Monday, June 25, 2018

My Moto G4 Play (XT1607) Finally got Android Nougat (7.1.1)

I have a carrier unlocked Moto G4 Play (XT1607) which I purchased about a year ago. I've enjoyed the phone. I've really only had two issues: 1) an issue with speaker after a drop which I posted about here and 2) an issue with the GPS which seems generally sub-par, but was notably terrible on my last phone until I requested a replacement a few months ago, which I tweeted about.

This phone is notably better than the one it replaced, a Moto G LTE with 1GB memory and only two cpu cores, I think. The screen is bigger and the quality is similar or better. The extra ram and double internal storage really make a difference, as does the newer OS version.

The problem is that the phone was "promised" an update long ago...pretty much when I first got it. I actually considered the OS update potential before purchasing...so was pretty bummed when the update didn't roll out promptly. Not that Marshmallow (6.x) cause me any trouble, really. And, with Google decoupling much of their software from the OS so that search and assistant can get updates, I didn't really feel I was missing out on anything dire...but the update was promised! Each time I looked it up, someone in another country on another carrier had started rolling out the updates...but my version was carrier-unlocked and should get updates pretty soon...certainly before something with the additional bloat of Verizon, right?

Well, the day has arrived. My update finally came through. Aside a few changed icons and the option to split-window or use "on-body detection" to keep my phone unlocked (which I will probably at least try), it will probably not change my day to day use. It will probably allow me to continue considering Motorola/Lenovo products in the future, though. I'll take a late update over a lie, even though I hope this lax schedule doesn't become the norm. I'm tolerant of delays, but they should be the exception.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

ASRock AB350 Pro Memory Trouble (feat Corsair Vengeance LPX cmk16gx4m2b3200c16 -- may help with other memory!)

TL;DR

If you have 4 memory slots and only 2 DIMMS, be sure you are using the 2 slots preferred by your motherboard manufacturer. I have 4 slots (A1,A2,B1,B2) and couldn't get expected speeds using A1 and B1 but got the speeds with no trouble on A2 and B2 as the mainboard FAQ (and, presumably, manual) suggest. Who needs logic?

Preface

So I built a new PC recently and it was tons of fun. My sons helped me. I mostly went off the cuff (I've built a few before) and referenced the manual a couple of times. The first mistake was putting the M.2 SATA drive in the NVME slot (which doesn't work)...but moving it to the other M.2 port works. The second error wasn't as obvious, as the PC booted mostly just fine.

Memory

The memory I purchased (2x8GB sticks of Corsair Vengeance LPX cmk16gx4m2b3200c16) wouldn't run at the expected speed. It defaulted to 2133, but when I bumped up the the XMP 3200, it would boot three times before fail-safing to the 2133 speed. I updated the BIOS before even starting, so that wasn't it. I tried various settings and was finally able to get 2800 working mostly, with 2666 being completely stable. This wasn't terrible, but if I wanted slower memory, I could have saved $20 or so and gotten a cheaper kit. After reading into custom timings and memory training (woah, that escalated quickly), it dawned on me that memory placement *may* matter. I had put the memory in A1 and B1, which made sense to me. When I glanced at the FAQ on the website, though, it said to use a2 and b2 if only using 2 of the 4 available DIMM slots. I only decided to try this because I'd seen reports of 4-stick kits not achieving the same speeds as 2-stick kits. FINE, I'll try. Bam...worked immediately, first boot, with default 3200 timings -- CPU-z verified speeds. So far, my minimal benchmarks haven't really shown much gain, but I slept a little better last night knowing my speeds were as expected.

Takeaway

I was muttering bad things about Corsair when the memory didn't perform as I expected, even though it wasn't a verified chip for the motherboard (ASRock AB350 Pro4). Turns out the problem was mine, though I'd lean a little towards blaming ASRock over Corsair since the board prefers the non-logical 'a2' and 'b2' slots. For the record, I'd imagine the manual would have the information if I'd read it more closely. If your memory isn't working as expected with current BIOS updates, verify the memory chips are in the correct slots (if you have 4 available slots and 2 dimms). Your manual or manufacturer website should help!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Moto G4 Play // No Sound after Drop

I've have a Moto G4 Play for about two months and after a pocket-level drop onto pavement, the speaker-sound stopped working entirely. The microphone still worked, as did the audio port and (presumably) Bluetooth, but neither calls nor speakerphone/music produced any audio. *Will post video soon* I was just about to start the RMA/Warranty service process (after looking through the recommended solutions on this lenovo thread and seeing the factory reset / cache clearing fail to resolve the issue for pretty much anyone), but thought I'd take the back plate off and have a look at the little speaker module area and see if anything jumped out at me. I unplugged the battery and removed the micro-sd card. I didn't take the sim card out. Then I put them back in and pressed my finger pretty hard around the speaker area (around the camera) a few times. Nothing 'clicked' or anything, so I turned the phone back on and continued browsing the web. A few minutes later, I heard a notification sound. Yay! I started some music and kept pressing various locations near the speaker on the back of the phone and could cause the speaker to stop working intermittently depending on the pressure of my finger and the location it pressed. I'm concluding that (in my situation, at least) the drop caused[/exacerbated] an issue with the wiring in that area and caused a wire break or slight connection gap, which for now has been rectified. With the back plate gently put back on, the sound is still working correctly for now. I won't be surprised if the problem comes back occasionally with any trauma to the phone, whether I sit on it or drop it or my kid is too rough with it...but at least I'll know how to attempt to fix it myself. I hope this helps someone!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ion Job Rocker Review

So I've always liked the idea of connecting my phone to battery-powered, Bluetooth, speakers, but always feared the (anticipated) sparse battery life, weak output, etc. I've had two of these devices and while they weren't terrible, they were just barely better than the built-in phone speakers*. My wife had one, too, and it was similarly better than music straight from the phone, it didn't really provide the incentive to charge regularly, find, and connect for most daily uses.

