Good B-iPhone

iPhone 6S bulging battery

Today, among other alarums and diversions, I updated the operating system software in my iPhone 6s, which I bought on 2015-11-17, to version 12.4.  The update went smoothly, as did the installation of three app updates which appeared only after the system update was applied.  I then listened to a 40 minute podcast whilst attending to other matters and then, when I went to plug the phone into the charger, I noticed something distinctly odd.

On the left side of of the phone (the one with the headphone jack), the screen had separated from the case by about 4 mm, forming a hump in the middle of the case.  The deformation continued across the case, with a very small separation at the right side.  I had noticed, over the last month or so, greater heating than usual when charging the phone, but nothing extreme or, as they say at NASA, “out of family”.  I noticed no abnormal heating today, but clearly the lithium-ion battery in the phone decided to shed the shackles of its bondage within the case and burst out into the wider world.  I admire its ambition, but as an inhabitant of the wider world who cherishes serenity and lack of interventions by the pompiers, feel compelled to thwart it.

First, I tried the obvious engineering solution: mashing it back into the case with my fingers.  It was immediately obvious this was futile.  I don’t have a hydraulic press, but even if I did, I doubt it would solve the problem.  I decided to not charge the phone from now on, except when it got very low on battery, and at times when I could monitor it closely.  When I’m not close to it, I keep it in a sink where, in the case of a runaway battery conflagration, I can flood it with water (which, despite what you’ve heard about lithium, is the recommended response).

This has been my last connection to the Apple ecosystem.  I have just ordered a Samsung Galaxy S10 Android phone as a replacement, and will be migrating everything (manually, of course, since at Hotel Apple California, “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave”).  I will post reports on my experiences doing this in comments here.

“We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”

6+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

32 thoughts on “Good B-iPhone”

  1. Funny, I just migrated to the latest Apple  XS Max from an S7. Reason, battery degradation and I felt Google is a more insidious devil than Apple. Apple does not play well with others as you have stated. Apple did make the checking in fairly painless. They have an app for that.

    My screen said “Welcome to the Borg” 😉

    7+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  2. Kevin Schulte:
    I felt Google is a more insidious devil than Apple.

    It’s beyond my ability to discern differences in demonology to rank Apple and Google.  I prefer Android because the source code base is open source and thus subject to third party audit for security breaches and since the application ecosystem is far more open and not subject to the Apple gatekeepers (you can develop an Android app and make it available outside the Google Play store; on iOS, you can’t do this.)

    I am very happy having moved from a iPad to an Android tablet in June 2018; I’ll see how it works out with the phone.

    7+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  3. There’s a long and tortured history of battery problems across devices. Battery age is definitely a factor in general, though perhaps not in this case. We have a couple of laptops in the lab that date from 2006. They succumbed to battery bulge a few years ago. At least your battery didn’t catch fire.

    5+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  4. Coincidentally, last week both my partner and our paralegal had their iPhone 6s batteries fail.

    The paralegal’s suddenly expanded like yours did.

    The partner’s just had progressive degradation finally reach the point where battery life would be measured in tens of minutes.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  5. Shrug.  Interesting story.  At age 70, I just bought my first smartphone, an iPhone XR, and I love it.  I like the FaceID logon, and the screen is nice and sharp.  I made my own ringtone with a free app, though it doesn’t ring much.  I do like being able to easily send and receive text messages-I was texting back and forth with my doctor yesterday afternoon.  We are an all-Apple household, with two iPads, my iPod Touch (that I am still keeping around for music, since it has headphone jack), my iMac and Ray’s MacBook.  I have done quite a bit of photography and videography with the iPhone, and I have pretty much given up my video camera.  I expect to keep the phone for many years, as I bought it unlocked from the Apple store, and paid a pretty penny for it.  So far, it’s been worth every penny I spent on it.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  6. My last job before retiring was with a company making a competitive battery management system ( BMS) chip to compete with the TI chip which was involved in lots of laptop fires back when that was a thing.  Ours was intended to directly address the safety issues of multi cell batteries.  It did and we got acquired.

