Jun 092014
 

I’ve used CyanogenMod before and was very satisfied with it. No bloatware, latest features and stable. Had it on my Motorola Droid (special version, since it’s not officially supported), on my Galaxy Nexus, I have it on my Galaxy S4 (my work phone) and after the latest KitKat update from Sony that drains the battery faster than a crackwhore needs her next shot, I decided to give in.

Bootloader unlock, which means a factory reset (you have to request the unlock key from Sony support). Which was the alleged solution to the battery problems anyway, so what could go wrong.

Enter Murphy.

My Windows 8.1 laptop does not recognize the XPeriaZ in fastboot mode. On neither USB port. Not with Android drivers, not with Sony drivers. Just an unknown device with a yellow exclamation mark in the device list. So I hooked up my phone on my Linux server. Yep. That just works.

CyanogenMod usually works perfectly with the ClockWorkMod recovery instructions. Boot in fastboot mode, flash the boot.img and reboot. Flash the custom rom image, and while your at it the Google Apps, and reboot and done. Not this time. The phone is stuck at the CM boot logo. Read the instructions again. Okay, mandatory “factory reset/wipe data” when doing a fresh CM install. I thought I did that, but hey, let’s restart. Flash boot.img, reboot, factory reset/wipe, install CM, install Google Apps. Reboot. Same thing: the CM boot logo. WTF?!

Google is your friend. I wasn’t the only one with this problem. Seems that the data partition made by Sony is encrypted in a way, and CWM does not wipe it properly or doesn’t wipe it at all. TWRP (TeamWin Recovery Project) should be able to do it properly. Next restart: flash the twrp image, reboot. Wow, nice GUI! No fiddling with the volume buttons, just point and click. Wipe the data partition/factory reset. Put the CM and Google Apps zip in the update queue (!) and flash them. Reboot. Wait. CM boot logo. Wait some more.

YES!!!! It asks for my PIN to unlock the SIM card.

Enter Google account credentials and……..oh wait. I have 2-factor authentication and the authenticator was …. on this phone. What now? Damn you Murphy. Turns out you can install the authenticator on another device, scan a barcode (the squares thingy) from a browser on your desktop and then it “moves” the authenticator to that device.
After that, I could succesfully login on my Google account with my fresh CyanogenMod installation.

Only to find that it does not automatically download all my apps. In fact, none of them. Ah well, at least it’s working again.

One more word: if you play games that are Google Play Games enabled, make sure you install Google Play Games first and then the games. Doing it the other way around will give you strange and unpredictable results. In The Gate for example, I got an “Download failed because you may not have purchased this app” which is very weird, since it’s a Free-2-Play game. Just uninstall, install Google Play Games, and then install your games.

Jan 042014
 

My receiver broke down. Well, not all of it. Everything worked, except sound. Pretty basic for a receiver if you ask me. I inquired what a repair would cost, but all I was quoted were the costs of taking the device in for investigation. I decided to give it some rest, and asked my friends for advice. Their most sane conclusion was just to do the repair, since replacing the receiver would be way more costly.

This evening I started watching a tv series, and switched from sound via the receiver to stereo sound via the tv. It’s an flatpanel tv, so I guess you know what difference that made. Yuck. But…better than no sound at all.

During watching, I started to notice an echo. Because I was too busy watching, too pulled in to what I was watching, I didn’t pay much attention to it. After I watched my series, I switched to digital radio, and -as a creature of habit- I turned up the volume by using the Logitech remote, not the remote from the tv. The volume did increase. It took a second for me to realize that…..I just turned up the volume of the receiver. The echo I had been hearing was coming from …. my receiver.

As by magic, it now works again. All channels have sound, all inputs work, all I now have to do is put the right “label” into each source again since I did a factory reset to make sure the receiver wasn’t stuck in some software loop or something.

So……until some scientific rational reason comes up, I am going to believe that it was magic that made my receiver work again. Isn’t that something?

Jan 022014
 

In October my NAS disk broke down after the powerfailure. So I bought new disks. Last month (not even a week ago) my Windows system disk (SSD) died (unrecoverable). So I bought a new disk. Today my receiver gave in. No more sound. Everything works, except there is no sound. Factory reset (my receiver has that) didn’t work. So I’m guessing the pre-amp inside died, since it has 7 discrete amplifiers for each channel, so the problem must lie before it reaches these amplifiers.

WHY?

FML!

Dec 292013
 

Had a lovely -belated- Christmas dinner with my sister and brother-in-law. I fell ill at the end of the first Christmas day, so I had to postpone my dinner that was planned for the 26th. My sister fell ill as well. I was recovered enough today, and she decided she would not be a party-pooper and decided to come visit me. I stripped the starters from the menu at her request, and after all we had a lovely evening.