Cue the music from the Job Rocker Plus from Ion -- honestly, I like Groupon's description better and the ratings speak for themselves. Considering I'm no audiophile but appreciate full-range sound (for reasonable cost)*2, this thing is a delight. I got one for myself that I've used extensively and one for my brother-in-law, who is much more used to high-priced things than I am. We both love them! We got the refurbished models from Groupon, but I think they are available for about the same on Amazon (probably refurbished) for $75 or so*3. The look and feel calls to mind the amp that you (or a friend) had with the first electric guitar you played terribly. It isn't quite as hefty, but not so small that you really worry about the output. The sound is good. When the volume is too high in bass-heavy music, I did wish for a separate bass-adjustment dial, but everything else really works well on this thing. It has a spot to charge your phone -- it connects (to charge) via a standard PC cable (included), and it works with auxiliary 1/8" input in addition to the Bluetooth I've used so far.

The Job Rocker + just survived a 40th birthday bash for my brother-in-law. His brother is a real DJ (who offered to bring his gear) and, while I'm sure the sound wasn't on par with what he could have provided, I was VERY impressed with how little the 10 to 15 adults bodies soaked up the sound...it was still easily loud enough for the "into the wee hours of the morning morning" gathering with music blaring the entire time and everyone there fighting to play the next song.

While the Job Rocker Plus can't fit in your pocket or even backpack, it would be great for a trip the the beach or family picnic. I use mine in my kitchen all the time and in my back yard while the kids are playing often. I'll be surprised if my wife isn't using this all Summer.

The Takeaway

If you want a (heavy and loud) Bluetooth speaker and can find this thing for $100 or under, get it. This is not for you if you want something to fit in your hoodie pocket or backpack. Tailgating, yes. Shoulder, to replicate the feel of a boombox a-la the '80s or '90s, yes. Speaker for your phone or laptop to connect to with the option to carry elsewhere when the need arises, yes. For a stationary speaker, of course, you'd be a little better off getting a true 2.1 system.

Astericks and such. Apparently, that is the plural.

* Subjective...and in hindsight after using the much more powerful Job Rocker from Ion. I never really minded using them at the time, but the appeal seemed to quickly fade. The previous devices were much more portable and $15-$30 devices with much less battery life / lower wattage / more portability...so comparison isn't really fair.

*2 I don't know the best way to describe my ear sensitivity...but I really miss my Klipsch Pro-Media 2.1 system. The subwoofer died and I've salvaged the satellites to use with my home theater, but the $50 Logitech 2.1 system I've replaced them with is notably less impressive.

*3 They are $200 on the Ion site...but I'd not have taken the plunge at that price. Maybe I'd pay $100 or $125 now that I know how well they perform.

Monday, May 29, 2017

GIMP Export As Takes Forever! [Fix]

Also applies to Save As, and Open.

I use GIMP and (since 2.8, maybe, on Windows 10?) File > Save As causes an obnoxiously long wait before the "where to, bud" dialog pops up.  I tried to resolve this a few times...poked around in settings and saw nothing.  Of course, I Googled it...but it is such a vague query that (surprise!) the answer didn't exactly jump out at me.

Eventually, with some persistence, I came across this Super User post which gives lots of great information about the problem and the path one user took to diagnose the issue.  For those wanting to fix it, though, and not understand it tons better, you can disable your Floppy Drive in BIOS or (like I did) do it in your Device Manager by [Windows 10] right-clicking the Start Menu > selecting Device Manager > expanding Floppy Drive Controllers > right-clicking and disabling the Standard Floppy Disk Controller.

Another guy said a slow SD card seemed to be causing him to have similar issues he corrected by simply removing the SD card.  I didn't even have a floppy drive installed, though the motherboard does support it.

Hope this helps!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

How to Lose your Tabs in Google Chrome

So I keep way too many tabs open at the same time.  But, I recently discovered a new feature -- how to lose those tabs easily!

Just open a new incognito window, then go to 'settings'...it'll open in a non-incognito window and you'll not have your tabs remembered next time you open a normal window.  Presumably, this wouldn't have happened if I had Chrome open in standard mode, as well, but if done while only browsing incognito, say bye!

Of course, I was able to grab them from my 'history'...but it is a bit of a pain.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Missed opportunity: Google Home + Google Wifi

I was considering a Google Home for my wife for Christmas--until I saw a Google WiFi commercial. How are these two products not (at least offered as) one device?

I could see the need for a supplemental Google WiFi that doesn't have Home bundled in, maybe, but can't really imagine the need for a Home that wouldn't benefit an existing home network by supplementing home Wifi. If nothing else, have a Home unit include dormant WiFi capability and, BAM!, next time I want to upgrade my home wireless network, the decision is practically made for me...or at least a much more attractive option.

Surely, as these two products were developed side by side, someone knew about both of them and thought about this. Now, I'm forced to wait and see if version 2 is a little better thought-out.

I've mocked up a little something.  Hopefully, the device can be made a little shorter.