Log in

26 August 2016 @ 06:40 pm
  • Fri, 09:36: Sunshine every day, light rain each night... When did London move to Camelot? #fb
25 August 2016 @ 02:52 pm
08 August 2016 @ 04:01 pm
  • Mon, 11:19: @RichMyers Morning Rich, are you guys still doing the VR brewery tours? I'm researching a story on VR... Cheers!
27 July 2016 @ 01:20 pm
I upgraded my new phone - a Cubot Note S, for those that care - to Android 6 Marshmallow, via some help from the excellent folks at xda-developers and Needrom. After a couple of false starts (mostly to do with Marshmallow needing a tweaked version of the recovery program TWRP - that's the one that lets you install & backup system-level stuff, such as the superuser program needed for root access) it all worked pretty well. I'm still coming to terms with the mucking about that Google's done with the application permissions and with write access to the SD-card, but in general it's a step forward - leaner and smoother than Android Lollipop.

So the next thing was to upgrade herself's phone, which has been struggling with low-memory issues. I figured out a nice clean-ish process: for some reason Titanium Backup is fine restoring app data from a Lollipop backup to a Marshmallow target, but doesn't like restoring the apps themselves, so I used Android Assistant (AA) for those. You have to click to restore each app in turn, which is immensely tedious, but still faster than doing it via the Play store. Plus by doing a fresh AA backup, I had an exact list of the user apps that were installed before and therefore needed to go back - that was a big win, process-wise.

So it was:
* Full data backup via Titanium
* Backup all apps via AA
* Run a WhatsApp backup too, just in case
* Boot to recovery and do a nandroid (system image) backup, also just in case
* Flash the new firmware, including Marshmallow-compatible recovery & superuser
* Reboot and do initial phone setup, eg. Google accounts
* Reinstall Android Assistant from SD-card
* Restore all the user apps via AA
* Restore the user app data via Titanium
* Fix a couple of settings and let Play do a few app updates
* Reboot again, and Voila!

Yes, that did take quite a while, but it was mostly time when I could do or read something else while waiting for a process to complete. And at the end, all was running nicely and I was looking forward to getting to bed at a vaguely normal (for me) time - until I went to restore the SMS database, only to find that the backup app which is supposed to run every day hadn't actually done so since January... 😱

Alright, I thought, no big problem - I've done all my backups! I'll do a new nandroid backup, restore the original setup from the previous nandroid, grab the text messages and then restore the new setup.

Except that for some bizarre reason, TWRP wouldn't restore across different Android versions, ie. from within Marshmallow it couldn't see its Lollipop backups. Argh! OK, I'll flash clean Lollipop firmware back on, then restore from there. Except that this time the restore process crashed - and then it hit me that Stupid O'clock really had made me stupid, and that the text messages had probably already been backed up by Titanium, so I could get them from there. Doh!

OK then, let's restore the nandroid of Marshmallow - but that process crashed too! I ended up having to flash the new firmware and reinstall the apps all over again. At least this time I remembered to restore the messages from Titanium as well as the other user data before finally getting to bed. Then of course this morning, she says Oh, the text messages weren't that important...

There's probably still a few apps to tweak so they work properly with the new Marshmallow permissions, but the phone's now running faster and cleaner, with less memory consumed, so overall it's a win. Was it worth it in terms of time consumed? Well, hopefully I will get it right next time - and hey, it's all a learning process, innit? 😂
Current Mood: accomplished
27 July 2016 @ 12:00 pm
26 July 2016 @ 12:27 am
19 June 2016 @ 03:52 pm
16 June 2016 @ 03:51 pm
16 June 2016 @ 02:04 pm
While my main PCs run Ubuntu Linux and one also hosts a Windows VM, I also have an old laptop running Windows Vista. Don’t laugh – that’s what it came with an OEM licence for, and there are times (such as when I’m doing a bit of phone hackery) when a Windows VM isn’t adequate and I need a real Windows machine. Plus, Vista’s modern enough for most software, yet not so modern that it gets in your way all the time like Win 7 does.