    The swelling is due to gasses which means that the internal safeguards are already failing.  The general advice is to stop charging it and keep it cool until you can dispose of it properly (now, that is the real trick – around here, Home Depot and some electronic stores have disposal receptacles)

    You definitely don’t want to squeeze it back.  Batteries in general have two plates (cathode and anode) with a chemical in between.  In a car battery, the plates are lead and the solution is Battery Acid.  In a phone battery, the plates are very thin, like aluminum foil and the separation between them is very tight.  If they touch – which would be more likely when you squeeze it, the electrodes may make contact, causing a short circuit which can generate lots of heat and lead to run-away combustion.

    I never witnessed an actual battery fire, but saw lots of training material which was pretty dramatic.  Again, the advice is not to use water – Lithium can react violently in water.  In our lab, the procedure involved metal buckets half  filled with sand and an air-tight metal lid.  We were to drop the battery into the bucket, tightly close the lid and take outside.

    3+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  7. WillowSpring:
    Again, the advice is not to use water – Lithium can react violently in water.

    Here is a Federal Aviation Administration film which explicitly recommends water as the most effective extinguishing medium.

    My understanding of the logic is as follows.  At the point you’re going to intervene, the odds are one cell in the battery pack has already gone into thermal runaway and caught on fire or exploded.  The highest priority (especially in an enclosed area where you can’t just throw it outside, like an airliner cabin) is to prevent the thermal runaway of one cell causing fratricide: propagating the runaway to other cells in a chain reaction.  The highest priority, then, is cooling the remaining cells below the runaway point, and water is the most effective means of cooling.

    While lithium reacts violently with water, my guess is that the recommendation to use water is based upon the fact that there isn’t all that much lithium in one of these cells (a 2 amp-hour cell has around 0.6 grams of lithium), and the risk from its reacting (after an explosion/fire has already occurred) and evolving hydrogen gas is small compared to the benefit of cooling the remaining cells and preventing them from running away.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  8. I have an old iPhone 5 that I have replaced the battery twice in. It works okay. In both cases the battery started to swell. It took less than five minutes to replace the battery.

    0

  9. 10 Cents:
    I have an old iPhone 5 that I have replaced the battery twice in. It works okay. In both cases the battery started to swell. It took less than five minutes to replace the battery.

    I also have an old 5, which is about to get its screen replaced (never a crack or a scratch, just got stripey).  I can no longer use this phone on the phone network, but it’s a mighty fine little ios platform.  I replaced the battery myself after it got all swole.  Very little trouble,  OTOH, I understand that with each phone release, Apple makes it harder to replace the battery.

    Along with my Windows 7 laptop, I got the iPhone5 around late 2012.  Like 1967 for cars, 2012 seems to be a sweet spot.  Windows 7 (I had to look these up) came out in 2009, but was available long after the introduction of Windows 8 in late 2012.  In 2012, if you saw a computer in a store, odds are it had Windows 7.

    And that’s a good thing.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  10. Today I received a Samsung Galaxy S10 to replace my iPhone, “Old Sweller”.  Here is the system narrative for the first day’s adventures.

    2019 August 13
    
    Received phone.  EAN and serial marked on the box is:
        REDACTED
        REDACTED
        SM-G973F/DS
        Color: Prism Black
    The ARP shipping document identifies it as:
        SM-G973 Galaxy S10 512GB
        DS, 6.1", 2.7GHz Octa-Core, 8GB RAM, 16MP
        REDACTED
    On the back of the phone in extremely subdued lettering is:
        SM-G973F/DS
        IMEI: REDACTED IMEI: REDACTED
        S/N: REDACTED
    
    Attached charger and plugged in.  Charging display appeared,
    indicating 46% charge and charging.  After an hour and a half it
    displayed 100% charge.
    
    Initially installed neither SIM nor MicroSD card.
    
