Update your Phone

Just like Windows has updates, your phone, whether it’s an Android or an Apple and the Apps, need to be update. Not updating your phone is like not having your oil changed. This is free, and you can do it from home while connected to WiFi.

Software bugs and old apps can slow down your phone or make it crash. Software developers find and often fix these bugs daily. Updated versions of the Apps are free in the App Store.

The first thing you want to do is connect your phone to the Wi-Fi (wireless internet) so you don’t waste your data. If you don’t have home wi-fi you can connect at your local Library, and at many restaurants or work.

Then go to the App Store and update the apps one at a time or have it update all apps. Before you update an app, you can look at the app details to see what changes have been made. Note: There is always a chance the updated app may break something, so use a little caution but most often the updates are worth doing. After I install updates I test the app to verify its still working properly before I actually need to use it.

With Android the App Store is named Play Store. Your apps are listed under My apps & games.

Your cell provider also releases an OS update from time to time. When you are notified that an update is available you should connect to the wi-fi when you have time to allow it to update and install the update.

Fitbit App and Fitbit Charge HR

I just bought the Fitbit Charge HR and its OK, but I wish I spent a little more and got something waterproof and compatible with Google Fit.

First the waterproof part. I originally wanted something with a heart rate monitor that I could wear kayaking, because the fitness apps can’t figure out calories burned kayaking. Then I started running and wanted something for running and forgot about waterproof. The fitbit was recommended by friends for running so I bought it. Then I read the specs after vs before and fuck, I can’t wear it swimming so no kayaking, cause shit happens. Again, read the specs and reviews before you buy.

The Android app has a lot of features but it can’t share data with google fit yet. You have to use the fitbit website to edit the name of a workout downloaded off the fitbit. When tracking your exercise it only tells you how long you worked out, but not the start and stop times. So you have to guess what time something happened when you manually add things, like swimming when all you know is I swam after the treadmill but before the bike rode home, and was this one the bike ride or that one?

Also if you go outside and cut your grass using your riding mower for an hour, when you come back in you may find that fitbit counted it as an hour of exercise, but Google Fit does the same thing. You can edit the name from the fitbit website, but you can not tag it as not-exercise, all you can do is delete it. If you could tag, fitbit and google could learn from it.

Manage all your email with Gmail

You can use one Gmail Account to manage all your email. I use Google Gmail for all my websites, charter.com, my work email, and even my Yahoo and AOL.

Since everything is going to Gmail I do not need real mailboxes for any of my websites. I just setup the domains webmail system to forward all email to my gmail address. There are two ways to do this.

  • One way is to have all mail sent to yourname@yourdomain.com forwarded to youraddress@gmail.com
  • The other way is to setup a catch all account and forward all email sent to anyname @yourdomain.com to youraddress@gmail.com

So the people you reply to do not need to understand whats going on (it could be confusing to them) google allows you to select how to handle replies and how to handle new outgoing emails. You get to select what email address is the default for new outgoing emails, and what email address to use for replies.

I have my email set to reply using the same account the email was sent to, and I’ve picked the default email account for new outgoing emails. You still have the ability to pick a different account before you send an email.

For mailboxes you already have like Charter, work, Yahoo, and AOL you can setup gmail to download those mailboxes every 30 minutes. You get to pick if you want the mail left in the mailbox or deleted when you download it. For my charter email I have it deleted as its downloaded. For my work email I have it left in the inbox.

To help reduce the time I spend in my email, I use gmail filters. I have filters for my brother, daughter, wife, bank, and all the other people and places that I often get email from. These filters automatically label my emails as they come in. Some of the filters like the one for my work email is set to automatically labeled and archived the messages. I do this with my work email because I read my work email using the stock android email client on my phone but I like gmail as a backup archive for my work email. I have other filters setup to archive and delete the emails I never normally read but are not spam, and I have filters setup just to automatically label emails from places like Staples, Monster, and my Bank so I can quickly archive them after I see them. Archiving saves your email so you can read it again later and gets them out of your inbox. labeling emails puts them in folders to make them easier to find later. I also use my android and gmail inbox’s as my to-do lists, so I like to keep them clean.

Because of gmail I can read all my email from my ipad, my android, or any web browser and all the devices I use stay in sync. So I don’t have to figure out what I’ve already seen.

Since I switched to Gmail around 2006, my email has gone from being a real “pain in the butt” to a feeling like “The Maytag Repairman” now I often feel like I have nothing to do cause I’ve already seen it, and taken care of it.

Update June 2015

Still loving my gmail and wonder why anyone would use anything else.