After cleaning up, I went upstairs to play some games. To my surprise, my PC had two black screens with only a cursor in the top left corner. Okay, let’s reboot. Same result. BIOS setup revealed that everything was seemingly in working order. But…..what’s that, only one harddisk. The normal HDD, not the SSD bootdisk. Unplugged the power, unplugged the normal HDD, boot and……

REBOOT AND SELECT PROPER BOOT DEVICE

Meaning the BIOS can’t find ANY boot device while only the SSD is connected. Let’s see what my server thinks of this disk. It’s linux, and it has hot-swap on the SATA ports enabled, so that should be a piece of cake.

And of course it was: to linux the disk was dead as well. On two different ports. After connecting via hot-swap, or after hard reboot.

Meaning: my desktop PC is out of order for now. The SSD has 36 months of warranty, and only 18 have passed. So yes, an OCZ Vertex4 128GB died after only 18 months of (not very intense) use. How fucked up is that?

Oct 242013
 

On Friday the 13th we had a power outage. Of course. It lasted an hour. After that my whole house came to life again, except….the TV-signal, my landphone and my internet. Correct, same provider. They had problems after the power got back on, and their problems lasted several hours.

I didn’t think I had any problems, everything in the house seemed to work. Except when I tried to get some files of my NAS disk for work. It died. Connected the disk to a Windows machine, my Linux server, tried repairing the disk with a controller of the same type of disk, but none of that worked. The disk was dead. It contained my photos, my music, my documents, all my downloads and some backups. Great. Because of money issues, the disk was not mirrored. And I found that my latest backup of my pictures was….from July 2011.

:-(

I bought 4 new disks.

DSC_0699

Two 3TB disks to be installed as RAID1 (mirrored disks) in my server, to be my main storage for pictures, documents and the like. And the NAS gets two brand new 1TB disks, also to be used in RAID1. To make things more expensive, I bought NAS-grade disks, which basically can stand being “on” 24/7.

The NAS disks are now installed and I am gradually restoring my pictures onto it.

The period the missing pictures span was certainly not the best period of my life. But there were some good moments I captured. Guess I have to make up for that in the years to come. Let’s charge the Canon, and start shooting.

Jun 242013
 

I extended my PC with two old monitors I got from my sister/brother-in-law. An HP1955 and an HP2035, with resolutions up to 1280×1024 and 1600×1200 respectively. Since my main screen is FullHD (1920 x 1080), Eyefinity on the RadeOn 7970 will set the height of all to 1024 when you put them in a group. Giving me a total resolution of 3840×1024. Not the best the card can do, but the best in this setup.

To save me the trouble of constantly setting up the group and gaming, and then switching back to a normal extended desktop (with max resolutions on each monitor), I created two presets in the Catalyst Control center. Easy. Just do your setup, go to Presets (second item in the accordion) and click on Add Preset. Name the preset so you can recognize it. Do another setup and add it too. Now you can switch between the presets by right-clicking on the system tray icon of the Catalyst Control Center and selecting “Invoke preset”. Choose the appropriate preset, and you’re done.

Jun 102013
 

Funny. Just to have some sound and some movement in the background, I turned on the TV and stopped zapping on a channel with CSI:NY. All the latest equipment, super cool gadgets, user-interfaces nobody has ever seen, but still…..they connect their monitors to the PC with…..the famous blue VGA connectors? No HDMI or DVI or DisplayPort, just the age-old VGA connector.

Apr 142013
 

In my last post I said Grid did not support FullHD mode, but with a little tweaking it does. Grid is an older game, and it probably can’t read all the hardware info from the newer graphics cards. Mine has 3GB of RAM, but the restrictions in Grid won’t allow you to go beyond a width of 1280 when your system has less then 270MB. So Grid must not understand 3000MB.

Here’s how to change the config files. Make a backup of each file first, in case you screw things up.

1) c:\steam\steamapps\common\Grid\system\hardware_settings_restrictions.xml
Find the line containing:

<res mem="270" maxWidth="1280" />

and change the value of maxWidth to 1920.

2) {userdocuments}\Codemasters\GRID\hardware_settings_info.xml
Add the 1920×1080 resolution by adding the following lines:

<resolution width="1920" height="1080" aspect="normal">
    <refreshRate rate="50" />
    <refreshRate rate="60" />
</resolution>

3) {userdocuments}\Codemasters\GRID\hardware_settings_config.xml
In the graphics_card section, change the resolution settings to something like this:

<resolution width="1920" height="1080" aspect="16:9" fullscreen="true" 
            vsync="1" oldWidth="1920" oldHeight="1080">
    <refreshRate rate="60" />
</resolution>

Start GRID. It should work. It will ask you if you want to keep the new resolution of 1920×1080 and after that you’re good to go. Have fun.