    Pressed and held button at top left.  After a while, it went
    into the boot sequence.
    
    This leads to the "Get started" sequence.
    
    Selected UK English.
    
    Accepted the End User License Agreement and Privacy Policy.
    Declined the Diagnostic Data grant, Information Linking, and
    Marketing Communication permissions.  There is a very misleading
    check box on this screen "I have read and agree to all of the
    above".  Many people will interpret this as the usual "I have
    read", but in fact it checks all of the permissions.  To get out
    of this screen you have to leave this unchecked after accepting
    the End User License Agreement, then tap Next.
    
    Next we get to a data migration screen.  Selected "Cable and USB
    connector" for iPhone migration.  This then wants to connect to
    WiFi to update Smart Switch.  I entered the WiFi password and it
    connected.  It then went to download a 28 Mb update, which it
    installed.
    
    Hooked up to "Old Sweller" iPhone with Lightning cable and
    USB/USB-C adaptor which came with the Galaxy phone.  A window
    pops up on the iPhone where you have to Trust the new phone.
    After doing this, it starts searching for data to download.
    This takes a long time, with a progress meter.  If you click
    "Keep screen on", it suppresses the maddening incessant going
    black we haven't yet gotten far enough to disable.
    
    After about five minutes, it displayed a list of what could be
    transferred:
        Calls and contacts
        Messages                10 MB
        Apps                    ! 1MB
        WiFi
        Home screen
        Images                  200 MB
        Videos                  6.33 GB
        Audio                   7.95 GB
    and what could not be transferred:
        Apps
        Home screen
            Default wallpaper
            Theme store wallpapers
    The total transfer list sums to 14.5 GB (About 37 minutes)
    
    Clicked Transfer.  After a few seconds, it went back to ask for
    WiFi password again.  No idea what that's all about.
    
    Signed into Google account REDACTED.
        E-mail: REDACTED
        Password: REDACTED
    
    The first time I tried it, it failed with an idiot "Something
    went wrong" message.  I thought it might have been that the
    transfer cable to the iPhone was still connected, so I unplugged
    the USB adaptor from the Galaxy.  That's when I discovered the
    transfer was running in the background (no hint of this before,
    on either end).  It promptly aborted without any option to
    restart.
    
    The next time, the Google account log-in succeeded, but then
    took me to a "Google Assistant" page which reported:
        The Google Assistant isn't available for this account.
    You can try switching accounts or go back, but there's no path
    beyond this screen that I can find.
    
    Checked in Google Admin console, set Search and Assistant to On
    for All.  Back to phone.  No dice.
    
    Rebooted phone.  Now it says:
        Account added
        REDACTED is ready
    
    Goes right back to the Google Assistant absorbing state.
    
    Tried "Select another account" and logged in as:
        REDACTED
        REDACTED
    This time I got past the Assistant crap page and was invited to
    disclose all kinds of personal information, all of which I
    declined.
    
    Next there's another permissions screen where I declined sending
    diagnostic data.
    
    Now we arrive at "Sign in to your Samsung account":
        E-mail: REDACTED
        Password: REDACTED
    
    This takes you to another "Agree to terms and conditions" with
    the deceptive "I have read and agree to all of the above" box.
    I permitted only Terms and Conditions and Special terms, both of
    which are required to proceed further.
    
    Now it wants me to sign up for Samsung Pay.  No thanks ("SKIP").
    
    Finally, we arrive at "All done!" where there is a message:
        Unused apps will be put to sleep to extend your
        battery life.  This will cause the apps to stop
        working correctly.  _Tap here_ to prevent this.
    I did not tap on this message.  Presumably it's something you
    can change with an option buried deeply in Settings. Pressed
    "Finish".
    
    Now, we get something that looks like the home screen on the
    tablet.  Pressing anything takes you to a map page that tries,
    and fails, to get your current location.
    
    Next, it's to setting to try to fix this maddening screen
    timeout.  It is set to 30 seconds.  I changed it to 10 minutes.
    
