Apple’s iOS App store is bloated

So I was looking through the App store on my work iPhone (because we’re limited on what phones we can have; different conversation).  Looking at the Featured apps.  I was unimpressed by the amount of junk in the store.  Apps that are promoted are newly released, yay, but so many of the apps available are rated so poorly.  Strength in numbers, I guess.

I wonder how many of the apps in the store, and Google Play, are actually useful?

Digital calendar

Just had a thought. With all these wall calendars out there (picture on top, calendar content on bottom), wouldn’t it be awesome to have a digital version with a digital picture on top (e.g. a digital photo frame) and an e-ink display on the bottom?  Maybe even allow the e-ink display to sync with a cloud calendar (Google, Outlook, etc) to update content on an hourly or daily basis, as e-ink displays only draw power when updating their display.

Why does Amazon only show 6″ e-ink tablets these days?  What ever happened to those larger ones, like the Kindle DX? That would be ideal for something like this.  Sigh.

Storage options on a computer

When thinking about computers and the storage they use, especially for operating systems and then content, I wonder why computers, especially laptops, can’t come with embedded flash storage for the OS, but still offer expansion for a hard drive.

For example, I have three HP Stream 11″ laptops for my kids to use.  Each one comes with 32GB of built-in storage, which I believe is embedded on the motherboard.  That’s non-upgradable, which is limiting when it comes time to update the systems, especially after my kids start downloading content.  It offers expandable memory via SD or MicroSD.

Then you have all those tablets (iOS, Android, and Windows are guilty) with built-in storage for their OS and content, sometimes offering expansion via flash card.

Wouldn’t it be nice if computer standards included its OS storage (with today’s OS bloat, say 64GB) built into the motherboard, or built-in via PCIe M.2 card, but still offer the SATA slot that you could use for a hard drive or larger SSD for content storage?

Hmm, maybe this already exists and I just don’t shop around enough.  But from what I’ve seen, it isn’t common.

iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile

I follow multiple tech blogs that talk about mobile devices, and I saw a number of entries portraying the doom of Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile devices, compared to iOS and Android devices.  Specifically, the growing numbers of activated devices of each platform.  Over the holidays, there were record numbers of Android devices activated, along with a large amount of iOS devices joining the fray.  And Windows mobile phones were few and far between.

Something I never seem to read in all these reports is how many of these devices are actually phones?  We know that as of January, there were over 200 million systems running Windows 10 in its various forms (computers, mobile, Xbox, etc).  But only 2.x million Windows phones were activated on Windows Phone 8.x or Windows 10 Mobile.

However, with all these Android and iOS devices that join in, how many of them weren’t phones?  I know, of my own device stash, I have four Android tablets (Nook Color, Nook HD+, and two Nexus 7 2013s), not counting the two Amazon Kindle Fire devices running FireOS.  I also have multiple Android phones I test with, but don’t have active service on.  For all these stats, are any of these types of devices counted?  I know Android tablets are in greater demand than Apple tablets.

What about iOS?  iPads, iPods– wait, do they still make those?, iPhones; not to mention Apple TV that runs a variant of iOS.  Do iOS stats only count iPhones, or are they inflated to include all these other devices?

It’s no wonder Microsoft feels the need to talk about 200 million devices on Windows 10, and not specific stats on Windows Phones or Mobile devices.

Windows Refresh on the MicroCenter WinBook TW801

I used to love doing a full backup+wipe of my Windows devices in the XP era, every six months or so.  It gave me a fresh chance at the system, with latest versions of software and no residue from all the installs I would test and then remove.  But with the stability of Windows increasing over the years, I think the only time I ever deal with a reinstall of Windows is when I install a new version.

A few months ago, I purchased a Bluetooth OBD device to test in my car, and it came with an old version of BlueSoleil (version 3.2.2.8 Release 070421).  Thinking I needed to install this software to test the OBD on my tablet, it dropped down some specific Bluetooth drivers as well, and after my testing was over, I found that uninstalling the software failed.  I worried about it a little, but didn’t want to stress or investigate much as I noticed no negative issues.

However, recently I purchased a Bluetooth wireless speaker, and wanted to stream music to it.  I could get the TW801 to connect to the device, but I never saw the option to play music to it.  Suspecting the issue related to BlueSoleil, and not wanting to manually rip the software from the system and leave legacy bits behind, I figured it was time to refresh Windows.

The process was easy enough.  Start > Setttings > Update and recovery > Recovery.  Click “Get started” under “Refresh your PC without affecting your files.”  Since I only had a handful of programs installed on the device (mainly, Mouse Without Borders, VLC player, and VMware vSphere Client), it wouldn’t be difficult to reinstall them, and I wouldn’t lose much.