Chrome Notebook

I got an email from Google on Dec 7, 2010 asking if I wanted to signup for the Chrome Notebook beta program. Well yes… So two months went by and I had almost forgotten about it, till this past Tuesday Feb 8, 2011 when I got home from work there it was sitting in my driveway waiting for me. First I have to say thank you Google, I love it. For the past year or more I’ve told several people that my next computer would be a laptop and it would not be running windows. I did not know if it would be Google Chrome OS or Android, I have to say as much as I love Chrome on my Windows PC, I love my Android more, but sometimes you just need a real keyboard and mouse. Well as it turned out it was actually an Apple MacBook… Ya… can you believe it? Cause everyone knows I hate Apple. The MacBook came in just a few days before the Chrome NoteBook. Now I love my Chrome and all things Google, but I hate to say it… as much as I hate Apple, I do not hate my MacBook, but enough about Apple and the MacBook, lets talk chrome. The Google Chrome Cr-48 Notebook is small light and clean. It has a 12 inch screen, a flat black finish and no stickers. The keyboard has all the keys you need and none of the keys you do not need. It has both wi-fi and 3G. It has all the security you need so everyone in the house can have your own account, and a guest account for when someone stops by. Chrome runs just as good if not better than on a windows PC. It boots and shuts down in seconds not minutes. The screen is bright. I love it.


Well it is beta, and I have had a few issues. Not with Google Chrome OS so to speak, but with the touch pad and multi-touch scrolling, and a bit with editing in my blog and an email. I’m not sure whats my fault and whats not. Remember this is a beta unit and Google is still working things.

I’m having problems with two finger multi-touch scrolling, but a mouse works so I do not think its Chrome OS as much as the touch pad or the touch pad driver, and I’ve already reported the issue to google.

Next issue and I’m not sure if this is Chrome, WordPress, or what but as I edit and fix type-os my cursor jumps and I find myself typing in the wrong spot. It does not happen a lot, but its happened more than a few times. Am I touching the wrong key or the touch pad while typing? I’m not sure yet, or is it WordPress?

Anyway I will figure it out, and I will let you know how things go.

Update: Google fixed all my Google Chrome OS issues with a software update. The touch pad now works as expected. The Google Chrome Laptop running Google Chrome OS is my favorite device. I really have no need for any other computer in the house.

Update May 2015

I bought a new Chromebook from HP, refurbished with 200 meg of free 3g for life. This is now my primary computer at the office, because with so much online I still almost never use windows anymore.

Small Bluetooth only flip-phone for Smart Phone

I wish someone would build a cheap little Bluetooth only Mobile Phone that would only work when connected to your smartphone just like ear buds work, to make it easier to make calls in the sun or places where you don’t want to take your good phone.

It would look like a simple cellphone, like we had before smartphones, with buttons to dial, and a small display but it would be Bluetooth only so it would only work using the 3G plan on your Smartphone or Tablet just like your Bluetooth ear-bud does.

This device would allow you to make calls in bright sunlight or while your phone or tablet is charging. If your out on a boat or your doing something that may damage your smartphone, you set your smartphone someplace safe within 30 feet and use the Bluetooth phone.

So if you build cellphones or Bluetooth ear-buds please take this idea and build one. If you already built it, please point me to your site.

Thank you

Dell Streak 2.2 upgrade

Manually update your US Dell Streak to 2.2
NO NEED TO ROOT and NO 3rd party utilities are required.
Warning this will WIPE your phone and restore it to factory Settings

Note: Applying the update to my current build did not work, I had to follow the steps below. Writing this blog post took longer than doing the update. This update has one less step than the 1.6 to 2.1 update.

You will need
1. A windows PC.
2. Your phone & USB cable.
3. Download two Dell Streak ROM files.
4. The Dell PC Suite for the windows drivers. (comes on your phone)
5. The Android SDK for the windows fastboot command

First locate and download
1. The Dell Streak recovery ROM (It’s the same for both the UK and the US)

2. The Android 2.2 upgrade package you want.
I used the official (build 12792) update package located at:

3. The Android SDK

The Android SDK
1. Unzip but do not install the Android SDK
2. Move the folder to C:\ and rename the folder to SDK

To install the Dell PC Suite
1. Power ON your Dell Streak
2. Plug it into your computer using the USB cable
3. Allow it to install the drivers
4. Install Dell PC Suite found on the Dell Streak USB Drive

The two Dell Streak ROM files
1. Download the Dell Streak stock recovery ROM, name it “recovery.stock.img” and copy it to c:\

2. Download the Dell Streak 2.2 upgrade package, name it ‘Update.pkg’
and copy it to the root directory of your Dell Streak microSD card

Start FastBoot
1. Power OFF your Dell Streak and unplug the USB Cable.
2. Hold the camera button and turn if back on.
3. Press ‘Fastboot Mode’ button, wait 10 seconds then connect the USB cable.

Your phone will be saying “Wait for USB Fastboot detect”

Install the Bootloader

If this is the first time running FastBoot with this PC
you may need to install the “Android Bootloader Interface” driver

1. Go to the Device Manager on your computer.
2. Look for a yellow triangle ! icon with the name Android next to it.
3. Right-click on the icon and select “Update Driver Software”
4. Click on “Browse my computer…” click “Let me pick…” click “Android Phone”
5. Select “Android Bootloader Interface”
6. You’ll get a warning saying installing the driver isn’t recommended by Windows.
You must select to install it anyway.

After the installation is complete, “Android Phone” will be listed properly in the Device Manager and “Fastboot_Mode” will be on your Streak’s screen.

Load the Recovery Image
1. Make sure the .img file is in c:\
2. Open a command prompt and navigate to your SDK tools folder its where ‘fastboot.exe’ is located.