    Every now and then it's doing this annoying "Boop boop be boop
    boop" tone with no indication why.
    
    Displayed notifications by swiping from top of screen.  There's
    a progress bar there that says "Completing setup" and "Installed
    n out of 14 applications."  There is also a "27 updates
    available" and a notification that jumps up and down and flashes
    about what it's updating.  I decided to let this cook for a
    while and see if all of these fireworks complete and shut up.
    
    The Samsung updates finished.   Now we're presented with a list
    of updates from Google Play, 18 pending.  I clicked "Update
    all".
    
    After another half hour, all of the Google updates are
    installed.
    
    Got Google Play access alerts on the tablet due to the sign-ins
    from both REDACTED and REDACTED. Approved
    both.  Let's hope that will shut it up.
    
    Now I went back to the Smart Switch app, which is found in the
    Samsung apps folder.  I started it, re-connected the iPhone (no
    "Trust" dialogue needed this time), and restarted the transfer
    process.  It repeated the scan for things to transfer, and again
    I set "Keep screen on".  After a few minutes, we're back at the
    "Choose what to bring" screen, which looks like it did before.
    I pressed "Transfer".  First, it said "Checking for matching
    apps" and found 23 apps on the iPhone for which corresponding
    free Android versions are available. I clicked "Install all".
    It next went to a "Copying your stuff..." screen which said "37
    minutes left".  Again, I clicked "Keep screen on" and left it
    crunching.  Checked the heat level of the iPhone, and it's just
    a little warm at the top right: nothing so far to be disturbed
    about.
    
    Another "Boopity boop boop" while the transfer is running. I'm
    not going to do anything which might interrupt the transfer this
    time.  I'll find out where that's coming from and squelch it
    when it's done.
    
    OK, it ran to completion and displayed a summary page:
        Copied items
            Contacts        19
            Messages        24
            Apps            4
                App list
                Notes       5
                Bookmarks   44
                Email       Account information
            Wi-Fi           Networks but not passwords
            Home screen
                App layout
                Folders
                Widgets
                Lock screen wallpaper
                Home screen wallpaper
            Photos          101 (200 MB)
            Videos          12  (6.33 GB)
            Music           1636 (7.95 GB)
            Recordings      1   (1 MB)
        Items not copied    1 app
            Clock           Couldn't copy
        Turn off iMessage on REDACTED
            iPhone to start receiving text messages
            on this phone.
        Bring stuff from your iCloud
        Get Android apps that match your iOS apps
        Home screen layout
            All your apps will be shown on the Home screen.
    
    Next I went to the iCloud data item.  It asked for my Apple ID
    which, according to the iPhone is REDACTED with
    password REDACTED.  It logged in and displayed "Searching iCloud
    for data to bring".  After about a minute it displayed only
    "Contacts", which I selected to Import. This took just a few
    seconds and reported 19 contacts imported (probably the same
    ones I just imported from the iPhone).
    
    OK, the "Boopity boop boop" sound appears to be the "Spaceline"
    under SIM 1 notification sounds.  I changed it to Silent.  There
    is a separate SIM 2 notification sound which I set to Silent as
    well.
    
    After three attempts managed to log in to the Kindle app.  After
    completing the log-in which involved entering the password
    twice, then completing a CAPTCHA, it came up but showed nothing
    in the library.  But if I went to Store, I could access my
    account just fine.  After trying this and that, I guessed that
    maybe I had exceeded the maximum number of active devices on my
    account (naturally, there was no indication of this).  I
    de-registered Old Sweller and the legacy iPad, and also an
    ancient Kindle on Mac, and nothing changed...right away.  But a
    few minutes later, after I restarted Kindle app, the books
    appeared in All.  When I tried to download one, it failed with a
    "Something went wrong", but when I tried it again, it
    succeeded.  Changed the name of the Kindle device to "Fourmilab
    Galaxy S10".  Set settings as I recalled them from the tablet.
    
