it works for now. Just for the record: This was on Australia's Telstra network.

Oh Google, what have you done? Or "reevaluating my life choices..."

I have to admit, my patience as a Google fanboy are growing thin.

Firstly on the Pixel C drama. Well, to be honest, Google were pretty good here. I did the old "hit the button in the support section on your Android phone" and I got a call back from Google within 3 minutes. They were great and I had my replacement Pixel C dispatched the same day and within a few days I was back on the horse. So full marks to Google there.

Then there was what I am calling the great Pixelbook ordering fiasco.

I bit the bullet and decided that I will replace my Pixel C with a Pixelbook

So I jumped onto the Google store and problem #1, for some reason Google will not deliver the new Pixelbook to Australia. I will explain why this is really crazy in a minute.

So I organise a friend of mine who lives in San Francisco to be my go to person. I set up her address as my US based delivery address. Order the Pixelbook, a cover, a pen and the extra insurance on the device.

Google use FedEx and I have to say that for my first experience of FedEx, I am underwhelmed to say the least. FedEx were unable to deliver the package to an apartment in downtown San Francisco, which is shared by three people, of which at least one person was in the apartment during the times FedEx claimed they attempted delivery. For whatever reason, FedEx indicated they were unable to deliver the device, so rather than leave it at a local FedEx or UPS depot to be picked up when it was convenient for my friend to do so (even though she or one of her friends were present the whole time), FedEx decided to send the package back to Google. Yep, you read that right. But wait, there’s more!

In my conversations with Google, they can’t just try to resend, they need to cancel the order and I need to start all over again. I do so. I wait for the credit hold on my credit card to release the funds back to me, replace the order, only to get another email from Google saying that the insurance department (remember, my first order included insurance) had been notified that my initial device was not delivered, and a replacement unit had been dispatched. This is after the initial order had been cancelled and my account had been credited with the initial amount.

When I placed the second order, the Google store informed me that the pens and covers were out of stock. (I ordered a cover and a pen from Amazon instead, who delivered those items directly to my Australian address.)

Spoke to Google again, they tried to arrange a pick up of the insurance replacement device (from the first purchase) that had been dispatched, yet their system would only allow a pickup of the device from my Australian address, not the US address. So Google’s system can only deliver a Pixelbook to a US based address, but it can only pick up a faulty device from my Australian address. No words.

Anyways, after a couple of weeks faffing about, we got it sorted and here I sit, in Australia with my Pixelbook cover and pen, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the actual Pixelbook itself that was dispatched by my kind and long suffering San Fransico sister!

I head off to my local cafe to give an update on these series of dramas where I usually blog from, only to discover that the Oreo 8.1 update on my Google Nexus 5X has broken the wifi hotspot function. (News flash: If you are not able to tether on any Google phone you own that has been updated to 8.1, it is an official bug!)

So I end where I started, oh Google, what have you done?

I trust that when the Pixelbook finally arrives (hopefully before Christmas, Merry Christmas me!) all of the dramas will be forgotten and I will be filled with new purchase endorphins and extolling the virtues of this wonderful piece of new kit!  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Oero 8.0 = Pixel C Hell

Ever since I downloaded Oreo for the Pixel C, it has been hell on a jetski.

I have had no problems on my Pixel C. Ever.

I download Oreo and I get the dreaded dark screen (your Pixel C turns on but the screen is so dark you cannot read any of the screen prompts), reboots, split screen fritz and random reboots.

If I was cynical I would suggest that Google put code in Oreo to make Pixel C users so frustrated that they purchase the Pixelbook out of frustration.

Seriously very poor form from Google.

I have two options as far as I can see it.

  1. Purchase the new Pixelbook which I was going to anyway.
  2. Enrol the Pixel C in the Android Beta program (
The problem with most of the reviews of the Pixelbook is that reviewers are largely comparing it to other Ultrabooks. Few reviewers are comparing it to other Android tablets.

I read one article that suggested that the reality is the Pixelbook is the new Google Android tablet and that is the future. I am a little bumbed that you can't detatch the keyboard but there would be no point to that as it is primarily a Chomebook.

Regardless, I am going to enrol my trust Pixel C in the beta program and see if that does not fix the fritzing problem because I would rather choose to upgrade my hardware according to my own timeline rather than Googles.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The future of Google devices

I have started researching the replacement for my Google Pixel C. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with it at the moment. If anything, after the Oreo update it actually seems to be a little zippier. I am writing this blog post (and doing a ton of other stuff on it today from my local cafe) and all in all, I still think it is the best bit of harward that Google have ever produced.
However, it is only a matter of time before it will not be able to keep up with my needs. So, thinking that I will need to research a replacement in about a years time, I have started looking around.

