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Android Podcast Apps

A while ago I asked for recommendations for Android Podcast apps. From all over the Internet I got a great number of recommendations, and looked into all of them.

 

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Pushover app on Huawei Android phones

While diving deeper into my openHAB installation, the need for notifications on mobile phones came up. After some research, I settled with Pushover, which provides Android and iOS apps, as well as Desktop notifications. openHAB Rules have support for Pushover, and everything works well together.

 

Except when Android decides to kill apps, because they sit idle and do nothing. It so happens on my Huawei phone that notifications are delivered to the device, but no popup shows up. Only when I open the up, suddenly all the messages are there. The Pushover FAQ has an entry for this, even for Huawei phones, but it is outdated.

 

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Huawei P10

It was time to pick a new mobile phone for myself. Not being very happy with the Samsung I have from my employer, I compiled a list of decent Android phones, and looked into each of them. In the end, I settled with the Huawei P10.

All in all, it was a good choice, and I'm happy with the device. It's fast, has enough memory, USB-C, receives updates, has a headphone jack and a slot for either an additional SIM or an SD card.

 

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How to prioritize WiFi connections on Android

At home I have two different WiFi networks, both known to all my mobile devices. One is our internal network, password protected. The other one is an open Freifunk network. It's nice to walk around in the village and automatically connect to other Freifunk WiFi routers, instead of using expensive mobile data.

But when at home I really want my devices connected to our internal network. Makes it easy to copy files between devices, or access services only available in our internal network. Plus the native WiFi connection is much faster than the Freifunk connection, which is limited by the speed of the VPN.

However Android connects to the last used WiFi network, and when the last one was another Freifunk router, it will connect to this network at home as well. By default, Android does not allow to prioritize networks. That's where "WiFi Prioritizer" comes to the rescue!

 

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Most annoying Samsung mobile "features" - Part 2

About two years ago, I wrote about a long list of annoying features in my then Samsung S5 device (company issued). A while ago I got a Samsung S6 - so it's time to see if Samsung came around and fixed items on the list.

The good news is that some of the really annoying "features" are gone. No more unnerving sounds when the device is fully charged, no more mandatory warning about sealing the USB port cover when unplugging from the charger (this might have to do with the fact that the S6 is no longer waterproof). Lock screen timeout slightly increased, but you also have to slide up to unlock the device - it no longer presents the keyboard by default. S Finder is gone - who did ever use this one anyway?

But not all is shiny and improved.

Auto Brightness

The Auto Brightness thing is still present, and occasionally leaves me with a phone which is way too dark, and I have to manually adjust the brightness.

Power Saving Notification

Well, this one is gone or present, because it only is present if you activate the "Power Saving" option. That's good for saving battery, but it's bad because it does not work well with certain apps. If an app needs the GPS position (like my running app), well, bad, "Power Saving" needs to be off. Too bad. On top of that, the warning changed to a somewhat confusing one that says "performance is limited" - which inexperienced customer wants to read that?

But in the end, this seems to be an Android problem, not a Samsung problem.

Emergency Mode

The Emergency Mode is still there, and it still occupies a position in the power button menu. Will let you know if I ever need this one.

New annoyances

Samsung wouldn't be Samsung if they don't manage to add a few more things.

Data Roaming notification

If you are abroad, the device will show a notification at all times. Occupies precious real estate in the notification bar - and I certainly know where I am anyway.

Flight Mode button gone from Power menu

This one is really annoying: in older versions, there was a "switch flight mode on or off" button on the power menu, the one you get if you long press the power button. They removed this one - in consequence you have to login, go to the notifications, slide down the quick access options, and activate or deactivate it there.

Don't know what they were thinking, I rather have the Flight Mode button there, over the Emergency Mode button.

Power Saving kills apps

If the Power Saving mode is on (and who doesn't like extended battery life), apps are killed after a while. This is rather annoying if apps take a while until they start up, or reach out to some cloud service and download data when they start.

Conclusion

The S6 got better, compared to the S5. But still not something I would by on my own.

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How to clear the cached data in Android - without any App

Up until recently I was using an App to clean the the Android cache once in a while. If you don't, the device over time get's sluggish, because too many apps store too much data in the cache. Over time this cache can grow to GBs in size.

On the other hand, every single "clean cache App", over time, started showing more and more aggresive advertising. I get that the developer wants to make some money, that's fine. But maybe the money is not enough, so more advertising it is.

Turns out, there is a built-in way in Android to clean the cache. No need for an extra App.

 

 

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How I improve OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is an awesome project. Contributors constantly improve a online map and add new data, fix items in the map which did change in the real world, or improve the data for a number of projects (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, List) building on top of the map. Being outside a lot, I figured that I can contribute as well. It's just a question of how to transport the data from "out there" back to the laptop in my office. After probing around and trying a few tools, I came up with 3 different ways, depending on the situation and amount of changes.

 

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Most annoying Samsung mobile "features"

Android is a very nice operating system, people like it because it's highly configurable. One of the major players in this game - Samsung Mobile - annoys it's users with certain "features", which you mostly can't switch off or get rid off.

Even more annoying - for me - that's the only Android option I get offered by my employer. The alternatives are iPhone, or Blackberry. So not really an option. Two years ago I switched to a Samsung S3, and a few weeks ago it was time to renew the contract, so shortly before Christmas there was a box with a shiny new S5 waiting for me in the office. Using the new mobile for two weeks now, I realized that Samsung remains true to themself and added more annoying functionality over the past two years.

Samsung is churning out dozens of different mobile devices every year. Maybe they should hire a few User Interface designers, or simply start using their own stuff, and see how annoying it is to use.

Full disclosure: my private Android device is a OnePlus One, running CyanogenMod. In terms of usability, CM and Samsung are worlds apart ...

 

 

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How I do backup of my mobile devices

Recently I was asked how I do backups of my mobile devices. The discussion started when I told that I "survived" a bricked device without data loss.

Disclaimer: I work (well, was working, before we got spinned of into a subsidiary) for EMC. Part of EMCs portfolio is "backup" and for sure I learned a lot from my employer. All my own devices and servers are backed up, some of them multiple times. Backups, devices and communication is encrypted. I'm not using public services (Dropbox, Drive, ...) for the backups.

So, what happened? One Friday afternoon, my Samsung S3 bricked itself. It was connected to the charger on my desk, the display flashed for a moment and then the device was dead. Reset, reboot, remove battery - nothing helped. No access to the data on the device.


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CyanogenMod 9 - how to install Google Maps

Recently I installed CyanogenMod 9 on my mobile. Everything went smooth and I'm happily running a new operating system.

Just that I cold not install Google Maps - could not find it in Google's Play Store.


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