    Turned off iMessage and FaceTime from Settings on Old Sweller.
    This is necessary to keep the iPhone from sucking up text
    messages sent by users on another iPhone, even if you've moved
    the SIM to a different phone.  Note that you have to do this
    while the SIM is still in the iPhone.
    
    Moved the SIM from the iPhone to the S10, installing a 256 Gb
    microSDXC card at the same time.  The legend on the SIM is:
        REDACTED
        REDACTED
        REDACTED
    When I powered up the phone, it took me to the SIM card manager
    which reported:
        SIM 1
            Swisscom 4G/3G/2G
            REDACTED
        Preferred SIM card
            Calls           SIM 1
            Text messages   SIM 1
            Mobile data     SIM 1
    Call settings, which apply only when two SIMs are installed,
    were greyed out.
    
    Shortly after bringing up the phone, got a text from Swisscom:
        Pour une utilisation optimale de vos services
        NATEL, vous allez recevoir prochainement les
        configurations nécessaires.  Merci de les
        enregistrer.  Votre Swisscom.
    Nothing received yet.
    
    According to the Files app, the 256 Gb SD card is now formatted
    and available.
    
    Disabled the infuriating "Google Assistant".  I don't recall how
    many blind alleys I stumbled down trying to get rid of it, but
    this worked:
        Settings
        Google
        Google Account
        Search, Assistant, and Voice
        Google Assistant
        Select Assistant tab
        Under Assistant devices, click Phone
        Turn Google Assistant off
    If you still press too long on the home button, you'll get a
    pop-up nag trying to get you to turn it back on, but that's a
    lot better than going down the rabbit hole.
    
    Under Settings/Accessibility/Interaction and dexterity you can
    set "Touch and hold delay", default 0.5 second, to something
    longer to avoid inadvertent triggering of the Assistant.  I set
    it to one second.
    
    Switched to the primary Google account I use on the tablet,
    REDACTED, from the drop-down from the avatar on the
    Settings/Google/Account page.  It didn't ask for a password,
    having presumably remembered it from some of the earlier futile
    attempts to perform initial configuration with that account
    (thwarted by the "Assistant", which has now been banished).
    
    If you've bought an app from the Google Play store and installed
    it on one Android device, it appears you can install it on
    another device signed in to the same Google account without
    re-purchasing it.
    
    I went to install Codebook, and it took *almost forever* sitting
    in "Waiting for download", but it finally completed.  No idea
    what's going on.
    
    When I started Codebook, it asked for a fresh master password
    which I set to the same as on the tablet.  I declined the
    fingerprint authentication option.  The database came up empty.
    Went to Sync, set to Google Drive and attached to account
    REDACTED.  I then did a sync and it loaded all of the
    information from the tablet, which I had synced just moments
    before.
    
    Tried signing in to Dropbox with:
        E-mail: REDACTED
        Password: REDACTED
    Failed with "cannot connect".  No idea.
    
    Access to Google Drive from the Drive app works OK.
    
    To get to Google Drive from "My Files" you have to select the
    Google account then wait quite a while until it syncs.
    Afterward, access seems normal.  This access popped up an alert
    on the tablet through which I confirmed access.
    
    Accessed Samsung Cloud Drive.  It opened without the need for a
    password.  The equivalent of "Cloud Usage" on the tablet is the
    icon with a circle and a magnifying glass to the right of
    "Samsung Cloud Drive" at the top.
    
    While doing this a software update whacked me in the face.
        Version: G973FXXU3ASG8/G973FOXM3ASG8/G973FXXU3ASG8
        Size: 864.84 MB
        Security patch level: 1 July 2019
    purporting to improve Wi-Fi and camera stability.  I told it to
    install now.  The update completed with no apparent problems.
    
    From Settings/Accounts and backup/Backup and restore/Back up data
    I ran a manual backup of everything to the Samsung Cloud, which
    failed because it said Wi-Fi was not enabled, and so it wasn't.
    