I also have a 240GB SSD spare from a decommissioned desktop PC, so since my Vista machine has collected a lot of crud and is a bit slow anyway (it can only use 3GB of its 4GB memory, as it’s not 64-bit capable) I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and give it a fresh install of Vista on an SSD.

Except that I couldn’t find the copy of Vista I downloaded from Microsoft’s DigitalRiver site the last time I needed one (of course OEM-licenced PCs rarely come with a DVD). So download it again, right? Except that M$ has now pulled all its Vista downloads and will only sell you a DVD, if you ask really nicely.

OK, there must be a (safe) download somewhere else, surely? A lot of the links I found actually pointed back to DigitalRiver, but eventually I found my way to getintopc.com which made me jump through a few hoops before letting me download a Vista ISO. Two possible snags – one, only the 64-bit link seemed to work, but at this point I’d forgotten the PC was 32-bit only(!), and second it was listed as Vista Home Ultimate, but the last time I did this, the ISO/DVD was generic and the licence key determined the actual version installed.

Next, I needed a utility to turn the ISO (CD/DVD file) into a bootable USB stick. Luckily, MS offers something snappily called the Windows7 USB/DVD download tool. Unluckily, it’s a bit crap – my first attempt generated a bootsect error, which apparently means the ISO doesn’t have all the right format data.

So now I needed a DVD burning tool to create a new version of the ISO with the right bits in. Everything I read suggested that ImgBurn was the best choice, so off I went to imgburn.com, only to discover that while the software’s pretty good, the site’s main aim seems to be to push out ads and crapware.

I understand that the hosting bills have to be paid and that, generally, TANSTAAFL, but too much of this stuff is bad-mannered and quite frankly shitty. You end up on pages with a bunch of what looks like ordinary text but which really links to adverts, or with two or three Download buttons, none of which actually get you what you want, instead infecting you with whatever crappy adware the hosting company has been paid to puff up this month. In my case it was a piece of scareware called PC Mechanic, whose only saving grace was that it uninstalled without much grief.

Anyway, eventually I got ImgBurn running and created a new ISO, only for the MS USB tool to crap out again, this time with a file error. Try a different USB stick – same problem. Right, a change of burner is needed! I found recommendations for a tool called Rufus and quite honestly, this thing is the bee’s knees. Its user interface is a tad oblique – in particular it is not obvious how you add an ISO, but the option is thereand it works! Give it a stick, an ISO and quite a few minutes (these are lengthy processes in any tool), and it’ll give you a bootable installer.

Of course this was when the PC reminded me about the 32/64-bit thing… But I tried getintopc.com again, and this time got the 32-bit version down. Burn it to USB with Rufus, plug in and repartition the SSD and off we go. Vista’s up and running, clean and fast. Hurrah! Except it won’t take my licence key – that’s for Vista Business, and apparently this ISO is Home-only. Argh!!

Still, the process is getting pretty smooth now, so I dig out a Windows 8.1 ISO from Windows Insider and Rufus that onto the stick and then the PC. Again, all fast and clean, but apparently the free Insider installs have since been downgraded to now-expired evaluation versions. Gee thanks, Microsoft. :( I’m still going though, so next I pull down the latest 32-bit Windows 10 ISO and Rufus that on. That install too is mostly clean, though not so fast, and the PC’s working OK with it. It won’t stay on W10 though, because that’ll only activate with a Win7/8/10 key, not a Vista key, and my W8 key has been expired.

So, I’m definitely not back at square one, but probably not much further than square three or four. The next thing is that a friend is digging out a real Vista Business DVD for me, which means I’ll have to dig out my USB DVD drive and hope it still works… LOL!
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Highway to Hell
10 June 2016 @ 12:00 pm
  • Thu, 16:58: To banks, "digital transformation" means sacking half your staff and making your customers to do the work themselves via the web. Sigh. #fb