3. Type

fastboot.exe -i 0x413c flash recovery c:\recovery.stock.img

The program will now update the recovery image on your Streak.

4. When the phone reads ‘Recovery Done’ unplug the USB cable and remove the battery.
Then insert the battery it again.

Load the Update.pkg
1. Boot Streak in Recovery mode
(Hold down both the vol Up & Down buttons at the same time while turning on)
2. Use the Vol Up and Down to select option 2 and click the camera button to select.
3. Click the camera button again to start recovery

Relax for a few minutes and wait for the Streak to reboot.

Five days with the Maylong M-150

For a $100 tablet when others are $300 to $700 the Maylong M-150 from Wallgreens.com was not bad. Out of the box it looks like a 7 inch iPad.

It includes a builtin MicroSD slot on the side and an adapter that adds two USB ports and a network port. I plugged in my Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse and was happy to find it worked great with no setup required.

The touch screen works better using your finger nail -vs- your finger tip so while things like Web browsing, Email, and Facebook work fine you may not like it for games.

The stock ROM looks and acts a bit unfinished but I found and installed a third party ROM with active support at: http://tipstir.the-talk.net/maylong-m-150-universe-tablet-pc-f23/ the downloaded link is: http://www.filefront.com/17447157/VIA8505-WMT2.0_105.zip/

The new ROM was cleaner and faster and made the Maylong look even more like a little iPad but more important and as I said the ROM has active support via tipstir see link above.

Even though the Maylong does not include the official android market, I was able to connected to the internet via wi-fi and installed several android apps via http://www.freewarelovers.com/android/ where I found apps like Facebook, Maps, and more.

Android on the Maylong makes it easy to download, install, and remove apps. It also makes it easy to wipe out and load a new ROM.

To wipe out and Install a new ROM
1. From your PC, Download and unzip a new ROM see link above.
2. Format a 2gig or larger MicroSD card.
3. Copy the script folder from the zip to the card. Staples has a MicroSD to USB adapter for about $10
1. Turn off the tablet if its on.
3. Safely eject MicroSD Card from your computer and put in the tablet.
4. Power on the Tablet.
5. You should see a screen that says “Tablet system update will commence. Plug in AC Adapter and DO NOT TURN OFF DEVICE”.
6. Follow the prompts.
7. When device shuts down, turn it back on.

Its so easy I saved the ROM listed above and tried several others to see if I could find one I liked better.

Overall I liked the Maylong M-150 and was sad to return it. If it had the official android market or a better touch screen I would recommend it to anyone, but since it lacks both its not for everyone.

Noisy Desktop Computer

Other than your PC speakers, noise in a computer comes from 2 places fans and drives.

Sometimes its a worn out fan or a wire or something laying on a fan. A bad barring may make noise sometimes but not always.

A bad drive or a disk in a floppy or CD drive can also make noise. If the noise is coming from a bad hard drive then it could make the computer run slow because the drive is working harder.

Make sure your floppy and cd drives are empty.

Using a plastic pen cap you can test to see if its a noisy fan by stopping the fans one at a time.

Normally you can stop the power supply fan from the back of the computer by poking the pointy end of the pen cap in the fan hole on the back of the computer. If the extra noise stops you found it. You will know you did it right if it sounds like you just stuck a pen cap into a fan blade.

To get to the CPU fan if your computer has one. Open the case and look for one or more fans and do the same thing you did with the power supply fan.

With the case open you can try to figure out where the noise is coming from. If all the fans are stopped using the pen caps the only noise would be drives.

Toilet Fill Kit – easy project

I had to replace a toilet fill kit this weekend because it would not shut off. I worried that I would make a mess and regret trying to do it myself, but it went together so easy I’m tempted to do a few more just to get rid if the old kits.

A traditional toilet kit has a big float on a stick to turn the water on and off. The one I needed to replace was newer, still a big float but it was around the fill pipe and the lever to turn off the water was not working. I already knew I do not like the traditional kits, and the one I was replacing failed, so I picked the a brand that had a different look.

It’s a Korkey $10 at Home Depot and I could not believe how easy it was. No tools, things go together finger tight. The design may have a float but if so its inside. It went to gether quickly works great and my toilet is now working as good as new.

Roof top Antenna with 40 channels of free Digital TV

Until Sept of 2010 my home in Florida had no TV, but it came with a roof top antenna, so I picked up one of them new fangled flat screen TV’s with the digital tuners. I found a 22 inch Emerson flat screen at Walmart for $198 and plugged it into my roof top antenna.

I was very happy to find 40 clear digital TV channels. I picked the Emerson because it had good side vision (much better than many of the others) and it was under $200 and 22 inches is small but not tiny.

The digital tuner in the TV responds better than the analog to digital converter boxes I tried a year or two earlier. The channels are as clear as cable. You can look at your favorite TV Guide to see what channels are available in your area.

Updated June 2015

Now almost 5 years later I’m still using that same setup at home, so I’ve saved about $5000 by still having no cable.

Funny though that I just bought a 32 inch flat screen TV from Walmart for under $200 that I use at my office with my laptops as a monitor.