So, I clicked the button and was presented with a list of the few pieces that would be lost in the refresh, which got saved to my desktop.  The refresh completed within around 10-15 minutes, showing me my login screen again.  Logged in, wait for the initial install app page, and everything looks good!  I even have my Plex app still pinned to Start, so bonus!  My WiFi driver reverted to the stock one, but the install path still remained, allowing me to update the drivers by pointing them back to the path.

Overall, it seems pretty painless.

Fixing my Playstation 3’s black screen

I have a PS3 Super Slim model that we got at Christmas time, just over a year ago (yay, warranties). A few days ago, it notified me that an update to 4.70 was available, so after the kids were done playing Disney Infinity 2.0 and Skylanders Trap Team, I went into the system update screen and told it to install the update. For the first time, I opted to use the “Shut system down after update” option, as usually we do updates whilst waiting to play a game, not at the end of gameplay.

Well, we went to watch a DVD on it today and found the screen completely black.  Not “no signal” like the TCL usually shows if it’s off.  The Playstation was on, with its green light on and fans going.  It was just… nothing.

So, in comes troubleshooting mode.  Turn off the TV, turn it back on again.  Change the channel (HDMI1 to HDMI3) and HDMI cable as well.  Still nothing whenever it was on the PS3 channel.

On to the internet.  Checked some forums where I basically found disdain for Sony support.  Wondered if I could find the original cables to plug it in to the composite (yellow white red) ports, and where those ports are on the TV, haha, then wondered how to get it to use them.  I found it offers a “Safe Mode” and tried enabling it.

Hold power to turn off.  Hold power to turn on and keep holding power through two different beeps, where it turns off again.  Hold power to turn on again, keep holding power through a beep then a double-beep, where it’s now in safe mode.

On the AV channel on my TV, I found the screen waiting for me to turn on my PS3 controller, which I did.  Then, I tried the first option of rebooting it.  Still nothing when I switched back to HDMI, so into safe mode again.

Next option was Restore Default Settings, which keeps saved information but resets many settings back, including video settings.  It found an HDMI connection and asked if I wanted to switch to it, so I agreed and it was still black.  Ugh.  Back into safe mode again.

Restore Default Settings again, but this time told it not to switch to HDMI mode, and the full PS3 menu system came up.  Yay, progress?  I went into the Settings > Display Options where I could enable HDMI, but it would test it for 30 seconds and bounce back if it didn’t work.  That was useful, so I tried a few times using the two cables in HDMI1 and HDMI3, neither of which worked.

Then, I remember seeing some forum posts where people unplugged everything in their troubleshooting.  I didn’t go that far, but the next time I switched to HDMI3, I turned the TV off and back on again, and noticed the image looked slightly different (black square on a darker black background).  So, I switched to HDMI again and was greeted by my full PS3 menu!

So, I think my resolution was a combination of: switch HDMI cable and channel, restore default settings, and reboot my TV.  And that’s the last time I tell the Playstation to shut down after installing an update.  I’m gonna monitor that baby!

Useful links:

http://www.playstation.com/en-us/support/system-updates/ps3/ – shows latest PS3 update and even allows for downloading of it.  Haven’t tried this myself, but maybe for the next update, I’ll try a manual installation.

https://support.us.playstation.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1488/~/safe-mode-on-ps3 – how to enable Safe Mode on the PS3 and what the different options do.

Microcenter WinBook TW801 – update wireless driver

The Winbook TW801 comes with the Realtek RTL8723BS wireless adapter, which seems to be an all-in-one Wifi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, and FM radio, according to their press release: http://www.realtek.com.tw/press/newsViewOne.aspx?NewsID=342&Langid=1&PNid=0&PFid=1&Level=1 – I haven’t seen any indication of the FM radio presence on the TW801, but that sounds like it’d be nifty if it worked.

The wireless driver included with the stock TW801 OS image, Windows 8.1 with Bing 32-bit, was version 3006.0.0320.2014, not the most recent by Realtek. According to the driver .inf file, it looks like the 8723AS uses the same drivers.

Searching online for the drivers, I found this on Dell’s website, which is the most current as of late Feb: http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=CFMTN – the TW801 uses the same WiFi as the Dell Venue 8 Pro 3845, also running Win8.1 32-bit.

Downloaded and installed, and it still works. Version is 3007.3.715.2014. I haven’t noticed any performance differences, but this is all a quest to get the latest drivers and hopefully improve battery life. The driver seems to be valid for Bluetooth as well, but so far the TW801 only likes the WiFi portion, not the Bluetooth bits. It complains that the Bluetooth drivers aren’t meant for 32-bit Windows.