    Reconnected to Fourmilab Wi-Fi--no idea why it didn't connect
    automatically after the post-installation reboot.  No password
    or dramatics were required to connect.
    
    Now, going back to Backup, the backup completed in seconds
    except for Music, which stuck at 0% and after several minutes
    failed with "Couldn't back up data", while displaying a blue
    check mark.  Of course, no reason given for the failure.
    Tried another backup; crapped out again on Music.
    
    Ran a backup to Google Drive.  This is utterly opaque--there is
    no clue what is going on except what appears to be a progress
    meter at the top that moves like molasses.  After about 10
    minutes a "Now you see it, now you don't" box saying "Your data
    is backed up" comes and goes and the "Back up now" button is
    re-enabled.  The current time is filled in for items under
    Active backups, but Contacts still says "Waiting to back up...".
    Note that unlike on the tablet, there doesn't seem to be any
    automatic backup facility; you have to start each backup
    manually.
    
    Logged into Podbean with the REDACTED Google
    account.  It found all of the podcasts but, of course, didn't
    know what had been downloaded on Old Sweller. I had to go
    through manually and re-download here. Queued downloads, some of
    which completed almost instantly and other of which got stuck.
    We'll see how this plays out.
    
    Deleted Crapps pre-installed:
        Facebook
        LinkedIn
    Oh, yes, you can't actually delete them, you can only "Disable"
    them.  They still eat up your storage, but at least you don't
    have to look at their ugly faces.
    
    Some Podbean downloads succeed if restarted, but others don't.
    There is no obvious pattern I can discern in this.
    
    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  11. This is why my wife and and I kept our old iPhone 4s until just last week.  We don’t use the phones for much and it just wasn’t worth the hassle.

    We live in what has been a pretty marginal area for cell phone reception and the main thing we cared about was an improvement in the phone.  It winds up that is really hard to find information about.  The specs tout -More Pixels!, faster processor!, better graphics!, FaceID! and on and on.  Nothing about how it works as a phone.

    So far, though, they iPhone 8s that we got seem to be a big improvement.

    0

  12. WillowSpring:
    The specs tout -More Pixels!, faster processor!, better graphics!, FaceID! and on and on.  Nothing about how it works as a phone.

    The iPhone and similar devices are not principally telephones, nor have they been for many years. Telephony itself is being replaced by other modes of communication, specifically texting for one-on-one conversations. Though they’re still called “phones” these devices are almost exclusively internet access tools and cameras, hence the emphasis on pixels and clock rates.

    The main users of mobile telephony are pimps, drug dealers, and gang-bangers with burner phones. Even those guys have probably switched over to texting, which doesn’t require the QoS that voice does.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  13. Here is the second day’s system narrative of bringing up the Galaxy S10.

    2019 August 14
    
    Initialised the Blockchain app and logged in using the QR code
    from the Web site.
    
    Data imported from the iPhone is placed in:
        Internal storage/iPhoneData
    
    Updated Galaxy Themes.
    
    Screen resolution is 3040x1440 pixels, an aspect ratio of 2.1.
    This compares with 2048x1536 (1.33) for the Galaxy Tab S3 and
    1334x750 (1.78) for the iPhone 6s.  So, it's time to re-make all
    of the wallpaper once again.
    
    Today, after several failed attempts, all of the pending Podbean
    downloads completed successfully.  All evidence points to the
    flakiness being on their end, with whatever CDN (or CnDN) they
    are using.  Podbean is successfully scanning its feeds and
    marking new items (but, as I have disabled it, not automatically
    downloading them, or attempting to).
    
    Installed Orgzly from the Play Store. Configured
    Settings/Sync/Repositories to dropbox:/Org as on the tablet.
    After you enter the repository name, you have to click "Link to
    Dropbox", which takes you through a Japanese tea ceremony
    requiring your Dropbox log-in and password, and a confirmation
    of the link.  Then you get an E-mail asking you to confirm the
    new access to your Dropbox account.  Here's another item for my
    book in progress, "Empire of Crooks". Only then can you perform
    a Sync operation, which brings in items synced from the tablet.
    The Sync reported a conflict with the pre-installed "Getting
    Started with Orgzly" notebook which was on both devices, but
    different.  I deleted it from the phone.  A subsequent sync
    installed the copy from the tablet without the error.
    