I swore years ago that I would never get a Samsung device again. The decision was made on the basis of Samsung's way of loading their devices with bloatware and the way in which they bastardise Android. However in terms of the 9 to 10 inch tablet form factor, I do not see that there are many other options.

Two of the possible alternatives are the Remarkable and the recently (as of yesterday) leaked Google Pixelbook.

As a knowledge worker in the area of tertiary education and coaching and professional development, I have found the case for the Remarkable pretty compelling. I mainly read, write and the idea of a device that will not break the concentration (ie: no Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp interuptions hardcoded into the device) is as I said quite compelling. Check out their Youthube video propaganda and see what you think.

Going the way of the Remarkable would still leave me at a loss insofar as the other tablet related things that I need to do, namely the aforementioned social media messaging, posting and communication. I am unsure as to how the Remarkable interacts with things like Google Drive (which I have a significant investment in) so there would need to do some serious research prior to committing to what from a distance appears to be a really compelling and cool piece of tech.

I have also alluded to the fact that there was a "leak" yesterday in relation to a slew of new Google devices about to be announced in a few weeks time. I was really really hoping that Google would suprise me with an announcement about a replacement for the 2015 Google Pixel C.

I was initially saddened but over the last 24 hours have become not a little bit curious about what the leakers are referring to as the Google Pixelbook.
It appears that the Pixelbook is a Google designed and manufactured Chromebook. (Check out this article on The Verge about yesterdays leak.) This one appears to come with a stylus too, which for me personally has become increasingly important as I have always been the kind of person to carry several paper notebooks and then scanning the contents to Google Drive.

I have never used a Chromebook and have been tempted several times. The ones that seem durable enough for my knockabout lifestyle however start to cost the same as an entry level laptop which has been my most significant point of resistance.

I am cautiously curious about this one however. It seems to be a foldback type laptop so that you can use the device as a tablet. The other points of caution for me are using ChromeOS over Android, the inability to separate the keyboard from the tablet (like the Pixel C) and of course the price.

I will continue to watch with curiosity and see what happens on October the 4th which I believe is the date that Google will be making their annoucements.

Watch this space.

Oh, and of course, if anyone does know of a successor to the Pixel C, drop me a line.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Using Google Inbox

I have recently altered my working arrangements. It meant that my GTD based to do system was a little bit of overkill for my new working arragements. I thought that I would take the opportunity to try out Google Inbox. I have been using it for about 3 months now and it is doing the trick.

I have all of the various email addresses I use funneling into the one Gmail account. It is that account that I use Inbox with.

I appreciate the ability to quickly swipe tasks and assigning a future date for them to reappear, so that I can focus on what needs to be done today. This is perhaps the one thing I would love to have on an Android based GTD system. The ability to quickly (one swipe with Inbox) remove the task from todays view and organise it to reappear at one of several pre set dates.

Inbox uses Gmail's tags but what I have been unable to ascertain is how to get Inbox to work with an email with more than one tag. For example, scheduling phone calls for a future date but also tagging it with @Calls so that the date deadline can press me but at the same time, if I find I have time to make calls before the hard date is something that I have not been able to fathom. (Of course, if any of you know how to do this, I would value your comments and instruction!).

My working arrangements are about to change once again, so something that combines the tagging of tasks with contexts, the ability to very quickly set and change dates to a number of presents and something that allows me to work directly from my Gmail inbox would be the holy grail of productivity.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Slimsocial, Facebook lite.

It's been a while. Sorry about that. The real job has been a little demanding lately.

Speaking of the real job, I need to use Facebook for work. I am not a big fan of Facebook and often wonder what my life would be like without it? More on that front later.

I have mentioned before that Facebook apps are not the best of Android friends, namely for power conservation reasons. I find that both the Facebook app and Messanger tend to be real battery hogs. So what to do?

A brief search resulted in my discovering Slim Social.
It is a simple Facebook wrapper. It is quick, lite and you can access Facebook messages from within the app without having to install Facebook Messanger (although this is not what I do, more on that in another post).

Occasionally it breaks (when Facebook changes something to try and force you back to their apps) however the developer tends to get that sorted in a day or three and you are back in business.

Been using it for close to a year now and find it does all I need and is kind to my battery.

Have at it you good things.

Google News Redux