    ProtonMail was automatically installed because the iOS version
    was present on Old Sweller.  Entered account name and password,
    and it displayed my inbox.
    
    Installed WebDAV server Pro.  As it had already been purchased
    on the tablet, it installed directly.  It requires no
    configuration.  It still can't access files on the microSD card.
    
    Created a Transfer folder on Internal storage to facilitate
    moving files to and from the microSD.  This is compatible with
    the configuration of the tablet.
    
    Tried to install QR & Barcode Scanner.  Once again, Google Play
    "stuck" at the "Waiting for download..." phase.  After half an
    hour and a retry, I gave up.  I'll try later.
    
    Installed Kitco quotes app.  This time Google Play hung for
    about 10 minutes but finally installed it.  When I launched the
    app, it failed with "Communications error", but when I refreshed
    the page it worked.
    
    Well, if this isn't the gol-durndest thing!  I went back to the
    Play Store to try installing the QR & Barcode Scanner again and
    it said it was already installed!  And, checking the last page
    of apps, indeed it had been.  So apparently while the installer
    was sucking wind with "Waiting for download" it actually
    installed it without the slightest indication it had.
    
    Verified that the SBB Mobile app (pre-installed) works.  Entered
    my default starting location and common destinations.
    
    Installed Free World Time Clock.  This app calls itself "Easy
    World Clock" on the apps screen, so it's a little puzzling to
    figure out what to install on another machine.  You have to
    enter all of your time zones again once installing on a new
    platform.
    
    Netflix knew my log-in and came up normally, after a long
    initial pause before it displayed the home screen.  It also
    sends you one of those Empire of Crooks warnings that your
    account has been accessed from a new device, and, in doing so,
    doesn't use the device name but instead the generic "Android
    Phone".
    
    Installed DroidEdit Pro.  Note that you have to search for Pro,
    which was already purchased, or else you'll install the free
    edition which is chock full o' ads.
    
    Installed the "French Larousse dictionary" app, already
    purchased, which calls itself "Larousse Francais" on the app
    screen.
    
    Installed the Larousse English-French dictionary.  It, too, got
    stuck at "Waiting for download...".  Interestingly, when I went
    back to the home screen to see if it had been installed anyway
    and then went back to the installer, it immediately started and
    completed the installation.  When you launch it, the system
    warns it was built for an older version of Android and may not
    work, but it seems to.
    
    Installed ConnectBot (SSH client).
    
    Configured Twitter, which was pre-installed.  It, of course, did
    the Empire of Crooks number in E-mail.
    
    Installed Google PDF Viewer.  This is much better than the
    built-in PDF viewer.
    
    Great, well now Dropbox mysteriously seems to be working.  I
    have no idea what changed since last night.  My guess is that
    when I logged into it from another app, it pushed it over
    whatever little grain of sand it was stuck behind and the mighty
    locomotive blundered onward.
    
    Tested and configured the Brave browser.  The search engine for
    both Chrome and Brave is set to DuckDuckGo.
    
    Installed RPN Calculator (RpnCalc 3.3).  This is free software
    with no ads.
    
    Tried to set custom wallpaper and was utterly defeated.  It used
    to be you could simply specify a picture from somwehere on the
    device.  No more: now they want to sell you wallpaper from
    various commercial sources, so that's what they push.  There's a
    white asterisk on a red background that calls itself Gallery,
    but for the life of me I can't figure out where the pictures
    it's showing are coming from.  The pictures it shows are ones
    which were imported from the iPhone, but if I add a picture to
    the directory where they live, /iPhoneData/Pictures, it doesn't
    show up in the Gallery.  If I navigate to a picture in that
    directory and display it, there is a three dots menu at the top
    right which includes "Set as wallpaper" as an item, but if I
    upload one of my files to that very same directory with WebDAV
    and display it, there is no three dot menu, only "Details", and
    no option to set as wallpaper.  I do not have the remotest idea
    what is going on: whether there is something fundamental about
    how this works that I'm missing or if this is some hellish scam
    intended to pick my pocket and make me buy wallpaper.  All I
    know is that it is utterly infuriating, with opacity worthy of
    Microsoft.
    
    OK, after more than an hour of trial and error, here is one way
    I've found to set a picture as wallpaper on the home or lock
    screen.  First, upload the picture to Google Drive.  Then go to
    My Files, display Google Drive, navigate to the picture, and
    open it.  With it open, click Download.  This will download it
    and store it in Internal storage/Download.  Go there, and open
    the picture.  With the picture displayed, you can now click the
    three dots menu at the top right and select "Set as wallpaper".
    From that screen, choose "Home screen" or "Lock screen".  This
    will set the image as wallpaper on that screen.  You do not get
    any opportunity to crop or scale it: you're stuck with whatever
    it chooses for you.  I have yet to experiment with explicitly
    making a picture the exact size and shape of the screen or one
    with a different size but the same aspect ratio to see whether
    it will leave that alone when it sets the image as wallpaper.
    
    Note: when you go through this rigmarole of downloading from
    Google Drive, your downloaded images *do* appear in Gallery. But
    uploading them with WebDAV or copying within My Files doesn't
    seem to apply the special sauce to make that happen.
    
    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  14. drlorentz:

    WillowSpring:
    The specs tout -More Pixels!, faster processor!, better graphics!, FaceID! and on and on.  Nothing about how it works as a phone.

    The iPhone and similar devices are not principally telephones, nor have they been for many years. Telephony itself is being replaced by other modes of communication, specifically texting for one-on-one conversations. Though they’re still called “phones” these devices are almost exclusively internet access tools and cameras, hence the emphasis on pixels and clock rates.

    The main users of mobile telephony are pimps, drug dealers, and gang-bangers with burner phones. Even those guys have probably switched over to texting, which doesn’t require the QoS that voice does.

    Do you use a burner phone or text?

    0

  15. 10 Cents:
    Do you use a burner phone or text?

    Yes to text, no to burner but I’d consider getting one.

    I know what you’re thinking: drug dealer, pimp, or gang-banger? I’m taking the Fifth.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  16. drlorentz:

    10 Cents:
    Do you use a burner phone or text?

    Yes to text, no to burner but I’d consider getting one.

    I know what you’re thinking: drug dealer, pimp, or gang-banger? I’m taking the Fifth.

    I was thinking “and” not “or”.

    0

  17. WillowSpring:
    We live in what has been a pretty marginal area for cell phone reception….

    We bought a cellphone signal booster antenna system and installed it in our attic.   Instant improvement.

    0

  18. MJBubba:

    WillowSpring:
    We live in what has been a pretty marginal area for cell phone reception….

    We bought a cellphone signal booster antenna system and installed it in our attic.   Instant improvement.

    Good to know.  I always wondered if those were effective, or if they were nonsense.

    0

  19. Haakon Dahl:
    I always wondered if those were effective, or if they were nonsense.

    They may not help much if you have a fundamentally weak signal in your area, but they can be very useful if the problem is that the signal is attenuated by the structure of your house.  For example, in Switzerland many houses have walls of stone or concrete blocks which absorb signals at the frequencies used by mobile phones.  But if you have an attic with a wooden frame (which is also common), you can install a repeater there which will pick up the signal from the tower and then send it throughout the internal structure of the house which is usually made of less-absorbing material.  You can also sometimes place the repeater in a window looking in the direction of the tower and have it repeat the signal throughout the house.  Some repeaters have external antennas you can place on the roof to get an even better signal from the tower.

    0

Leave a Reply